Author Topic: Merchant Navy Family history mystery  (Read 410 times)

Offline louisemcm

  • RootsChat Extra
  • **
  • Posts: 47
  • Census information Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk
    • View Profile
Merchant Navy Family history mystery
« on: Thursday 09 July 20 17:21 BST (UK) »
Hello everyone

I inherited a letter written in November 1849, several years ago, and had no idea why it had been kept in the family and who it was from. However, I think that I have just worked out who the letter was sent to and who wrote it.

I believe the letter is addressed to William Henry Seddon born 1832 in Liverpool.
It refers to his brother Ralph Dawson Seddon ( 2 x great-grandfather) born 2 Jan 1836 in Liverpool, signing up as an apprentice in the Merchant Navy.
I think the letter is signed by Ralph Dawson (not sure of DOB) who was the Master on the ship William Henry Seddon indentured on as an apprentice in 1847.
(I think Ralph Dawson was also the Master to  Ralph Dawson Seddon when he indentured in 1849 as I've found a record as Master on the "America")

The parents of William Henry and Ralph Dawson Seddon are George Latham Seddon (DOB April 1811, Liverpool)  and Maria Dawson (DOB possibly 1808 Manchester).

I believe that Maria Dawson and Ralph Dawson must be related in some way as in the letter Ralph Dawson refers to William's mother and siblings.

I've tried to find Maria Dawson's parents and a link between Maria and Ralph and can't find it or any siblings for either Maria or George Latham Seddon who could be the Aunt in France.

Could anyone help me with this?

I also don't really understand the Merchant Navy records that I have found so far.

Can anyone read the name of the Captain of the "America" that Ralph Dawson Seddon is sailing on or what the last sentence of the first page of the letter says?

Also is there any way of finding out more about "little boy Flynn", who's mentioned on the last page, who Ralph Dawson requests some parrots be bought for?

Sorry to ask so many questions but hoping somebody might be able to help me.

Best wishes
Louise

Offline ShaunJ

  • RootsChat Marquessate
  • *******
  • Posts: 18,567
    • View Profile
Re: Merchant Navy Family history mystery
« Reply #1 on: Thursday 09 July 20 17:35 BST (UK) »
The captain of the America was Gwatkin (confirmed by newspaper reports)
UK Census info. Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Offline a-l

  • RootsChat Aristocrat
  • ******
  • Posts: 1,583
  • Census information Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk
    • View Profile
Re: Merchant Navy Family history mystery
« Reply #2 on: Thursday 09 July 20 17:39 BST (UK) »
Captain Todd


Offline louisemcm

  • RootsChat Extra
  • **
  • Posts: 47
  • Census information Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk
    • View Profile
Re: Merchant Navy Family history mystery
« Reply #3 on: Thursday 09 July 20 17:45 BST (UK) »
Thank you both.
Which newspaper reports should I search for re Captain Gwatkin please ShaunJ?
Do you know if Ralph Dawson replaced Captain Gwatkin as Master as I found a record (attached) with Ralph Dawson in the "America".
I don't really understand the record.
Thanks for your help
Louise

Offline ShaunJ

  • RootsChat Marquessate
  • *******
  • Posts: 18,567
    • View Profile
Re: Merchant Navy Family history mystery
« Reply #4 on: Thursday 09 July 20 18:00 BST (UK) »
Quote
Which newspaper reports should I search for re Captain Gwatkin please ShaunJ?

I just searched the newspaper archives for America Gwatkin. It comes up in shipping reports. There were a couple of master mariners called Gwatkin working at that time. A Christopher Gwatkin was master of the Stirlingshire. I haven't identified the one who was master of the America in 1849 but it wasn't Christopher.
UK Census info. Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Offline seaweed

  • RootsChat Aristocrat
  • ******
  • Posts: 2,206
  • I'll see you one day in Fiddlers Green.
    • View Profile
Re: Merchant Navy Family history mystery
« Reply #5 on: Thursday 09 July 20 21:19 BST (UK) »
The captain of the America was Gwatkin (confirmed by newspaper reports)

Lloyd's Register https://hec.lrfoundation.org.uk/archive-library/lloyds-register-of-ships-online

confirms Gwatkin as master of  AMERICA from 1849ish until 1853ish (Lloyd's Reg can be up to 12 months behind) Her previous master was given as Cornish. America was built in Nova Scotia in 1848, registered in Liverpool 706 grt. Should that read G Watkin/s
There were a couple of smaller vessels around in the same line with the name AMERICA. None of them give the name Ralph Dawson as master. I cannot find anything in the Mercantile Navy List or Lloyd's Captains Register for Ralph Dawson.

