AON

help with terminology (ship vs schooner vs brigatine circa 1820)

39 posts in this topic

Good morning all.

 

My darling wife has been working on our genealogy for quite some time and she has just discovered the name of the ship my ancestor from my mothers side arrived on to Quebec from Scotland in 1821.

It is listed as Ship - Rebecca.

Others are clearly listed as Schooner or Brigantine.

 

Has anyone any knowledge as to why a vessel might be described generically as a ship?

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Possibly just ignorance on the part of the person making the record- others may know better!

However, there is a heritage centre near me (in Scotland) run by a genealogist with a strong focus on emigrations from Scotland to Canada. If you wish to provide more information (by PM if appropriate) I may be able to help on matters other than the vessel.

 

Ken

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It is most likely an inexact reference to the size of the vessel.  Schooners, except the four masted type, and Brigantines were and are relatively small vessels mostly in coastal service and were fore and aft rigged.  The term 'ship' has become almost generic, but in those days a Ship had  not less than three masts and was Square Rigged although they carried fore and aft staysails at the bow and a gaff rigged mizzen (or spanker) sail; the gaff was  just below the lower yard on the mizzen mast.  As the builders started making them larger and larger, the classification was sometimes further broken down as: Ship:four masted, Ship: Five Masted, etc.

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The "Rebecca" is elsewhere described as a brig. Google- Rebecca Captain Harvey Greenock- Harvey made several trips with migrants from Greenock to Quebec in the 1820's.

 

Ken

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or not???

I searched and see one entry that lists her as a brig. in Google but when I search through the PDF doc she is listed as "ship".

post-9868-0-51228700-1487526011_thumb.jpg

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A "Ship" has 3 masts, each mast is made up of a mast, top mast and top gallant mast.  A "Schooner" has two or more fore and aft rigged masts with the fore mast shorter or at least no taller than the main mast.  A "Brig" is like a ship with only the fore and main masts and a fore and aft sail on the main mast.  A "Brigantine" has two masts with the fore mast square rigged only and the main mast fore and aft rigged. 

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Please don't suppose there was one and only one vessel sailing the Atlantic named 'Rebecca'.  I've gotten caught in that one before.  There may have been also a 'Rebecca Sprague', a 'Rebecca Isaacson', etc. which may all have been put into the paper as 'Rebecca'.

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I agree, I have also been caught with that one looking for a "Helen". What is different here is that AON has additional information (sent to me via PM) which narrows down the search considerably- port of departure, date of departure, port of arrival, date of arrival.

I think that between us we can be pretty confident that we have the correct vessel right down to the name of her Master (A. Harvey).

It would be fascinating to go further- who built her and where, and to arrive at a set of plans and thus to a model......

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This is what was PM'd

Not really a secret...

 

Malcolm McGugan (born 4 Oct 1785, North Knapdale, Scotland) and his wife Isobell Graham (born 4 May 1787) boarded the Rebecca in Greenock, Scotland on 29 August 1821.  Ship arrived in Quebec on 14 October 1821.  Also boarding with Malcolm and Isobell were their four children: Duncan b.1813, Catherine b. 1814, John b. 1816, and Mary b. 1818 and a woman named Catherine McMillan (nanny?)
Isobell died enroute to Quebec after giving birth to a child who also died.

Malcolm was the son of Donald McGugan and Katharine McMillan.
Isobell was the daughter of Lachlen Graham and Mary McGugan.
Catherine McMillan was the daughter of Alexander McMillan and Margaret ? (surname not listed)
Malcolm later married Catherine in Metis, Quebec and they had ten children.

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AON the PM was yours to share not mine.

I am sure that a competent genealogist does not need this information, but, as in the original question in this thread, we have to understand that the clerk making the entry may not have been sure of the difference between a brig or schooner and just chose ship.

The same is true of much else, "Mc" and "Mac" may seem interchangeable, good genealogy sites ignore the difference, but the difference may hold clues. Similarly the recording clerk may have heard "McGugan" but it could have been spelled "MacGuigan", "Lachlen" was most probably "Lachlan" and so on.

As internet searches become more accurate, the errors of contemporary clerks are more exposed. Broaden your search rather than follow the temptation to narrow it can provide more informative results.

Who knows, we might discover much more about the "Rebecca" and her passengers, I hope so.

 

Ken

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If all those people are in the family tree accurately, then it may be right from this end.  It might be profitable to work from the Greenock end for the vessel.

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The tree is accurate.

 

Dirty Duncan McGugan (not to be confused with his cousin Dandy Duncan McGugan) changed his name to McDonald when he went to the USA... then returned to have my grandfather.

The tree was worked backwards from my GF, spouses, children with all documentation to prove who is who.

 

We appreciate that no one could spell worth a hoot... it has cause many an issue with my family name O'Neill, O'Neil, Neil and even Nail!

But we have them back to 1790 in County Cork.

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OK, then.  by 1820

Ship:  3 masts, all square rigged.

Barque:  3 masts, F & M square rigged, Mizzen F&A

Barquentine:  3 masts, Fore square rigged, M & M F&A

 

Brig:  2 masts, both square rigged, Snow Brig, with spencer or Snow mast on Main, for gaff sail.

Brigantine:  2 masts, Fore square rigged, Main mast F&A

(In 1700s, Brig and Brigantine both referred to apparently any sort of 2-masted rig with square sails on the Fore, that is not a topsail schooner.)

Dunno if that helps, because the newspapers could be as inaccurate as the census takers as far as spelling.

