Saturday, August 2, 2014

Telling an Immigrant’s Story by Researching Ships – Conclusion

Passenger list for the Brandywine Miller October 1804 (genealogybank.com)

In this final installment of this series we see how we can integrate what we have learned about the Brandywine Miller in our immigrant's story:


  • Charles Rose and Alexander McGillivray, and possibly, Francis Grimes and their families left the north of Scotland in late summer and traveled along Wade’s Military Road to Greenock, about twenty miles west of Glasgow, on the River Clyde. Here they found passage aboard the Brandywine Miller captained by Mark Collins and departed Scotland for America on or about 10 September 1804.
  • The Brandywine Miller was a 169 ton American brig owned by Alexander MacGregor of New York. It had been plying the Atlantic as a cargo ship for over a decade by 1804. Despite the age of the ship it was in good repair and sailed twice yearly from New York to Greenock and occasionally from New York to Jamaica. Despite the difficulties of renewed warfare, the Brandywine Miller still managed to make its customary two voyages between Greenock and New York. However, Mark Collins was issued a “Right of Passage” letter from the President Thomas Jefferson in July 1804 giving Collins permission to bring cargo, but no guns, into the United States. American neutrality in the wars was viewed differently by the Americans, the British, and the French – we stated we were neutral and they both thought we supported their enemy.
  • The second annual journey of the Brandywine Miller took 49 days, reaching New York on or about 29 October 1804. However, this journey included passengers in addition to cargo of dry-goods and coal. Among the passengers were 6 individuals with enough rank to be named in the New York Commercial Advertiser: Mr. and Mrs. McLeod, G.W. Wegg, R. Wingate, Elias Shipman, and Mark Collins, Jr. Perhaps they mingled with the 21 passengers who travelled steerage who would have included nine members of the Rose family, four members of the McGillivray family, and three members of the Grimes family.

This is just a bear bones attempt at integrating the history of the ship with the lives of Rose, McGillivray, and Grimes. These three paragraphs could be expanded with additional research and descriptions of sailing, travelling steerage, travel during wartime, what sailing the Atlantic was like, and the bustle of the ports of Greenock and New York in the early nineteenth century.  

Learning about an immigrant’s ship can help tell their story, especially if there is little additional information available about them. 

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