An Irish Passenger, An American Family And Their Time

An Irish Passenger, An American Family, And Their Time

1847 — 2021

The Carolan Family Found! Kells, County Meath, Ireland! At long last, the illustrious family is traced to small mythical village forty miles northwest of Dublin, a stones-throw from the birthplace of the beloved Irish Bard Turlough O’Carolan

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Author: Michael Charles Carolan
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Here dear reader you will find:  the arrival of THOS. and son MICH. and family to the NEW WORLD in 1847 with Colour images—-fleeing the Great STARVATION; their embarkation from the port ofLIVERPOOL; specifics of the PACKET-SHIP on which they made their arduous journey; the cargo among which they found themselves making HOME for 34 days of summer; the prior and subsequent delivery of RELIEF to their former countrymen by said Vessel; the THOUSANDS of their fellowes delivered to New YORK by aforementioned vessel; its FATEFUL voyage in which its BOWSPRIT was CARRIED AWAY and TWO MEN LOST at SEA; the DEATHS of ELEVEN SUFFERING POOR; said Vessel’s distinguished and urbane MERCHANT-CAPTAIN; the lives of its owners: the New York MERCHANT KINGS and so-called “philanthropists;” Herman Melville; Prophet Joseph SMITH and Odd Fellows;  BUOYS  and COASTERS; President DELANO Roosevelt; BRIBERY and OPIUM; the great age of ARCTIC exploration; a PORTRAIT found drifting at sea; BELCHERTOWN, Massachusetts (current residence of AUTHOR); the pestilence and QUARANTINE the tribe may have avoided; their settling, at last, in the CITY OF BROTHERLY LOVE; and their DESCENDANTS MIGRATING to points West, South and North.

List of Contents
The Voyage—-in good speed; in sunlight and humidity; with minimal death, comparatively.

The Ship—-named for great orator; American built and owned; one of the most profitable.
The Captain—seen with a Shantung silk umbrella lined with green; liked his rum; bird-watching with John James Audubon. 
A Passenger—laborer of the ancient O Caireallin (Carolan) sept with two sons of the blacksmith trades in 19th-century Philadelphia; begetting hundreds.
The Voyages—many and swift of the ship named after the great American orator; with lists of all aboard.
The Cargo—tins and bales; bars and bundles; kegs and barrels.
The Company—Preserved Fish; Sir John Franklin; wealth, prosperity, and philanthropy.
The Relief-–bushels, biscuits, and beans for the tragic victims of the worst disaster from which the family fled.
The Author and His Sources.

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The voyage                                                    Liverpool to New York        June 23 – July 27, 1847

The New York Daily Tribune

The packet ship PATRICK HENRY, Joseph Clement Delano, master, arrived at New York on 27 July 1847, from Liverpool 23 June, with merchandise and 19 cabin and 300 steerage passengers, to Grinnell, Minturn & Co.  “July 2, lat 49 15, lon 23 16, exchanged signals with ship Samuel Hicks, Bunker, hence, for Liverpool;  7th, lat 44 03, lon 39 15, passed Br[itish] bark Emigrant of Cork bound East;  14th, lat 42 20, lon 54 40, passed a ship steering West with a cross in her foretopsail.”

[ It does not appear the ship was quarantined on arrival, though 20,000 fellowes died that year en route across the Atlantic or subsequently in American emigrant hospitals, according to Immigration and the Commissioners of Immigration of the State of New York (Frederich Kapp, NY: The Nation Press, 1870.)   For more, click here.]


The New York Herald:

Maritime Herald, Port of New York, July 28, Arrived. Packet ship PATRICK HENRY, Delano, from Liverpool, 23rd June, with Grinnell, Minturn & Co. 25th instant off Nantucket Shoals, saw packet ship Hottinguer, Bursley, hence for Liverpool. The P.H. has been 26 days westward of the Banks. In lat 43 13, lon 39 10, passed Br bark Emigrant, bound east.


Passengers Arrived.

LIVERPOOL�Ship PATRICK HENRY�Captain H Tuckett and lady, G Ward, Mr Baker, Mr Ellison, Mr Allendier, Miss Jordin, Mr Fowler, Messrs Morgan, Culbertson, McGlashan, Ashton, Connell, Miss Hey, Miss Lator, Master Ward, Mr Atkinson, Mr Abraham, and 288 in the steerage.


Arrival of Strangers in New York.

Astor House. Capt. Delano-ship Patrick Henry


Other occurrences July 27: Passengers Arrived. London-Ship Westminster; Londonderry-Brig Philip Hone; Rio Janeiro-Ship Firmeza; Charleston-Steamship Southerner. Ship Rosicuis, for Liverpool, remains at anchor at SW spit.


The Ship


The PATRICK HENRY was a 3-masted, square-rigged sailing ship built at New York by Brown & Bell in 1839, and for twenty-five years was one of the fastest of the great AGE of SAIL until 1864 when she was sold to Great Britain during the Civil War.  She was among only four packets of the day—Montezuma, Southampton, St. Andrew, and the prestigious clipper Dreadnought—to make the eastbound passage from New York to Liverpool in 14 days or less.  Only two transatlantic sailing packets showed a better average speed record on the westbound crossing (Liverpool to New York) for a period of twenty-five years or more (33 days) and only one equaled her average performance. 

It has been said that the vessel, under the command of Joseph C. Delano, of New Bedford, Massachusetts, was a remarkably fine sailer and “made more money than any other ship belonging to her owners.”

The transatlantic sailing packet of white oak carried wealthy industrialists, the poorest of poor Irish emigrants, and tons of food and 
relief supplies to Ireland and England.

She made more than 45 documented voyages and served more than 10 different captains in her years of service at sea in the Swallowtail Line of Packets owned by 
Grinnell, Minturn & Co.   

She registered at New York on 6 November 1839; her measurements:
 880 tons/905 tons (old/new) 159 feet x 34 feet 10 inches x 21 ft 10 inches  length x beam x depth of hold); with 2 decks and a draft of 18 feet.1 

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Packet Columbia II
                                                                                                                                                                 Built 1846, Black Ball Line, 1050 tons            similar to Patrick Henry      


What better name for a vessel full of the oppressed of England?  For it was the passionate and fiery lawyer-orator and governor of Virginia (1776-78: 1784) Patrick Henry, who, seven decades before, had spoken out against England at a time when most in the colonies wanted to wait and avoid the REVOLUTION.  Without the “liberty” made possible by the PATRICK HENRY, those aboard may well have faced “death” while the British waited idly by during the failure of the potato crop and after years of what many call a slow genocide of the Irish people

The PATRICK HENRY mirrored the namesake in her radical nature. “She is the ne plus ultra, or will be, until another ship of her class shall be built,” said famed American politician and diarist Philip HONE, who, in October 1839, toured the “splendid new ship” with Henry Grinnell, one of her owners.  For five years, the HENRY was the largest packet ship among New York’s eight packet lines.  She sailed in the Blue Swallowtail Line (Fourth Line) of packets (flag shown above) between New York and Liverpool from 1839 until 1852, during which period her westward passages averaged 34 days, her shortest passage being 22 days, her longest 46 days.  In 1851, she was owned by: Henry Grinnell (3/16), Moses H. Grinnell and Robert B. Minturn (8/16), Capt. Sheldon G. Hubbard (1/16), Capt. Joseph Rogers (2/16), and Capt. Joseph C. Delano (2/16).  In 1852, she was transferred to Grinnell, Minturn & Co’s Red Swallowtail Line of packets between New York and London. During this time, her westbound passages averaged 32 days, her shortest passage being 26 days, her longest 41 days.  

