This morning I have been researching and then uploading Passenger Lists from a number of Ships that left Tralee for America and Canada from 1851 to 1858. I have listed on Links & Resources, 12 Ships, where it is possible to check the passengers’ names and I hope to add some more ships in the coming weeks. The names recorded are an invaluable resource for anyone trying to pin point a year of arrival of their ancestor, or indeed to prove that he actually was from Kerry. In the early years’ departures there isn’t a great deal of information, we don’t learn the home addresses of the passengers. The most of the Tralee sailings occurred in 1851 and 1852 and maybe the shipping owners and indeed the Immigration authorities in the arrival countries were not prepared for the numbers arriving.
When the Jeanie Johnston sailed for Baltimore, Maryland on 9 March 1849, it carried 119 adults and 22 children. While it gave the occupations of the male passengers (females didn’t have occupations, they were always ‘wives’ or ‘spinsters’!), it didn’t tell us what part of the Kingdom the passengers originated from. The proud boast of the Jeanie Johnston was that it never lost a passenger on any of the 16 voyages that it made from 1848 onwards.
By 1858, we are getting not alone the name, occupation and county of the passenger but also their onward destination after their arrival in New York. The Ship called A.Z., which left Tralee on 7th September 1858, also recorded ‘Total Souls: Two hundred and thirty two on the Ship. Two hundred and eleven of these ‘souls’ were in steerage. Six first class passengers were all recorded as ‘American’ with County Kerry addresses.
The cheapest fare at the time was to Canada, which cost around 55 shillings. Always wily, a large number of the Kerry passengers, having arrived in Canada, travelled overland to friends and relatives in America. A fare to America could cost from £3 to £5. Most of the Kerry passengers would have travelled steerage, the cheapest way of getting to their destination but also the most crowded, uncomfortable, and disease ridden. It is estimated that up to 40% of these steerage passengers either died en route or soon after arrival. Those who went to Australia paid the highest passage money. Mary Durack in her great record of the Clare Durack family, tells us that the first to go in 1849, her Grandfather’s Uncle Darby, paid £5.10s but he would also have to repay £35 from his future wages to cover the cost of his family’s passage.