Embarked : 120 women
Voyage: 246 days
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Tons: 353 Crew: 26 men
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Diary of Charles Picknell
|One of the seamen on the Kains was Charles Picknell. In 1930 part of his story and excerpts from a diary he kept were written by Mrs. R. Picknell and published in the Sydney Morning Herald-
In the writer's possession is a leather bound note book in which a member of the Kains crew Charles Picknell, kept a daily record of the voyage or at least for the first half of it. For at Capetown the entries cease. Whether the diarist shirked, like so many diarist do, the continuance of his efforts as a recorder or whether he came to the end of his stationery, the present writer cannot say. It is to be regretted that the diarist's impression of the Sydney of a century ago are not available, but, in the entries of the six months covered, we can obtain a graphic picture of the conditions in which convicts of the early 19th century were brought from British gaols and taken to overseas penal settlements : of incidents of the voyage; and of the relations between master and crew. Charles Picknell was illiterate; his spelling atrocious in the light of present day standards. But that he had some education is shown by his writing - a bold, free flowing style, which makes the reading of his pencilled entries 100 years later, an easy task. He was moreover, of an observant nature. Nothing seemed to miss his sharp eyes. His pencil never fails to record an interesting incident, however small and personal. He was judging by his comments on people and events a keen shrewd student of character, simple honest, unvindictive.
Picknell was born on 15 June 1810, one of ten children of William and Mary Picknell a Hastings (Sussex) family. Five of the children died young. Of his boyhood there is no record, but that he was a fond and dutiful son there is evidence throughout the diary. On the first page he had copied the inscription from a gravestone in the Fairlight cemetery as follows: Sacred to the Memory of Marey the wife of William Picknell, Who departed this life 16 October 1823 Aged 45 years. Also the mother of ten children, five of whom are likewise departed viz George, Mary, Thomas, Jobe, Sarah. The inscription ended with a four lined verse all carefully transcribed into the diary. I daresay that the 20 years old sailor often turned to that page during the stress and strain of the long voyage seeking comfort in it from the dangers of his life and from the harsh bullying of his officers. It has been further established that Picknell was apprenticed on 1 May 1826 to Boykett Breeds, merchant and shipowner to learn the art of mariner. Charles Picknell died in 1886 at Hastings and was buried not far from his mother.
Diary entries (with Charles Picknell's spelling and grammar preserved):
29 June - took in all prisoners from horse monger prison
30 June - took in prisoners from newgate prison all ironed and a crying
1 July took in prisoners from liverpool and manchester. heavy irons
2 July took in prisoners from bermigan (Birmingham) and city of York
Scottish and Irish prisoners were taken aboard on the 4th and 5th but meanwhile on the 3rd 'a sunderland brig drove athout (athwart) us, careyed away our maintopsail in to peases'(two pieces). On the 6th three free women named White Arthur and Harris came aboard.
Next day Picknell recorded: 'All prisoners and free women on board. Three quakers came on board praying with them and giving the prisoners all kinds of useful things. Orders came from the government to sail next tide.'
Picknell was on the eve of his greatest adventure -
The Kains sailed from Woolwich at 1 am on July 8 1830. The same afternoon she was at the mouth of the Thames, where Captain Goodwin fired a 'buldog'(salute) to his father. For three days the Kains was anchored in the Downs, and soon after she set sail again, Picknell wrote:'I had the weal (wheel) first time, I wished myself on shore'.
The Kains called at Spithead, and she was there on July 15 when King George IV was buried 'Guns firing on shore' Picknell recorded 'and we all hand scrubbed hammocks'. The Kains remained off the England coast until 28 July. Meanwhile Picknell entered in his diary that the cook had shaved him and cut his hair, that Swanage (where the ship stopped) was the 'furtherest' he had been to the west, that the 'starbert watch abused the larbert watch' and that at Torbay he hove the 'deapsy led' (deep sea lead) and had a glass of grog for doing it. At Exmouth visitors came aboard the Kains. 'We gave them three cheers. I lost my cap overboard'. Picknell reported.