Perhaps one of her more difficult voyages, she set out for New York December 24, 1853 from Liverpool.  On the 18th of January, in latitude 47″, longitude 34 degrees, while hove to, the PATRICK HENRY was “struck by a sea which CARRIED AWAY the BOWSPRIT and the knight heads and all the rigging attached.”  At the same time, washed overboard was Matthew Barnabb, a seaman, who was LOST.  Two hours later, Louis Barroch, another seaman, was clearing away the bowsprit, fell overboard and DROWNED. Then William Wallace, another crewmember, fell from the fore yard and was injured severely.

“It was blowing a gale at the time,” reported Captain John Hurlburt to the New York Times, who brought her to port February 4, after a 40-day passage “And impossible to save them.”  According to the maritime tome, Merchant Sail, the ship was not alone that uncommonly rough winter on the Atlantic. The packet-ship Rosicus was 51 days making the crossing; the Mary Annah 88 days, and the Celestial Empire took 60, with the loss of a seaman and ten passengers.  On the following voyage of the PATRICK HENRY, October 1854 (New York Times), Captain Hurlburt carried 403 passengers, breaking the law of one passenger per three ton of weight, and 11 passengers died at sea. 

Still, “The PATRICK HENRY was considered by writers of the period to be one of the best and most dependable packets built in the 1830s and one of the most popular and highly esteemed transatlantic sailing lines during the 1840s and 50s was the Swallowtail,” according to Merchant Sail .

The vessel’s best homeward crossing of 22 days was better than the crossings of either of the grander packets: the Swallowtail’s Cornelius Grinnell (1,117 tons, built 1850) and the Black Ball Line’s Great Western (1,443 tons and built in 1851, twelve years after the PATRICK HENRY).  Her longest run in the London-Portsmouth run at 41 days was even better the Grinnell (48 days) or the New World (42 days)one of the largest Swallowtails at 1,404 tons.

In 1851, Captain S.E. Hubbard is listed as her master and in 1855, Captain John Hurlburt. In 1860, Captain William B. Moore became her master. (Queens)  After 25 years of packet service, the PATRICK HENRY was “sold British” in 1864 (Londonderry) due to the Civil War.

Her final voyage may have been from Pensacola, Florida on June 26, 1871 to Liverpool, arriving August 19th.  
According to the American Neptune (Peabody Essex Museum magazine),         Clipper Dreadnaught, built 1853, 1,414 tons. 34 crew. she                       was  hulked or broken up in 1884.  That year the ship is listed under Master T.E. Sargent  and                                                                                                                              registered at Cork; Owner: Jas. E. Rissa. Last survey Quebec, 6, �76. Signal letters: HDJG.2,3

 One of the PATRICK HENRY’S favorite seamen was Peter Ogden, steward of the ship in the 1840s, and who, as a member of the Liverpool lodge of the English Odd Fellows, pursuaded his excluded African American brethen to apply for a charter from his order.4.1  

Another of her famous passengers was cousin to the Prophet of the Church of Latter Day Saints, Joseph Smith.  George A. Smith sailed from New York to Liverpool with Captain Joseph Delano on March 9, 1840 with five brethren, and, contrary to all other reviews of Delano’s commandeering, had this to say:

After a rough and disagreeable passage of 28 days, landed on the shores of Great Britain,” he wrote in his diary. “We had 16 days head wind, and three heavy gales. I was very sea sick; remained at Liverpool a few days.”  He later took five wives who bore him 20 children.4.1

Protected by waist high bulkheads painted green on the inside, the PATRICK HENRY and ships of its class had clear decks save for “the stern where, wheel in hand and binnacle containing the compass before him, stands the helmsman. Forward are two hatches for cargo with the ship’s boat on top. Around the boat stand our future meals—a milk cow, pigs, ducks, hens and sheep!  
We know that ‘Tween decks,’ at the bow, is the forecastle. In the center section, if there is no             Packet Montezuma,among the 5 fastest packets across the Atlantic, with Patrick Henry  
fine freight, huddle steerage passengers. It is not a happy sight to look down on them because there,
crowded in a common dormitory for 38 days, each cooks his fast dwindling 
supply of food.


If our ship has one bath, it is in the cabin section. The steerage passengers’ bath at best may be a bucket of icy seawater, dashed over them on deck. Perhaps the plague breaks out and no Doctor is on board. The ship’s Captain does what he can but that is little. Below is the usual hold for bulkier freight.

Toward the ship’s stern is a stairway leading down to the ‘Tween Decks.’ A great halt forty feet long spreads out before us.  Here are handsome mahogany tables with sofas on each side, carved pillars, sometimes mahogany, sometimes cream colored ornamented with gold. 

Rich crimson or gold and white draperies catch the eye. On either side are staterooms, each about eight feet square, with latticed window and door, the upper half of which also is latticed to admit air. Bird’s- eye maple woodwork inlaid with curiously grained woods is polished to satiny finish.”4

Montage of sketches depicting life on board an emigrant ship showing immigrants embarking at the London docks, scrubbing the decks, watching a passing ship, dealing with heavy seas, catching an albatross, and queueing at the surgery. 
The Illustrated New Zealand Herald , 9 April, 1875.

The safety, sturdiness, dependability, and efficiency of the New York transatlantic sailing packets can be gathered from the tribute of the New York Herald to a retiring packet, a ship that experienced every conceivable kind of weather and seas in by far the most difficult trade route of the globe: “For twenty-nine years she battled with the Atlantic gales, making 116 round passages without losing a seaman, a sail, or a spar.  She brought thirty thousand passengers to this country from Europe, and her cabins have witnessed fifteen hundred births and two hundred marriages.”  Enthusiasm aside, it was also said that “it took a man every inch a seaman to reach an American port from Europe with spars and sails intact and keep his ship off the Long Island and New Jersey coasts in midwinter gales of thick snow and sleet.”

The Captain

The master of the Patrick Henry on the above passage was Captain Joesph Clement Delano (1796-1886), born in New Bedford into the prestigious DE LA NOYE family, after a 19-year-old Huguenot Pilgrim of the name arrived at Plymouth in 1621 on the ship Fortune.

JOSEPH’s paternal uncle was great grandfather of President Franklin DELANO Roosevelt, who said in 1944:  “What vitality I have is not inherited from Roosevelts … Mine, such as it is, comes from the DELANOS.”

Captain DELANO was a favorite with the passengers (seasoned travelers often chose the vessel on which they sailed by the name of the master), distinguished for his intelligence, culture, and urbanity as well as for record-breaking passages.  
He was able to “maintain discipline and command respect by force of character without resort to belaying-pin methods.”

“A fine figure he was,” remembers Captain Ezra Nye, famed commander of the Grinnell, Minturn & Co. vessel Henry Clay, known in her day as the “monster of the deep.”   “[Captain DELANO] had mutton chop whiskers, a closely cropped beard and mustache, a white stock at his throat, and often a Panama type hat.  His suit, in summer, was of Shantung silk from China.  He sat on his sorrel horse straight as a ramrod, holding in one hand a Shantung silk umbrella lined with green. Rain or shine, the umbrella was up to protect him from the weather. Everyday, barring blizzards, Captain DELANO would trot down to the little tavern; remain outside on his horse until the tavern keeper brought him his customary rum. DELANO would hold the drink in one hand and the umbrella in the other, and after finishing his liquor, would pay for it and trot off on his sorrel, still clutching the open green-lined umbrella.”


