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Title Shipboard Diary, Walter Dutton, England to Australia, 1858
Author Dutton, Walter (c.1826-?)
Date 29 Aug-5 Dec 1858
Document Type Personal Account
Reference HT 23918
Library / Archive Museum Victoria
Collection Name Diaries / Journals / Letters
Description The diary was written on board the Sarah Dixon, during Walter Dutton's migrant voyage from Liverpool to Melbourne in 1858. The diary contains observations about shipboard life and the cultural diversity of the passengers, as well as alluding to the incompetence of the medical staff and the passengers' plans to lodge an official complaint off shore.
Series Description Walter Dutton's experience represents the experience of thousands of nineteenth century migrants and provides an invaluable research tool in terms of his descriptions of shipboard life, other passengers, navigational details and first views of Melbourne. The diary demonstrates that Walter was evidently a literate man with some education, unlike his wife Jane back in England, who signed their marriage certificate with a cross. Walter sent the diary back to his family in England – perhaps one of the children read it aloud to Jane.
Biographical Note / History Walter was born in Huddersfield in West Yorkshire, England, around 1826, the son of John and Elizabeth Dutton and had at least one brother, Charles and a sister, Hannah. He married Jane Sykes and they had two surviving children, Alfred (born in 1853) and Earle (born in 1855). In August 1858 Walter left Liverpool seeking his fortune on the Victorian goldfields. He landed in Melbourne and the family believe he made his way to the diggings. Family lore states that Walter remained prospecting for some time and did make a strike with a partner. What happened to Walter after this is the cause of conjecture with one story believing his skeleton was discovered in a remote location, identified by initials on a personal item. The inference is that he was the victim of foul play but this cannot be verified. The Duttons and their descendants all resided in and around Huddersfield in West Yorkshire, England and most were woollen weavers.
Theme(s) Journey Conditions; Arrivals: Ports and Early Experiences
Country (from) Great Britain
Country (to) Australia
Ports Liverpool, England; Port Melbourne, Australia
Nationality English; Portuguese; German
Ships Sarah Dixon; William Jackson
People Dutton, Walter
Keywords gold rush, emigration, family, prospecting, shipping, surgeon, passenger, health and sickness, livestock, food, sailor, injury, animals, bad weather, alcohol, crime, disease, death, infant mortality, journey conditions, cargo, iron
Additional Information The Sarah Dixon was built at the Dixon shipyard on the Tantramar River in Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada, and launched on 18 September 1856. It made only two voyages to Australia. The first left Liverpool on 13 June 1857 under W. Salt as Master and arrived at Port Phillip Bay on 12 September 1857, returning to Britain via Guam. The second voyage, on which Walter Dutton travelled, departed Liverpool on 29 August 1858, again under W. Salt, and arrived at Port Melbourne on 6 December 1858. It was carrying 9 first-class and 190 intermediate & steerage class passengers and a cargo of machinery. The Sarah Dixon departed Melbourne on 17 January 1859 bound for Bassein under ballast. In March 1859, the ship struck Baroguy Shoal in the Gulf of Marinban, near Rangoon, Burma and was a total loss. Please note: Some of the metadata for this document has been taken from the Museum Victoria catalogue.
Catalogue Link Museum Victoria Catalogue
Language English
Copyright Museum Victoria