SS England, 1863 National Line
Healy family--Patrick and Mary and their four children, Patrick,
Thomas, Bridget, and Mary--left Castlebar, Ireland, in March of 1866, for
Queenstown, going by train. Queenstown, now called Cobh, is located fifteen
miles southeast of Cork in southern Ireland. This seaport city, with a
fine harbor, was the departure point for hundreds of emigrants leaving
Ireland for the United States and Canada.
S.S. England, a steamship built in 1865, was owned by the National
Line, a British ship. The ship left Liverpool on Wednesday, March 28, 1866,
stopping at Queenstown to pick up passengers before heading on to New York. The
ship's captain was. R.W. Grace. The ships passengers, 1202 in all, were
mostly German immigrants who boarded in Liverpool and Irish immigrants
who boarded in Queenstown. There were some saloon passengers, but most
were steerage. The England arrived in Queenstown a day later, Thursday,
March 29, about 5:00 in the evening. After boarding all the new passengers,
the ship sailed from Queenstown later that evening.
Four days later,
an eight-year-old German boy was found dead in his bed from cholera. The
next morning, another passenger, Thomas Walsh, aged 35, died. Patrick Healy,
in his history of the family, describes the death of his little sister,
Mary, during the voyage. Everyone was "singing and dancing and having a
merry time until a man took sick and was in violent pain and died. The
doctors made a thorough inspection of the remains and pronounced it cholera,
a deadly plague and sure death for everyone that caught it. The next day
ten died; the following day fifty died, and so on, until seven hundred
died out of 1,650 passengers which were on board when the steamship left Queenstown,
including one of our own--little Mary who was two years old at that time.
She was thrown overboard. I remember father who was appointed by the doctors
to help wrap the body in sheets and slide it out of the man-hole into the
ocean." According to saloon passenger Rev. Ambrose Martin, Captain Grace's
behavior, and that of the doctors and crew during this time was exemplary.
Letters to the New York Times written by other passengers on board praised
the captain's "gentlemanly conduct and tender sympathy" and that his "decisive
action" in heading for the intermediate port of Halifax was of great help
in checking the spread of the disease.
The ship headed
for Halifax where it dropped anchor in the bay and raised the yellow
warning flag. The ship was quarantined and the passengers were put on McNab's
Island in the bay. They were housed in tents. All their belongings were
burned. They were given new clothing, food and blankets. The weather turned
cold and snowy. Campfires burned night and day. According to one report,
some women and children sought shelter in the forested areas because people
in the tents would not let them in unless they were known by someone. When
the food was delivered, the weaker ones were left to fend for themselves.
The dead were buried at one end of the island.
was cleaned and fumigated. On April 17, Dr. Slayter, the health
officer in charge of the quarantine situation, himself died of cholera.
He was buried on April 18, the day the S.S. England left Halifax for New
York. Some of the passengers were left behind on McNab's Island. According to different
reports there were anywhere from 24 to 55 passengers left behind. This group was to leave later
on the steamer Louisa Moore whose captain was Mr. Wooster. This ship left
Halifax on May 17 and arrived in New York on May 24, 1866. At this point,
it cannot be determined on which ship the Healys sailed from Halifax to
New York. According to Patrick, his family was quarantined on the island
six weeks and then got on board another ship for New York. If they had
sailed from Halifax on the England, they would have been in Halifax less
than two weeks. If they sailed later on the Louisa Moore, they would have
been on McNab's Island five and a half weeks. So far, the passenger list
for the Louisa Moore, arriving in New York May 24, has not been located.
Although they are listed on the passenger arrival list for the England,
arriving May 11, there is a good chance that they actually arrived on the
arrived in New York in early May 1866
and anchored in the Lower Bay in a quarantine area. On May 3d, Dr. Swinburne,
the New York health official in charge of the quarantine area, reported
that all passengers on board the England were healthy. According to the
ship arrivals lists of the National Archives, the England "arrived" in
New York on May 11, 1866. On the ship's passenger list are the names of
the Healys: Pat Hely, age 36, male, laborer, from Ireland; Mary Hely, age
34, female, spinster; Pat Hely, age 8, male, child; Thos., age 6, male,
child; Bridget, age 3, female, child; and Mary, age 4, female, child. According
to Patrick, Mary was only two. Although she died at sea, she was still
listed in the ship's manifest, with no indication that she had died.
Patrick, the family spent two days in New York before leaving by
train for Waseca, Minnesota, where his Uncle Hugh Healy lived.
Manifest from the
S.S. England, arriving New York City May 11, 1866. National Archives Microfilm
M237, Roll 265, Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York,
1820-1897. Roll 265: May 11-25, 1866.
Cameron, Ian A. "Halifax
and the Cholera Epidemic of 1866." Halifax, Nova Scotia, The Nova
Scotia Medical Bulletin, Dec. 1984, p.149-153.
Registers of Vessels
Arriving at the Port of New York from Foreign Ports. National Archives
Series 1066, Roll 10, 1863-1867. Family History Center Microfilm 1415152.
Steamship England, a Narrative of Her Voyage and the Breaking Out of the
Cholera," New York Times, Saturday, May 19, 1866, p.2, col. 4. Written
by Rev. Ambrose Martin, a saloon passenger on board the S.S. England.
Virginia and England,
The; Letters of Thanks from Passengers. New York Times, May 4, 1866.
p.8, col. 3.
The Latest Report
from the Hospital Ship. Letter from Dr. Swinburne.
New York Times,
May 1, 1866, p.2, col. 5.
Arrival of Steamship
New York Times,
May 24, 1866.