Part of the Acorn Archive

Hearts of Oak



The Sea Diary of William Gayer Michell

A Young Sailor’s Voyages 1893-1896


His mother gave him this note book on the 22nd May 1893

This is in the form of a Floral Text Book,

( what we would now call a Birthday Book ).

He writes, mysteriously, on the flyleaf “Hawk’s Pb.”

He also writes, in a very stylised form, “Castle Gayer, Marazion”.



He records various names and dates,

and uses the Memoranda pages for his notes of the voyages.

Some of the names are of people he knew in Brisbane,

in particular the McKergows and the Wakefields.

Considering he was just 17 years of age, born 1876,

he had a keen interest in the lengths of passage.

This little book has been taken many miles around the world.

But there is no mention of cargo or name of the vessel.

It also appears the vessel was a sailing ship.

[ If anyone can help with details of this ship,

or the later history of William Gayer Michell,

or give a clue as to what is meant by Hawk’s Pb,

please contact me at the email address at the bottom of this page ]


William Gayer Michell gained his Master’s Competency Certificate 4th April 1901, age 25.



W G Michell was given his first ship to Master upon the illness of

Captain Edward Freeman Roach, whilst at Malta.

This was on the Hain ship TREKIEVE.

Crew List 4th February 1904 to 18th April 1904.

Roach Mariners of St Ives



Sailed from London Thursday 16th June 1893.

Reached Brisbane River Monday 11th September.

Reached Brisbane Quinlain and Fray’s Wharf Wed 13th Sep.

Left Bulimba Brisbane Wed 16th Nov.

Sighted Ice 9th December. Weather Low about 8 bells, afternoon watch on deck.

38 days to Horn ( Cape ) from Brisbane. 25 from Horn to Line.

Passed Horn 23rd Dec.

Line 17th January 1894 about 8 bells first watch.

Passed Western Islands.

Reached Gravesend 8th February ( Thursday ).

London Dock Friday 9th February.

Home Sunday 17th February. Home until 19th May.

Left home Saturday 19th May.

Sailed from East India Dock Wednesday morning 23rd May.

Reached Line Friday 22nd June, making the run in 30 days.

4th and 5th July surrounded by a shoal of fine sperm whales who frolic and gambol about to our amusement.

We caught a dolphin and had it for breakfast.

Passed land on starboard quarter which proved to be Tristan da Cunha, 11th July.

Passed “Cape of Good Hope” between Thursday and Friday night 19th and 20th July, 28 days from “Line”, 58 days from London. [ Line being the Equator ].

Reached Morton Bay Sunday 2nd September.

Reached Wharf ( Queen Lane Gray & Co ) Brisbane Tuesday morning 4th September.

Left Musgrave Wharf S Brisbane Sunday midday 21st October.

Left Hamilton which was reached Monday 22nd October about midday and cast off from Tug “Beaver” at 11.30pm. [ Details of Beaver below ]

Saw East Coast of Australian Land on Thursday 25th October.

Sighted “De Ramieres” [ Diego Ramirez ] ( Island off Cape Horn ) on Sunday morning 2nd December.

41 days from Brisbane.

Round Cape Horn on Monday 3rd December.

Crossed Line on Monday 31st December. 21 days from Cape Horn,

70 days from Brisbane.

Passed Western Islands Saturday midnight 19th January 1895, 20 days from Line.

Arrived London Wednesday 21st February. London Docks 53 days from Line.

Sailed from London on Saturday 15th June 1895.

From S W India Dock left home on Wednesday 12th June.

Saw East of Lizard on Wednesday night 20th June.

Crossed the Line on Tuesday at midnight 16th July. 31 days from London.

Passed Meridian of East [ Greenwich Meridian ] on Monday 5th August.

20 days from Line on Friday 9th August we passed Longitude of Cape 4 days from Meridian and 24 days from Line.

On Monday 26th August We passed Cape Leawen [ Cape Leeuwin ] 17 days from Cape and 21 days from Meridian.

Reached Moreton Bay Wednesday 11th September 88 days from London.

Reached Parbury Lamb Wharf 13th September.

Left Parbury’s Wharf 26th November; Left Moreton Bay 27th November.

Reached Cape Horn 5th January 1896, 39 days from Brisbane.

Crossed Line 12th February. 38 days from Cape Horn, 77 days from Brisbane.

Passed clear of Western Islands in evening 29th February and March 1st

106 days passage Brisbane to London.

Reached London Dock 13th March; Got home 14th March. Left home 7th May.

Sailed from S W India Docks 12th May.

Crossed Line 8th June 27 days from London,

Crossed Meridian of East 25th June 17 days from Line.

Passed Longitude of Cape of Good Hope 28th June 3 days from Meridian, 20 days from Line and 47 days from London.

Reached Parbury’s Wharf Thursday 6th August 86 days from London.

Left Musgrave Wharf Sunday 18th October

and left Moreton Bay Monday 19th October.