Departure from England was made from Plymouth. Picknell's diary entry of the day has a graphic touch 'lost sight of old Landsend 1 o'clock. We and the 'Burrell'of London with one hundred and twenty men convicts both bound for Botany Bay, steered west with 21 sails on. Women was downhearted to leave old England. We run the Burrell out of sight. left off shoes and vest. '
There was a hint of trouble among the crew next day 'captain said 6 seamen wanted to rise a mutiny. It was for talking to the women, put into irons, lashed down to poop deck 2 days 1 night as mutineers put 4 from larbert 2 starbert watches. Fire arms over our heads 2 guns upon the poop levelled into the main deck. Two hundred miles from old England in the West Ocean then he began to ill use us. Apprentice Frederick Smith lashed up to Larbert rigging. Flog 6 dozen lashes for saying you and I can't hoist this punchin of wine alone. Guard over him, Swords, daggers, Captain struck several. Women crying.'
A Quaint Sylist
So delightfully naive are the next week's entries in the youthful sailor's diary that they are worth reproducing as they were written, with all their quaint spelling and lack of capitals:
'August 1 steard s. for warmer climate. I have for a long time before and since afflicted with growing pains all over me. (grog duff for 1 week)
2. heavy sea a.m. three east indiamen 1 dean brig showed collours. homeward bound, England.
3am calm heavy sea. captain. me. tryed current if not N.E. 2 hundred fathoms water, no sound. bay biscay. in lowering the boat struck my head. nocked my teath to peases.
P.M. spoke to bark silvia of London bound to riogenary (Rio de Janeiro), sun hotter than ever in England, steard sw P.M. 6 o'clock.
Child dyed a little girl 3 years old. evening captain gave larbert watch bottle rum for singing to cheer the women up
4am fair wind. steard ssw 12 o'clock. launch child overboard after prayers. crying. PM saw 5 spanish schoners. 5 Italian schoners bound to windward.
5 fair wind. seard SSW AM saw one dutch gale yct. 1 grecian brig. PM all hands at work
6. fair wind. steard SSW 8 nots 21 sails on us all is well.
7. fair wind steard SSW 10 nots. I got the guns ready for a pirate and holey stone the quarter deck first, all is well PM captain confined the chief mate for getting drunk and encouraging his watch to sing saucy songs. drunk 24 glasses.
On August 8 the Kains reached the island of Porto Santo, of which event Picknell wrote: 'Inhabited with portugese. mountains in the clouds, larbert watch saw it 50 nots before we got to it. rejoicing'. The chief mate was still under guard so the boatswain took charge of the larboard watch. On the 10th Picknell wrote AM made sandwich islands, saw immence sight of dolphins flying fish and mother careys chickens flying about. 6 nots going. made peak of tenreef hundred fifty miles off. going 11 half nots.
His detail of the Kains visit to Teneriffe is so good that it must be given as he wrote it.
11 Went into tenreef. let go our anchor then we let loose the chief mate. bumboats alongside. boco fruit (N.B. coco is an old Sussex word meaning fine, said to be from the French beaucoup). I went on shore with the captain in a boat. the first time I was on foreign land. first step was an unlucky one. I slip down. I had a glass of wine upon strength of it. spanyards inhabitants.
12 Thursday I went on shore. took in board 50 tons of wauter. washing day. bark integirty of London. experiment gernsy schooner. 11 spanish sconers in harbour then and hundreds of boats belonging to tenreef. I lost a collour over board penant flying.
13 took in 10 tons of wauter. I went on shore and swam along with the black boys. I went on shore 8 times at tenreef with the captain.
On August 14 the Kains voyage to Botany Bay was resumed but Picknell had uncomfortable reason to recall his stay at Teneriffe during the next few days. 'I hurt myself eating fruit at tenreef. I sold my hankerchief for a hat full of grapes' he wrote.
