Private Journal of a Voyage to Australia
James Bell
Introduction
In December 2011, Allen and Unwin published the title above.  It is available both in print and ebook formats and as this page is discussing the book it is advisable to have a copy - no, no commission.

The original journal,
having been found on a bookstall in England and later sold by auction, is now in the hands of the State Library of South Australia.

The book is a transcription of James Bell's journal from 25 Nov 1838 - 15 May 1839 when the ship Planter arrived in Adelaide after a nearly six month voyage from London.  It includes an introduction and epilogue which details a little of the later lives of the passengers.

It should be noted that some information appearing on line in reviews is
  • over-sensationalised or
  • incorrect
Bell does describe (pp 104, 145) the captain sharing a bed on deck with two of the daughters of James MacGowan and squiring them around Rio de Janeiro.  This obviously horrifies Bell, but he does not go into graphic descriptions.  His relationship with the elusive C. Perry is also purported to be romantic in nature.  From what he says she has obviously shown him sympathy in a difficult situation which he doesn't explain and he has a deep affection for her, but whether his affection is actually romantic in nature is difficult to discern from his writings.

Some reviews also state that Bell is a sailor:  he is not - he is a passenger on board.

But most importantly new information has been found since publication and that is the purpose of this page.

C. Perry
All that is known of  C. Perry from the journal is that the journal was written to be sent to her, for her alone to read.  She lived in "Bellisle St", Workington, Cumberland, UK.  On p. 23 Bell refers to her watching over the sickbed of her child which tends to corroborate the following information.

In attempting to find her I started with the 1841 UK Census, but there was no sign of her in what is actually Belle Isle St.or obvious signs of her elsewhere or in later censuses.  Similarly a search for the birth of a C. Perry in the area provided no information.  However a search for a woman with a first initial "C" who had married a Perry started to yield results.

A search on Family Search reveals that Charlotte Martin married Edward Perry on 23 Aug 1828 in Workington, Cumberland.  This is confirmed by Workington Marriages 1813-1837.  Edward was an ironmonger, christened 19 Mar 1796, Whitehaven, Cumberland, son of  Edward Perry and Joyce.

Further Family Searches show that Charlotte was christened on 30 Mar 1806 in the village of Camerton, about 3 miles from Workington, her parents being Grace Wallace and Thomas Martin.  She had siblings, Grace (christened 14 July 1799, buried 26 Jan 1802), Grace (christened 22 Apr 1804), Caleb (christened 29 Sep 1808). 

Charlotte had one child, Edward, christened 28 June 1829, who died on 21 Jan 1839, aged 9, at Workington.  This is confirmed by FreeBMD  although the fact that it lists two Edward Perry's as having died in the first quarter of 1839 in Cockermouth is a mis-transcription as both images are the same.

What happened to husband, Edward, is currently unknown.  No death has been found and he cannot be traced in the 1841 Census.  Whether, then, he was around at the time of James Bell's association with Charlotte is not known.  He is almost certainly dead by 1843 when Charlotte re-marries.

Charlotte was eventually found in the 1841 census in Cheshire.

BROWN, Hughes M 45 1796 Master Mariner
Ireland
BROWN, Grace F 35 1806

PERRY, Charlotte F 35 1806

BROWN, Grace F 6 1835

BROWN, Sarah F 4 1837

TAYLOR, Mary F 15 1826
Cheshire

Piece:
125
Book/Folio:
1/6
Page:
6     
Registration District:
Wirral
 
Civil Parish:
Bebington
Municipal Borough:
Address:
Rock Park, Bebington, Bebington, Higher
County:
Cheshire
Find My Past
She is resident with her sister, Grace.  On 23 Mar 1843, she married Robert Brown in Workington, Cumberland.  Family Search

Workington Shipping  reports that Robert Brown was master and part-owner of the brig Arethusa built in Whitby.  The Morning Post (London, England), Friday, January 31, 1842; pg. [1] reports the ship was lost during a storm at Workington.  This establishes him as a mariner and explains his absence from censuses.  Charlotte is a widow in 1871.  Robert possibly died in 1863 or !869 in the Cockermouth district, Cumberland. FreeBMD

1851 Census
BROWN, Charlotte Head Married F 45 1806
Seaton
Cumberland
BROWN, Thomas M Son
M 7 1844 Scholar
Workington
Cumberland
BROWN, Grace W Daughter
F 3 1848
Workington
Cumberland
BROWN, Mary Ann Daughter
F 2 1849
Workington
Cumberland
JOBSON, Betsey Servant Unmarried F 17 1834 Housemaid
Keswick
Cumberland

Piece:
2435
Folio:
277
Page:
26     
Registration District:
Cockermouth
 
Civil Parish:
Workington
Municipal Borough:
Address:
Ballast Hill, Workington
County:
Cumberland
Find My Past

1861 Census
BROWN, Charlotte Head Married F 55 1806 Ship Owner
Seaton
Cumberland
BROWN, Grace W Daughter Unmarried F 13 1848
Workington
Cumberland

Piece:
3939
Folio:
14
Page:
26     
Registration District:
Cockermouth
 
Civil Parish:
Workington
Municipal Borough:
Address:
William Street, Workington
County:
Cumberland
Find My Past
1871 Census
BROWN, Charlotte Head Widow
F 65 1806 Houseowner
Cumberland
BROWN, Grace W Daughter
F 23 1848
Cumberland

Piece:
5243
Folio:
17
Page:
29     
Registration District:
Cockermouth
 
Civil Parish:
Workington
Municipal Borough:
Address:
William Street, Workington
County:
Cumberland
Find My Past

Charlotte died in the first quarter of 1876 in the Cockermouth district of Cumberland. FreeBMD

Her daughter, Grace, appears in censuses from 1881 - 1911 as a boarder of independent means.  She died in Workington in 1939 aged 91.
Find My Past
It has not proved possible to trace the other two children - they might have died early, but no records definitely attached to them have been found.

