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Nineteenth-Century Death Ships

The gold rush not only brought an enormous number of people to the Australian colonies but it put considerable pressure on shipping available to bring assisted passengers to the colonies.The circumstances in the colonies created by the gold rush led to poor decisions in the early 1850's by the British authorities regarding the engagement of vessels to transport large numbers of emigrants.

The decision involved charting four large American-built vessels, which could accommodate steerage passengers on two lower decks. This meant that these vessels could carry twice as many emigrants below decks. The Commissioners also relaxed the rules relating to the number of children under the age of 10 that could be transported. One of the charted vessels the Bourneuf departed Liverpool in March and arrived Geelong 3 months later in September 1852. The passage was an horrific experience for the passengers with 88 dying. Most of the deaths were among the Scottish children under 7 years of age.

The story of the passage on the other 3 vessel was even more horrific. These stories about nineteenth century emigration are told in the book: Farewell to Old England Forever together with illustrations of these and many nineteenth century vessels used as emigrant vessels.

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