Passed Cape Horn 27th November 39 days from Moreton Bay.

Lovely weather round Cape Horn.

Crossed Line 21st December 24 days from Cape Horn.

Good Passage considering light winds we had.




Friends and Family


Mr Appleton 15th October

George Bates 25th June

[he was a sailor on the “Avon” at Falmouth in the 1881 Census]

Laura Blake 6th September

Edgar B Brown 5th February

J J Cable 14th February

William Campbell 27th September 1874 [ RN painter’s son ]

[ The Campbell family lived at 106 Charlotte St, Stoke Damerel, Devon ]

Louisa Trevelyan Dale 31st July 1881 [gdtr of John Dale solicitor Helston]

Harry Fenton 31 July

B Frances 23rd July [ Queensland ]

Owen E Freemantle 25th August

J W Grigg 1st July

Carrie F Hosking 10th June 1875

Janie Hosking 31st December 1871

[ Two of the children of Thomas F Hosking, Manure Merchant, of Fore St, Marazion. - Janie was Mary J Hosking ]

Richard Cornish Laity 9th August 1849

Sarah Ann Laity 30th April 1851

Harry T Laity 19th November 1878

William Harvey Laity 19th August 1890

[ The Laitys lived in Fore Street, Marazion. Richard Cornish Laity was a Saddler and Ironmonger ]

John Lander 8th July

Ellen J L Leggo 28th March

E J Baynard Leggo 14th April

[ The daughters of Ann M Leggo of Portsmouth, Hampshire, UK; in 1891, living at Fore Street, Marazion. Their brother John B Leggo was born in St Saviours, Jersey, Channel Islands; the daughters were born at Ludgvan ]

Mr Lloyd 28th September 1857

Mehetabel Mackergow 18th April [nee Wakefield]

Ida M Mackergow 2nd July [ daughter ]

E A Michell 18th January

G R Michell 2nd March

Robert C Michell 16th July 1870

William Gayer Michell 7th December 1876

H A Miller 13th March 1874

Lilla Miller 4th April 1880

Fred Miller J 29th December 1873

Sidney Marly Miller 3rd October 1878

[The Millers which he names were the children of Fred Miller, an accountant from Alton Hampshire, living in Camborne in 1891. Fred Miller had married Ann B Temby. Living with them in 1891 was her sister Sarah Temby. ]

Annie E J Phillips 8th June

Edith M Phillips 8th August

Herbert E Russell 31st October 1872

[ Herbert E Russell was a painter’s son ( Albert E Russell ) of 112 Trelowarren St, Camborne ]

Walter H Seager 15th April

[ Walter H. Seager was the painter son of George Seager, a Master Painter, of Clyde Villa Stapleton Rd, Bristol St George, Gloucester ]

P Shuttleworth 29th May

John Oates Smale 23rd November 1864

Edward M Smith 17th February [ a traveller in wine ]

Lilly Temby 7th March

May Temby 26th October 1862

Ada Temby 26th November 1897

Millie Temby 21st November 1877

Fred Uren 15th March

H M Wakefield 7th May

F M Wakefield 25th July

Margaret Wakefield 11th August 1837 [ nee Birch of Hull, Yorkshire ]

Alfred Edwin Wakefield 6th October

Nell Wakefield 24th October

E Wakefield 7th August

Robert Wallace 15th November 1874

William Woodford 20th August 1875

Harold Woodget 18th August

[Son of Captain Richard Woodget of the Cutty Sark]




UK Census Records


1841 North Street, Marazion

Richard Michell,50,a Tailor, born Truro. [bur 24th Jan 1884 age 92]

Elizabeth Michell ( nee Rooke ),50 [died 1st Sep1869]

Annette Michell,25

Robert Glasson Michell,25 – Born Marazion

Elizabeth Michell,20

Tryphena Michell,20


Robert Michell’s elder brother was Richard Rooke Michell, born Marazion, 31st Dec 1810. A timber, iron, coal and slate merchant as RG Michell. Also as tin smelters at Trereife. As RR Michell & Co at Madron. Died Wimpole St, London 15th Apr 1872, buried Marazion. Married Mary Eastwood at Darfield E Yorkshie May 1832 – she died April 1850. A niece of Ambrose Oxley, she left four children. Elizabeth, Sarah, Mary and Ambrose. Each had the second name of Oxley. Sarah Oxley Michell married Edward Michell Millett ( son of  John Thomas Millett and grandson of Rev John Curnow Millett ) – he died 1871 aged 26. Edward Michell Millett was the uncle of Captain John Lester Vivian Millett; and JLV Millett thus became nephew of Robert Glasson Michell, by the marriage of Sarah Oxley Michell.


