Famine Ship Elizabeth and Sarah
Ireland to Quebec Canada in 1846
A "Coffin Ship"
NOTE: This web page has been replaced and added to on a new web page ... Al
Excerpt from "An Gorta Mor i gCill Alaidhe" (The Great Famine in Killala)
by Patricia Fitzgerald and Olive Kennedy (1996)
"One notorious 'coffin ship' was the Elizabeth and Sarah which sailed from
Killala, County Mayo in July 1846 (sic). She was a 74 year old barque of 330 tons
built on the Tyne for the Tyne/Baltic trade and her Captain was A. Simpson. It is
most likely to have been a 'speculative' venture got up by local
'entrepeneurs'. Her passenger list was certified in Killala as 212 but she
carried 276 in this journey. There were only 36 berths and 4 of these were
taken by the crew. Inadequate water supplies were carried in leaky tanks
and no food was provided... a letter of protest was written by one of the
passengers to the Montreal Herald:
'Sir - The sufferings which we have undergone in our late voyage across the
Atlantic and our desire to save others from similar treatment, induces us
to address this letter to you... Hugh Leighton, Ship Broker of Sligo, Hugh
Simpson, his clerk and John Reilly of Belmullet... used every means in
their power to induce us to embark at Killala on board the Elizabeth and
Sarah whereof A. Simpson was master...which would sail on the 1st of May
for this port (Montreal)... finally on 26th of May we weighed anchor, and
bid adieu to our native land. And now, Sir, commences a tale of misery and
suffering which we hope to God none of our fellow mortals may ever
experience... two quarts of water was all that was allowed to each
passenger; nor was bread or oatmeal ever served out to us... After having
being out twenty one days, the master informed us that we were on the Banks
of Newfoundland; whereupon many of the passengers wasted their provisions
believing that they were close to port; we did not reach Newfoundland until
twenty four days after this... the mate, Jeremiah Tindel (the Captain being
sick and unable to attend to his duties) ran us ashore on the Island of
St. Peter (St. Pierre and Miquelon)... We were then in a most deplorable state, living on short
allowance and many of us without any; our pittance of water was both gluey
and putrid; disease and pestilence broke out amongst us and carried off
many of our fellow passengers in its iron grasp... we succeeded in getting
off the reef; our Captain... now breathed his last, and several more of the
passengers likewise yielded up their souls to Him who had created them.
Their bodies were, of course, immediately committed to the deep; but, the
mate, as if to add to our miseries, notwithstanding our requests to the
contrary, persisted in keeping the body of the Captain. For thirteen long
days... the body lay upon the quarterdeck in a most horrid state of
decomposition, thereby engendering the pestilence among us to a fearful
extent, insomuch that twenty two souls had by this time perished... On the
72nd day of our departure from Killala, County Mayo, we dropped anchor at Grosse Isle,
where we were kindly and hospitably treated by Dr. Douglas, the Medical
Superintendent, as also by Mr. Cullingford, who was in charge of the sick;
here seven more of our fellow passengers died and many still remain in a
very precarious state...
(Signed on behalf of fellow passengers)
John LAVAL, (LAVELL)late of the Parish of Kilmore (went to Buckingham and to Mayo, Quebec ... Al)
John STEPHENS, late of the Parish of Westport - Was Protestant, Converted to Catholicism in 1849 in Ottawa)
James JOYCE, late of the Parish of Laumore (to March Township, now part of the City of Ottawa by 1848)
(all from County Mayo, Ireland)
Quebec, 22nd August 1846'."
Bytown or Bust is also on
November 3, 2016:
Here is a map of County Mayo in 1848 showing the major towns from which many of the Irish emigrated in 1846 and 1847.
A few of these passengers are listed on our page, Emigration from County Mayo to Canada.
And many more will be added soon, during the winter of 2016. Many of these passengers were sent to Bytown / Ottawa, Canada
where some of them had family members who had already emigrated 20 years earlier to work at building the Rideau Canal.
The canal workers, by 1847, formed an established community of farmers on both sides of the Ottawa River
(in what are now Ontario and Quebec, Canada). Also, the Roman Catholic Church was well established with a
Bishop (Msgr. Guigues at Notre Dame), in place. They were joined in 1845 by the Sisters of Charity (then called the Grey Nuns) who
would provide for many years social and medical support to persons of all religious denominations and all ethnic groups.
Protestant doctors, especially Dr. Van Cortland, were also instrumental in saving lives here.
Note the port of Killala on the map -- it was the port of origin of the coffin ship Elizabeth and Sarah.
Also shown on the map is the town of Westport. Westport, Ontario, about 60 miles west of the City of Ottawa, on the
Rideau Canal system is named after the town in County Mayo, Ireland. In fact, Westport, Ontario also saw the arrival
of another group of famine emigrants who sailed from the poverty-stricken area of southern County Armagh.
They came to Canada on the ship Hannah which was shipwrecked in the Gulf of St. Lawrence where its captain deserted.
See book shown on our Westport, Ontario web page, above.
November 5, 2016:
As Black '47 proceeded, most of the churches in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, took up dedicated collections
every Sunday. The people gave what they could afford. Here are the names of one Sunday's collection for famine
relief in a church which now is included within the City of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The church is St. Philip's in Richmond.
These church records are from the Drouin collection at ancestry dot com, a paid subscription service but are free
to use at many libraries and local Genealogical Societies, worldwide.
Names of Persons who contributed to the relief of the poor of Ireland (famine)
Richmond, Ontario, Canada
, 23 May 1847
Widow James Murray
James Douras, Sr.
Michael Brady 5 "
Bryan Kennedy 5 "
John Shea 5 "
Daniel Douris 5 "
John Carson 5 "
Thomas Ryan 5 "
Louis Dempsey 5 "
Garrett FitzGerald 5 "
Denis Teahan 5 "
Widow York 7.5 pence
E-mail Al Lewis
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