Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Richard Haydon: Embarkation, August 1883

The Departure, Illustrated London News, 1850

It must have been with mixed emotions that young Richard Haydon journeyed from Chudleigh to the port of Plymouth on the Devonshire coast to embark aboard the clipper sailing ship the Taranaki for the voyage to New Zealand.

On the one hand, he was saying farewells to family members well-knowing that he might never see any of them ever again. A return voyage "Home" was expensive, hardly affordable on a carpenter's wage, and would take just as long as the voyage out to New Zealand. On the other hand, here was a chance for a young man to strike out on his own in a new land, to create a life for himself that might be more stable and rewarding than the one he had lived thus far.

There is no intimation in Haydon's shipboard diary that he was accompanied by other family members or friends on the voyage. A few names and addresses, presumably of other young men on the voyage, who may have disembarked in South Africa are recorded in the diary. A few years later, members of Richard's extended family seem to have arrived in New Zealand, opening a new chapter in his life. But that's another story, as they say.

On 4 August 1883, the Taranaki slipped her moorings and headed out to sea...

The Emigrant's Farewell: The Lord Be With You, artist James Fagan, 1853

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