1851 North Street, Marazion

Robert Glasson Michell,36,Master Tailor

( Employing 3 Journeymen and 1 apprentice )

Mary Michell ( nee Bennett ),Wife,30 – born Camborne


1861 Town Square, Marazion

Robert Glasson Michell,Head,46,Merchant,Marazion

Mary Michell,Wife,40,Camborne

Sophia Bennett,Sister-in-law,U,35,Fundholder,Camborne


1871 Marazion

Robert Glasson  Michell , Widower, 56, Timber & Coal Merchant

Elizabeth Ann Clarke, Housekeeper, 27, born 1844 Ludgvan

Grace Ellen Clarke, Servant, U, 16, born 1855  Phillack


1881 Castle Gayer, Marazion

Robert Glasson Michell, Head, 66, Marazion, Retired Merchant

Elizabeth A. Michell ( nee Clarke ) Wife, 37, Ludgvan

Robert C. Michell, Son, Scholar, 10, Staverton, Devon

Richard G. Michell, Son, Scholar, 7, Staverton, Devon

William Gayer Michell, Son, Scholar, 4, Marazion

George R. Michell, Son, 3, Marazion



Castle Gayer, Lays Lane, Marazion ( Now Leys Lane )

Elizabeth A Michell,Head,Widow,47,Ludgvan 18th January

Robert C Michell,Son,Single,20,Merchant’s Clerk,Employed,Staverton Devon

(born 16th July 1870 )

William Gayer Michell,Son,14,Scholar,Marazion (born 7th December 1876)

George R Michell,Son,13,Scholar,Marazion 2nd March

Grace Ellen Harvey ( nee Clarke ),Sister,Widow,35,Hayle

Edward J Miers,Boarder,Single,39,Search Asst British Museum,Brazil Rio de Janeiro,Lunatic

Alfred G Little,Boarder,Widower,43,Domestic Companion,Boston Lincolnshire

James R Marwood,Boarder,S,39,Attendant,Employed,Shoreditch Middlesex

Salomey Roberts,Servant,W,55,Gen Domestic Servant,Employed,Crowan


1891 Census : Downham, Norfolk

The Woodget Family

Richard, Head, 45, Master Mariner, born Burnham Norton, Norfolk

Maria, Wife, 47, born Brancaster, Norfolk

Richard J, Son, Single, 17, Apprenticed To Sea, born Burnham Overy, Norfolk

Harold G, Son, 15, Apprenticed To Sea, born Burnham Overy, Norfolk

Edgar R, Son, 14, Scholar, born Burnham Overy, Norfolk

Albert S, Son, 12, Scholar, born Burnham Overy, Norfolk

Cecily, Mother, Widower, 81, born East Rudham, Norfolk

Edith, Niece, Single, 22, born Burnham Overy, Norfolk


1901 Census – William Gayer Michell was living in Plymouth as a Boarder; he was a Mercantile Marine Officer. The address is at Nr 8 Ford Park, Emmanuel Parish, Mutley. The head of the household was John H Dymond ( born St Ewe and he was manager of The Corn and Porage Merchants) with his wife Fanny Dymond ( born Tregony ) and their daughter Florence, who had married Charles J Cooper, a Mercantile Marine Officer.





ON 93034 

Steel Steamer

Built March 1886 by Ramage & Ferguson Ltd, Leith, Scotland

222 grt; 93 nrt

Length 135.2 ft; Breadth 21.6 ft; Depth 10.6 ft; Draft 8 ft.

Engines by Ramage & Ferguson Ltd, Leith

2 sets compound, Cylinders 17 and 34 inches. Stroke 18 inches

99 hp; Twin screw

Two raking masts.

Port of Registry : Brisbane  



The tug BEAVER set off for Brisbane, arriving in Moreton Bay on the 25th June 1886 after a 77 day voyage. The Brisbane Courier reported "She is furnished with a particularly shrill whistle known as Cran's Patent siren and its unearthly sound rather startled the inhabitants of Kangaroo Point as the vessel came round the point last evening". Also built by Ramage & Ferguson, the 271 ton tug OTTER had arrived in Brisbane in November 1884, and is to all intents a sister to the BEAVER. The OTTER was intended for Websters and Co. of Brisbane for excursion and tugboat service. She was purchased in 1885 by the Queensland Government for Ł15,000 and was overhauled and armed because of the threat of a Russian invasion. OTTER was fitted with armament; and so she was retained until c1943. But Websters needed a tug to replace OTTER and so placed another order from Ramage and Ferguson, namely for the BEAVER. Eventually the BEAVER was sold in 1903 to the Brisbane Tug and Steamship Company of Moreton Bay. She had her mainmast removed and the bridge deck shortened by 16ft. Passenger capacity was much reduced, but this was done to improve her towing capablity, by having the “hook” brought forward. 1st October l940, Macdonald Hamilton & Co. purchased BEAVER and she saw service in Brisbane during WWII. In 1948 she was abandoned and in September she was stripped at Peter's Slip, Kangaroo Point. The engines removed and broken up for scrap, and William Collin & Sons Ltd. bought the hull for use as a sand and gravel barge.


Raymond Forward

25th August 2007


My thanks to Dawn Michell Fetterman