As the ship approached the tropics, Picknell had some interesting experiences to records.
16 Flying fish like sholes of birds the first that flew on board. no land. no ship. all is well. lowanced gallon of wauter a man- half a gallon each pit. pint each goose, half a gallon dosen ducks. pint a dosen chickens. every day all the voige.
17. trades wind NE steard s west. chief mate confined again for sending from tenreef to London and other misconduct. I was verry sick and in the doctors hands. took a medick, verry light headed, soar throat eat nothing for 4 days.
18. verry bad and light head. doctor paid me verry great attention every our. chief mate let loos to walk the decks. he broke, to have no command nor say whatever no more on board:
On August 19 the Kains entered the tropics. Picknells fever continued. He had scurvy in the teeth, but said that he was well attended and by the 22nd he was able to record 'I got myself out of the doctors list, thank god for it. I was ordered to clear of the sun and moon always and ware a broad brimed hat'
One of the woman convicts died. 'she twenty five years of age, two sisters. other one 15 years old belong to hull. 12 o'clock sowed up. prayers and then throwed her overboard, crying all over the ship. they was boath for life.'
The southward run continued. Picknell recorded such events as catching sharks, eating pieces of them and putting their 'tails and wings at the end of jibboom and sprit sail yard arms end'. One, Bob Sims - probably a superstitious fellow - ';throwed a cat overboard'. All hands were affected by the terrific heat and got prickley heat all over them.
One day the Kains met a Portuguese brig. The master boarded her and the crew said Pickenll 'got thousands of segars gave us' On September 7 'a beautiful brig, a pirate, spanish, bore down upon us and came up under lee. ask us in spanish were from ask us in England were bound told him east india. we opened ports loaded up all our guns with 2 balls ready for actions' But the pirate turned tail and so the day's entries came once more to be devoted to the routine of the sailor's hard life of a century ago.
As a junior member of the crew, Picknell seems to have had more than his share of the small jobs to do but he apparently attended to them well and without complaint in the trying heat and heavy topical rains. In the middle of September, he became a real blue water man by 'taking to chew tobacco and eating garlick' naively reporting himself after doing so as 'In good Health'
The prisoners had Patchwork, needles and thread served out to them. A six days tempest was encountered and considerable damage was done to the Kains sails and spars. Several of the crew suffered minor injuries.
CROSSING THE EQUATOR
Picknell recorded the meeting in mid ocean of the Kains and two other ships. the weather was calm, so the captains hove to and exchanged courtesies. The ships were the American 'Herald' from which a hundredweight of tobacco was bought a 1/- a lb, and the Susan Ann, a London cutter. The captains of these two vessels came aboard the Kains - a social affair that makes interesting reading these days. The Herald was six weeks out from America, the susan Ann two months from England, the Kains six weeks from Teneriffe. How the three masters must have enjoyed the dinner which the Kains cook prepared for them and the glasses of wine they drank!
At midday on September 28 the Kains crossed the equator. They observed the event with ceremony. Here is Picknells' own account of the festivities marking the Kains crossing: 'very hot across it, latitude 24s, longtitude nothing. prisoners put into prison, cleared up the deck. captain would not have no shaving on the account of our live cargo. (evidently the water supplies were running short and it was necessary to conserve them, not only on account of the humans abroad, but also for the animals carried for fresh food during the voyage. Hence the traditional shaving and ducking of newcomers to Neptune's domain were eliminated). Captain said we have what grog we like, grog came to us in horse buckets captain doctor and all the officers drank with us. we sung and played habrem wackets and pason parrish quite merry and drunk. prisoners singing well below. I kept myself sober and had all the sport. the merryest day we had on board ship Kains. no tales heard nor law on board our ship. nor no other ship on this day on the line. Harem wackets, more generally called wackets or wacks, and 'pason Parrish' (parson of the parish) were two games played by seamen)
For the first nine days of October Picknell had little of interest to record. On the 10th his entry was: fair. 4 sconers, under our lee. we ore down upon them. they took us to be a pirate and we took them to be pirates. they all run together. they was american sconers bound to new zealand and new south shetlands. the captains all came on board to dine.