Thomas Beazley
The journal's editorial notes comment that the captain of the Planter  married Temperance Arrowsmith in 1835.  On finding that this Thomas Beazley is, in 1841, shown as a carpenter and in 1851 as a box and packing case maker, I began to have doubts as to the likelihood that he was "our" captain and began a search for another. 
Find My Past

George Thomas Beazley was christened in 1808 at Newchurch, Hampshire (Isle of Wight), son of George and Sarah. He had younger sisters, Charlotte and Sarah Jane. On 15 Oct 1835 he married Ann Stoveld at St Thomas, Ryde, Hampshire. Known children are John Stoveld Beazley christened 14 Feb 1841, Tom Trusslow Beazley christened 4 Dec 1842, Henry Philip Beazley christened 19 Jan 1845, all at Newchurch, Hampshire  Family Search

None of the family appears in any of the censuses from 1841 - 1861, suggesting of course that they were elsewhere than in England.

1871 Census
BEAZLEY, George Head M 62 1809 Mariner
Hampshire
BEAZLEY, Ann Wife F 60 1811
Sussex
BEAZLEY, John L (S?)
Son M 30 1841 Mariner
Hampshire
BEAZLEY, Matilda A Son's Wife F 23 1848
Australia

Piece:
1166
Folio:
57
Page:
18     
Registration District:
Isle of Wight
 
Civil Parish:
St Helen
Municipal Borough:
Ryde
Address:
Strand Le Blanc House, St Helen, Ryde
County:
Hampshire
Find My Past
Thomas died on the Isle of Wight in the first quarter of 1872. FreeBMD

So what was he doing in between?

On Mar 3 1836 it was advertised in The Times that Thomas Beazley would captain the ship Mercy (433 tons) leaving Bristol for Barbadoes (sic) on or about 20 Mar.
The Times Digital Archive
There was a similar advertisement on Sep 14 1836 with the ship leaving from the London Docks.
The Times Digital Archive
On 11 Dec 1841 a letter from the captain of Prince Rupert bound for New Zealand in which Thomas "who bore a high character for skill and ability, and had made several voyages to the eastward of the Cape, to act as chief officer from Bahia to New Zealand." was engaged as chief officer.
On 9 Oct 1844 he left Sydney in the barque Ceylon for London

On 20 Aug 1847 Thomas Beazley of Ryde, Hants, born 1811, received his Second Class certificate from Trinity House, London with current or prior service as Master on Nimrod, East India Company's vessel of 240 tons.

On Sep 20 1847 he received his First Class cert.
The Hampshire Advertiser (Southampton, England), Wednesday, August 16, 1871; pg. 3; Issue 2626. reports on a case where Thomas is involved in a legal proceedings where his ferry between the Isle of Wight and the mainland was overcrowded.
19th Century British Library Newspapers: Part II.

This is by no means an effort to provide Beazley's complete captaincy record, but sufficient to establish him as the likely captain of the Planter.


James Bell
James reveals something of himself in his journal but not everything we would like to know.  He was born on 8 May 1817 (p. 167) probably  in Dryfesdale, Dumfriesshire, Scotland i.e. he was 22 for most of the voyage.  He refers to "Brother Charles" (p.15) - whether this was a biological brother or a "brother" in relation to his church is to me unclear.   He appears to have been Presbyterian, frequently philosophising about God, the human condition and the beauties of nature.  He rails against the manner in which religious services are conducted, or often not conducted at all, on board ship.  He comments on the hypocrisy of the Wesleyan Methodists during services - where is the Paradise of Dissent?  He quotes poetry liberally - we know he had some books with him, but at other times quoted incorrectly, relying on memory.

Where exactly was he born, what was his educational experience and what was the nature of the "slander" which Charlotte empathised with and which probably was behind his decision to emigrate?

I had hoped I had found James' educational experience because it seems obvious he had a good classical education (and enough money not to emigrate in steerage.)  There are reports in the Caledonian Mercury from 1836 - 38 of a young man with such an education whom I thought might be "our" man.  Contact with the University of Edinburgh, however, shows they did not record birth dates at that stage.  I have found the following item which excludes our James and I include it here to avoid the need of others to follow this path.

1843 JAMES BELL, born Torthorwald, 13th June 1817, son of James B., farmer, Grantrigg, and Helen Nelson; educated at Torthorwald School, Dumfries Academy, and Edinburgh Univ.; licen. by Presb. of Dumfries 1842; pres. by curators of the Earl of Hopetoun, and ord. 22nd Aug. 1843; died unmarr. 13th Aug. 1869. Publications-A Philosophical Essay (Univ. prize of 25 guineas) (Edinburgh, 1810); The Mistery Unveiled, an Examination of the Claims (Spiritual and Temporal) of the Church of Rome (Edinburgh, 1855).

Scottish Ministers

Reference to family histories of James' family members shows no presence of a brother, Charles.  I have also had contact with a descendant of his twin brother and again there is no knowledge of Charles.  This confirms to me the possibility Charles was not a biological brother.

I will update this section if more information becomes available.


Conclusion
I will add to this file if/when further information becomes available.

There was another young man in Adelaide in 1839, also born in 1817.  He went by the name of Charles Nantes and I wonder if the two met.  One can almost imagine them passing on the streets of the fledgling town.  Charles, my ggg-uncle, had arrived on the Africaine in 1836 as a clerk to Robert Gouger and that in itself is an interesting story.  If you would like to follow this up go to my family history pages - Charles James Nantes

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Last Updated 15 Dec 2011