Liverpool Mercury, Saturday, July 5th, 1913
THE PLAGUE SHIPS
Imagine the cargo of several hundred, men, women and children cooped up together like herrings, all fearful of destruction among the huge waves, with just a few planks between them and death.
Then imagine that the rumour has spread that the vessel is plague stricken, that the dread cholera has broken out on board!
During the month of November in the year 1853, 28 emigrant ships sailed to America from European ports carrying, 13,762 passengers. The cholera broke out on all of the 28 ships, 1,141 persons died, 4 to 5000 people were affected by the cholera.
Table appearing in the New York Herald, December 1853.
[NB the edge of the paper is badly damaged, some parts illegible, ? added as to missing letters, could guess at names but would not like to mislead]
L – Length of passage in days
P – passengers
D – Deaths from cholera
FOREST KING, from Liverpool, L- 48, P – 589, D – 39
PRINCE ALBERT, from London, L – 42, P – 378, D – 35
DEVONSHIRE, from London, L – 30, P – 596, D – 27
Wm TAPSCOTT, from Liverpool, L – 35, P – 940, D – 62
CORINTHIAN, from Harve, L – 50, P – 514, D – 44
FORTITUDE, from Harve, L – 40, P – 324, D – 20
CENTURION, from Liverpool, L – 40, P – 392, D – 15
STATESMAN, from Antwerp, L – 37, P – 299, D- 26
? UNION, from Liverpool, L – 38, P – 620, D – 89
?OTHENBURG, from Hamburg, L – 37, P – 290, D – 26
DELAWARE, from Bremen, L - 37, P – 236, D – 15
EMMA FIELDS, from Liverpool, L – 35, P – 439, D – 42
?LHAIN, from Liverpool, L – 29, P – 932, D – 53
?OWARD, from Antwerp,L – 40, P – 265, D – 7
ANTARCTIC, from Liverpool, L – 34, P – 531, D – 65
?MPIRE, from Harve, L – 33, P – 723, D – 73
?INE, from Hamburg, L – 40, P – 205, D – 14
?DELIA, from Liverpool, L – 31, P – 421, D – 24
?ORNELIA, from Liverpool, L – 43, P – 466, D – 13
?LONDA, from London, L - ?, P – 353, D – 33
CONSTELLATION, from Liverpool, L – 33, P – 922, D – 100
?IBERNIA, from Liverpool, L – 30, P – 380, D – 33
?LAS GREENMAN, from Liverpool, L – 45, P – 351, D – 27
?OCHAMBEAN, from Liverpool, L – 38, P – 430, D – 11
Geo HWLBUT, from Harve, L – 36, P – 685, D – 76
NEW WORLD, from Liverpool, L – 34, P – 754, D – 75
?OWHATAN, from Rotterdam, L – 47, P – 196, D – 13
?ARATHON, from Liverpool, L – 59, P – 531, D – 64
The biggest mortality was on the Constellation which left Liverpool on the 25th October and reached New York on the 25th November, 34 days, with 922 on board, it was 2days out when cholera made its appearance.
There was as many as 80 persons sick at one time, 10 people died in one day.
The disease was rendered more virulent by the large number of emigrants lacking in provisions for the voyage, dependent on the weekly rations handed out on the vessel, mortality was therefore excessive amongst the steerage passengers.
The crowded state of the vessel was most injurious to the health of the passengers, space allowed per passenger is 14 ft, the constellation had 7 ft less, the passengers confined between decks compelled to breathe the loathsome and fetid atmosphere of the steerage.
In the steerage apartment the walls are lined with 2 rows of bunks placed one above the other, each capable of accommodating, 2/3 people.
The berths are like temporary bedsteads made in the roughest style, plain, pine boards.
Each passenger finds his own bedding, generally scant and of poor description. Hundreds of people are housed of both sexes and all ages, most confined to their beds during the voyage in an enfeebled state.
There are no windows, the only source of light and ventilation being an opening on the deck 4ft by 6ft.
The scenes occurring on these plague ships are of the most melancholy character, 3 and 4 children left without parents, whole families swept off, 10 persons have died, 80 lie prostrate, several of these in the convulsive struggle of death.
The vapour rising from this loathsome abode affects you with the most sick nausea, yet up to 800 people are breathing its infected atmosphere.
Here is a young woman whose child has been committed to the deep in the last agonies of the plague, she has no friends and was on her way to meet her husband in Michigan, anxiously waiting their arrival.
We saw his affectionate letter to her enclosing money to pay her expenses and the liveliest satisfaction at the prospect of seeing her after long years of separation.
He is one of hundreds who will look in vain for the arrival of friends and relatives.
The CONSTELLATON complied with the requirements of the law, the humanity of the Captain and officers was spoken of in the highest terms of praise by the passengers. She appears to be ventilated as well as any ship can be and has never had so much sickness and death on board during the 3 to 4yrs she has been running between Liverpool and America, the sailors alarmed by the sickness refused to sail on any other passenger ships.
Our next article extracts from a Liverpool passenger on the Constellation
Copyright 2002 / To date