An idea of the hardships suffered by ships crews in those days is given by Picknell's diary entry for October 11: four wind, spoke about our provisions, our bread mouldy and magoty, our beef like oakwood, our wauter stink and magoty. our peas all goan. 1 more cask of flour, we must now eat what the hogs want or starve quite.
Another ship was encountered, the Authol an English sloop of war, which bore down on the Kains in search of pirates and slavers from the Isle of sension (Ascension Island) to surleyhoan (Sierra Leone). The master of the Kains was informed that he was too near sickly Africa where the winds blow tropical disease far out to sea, so the Kains hove about. She was out of the tropics again on October 18, but just before that another child had died 'the youngest child on board' Picknell worte, 'belong to an Irish girl. born in newgate. 8 months old'
The long voyage and the wretched conditions were beginning to tell upon the men. The master must have sensed this, so to brighten his men he had two pairs of boxing gloves made, and he, his officers, and men had boxing matches on the quarter deck.
The chief mate, whose name was Cole, continued to be a source of trouble and on October 26 the captain said that he had incited three of the men to mutiny. The four recalcitrants were put in irons and fastened to the chain cable before the windlass, where they remained for several days until apparently they repented and were set free. The chief mate however was confined to his cabin. The Kains was running short of water and the daily ration was reduced to half a gallon and Picknell complained that the crew was in a starving state.
There is a delightful entry in the diary for October 31. 'I cut off my beard and mistashers (moustaches)' Picknell recorded after letting it grow 6 weeks. I got like a jew and was told of it'
November brought colder weather. A nine months old child died and a few days later the oldest woman convict aboard - a Nottingham woman aged 81 years of age was also consigned to the deep. An interesting note on November 13 recorded that at 10pm the Flying Dutchman, the phantom ship of the oceans, had been sighted. 'Broat her into action' the entry continues 'fired 1 gun. set all the women a crying, praying and confessing there sins. plenty of fun and grog that night.'
CAPE OF GOOD HOPE
From mid November the Kains steered her course south east to Capetown. It was with relief that Captain Goodwin must have realised that the Cape of Good Hope was not far away for Picknells diary indicates that the ships stores and spares were perilously low. One day Picknells recorded that there was 'hardly a sail or a piece of rope which was fit for trust to be placed in'. Picknell recorded that 'scurvy was raging aboard through bad living and short wauter'. Some are laid up. It is high time we made land'
At last on November 23 the Kains sighted the Cape of Good Hope and in company with a Scarborough brig she ran for Table Bay.
The Kains anchored close in shore but her troubles were not nearly over. A heavy swell capsized the windlass. 'Much danger under Table Cliff' wrote Picknell. 'very rocky. We up our cable and run into Table Bay' Even there trouble did not cease. The sailors mutinied and after the captain had beaten them with a mallet he put four of them in goal. These four were tried ashore and they were sentenced to 15 days imprisonment.
Picknell had several trips ashore chiefly in the Captains gig. He took advantage of them to buy some food including salmon and sugar. Succeeding days were spent in making good the damage done to the Kains on the voyage from London. Table Bay held no fewer than 30 English ships when the Kains was there. The repair work was continually delayed and interrupted by the rough weather but just before Christmas the work had been completed and a start was made with getting fresh provision aboard. Christmas celebrations were too much for the chief mate Cole. Having got drunk he threatened Picknell and other member of the crew with a pistol.
On Boxing Day an attempt was made to resume the voyage but the wind dropped, the Kains was becalmed, and a forced anchorage was made. On December 29 a wind from the south sprang up. The Kains hove about, and was able to ship out of the bay. Picknell's closing entries depict her as preparing to 'Run the easting down" to Australia.
His diary a really human document, ends on the last day of 1830, with a note that 'Prisoners and sailors sung the old year out, the new one in'. (8)