DELANO began his packet service in the London Red Swallowtail Line, as master of the Columbia (built 1821, 492 tons), in 1826.  At noon on April 1, 1830, he drove her from pilot in Portsmouth, England before a following east wind (rather than the usual troublesome westerlies) to Sandy Hook at the opening of the New York harbor, where she was becalmed.

DELANO arrived during the night of April 16, after–it is claimed–a record westbound passage of only 15 days and 18 hours during which the Columbia‘s average speed was 8 1/2 knots.  She passed the Sandy Hook lighthouse at 6 a.m., Saturday, the 17th, and DELANO established a westbound speed record that stood for 16 years.

“There was a fine following wind all the way, as both ships (the Black Baller Caledonia) plunged through the seas with every sort of spare sail set to catch the welcome breezes,” writes Robert Albion in Square Riggers on Schedule.  “Travelling the celebrated sea lane faster than any packet had yet done, the Columbia was off Sandy Hook by dawn on April 17.”

The Caledonia (built 1828 by Brown and Bell, 647 tons) sailed from Liverpool the same day as the Columbia and arrived off Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, about the same time (in the middle of the night) after a run reported at 15 days, 22 hours out from Liverpool.  The actual time, port to port, was 17 days for both vessels, but who is counting anyhow?5 

Joseph DELANO’S first wife, 20-year-old Alice Howland went to sea with her new husband onboard the COLUMBIA in January 1827, a month after their extravegent wedding.  According to Hen Frigates: Wives of Merchant Captains Under Sail, packet-ship commanders not only had to drive the ship “like the very devil, but were expected to charm gentleman, tycoons, dowagers and debutantes in the after cabin as well, and so for a man like Captain Joseph DELANO, a personable, fashionable wife could prove very useful.”4

In 1831, Captain DELANO hosted the famed natualist
and bird-painter John James AUDUBON on several                                                
Joseph Delano and Alice Howland, 1827
voyages of the Columbia, during which Audubon, 
among others, shot two dozen PETRELS.  On another venture, AUDUBON spotted and recorded sketches of hundreds of PALAROPES along a bank of sea-weeds and froth, 60-miles off the coast of Nantucket.

In 1833, DELANO transferred to the Liverpool Blue Swallowtail Line, first as master of the ROSCOE.  In 1834, Alice died in childbirth in New Bedford, and three years later, in his 41st year, Captain DELANO married the 30-year-old Sylvia Hathaway Swift.  The following year, 1839, he captained the “new, bigger, and better Packet Ship Patrick Henry,” 880 tons and 159 feet length, built by Brown and Bell.  He saw his old ROSCOE sold to the Baltimore-Liverpool service, in 1843.  The Patrick Henry turned out to be one of the most profitable ships for the firm, and Captain DELANO was 1/8th owner.

In 1842,  Presbyterian clergyman and popular religious writer Theodore Ledyard CUYLER sailed with Captain DELANO to Liverpool on the Patrick Henry.   DELANO was a “gentleman of high intelligence and culture,” Cuyler wrote inRecollections of a Long Life. “After twenty-one days under canvasa and the instructions of the captain, I learned more of nautical affairs and of the ocean and its ways than in a dozen subsequent passages in the steamships.”

In 1845, CAPTAIN DELANO bought the big stone home whose grounds covered a full block in New Bedford.  Known as one who could always see around the corner, DELANO sensed the coming importance of manufacturing, and that sailing ships were about to have their final fling.

In 1846, between passages, he joined  Joseph Grinnell, one of the founders of Fish, Grinnell & Company, in starting a new cotton mill.  In 1847, the year the CAROLANS sailed, he become one of the original directors of Wamsutta Mills, the first cotton mill established at New Bedford.  DELANO‘s interest in trade, transportation, and manufacturing further were whetted by his directorship in this cotton mill.  He withdrew as Captain of the PATRICK HENRY in 1848 (although he commanded the Patrick Henry on one passage in 1849) and was said to have retired from sea. 

However, Captain DELANO did commandeer the Packet-ship Albert Gallatin (Grinnell Minturn) in 1851 and was an outspoken proponent for a standardized American harbor BUOY system.

He wrote to the Light House Service in November that year complaining that “Ignorant men, pilots, captains, coasters, anybody, in fact, are employed by contract to place the buoys, and they are seldom placed alike for two successive years….

It often happens that a black buoy will be found … where the chart calls for a white one, as the person who superintends this operation disdains reference to the coast survey, most likely because he could not understand it.”

In 1859, Joseph DELANO brought over bog head coal from Scotland, and at the foot of South Street, he distilled from retorts the first kerosene made in New                                                  South Street, New York City                                                         Bedford.  He later became president of the New Bedford Port Society and was                                                                                                                                                        an  active member of the American Association of Science.  He died at New                                                                                                                                                             Bedford October 16, 1886.
the family
The DELANO family has a long and prosperous legacy in the exploring, shipping and international merchant trades.  Joseph’s brother, John Allerton DELANO (1805-1883), commanded several Grinnell vessels throughout the 1850s to the 1870s, including the PATRICK HENRYthe GALLATIN, and the CORNELIUS GRINNELL, named for a later owner of the firm.  He was first mate to his brother on the PATRICK HENRY in 1845.

Joseph’s cousin, Franklin H. DELANO—namesake of the President—married an Astor and became a partner in Grinnell, Minturn & Co.  Another cousin, and grandfather to FDR,Warren Delano II (1809-1898), was among the merchant-captains, who along with British counterparts, bribed Chinese officials in the early- to-mid nineteenth century to allow chests of opium from British-ruled India into the lucrative Chinese black market, starting what were known as the Opium Wars (1839-1842).  Joseph and his these two cousins,  Franklin and Warren, together formed the Riverside Cemetery Corporation in Fairhaven, Massachusetts.4,5

Another seafaring relation was Amasa DELANO (1763-1823), who at age fourteen was a private in the Continental Army, a privateersman at sixteen, and a master shipbuilder at twenty-one.  He and his brother, Samuel, built the sealers Perserverance (200 tons) and the smaller Pilgrim.  He ecame the first to circle the globe three times and the first to copy down an account from the mutinous survivors of the H.M.S.Bounty.  In 1810 the authorities of St. Bartholomew, West Indies, tried to seize the Perseverance for an alleged  violation of the revenue laws, but he put to sea under fire of their batteries and escaped.                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Warren Delano II
His experiences at sea in the days of New England supremacy were recorded in                                                                  
Narrative of Voyages and Travels in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, Comprising Three Voyages Round the World (1817).  This was the basis for Herman Melville‘s other masterpiece, the short story Benito Cereno (1856), a harrowing tale of slavery and revolt aboard a Spanish ship.

It was these ancestors—who overcame misfortune with stoic perserverance, kept up appearances befitting a proud old family, and shunned no risk to get to the top—from whom President DELANO Roosevelt took his “vitality.”   Biographers of FDR cite his fascination with the history of the seafaring DELANO ancestors and their sagas (he sought the post of Assistant Secretary of the Navy) as providing him the strength of character and moral fortitude to stand his ground during the most difficult hours of his presidency.


Two New Yorkers: Editor and Sea Captain, 1833

Article about Captain Joseph DELANO

J C Delano Letters, 1812-1818

Captain Joseph DELANO on board Ship Arab, Ship Virginia, and Ship Ladoga.



a passenger

<>michael Carolan (1844-1906) was three years old when he crossed the Atlantic aboard the packet ship Patrick Henry.  Joined by his 40-year-oldfather Thomas (1807-1870), his 30-year-old mother Elizabeth (1817-1875), and his young sisters, the family sailed from Liverpool to New York in 34 days. They came from County Meath, the parish of Kells, about 40 miles northwest of Dublin.  Michael settled north of Philadelphia, in Fitzwatertown and then Feltonville, where he ran a blacksmith shop for many years and raised a large family.  He is pictured here in a photographer’s portrait made around the turn of the century.

