Lot 72 of 312:
Handwritten diary of voyage from London to New York, 1861  

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Lot closed - Sold For (Includes Buyers Premium):$360
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Diary of voyage from London to New York

Nisbett, Thomas P.





40 pages containing handwritten text. 15.5x10 cm. ¼ leather over marbled boards.

Diarist Thomas P. Nisbett's description of being aboard the sailing schooner Plymouth Rock, along with his wife and children, bound from London to New York in June 1861. Handwritten entries depict a voyage laden with peril on a nearly daily basis, including squalls, storms, sickness, and the ever-looming threat of pirates and privateers.

Some events mentioned in the diary: A huge American packet ship harassing them by crossing their bow several times; Captain E. Hammond trying to steer away from them; Captain having to whip one of his sailors due to thievery from a passenger; Fear of mutiny by sailors, and the captain's mates have to draw their pistols; No medical man aboard; No medicine of any kind; Rations running low; Sailsblown to bits from winds; Encounter with another ship at sea where they bought fish & tobacco and were told News of War in U.S.; etc. Front cover is signed by the author Thomas P. Nisbett. It appears he is a minister ashe gives sermons aboard ship when requested to do so. The voyage starts off fairly well and then escalates into tremendous danger, peril and intensity.

"Thomas P. Nisbett, June 21, 1861, 12 o'clock Friday were on board The Plymouth Rock - London - Dock A - Captain Hammond. [Captain E. Hammond.] Same day hauled out at 4 o'clock P.M. Same evening fire in next cabin. Accidentally caused by Mrs. Powell (French woman) Extinguished by the captain. Sat. June 22, Steam tug 11 o'clock precisely. Pilot. Pilot on boat a very agreeable person. Nice weather. Tug left in the afternoon. Sails set ahead. Pass well known spots."

"Sunday, June 23, Pleasant day. Sang some pieces. Wind changed against. Tacking all day. Monday 24, Rough. Tacking.
Much sickness. 11 at night passed Beachy Head. Provisions served out. Fog. Bell & horn.
Tues. 25, Rain & wind. Wind favorable. Change tacking. 6 o'clock.
Isle of Wight. Squalls. Rain. 3 o'clock. Wind, fair sailing due West.
Wed. 26, Fine morning, course fair. Occasional tacking. 10 o'clock, lights lands end. 2 o'clock Weather fine.
Headwind. Wake. Many sick on deck in the sun. A bright day. I keep girls free from sickness.
Thursday 27, Beautiful morning. Full seas, fair wind. 10 knots. Mary, Hannah & Charles still sick. Youth discovered last night stowed away in the hold. He was set to work. Several persons (women) laying about on deck sick. Saw French
Man of War. Wife better this morning. Fine, and fair wind all day. Night watch on forecastle going 10 knots, fell asleep well nigh & we almost run into a homeward bound vessel. Friday, 28, Calm. Beautiful morning. 10 o'clock shift in wind but unfair ship tacks. All are sick. Evening wind fine."

"July 1, Monday. Calm morning good wind in afternoon. Rainbow.
Boatswain impressed by my address/sermon on Sunday last, and one or two other comments. 11 o'clock comet. Rain & a good wind. All well. No sickness. Beautiful day with fair winds. July 2, Fine morning and a fair wind. All passengers in good health and spirits. We shifted our boxes for more room & comfort. We have many mercies and are thankful to God. May he continue to share good health and give us a prosperous voyage. Bring us safely to land and grant us the desires of our hearts as far as those desires are in accord with his righteous will. Lord enable us to live very close to thee.
July 3, Fine morning & fair wind. 10 o'clock strong wind is increasing. Lashed all things fast. 12 to 2 o'clock blowing great guns. By 4 P.M. we are in a gale. A sail taken down; 1 every half hour. One sail (for Royal). Split main sail. Plunging along at 10 knots. Several persons sick. I pray for God's blessing upon us all. In the evening comet seen again. Wind increases.
Thursday, July 4, Anniversary American Independence. Heavy winds all through the previous night. Squalls and danger of capsizing the ship. Squalls all day long. 4 vessels in sight in morning. All passengers sing the Dedication of Independence. 3 guns fire. Sailors are treated. Fireworks at night. Head winds. 4 sails up."

"Friday, July 5, Passed terrible night. Thunderous gale, heavy sea.
Wife & children poorly. Difficulty to prepare food. Several passengers unwell. Several persons drunk last night and are suffering the consequences this morning. Gale, dangerous squalls. Saw ship heading for London with about 100 souls on board. Danger this evening of this ship not weathering the gale. Equal number of passengers assigned to each one of four boats. Talk of fastening down the hatches. We go to bed in fear but our hope is in God. We have sung a few pieces. East India Man crossed our bow this afternoon laden with soldiers on way to London; a magnificent sight. May God preserve them and us. Saturday, July 6, Barometer rising. Hope of wind fading. 3 o'clock and N. wind fell. Sea ran high.
We pray God for relief from these 3 days & nights of terror. Wind has changed. Mate told me voyage may be 6 or 7 weeks.

7 o'clock, rain. Sky looks ominous. Thought we shall have a tricky night. Some passengers continue to be sick. 3 o'clock A.M. Sudden squall. Have to shorten sails at once. July 8, Mary's birthday. (one of his daughters.) Quite a calm this morning and it continues all day. 6 o'clock little wind. A fine pig is killed. July 9, Quite a calm. Swarms of flies. 2 o'clock man overboard. Through mercy saved. Dancing & innocent amusements in the evening. July 10, Fair wind, 8 knots. Whale seen. Goes well all day."

