Henry's transatlantic crossing

October 29th - November 11th 1859  

Fred Lillywhite

John Wisden
Henry was a regular trans-Atlantic commuter combining his duties as a parish priest in Bitterne, Hampshire with the management of the Usborne timber interests in Quebec. Henry saw huge advances in shipping between 1840 and 1870 as iron and steam replaced wood and sail. The Montreal Ocean Steamship Company ran a service leaving Quebec at 9 am every second Saturday bound for Liverpool via Londonderry. This was subsidized by the government with a fare in of $80 from Canada or 18 guineas from England. The company announced that, starting April 1859, the service would increase to weekly sailings. Accordingly two more ships were added to the fleet. One was the SS North Briton constructed in Dumbarton by William Denny & Co. She was an iron hulled clipper ship rigged for sail with one funnel and a single screw, 2,187 tons gross weight, 298 feet long and 38 ft wide. She was launched on June 11th 1858 and carried 151 first class and 332 3rd class passengers. With a cruising speed of 10 knots the crossing took two weeks.
She had a short life with a maiden voyage in April 1859 and was wrecked in a snow-storm on Mingen Island off the coast of Labrador on November 5th 1861. 

At ten o'clock on Saturday October 29th we weighed anchor, and made a move for old England. Everything was pleasant and comfortable until we got out of the 700 miles of river. We went on charmingly until the evening of November 3rd when we encountered "bumpy" ground, which evidently had not been "rolled" since we left it two months previously. The expressions of the captain gave us reason to think that he would make everyone present comfortable, if possible. Some thought that, unless he could prevent the ship from rolling about, his attempts to make us comfortable would not be attended with very great success. We had now ascertained the exact time for meals, and, with the exception of those whose stomachs would not allow them to “devour”, all attended to the sound of the bell. Breakfast at half past eight, lunch at twelve, dinner at four, tea at seven and supper from nine to eleven. The captain ordered more sail up as the “wind was drawing aft a little”. There was not anything like the number of passengers at dinner, as on the previous day. Later in the evening the breeze freshened almost 

Fellow passengers included the return, in triumph, of the first team of English cricketers to tour abroad. They had won all their matches in Montreal, New York, Philadelphia, Hamilton and Rochester.
Fred Lillywhite, the promoter was for a while a business partner of team-mate John Wisden of "Wisden's Cricket Almanack" fame.
In 1860 Fred wrote a popular book titled “The English Cricketers trip to Canada and the United States” from which the extract below are taken.

Steam Ship North Briton

into a gale and the quicksilver in the barometer fell rapidly. Upon casting one’s eye round the deck the usual places were filled by those to whom a sea voyage was anything but one of pleasure, and these appeared exceedingly desirous of putting foot on land again. Upon turning around you would find two or three passengers on their backs, an excellent position, when the ship takes a severe roll. Caffyn and Stephenson here attempted the task of going below, when an alarming pitch caused them both to be precipitated to the bottom of the steps, and nothing more was seen of them for two and a half days. Shortly after five o’clock a.m. all sails were hauled in, the boatswain’s whistle being heard all over the ship. The equinoctial gales had evidently set in, of which the breakfast

seats gave ample proof. The gale increased and we were in the midst of a hurricane. Some half of the passengers did not leave their berths. A Frenchman did not leave it for sixty five hours. Owing to the novelty of the situation, the groaning of some, the splash and the thump of the waves against the side of the ship, the howling of the wind, the flapping of the sails, and the incessant tramp of feet upon the deck made sleep quite out of the question; so there lay the Frenchmen with nothing to keep breath in his body, but warm water and sugar, a very poor sweetener in his cup of bitter annoyances. After his sixty five hours of rest, he attempted to land himself on the floor of the berth, endeavoring at first to get a footing on the side of his fellow passengers bunk, but

in so doing, the brass railings, on which he entirely depended for his safe landing gave way, and he was prostrated on the spot he had so industriously endeavored to make; he was consequently, rolled about and bruised, until the “stewhart”, which word he could only just utter, could make his appearance. After so lengthened a confinement below, upon so poor and watery diet, he of course became exceedingly weak and could scarcely utter a syllable, and not being anxious to again trust to the brass rod, he requested to bring “the scales”; this being asked in such a feeble voice, it was some time ere the poor gentleman could clearly explain what he required. It turned out to be a ladder, that he might descend without the assistance of his deceitful friend, the brass rod. Having safely landed, assisted by the steward, he uttered the words, in a

Feeling poorly
low plaintive voice, that “it was von dam nuisance, and he vould not again shail on the vater”. He was in fearful agony, and could not for the world manage to get his legs into his pantaloons without assistance. This at length was accomplished and the Frenchman managed to crawl a few yards from his berth.
The weather continued fearfully bad until Sunday November 6th when the sea lowered about 12 noon. It was however for a short time that the gale subsided, when it came on with more terrific force. Away went the jib boom. Captain McMaster with the crew, all forward, in order to save the broken jib boom from getting entangled with the screw. Frequently the whole body of them were under the gigantic waves, but still the work was to be done. The

Tossed about
sea lifted one of the immense anchors, at the same time knocking a poor sailor underneath it, thus crushing both his legs, breaking them across the calves. With all the attention the doctor could bestow he was never restored to health, and lingered only till we reached England. While the poor sufferer lay in this hopeless state a subscription was started and the sum of £30.16s. was collected. One gentleman, Mr Hodges gave a handsome donation of $20. Rev Mr Usborne gave 10s. while the English Cricketers gave 7s.6d. By permission of the Captain, Fred Lillywhite arranged a concert to take place at which seven of the cricketers contributed songs. They included Land Ho, Paddy Whack and Good bye, sweetheart, Good bye. The musical talents of Mr Samuels and his brother performers were so highly appreciated that a considerable addition was realised. So far was the poor widow relieved when the

Gale force
touching scene occurred of her coming to the ship's side to meet her husband and receive the shocking news of his death earlier that day.
As we were in sight of the Liverpool lights, we went aground, in attempting to come over the bar at the entrance of the Mersey, but fortunately that difficulty was soon surmounted by the energy of the captain, pilot, officers and crew, and we landed on the wharf at Liverpool shortly before twelve o'clock on Friday night, November 11th. 

Tragic accident