Passenger accommodation between Ireland and Liverpool – May 1849.

IRISH STEAMERS. Captain Denham’s Report on Passenger Accommodation in Steamers between Ireland and Liverpool. — May 1849.

(PRESENTED TO PARLIAMENT BY HER MAJESTY’S COMMAND.)

Captain Denham’s Report on Passenger Accommodation in Steamers between Ireland and Liverpool.

Steam Navigation Department, Board of Trade.
Whitehall, 21 May 1849.

Sir,

In compliance with the desire of the Lords’ Committee of Privy Council for Trade, as conveyed to me by your letter of the 24th ultimo, I proceeded to Liverpool on the following day, “To ascertain the extent to which the strong representations, made by a deputation from the inhabitants of Liverpool to the President of the Board of Trade, on the 23d ultimo, as to the sufferings and danger constantly arising on board the steamers plying between Ireland and Liverpool, from overcrowding of passengers and cattle, were substantiated; and to collect such information as would enable the President to decide on the merits of the case, whereon the deputation had urged the Government to interpose for the prevention of such practices.”

I was received by the Mayor of Liverpool (J. Bramley Moore, Esq.) with much courtesy, who forthwith placed a room at my service in the Town-hall, and convened such of the local authorities and officers as might be cognizant of the alleged practices and consequences.

Accordingly the undermentioned gentlemen assembled on the following day in the presence of his worship, viz.: the stipendiary magistrate, Edward Rushton, Esq.; the commissioner of police, M. Dowling, Esq.; the town clerk, J. Shuttleworth, Esq.; the vestry clerk, Charles Hart, Esq.; the acting churchwarden, J. Ferguson, Esq.; the churchwarden elect, Richard Harbord, Esq.; the overseer, E. P. M’Knight, Esq.

The Mayor requested the attention of these gentlemen to the mission entrusted to me, and authorized them to afford me such information as I might require, and appointed the Town-hall as the place of conference and deposit for all written statements and returns on the subject: whereupon I requested from the police department a return of the gross number of deck passengers which had been noted by that force on landing at Liverpool from steamers during the last three months, distinguishing emigrants and jobbers from paupers. Also, from the same department a return in detail of the arrival of deck passengers, showing the names of the vessels, and the number of cattle, horses, sheep, and pigs on board at the same time during the current month.

From the parish authority I requested a return of the number of paupers passed back to Ireland during the last three months, showing the amounts paid by the parish, and the nature of the comfort stipulated for by the pass-officer, at the instance of the magistrates.

From the medical gentlemen who had been appointed by the local authorities to inspect the Irish steamers on their arrival, I requested a statement of their experience on the following points:—

1. The number of deck passengers in one vessel?

2 . The nature of area space for such on deck ?

3. What space was reserved below for them?

4. Were cattle and passengers mixed ?

5. Had women, and children separate accommodation ?

6. Was fresh water sufficiently and conveniently provided for the number on board ?

7. Was any protection from inclement weather provided for such passengers .

8. The state of ventilation below ?

9. The effects on individuals from exhaustion on the passage? From the inspectors of police, stationed at the steam-packet docks, I desired to have a statement of their observations on the general condition of deck passengers on arriving. And on my application to the collector of customs (Elias Arnaud, Esq.) he forthwith ordered a statement of the condition in which the deck passengers from Ireland were observed to be by the tide surveyor on boarding the arriving steamers. From the gentlemen who formed a part of the deputation to the Board of Trade on the subject, I requested a statement of their grounds of application for Government interference. I also applied to the Admiralty agent for transports and packets at Liverpool, Commander Bevis, R. N., for official observations and opinion on the practices complained of.

Having arranged for the production of the foregoing returns and statements, a working committee was formed from the gentlemen present, to accompany me in the inspections I proposed making on the spot, and to confer with the steam vessel interests trading with Ireland. The said committee comprised the following gentlemen, Mr. Harbord, Mr. Hart, Mr. M‘Knight; and with whom I proposed to associate such of the said steam-vessel interest as might find it convenient to attend. Accordingly an invitation was sent to that interest through Charles Wye Williams, Esq., the managing director of the chief company of the port viz. “The City of Dublin Steam Vessel Company,” when the undermentioned gentlemen attended, and gave us the benefit of their experience on the subject under our inquiry; viz., Mr. Williams City of Dublin Steam Vessel Company; Mr. Tamplin, Dublin and Liverpool Screw Schooner Company; Mr Wilson, Cork Steam Ship Company; Mr. M’Elloroy, Drogheda, Steam Vessel Company.

I first availed of this co-operation by propounding the heads of certain returns which I desired to call for from the principal passenger-traffic lines between Ireland and Liverpool; viz.

Dublin, Dundalk, Newry, Drogheda, Belfast, Londonderry, Sligo, Port Rush, Coleraine, Wexford, Waterford, and Cork.

The said returns were to embrace the last three months’ traffic, and to comprise the following 13 points; viz.—

1st. The name, tonnage, and power of each steam-vessel, distinguishing whether propelled by paddle or screw?

2d. The average passage from Ireland, noting the maximum and minimum passages?

3d. The number of deck passengers at one trip in each vessel?

4th. The actual area of clear deck for such passengers, not including poop-hatchways, forecastle, windlass, or paddle-boxes?

5th. Whether any space was provided below for deck passengers to take shelter in, if necessary?

6th. The total number of deck passengers during the last three months?

7th. The gross tonnage of all the vessels carrying the same?

8th. The gross area on deck of ditto?

9th. The gross area below of ditto?

10 th. The number of gallons of water carried for passengers?

11th. The amount of boat capacity in each vessel?

12th. The number of deaths or accidents to passengers, known to have occurred to passengers in consequence of overcrowding or exposure to cold, since such vessels have been running?

13th. Why have screw vessels been employed to carry deck passengers in addition to the regular paddle vessels?

Whilst the above queries were being despatched (with letter B. in Appendix) to the several steam-vessel agents, and pending the various returns, which did not come in until the 14th of May, I obtained the following verbal particulars :

1st. From Mr. Charles Wye Williams, the managing director of the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company,—

“That their real passenger-traffic is, and was originally intended to be, by paddle steamers; at fares of 5 s. each for deck passengers, though subsequently at 3 s.; but which was raised again to 5s., at the instances of the parochial authorities of Liverpool, during the pernicious influx of Irish paupers in 1847. This company has on the Irish lines 19 paddle steamers, varying in size from 493 to 196 registered tons, and from 350 to 120 horse power. They are, however, only prepared to carry cabin passengers, with cargoes of goods and cattle: but they do carry deck passengers besides, and have done so for the last 25 years with impunity, as many at a time, in one vessel, as 689, up to the last month; and indeed, during the harvest season, as many as 1,400, at 3 s. per head, have been carried in one vessel per trip; but then she is wholly appropriated. But for the ordinary traffic at other seasons no space is exclusively appropriated to deck passengers, their numbers fluctuate so much. The Company’s system is to load with goods and cattle, and then receive such deck passengers as may come at the starting hour; certainly without limit, and must settle down as they best can; and would appear to a stranger to be too numerous to find deck space, crowded as they are upon the paddle-boxes and upper-works (some for curiosity sake) as they leave, and arrive at, the ports.

“Respecting the unequal distribution of deck passengers when two or three vessels sail on any one tide, it is occasioned by parties themselves preferring particular vessels, and over which we have no control. And on this point Government regulation might be of service, as they force their way upon us. Our loss by cattle perishing on board is under 200 per annum.

“When we carry troops to Ireland by Government contract, no cargo is allowed, nor more than 350 persons, including officers, soldiers, and women. These we take at 1£ 10 s. 6 d. per officer, and all others at 6 s. 6 d., and for such a freight we dedicate the whole vessel, including lime, and materials, for thoroughly cleansing and whitewashing the holds.

“We have screw vessels (schooners) too. These were not intended to carry passengers at all; but have done so since the Dublin and Liverpool Screw Schooner Company began, and that competition has brought our fares to 1 s. per head.

“It will be seen by the Returns, that when two, three or four vessels leave Dublin at the same time, some have very few, while others have several hundreds of deckel’s, often to the inconvenience of the company. Deck passengers like to congregate. Here the interference of Government would be wholesome.

“In vessels coming from those ports from which deck passengers chiefly come, as Dublin, Drogheda, and Dundalk, the principal paying freight consists of cattle, sheep and pigs; with these on board, no under-deck accommodation could be given to passengers.”

Such being the remarks and opinion of the representative of the principal coasting stearm company,—

We have next, and 2dly, the remarks of the representative of the Screw Schooner Company. Mr. Tamplin states that,—

“Our screw schooners are from 148 to 211 tons, and of 28 horse maximum power. They were intended principally to carry goods and cattle, but have carried deck passengers during the last 12 months, beginning with 2s. 6d. per head; but have been induced to lower it to 1s. during the last six months, because the City of Dublin Company’s screws carried at 1 s.; such a competition renders it more desirable to carry goods and cattle. But at 2 s. 6d . we could ensure such passengers accommodation between decks, if they presented themselves in time before cargo or cattle come down. When it occurs that passengers and cattle come down together, we take 50 instead of 230 deckers; but the 50 are not to expect any shelter. When passengers of that class are below we have great anxiety about fire from smoking.

“Supposing the number of this class of passengers to be brought under official regulation, the fair data would be one square yard per person to the area of upper and lower deck!

“The lower deck could and ought to be sufficiently ventilated. Sufficient temporary covering should be carried to protect the deck passengers. It should form part of any official regulations, that if that class of passengers are to be provided for below, no cattle, or other live stock be allowed in the holds, nor to intrude on the deck space intended for deckers. Not that it would be fair to reserve any space for passengers whether they come or not. We are adding to the height of the gunwales of our screw vessels to give more shelter.”

3dly. Further remarks respecting screw schooners, were offered by Mr. Coppen, formerly commanding, and now building that class of vessel, at Londonderry:—

“Has carried as many as 300 deck passengers at a time, on passages of 24 hours; kept a space below for about 100, but reserved no space on deck if cattle offered; such passengers then disposed of themselves as they best could, but at best were necessitated to herd with the cattle and their mire. Those distressing scenes of human suffering induced me to recommend a plan of preparing passage vessels with a light spar, or grating-deck, to ensure cover from the weather and spray. This plan is being carried out by the North West of Ireland Union Steam Company. I do not think that deckers should be carried in any vessel across Channel with less protection than what I propose.”

In visiting such of the paddle-wheel steamers as I could intercept on their arrival from Ireland, with cattle and deck passengers, I was received most respectfully by the commanders, and who were constrained to admit that their vocation was rendered most painful as well as responsible, from the want of system, and that for the sake of humanity, something ought to be done.

When I measured the actual deck-space which I found between the cattle pens at different parts of the deck, where the deck passengers of both sexes had endured the previous night, and which space did not yield an area of more than one square yard to two persons, with not enough tarpaulins to cover more than a fourth part, whilst the whole deck was afloat with animal mire,—my appeal to them as mariners and fellow-men, whether such ought to be, and how was it? the exclamations were to the effect—

“Why, sir, it all lies with the agents, whose business and interest it is to cram the vessel and shove us off, little thinking or caring about the night’s anxiety we have to drag through, so his freight list looks well on getting home.”

