Cholera on board the steamships England and Virginia 1866

Liverpool Mercury, April 21st, 1866

The steamer England [of the National Company's fleet] from Liverpool which left the Mersey on the 28th ult, for New York, with 1200 passengers on board has put into Halifax for medical assistance, having 160 cases of cholera and 50 deaths. She remains at Halifax strictly quarantined. The captain believes some German passengers brought the epidemic on board

Liverpool Mercury, April 23rd, 1866

The outbreak of cholera on board a steamer

Halifax April 9th

The England had 1200 passengers, the first case of cholera occurred on April 3rd, since when there had been 160 cases and 50 deaths. The vessel was ordered off by the authorities, but, owing to the rapid spread of the disease it was found impossible to proceed to sea. The vessel was accordingly anchored at a safe distance from the city, which is protected from contagion by a rigorous quarantine. Hospitals and shanties for the sick are erected on the beach and all necessary medical aid afforded. The passengers are principally Irish and German, Captain R. W. GRACE thinks the disease was brought on board by the latter.

Liverpool Mercury, April 27th 1866

Cholera has broken out at Rotterdam.

Liverpool Mercury, April 30th, 1866

Frightful mortality on board a steamer

130 additional deaths have taken place on board the steamer England at Halifax. The disease is decreasing and there is no sickness among the cabin passengers. The Halifax physicians pronounce the disease to be cholera.

Liverpool Mercury, May 1st, 1866

A seaman who has just arrived at Bristol from Rotterdam, via London, has died of Asiatic cholera.

Liverpool Mercury, May 4th, 1866

The cholera on board the Virginia

Regarding the cases on board the steamers England and Virginia, both vessels are at lower quarantine in New York Bay, 20 miles from the city. No new cases had occurred on board the England since leaving Halifax, and those on board the Virginia were both numerous and fatal. She had discharged some into the hospital ship, and with the extra medical assistance supplied from the city the disease was being got under

From the New York Herald

The Virginia left Liverpool on the 4th April, no cholera was shown to exist at that time. Touching a Queenstown Ireland, she received on board an additional number of passengers, which augmented the number to 1080. There were out of this number, but 14 cabin passengers, the rest were crowded into the steerage on two tiers or decks. A large portion is German and it is thought they brought the disease on board with them. The mortality has been greater among the Germans that the Irish and English passengers. It did not appear that there was cholera on board until the 12th April, when the vessel was eight days out of Liverpool. On that day a man who had diarrhoea suddenly grew worse and died. It is said the diarrhoea had existed, without any symptoms that were regarded as alarming, from the day of departure of the vessel. When the man died the ship's surgeon doubted whether the disease was cholera, but on the same day two other passengers were attacked. Afterwards the epidemic extended and on the passage the number of sick was over 100, exactly how many was not reported by the ship's officers, thy say the number is certainly less than 200.

It is mentioned as a singular circumstance that the cholera broke out on the Virginia in about the same place on the ocean at which the passengers of the steamship England, another of the National Steam Navigation Company's vessels [afterwards detained at Halifax], was attacked. This is important as it tends to confirm the theory advanced by a few persons that certain states of the atmosphere, sometimes found in belts, are peculiarly adapted for the development of cholera. The disease has not yet reached the cabin passengers.

List of the dead.

12th April, Ann BRENNAN, Peter FAUSTS, Johannes PERFUS

13th April, Harriet BRETT, Ellen LAVANCE, James SUMMERS, Johannes ANDERSON, Jos HERMAN, Mary GORMAN, Cornelius M'CARTHY, Peter MALOY

14th April, Ann WELSH, Michael KELLY, Michael WOLLY, Patrick SULLIVAN, Julia CRENAN, Henry STRAUSS, Daniel O'CONNELL

15th April, Lauritz HANSEN, PETERSON, Johannes COSTILLO, Gehila FAUST, William LANE


17th April, A. HALSTERHEAD, Daniel O'CONNELL, one woman name unknown, Daniel M'CARTHY, John GABEL, James DOHERTY [ordinary seaman] George DUFFIELD [fireman]

18th April, Rose MOONEY, John ROBERTS, Michael COSTUR, Daniel MAHONEY

19th April, William BURNS, Jeka AUSTREIZ, Patrick DUFFY

20th April, William FLYNN, Mary Ann SMITH

List of sick crew, Jos DAVISON, Henry M'KIE, SHEPPARD [steward] BRANFORD [boatswain]

Liverpool Mercury, May 7th, 1866

The cholera on board the Virginia

New York April 26th evening

75 additional cases of cholera have occurred on board the Virginia since her arrival in quarantine. 12 deaths took place on Tuesday

Dr SLAYTER, the Halifax physician who attended the passengers on board the England had died of cholera at Halifax, where three other cases are reported

New York paper

A terrible voyage

The following particulars concerning the Virginia, on board which cholera broke out while she was on the voyage to America, will doubtless prove painfully interesting :-

"On the 6th or 7th day after leaving port, and, it is said, while pursuing the same course followed by the England a few weeks previously, several of the passengers who had been complaining of dysentery began to show symptoms of cholera and on the 8th day the surgeon pronounced a number of the more seriously ill as suffering from that dreadful disease. The news spread like wildfire throughout the ship, and for a time the greatest consternation prevailed among the healthy passengers. One after another fell under the ban of the plague, until 77 passengers were stretched in their berths, labouring under the fearful tortures which the victims of this terrible scourge are ever certain to suffer. The other passengers fearful of catching the disease, for a long time refused to lend their assistance to the surgeon of the vessel, and almost without the slightest aid he and his assistants were obliged to work by themselves for the relief of the sufferers.

Before arriving at this port 38 persons had died of the pest. In the steerage in which the disease broke out, there are two compartments, one for women and the other for men. Between the two is an iron air-tight bulk, by which means any epidemic arising in one compartment is prevented from extending to that adjoining. But the disease, nevertheless, raged in both with equal fury, proving that persons of both sexes infected with the disease before embarking had been the promoters of the contagion. Amid the terrible scenes in the steerage, where the prostrated lay livid and gasping, one that struck even greater terror to the heart of those who had yet resisted the attacks of the disease was the occasional visits of the surgeon or one of his assistants to the berths of those who were found to be suffering the most, and whose bodies, when dead, were removed and thrown into the sea. Even those who were not dangerously ill and lay in their berths suffering intensely, now and then, as the twinges and gripings and discharges incident to the disease decreased in their intensity, had the appearance of corpses, livid in hue, the eyes sunken in their sockets, and the lips turned blue and tightly drawn up, pinched and cold as in death. To them the doctor's visits were not paid the most frequently, but to those berths wherein a few moments before he had beheld unfortunate men struggling in their last agonies of death. Body after body was carried out terrifying the living, who saw, as it were, their own fate pictured in the ghastly countenances of the upturned faces of the dead. With only a mere sail or cloth wrapped hurriedly around them and without the funeral formality of a prayer, the bodies were slid over the side of the vessel and consigned to their last resting place."

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