The Carolans left Kells in 1847, at the height of the Great Hunger , when the population of Kells dropped 38 percent and the workhouse and fever hospital were described as “full to overflowing.”  Kells is spelled “Ceanannas” in Gaelic or old Irish and means “Great Chief Abode.” A monestary was founded there in 804 A.D. by monks fleeing the Vikings and it is the site of many battles between Anglo, Irish and Norman fighters. It is also known as the home of the famous illuminated Latin manuscript of the Four Gospels, the “Book of Kells.” 

The Carolans likely lived on a small plot of farmland there, rented by Michael’s grandfather, also named Michael (1785-1857 est.), as was Irish Catholic naming custom. In a land survey (Griffith’s Land Valuation of 1848-64), a Michael Carolan lives in the Drumbaragh Townland in Kells parish.  He rents 10 perches (1perch=272 square feet) from a Robert Woodward with “house and garden” for 10 shillings a year.  Nearby, Michael rents 16 acres from Woodward for 7 pounds and 10 shillings, and in turn, obtains rent on the land and cabins from two other renters, James Casserly and Sam Swift. 

According to Catholic Church records from Kells parish, County Meath, Thomas Carolan married Elizabeth Smyth (est. 1817-1875) on July 2, 1841, with Ann Ferly and Mary McEvoy as sponsors to the marriage. Elizabeth’s parents were likely John and Mary Smyth, who appear as sponsors at the birth of their son. Born to couple were Catherine on November 23, 1842, Michael on July 24, 1844, and Ann on July 29, 1846. 

The famine decimated Ireland’s population and began a new chapter in American history. Nearly two million Irish left between 1845 and 1854, more immigrants than America had ever seen in such a short timespan, or ever would see again.
Less than a month before the Carolans embarked for America, the Patrick Henry had just delivered, “for distribution to the famishing poor,” provisions worth $1,166 to Ireland—the irony being the vessel’s hold contained food on one passage and, less than a month later, contained the very people for whom the food was for.  “We hope that our mite may arrive in time to alleviate the miseries of a few of the many sufferers of your devoted countrymen,” wrote the Brooklyn New York Irish Relief Committee on May 11.6 

The Carolan family likely walked to Dublin where they found passage on a small steam ferry to cross the Irish sea to Liverpool where they could catch a packetship sailing for America.  They likely purchased their entire passage on the PATRICK HENRY for less than $20.  The Carolans were lucky.  A month before they departed, the Cork Examiner published the following (19 May 1847):

SUFFERINGS OF EMIGRANTS IN NEW YORK–The paupers who have recently arrived from Europe give a most melancholy account of their sufferings. Upwards of eighty individuals, almost dead with the ship fever, were landed from one ship alone, while twenty-seven of the cargo died on the passage, and were thrown into the sea. They were one hundred days tossing to and fro upon the ocean, and for the last twenty days their food only consisted of a few ouncesof meal per day, and their only water was obtained from the clouds. 

The ratio of sick per one thousand passengers that year was 30 on board British ships and about 9 passengers on board American ships (Kapp, 1870).  The Carolans sailed June 23 and arrived at the South Street Seaport in New York on July 27th with mostly Irish passengers  and much merchandise.  Newspaper accounts and passenger manifest show discrepancies of 13 passengers, who likely died on the voyage.  The Carolans likely LOST their infant daughter Annie (age 01) on the voyage or shortly after, as she does not show up in the census.

A small child died aboard the ship. The boys were distressed by the even and thought their parents would prevent the burying of the body in the ocean. They apprehensively watched the burly sailors cut and sew a small canvas coffin. The child was placed in the middle of it, sand was poured in around the body and the coffin was sealed. Then they placed it in a larger canvas coffin, filled the remaining space with sand and sealed it up. A plank was extended over the water off the side of ship. A solemn crowd gathered as the crew hoisted the heavy package onto the plank’s end and the Captain lifted the inner end of the board and rolled the child’s body into the sea. After the child was buried, a large shark followed the ship for two days. –George Hopkins, Diary, British Barque Union, June 17, 1835 .

                                                  Illustration from The Famine Ships, by Edward Laxton 

Thomas and Elizabeth went to a place called Hatboro in the Moreland Township in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, a rural community north of Philadelphia, where Thomas
 likely had a connection and found work as a farm laborer.  There, the couple likely had seven more children, according to various census and cemetery records: Julianna (1849), Caroline (1850), Martha (1853-1930), Thomas Spencer (1854-1915), Josephine I. (1857), Elizabeth (1858), and Lydia F. (1862).                                                       

The Carolan surname survives through the family’s two sons, Michael and his younger brother Thomas Spencer, who learned blacksmithing from his older brother and lived only miles from him for most of his life.  Michael married an Irish girl named Anna Lawrence (1853-1901) in 1869 at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, and had 18 children together. Only six lived into adulthood: Elizabeth (McDonald) (1873-1919); Matthew William (1871-1942); Emma Mary (Roth; Merritt)(1875-1958); Helen “Nellie” Ann (Heidenfelder) (1875-?); Anna “Nan” (1879-1950); and Caroline “Carrie” Veronica (McGrath) (1883-1946).

Their son Matthew married Wilhelmina Koenig (1879-1963) in 1901.  They had three children: Ann Marie (1902-1997), Matthew George (1904-1994), and Walter Charles (1908-1969).  Walter Charles married Verna Mae Rose (1910-1956) in 1932.  He was one of the first Carolans to leave Philadelphia when he moved to Kansas City in the early 1940s.  Their sons, Walter Jr. and William George, my father, live in Kansas City.  Their son Robert (1939-1979) grew up there as well.

Ann Marie married John Carroll Moerk (1898-1989) in 1933.  Their children, Alice and John Jr,. live in Florida.  Ann Marie’s son, Jack Robinson (1925-1943), from a previous marriage, died in World War II.  Matthew George married Eleanor Tompkins (1906-1968) in 1938 and had two children, Jack and Constance.  Matthew George married Hattie Gertrude “Trudy” Felt (1916-2001), my maternal grandmother, in 1970.                                                                                                                                              
Thomas Spencerwas born near Hatboro in Moreland Township in 1854.  When Thomas Spencer was 16-years-old, he lived with Michael in Abington Township, Montgomery County, and worked in Michael’s shop, according to the 1870 census.  Around 1880, he married Elizabeth Evans (1854-1902), with British parentage.  He ran the carriage house and blacksmith shop for a large estate, said to be part of Widener University, and bought a large house on the corner of Washington Lane and Limekiln Pike.  The house was not far from where his brother Michael lived in Fitzwatertown in Montgomery County and then Feltonville near Rising Sun Avenue in Philadelphia.  Thomas built and owned housing for other Irishmen along the Pike.  After Elizabeth died in 1902, Thomas remarried Sarah Tobias, said to have been born in England.

Thomas and Elizabeth’s son, Harry Spencer (1892-1952) married Mary Elizabeth 
Hesson (1895-1970), around 1913.  They had six children, several whom are still living.   James Joseph Carolan (1932) is a professor of mathematics living in Wharton, Texas, and  Ann Marie (1921) lives in Warminster, Pennsylvania.

Third from left, Thomas Spencer Carolan (1854-1915), 
 boy in foreground: Harry Spencer Carolan (1892-1952)
imekiln Pike and Washington Lane, Philadelphia, “Helltown,” 1894
The photograph was provided by Michael Thompson and was obtained from James Joseph Carolan. It is a tintype made in 1894.