Louise. Is there any chance you could transcribe the letter. Hard going for old eye's!
Dim ateb yn well nag ateb anghywir. Nid oes dim yn ddall fel rhai nad ydynt yn dymuno gweld

Offline louisemcm

  • RootsChat Extra
  • **
  • Posts: 47
  • Census information Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk
    • View Profile
Re: Merchant Navy Family history mystery
« Reply #6 on: Thursday 09 July 20 23:02 BST (UK) »
Dear Seaweed.
I've copied it out but there are some words that I am not sure about so I've put question marks next to them. It's a lovely letter to read.  Thanks Louise

"Liverpool 12 November 1849

Dear William

I send you these few lines by the Venture(?) sailing tomorrow for old Calabar. My principle reason for writing to you is to say that I forgot to let your mother know that there was an opportunity of writing to you. She is quite well and so is your brother and sister. You will be surprised to learn that your Brother Ralph has determined upon going to sea and has shipped himself with M(?) Gwatkin to go in the America. Sailing in about a fortnight. You must write to him by the Venture and she will go to Bonny (??) from your River (??).
I sincerely hope that you will do all in your power to please Captain Todd and also to improve yourself in seamanship, navigation and above all in your manner and Gentlemanly conduct. You must know how much your future prospects in life depends not only upon your steadiness and honesty but upon your manner and address. Let me beg of you to do all you can to improve yourself in this and rest assured that I will do all I can for you. Whatever leisure(?) time you have spend it in reading such books as will improve and enlighten you.
I have received a letter from France this morning. Your Aunt and the children are well. Keep a watchful eye upon the little boy Flynn his Father has written him by this vessel.
Write me a very long letter by the first opportunity and tell me of all that you have seen at Calabar wishing you your health and a safe return.
Believe (?) me
Yours very sincerely

R Dawson
Tell Captain Todd to buy a couple of Parrots for the Boy Flynn"

Offline lobbzz

  • RootsChat Extra
  • **
  • Posts: 49
    • View Profile
Re: Merchant Navy Family history mystery
« Reply #7 on: Thursday 09 July 20 23:02 BST (UK) »
This is my attempt at transcribing: I have keep the line order where possible 99% done

Liverpool 12th Nov 1849
Dear William
I send you .
By the Venture sailing tomorrow
For old Calabar my principle reason
For writing to you is to say that I forgot
To let your Mother know that
There was an opportunity of writing
To you  the _ is quite well and so
Is your brother ?.. You will
Be surprised to learn that your
Brother Ralph has determined .
Going to sea and has shipped
Himself with Mr Gwatkin to go
In the America. Sailing in about
A fortnight you must write to him by the Venture and she will
Go to Barry[?] from your Prince
I sincerely hope that you will
Do all in your power to please
Captain Todd and also to improve
Yourself in seamanship
Navigation and above all
In your manner and Gentlemanly
Conduct you
Must know how much your
Future prospects in life depends
Not only upon your steadiness
And honesty but upon your
Manner and address let
Me beg of you to do all you can to inform yourself
In this. And rest assured
That I will do all I can
For your whatever leisure
Time you have you have spend it
In reading such books as
Will inform and enlighten you
I have received a letter from
Frances this morning your
Aunt and the children are
Well. Keep a watchful eye upon
The little boy .?... his father
Has written him by T..
Write me a very long letter by
The first apportunity and tell
Me of all that you have seen
At Calabar wishing you your
Health and a safe return
Believe me
Yours very sincerely
R
Tell captain Todd to buy a couple
Of Parrots for the boy Flynn

Lobb (plymouth + devon + Gosport London), Ford (stepney Bow), Baynton(philedelphia) Barnes (Wimborne), Hopwood (Little Drayton), Winter (Malta), Teague (IOW)

Offline lobbzz

  • RootsChat Extra
  • **
  • Posts: 49
    • View Profile
Re: Merchant Navy Family history mystery
« Reply #8 on: Thursday 09 July 20 23:04 BST (UK) »
The Venture is the ship the writer is on.

I kind of think the Aunt is called Frances, not that she is from France.
Lobb (plymouth + devon + Gosport London), Ford (stepney Bow), Baynton(philedelphia) Barnes (Wimborne), Hopwood (Little Drayton), Winter (Malta), Teague (IOW)