“The class of passengers called ‘deckers,’ go to the offices where tickets are issued without limit, or even distinguishing one vessel from another; the consequence is, they accumulate on the quay, ready for a rush, to any one vessel they take a fancy to, so that she belongs to the company the ticket hails from. It is in vain to call out to them to divide themselves with the other vessels also ready to start; we have no control, nor any right to appeal to the police as the matter stands; we are at last obliged to draw the planks away at all risks, to stop, the rush on board.”

One Commander (his vessel is only 220 registered tons, and under 180 horse power), says:—

“I have had upwards of 728 deck passengers, at 5s. a head, on board at one trip, with the holds too full of cattle to admit any of them below; and even this winter as many as 400 deckers, besides cattle on deck, and the holds too full to admit any passengers below, when not more than a fourth part could be sheltered in the stables, engine-room, and such tarpaulins as were on board.”

Another Commander says;—

“We have been this winter as long as 28 hours crossing from Dublin; the only portion of the deck open to nearly 400 passengers, measures 28 feet by 13; hut in case of emergency, from weather, the fore part of the poop-deck is given up to them, 28 feet by 19; but they have no right there, and such tarpaulins as can be spared are given to them. The general deck-layer for such passengers to rest upon, is common to the cattle, pigs, &c. It is true they are penned off, but the drift of the cattle-soil causes them to be in filth.”

Another Commander exclaims,

“If it would make the heart ache at the sight of the state of deck passengers in paddle steamers, what would it do when beholding them in the deck of a screw vessel, . where the leeward portion of them are washing about in the lee scuppers, night and day, as she heels over under canvas?”

Another says,

“There is no space below to which a decker has a right to go, but in cases of exigency, such as women in labour, they are admitted to the engine-room; and when horses are not on board, the stables on deck are opened to the poor people.”

And another Commander states that—

“The principal object is to fill with cattle, above and below; no space is reserved for deck passengers, but they make it out as they can. Perhaps as many as 16 out of 200 could be accommodated below on occasions of emergency. They are afraid to go down lest the hatchway should be covered, and the novelty to many, who have never seen a vessel before, agitates them. He thinks that the accommodation most likely to comfort them, and at the same time freer from irregularities, and danger of fire from smoking, would be an appropriated space on the upper deck always reserved for such passengers, whether they come or not, with tented tarpaulins; and thinks the space should be apportioned to the scale of one square yard per person, or three persons to two yards, with sufficient benches or forms for one-half of the licensed number.”

The distressing and sickening scenes which I went through during my sojourn at Liverpool, on this inquiry, were certainly of a mitigated form when compared with those which were presented to the special humane vocation of the medical men, whose report is annexed, and in which the following appears:—

Local Medical Officers’ Experience and Opinion on the Practices complained of.

“The number of deck passengers varied from a mere handful to upwards of 1,000 in a single vessel. On several occasions the number amounted to 1,100, and in one instance the enormous number of 1,300 arrived.

“As to the area space available for each deck passenger it may be observed, that no portions of the vessels were set apart for such accommodation. The decks and hold were generally filled with cattle, so that even in an uncrowded state there was great difficulty in moving; but when passengers were in such numbers, they were so jammed together in the erect posture that motion was impossible. They could frequently be seen sitting in comers on each others’ knees. One woman stated that she had been obliged to sit during the whole of the passage, from want of room to raise herself, while her children were placed under her legs for safety. The common offices of nature, including vomiting from sea-sickness, were consequently done on the spot.

“With regard to accommodation below there was none, with the exception just named, unless the privilege of lying between the cattle in the holds be so considered. This was a favourite berth, not only for the shelter it afforded, but also the heat from the animals’ bodies. Persons were also admitted by the sailors to the forecastle on payment of 2 s. a head.

“The passengers and cattle were therefore indiscriminately mixed together; the sea and urine pouring on their clothes from the animals; and they stood in the midst of filth and mire.

“There was no separate space for women and children; ail were huddled together, and scenes of debauchery were said to have been not uncommon.

“Complaints of want of water were frequent. In consequence of the overcrowding they could not move to the pump, situated against the quarter-deck, and from sea-sickness and exhaustion they could rarely assist each other. In the ‘Rover,’ which traded to and from Sligo, it was complained that water was sold at 1 d. per quart, and hot water at 2 d.

“There was no protection whatever against the weather on deck. It appears that the use of tarpaulin for such a purpose is only allowed when troops are conveyed, and then no other deck passengers are permitted. In reference to this point, police constables state that they have seen persons frozen to the deck.

“Ventilation was necessarily very imperfect in the hold, from the number of cattle and human beings mixed. Air was only admitted by the hatches, which was required to be closed in during severe weather.

“From the combined causes above mentioned, as well as the famine in Ireland, scenes of the most pitiable character were daily witnessed. The police had frequently to assist in carrying persons ashore in a state of exhaustion, from hunger, disease, and the effects of the passage. Previous to the quarantine regulations, persons labouring under fever were landed. Liverpool was likely to become the fever hospital for Ireland. Dead bodies were brought ashore; women were brought to bed on the passage. The people, in a starving condition, begged alms of us while making our medical inspection, and before leaving the plank of the ship would inquire of the police constables the way to the parish office. Others were seen reeling drunk, showing too plainly the scenes which had been going on during night. To control such numbers was impossible. The smell from the filth, mire, effects of sea-sickness, and the engine, was most intolerable; and of its pernicious and depressing effects we had frequent personal experience. It is our decided opinion that disease was engendered on the passage in many instances, and we very often found persons in a highly feverish state, who, there could be no doubt, left Ireland in good health.

“Altogether we never witnessed human beings in such a state of wretchedness from causes admitting of amelioration, and we cannot forbear expressing our gratification at the prospect there now exists of a legislative enactment on the subject. As the evil is principally in the overcrowding, and the want of accommodation, with proper ventilation below, they are the points appearing to desire most attention. We would also strongly recommend that cattle be, as much as possible, limited in passenger boats. It would even be advisable to have them always conveyed separately, as is sometimes the case in certain companies.

Much of the foregoing is painfully corroborated by the testimony of the police inspector, which shows, “That during the years 1847 and 1848 there were frequently from 600 to 800 deck passengers on board of one steam-vessel at a time, arriving from the ports of Dublin, Drogheda, Dundalk, and Sligo, crowded together on deck, mixed amongst the cattle and besmeared with their dung, clothed in rags and saturated with wet (the spray of the sea having washed over them during the voyage), so that on their arrival, from the fatigue of passage, the want of proper food and clothing, many of them have been unable to go ashore without assistance, and to all appearance were not likely to survive many days; and the hardships of such unfortunate deck passengers are frequently augmented by a contrary wind, as the paddle-steamers are not able to make the passage (with a strong east wind) in less than from 18 to 20 hours, and the screw steamers (under similar circumstances) have often been 30 hours coming from Dublin, with a number of passengers on deck, most of whom had no food or other refreshment to get during that time, so that on their arrival they were generally exhausted and in a most deplorable state, but does not at present recollect any deaths having occurred on board those steamers (except those on deck of the ‘Britannia’ steamer lately); and on many occasions women have been confined or delivered on the passage; under such circumstances are generally in one of the small rooms on deck, or between decks, and on some occasions have been taken to the cabin.”

The statement of the tide surveyor of the port of Liverpool is likewise in further corroboration. He says, “It has been my duty, as tide surveyor a port, frequently to board steam vessels on their arrival from Ireland, and the scenes which I have witnessed in the prosecution of my duty have been of the most painful nature; often from the number of human being so closely packed together, I have found it difficult even to cross the deck, and on many occasions I have found the paddle-boxes crowded with passengers, no doubt anxious, it possible, to keep clear of the cattle, which are also brought in great quantity on the deck, which must, of necessity, tend to make their situation more hazardous. Generally speaking, they are of the lowest and poorest grade of society, and, in many cases, almost without clothing; and when it occurs that those vessels have rough weather and adverse winds, the time of passage is considerably lengthened, and there being no shelter for deck passengers, their suffering from wet and cold, must be very great.”

The Admiralty agent for packets and transports at Liverpool confirms the apprehension entertained of the present practices being attended with risk of life. He says, “Relating to the overcrowded state of passenger vessels to and from this port, I beg to say, that in my opinion they are often so much overcrowded with deck passengers, exposed to wet and cold, that in many cases there is considerable risk of life in consequence thereof.”

It appears that as many as 2,224 paupers have been passed back to Ireland in the last three months, at fares, paid by the parish of Liverpool, varying from 10 s. to 2 s. 6d. each; and the overseer or “pass officer” who has to follow out the regulation of the justices, which amongst others (vide forms in Appendix) requires that—

“All returning poor people to Ireland, &c. shall be conveyed on the decks, or in the steerage, according to the season of the year,” states,

“That it has been impossible to carry this part of the regulations into effect, in consequence of there being no steerage in the Dublin and some other boats, and although the justices have often ordered in winter time that the paupers should be sent under cover, they were frequently obliged to be sent on deck, the only cover being the gangway, which does not shelter them from the sea and wind in rough weather, there being no proper place below. In the Dublin boats we are allowed to make use of the stables, when there are no horses, but if horses are on board they always occupy the stables.

“A melancholy instance of the want of proper accommodation under cover, happened on board the ‘Duchess of Kent,’ on her passage from Liverpool to Dublin, on the night of the 1st September 1847, when a boy (Michael Duignan, a pauper, under pass from Rochdale), and a man unknown, died from exposure to wet and cold, on the deck of the vessel.

“Respecting the screw boats which convey deck passengers from Dublin to Liverpool at 1s. each, I have to state that in December last I called on Mr. Rounthwaite, the agent for the City of Dublin Company, and asked him if he would take our paupers back to Dublin at 1 s. each, as some of their boats were bringing poor persons over at that rate of fare; he said the fare by the paddle-boats was 3 s., and by the screws 1 s.; that their company would take paupers back to Dublin by the screw boats at 1 s. each, if the churchwardens and overseers would take the responsibility of sending them by such boats; but that neither he nor any of their captains would sign the magistrates order, with an undertaking to land them in Dublin. At the same time Mr. Rounthwaite said, their company would much rather not bring passengers by their screw boats, but they did it in self-defence, because an opposition company had commenced it.

“In February last persons stated to me that they had paid 1s. for being allowed to go into the engine-room of the screw boats on the passage from Dublin in bad weather, the first night, and 6d. each for every three hours they were in the engine-room the second night. The men who made this statement were decent looking mechanics.

“I am in the habit of inquiring from poor persons who apply to be sent to Ireland, what boat they came in, and am frequently answered, The screw boat, but I hope you will not send me back in her, for we were nearly lost coming over and were two days on the passage. One woman in particular, who applied a few weeks since, when asked if she would like to go back in the screw boat, begged I would not send her back in that boat, and said, that she and her child were nearly starved to death coming over, every article of clothing they had on being completely wet through, and in that state they were exposed on deck the whole night. So earnestly did this woman request that she might not be sent back in the screw boat, that she raised her arms, and would have fallen on her knees, if the officer in attendance had not prevented her.”

