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Title: John Smilie, Susquehanna to Robert Smilie, Greyabbey.
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileSmilie, John/3
SenderSmilie, John
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationarrived recently in America
Sender Religionunknown
OriginFishing Creek, Penn., USA
DestinationGreyabbey, Co. Down, N.Ireland
RecipientSmilie, Robert
Recipient Gendermale
SourceD 2015/5/7: Transcribed from the Belfast Newsletter. Presented by C.L. Davis, 59 Maryville Park, Malone, Belfast 9.
ArchiveThe Public Record Office, N. Ireland.
Doc. No.9807947
Partial Date
Doc. TypeEMG
LogDocument added by LT, 04:08:98.
Word Count741
TranscriptThe above date contains a letter from Mr. Robert
Smilie of Greyabbey warning intending emigrants
and enclosing a letter from his son which describes
the latters experience. The vessel referred to is
probably the Sally which arrived at Philadelphia on
September 9th 1762. The son's letter is as follows:

Honoured Father, I account it my honour and duty to
give you an account of myself and my proceedings
since I left you, which have [been?] I confess a
little extraordinary. On the next Tuesday after
I left you I came on board the S---y, [sic] on
the Monday morning following being the 24th May
last we sailed for America. On the 31st we lost
sight of Ireland, having been delayed to then by
calms and contrary winds, which seemed to be
doleful presages of our after unhappy voyage.
We had our full allowance of bread & water only
for the first fortnight, then we were reduced to
three pints per day and three pounds and a half of
bread per week to each person, which it never
afterwards exceeded the whole voyage. We had
a S.W. wind which drove us so far north that
our weather became excessively cold with much
rain and hard gales of wind. On the 5th of July
we had a hard squall of wind which lasted nine
hours and caused us to lie under bare poles. On
the 12th we espied a mountain of ice of prodigious
size. On the 13th our weather became more moderate.
On the 16th we spied a sail which was alongside us
before either saw the other, she having the wind
right aft, crowded sail and bore away. We gave her
chase and fired six guns at her but the fog soon hid
her from us. In this manner did our captain behave,
giving chase to all ships we saw whether they bore
off us East or West, it was all alike, the motives
of which caused various conjectures. Against the
first our weather became extremely warm and the crew
very weak. The 10th day our allowance of bread came
to two pounds and a half per week to each passenger,
next week we had one pound and a half per week and
the next twelve days we lived on two biscuits and a
half for that time and a half noggin of barley each
which we ate raw for want of water to boil it in.
We had beef but could make no use of it for thirst
for we were a week that we had but half a pint of
water per day for each person. Hunger and thirst
had now reduced our crew to the last extremity.
Nothing was now to be heard aboard our ship but
the cries of distressed children and of their
distressed mothers unable to relieve them. Our
ship was now a real spectacle of horror, never a day
passed without one or two of the crew being put
overboard. Many killed themselves by drinking
salt water and their own urine was a common drink,
yet in the midst of all our miseries our captain
showed not the least remorse or pity. We were now
out of hopes of ever seeing land. August 29th we
had only one pint of water for each person which was
all that we passengers would have got and our bread
was done but on that day the Lord was pleased
to send the greatest shower of rain that I ever saw
which was the means of preserving our lives. After
this we had fair winds and for most part rains every
day and though we had no bread thought that we lived
well. On the 1st of September we sounded and found
ourselves in forty fathoms of water and the next
morning about eight o'clock we saw land to the
inexpressible joy of all ships crew and on Sunday
morning the 4th of September we came to an anchor
off Newcastle so that we had a passage of fourteen
weeks and six days. You may judge of Captain J----'s
[sic] temper and character by this, that,
notwithstanding all the straits we were in for bread
and water neither he nor his mistress nor five others
that were his favourites ever came to an allowance.
We had now since the time of our setting sail lost
forty four of our crew by death. Monday the 5th I
came on shore and by the blessing of God in three
weeks time I got perfectly well but indeed few of
our ships crew were so strong as I for notwithstanding
all I suffered I enjoyed a good state of health the
whole passage. Your dutiful son. John Smilie.
The letter was written at Fishing Creek on Susquehanna
November 11th 1762.