Sunday, October 31, 2010

'What sort of Diary should I like mine to be?' Virginia Wolfe 1882-1941

The Diary of Frederick Watkins' journey from England to Australia 1885


Diaries are an irreplaceable source of information about ancestors. Unfortunately, as far as I know, none of my own forebears were committed keepers of journals.

Today, in a bookstore, I found a bound copy of the diary written by Frederick Watkins. I purchased the document for $10. The first diary entry, pictured above, states that he was born on November 25, 1865 and is 21 years. The diary begins on October 4, 1885 and is a day by day account of this young man's trip from home, first by train and then the voyage by ship. The diary concludes at the end of Frederick's first day spent in Maryborough, Queensland.

I will post interesting pieces of Frederick Watkin's writing in my blogs as his words are a poignant insight into every part of the long voyage to Australia from sleeping, bathing, washing of clothes, discomforts, illness and the sights and experiences he lived through on his journey. Now, my challenge is to find out who Frederick Watkins was, and to perhaps trace some descendants who might be interested in the diary. This is 21 year old Frederick's first diary entry:

'1885 To Queensland Page one. [Born 25 Nov 1865 Aged 21 years] My Voyage and life to Maryborough Queensland x Monday October 4th Left Butleigh 7,30 to Glastonbury Station at 8.35 left in third class carriage for Waterloo arrived at 3 o'clock .....then to Fenchurch Street by cab Took train to Black-wall arrived at 4 o'clock which after a long day's ride was very tired and weary and in with a lot of strange people made me ..... [worse?] I took some tea at the home at 5 o'clock then out looking about for some time to the ships and boats which was a lot of excitement

all though it is raining we stayed in London for some time then to bed there were about 200 or more to sleep This has been a day of very lonely hours All though I enjoyed the country ride. I am afraid you will never read this queer writing'



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