On the authority of the stipendiary magistrate at Liverpool, Edward Rushton, Esq., it appears that—

“There were landed at Liverpool in 12 months 296,231 people from Ireland, of whom 116,000 were paupers! These poor people are brought from Ireland in crowds on deck, even in most inclement weather; and that during the very severe weather of the present month of April, 4,412 deck passengers arrived in Liverpool, in the last week, between the 14th and 19th instant.

“It is deemed absolutely necessary that the Board of Trade should at once enforce the granting of certificates under Act of 11 & 12 Vict. c. 81, the limitation of the number of deck passengers brought in steamers from Ireland. This is a measure demanded by common humanity.”

The committee desiring my attention to their petition to the House of Commons simultaneously with the application for this inquiry, I find it in the following apposite views:—

“That it is contrary to the humane policy of our laws to permit of profit to be made by individuals in the trade of carrying passengers, at the cost either of the life, the health, or the comfort of the traveller; while, on the other hand, in consequence of the absence of a special legal provision on the subject, the most serious injury to health and comfort is sustained by individuals who are necessitated to avail themselves of the wretched accommodation which a deck passage affords them.

“That in manifestation of anxious regard for the protection of life, and preservation of the health of individuals who may have occasion to travel, your Honourable House has imposed on railway companies the necessity of passengers being covered, with a limit as to the number in each carriage; and that a similar regard is equally due to the life, health, and comfort of individuals travelling by steam boat or sailing vessel from one port of this kingdom to the other. That at Liverpool cargoes of human freight, numbering frequently as high as 1,000 men, women, and children, all deck passengers, crowded together on deck among the cattle freight, and at periods of most severe and tempestuous weather, have arrived at this port in a condition of the utmost misery.”

Among the papers, in Appendix (No. 10), is a copy of the depositions taken by the coroner of Liverpool, on the inquest held the 21st of last month, upon the three deaths which occurred to deck passengers on the passage between Dublin and Liverpool.

There is also in Appendix, a volunteered statement, marked No. 13, which was brought into the committee-room by the writer, who stated that he had experienced the contents of the letter lie had written. It is, like his manner rather intemperate; but bearing on the alleged grievances, is appended.

Having in the foregoing drawn attention to certain verbal and documentary statements, I now beg leave to refer to the results of the “returns” which I applied for in the course of the inquiry.


Remarks.

Looking at the authorized and experienced sources, oral and written, from which the foregoing strong representations and opinions emanate, together with my own inspection of 13 vessels engaged in the traffic complained of, between the 26th ultimo and 9th instant, besides my personal experience when crossing the Irish sea, I can have no hesitation in assuring their Lordships that the recent appeals to Government for its interference, to mitigate the sufferings of the poorer class of passengers between Ireland and Liverpool, are too well borne out, and which, it is evident, must depend on official regulations; for, notwithstanding the grievous facts and admissions on all sides, the principal trading Steam Packet Company between Ireland and Liverpool justifies its practice in such terms as,

Paddle Steamers.

“It is impossible to regulate it; any interference will be tantamount to interdiction, in regard to bringing the poorer classes from Ireland, whether for emigration, visiting, or locating in England. We have gone on in the present complained of system for the last 25 years with impunity. We do not covet deck passengers; our originally intended, and only profitable traffic was in goods and cattle. We bring deck passengers as a claim on us as public carriers. We cannot attempt to reserve space, either above or below, for such passengers. Whatever inconvenience or hardship deck passengers may experience in very bad weather, it would not be lessened by any diminution of their number. In vessels coming from ports where deck passengers chiefly come from, the principal and paying traffic is cattle, sheep, pigs, and poultry. As to any scale in defining the number of deck passengers, if such were thought of, it ought to enable us to carry at the least two persons per ton, of builders’ measurement. Our system is to take in goods and cattle, and then the deck passengers, certainly without limit, and who must settle down as they can; but for such a sufficiency of tarpaulins to shelter them, and dividing the cattle off, so as to prevent the animal soil from draining under the people, might be provided.”

In these sentiments no acquiescence in regulations for humanity-sake is traceable or to be expected. Impunity is attached to the complained of system, because but few deaths are recorded in its exercise, forgetting that human endurance can reach a fearful height without actually dying. Unlimited and promiscuous crowding of men, women, and children, are held as desirable for the crowded. And of animal creation, the human being is of the class not to be provided for; or, if included in any regulations, a scale is proposed that would authorize a greater number than has hitherto been carried, viz., twice the amount of builders’ measurement, so that some of the said Company’s vessels would be entitled to carry from 1,372 to 1,544 deck passengers; and even a screw schooner would claim to carry 422. Indeed, the representative of the screw vessels suggested that the scale he should think fair would be to allow one person to each square yard deck area below as well as above, so that there could be no alternating for fresh air or repose, except by individual reliefs, amongst 371 persons, in a vessel of but 149 tons.

Such inconsistent and inconsiderate propositions serve to show what little amelioration of the present system is to be expected from the trading party; a system which entails all the sufferings and heart-sickening scenes described at full in pages 4 to 7 of this Report. Indeed, the state of some of those vessels which came under my notice presented a loathsome spectacle when surveyed from the paddle-box bridge; and when I had to go through the operation of measuring the areas from which the human portion of the cargoes, which included oxen, horses, sheep, pigs, and poultry, had emerged, the mire and stench was difficult to encounter, and occasionally caused the gentlemen appointed to accompany me on the survey to excuse themselves from such close inspections.

Screw Steamers.

From what has been alleged respecting the class of vessels called “screw schooners,” they certainly ought not to be allowed to carry any deck passengers at all. Their steam power is so limited, their passage so affected by contrary winds, sometimes extending a reputed passage of 14 to upwards of 24 hours, their liability to heel over as a sailing vessel, and their bulwarks being so low, renders them most distressing and unfit for deck passengers; but by professing to carry at 1 s. per head, whilst the paddle steamers are charging 3 s. , those vessels are availed of by the unwary, who sometimes have to pay 4 s. before they land, to purchase such indulgence as going in turn into the engine-room, or into the sailors berths. And as an instance of how they do load, I boarded one, the “Emerald,” belonging to the City of Dublin Packet Company, on the 6th instant, at Liverpool, which had been 31 hours on the passage from Dublin, with 306 deckers, her size being only 182 tons, and the area of her upper deck presenting but 191 yards (with no space reserved below), so that there was little more than half a square yard per person. Whatever were the sufferings in general of this 31 hours pent-up mass of sea-sick and cold beings, there was an individual consequence of a most distressing and piteous nature: a woman was delivered of her child in the engine-room, where she took refuge, after being cold and sick on the deck all night. She and her baby were alive on arriving, although her situation had been subject to all the embarrassment and distraction of an engine-room duties; and they were carefully conveyed by the dock police to the infirmary, in a hackney coach.

Nevertheless, they might be rendered capable of conveying safely a limited number of second-class passengers; some are already designed, and one has just been launched, called the “Victory,” of Londonderry, with an awning-deck space 82 feet by 26 feet, and 7 feet high, besides a steerage cabin for women and children.

The most recent cases of death, arising from deck exposure; on the Liverpool lines, took place during last April, the month of my inspection, and occurred on board of paddle steamers. That of the 16th of April took place on board the “Nimrod,” on the passage from Cork, a child dying in its mothers arms. The other case was on board the “Britannia,” coming from Dublin, when a woman, a child, and a lad expired under the circumstances related in the annexed depositions before the coroner.

Reverting to the more legitimate class of coasting passenger vessels, viz. “Paddle steamers,” it is time that their deck freights of human beings should not be last in estimation and care. Surely, apart from their first claims on humanity, they ought to have accommodation at least equivalent to their passage money, which is within a trifle of what is paid per head for troops; the latter never allowed to exceed 350 in one vessel, and for whom the whole of each vessel is given up. Any reluctance on the part of steam-vessel proprietary at being regulated by official decision in behalf of the poorer class of passengers, could only arise from grudging the first outlay for providing protection, as by the showing of the principal traders the gross number now brought over only requires properly distributing amongst the vessels employed, and therefore would not, as a consequence of regulations, be interdicted or diminished; such apprehension or reasoning could only be entertained by those of the Liverpool steamers which trade with Dublin, Drogheda, and Newry, as all the others carry less in proportion, and for that less do voluntarily provide and reserve some space for the women and weakly. It ought not to be lost sight of, that all these deck freights are extra sources of profit, not included in the real tonnage; and when we are told by one company, “City of Dublin,” that the compensations to cattle owners for losses on the passages, under the present indiscriminate and unlimited loading, amount to 200£ per annum, it may be hoped that a restriction of passenger numbers, and reserving such space for them, will not trench on their present profits.

In the foregoing it has been my earnest object to place before the Lords Committee of Privy Council for Trade the facts, representation, and opinions advanced in support of the urgent appeals for Government interference in regard to ameliorating the condition of the poorer classes of Irish, called “Deck passengers ” without losing sight of the steam-vessel interest, which might be apparently affected by any regulations which this report might move their Lordships to institute.

Presuming that the particulars adduced will bring the nature of the case vividly to the mind’s eye of the Council, and begging to acknowledge the courtesy and co-operative zeal my mission, under their Lordships’ command, met with from the local authorities, steam-vessel owners, and officers at Liverpool, the which enabled me to collect so much data in so short a time.

I beg leave, in conclusion, and in conformity with subsequent instructions, to submit what, in my humble judgment, would avert the evils complained of, and which my experience afloat tells me may be fairly and easily carried out, though much would depend on systematic supervision. The following suggestions have in view (as well as immediate comfort) the mitigation of consequences arising from collision, foundering, or the burning of such vessels; fearful casualties, which my last two years’ inspection of accidents evidence their liability to, with very limited boat-space to resort to.

Suggestions.

Firstly. That steamers be regulated by summer and winter months as to the number of deck passengers, and that the summer regulation be applicable from the 1st of May to the 3lst of September inclusive; and the winter months to be from the 1st of October to the 30th of April.

Secondly. That the winter licence limit the number of deck passengers to half the registered tonnage, being at the rate of two tons per person; and the summer licence to extend the number to a person per ton, so that a vessel of 493 tons would carry 246 persons in winter, and 493 in summer.

Thirdly. That no cattle or freight of any description be allowed abaft the paddle-wheel shaft at any time, but the space be kept clear for deck passengers, and so covered in by awnings of not less than six feet high at the sides as would slope off the wet and shut out the wind; and deck cants be laid so as to prevent the cattle-soil from draining under the passenger space, such space to be supplied with forms or benches, equal to one square foot per person; and that water-closets be provided abaft the paddle-boxes; and not less than two fresh-water pumps be somewhere abaft in the space capable of supplying one gallon per person, per day.

Fourthly. That a separate place, either consisting of cabins on deck (abaft the paddle-boxes), or in the steerage, where no cattle shall be under or near, be provided for women and children; the said cabin space to be of area equal to one square yard per person, ventilated and fitted with benches and secure lamp-light, and proper water-closets, together with means of fresh-water supply; and such separate accommodation to be equal to one third of the number in the winter licence.

