Among the many goals I set for myself for my visit to the UK to take in the “WDYTYA Live in London” Conference at Olympia was to establish whether the National Archives, Kew could throw any light on how Christopher Christmas BERRY, my 2nd great-grandfather, made his passage to Australia around 1837.
Working from an entry in the file BT 120, 1 Register of Seamen A-C, Series 1 1835 – 36 “No 3845 Name: Christopher Berry Age 30 Place of Birth: Yarmouth Ship belonging to Orissa of Grangemouth. Quality: Mariner” and on the suggestion of the extremely helpful team manning the Maritime History Archive desk at the Conference I ordered the file BT 98 “Shipping and Seamen Registry – Agreements & Crew Lists Series 1 Last Piece Ref 6944”.
It did not take me long at all to find the Crew List for the voyage of the Orissa, Port of Grangemouth, C T Anderson, Master, which sailed from the Port of London, 1st Departure, March 1837 on her voyage to Sydney and India (arrived Sydney July 1837) who joined the ship later to its departure and until her return to the Port of London. Christopher Berry was not named in that List.
A subsequent search in Edinburgh for information on the Orissa Shipping Company, in particular for any other vessels in its ownership, was also unsuccessful.
In reviewing my approach to this conundrum I have given some thought to the possibility that the Seamens Register entry above relates to another Christopher Berry. This is a possibility because the given age and place of birth do not exactly coincide with the now known facts. However it does follow the history of obfuscation with these factors and that Christopher was baptised three times with three different names in two different towns, Norwich and Kings Lynn.
The residence of wife and daughter, as referred to in the following paragraph, nearby Grangemouth at Cramond, is I believe strong evidence that we have the correct Christopher Berry warranting further research in that area.
I was unsuccessful also, despite a several hours searching at Scotlands People Centre and the Scottish Genealogy Society, in finding anything of what happened to wife and daughter, both Elizabeth, who appear in the 1841 Census resident at Craigies (Farm) Cottages in Cramond which lies a few miles to the north-west of Edinburgh. The booklet “Old Cramond” by Peter and William J. Scholes records that in 1790 its population of 299 families was found to be diminishing due to ‘the removal of mechanics to town, the failure of the oyster fishing, and the increase of pasture land’ (First Statistical Account). Elizabeth senior is recorded in the 1841 Census with the occupation “Ag Lab” which accords with the pastoral nature of the area at that time.
Craigies Farm still exists in the form of a Deli and Cafe located just to the West of Cramond and East Craigie Cottages at Cramond Bridge.
I did discover however a possible reason for the shift of the Berry family (or what remained of it) to Scotland. I visited the True’s Yard Fisherfolk Museum in Kings Lynn, Norfolk and found on the Kings Lynn Timeline that there was a severe Cholera Epidemic in 1832. This coincides with the deaths of Edward-Newdick and Sarah in 1832, followed by William-Newdick who died as an infant in 1834. I cannot find other than baptism details for James-Newdick who was baptised in 1823 and if had died meantime this would have left Elisabeth as the only child to accompany mother and father north to Edinburgh where Christopher had been engaged by the Orissa Shipping Company.
My BERRY research continues and I am open to suggestions.