Saturday, June 15, 2013

Tall Ships Quilt Block

This is the third block of my Irish Great-Grandpa Sampler Quilt.  I found the pattern for this 12" Tall Ships quilt block free on-line at Quilter's Cache here. I think this block is perfect to go along with the story of a voyage across the ocean!  I've chosen to make my quilt in greens with yellow accents and maybe a bit of other color thrown in.  It took me awhile to work out the fabric choices with this one.  I'm especially pleased with the fabric for the ocean.  Don't you think it looks like water?        

While my maternal grandmother was still in high school, she interviewed her father, James Lynch, at the urging of her older brother Will, who was living in China at the time.  (Read his letter to her here.)  Later, she wrote a biography of her father from the notes she'd taken during the interview.  Following is the third part of this biography:  

"On March 16, 1848, James and his brothers Patrick and Thomas along with sisters Ellen, Mary, and Julia sailed from Waterford for New York, on the English ship Sir Harry Smith.  It was a 400 ton, three-masted brig with 400 passengers.  There was an auxiliary motor which was some help.  They encountered a fierce storm just three days from New York and were blown a long way before the storm abated.  Food got scarce.  They were strapped down most of two weeks and were seasick, also.  They finally caught some sea turtles and were glad to eat them because they were hungry.  They arrived in New York on May 2, 1848."
                                - by Hazel Lynch Skonberg, James Lynch's daughter

"The cheapest fares were to Canada, around 55 shillings, while a fare to the USA cost between 70 shillings and £5 (100 shillings). There were two ways one could travel; either in a standard class or steerage. Standard passengers had berths and could walk on the deck. Steerage passengers were crowded together below decks and often could not use the deck. For many emigrants, steerage was the most they could afford.  It is estimated that perhaps as many as 40% of steerage passengers died either en-route or immediately after arrival.”

"To save the immigrant passenger from starvation and other dangers at sea, statutes were passed in both the United States and Britain to improve and regulate steerage conditions.  One result of that effort was that, beginning in 1848, ships were required to furnish each passenger with the following: sixty gallons of water, thirty-five pounds of flour, fifteen pounds of ship's biscuits, and ten pounds each of wheat flour, oatmeal, rice, salt pork, and peas and beans.  It was just enough food to last through the transatlantic journey which, at the time, averaged thirty-five to forty days.  The steerage galleys were still mobbed, however, and wholly inadequate to meet the demands placed on them.  In desperation, passengers ate their food raw, mixing flour and water into a paste and gulping it down as best they could." 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement by Jane Ziegelman (page 50).

"After 1849, ships sailing from Britain were compelled by law to allot each steerage passenger sixteen square feet of space, a good indication of the crowding that existed before the statute was passed."  97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement by Jane Ziegelman (page 48).

On, I found information under "All Irish Immigrants Port Arrival Records 1846-1851:

James Lynch
Age 13
Gender: Male
Embarkation: Liverpool
Ship: Sir Henry Smith
Occupation:  workman/woman
Passengers:  141
Compartment:  Steerage
Native Country:  Ireland
Destination:  U.S.A.
Arrival Date:  10 May 1848
Transit Type:  Staying in the U.S.

It also lists Thomas Lynch (age 26), Patrick Lynch (age 24), Ellen (age 20), Judy (age 18), and Mary (12).  My guess is that they traveled from Waterford, Ireland to Liverpool before heading to the U.S.  There are some contradictions between the port and my great-grandfather's memories.  He remembers 400 passengers, when the report says there were only 141.  He remembers the ship's name as Sir Harry Smith, when the report says it was Sir Henry Smith.  And James remembers arriving on May 2, when the report says May 10.  Still, a pretty good memory after some 70 years!    

Are you interested in reading more about this quilt?  You'll find it all right here.   

You might also enjoy reading my previous blog post here.


  1. I was noticing that great 'water' fabric before you mentioned it. Nice job!

  2. I love your Tall Ships block--and the "water fabric", too

  3. Wonderful ship block. I really like the sails and water.

  4. Love the block and loved reading that they caught sea turtles to eat to survive. Wow!

  5. That sea looks somewhat calmer than the trip. The fabrics are just great!

  6. Lovely block! In the UK, "Harry" is a nickname for Henry, so he remembered correctly after all!


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