Fifthly. That no paddle vessel be compelled to carry her deck passengers below, but where they do so by choice, and see their way to check disorderly conduct, and risks of fire from smoking. And the accommodation amounts to one square yard per person, properly ventilated, with water-closets, and fresh-water locks, and with separate room for women and children; all parts properly and safely lamp-lighted. Then such vessels need not be required to cover in the upper deck space; but they should be compelled to keep that space perfectly clear of freight, in order that the passengers may come on deck when they please.

Sixthly. That no steamer should carry passengers without being licensed, nor a licence granted until actually surveyed and approved of by their Lordships, and such licences to be renewed every six months, or if complaint warrants it, to be suspended until the complaint is rectified.

Seventhly. That all accidents to passengers to be reported to the Board the instant the vessel arrives at the first port, whether such occur from collision or any other cause, whilst on board.

Believing that the powers of the Act of 11 & 12 of Her present Majesty’s reign, chap. 81, will sustain the above suggested regulations, with the exception of the penalties which appear too small in reference to some of the long fares, to Cork for instance, I submit this my “Report on Steam-Vessel Accommodation for Deck Passengers,” and

I have, &c.

(signed) H. M. Denham, Captain, R. N.

To Sir Denis Le Marchant, Bart.



On the 3d April 1846, the Liverpool Justices made Regulations for the removal of Paupers to Ireland, Scotland, &c., [see p. 16]; one part of those regulations states, “That all such persons shall be conveyed on the decks of the vessels, or in the steerage, according to the season of the year, or on the deck part of the way, and in the steerage the remainder, as the justices who order their removal may direct.”

It has been impossible to carry this part of the regulations into effect, in consequence of there being no steerage in the Dublin and some other boats, and although the justices have often ordered in winter time, that the paupers should be sent under cover, they were frequently obliged to be sent on deck, the only cover being the gangway, which does not shelter them from the sea and wind in rough weather, there being no proper place below.

In the Dublin boats we are allowed to make use of the stables, when there are no horses, but if horses are on board, they always occupy the stables.

At the inquest, held in Dublin, Captain Jones said he had from 500 to 530 deck passengers on board, among whom were a great number of paupers from different parish authorities.

Respecting the screw boats, which convey deck passengers from Dublin to Liverpool at 1s. each, I have to state that in December last I called on Mr. Rounthwaite, the agent for the City of Dublin Company, and asked him if he would take our paupers back to Dublin at 1 s. each, as some of their boats were bringing poor persons over at that rate of fare; he said the fare by the paddle boats was 3 s., and by the screws, 1 s.; that their company would take paupers back to Dublin by the screw boats at 1 s. each, if the churchwardens and overseers would take the responsibility of sending them by such boats, but that neither he nor any of their captains would sign the magistrates order, with an undertaking to land them in Dublin. At the same time Mr. Rounthwaite said, their company would much rather not bring passengers by their screw boats, but they did it in self-defence, because an opposition company had commenced it.

In February last two men applied to me to be sent to Dublin; I asked what they paid, for coming over; they said 4 s. each. I asked how that could be, as the proper fare was only 3 s.; they then stated that they came over in one of the screw boats, and were two nights and a day on the passage; that they paid 1 s. each for fare; 1 s. each for being allowed to go into the engine-room the first night, and 6 d. each for every three hours they were in the engine-room the second night. The men who made this statement were decent looking mechanics.

Many persons have stated to me that they had paid 1 s. for being allowed to go into the engine-room of the screw boats, on the passage from Dublin, in bad weather.

I am in the habit of inquiring from poor persons, who apply to be sent to Ireland, what boat they came in, and am frequently answered, “the screw boat, but I hope you will not send me back in her, for we were nearly lost coming over, and were two days on the passage.” One woman, in particular, who applied a few weeks since, when asked if she would like to go back in the screw boat, begged I would not send her back in that boat, and said, that she and her child were nearly starved to death coming over, every article of clothing they had on being completely wet through, and in that state they were exposed on deck the whole night. So earnestly did this woman request that she might not be sent back in the screw boat, that she raised her arms, and would have fallen on her knees if the officer in attendance had not prevented her.

(signed) John Evans,

Liverpool, 4 May 1849. Assistant Overseer.

Removal to Ireland.

Borough of Liverpool,
in the County of Lancaster, to wit.

THE examination of…………..,taken on oath before us, two of Her Majesty’s Justices of the Peace acting in and for the said borough, this………..day of……..1840, who on oath saith, that according to the best of..h..knowledge and belief..h..was born in the county of………that part of the United Kingdom called Ireland, which he left about…………ago, and hath no settlement in that part of the United Kingdom called England, and hath actually become and is now chargeable to the parish of Liverpool, in the said county of Lancaster, and that he hath a wife named……..and……….children, neither of which children have gained a settlement in England, and hath not resided in the said parish of Liverpool for five years next preceding the day and year first above mentioned.

Sworn the day and year first above written before us.

To Thomas Marshall, and also to the Master of the Ship or Vessel called …the ………..lying in the Port of Liverpool aforesaid.

Borough of Liverpool,
in the County of Lancaster, to wit.

Whereas complaint hath been made by the churchwardens and overseers of the poor of the parish of Liverpool aforesaid unto us whose names are hereunto set and seals affixed, two of Her Majesty’s Justices of the Peace acting in and for the borough of Liverpool aforesaid, that……………, a person born in Ireland, hath become and is now chargeable to the said parish of Liverpool, and hath not resided in the said parish of Liverpool for five years next before this application and complaint.

And whereas upon examination of the said……………., taken upon oath before us (which examination is hereunto annexed), it doth appear to our satisfaction that he was born in Ireland, and hath not a settlement in England, and that he hath a wife named …………and………..children, videlicet, neither of which children has any settlement in England.

These are therefore to require you, the said Thomas Marshall, and the Master of the aforesaid ship or vessel, to convey the said………his wife and family aforesaid to Ireland, in the manner directed by the regulations of the Justices of the said borough, and approved by the Right Honourable Sir J. R. G. Graham, Baronet, one of Her Majesty’s principal Secretaries of State, in pursuance of the provisions of a certain Act, made and passed in the ninth year of the reign of Queen Victoria, intituled, “Act to Amend the Laws relating to the Removal of Poor Persons born in Scotland, Ireland, the Islands of Man, Scilly, Jersey, or Guernsey, and chargeable in England.”

Given under our hands and seals, at Liverpool aforesaid, the day…………of……….1840.

THE PASS HOUSE, (L. S.)

18, Rigby-street. (L. S.)

Borough of Liverpool,
to wit.

At a Petty Sessions of the Justices of the Peace of and for the said Borough, held in and for the said Borough, on the 3d day of April, in the year of our Lord 1846.

The justices aforesaid having taken into their consideration the provisions of the statute passed in the ninth year of the reign of Her present Majesty, intituled, “An Act to amend the Laws relating to the Removal of Poor Persons born in Scotland, Ireland, the Islands of Man, Scilly, Jersey, or Guernsey, and chargeable in England,” which requires them to make regulations for the more effectually carrying into effect the provisions ot the said Act, do hereby order as follows; (that is to say,)

We do order that the overseas who shall apply for any warrant of removal under the said statute, shall nominate to the justices making the same some person to be the conductor of the parties to the vessel, if embarked at this port, and if to be embarked at any other port, then to the port of embarkation, and that all such warrants shall be directed to him and to the master of the vessel, to whom he shall deliver the same.

That all natives of Scotland to be removed shall be conveyed by a steam vessel from this port to one of the ports of Dumfries, Ayr, Greenock, Glasgow, Oban, Inverness, Aberdeen, Dundee, or Edinburgh, which are nearest the places where such persons were born or have resided, unless such persons shall consent to be removed to any other port or place in Scotland.

That all natives of Ireland shall be conveyed from this port by a steam vessel to one of the ports of Dublin, Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Limerick, Derry, Belfast, or Dundalk, which are nearest to the places where such persons were born or have resided, unless such persons shall consent to be removed to any other port.

That all natives of the Isle of Man shall be conveyed from this port by a steam vessel to the port of Douglas.

That all natives of the Islands of Scilly, Jersey, and Guernsey shall, when practicable, be conveyed from this port by steam packets or sailing vessels to either of those islands to which they belong, and when impracticable, the justices making the order shall direct such persons to be conveyed by railway by the cheapest train for passengers to such port of embarkation as they may think most convenient, and from thence by steam packet or sailing vessel to such of those islands as they shall belong.

That all such persons shall be conveyed on the decks of the vessels or in the steerage,, according to the season of the year, or on deck part of the way, and in the steerage the remainder, as the justices who order their removal may direct.

That no such person shall be removed whilst labouring under any sickness which may either render it dangerous to the health, or may incapacitate such person from being removed in the manner aforesaid.

That no such person shall be detained previous to being conveyed on board the vessel or conducted to the port of embarkation as directed, without sufficient cause be proved for such detention.

That the conductor shall see that the persons who are to be conveyed by sea are safely delivered to the master of the packet on board the vessel, and shall not quit them until the vessel is actually under sail.

That the conductor shall deliver a duplicate of the warrant to the master of the steam vessel, and obtain his receipt on the back of the order of removal for the bodies of the parties on board, and the payment of the passage money, and with an undertaking to convey them to and land them at their respective places of disembarkation.

That an allowance shall be made for the maintenance and lodging of each person above the age of 10 years of not exceeding 2 s. per day, and of each person under 10 years of not exceeding 1 s. per day.

That the passage-money (including rations) of each person above the age of 10 years, from this port to Cork, not to exceed 13 s., persons under that age 6 s. 6 d. to Waterford, above the age of 10 not to exceed 10 s. 6 d., under that age 5 s.; to Derry and Wexford, above the age of 10 not to exceed 7 s., under that age 3 s. 6 d.; to Dublin and Belfast, of all ages, except children in arms, not to exceed 4 s. 6 d.; to Dundalk, above the age of 10 not to exceed 4 s. 6 d., under that age 2 s. 3 d.

To Dumfries, Greenock, and Glasgow, above the age of 10 not to exceed 7 s., under that age 3 s. 6 d.

As the conductor will in all cases be a salaried officer of the parish, the magistrates do not consider it necessary to make any regulation as to the allowance to him.

The fees to be paid for the warrant of removal and duplicate, and the copies of examinations, are settled by the table of fees to be taken by the clerks to the justices of this borough, and allowed by the Secretary of State.

By order of the Justices,

Ellis & Wybergh, Clerks to the Justices.

I approve of the foregoing Regulations,

J. R. G. Graham.

Whitehall, 25 April 1846.

Liverpool,……….day of 184…

Received on board the………….steam packet, the persons named in the annexed pass, and also the sum of…………..shillings and…………pence for the passage-money; and I undertake to convey……….to and land……..at……….in Ireland.

Master
Agent.

— No. 4. —

REPORT submitted to Captain Denham by the Medical Officers of the late Irish Quarantine, at Liverpool.

5 May 1849.

In the year 1847 Liverpool was visited by a very severe epidemic fever, in consequence of the giant influx of destitute Irish.

As the disease was spreading very rapidly to a most alarming extent it was deemed necessary, for the safety of the inhabitants, to apply to Government for quarantine regulations, with a view to prevent actual cases of fever from being imported.

