William and Eliza Franklin emigrated in 1874

Alone amongst my immigrant ancestors of the 1870s, William Franklin had a trade. He was born in London in 1845 and followed his father into the bookbinding trade. William married Eliza Cullum at St Leonard’s, Shoreditch, in September 1868. The couple, then with four children including a new baby, emigrated from West India Docks, London, on the Conflict on 8 May 1874.

Fortunately, William was literate and kept a journal of the voyage to New Zealand, and some of his early letters from Wellington survive. Although containing only scant detail of the voyage, there is sufficient information to learn that the voyage was grueling and unhealthy. Ten people, including 7 infants, died during the voyage, and 5 babies were born. William and Eliza’s own children fell ill to measles, and Lena came very close to death. William described her as “skin and bones”. Nevertheless, the Captain described his vessel as having a comparatively healthy state.

Conflict arrived in Wellington on 3 August 1874 during a raging southerly storm which prevented them from landing for a couple of days. After 3 months at sea, the ship very nearly came to grief at the entrance to Wellington harbour. The harbour pilot brought Conflict into the safety of the harbour in total darkness. There were few navigation aids in the harbour at that time.

The children could not walk any distance upon arrival, especially Lena who was barely out of her sick bed. One can see why the shipping companies favoured sailings that would arrive in New Zealand during the warmer months.

A full account of the voyage, drawn from William’s journal and other sources, can be found here: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ourstuff/VoyageofConflict.htm

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