The following was provided by Michael Harrison. Please contact Michael for any additional information at

Please find transcribed below a letter written by Mr. J. Dixon during his
voyage on the Columbus from Whitby to Quebec in April 1832.

I would be interested in hearing from any descendants of Mr. Dixon as a
subsequent letter describes William Harrison - my great great great
grandfather - as a distant relation. This letter was written to Mr. George
Dixon of Darlington.

The following is the letter:

To: Mr. R. Frankland, Whitby

On board Ship Columbus, April 16, 1832 - Sailed out of Whitby this evening,
a few were sick, my sister and children were of the number. 17th, A fine
day and fair wind, sailed three and four miles an hour, several sick, my
wife and Jane a little sick, John, Breckon and myself well. 18th, Strong
winds from the south, ran nine and ten miles per hour, my sister, her
husband, and children, very sick, we went through the Firth about six
o'clock this evening, the sea ran high, so that we could not get a pilot, I
was on deck when a sea struck us and come over our bulwark, the ship listed
so much to one side that ten or twelve men fell down as though they were
shot, but were not much worse. 19th, Little wind and cloudy. 20th, A heavy
gale, had to take all the sails in, strike top-gallant mas's lay the ship
to, and let her drive (in the Western Ocean) most of the people very sick,
some cried "If I had known this, I would have begged our bread from door to
door before I would have come," this and such-like were the language of a
great many who were overpowered with sickness - our John a little sick, -
Breckon holds it out well, my wife becomes useful to her sister and family,
the whole of them being very sick, - for my own part I am as well both in
body and mind as I was on the day we started, for which I am truly thankful
to the Lord. We have a public prayer meeting in the evening, preaching a'so
on the Lord's day, but only a few attend, some on board laugh and mock at
every thing sacred. 21st, The gale a little abated, the people a little
revived. Sundan, 22nd, Prayer meeting in the morning, William Outhard
preached in the evening. 23rd, The sea ran high, but better weather towards
evening. 24th, My sister's youngest child very ill in an inflammation of
the breast. 25th, A very fine day, the sea smooth, and the people
wonderfully revived, they appeared like a new company, all full of spirits
and activity. 26th, The weather fine, all the beds ordered on deck. 27th &
28th, Fine weather and fair wind. Sunday, 29th, Fair wind, going six and
seven miles an hour, no hopes of my sister's child, Margaret Headlam has got
a son this morning about two o'clock, they have named him William Columbus
Headlam. 30th, A young woman fell and deck and flesh-rent her leg. May
1st, My sister's eldest son whilst standing on deck, the ship rolling very
much at the time, fell down the hatch-way into the hold, but, through the
mercy and providence of God, was not much worse. 2nd, Squally weather, with
rain; three o'clock this afternoon my sis er's child died. 3rd, About seven
o'clock this evening the child was committed to a watery grave. 4th, A fair
wind. 5th, A contrary wind. 6th, The wind still contrary, William Hugill
preached to the satisfaction of most who heard him. 7th, Contrary wind, a
light ship very near us. 8th, Still contrary. 9th, Fair wind, went six and
seven miles an hour, spoke a brig. 10th, A fine day, little or no wind, all
beds on deck. 11th, Calm. 12th, Fair wind, four and five miles an hour.
Sunday 13th, Strong fair wind, William Hutchinson's youngest child very ill,
a very large iceberg about two hundred yards off us, a great number of birds
about it. 14th, About two o'clock this morning William Hutchinson's child
died, and was committed to the deep in the evening about seven o'clock.
15th, We are now upon the banks of Newfoundland, bought some cod-fish and
brandy from one of the fishing vessels. 16th, Fair wind, five and six miles
an hour. 17th, Little wind. 18th, Died this morning about seven o'clock,
John Dobson, a boy about fourteen years of age, he was a nephew to Thomas
Blackburn. 19th, John Dobson, this afternoon about four o'clock, was
lowered into his watery grave. Sunday 20th, A fine morning, but little
wind; we are expecting to see the land every day. 21st, A fine day and fair
wind, ran 180 miles in twenty-four hours. 22nd, Cape Race in sight, it was
covered with snow. 23rd, We are not in the Gulf with about twenty sail of
ships in sight; no doubt you will wish to know how we like our new
situation; the water was much better, and the smells not so bad, as I
thought they would be, but the conduct of the people were ten times worse
than I ever expected; the peaceable were much annoyed by the abominable and
filthy language of several on board; it was no uncommon thing for them to be
cursing, swearing, and drunk, until twelve and one o'clock in the morning,
and if any thing was said to them, they were much worse; it has given me a
greater hatred to sin than ever, and a greater love to God and his people; I
would say pray for us, that our lot may be cast among those that love and
fear God. 24th, Fine day but calm. 25th, Still calm, spoke several vessels
that had passengers on board. 26th, Strong fair wind up the river, by four
o'clock in the afternoon arrived within twenty-four miles of Quebec, where
we had to anchor with many other ships until our captain and doctor went on
shore to the doctor's station for the purpose of filing a bill of health; we
rode until seven o'clock next night. Previous to our getting under weigh,
Mr. Campion's new brig, the Regina, arrived. Sunday 27th, By ten o'clock
this morning, we reached Quebec, one Mrs. Shirinton got her bed this
morning, we expect to proceed up the river to-morrow, we heard that Mr.
Mewburn was at Quebec, we have had as fine a passage and any ship we hear
of, for which we feel very thankful, we are all doing well, I doubt not but
you have prayed for us, and I hope that you and my friends in Whitby will
still lift up your hearts to God for us, that He may still guide us in the
way we should go, both temporally and spiritually; I hope you will excuse
this scrawl, for I am a poor hand with a bad pen and bad paper, and what is
worse, my knee for a writing desk; please to give our kind love to Mr. and
Mrs. Fletcher, my cousin Ralph Speedy, and G. Lockey; it would be tedious to
mention all my friends by name but you will be so kind as to give your best
respects to them all. I conclude with my prayer to God that he may bless
you and yours.

J. Dixon

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