We the undersigned were appointed by the authorities of the town to attend at the Clarence Pier every tide for the purpose of boarding the Irish steamers, and examining the passengers on their arrival in the Mersey; in the discharge of which duty we had ample opportunities of witnessing the sufferings to which the poor deck passengers were exposed from the overcrowding of the vessels, and the almost total disregard of any accommodation provided for them.

We therefore respectfully submit the following statements with regard to the points furnished us by Captain Denham.

The number of deck passengers varied from a mere handful to upwards of 1,000 in a single vessel. On several occasions the number amounted to 1,100, and in one instance the enormous number of 1,300 arrived.

As to the area space available for each deck passenger, it may be observed that no portions of the vessels were set apart for such accommodation. The decks and holds were generally filled with cattle, so that even in an uncrowded state there was great difficulty in moving; but when passengers were in such numbers they were so jammed together in the erect posture that motion was impossible. They could frequently be seen sitting in corners on each others’ knees. One woman stated that she had been obliged to sit during the whole of the passage, from want of room to raise herself, while her children were placed under her legs for safety. The common offices of nature, including vomiting from sea-sickness, were consequently done on the spot.

With regard to accommodation below there was none with the exception just named, unless the privilege of lying between the cattle in the holds be so considered. This was a favourite berth, not only for the shelter it afforded. but also the heat from the animals bodies. Persons were also admitted by the sailors to the forecastle on payment of 2 s. a head.

The passengers and cattle were therefore indiscriminately mixed together. The sea and rain poured on their clothes from the animals, and they stood in the middle of filth and mire.

There was no separate space for women and children; all were huddled together, and scenes of debauchery were said to have been not uncommon.

Complaints of want of water were frequent. In consequence of the overcrowding they could not move to the pump, situated against the quarter deck; and from sea-sickness and exhaustion, they could rarely assist each other. In the “Rover” which traded to and from Sligo, it was complained that water was sold at 1 d. per quart, and hot water at 2 d. There was no protection whatever against the weather on deck. It appears that the use of tarpaulin for such a purpose is only allowed when troops are conveyed, and then no other deck passengers are permitted. In reference to this point, police constables state that they have seen persons frozen to the deck.

Ventilation was necessarily very imperfect in the hold, from the number of cattle and human beings mixed. Air was only admitted by the hatches, which required to be closed in during severe weather.

From the combined causes above mentioned, as well as the famine in Ireland scenes of the most pitiable character were daily witnessed. The police had to frequently assist carrying persons ashore in a state of exhaustion from hunger, disease, and the effects of the passage. Previous to the quarantine regulations persons labouring under fever were landed.

Liverpool was likely to become the fever hospital for Ireland. Dead bodies were brought ashore; women were brought to bed on the passage; the people in a starving condition begged alms of us while making our medical inspection, and before leaving the plank of the ship would inquire of the police constables the way to the parish office; others were seen reeling drunk, showing too plainly the scenes which had been going on during night. To control such numbers was impossible. The smell from the filth, mire, effects of sea-sickness, and the engine, was most intolerable, and of its pernicious and depressing effects we had frequent personal experience. It is our decided opinion that disease was engendered on the passage in many instances; and we very often found persons in a highly feverish state, who there could be no doubt left Ireland in good health.

Altogether we never witnessed human beings in such a state of wretchedness from causes admitting of amelioration, and we cannot forbear expressing our gratification at the prospect there now exists of a legislative enactment on the subject.

As the evil is principally in the overcrowding and the want of accommodation, with proper ventilation below, they are the points appearing to deserve most attention. We would also strongly recommend that cattle be as much as possible limited in passenger-boats. It would even be advisable to have them always conveyed separately, as is sometimes the case in certain companies.

A. M’Lellan,
S.B. Steele,
Surgeons.

— No. 5. —

Extract from North Dock Division Report Book, 7 May 1849.

Inspector Johnston begs to report, in reference to the Commissioner’s order, that he has kept no account or memorandum whatever of the many and frequent distressing scenes he has witnessed on the arrival of the Irish steamers here (especially during the last three years), but has a distinct recollection of the state in which many thousands of poor destitute people arrived at Clarence Pier by the Drogheda, Dublin, Dundalk, and Sligo steamers, during the years of 1847 and 1848; has frequently seen from 600 to 800 deck passengers on board one of those steam packets, crowded together on deck, mixed amongst the cattle and besmeared with their dung, clothed in rags and saturated with wet (the spray of the sea having washed over them during the voyage), so that on their arrival, from the fatigue of the passage and the want of proper food and clothing, many of them have been unable to go ashore without assistance, and to all appearance were not likely to survive many days; and the hardships of such unfortunate deck passengers are frequently augmented by “a contrary wind, as the paddle steamers are not able to make the passage (with a strong east wind) in less than from 18 to 20 hours, and the screw steamers (under similar circumstances) have often been 30 hours coming from Dublin with a number of passengers on deck, most of whom had no food or other refreshment to get during that time, so that on their arrival they were generally exhausted and in a most deplorable state; but does not at present recollect any deaths having occurred on board those steamers, except those on deck of the “Britannia ” steamer lately; and on many occasions women have been confined or delivered on the passage, but under such circumstances are generally sheltered in one of the small rooms on deck, or between decks, and on some occasions have been taken to the cabin.

Liverpool, 7 May 1849.

M. M. G. Dowling, Commissioner.

— No. 5. —

Custom House, Liverpool, 9 May 1849.

Sir,

With reference to the Government inquiry into the practice of carrying deck passengers between Ireland and Liverpool, I beg to submit the following remarks:—

It having been my duty, as tide surveyor at this port, frequently to board steam vessels on their arrival from Ireland, and the scenes which I have witnessed in the prosecution of my duty have been of the most painful nature; often from the number of human beings so closely packed together, l have found it difficult even to cross the deck, and on many occasions I have found the paddle-boxes crowded with passengers, no doubt anxious, if possible to keep clear of the cattle, which are also brought in great quantities on the deck, which must of necessity tend to make their situation more hazardous; generally speaking, they are the lowest and poorest grade of society, and in many cases almost without clothing, and when it occurs that those vessels have rough weather and adverse winds, the time of passage is considerably lengthened, and there being no shelter for deck passengers, their suffering from wet and cold must be very great.

I am, &c.

Captain Denham, R. N.

(signed) William Nott, Tide Surveyor.

— No. 7. —

Liverpool, 14 May 1849.

Sir,

I exceedingly regret that I have been unexpectedly prevented, by absence and very pressing duties, from attending to the matters you confided to me when here.

I send herewith the following; viz. copy of our petition, of Mr. Rushton’s valuable letter, of the depositions, and Mr. Gray’s report. I understand that you have been furnished with Mr. Evans’s report, and also the report of Messrs. M’lellan & Steele, medical officers. These documents were exceedingly valuable, and I hope have not been omitted to be handed to you.

I particularly beg your careful perusal of the depositions. You will find the captains statement to you, that the deceased were placed in comfortable shelter during their passage, not borne out by the evidence. In fact, the poor wretches had already died so far as to have become insensible, before they received any attention from the crew of the vessel.

I regret that I have not, as I find, any copy of the written statement left in the hands of Mr. Labouchere by the deputation; it would not, however, be of any service to you after the ample evidence you have yourself elicited; evidence which greatly exceeds and overweight what was stated by them. Any further information upon this melancholy subject I shall be most happy to forward to you.

I remain, &c.

Captain H.M. Denham, R.N.

(signed) Charles Hart.

— No. 8. —

Liverpool, 21 April 1849.

Sir,

At the request of a deputation of the finance committee of the council, and also of the select vestry of this borough, I have undertaken to represent to you the result of the Irish immigration into the town of Liverpool, and to suggest, on behalf of the authorities already named measures which, in their opinion, would tend to lessen the burthen on the public resources of the borough and parish of Liverpool. I am perfectly aware, from my former communications with you, that many of the facts which I shall have to state are already known to you, but I am induced to recapitulate them, in order to place before you in one letter a general outline of the evils of which the people here most loudly complain. You have already heard from me that between the 13th day of January and the 13th day of December 1847, both days inclusive, 296,231 persons landed in this port from Ireland; of this vast number about 130,000 emigrated to the United States that some 50,000 were passengers on business, and the remainder were paupers, half-naked and starving, landed for the most part during the winter, and becoming, immediately on landing, applicants for parochial relief; you already know the immediate results of this accumulation of misery in the crowded town of Liverpool, of the cost of relief at once rendered necessary to prevent the thousands of hungry and naked Irish perishing in our streets, and also of the cost ot the pestilence which generally follows in the train of famine and misery such as we then had to encounter. I do not enter into the details of this misery further than to say that, though the pecuniary cost to the town of Liverpool was enormous, the loss of valuable lives was yet much more to be deplored; hundreds of patients perished notwithstanding all efforts made to save them; and 10 Roman-catholic and one Protestant clergyman, many parochial officers, and many medical men who devoted themselves to the task of alleviating the sufferings ot the wretched, died in the discharge of these high duties. I believe I have, in my former letters to you, stated my conviction that the presence of this miserable population would materially affect the health and character of our labouring classes: my worst anticipations have been realized. I am, unfortunately, enabled by the results of my daily experience to show you how much the health of the people has suffered, and I am enabled, by exact details, to show you how greatly the Irish misery has increased crime in Liverpool. In the year 1846, 18,171 prisoners were brought before the police court. In 1847 the number increased to 19,719, and in 1848 a further increase took place, and the number was 22,036. In the year 1845 the number of persons committed for trial and summarily convicted for felony amounted to 3,889; in 1846 the number increased to 4,740; in 1847 to 6,510; and in 1848 to 7 714. I do not possess the means of accurately distinguishing the countries to which the criminals belong before the year 1848; previous to that time I had, however, directed my attention to the subject, and I saw from day to day that the poor Irish population forced upon us in a state of wretchedness which cannot be described, would, within 12 hours after they landed, be found among one of three classes, viz. paupers, vagrants, or thieves. Few became claimants for parochial relief, for in that case they soon discovered they soon discovered they be at once sent back to Ireland; many of these forlorn creatures became beggars, many of them thieves. The number of Irish brought as prisoners into the police court during the year 1848 was 8,794; the number of Irish sent to trial or summarly convicted of felony during the same period, was 4,661; the English, during the same period, were 5,104. Now the Irish form but one-fourth of the population, and yet they give very nearly half criminals; the truth is, that gaols, such as the borough of Liverpool, afford the wretched and unfortunate Irish better food, shelter, and raiment, and more cleanliness than it is to be feared many of them ever experienced elsewhere, and hence it constantly happens that Irish vagrants, who have offered to them the choice of being sent to Ireland or to gaol, in a great majority of cases desire to go to prison; the fact being, that the English gaols are excellent winter quarters for starving Irish paupers, and in consequence the gaol ot Liverpool, which ought never to contain more than 500 prisoners, has now 1,100 within its walls, the cost of all this to the people of Liverpool, both in the augmentation of parochial and of legal charges, is absolutely enormous. It cannot be surprising that the people of this place, who find the rates for the relief of the poor daily augmenting, are dissatisfied under the pressure which they sustain; and the parishioners of Liverpool think they have a fair claim to such relief from their present intolerable burthens as may be fair and practicable.

