The Bristol Channel 24 January 1863
“My new start almost ended today. How I wish we had not decided to follow Robert’s cousins to Brisbane. I don’t even know where Brisbane is. James’ letters promised such a bright future but so far nothing is as we thought it would be. My darling Robert was suddenly transferred to another ship departing London. We had to leave two of our babies in their graves and my little Johnny has stayed behind with my parents. It is just our baby, due in six weeks’ time, and me now. Will I ever see my family again?”
The Hannah More did not have a good start to her voyage. She sailed from Liverpool in fog on 16 January and just an hour after the tug was farewelled at the Tuscar Lighthouse she was struck by a gale—even the sailors reckoned it worse than anything they had ever experienced. The seas raged for days and water washed over the decks. Sailors had to shout their commands. The distress flag flew. Most of the passengers stayed in their beds … probably safer there than on the decks. Definitely a start to be remembered by all on board if they lived to tell the tale. Safe! The tide turned just as the captain was about to lower the lifeboats before the ship crashed into ‘Steep Holm’, a massive rock.
Elizabeth Beeston survived that experience and safely delivered her son Thomas while still at sea.
1863 ‘THE SHIP HANNAH MORE.’, North Australian and Queensland General Advertiser (Ipswich, Qld. : 1862 – 1863), 28 April, p. 2, viewed 2 March 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77291371
England Birth Certificate 1859 Qtr 4 Vol 8a Page 42 Stockport District, John Francis Beeston
National Archives of Australia, Brisbane, Shipping Inwards Series J715, 1863 Hannah More passenger list, Elizabeth and Robert Beeston (Robert struck out)
National Archives of Australia, Brisbane, Shipping Inwards Series J715, 1863 Light Brigade passenger list, Robert Beeston
National Burial Index for England and Wales, North Cheshire FHS, 1860 Municipal Cemetery, Stockport, Sarah Elizabeth Beeston 11 Jan 1860
National Burial Index for England and Wales, North Cheshire FHS, 1862 Municipal Cemetery, Stockport, Robert Beeston 2 Jun 1862
Queensland State Archives, Surgeon Superintendent’s Report Hannah More, birth of Male Beeston 14 Mar 1863
Registers of Births, Marriages and Deaths of Passengers at Sea from 1856 to 1865, BT158 / Piece 2 / Page 81, Male Beeston 14 Mar 1863 aboard the Hannah Mond (accessed www.thegenealogist.co.uk: 2 March 2018)
In researching my partner’s family I came across your page relating to the voyage of the ship Hannah More. Interestingly, my partner’s great-grandfather, John Drake, came to Australia on that “Hannah More” voyage in 1863. He brought his new wife of six months, Hannah Massey, with him. Hannah, like your Elizabeth, was also pregnant when the boat left Liverpool on 16 January and went through the horror of the near shipwreck which was graphically described in the article in the North Australian and Queensland General Advertiser on 28th April. On the list of onboard births, it was interesting to see that Hannah Drake had her baby (male) on 9 March and your Elizabeth had the next baby born on 14 March. Sadly, the ship records show that Hannah’s baby was struck down with Pertussis (Whooping Cough) on 8 Jun and although he was listed as “mending” on a further list dated 2 Jul 1863 when ship was in Quarantine, he was never mentioned anywhere again! Hannah died in Brisbane three months after arrival from Phthisis (TB) most likely having contracted it onboard the ship (there had been a death from TB on the ship on 17 June). Sadly, I noted that your Elizabeth also died not very long after arrival. I cannot even begin to imagine how women like Hannah and Elizabeth coped with the trauma of the near shipwreck in January, setting sail again one month later and then giving birth at sea a month after that! How traumatic for them both to have their babies early in the voyage and watch as 35 souls (mainly young children) dropped like flies around them. I salute these brave women and was struck by the similarities of their stories. Not sure if your Robert remarried after Elizabeth died, but John Drake did marry again, in Brisbane, in December 1864, and went on to have 10 more children. Good luck with your research. I love the thrill of the chase and the remarkable stories I find whilst indulging in this fascinating hobby.