Several hundred descendants of Thomas Carolan (1807-1870) from the Patrick Henry live in the United States today.  We are at work tracing the family to a specific county in Ireland.  Please email                           



(except where noted; bolded have passenger lists available through the Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild website)


Arrival Date    Captain

2/1/1840        DELANO, JOSEPH C
5/27/1840      DELANO, JOSEPH C                                                      
9/27/1840      DELANO, JOSEPH C                                                                  
1/16/1841      DELANO, JOSEPH C                                                                                                                  
5/24/1841      DELANO, JOSEPH C
9/24/1841      DELANO, JOSEPH C
2/3/1842        DELANO, JOSEPH C
5/28/1842      DELANO, JOSEPH C
9/24/1842      DELANO, JOSEPH C
2/4/1843        DELANO, JOSEPH C
5/23/1843      DELANO, JOSEPH C
9/22/1843      DELANO, JOSEPH C
1/25/1844      DELANO, JOSEPH C
5/27/1844      DELANO, JOSEPH C
9/16/1844      DELANO, JOSEPH C
1/9/1845        DELANO, JOSEPH C
4/24/1845      DELANO, JOSEPH C
8/21/1845      DELANO, JOSEPH C
12/26/1845    DELANO, JOHN A
4/25/1846      DELANO, JOHN A
7/31/1846      DELANO, JOHN A
11/20/1846    DELANO, JOHN A                                                                       
4/5/1847        DELANO, JOSEPH C                                                                              
7/27/1847      DELANO, JOSEPH C
12/1/1847      DELANO, JOSEPH C
4/3/1848        DELANO, JOSEPH C                                                                                                                                                                                        Packet New World, Swallowtail Line, 1404 tons
7/24/1848      DELANO, JOHN A                                                                                                               
11/20/1848    DELANO, JOHN A                                                                                                               
3/31/1849      DELANO, JOHN A                                                                                                              
8/8/1849        DELANO, JOSEPH C                                                                                                          
12/5/1849      GORDON, ROBERT                                                                                                         
4/8/1850        GORDON, ROBERT
7/24/1850      GORDON, ROBERT
8/8/1850        HEWES, WILLIAM                   BELFAST
11/6/1850      GORDON, ROBERT
7/29/1851      UNKNOWN                              DUBLIN
11/3/1851      MULLAND, J E                          LONDON
2/4/1853        HURLBURT, JOHN                 LONDON
5/5/1853        HURLBURT, JOHN                 LONDON, PORTSMOUTH
10/1/1854      HURLBURT, JOHN                 LONDON, PORTSMOUTH
2/12/1855      HURLBURT, JOHN                 LONDON, PORTSMOUTH
11/15/1855    HURLBURT, JOHN                 LONDON, PORTSMOUTH
3/26/1856      OWEN, PETER                         LONDON
8/22/1856      GIFFORD, THOS.                     LONDON
12/12/1863    ROBINSON, HENRY
8/18/1864      sails from New York
10/28/1864   departs New York
8/19/1871      arrived LIVERPOOL                                              

List courtesy, in part, of Peg and John Faludi, and the New York Times.

American Naval Architecture: Cheap Travelling to Europe — Reduction of Fare
From The Yarmouth Herald, Nova Scotia, November 15, 1839: On Wednesday morning a new ship of one thousand tons burthen was launched from the yard of Messrs. Webb & Allen, and as she dipped into the water, was named New York.  Her contour is very much like the Patrick Henry, and if there is any difference, it is in the more perfect symmetry of the bows of the New York. William C. Barstow, Esq., formerly of the South America, will take command of her, and he sails hence for Liverpool (England) on the 7th of November. 

The cabins of the New York will surpass every thing of the kind afloat — even those of the famous English yacht belonging to the Earl of Yarborough. They will cost, when finished, $8,000, and the ship altogether $80,000. There are to be forty berths in twenty state rooms, each to be finished off in the highest style of elegance. The doors, pilasters, pannels, &c. in the cabins are made of rose and satin woods, mahogany, heart of black oak, and bird’s eye maple, the whole to be relieved with white enamelled cornices, and gilt mouldings. The curtains in the berths are of beautiful figured silk, which, together with the linen, blankets, silver and crockery ware, curtains, &c. cost over �800; and the wine vaults, the camboose [the on-deck cooking room of a ship], the ice house, the cow house, the place for fowls and such things, have been so improved upon, that fresh eggs, fresh milk, cool wines and fresh meats, will be on the table every day during the passage across the Atlantic, and what more can a sea voyager wish? 

With the launch of this ship commences an entire new system with three Liverpool lines of packets. The price of passage in the New York, Virginian, Patrick Henry, George Washington, United States, South America, North America, Independence, Westchester, Sheffield, Oxford, Cambridge, Europe, Columbus, and Roscoe, has been reduced to $100. Thus every person who crosses the Atlantic in the above named ships, will save forty dollars each trip, have all the same comforts that they would in the steam ships at 170 dollars, or in four other Liverpool vessels at 140 dollars. — From the New York Herald.

The Cargo

Foreign Importations. July 27, 1847. nEW YORK HERALD.