Beyond all doubt, the towns on the sea-coast in Ireland, and many of the landed proprietors in Ireland, furnish the wretched Irish with the means of coming to Liverpool. I have often discovered this from the examination of the poor; and only the other day an Irish offender, when asked where he came from, said he was sent with 1s. from the Irish workhouse to Liverpool. These poor people are brought from Ireland in crowds, on deck, even in most inclement weather.

Unfortunately few of us remember more severe weather in April than during the last week; yet from the 14th to the 19th instant, 4,412 deck passengers arrived in Liverpool from Ireland.

The people here think it right, under these circumstances, that they should have more protection than the existing law affords. In the first place, they think that the provisions of the Act for the removal of such poor should be enlarged, so as to render all Irish persons who have been once removed to Ireland under the powers of that Act, and who again return to England and become chargeable, liable to be punished as rogues and vagabonds; and they also think that power ought to be given to remove to Ireland not only those who become chargeable by receiving parochial relief, but also all who are found begging or who have been convicted of felony. It is also deemed absolutely necessary that the Board of Trade should at once enforce, by the granting of certificates under the Act 11 & 12 Vict. c. 81 the limitation of the number of deck passengers brought in steamers from Ireland. This is a measure demanded by common humanity, as well as by sound policy, as it retards the towns of Lancashire and Yorkshire.

It would be out of place to do more than state the amount of evil which the inhabitants of Liverpool have to bear, arising out of the unfortunate state of Ireland. I do not, therefore, attempt to offer any opinion about the matter, but I do most anxiously represent to you the great danger, moral as well as physical, which cannot but be generated by allowing the continual unchecked immigration of the miserable of the Irish people into such towns as Liverpool.

The inhabitants feel the pecuniary cost as a sore evil, but they also feel and fear other results which may permanently deteriorate the condition, the habits, and the morals of the labouring classes of their own countrymen.

To the Right Hon. Sir George Grey, Bart.
&c. &c. &c.

I am, &c.

(signed) Ed. Rushton.

— No. 9.—

To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland,
in Parliament assembled;

The Petition of the Select Vestry of the Parish of Liverpool,

Sheweth,—That there is at this present time before your Honourable House a Bill, intituled “The Passengers’ Bill,” which has been read a second time, and which is ordered to be committed on Wednesday the 18th instant.

That the inhabitants of Liverpool, as well as the inhabitants of every other town in the United Kingdom, are deeply interested in the objects contemplated by the said Bill, and in its being rendered as comprehensive and beneficial in its character as the evil it is meant to deal with is of extensive application.

That to render such a Bill productive of the required advantage it is the opinion of the people ot Liverpool, represented by your petitioners, that clauses should be introduced into it tendering; it imperative on the owners of all steam boats and sailing vessels, which may be engaged in the trade of carrying passengers from and to the various ports of the United Kingdom, to assign a certain and sufficient portion of room for each passenger between the decks of such steam-boats and sailing vessels; and that no such steam boats or sailing vessels be permitted to carry any passengers in the name of deck passengers, or in any other way which may leave such passengers exposed to the inclemency of the weather.

That it is entirely contrary to the humane policy of our laws to permit of profit to be made by individuals in the trade of carrying passengers at the cost either of the life, the health, or the comfort of the traveller; while, on the other hand, in consequence of the absence of a special legal provision on the subject, the most serious injury to health and comfort is sustained daily by individuals who are compelled, by their necessitous circumstances, or induced by the hope of bettering their condition, to avail themselves of the wretched accommodation which a deck passage on board of such vessels affords them. And life itself is directly and immediately affected by the law as it now stands, as is instanced in the late tragical event on board a steamer which traded between this port and Sligo, where, in consequence of the absence of proper accommodation, upwards of 70 individuals were suffocated.

That, in manifestation of the anxious regard cherished by your Honourable House for the protection of life and preservation of the health of individuals who may have occasion to travel, your Honourable House has imposed on railway companies the necessity of having all carriages intended for the conveyance of passengers covered, with a limit as to the number to be conveyed in each carriage.

That, in the opinion of your petitioners, a similar regard is equally due to the life, and health, and comfort of individuals travelling by steam-boat or sailing vessel, from one port of this kingdom to another.

That in no town in this kingdom have the cruel effects of the present want of check, in this respect, been seen or appreciated more than in Liverpool, whose cargoes of human freight, numbering frequently as high as 1,000, men, women, and children, all deck passengers, crowded together on deck among the cattle freight, and at periods of most severe and tempestuous weather, have arrived at this port in a condition ot the utmost misery, disgraceful alike to our boasted sympathy for human suffering, and to our professions as a Christian people.

That, for the protection of the lives of persons so travelling by steam-boats or sailing vessels, and to ensure that regard to their health and comfort, which humanity would dictate, the aid of your Honourable House is necessary.

May it therefore please your Honourable House to insert a clause, or clauses, in the said Passengers’ Bill, rendering it imperative on all owners ot steam boats or sailing vessels carrying passengers from or to any port in the United Kingdom, to afford a certain and sufficient accommodation between decks to each passenger, and to prohibit, under a severe penalty, the carrying any human being as a mere deck passenger.

And your petitioners will ever pray.

— No. 10.—

Borough of Liverpool,
to wit.

Depositions of Witnesses produced, sworn, and examined this 21st day of April 1849, before Philip Finch Curry, gentleman, coroner of our liege Lady the Queen, within the said borough, touching the several and respective deaths of Elizabeth Noon, Edward Noon, and a man unknown, all late of Liverpool aforesaid, there now lying dead.

John Collins being sworn, says,—I am a labourer; I was acquainted with Elizabeth Noon and Edward Noon, two of the deceased parties at present lying in the dead-house. I do not know the age of either of them. On Thursday evening last we left Dublin, and came as passengers on board the “Britannia” steam vessel for this town. They were both then quite well. The night was very cold and the sea very rough. About daylight the next morning they complained very much of cold. We were not able to get shelter anywhere. In a few hours after they first began to complain of the cold they both died, before we got into the river. I heard that a man had died on board also, but I did not see him. Elizabeth Noon was my aunt.

Sworn before me, P. F. Curry, Coroner.

his mark
(signed) John + Collins,

William Adge being sworn, says,—I am second mate of the steam vessel “Britannia,” which plies between this town and Dublin. We sailed from Dublin on Thursday evening last, about half-past six o’clock. We had a great number of passengers, but I cannot say how many. They were deck passengers. The night was very cold and the sea rough. About six o’clock the next morning one of the firemen came and informed me there was a woman either dying or dead on the deck. I reported the case to the captain, and we went to see her, and found her insensible. The captain had her taken into the cabin, and used every means to bring her round, and in about and a half after I was informed she was dead. At the same time my attention was called to the woman, she had a child in her arms, and it was taken into the engine-room, and I heard of it being dead about the same time the woman died. About nine o’clock I heard of the death of the man, and saw him dead. We arrived in the river about half-past 11 o’clock yesterday morning, and the bodies were then taken on shore.

Sworn before me, P. F. Curry, Coroner.

his mark
(signed) William x Adge,

Thomas Mitten says.—I am one of the firemen on board the steamer “Britannia.” About six o’clock in the morning (yesterday) my attention was called to a woman and child on deck. I went to see them and found them both insensible. I reported it to the second mate, and the captain was called to them. The woman was taken aft, and the child was taken into the engine-room, and we then found it was dead. Soon after I heard the woman was dead. On coming round the rock I heard of the death of the man.

Sworn before me, P. F. Curry, Coroner.

his mark
(signed) Thomas x Mitten,

John Sarsfield says,—I am captain of the steamer “Britannia.” We left Dublin on Thursday evening last. We had 414 deck passengers. The night was very cold, with snow and hail. About six o’clock the next morning my attention was called to a woman and child. I went and found the woman insensible. The child was then in the engine- room. I took the woman into the cabin, and used every means in my power to bring her round, but she died in about a quarter of an hour after. The same morning I heard of the death of the child, and also of a man who I saw lying on the deck. On arriving in the river the bodies were taken on shore.

Sworn before me, P. F. Curry, Coroner.

(signed)John B. Sarsfield

John Hemingway says,—I am a police-officer. I was on duty yesterday at George’s dock basin when three bodies were brought on shore, which I had placed in the dead-house. I had the man searched, but found nothing but a halfpenny on him. The female was searched,but nothing but a needle case and some beads were found upon her.

Sworn before me, P. F. Curry, Coroner.

(signed) John Hemingway.

John Torney says,—I live in Cleveland-square. I was a passenger on board the “Britannia” steam packet, on Wednesday evening last. There were a great number of deck passengers. The night was very cold and stormy. The decks were so crowded that a number of the passengers were obliged to go on the paddle-boxes. I remained on deck till a little before eight o’clock in the evening, when I went below and did not come on deck again until just getting into the river. I did not see any tarpauling put up to shelter the passengers.

Sworn before me, P. F. Curry, Coroner.

Verdict — Death from exposure to cold and inclemency of weather.

(signed) John Turney.

Borough of Liverpool,
to wit.

Depositions of Witnesses produced, sworn, and examined this 16th day of April 1849, before Philip Finch Curry, gentleman, coroner of our liege Lady the Queen, within the said borough, touching the death of Maria Doyle, late of Liverpool aforesaid, there now lying dead.

Honora Doyle says,—I am the wife of Miles Doyle, and at present lodging in Carlton-street. The deceased, whose name was Maria Doyle, was our daughter. She was 10 weeks old. We left Cork on Saturday morning, in the steam ship “Nimrod,” for Liverpool. The deceased was then quite well. We arrived here on Sunday evening. About three hours before we arrived, I gave the deceased the breast; I kept her under my cloak to keep her warm. The packet was very much crowded. In about half an hour after putting her to the breast, I found her dead. I screamed out, and made inquiry for a doctor, and asked if there was one on board, but there was not. On arriving here I took the deceased to the Northern Hospital.

Sworn before me, P. F. Curry, Coroner.

her mark
(signed) Honora x Doyle,

Robert Burnell says,—I am second mate of the steamer “Nimrod ;” we left Cork on Saturday morning, with a great number of passengers. About half-past 11 o’clock, yesterday morning, when in sight of the north-west light ship, I heard the last witness scream out that her child was dead. I went to see, and found the deceased dead. On arriving here, she took the body on shore, and I have not seen it since.

Sworn before me, P. F. Curry, Coroner.

(signed) Robert Burnell.

— No. 11 . —

Parish Offices, Liverpool, 5 May. 1849.

We have twice had complaints of the inconvenience the Irish paupers have had in the
screw boats, in consequence of the length of time in coming across the Channel, and being among the cattle; but never any complaints of extra charges, either for water or extra accommodation.

(signed) Edm. Gray, Assistant Overseer.

— No. 12 . —

Her Majesty’s Packet Office, Liverpool,
28 April 1849.

Dear Sir,

With reference to the conversation I had with you in Water-street, relative to the overcrowded state of passenger vessels to and from this port, I beg to say, that in my opinion they are often so much overcrowded with deck passengers, exposed to wet and cold, that in many cases there is considerable risk of life in consequence thereof.