"July 12, Wind good about 2 points out but along about 10 knots. Wife very unwell this morning. I feel grievous to see her look so poorly.
July 13, Wind full. Fair all day. 12 knots. July 14, Beautiful calm morning. Schooner in sight. Attempt to catch fish. No good. July 13, Asked to hold a service on quarter deck. Did so & thankful to God for the privilege. Had good attendance. Some sailors present who appear much interested. Glorious night, calm. July 15, Calm this morning. Repaired the children's shoes. Sea like a mirror, wind puffy. Saw distinctly two whales, some Dolphins & Schools of Porpoises. We have been on this voyage for about 3 weeks now. July 16, On course. At 12 o'clock ship is off course. Wind on & off. Neither losing nor making way. July 17, Dear wife very unwell. We all beginning to be weary & in fear of such a long passage. 2 ships in sight. One signaled. Wife better. Made her a bed on boxes. July 18, Wife better this
morning, but very very weak. Fear she be very ill. I pray to God as there is no medical man on board, nor medicines. Hardly any article of comfort beyond ship rations. Nearly all the extras we bought are used up. July 19, Blowing half a
gale. Head to North. Had a very rough night. Wife laid out in cabin. Seems much better this morning. Thank the Lord."

"July 20, Fearful squalls & gale. 8 sails blown to bits. Gale conditions all through the night. Sunday 21, Now off banks. Another gale this afternoon. Now going 12 knots. Nearly run into by a large American packet. July 23, Wind unfair. General talk among sailors of black balling - robbery. Sailors called out after man's clothes that were stolen are found. No man will own the bag in which they are returned to the owner. Placed in my care by wish of Mr. Hammond. The thief is later struck (whipped) by the latter (Mr Hammond), and made to go aloft. No more watch below this side of [New] York. Dissatisfaction among the sailors Mates get pistols ready. Some bad work expected. July 24, Rain all afternoon. Large American Packet has made several passes across our bow. Obviously desirous of speaking. Coming from New York. Strange peak. Captain put ship around and avoided them. Has done this several times. Everyone on board much annoyed. Request me to do speech/sermon Friday night and I am glad to know that I am useful."

"July 25, Fair wind. Beautiful morning. 850 miles from New York. Been going 10 knots at night & now goes 5 with prospect of wind holding out. Should it continue we shall see land by Sunday. Saw four ships today. Now fog. July 28,
Fair wind, 10 knots. Fight - 2 sailors. July 29, Head wind. A dangerous fog. Thick & wet. Most miserable day yet. Some trouble to suppress the angry feelings of the passengers & the sailors. Rain, thunder, very heavy night. July 31,
Fine morning & fog clearing off. Good breeze & nearly fair. Saw Brig "Euphrates" going to New York, from Havre de Grace. August 1, Pass Mail Steamer. August 2, Gave lecture/sermon in cabin. Got bad opinion of Mrs. Wertney & Miss Divall
because cautioned about their conduct in reference to' Alsey.'
August 3, Squall & fog & rain, but good wind. Course well half north. Wind is moving round to head again. Some unpleasantness with Mrs Pollhill. Her cat has been taken away. Cat makes it her ground of any cabin to use. Heavy wind & squalls late into the morning. Much sail taken down.

Sunday, August 4, Cry of "Land Ahoy" a hoax. Several fishing boats in view. Hailed one and got fish and tobacco. News of War in U.S. Very exciting day. Requests by sailors to preach. I did and I was very happy with their profound attention. New to these rough men the 'Story of the Cross.' Fearful gale. Taken in nearly all sail. No lights for fear of pirates. Dense fog and rain all night. Monday, Aug. 5, Heavy Sea & much wind but little sail up. Head W.N.W. Some doubt of making [New] York this week. Wed. Aug. 7, Right course. All on board in expectation of going in this week & will if wind continues. Several vessels & steamer seen from forecastle. Aug. 8, Wind fair. Wind increases. Anchor ready for dropping. Wind keeps dead aft. Rain all the afternoon & night. Extra watch on look out for ships lights & land.
Captain anxious about a Pilot. Aug. 9, Wind fair. No sight of land seen yet. Can't well expect to get ashore till Monday. 2 o'clock Saturday morning when all was excitement. Pilot (No. 6) on board. Head wind. Saturday Aug. 10, Calm at
6 A.M. Then head wind. 3 points away from her course. All hope of going on shore today is given up."

Then no more entries for several pages and at the top of a latter page, one handwritten statement by Thomas P.
Nisbett;; "Arrival in New York."

They may have made their way to Michigan as Thomas P. Nisbett is in the 1870 US Census for Oakland, Michigan. Thomas P. Nisbett, 57 Shoemaker; Eliza, 57 Keeping House; Charles 22,Hannah, 21, Callie 18, Marie 16, Agnes 18. Everyone was born in England.
Notice in newspaper for January 5, 1861; New York Times, 1861 LONDON, Jan. 5. -- The ship Plymouth Rock, in charge of a pilot, got on shore a few days since, at the entrance of the Thames, and as sustained considerable damage. She is now in dock, but the pumps require to be kept going day and night. Schooner Plymouth Rock, Norris, Boston, Dayton & Co.

Also, there is another curious handwritten notation signed by a Paul Betrey about perhaps going to make this into a book.

Lot Amendments

Front board and first ten pages detached; spine brittle; some rubbing to extremities; overall poor.

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