The Voyage of the ‘Wanderer’

On 1 February, 1847, a small ship carrying refugees from the famine‑stricken Skibbereen area of West Cork arrived in Newport, south Wales, following a particularly harrowing winter voyage from the small port of Baltimore, County Cork. The following report appeared in the <1>Monmouthshire Merlin, on 6 February, 1847:

“Hundreds of unfortunate creatures from the land of famine have been recently thrown upon our shore, and the numbers increase so rapidly that the suggestion of a highly influential gentleman in our neighbourhood should be immediately adopted, – namely, a memorial to government, to meet the serious expense of sustaining these unhappy creatures, a course which has been adopted by the authorities at Liverpool, and which the Home Office cannot reasonably refuse; but in the meantime the wretched strangers must be taken care of and not suffered to perish.

“On Monday last, a vessel called the Wanderer, Capt. Casey, from Baltimore, Ireland, arrived in this port, which place she left on the twenty‑third of December last, with 113 destitute passengers, consisting of men, women, and children, several of whom were from Skibbereen: owing to adverse winds the vessel was obliged to put into Monkstown; they were then driven back again to Cork, and once more were they obliged to put into Monkstown, from which port they sailed, and finally reached here as before stated, but human conception can scarcely reach the depth of misery in which a large number of them appeared.

“They were straitened for provisions, although we learn that the relief committee of Cork were not wanting in affording proper aid when the Wanderer put in there.

“Men women, and children, to the number of twenty six, were found in a dying state stretched upon a scanty portion of straw which but partially protected them from the hard and damp ballast on which they were lying in the hold. This sad fact being known upon the arrival of the ship at the wharf at Pillgwenlly, – the offices of humanity were promptly afforded by Mr. Honey, Mr. Pyne, and Mr. Jefferies, surgeon, and shortly after by a gentleman of the Subscription Fund Committee of Newport;... but above all, the most prompt and efficacious assistance was rendered in the way of proper nourishment by the Misses Homfray and Mrs. Lewis. How true it is said of the tender sex,

When care and anguish wring the brow
A ministering angel thou.

“We are happy to say, that through the prompt and assiduous care extended to those destitute people, but one death is likely to ensue, and the case of the survivors will be brought before the Board of Guardians at our Union tomorrow.”

Published in: The Green Dragon No 1, Winter, 1996.