I am, &c.

(signed) Thomas Bevis, Commander, R. N.

Captain Denham, R. N.

— No. 13. —

88 & 90, Waterloo-road, 30 April 1849.

I have crossed George’s Channel at different times. It is out of the power of man to conceive the treatment that poor people receive from the captains, mates, &c. of the boats belonging to the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company. The most agreeable or consoling word The lowest servant of them have (when at sea) is, “Leave the way, you bloody Irish scrawl.” If pigs are to be shipped, they will be properly attended to; if a regiment of soldiers are going from here to Ireland, that is, dragoons or hussars, &c., there will be joiners employed to put up stables, or rather sheds, lest the horses should get cold; but the poor Irish peasantry, because they are humble, must submit to cold and hardships, &c. until they die, as by sad experience we have latterly seen. I will be ready to give evidence on this subject at any time I am called upon; and my reason of writing this is, that it can be read: for I don’t like to allow any other person to tell, perhaps, what I did not say. I have kept a copy of this.

With, &c.

(signed) Maurice D’Alton.

Returns to the several Queries from Captain Denham.

1. The name and tonnage and power of each vessel, distinguishing whether screw or paddle?— See the accompanying document (A.)

2. The average (noting the maximum and minimum) passage from Ireland?— The length of passage from Dublin to Liverpool varies from 12 to 14 hours, say, leaving Dublin one tide and arriving in Liverpool the following tide. No vessel has made a longer passage than from tide to tide.

3. The number of deckers in each vessel?—

The number of deck passengers in each vessel is given in the accompanying table for March and April, averaging 186 each vessel in March, and 225 in April. It will be seen that when two, three, or four vessels leave Dublin at the same time, some have very few, while others have several hundreds, often to the inconvenience of the company. Deck passengers like to congregate or keep together, and even prefer favourite vessels without regard to number. Whatever inconvenience or hardship deck passengers may experience in very bad weather, it would not be lessened by any diminution of their number. Except in harvest time, when the reapers return to Liverpool in thousands, on their way back to Ireland, the number carried daily is far below the number that can be conveniently taken on deck. When these harvest men are going over in great numbers, either the whole deck, and often the whole vessel, is appropriated to them.

4. The actual area of clear deck for such passengers, not including poop, hatchways, forecastle, windlass, paddle-boxes, &c.?— The portion of deck allotted to deck passengers varies from month to month, and even from week to week, and is determined by the number presenting themselves for a passage. At present, the great proportion of those coming to England are for emigration to America, there being a greater number and a greater choice of emigrant ships in Liverpool than in Dublin. Where a greater number go on board any vessel than was expected, they go on the quarter deck when night comes on, and where there is room enough, particularly if the main deck is wet from sea spray. When the number offering is unusually great, the entire deck is appropriated to them.

5. Whether any space provided below for deckers to take shelter in, if necessary?— No space is provided, or could be provided, for deck passengers below; and unless under-deck accommodation was provided for all, it would be unsafe to allow any to go down. It was this mistake in allowing the deck passengers to go below, in the “Londonderry,” that caused the great loss of life. Had the passengers been left on deck no loss of life would have occurred. In vessels coming from those ports from which deck passengers chiefly come as Dublin, Drogheda, and Dundalk, the principal and paying freight consists of cattle, sheep and pigs. With these on board, no under-deck accommodation could be given to passengers, as they could not be mixed. Indeed, deck passengers are unwilling to go below, as they are more disposed to be sea-sick, and complain of heat. When cattle are in the lower hold, passengers could not bear the heat between decks.

It is the general opinion, after the experience of many years, that if deck passengers were allowed between decks, instead of on deck, many serious casualties would occur from the violence of passengers to each other, and overcrowding, and the great danger from fire and other causes, as lights could not be kept from them.

Again the number going is so uncertain, and varying so much with the season of the year, would prevent the possibility of apportioning any of the vessel under deck for them.

In case of occasional very severe weather, and when any passengers are suffering or ill they go down to the engine-room or the cabins of the crew. Indeed, there is always a disposition to give aid in case of illness or weakness, as a coachman would give a suffering outside passenger an inside place.

6. The total number of deckers for the above period?— This is answered in return (B.)

7. The gross tonnage of all the vessels?— Ditto.

8. The gross area on deck of all the vessels?—

This cannot now be ascertained. Of the Company’s vessels (and which in turn are employed on the Dublin line) there are but few now in port, the rest being in Dublin, Belfast, London, or at sea.

9. The gross area below of all the vessels?— Ditto.

10. The number of gallons of water carried for passengers? Each vessel is supplied with large tanks under deck, and which are filled each voyage from the corporation mains. No want of water can ever be experienced.

11. The number of feet of boat length and breadth in each vessel?— This cannot now be ascertained; but all the Company’s steamers carry boats, pursuant to the late regulations of the Admiralty, in addition to a lifeboat.

12. The number of deaths or accidents to passengers known to have occurred in consequence of overcrowding or exposure to cold, since such vessels have been running?— No death or accident to passengers has ever been known to occur in consequence of overcrowding or exposure to cold during the 25 years the Company have been established. The only case in which any deck passengers died on board was in that of the “Britannia,” on the 20th of the month of April. In that case a woman, her child, and a lad died during the night. These deaths would have occurred had there been but 40 persons on board, instead of upwards of 400, as, though the night was cold and snowy, the woman and child were not in exposed situations, but the reverse, and were in fact under cover, and had abundance of room. They were very lightly clad, and were in an extreme weak state of bodily health: both were taken below, the child into the engine-room, the woman into the cabin, where she had every attention paid her. Poor as she appeared to be, no less than 10l. was found in her bundle.

13. Why have screw-vessels been employed to carry deckers?— No particular reason can be given for doing so.

(signed) P. J. K. Rounthwaite,
Agent of John Size.





7. The gross tonnage of all the vessels?—
513 tons register.

8. The gross area on deck of all the vessels?

9. The gross area below of all the vessels?—

10. The number of gallons of water carried for passengers?—
300 gallons each vessel.

11. The number of feet of boat length and breadth in each vessel?—
Three large boats; one of which is a life-boat, each vessel.

12 The number of deaths or accidents to passengers, known to have occurred in consequence of overcrowding or exposure to cold, since such vessels have been running?—
None in 3 years.

13. Why have screw vessels been employed to carry deck passengers in addition to the regular paddle-boats?—
As a legitimate source of profit.

To the Agents of the Dublin and Liverpool Steam Packet Company.

The above are as full and correct answers to vour questions as it is in our power to give. We have merely to add, that we are about to place in the “Water Witch” two new engines of 35 horse power each.

30 April 1849.

(signed) M‘Clune & Lampler.




13. Why have screw vessels been employed to carry deck passengers, in addition to the regular paddle boats?—
We do not run screw vessels with passengers from Ireland; we believe the reason to be that fares by screws are much lower than by paddle boats. The deckers from Cork are almost all emigrants, and bring large quantities of baggage.
The deck fare is 10 s.

I am, &c.

(signed) W. Wilson & Son.

To the Agents of the Cork Steam Packet Company.

Government Inquiry, 28 April 1849.

Required from Steam Vessel Proprietors who carry Passengers called Deckers, between Liverpool and Ireland, for the last three Months, ending 31 March 1849;

1. The name, and tonnage, and power of each vessel, distinguishing whether screw or paddle?—
“Sea Nymph,” 523 tons register, 550 horse power; paddle-boat.

2. The average (noting the maximum and minimum) passage from Ireland?—
Eleven hours.

3. The number of deckers in each vessel?—
Average per trip, 46.

4. The actual area of clear deck for such passengers, not including poop, hatchways, Appendix, No. 13. forecastle, windlass, paddle-boxes, &c.?—
2,964 feet.

5. Whether any space was provided below for deckers to take shelter in, if necessary?
—Yes.

6. The total number of deckers for the above period?—
2,160.

7. The gross tonnage of all the vessels?—
600 tons burthen.

8. The gross area on deck of all the vessels?—
4,860 feet over all.

9. The gross area below of all the vessels?—
8 1/2 ft. area of between-decks forward (no between-decks aft).

10. The number of gallons of water carried for passengers?—
2,000 gallons.

11. The number of feet of boat length and breadth in each vessel? —
Length of boats 80 feet.

12. The number of deaths or accidents to passengers known to have occurred in consequence of overcrowding or exposure to cola since such vessels have been running?—
None.

13. Why have screw vessels been employed to carry deck passengers in addition to the regular paddle boats?—
No screw vessel on Newry station.

To the Agents of the Newry Steam Packet Company.


The above are all paddle-box boats. The first four are iron; the last two are wood, and being extra boats are not intended to carry passengers.

2. The average (noting the maximum and minimum) passage from Ireland?—
The average passage from Drogheda to Liverpool for the passenger boats is about 11 hours. The minimum nine hours, and during the last six months the maximum for the iron vessels did not exceed a tide of, say, 12 to 14 hours.

3. The number of deckers in each vessel?—
I cannot say, without writing to Drogheda, the number of deckers per each, or any of the vessels from Drogheda, as they pay before going on board, and the tickets are taken from them as they pass on board at Drogheda. Without knowing exactly, I should say that per each vessel from Drogheda during the last three months, the number of deckers, which were chiefly emigrants for America, varied from 50 to 200 per each vessel. The number of deckers during this period, from Liverpool to Drogheda, per each vessel, I could give exactly, if time permitted, but as it is now Monday morning, there is no time to furnish this information for the hour required, say 11 o’clock. I may state, however, that the number of deckers from Liverpool to Drogheda during the last three months, does not average 20 deckers per each vessel.

4. The actual area of clear deck for each passenger, not including poop, hatchways, forecastle, windlass, paddle-box, &c.?— I cannot at present state the actual area of clear deck, as most of the company’s vessels are now at Drogheda, but the length of the passenger vessels over all is 200 to 220 feet, by 27 to 28 feet beam. The portion of deck space for passengers varies according to the number presenting themselves for transit; sometimes the whole of the deck is appropriated, sometimes a portion of it, and at other times the quarter-deck only, according to the number of passengers and live stock to be carried, with a due regard to a safe transit.

5. Whether any space was provided below for deckers to take shelter in if necessary?—
From Drogheda, there is no space below decks, provided for deck passengers; 1. Because the between-decks and holds, being invariably filled with livestock and merchandise, the latter would not be safe, and to inhale the breath and vapour of cattle would not be conducive to the health of human beings placed anywhere below decks. 2. To afford accommodation below, it may appear obvious that it should be for all or none. Sometimes as many deckers would offer as would fill the ship below; at other times there would not be 20 passengers, and in this uncertainty I am not hazarding an opinion, when I state that the steam-boat proprietary would not reserve for such an uncertainty the between-decks of their vessels, so long as anything else offered to pay them better.

From Liverpool it sometimes happens, that when there is no more cargo than fills the lower holds, passengers are admitted between decks, if they wish it. They sometimes, but very seldom, avail themselves of this, and when they do go below, it is not without danger to the ship, as it is impossible to prevent them from smoking.