LIVERPOOL�Ship PATRICK HENRY�32 cse mdse J Gihon & c–8 cks J Gill–100 bxs tin J M Bruce & son–11 bales Cameron & Bland–38 Beals, Bush & co–3 J A Underwood–16 Riggs, Jenkins & co–2 J & J Stewart & co–8 T Jones & co–1 Wickham & Hutchinson–1 Parmalee, Rogers & co–1 J W Harris–1 Smith, Torrey & co–3 H Farsham & co–15 W Redmond–18 bdls iron J S Bruce–302 bars D W Wilson & co–5 ca J Falconer & co–17 H Blackburn–1 N Ludlam–8 Nevius & co–1 J Brown–1 Russell & Marsh–1 T Lownds–13 J Robinson & co–13 Godfry, Pattison & co–2 C J Brown & co–5 Walker & Bros–5 Smith, Thurgar & co–7 W M Titus–1 F S & S A Martin–6 cs 2 bales Hughes, Ward & co–1 cs G Hastings & co–1 A Armstrong & son–3 D Haddon & son–9 ca 3 bales Paton & co–7 cs M J Duffey–120 bars iron 303 bdls Jo D M Wilson–712 bars 61 bdls Rogers, Ketchum& co–2 cases J Ryle–2 H Jessup–7 J Hudson–1 cask R S Stanton–1 E R Mann–50 Wight, Sturgis & Shaw–3 J Stewart & co–1 J W P Lewis–37 bdls steel 1 cask E Clark & co–41 Graydon & Swanwick–3 J Graydon–100 tons lead 1 box 1 pel D Coldon–63 cs 2 bs Reiss, Bros & co–2 cks Walshy & Mallory–1 cs 2 cks Coffin, Bradley & co–15 ca 1 bale McCall & Strong–7 cs 2 bs C Buckingham–2 C W Field & co–5 Lee & Case–1 Adriance, Strang & co–3 ca 3 bs A R Eno–1 cs W M Loomis & co–4 bs F S & D Lathrop–20 cs 1 bale D Oakey & co–27 ca J & J Stowart & co–1 Elliman & Bros–37 do 2 bs Butterfield, Bros & co–1 G Hollman–14 A Mitchell & co–27 cs 2 bs Huot Bros–18 Watt & Sherman–11 W Benjamin–1 Stanton & Barnes–2 cks F Leisse–9 ca Stanton, Kaapp & Woodruff–1 Blackwell, Whetmore & co–1 Manning & Pritchard–1 G Hunt–19 cs F Marriot & son–737 bars iron E Atwater–73 ca S Cooks–10 cs Wolfe & Gillispie–347 bxs Wight, Sturges & Shaw–1 cks F Tomes & son–1 Barton & co–23 cs Sands, Fuller & co–6 E S Clark–35 R L Crook–1 Ludwig, Goldschmidt & co–186 bars 160 bdls iron E Clark & co–3 bdls F Hart & co–9 W B Bond–2 G Pierce & co–19 W Stevens–1 S & L Holmes–1 S Rosevelt–A S Stewart–15 Watts & Sherman–7 Benkard & Hutton–1 Bramnall, Abernathy & co–6 C W Churchman–3 L & V Kirby–1 J Conklin & co–1 Van Dusen, Jagger & co–13 Hall Bros & co–1 ck 1 cs H T Cooper–16 ca H Sheldon & co–1 M Thomas & co–1 W S Martin–2 T Lowndes–3 Spaulding, Thomas & co–3 Newstedt & Burnell–1 bdl 1 cs Hurlbut, Switzer & co–729 bars 400 bdls iron Kemeys, Sampson & co–1297 bars J H Abeel & co–383 bdls do Bleecker & Oothout–1 Lockhart, Gibens & co–27 cs 17 bdbls Phelps, Chittendon & Bliss–7 cs I bbl H Irvin–61 cs 354 bxs tin Phelps, Dodge & co–16 cs J C Petrio–2 F S Winston–2 bbls H Andrews–2 do Maitland, Phelps & co–1 J R Jaffray & sons–1 W H Smith & co–J N Alcot–2 R Ewing–3 cs 1 bbl J Kelly–11 cs 1 bale Russell & Marsh–11 ca Bancroft, Beaver & co–10 Atwater, Gould & co–5 do 1 bbl Halstead, Hains & co–36 Wight, Large & Lattemar–3 W Bradford & co–1 L B Curtis–10 do 1 bale Greenway, Henry & Smith–2 C Cope–1 Lewis & Farrman–1 Riuchards, Bassett & co–1 A Aruald–3 J Lefferts & co–Taylor & sons–7 Clark, Southworth & co–9 Bancroft, Beaver & co–  1 Brown, Seaver & Dunbar–1 Benedict & Rockwell–2 Jackson & Underhill–3 J B Worrell & son–5 A M & W N Strong–4 Austin, Shears & co–1 A H Mallory–2 bbls R N Timson & co–3 G W Betts–4 cs Mellvaine & Williams–3 Davis & Jones–5 J T Jones & co–1 bale 1 cs Van Duzen Jagger & co–3 Field & Merritt–3 do 2 bales Allen, Hazen & co–3 cs 2 bales Adriance, Straug &               Black Ball Packet Orpheus Leaving the East River (NY) in 1835
co–3 H Bayli–25 Robbins, Hill & co–3 Bramhall, Abernethy & Collins–4 Updyke & Hall–75 bdls                      by John Stobart, courtesy of Maritime Heritage Prints, Boston.
bags Grinnell, Minturn & co–2 bales 4 cs Stone, Swan & co–6 E J Brown & co–18 bales Watton,
Johnson & co–226 cs 8 bales 2 crates 78 pkgs to order.

The Company


Grinnell, Minturn & Co.—This very prominent transatlantic packet company (owners of the PATRICK HENRY), which later had great success in the California clipper trade, was founded in about 1822 as Fish, Grinnell & Co (the senior partner of which had the memorable and improbable name of Preserved Fish), their first ships the Silas Richards, Napoleon, George, and York.  Its first major endeavor was its Liverpool Line, known as the Blue Swallowtail Line (1822-1880) from its distinctive blue and white swallowtailed house flag (in which the dividing line between blue and white followed the shape of the swallowtailed fly). The line was called the �Fourth Line of Liverpool Packets� and originally sailed monthly. Like the other Liverpool-New York packet lines, it did a thriving business in the wave of Irish immigration.They did business with CubaChina, and England, until they eventually extended their trade and shipping links to all parts of the globe. The company entered the Londonmarket in 1923 with its London (Red Swallowtail) Line, which also endured until 1880. The flag was the same as for the Liverpool line, but with red at the hoist instead of blue.8   

Some significant ships in the Blue Swallowtail fleet include the Plymouth RockConstitutionQueen of the West, New WorldHenry ClayAshburton, and the Albert Gallatin. Red Swallowtail packets included theSir Robert PeelLondonPrince AlbertYorktown, and Rhine.   Their blue and white, or red and white, Swallowtail House flags flew over more than fifty vessels, including several of the finest clippers ever built.

In New York, the company had offices at the South Street Seaport between Malden Lane and Burling Slip.  Their London Red Swallowtail Line was the last transatlantic sailing packet line to remain in service.  The Cornelius Grinnell (1,117 tons) and the Ne Plus Ultra (1,534 tons) ran on schedule until 1881.  The last sailing packet to cross the Atlantic Ocean westbound was the Ne Plus Ultra, which arrived in London May 18, 1881.   The Swallowtail packet Liverpool (1,077 tons) held the record for the longest service in the transatlantic packet run at 37 years.

Franklin H. Delano—cousin to Captain Joseph C. Delano of the Packet-ship Patrick Henry on which the CAROLAN family sailed for New York in 1847—had a share of the firm and represented its concerns on the board of the Atlantic Mutual Insurance Company, the oldest mutual marine insurer in New York, founded in 1842.  Franklin H. was the namesake of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

 “Packet Row”        South Street Harbor          New York City, 1851

Mr. Preserved Fish was born on 3rd July, 1766, the son of a one Mr. Preserved Fish, ablacksmith. The name was handed down through generations and rumor had it that the name was given to him by a fisherman, who found him as an infant, adrift at sea in an open boat.  Fish worked with his father at first, then tried farming, but didn�t like it and shipped on a whaler for the Pacific.  By the age of twenty one had risen to captain, and soon became a merchant at New Bedford. He moved to New York, and it was in 1815 that he joined forces with Joseph, Henry, and Moses Hicks Grinnell, marketing part of New Bedford’s whale oil output, prior to setting up a firm to compete with the Black Ball Line.


In 1825 the firm of Fish and Grinnell, in which his brother Joseph was partner, was dissolved by the retirement of Mr. Fish, whereupon Henry joined the new firm of Fish, Grinnell & Company.  Compelled to retire by ill health Joseph Grinnell left the firm in 1829, and Robert Bowne Minturn took his place, the firm subsequently becoming Grinnell, Minturn & Company. Under the new name the scope of the firm’s operations was greatly
expanded by its entry into the general shipping business, until it became one of the strongest mercantile houses in New York�much of  this rise being due to the                  new partner, Robert Bowne Minturn.               Preserved Fish

In the late forties, the firm was engaged in the transatlantic, China, and Cuba trades, and needed a new clipper to get into the California trade. All the New York yards were busy building clippers for their competitors, so Grinnell sent their agents out to scout the New England shipyards to find them such a clipper ship. Moses Grinnell bought the Flying Cloud, from owner Enoch Train for $90,000.  The vessel was so enormous, magnificent, and beautiful, to be seen with gales in her topsails, that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was said to have composed By the Seaside in its honor: The moon and evening star/Were                                                  Clipper Flying Cloud                                                           hanging in the shrouds/Every mast, as it passed/Seem to rake the passing clouds.                                 designed by the legendary shipbuilder Donald McKay,

                              1,750 tons, launched April 15, 1851                                                                                  


GRINNELL, Joseph, merchant, born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, 18 January 1789; died there, 7 February, 1885, at the hearty age of 97. He came to New York, and in 1815 aided in establishing the firm of Fish and Grinnell. His two younger brothers became members of the firm in 1825, and in 1828 Joseph retired, and his place was taken by Robert B. Minturn. Joseph resided at New Bedford for fifty-six years, and was president of the Marine Bank, the Wamsutta Mills company, and the New Bedford and Taunton railroad. He was a member of the governor’s council in 1839-41, and in 1843-51 was a representative in congress, having been elected as a Whig.