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Technically a brig has a loose footed spanker (F&A sail on main mast),  no main boom and a square main course (lowest square sail on main mast).  However ship type terms were pretty elastic up until fairly recently so a brig, brigantine, snow or schooner with square sails on both masts might be called any one of these names.

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Thank you JBSHAN but does that take me back to square one or one step further back by adding yet another term...

 

Ship, Brig, and Brigatine ?

 

If you look long enough the Library of Canada pdf of the ship registry for Quebec city has her list all three ways.

 

and... a google search shows there were quite a few vessels named Rebecca around the world but only the one making frequent trips from Greenock, Scotland to Quebec city, PQ, Canada. (or Lower Canada, British North America).

 

Maybe a letter to Greenock might be in order to determine what they have her listed as.

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Here is my opinion: if you are finding a distinction being made within the same documentary source between brigs schooners and ships then you must accept that the person making those distinctions knew the difference between those well understood rigs. I can't imagine why anyone would second guess the person who made those entries. If it was THEIR JOB to make those distinctions ( and let's face it, theses are SIMPLE UNAMBIGUOUS distinctions) then why not believe them when they give a description? Wouldn't you believe them if they said a ship was painted a certain color or flew a particular flag?

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Yes, I would expect the Harbourmaster's Clerk to know the difference in rigs and we have that as one source. The Immigration Officer (another source) may not.

 

Ken

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Ah, but here's the sticky wicket - the terms applied to rigging were highly variable and NOT internationally established until fairly recently.  One person's Brig may have been termed a Snow by another.  Ship, while generally the most "agreed upon" rig, was also a generic term for a large vessel with sails.  Sloop had nothing to do with the rig until mid 19th century, and Brigantine and Brig are, for the time period in question, terms of finesse.  Brigantine was likely the older rig, but also has been referred to as a Schooner Brig and Hermaphrodite Brig. 

 

Having said that, here is my view based on the various records cited. You can be fairly certain that the Rebecca of interest was very probably a Brig, based on the various entries.  The genealogical entry in post 12, on the other hand, is quite the least reliable - probably applying the term ship in the most generic context. This was a compilation of information from many sources, condensed into a brief summary.  The type of vessel was not a particular concern, but rather that a passage was made on a vessel named the Rebecca.  The other entries, where the vessel is termed a Brig, are probably more accurate.  The next challenge is finding information on the builder and so on - a much more challenging endeavor!

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OK, here we go- good news and bad news!

Source- Lucille H Campey's "The Scottish Pioneers of Upper Canada 1784-1855, Glengarry and Beyond"

The Rebecca of Greenock, 305 tons, built 1816 at Greenock, Lloyd's classification E1.

Whilst Campey lists multiple vessels with the same name (six Hopes) there is only one Rebecca.

She made eleven crossings carrying a total of 364 passengers.

That was the good news, now the bad.

The Lloyd's Register classifies Rebecca as a "ship", defined as "a three masted vessel, square rigged on all three masts".

 

Ken

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Now (to make matters worse) we discover that she was the first vessel built by Robert Steele and Company described as a "single decked, three masted barque".

 

Google "Robert Steele and Company"  go to the Wikipedia entry, and click through the references for more information.

 

Ken

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OK, here we go- good news and bad news!

Source- Lucille H Campey's "The Scottish Pioneers of Upper Canada 1784-1855, Glengarry and Beyond"

The Rebecca of Greenock, 305 tons, built 1816 at Greenock, Lloyd's classification E1.

Whilst Campey lists multiple vessels with the same name (six Hopes) there is only one Rebecca.

She made eleven crossings carrying a total of 364 passengers.

That was the good news, now the bad.

The Lloyd's Register classifies Rebecca as a "ship", defined as "a three masted vessel, square rigged on all three masts".

 

Ken

 

The following is from the 1818 Lloyds Register:

 

post-18-0-60087400-1487595139.jpg

 

post-18-0-23387900-1487595139.jpg

 

post-18-0-71741800-1487595138.jpg

 

post-18-0-13557800-1487595138.jpg

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Nice work. Number eight on the list of Rebeccas. And another misspelling. The owners are variously given as "Laurie" or "Lowrie" depending on source.

 

Ken

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Thank you. This is getting fun.

There is more to be found when we use the term "barque Rebecca".

A Mark Howard put out an internet request for information on her some years ago.

He gives her dates as 1816-1843, making two voyages a year to Quebec from launch to 1838.

She later carries migrants to Melbourne, Australia in March 1843.

A Mark Howard (the same surely) later publishes an article for a Tasmanian Historical Society entitled "The Barque Rebecca at King Island, 1843-1844".

This is available to buy online for a few pounds.

Guess where I am off to next!

 

Ken

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Article purchased and read. It is a  fulsome account of her grounding in 1843, re-floated in 1844.

But we do get her dimensions- Length 95'2", beam 26'11 1/2", depth in hold 18'2".

And two further references to chase up-

David R Macgregor's "Merchant Ships 1775-1815, Their Design and Construction" (page 127) Anyone own a copy?

The dimensions are from the Archives of Tasmania- let's see how I do there.

 

Ken

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So she was a three masted SHIP, likely a BARQUE.

E1 or A1 classification.

 

This is fantastic info... thank you all.

post-9868-0-64150000-1487601317_thumb.jpg

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The Archives of Tasmania did not get us any further, unless there is a forum member in Hobart who could call in personally.

 

Ken

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