6. The total number of deckers for the above period?— I can give no other answer to this at present, but that given to No. 3.

7. The gross tonnage of all the vessels?—See No. 1.

8. The gross area on deck of all the vessels?—See No. 4.

9. The gross area below of all the vessels?—See No. 4.

10. The number of gallons of water carried for passengers?— There are large tanks on board each vessel, which are regularly supplied by the water companies with more water than would be requisite for the maximum number of passengers per any two steamers.

11. The number of feet of boat length and breadth in each vessel?— Each of the company’s steamers carry boats according to the requirements of the Admiralty, as vouched by the half-yearly declarations of the surveyors and certificates of the Board of Trade.

12. The number of deaths or accidents to passengers known to have occurred, in consequence of overcrowding or exposure to cold, since such vessels have been running?— Since the company’s steamers commenced to trade between the ports of Liverpool and Drogheda, I have never known, nor have I ever heard of a single death or accident to a passenger, either from overcrowding or exposure to cold. Overcrowding could not cause death from cold, nor could it cause death from suffocation, so long as they remained on deck.

13. Why have screw vessels been employed to carry deck passengers in addition to the regular paddle-boats?— There are no screws trading between the ports of Liverpool and Drogheda.

I suppose these vessels are employed elsewhere, because they are cheaper to build or buy, cheaper to work, and having no other steam competition for 1 s. per head, deck passenger fare and low freights, if their slow movement through the water does not enable them to pay! their owners will sustain less loss, in the event of failure, than if they were more valuable property.

William. M‘Elroy,

Agent for the Drogheda Steam Packet Company.

Liverpool, 30 April 1849.

Government Inquiry, 28 April 1849.

Required from Steam Vessel Proprietors who carry Passengers called Deckers, between Liverpool and Ireland, for the last Three Months, ending 31 March 1849;

1. The name and tonnage, and power of each vessel, distinguishing whether screw or paddle?—
“Shamrock;” 421 tons register; paddle steamer; 350 horse power.

2. The average (noting the maximum and minimum) passage from Ireland?—
Thirty to 32 hours.

3. The number of deckers in each vessel?—
Average per trip about 110.

4. The actual area of clear deck for such passengers, not including poop, hatchways, forecastle, windlass, paddle-boxes, &c.?—
Main or whole area of deck, 4,434 square feet.

5. Whether any space was provided below for deckers to take shelter in if necessary?—
Yes, a steerage.

6. The total number of deckers for the above period?—
1,540.

7. The gross tonnage of all the vessels?—
714.

8. The gross area on deck of all the vessels?—
5,556.

9. The gross area below of all the vessels ?

10. The number of gallons of water carried for passengers ?—
1,500.

11. The number of feet of boat length and breadth in each vessel?—
84 ft. by 24 ft.

The number of deaths or accidents to passengers known to have occurred in consequence of overcrowding or exposure to cold, since such vessels have been running?—
None.

13. Why have screw vessels been employed to carry deck passengers in addition to the regular paddle boats?—
No screw steamer at present on the Sligo station.

To the Agents of the Sligo Steam Packet Company.

Government Inquiry, 28 April 1849.

Required from Steam Vessel Proprietors who carry Passengers called Deckers, between Liverpool and Ireland, for the last Three Months, ending 31 March 1849;

1. The name and tonnage and power of each vessel, distinguishing whether screw
or paddle?—
“Blenheim:” Gross tonnage———- 651
Less, Engine-room —- ————- 251
400-horse power, paddle————399

2. The average (noting the maximum and minimum) passage from Ireland?—
From 12 to 15 hours.

3. The number of deckers in each vessel?—
About 60 passengers each trip.

4. The actual area of clear deck for such passengers, not including poop, hatchways, forecastle, windlass, paddle-boxes, &c.?—
2,735 superficial feet.

5. Whether any space was provided below for deckers to take shelter in, if necessary?—
Yes, a steerage.

6. The total number of deckers for the above period? —
2,160.

7. The cross tonnage of all the vessels?—
651 tons.

8. The gross area on deck of all the vessels?—
Main deck —————— 3,375
Poop ditto —————– 1,716

______

5,091

9. The gross area below of all the vessels?—
245 superficial feet.

10. The number of gallons of water carried for passengers?—
Tanks to hold 1,000 gallons.

11 The number of feet of boat length and breadth in each vessel?—
Length 206 feet, 6 inches; breadth 25 feet (per register of “Blenheim”)

12 The number of deaths or accidents to passengers known to have occurred in consequence of overcrowding or exposure to cold, since such vessels have been running?—
None.

13. Why have screw vessels been employed to cany deck passengers, in addition to the regular paddle boats?—
We have no screw vessels.

Belfast, 1 May 1849.

Langtrys & Horseman, Accountants.

To the Agents of the Belfast Steam Packet Company.

North West of Ireland Union Steam Company’s Office.

Liverpool, 9 May 1849.

Sir,

I received your questions about the steam boats, and beg to return an answer to them as nearly as possible, and according to my idea of their meaning.

1. The “Maiden City,” 342 tons register; 280-horse power; a paddle.

2. Twenty-three hours; 28 hours to 18 hours.

3. Fifty-one deckers, average.

4. Two thousand seven hundred and twenty-seven feet.

5. Yes.

6. Six hundred and thirteen deckers.

7. Five hundred and eighty-nine tons.

8. Three thousand and seventy-five feet; poop and forecastle, 1,265; total, 4,340.

9. One thousand six hundred and ninety-three feet, without engine-rooms and boiler; cabin and forecastle, 1,603 feet.

10. Six hundred gallons in casks.

11 . Four boats; one 25 ft. by 6 in.; one 21 ft. by 7 in.; two 20 ft. by 6 ft. 4 in.

12. Not any.

13. To have one (the “Victory,”) in about a month to carry cargo. If passengers offer to be taken, we have besides since 1st January, charted the “John Munn,” screw steamer, which sails weekly with our paddle; but we will give her up as soon as our own new screw is ready, which is to be launched to-morrow. She will be of great power and convenience in every way.

I do not mention the particulars of the “John Munn,” as she does not belong to us, and our occupation of her is but temporary. She is 181 tons register, and carried about an average of 20 deck passengers; her whole number, since 1st January, was 240; she has room below for shelter, if necessary; she carries 600 gallons of water in a tank, and has two boats, 20 feet each by six feet. If there are any other particulars required I shall be most happy to give them. No deaths have occurred in the “John Munn,” or accidents.

I remain, &c.

H. M. Denham, Captain, R. N .

(signed) William Moore,

Agent, 35, Water-street.

Government Inquiry, 28 April 1849.

Required from Steam Vessel Proprietors who carry Passengers, called Deckers, between Liverpool and Ireland, for the last three Months, ending 31 March 1849;

1. The name and tonnage and power of each vessel, distinguishing whether screw
or paddle?—
“Town of Wexford,’’ register 228 tons; 150-horse power; paddle.

2. The average quoting the maximum and minimum) passage from Ireland?—
Twenty hours.

3. The number of deckers in each vessel?—
About 25 each trip.

4. The actual area of clear deck for such passengers, not including poop, hatchways* forecastle, windlass, paddle-boxes, &c.?—
No portion of the main deck clear for passengers on her voyage from Ireland, but they are allowed on the quarter deck.

5. Whether any space was provided below for deckers to take shelter in if necessary?—
The between-decks of the main-hold, 22 feet long by 12 feet.

6. The total number of deckers for the above period? —
About 700.

7. The gross tonnage of all the vessel?—
Two hundred and eighty.

8. The gross area on deck of the vessel?—
One hundred and forty feet.

9. The gross area below of vessel?—
Ninety-six feet.

10. The number of gallons of water carried for passengers?—

Two hundred gallons.

11. The number of feet of boat length and breadth in each vessel?—
Twenty feet by 7; boats slung in davids.

12. The number of deaths or accidents to passengers known to have occurred in consequence of overcrowding or exposure to cold since such vessels have been running?—
None.

13. Why have screw vessels been employed to carry deck passengers in addition to the regular paddle boats?—
Do not know.

Filzsimons and Applebee,

20, Water-street.

To the Agents of the Wexford Steam Packet Company.

Government Inquiry, 28 April 1849.

Required from Steam Vessel Proprietors who carry Passengers called Deckers, between Liverpool and Ireland, for the last three Months, ending 31 March 1849;

1. The name and tonnage, and power of each vessel, distinguishing whether screw or paddle?—
“Rover;” paddle steamer; 200 tons register; 150 horse power.
“St. Columb paddle steamer; 139 tons register; 100 horse power.

2. The average (noting the maximum and minimum) passage from Ireland?—
Maximum passage, 26 hours; minimum passage, 20 hours; average passage, 22 hours.

3. The number of deckers in each vessel?—
Average number from Port Rush, about 10 deck passengers.

4. The actual area of clear deck for such passengers, not including poop, hatchways, forecastle, windlass, paddle-boxes, &c. &c.?
“Rover,” clear space, 1,768 square feet.
“St. Columb,” clear space, 1,370 square feet.

5. Whether any space was provided below for deckers to take shelter in if necessary?—
Both vessels have a good steerage cabin.

6. The total number of deckers for the above period?—
Have no record of the number.

7. The gross tonnage of all the vessels?—
“Rover,” 356 tons.
” St. Columb,” 220 tons.

8. The gross area on deck of all the vessels?—
“Rover,” 2,602 feet.
“St. Columb,” 2,109 feet.

9. The gross area below of all the vessels?—

10. The number of gallons of water carried for passengers?—
“Rover,” 650 gallons.
“St. Columb,” 480 gallons.

11. The number of feet of boat length and breadth in each vessel?—
Each vessel has boats equal to about 42 feet by 11 feet.

12. The number of deaths or accidents to passengers known to have occurred in consequence of overcrowding or exposure to cold since such vessels have been running?—
None.

13. Why have screw vessels been employed to carry deck passengers in addition to the regular paddle boats?—
No screw vessels on Port Rush station.

To the Agents of the Port Rush Steam Packet Company.

Town-hall, Liverpool, 28 April 1849.

Sir,

In reference to the inquiry now being made by order of Government, relative to the accommodation afforded for deck passengers on board steam or other vessels between this port and Ireland, I beg to request that you will be so good as to furnish me with replies to the accompanying queries, and deliver the same at the Town-hall on or before 11 o’clock on Monday morning next.

I remain, &.c.

(signed) H. M. Denham.

To the Agents of the

City of Dublin Steam Packet Company.
Dublin and Liverpool Steam Ship Company.
Dundalk Steam Vessel Company.
Newry Steam Vessel Company.
Belfast Steam Vessel Company.
Drogheda Steam Vessel Company.
Londonderry Steam Vessel Company.
Sligo Steam Vessel Company.
Wexford Steam Vessel Company.
Waterford Steam Vessel Company.
Cork Steam Vessel Company.
Port Rush Steam Vessel Company.
Coleraine Steam Vessel Company.

IRISH STEAMERS,

Captain Denham’s Report on Passenger Accommodation in Steamers between Ireland and Liverpool.

(Presented to Parliament by Her Majesty’s Command.)

Ordered, by The House of Commons, to be Printed,
5 June 1849.

Source: Internet Archive