His brother Henry grinnell, merchant, born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1800; died in New York City, 30 June, 1874, was made a member of the firm of Fish and Grinnell, afterward Grinnell, Minturn and Company. He was much interested in geography, and especially in arctic exploration, and in 1850, at his own expense, fitted out an expedition to search for the famed arctic explorer Sir John Franklin, from whom nothing had been heard in five years.

The expedition sailed from New York in May, 1850 and discovered land in lat. 75� 24′ 21″, which was named Grinnell Land, in honor of Mr. Grinnell. In 1853, he spent $50,000 in the equipment of the second Franklin search expedition, giving it also his personal supervision. This expedition was placed in charge of Dr. John Kane, and the government bore part of its expenses.  Mr. Grinnell also contributed freely to the Hayes expedition of 1860, and to the “Polaris” expedition of 1871.

Throughout his life, he was an earnest advocate of the interests of sailors, and was the first president of the American Geographical Society, in 1852-3, and a vice president from 1854 till 1872.

His daughter, Sylvia, married a British Naval Admiral, and in 1886 presented to the Society a crayon portrait of her father, framed in wood and salvaged from the ship Resolute. The Resolute was among the four ships abandoned in the arctic ice that were part of an expedition led by Sir Edward Belcher (1799-1877). Belcher went searching for Sir John Franklin in 1852, and while the expedition whas unsuccessful, it brought back McClure’s party, who had been ice bound for three years.

The Resolute, from which Grinnell�s portrait was recovered, was found floating in open water and was subsesequently purchased by Congress, refitted, and presented the British government.  The ship is said to be the source of wood of the       presidential desk in the Oval Office of the                             Sir Edward Belcher’s Arctic Exploring Expedition, 1865
White House.                                                                                       left: “Intrepid” (tender to “Resolute”) Right: “Pioneer”
                                                                                                         Wood engraving, ca. 1865 in modern hand coloring.                                                                                                                                                   
Sir Edward Belcher, its captain, is the great grandson of Jonathan Belcher, governor of Massachusetts and New Jersey (1681-1757).  Jonathan Belcher owned territory in the Pioneer Valleyin west-central Massachusetts that was named in his honor (Belcher�s Town) in 1731, and which, two-hundred and seventy-three years later, would become, in 2004, home to the author            Belcher’s Arctic Route, 1852-54             of this webpage and his patient and loving family: Ruth Ann, Liam Michael Bresnan, and Hattie Claire.


Another brother of Joseph, moses hicks, born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, 3 March, 1803; died in New York City, 24 November, 1877. In 1825 he became a member of the firm of Fish and Grinnell. Between 1839 and 1841 he was a representative in Congress, having been elected as a Whig.  A meeting of shipmasters, pilots, stevedores, mates and seamen was held in Franklin Square, New York City, on October 28, 1840 to nominate him for Congress:

“Shipmates–Moses H. Grinnell is one of us, and from among us.  He is one of our own make. He has not gone upward through the lubber hole, but he has gone up like a man. Shipmates ahoy! Turn out, turn out, for all is not well.  A storm is brewing, and we start the Ship of State for a four years voyage. What master at the helm is better than an old salt.”  (The “lubber hole” was a term given to relatives and friends of shipowners and merchants who bypassed much of the long, hard apprenticeship of the older generation through favoritism and who were promoted over the heards of more experienced and deserving men.

On February 18, 1847, at a national meeting held in Washington, DC, he signed a Presidential resolution �that the famine now existing in Ireland is so extensive, and is attended in many places with such appalling scenes of distress, as to present a proper case for national sympathy and charity.�6  He was said to have forgone a “sumptuous dinner worth three hundred sixty dollars to furnish an additional fifty barrels of wheat flour for Ireland” and soon became part of the affluent group of New Yorkers who worked in the Help Ireland movement.

He was a presidential elector on the Fremont ticket in 1856, and in 1869-70 collector of the port of New York. He became president of the chamber of commerce in 1843, was a member of the original Central park commission, and in 1860-5 a commissioner of charities and correction. He gave liberally toward Dr. Kane’s arctic expedition of 1853, and toward the National cause during the civil war.  Mr. Grinnell was one of the merchant princes of New York, and enjoyed the friendship of Daniel Webster and William H. Seward.9

MINTURN, Robert Bowne, merchant, born in New York City, 16 November, 1805; died there, suddenly of paralyis, 9 January, 1866. The son of wealth, he received an English education, and, though compelled by the death of his father to leave school at the age of fourteen and enter a counting-house, spent his leisure in study, so that he gained an extensive acquaintance with general literature. He was received into partnership in 1825 with Charles Green, whose clerk he had been, and in 1830 entered the firm of Fish and Grinnell, which was from 1832 afterward known as Grinnell, Minturn and Co. after the deaths of the two original partners. He declined all public office except the post of Commissioner of Emigration, which he supposedly accepted from a wish to secure the rights of emigrants.

In 1846, at the time of the Irish Potato famine, Minturn’s fortune was estimated at $200,000. He was an active manager of many charitable associations in New York City, aided in establishing the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor, and was a founder of St. Luke’s Hospital.  Robert Minturn was active in the Ireland famine relief effort as well. He served as Commissioner of Emigration at New York to improve the condition of incoming foreigners and was part of a U.S. committee that pledged three thousand pounds sterling and food for delivery to Ireland in 1847.6

At the same time, Minturn was among a select group of merchant-kings (most of the shareholders of Grinnell and Minturn) who claimed philanthropy but profited heavily from the trade in human cargo.

At one point, Minturn noted that the $5 million spent by emigrants on ship fares in 1847 substantially reduced the cost of carrying freight, and thus lowered the cost of American cotton and grain to English buyers.  The profit motive rather than humanitarian impulses drove the business of immigration, and because government regulatory agencies and private philanthropies were unwilling or unable to exert much control over that business, 19th-century emigrants were often literally treated as human freight.

Nevertheless, Robert Minturn was among a small group of wealthy New York civic visionaries instrumental in the development of the world famous Central Park, which was based on BirkenheadPark, Merseyside, near Liverpool.  He was described as a tall, handsome man, who was generous, modest and humane–his sense of social responsibility growing with his fortune. His son, Robert Bowne, is the author of New York to Delhi (New York, 1858).10

Brown & Bell, shipbuilders Between the War of 1812 and the Civil War, more than thirty shipbuilding companies were operating in yards located along the section of the East River between the Battery and 14th Street in New York City. In the transitional period when steam and iron were beginning to be used, and wooden ships were being brought to their peak of perfection, the most significant shipbuiding events in the world occurred on the East River in New York and the Clyde River near Glasgow. Clyde took the lead in iron hulls and screw propellors, while the East River held a commanding position with its packets, pilot boats, clippers, and wooden sidewheel steamers. 

