Famine Ship Elizabeth and Sarah
Ireland to Quebec Canada, 1846

Excerpt from "An Gorta Mor i gCill Alaidhe" (The Great Famine in Killala)
by Patricia Fitzgerald & Olive Kennedy (1996)


"One notorious 'coffin ship' was the Elizabeth & 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 &
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... 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 ot 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 quaterdeck 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, 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
John STEPHENS, late of the Parish of Westport
James JOYCE, late of the Parish of Laumore
(County Mayo)
Quebec, 22nd August 1846'."
November 4, 2011: Some of these passengers are listed on our page, Emigration from County Mayo to Canada.
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