The Hope's emigrate

It was Sunday morning in Melbourne and a typically frosty June mist hung over the Yarra. The sky was clear and a feeble sun gave promise of a pleasant late-Autumn day to follow. Activity on Queen's Wharf, usually of a hectic pace, had slowed to a low ebb, as was its wont on the Sabbath.


S.S. Atalanta had just berthed, 79 days out from Liverpool with 379 emigrants on board, and luggage had begun to emerge from the ship. On the wharf Jane Smith eagerly scarred the faces on the upper deck for her sister Alice. Jane had travelled with her husband Adam and children from Hynam, South Australia to greet the Hopes; Alice and Thomas and their 9 children. Suddenly Alice called from the gangplank and seconds later Jane reached her side. The two embraced tearfully and affectionately.


In the general melee that ensued Thomas Hope and Adam Smith greeted one another warmly and the younger Hope children were introduced.


The year was 1856. Thomas was 46 years of age, his wife Alice a year or so his junior. Sarah and David each in their early 20's had assisted their seven younger siblings to survive the long and tedious journey from Liverpool. Euphemia 18, Thomas junior 16, Jessie 14, Richmond 12, Maggie 7, William 5 and John 2, made up the remainder of the family of 2 adults and 9 children.


The S.S. Atalanta  was a 934 ton wooden ship under Captain John Blyth with Dr John Carroll MD as the ship's Surgeon Superintendent. The Hope family comprised 11 of the 379 Government emigrants on board. They spent 79 days on the open sea before reaching Melbourne. This was an excellent time considering that 10 years earlier the voyage would have taken approximately 120 days.


The voyage to Australia must have been a harrowing experience for the Hope family, especially Thomas who had not really wanted to emigrate, but he abided by his wife's wishes that they must find a better climate for their youngest son, who suffered ill-health. It is difficult to imagine the pitching and groaning in the heavy seas and mountainous waves of the Southern Ocean or the boredom experienced over the 79 days. Time was spent lolling about the decks, chatting, scanning the horizon for passing ships to carry letters home and fishing not only for fish but albatross as well. That is if the weather so permitted. If not, the days were spent below decks in the crowded atmosphere where people ate, talked and slept within arms length. At night some passengers read, sang, danced or played cards, whilst others gambled and drank excessively. There was no spare room on ships under 1,000 tons and especially for passenger's privacy or quiet times.


During the voyage the government emigrants were supervised by a surgeon superintendent and John Carroll was their Surgeon on board the S.S. Atalanta. Eleven people lost their lives during the voyage, which was an average death rate for an assisted immigrant ship of the 1850's. Nine of the deaths were of children under 7 years of age and they died from complications of measles, whooping cough and gastric fevers.


The Hopes were assisted immigrants to Australia and this meant that they would have dealt with the Colonial Land and Emigration Commission in London to secure their passage. Certain requirements had to be met before the voyage began. The passengers had to provide their own sheets, towels, soap and luggage boxes as well as a minimum outfit of clothing. For females this consisted of six shifts, two flannel petticoats, six pairs of stockings, two pairs of shoes and two gowns. For males they were required to possess six shirts, six pairs of stockings, two pairs of shoes and two complete suits of exterior clothing. As well, the migrant was expected to meet the cost of the passage to the port of embarkation as well as to contribute towards the passage to Australia; which was one pound for each child under 14 and generally two pounds for labourers and female servants. Thus the Hope family would have paid between 20 and 30 pounds for their fare, quite a considerable sum in the 1850s. They were classed as members of the 'successful' working class of the day.


Aboard ship, families were provided with rations, cooking utensils, mattresses, bolsters, blankets and counterpanes, a knife and fork, two spoons, a metal plate and drinking mug. The emigrants were allowed to keep the latter articles upon their arrival in the colony. Personal luggage could not exceed half a ton weight and had to be divided between two or three boxes not more than 36" x 20" x 18", however, small necessary tools of trade were admitted. Provision on board was made for washing clothes and bathing. The surgeon was responsible for conducting religious services, organising berths and messes of the emigrants and providing some form of education for the children. In other words he was doctor, supervisor, inspector and protector of the migrants. He chose people on board to help maintain discipline, to teach, to assist with the cooking and hospital duties. They received a small gratuity at the end of the voyage.


After 3 months on the high seas, one can speculate on the myriad of emotions on that Sunday when the S.S. Atalanta berthed at Melbourne on 15 June 1856.


Upon their arrival, the Hopes were permitted to remain in an immigrant depot after they had disembarked. In Melbourne these were situated in King Street, Princes Bridge, Carlton and Batman's Hill, although it is not known where the Hopes stayed. They were allowed to stay until they had secured employment, but this usually involved a maximum stay of around 10 days. Strict rules governed this accommodation which forbade alcohol, fraternisation and fires and lights after 9.00pm. The inmates could not refuse a job offer and were expected to rise at 7.00am for muster and perform given duties till breakfast at 9.00am. Usually the rest of the day was free. Disobedience of these rules meant dismissal from the depot. Several passengers on board the S.S. Atalanta were dismissed from the depot, some being absent from the morning muster and some for being drunk. Sixteen year old Thomas Hope was one of the latter being discharged for drunkenness on the 30 June, 15 days after arriving in Australia. Not so coincidentally his parents discharged themselves and their four youngest children on the same day and headed for South Melbourne, presumably to find accommodation, before they set out on their trip to South Australia.


Euphemia, aged 18 went to work for a Mr Litchfield of Williamstown as a domestic servant with a wage of 25 pounds. Her younger sister Jessie, just 14, went to work for Mrs Ridding of Tyrone Street, North Melbourne (just near today's Old Melbourne Motor Inn) at a wage of 15 pounds and 12 shillings. Mrs Ridding was a 'family friend' and she also accommodated Sarah, who was described as 'having gone with her friend, Mrs Ridding'.


Twenty year old David Hope secured work with a Mr Samual Figges of Richmond at 30 pounds for six months.

to Page 7: ... arrival at Hynam, SA

Thomas Hope [dob:1810 (c)]

Family Armstrong

HOPE stemmata