The East River industry was dominated during this period by three major yards, originally operated by Henry Eckford, Christian Bergh, and the brothers Adam and Noah Brown. They were succeeded respectively by William H. Webb, Jacob A. Westervelt, and Brown & Bell (builder of the PATRICK HENRY).  All of these yards were on the Manhattan shore of the river.  Brown & Bell operated at the foot of Stanton Street.  Brown constructed all the Black Ball Line of ships for many years, many of the Swallowtail line, and, at the end of this period, built several successful clippers and two of the original Collins steamships.  The East River yards were noted for the quality of their ships, scarcely equalled in the world.  Stiff prices were charged, but it became known that vessels were well worth their cost.  Consequently, the East River eventually represented the greatest concentration of shipbuilding in America.11 

The relief


            John Laird, Sons & Co. shipyard at Birkenhead, near Liverpool, 1857
The PATRICK HENRY was one of a fleet of several dozen packet and steam ships that carried millions of dollars of food and clothing contributions from American donors to ports in England and Ireland during the famine years.  Much of the relief came from American cities and was routed through New York, where prominant and influential merchants, bankers, and philanthropists organized the Help Ireland movement of 1847 and 1848.  It was, however, first and foremost the Quakers, in Ireland and America, through the Society of Friends, who mobilized significant support in Ireland and from America on a scale never seen before.  All told the Central Relief Committee was responsible for 9,911 tons of American food that was received at a value of nearly 134,000₤.  Some 37,000 letters, recommendations and reports were dispatched through the Central Relief Committee, culminating in 200,000₤ worth of donations, or more than $11 million in today�s values.


The Quakers kept meticulous records and were also responsible for the soup kitchens that later became a model for government relief.  Almost three hundred boilers were supplied to 27 counties, with recipes.  The Committee also looked beyond immediate distress to longer-term recovery such as assistance through grants, loans, and training.  This included seed distribution, land cultivation, fisheries, industrial employment and improvement of agricultural holdings.


The PATRICK HENRY was a part of this effort and its owners, Grinnell and Minturn, were members of relief committees.  In 1847, Captain Delano made two voyages�May 6, 1847 and September 7, 1847�in the record from New York to Liverpool carrying relief worth nearly 200₤.6


September 7 Voyage

Letter: New York, 31st of August, 1847.

It is most grateful to every Irish heart, to find the continued good feeling that
exists in this great country, and to find the continued stream of provisions that
flows from the far west to-wards this city to aid the starving Irish. I am now shipping
by the packet-ship, “Patrick Henry,” to sail on the 6th proximo for 
Liverpool; and
will continue to send hereafter to that port, as provisions arrive.



Donations on Board

Irish Relief Committee, New York,

Myndert Van Schaick, Chairman      70 barrels flour

34 barrels meal

5 boxes barley

5 barrels wheat

51 barrels rye flour

3 barrels beans

1 barrel peas

14 packages clothing

179 barrels corn

2 barrels pork

8 barrels sundries

Irish Re1ief Committee, Brooklyn,

New York, per William M. Harris

and others.                                           220 barrels meal


Inhabitants of Burlington, NJ:         3 bags corn


Relief Committee, Albany, NY:          36 barrels meal

State of Ohio:                                      2143 bushels corn

25 bushels of rye


Inhabitants of Rochester, NY:           197 barrels meal

13 barrels corn

26 barrels flour                                                                                                                  Letter to London, aboard the Patrick Henry

2 barrels wheat                                                                                                                        in Port New Orleans, January 29, 1845

4 packages of clothing.


May 6 Voyage

Letter: Brooklyn, N. Y., 11th of May, 1847


On behalf of the citizens of Brooklyn, we have shipped to your
address, by the �Patrick Henry,� for distribution to the famishing
poor, the provisions specified in the enclosed invoice, amounting to 1166 dollars, and for which a bill of lading is attached. We hope that our mite may arrive in time to alleviate the miseries of a few of the many sufferers of your devoted countrymen.

We would desire to call your attention, as to the distribution of this shipment, to the locality of Newry; and if in your opinion it will do most good in that district, to direct a portion or all to that point; we, however, do not intend to direct you, having every confidence that you will give it such direction as will carry out the desires of our citizens-that of relieving the greatest distress. We have requested it to be insured.

On behalf of the citizens of Brooklyn, and by order of the executive committee.



From the Irish Relief Committee, Brooklyn, New York

Donations on Board

Irish Re1ief Committee, Brooklyn,

New York, per William M. Harris

and others.                                                      78 bushels

300 barrels biscuit

18 bushels wheat, rye, and beans

2 cases clothing

Irish Relief Committee, Rochester, NY,

Silas Cornell                                                     160 barrels meal


Web site created, researched and written by Michael Carolan,
son of William, great grandson of the first Michael

  1. 2006-2010

1. Robert Greenhalgh Albion. Square-riggers on Schedule:  The New York Sailing Packets to England, France, and the Cotton Ports (Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 1938), pp. 278–279, 282-283, 299, 314; Forrest R. Holdcamper, comp., List of American-flag Merchant Vessels that received Certificates of Enrollment or Registry at the Port of New York, 1789-1867 (Record Groups 41 and 36), National Archives Publication 68-10, Special Lists 22 (Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Service, 1968), p. 546.  Provided courtesy Michael Palmer.  Speed of passage and rough seas from 

Fairburn, William Armstrong. Merchant Sail . Center Lovell, Maine: Fairburn Marine Educational Foundation, 1945-1955. V.II: 1164, 1279.

Hone quoted from “The Diary of Philip Hone, 1828-1851.” p. 386. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co. 1889. Carl C. Cutler. Queens of the Western Ocean: the Story of America’s Mail and Passenger Sailing Lines. Annapolis, Maryland: U.S. Naval Institute. 1961.
Record of American and Foreign Shipping from Surveys Made and Compiled Under Direction of the American Shipmasters� Association. New York: American Bureau of Shipping, 1884.

  1. New-York Historical Society, letter to Michael Carolan from Miriam Touba, researcher, 5 Mar 1999
  2. Two New-Yorkers, Editor and Sea Captain, 1833. [Francis B. Whitlock, Member of the Newcomen Society, Vice President, Central Hanover Bank & Trust Co.,New York. The Newcomen Society ofEngland  American Branch. New York. 1945.] Fairburn, Merchant Sail, p. 1177 (packet longevity)

4.1 Charles H. Brooks,  The Official History and Manual of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows in America (New York: Books for Libraries Free Press, 1971 [1902]; and Times and Seasons, the periodical of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day, November 15, 1840.

5. Albion, pp. 162-163, 334. Fairburn, p. 1078 (Columbia fast passage).  Excerpt of letter from Captain J.C. Delano, November 25, 1851, from New Bedford, Massachusetts in U.S. Light-House Establishment, Compilation of Public Documents, 744.  Marshall, Amy K. Frequently Close to the Point of Peril: A History of Buoys and Tenders in U.S. Coastal Waters, 1789-1939. Thesis, Department of History, East Carolina University, Master of Arts in Maritime History and Nautical ArchaeologyDruett, Joan. Hen Frigates: Wives of Merchant Captains Under Sail. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998.
6.  Irish Relief Committee, Brooklyn, New York. Transactions of the Central Relief Committee of the Society of Friends during the Famine in Ireland. Dublin: Edmund Burke Publisher, 1852. (1996).
7.  United States Census Bureau. Annual Census. Hatboro Post Office, Moreland Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. 1850.
8.   Joe McMillan, J. House Flags of US Shipping Companies. 2001.
Hollett, David. Passage to the New World: Packet Ships and Irish Famine Emigrants, 1845-1851. Abergavenny, Great Britain: P.M. Heaton Publishing, 1995.

Other sources:
Kapp, Frederich. Immigration and the Commissioners of Immigration of the State of New York. NY: The Nation Press, 1870.