Formation and Emigration of the Party from Nottingham in 1820

St Mary's Nottingham where John Bradfield married Mary Dennis 23 November 1790 . They are buried at Clumber.*

The Local Situation Which Prompted the Authorities to Implement an Emigration Scheme

Nottingham was one of the areas worst hit by the Industrial Revolution and the affects of the end of the Napoleonic Wars. This was a Centre where cottage industries such as lace and hosiery making, flourished. These home industries could not compete on costs with the new factories and so all these cottage industries shut down, putting thousands out of work. Families were starving and the people looked to the councilllors of the town for financial assistance. Nottingham simply could not afford such massive amounts of support. There were riots and considerable social unrest. By August 1819 there were daily processions of protest.

 In the same month the unemployed people wrote an appeal to the Lord Leiutentant and the gentry and noblemen of the county in which they stated:

"From the various and low prices given by our employers, we have not, after working from sixteen to eighteen hours per day, been able to earn more than from four to six shillings per week, to maintain our wives and families upon, to pay taxes, house rent, &c., which has driven us to the necessity of applying for parochial aid, which after all has not in many instances left us sufficient to supply the calls of nature, even with the most parsimonious economy; and though we have substituted meal and water, or potatoes and salt, for that more wholesome food an Englishman's table used to abound with, we have repeatedly retired, after a hard day's labour, and been under the necessity of putting our children supperless to bed, to stifle the cries of hunger : nor think that we would give this picture too high a colouring, when we can most solemnly declare, that for the last eighteen months we have scarecely known what it is to be free from the pangs of hunger."

 The pitiful conditions families found themselves in resulted on August 16 in a Protest March of some 5000 men.

The town's authorities were so fearful of trouble that they called in troops. Four companies of the 52nd Regiment of Foot took possession of Bromley House and several wagon loads of ammunition and stores were brought in. Memories of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester in August 1819, where troops charged into a crowd estimated to be some 60 000 strong, was fresh in the authorities mind. Women carried signs with the words " Pity our Distress!" "We ask for Bread ", "Pity our Children ". When the opportunity of emigration arose many reached out to the lifeline presented to them. The majority that applied to join the Nottingham Party were out of work and destitute. This Party was among 4 of the total of 61 Emigration Parties of 1820 that consisted of the poor.  Parishes attempted to raise funds but they were not allowed to use money from the "poor relief" to pay the deposits for their members. The Duke of Newcastle lobbied wealthy patrons and got sponsorship for the Party. Only one man paid for his deposit, Thomas Webster.

The application for emigration of John Bradfield, his wife Mary, and their children reveals that the letter was only written at the end of October 1819. Less than 3 months later they had moved out of their home, packed those possessions they could comfortably carry, and left the life they had known behind them. 

* John Bradfield, his wife Mary, and their children emigrated to South Africa as part of the Nottingham Party of 1820 Settlers

John Bradfield's Letter of Application for Emigration
Vessel Albury


The Journey from Nottingham to Algoa Bay, South Africa

The Nottingham party comprised of 158 persons ; 60 men, 26 women and 72 children. This of a total of 3700 people who emigrated from Great Britain. This group had to travel from Nottingham to Liverpool, a distance of some 170 km to join the vessel Albury there. 

From correspondence we know that the Nottingham Party was all aboard the vessel Albury, 330 tons, in Liverpool, by mid January 1820. It therefore follows that they left Nottingham either in late December 1819 or early January 1820. The weather was bitterly cold as ships were iced up on the Thames in London at this time. The men walked over the Pennine Moors under Sergeant George Dennison. The women and children journeyed by coaches and cart. Young Elijah Pike recalls the four in hand coach his family travelled in from Nottingham and was in wonder at the forest of masts and spars he saw in the dock at Liverpool.

On the 17 January 1820 the Nottingham Party was allready aboard the Albury as evidenced by a letter written on this date by Mr R Sipping and Mr J Thompson who were trying to reconcile the Party Lists versus those who had actually embarked.

The Albury was anchored on the River Mersey when on Friday 28 January 1820 the Liverpool Auxiliary Bible Society came aboard to ascertain if Bibles were needed by the emigrants. After ascertaining that all could read, the Depositary came aboard again on Monday 31 January to distribute Bibles. Henry Holland, aged 22, a stone mason, penned a letter of thanks to the Society.

Liverpool was a Centre of embarkation at this time as there were two other vessels, namely Stentor and John, which were embarking Parties whose destination was the same as the Albury, the Cape of Good Hope. Stentor and John sailed on the same day, January 13 1820, leaving the Albury still anchored in the river.

The Boat Journey

Due to a cold front , the Albury only sailed on 13 February 1820. There were heavy seas and gales off the coast of Wales until 18 February whereafter the weather improved.

13 February 1820 Deaths of Henry Hartley, 4 years, youngest son of Thomas and Sarah Hartley, and John Cross, infant son of John and Mary Cross.

These deaths, according to George Dennison in a letter to E S Godfrey " have been occasioned by being so long on this unhealthy river"

27 February 1820 Anchored at Madeira

1 March 1820 Passed the Canary Islands

3 March 1820 Came aside the Aquatic laden with coal for St Helena

5 March 1820 Passed a Portuguese slave ship

9 March 1820 John Sykes complained of being ill

13 March 1820 Caught a shark

14 March 1820 Came alongside the Charles Grant and another ship. Longitude 22. Day Temperature 84 deg F, Night Teperature 82 deg F

Thomas Calton in a letter on this date wrote : " some there are whom I find have proved themselves greater eaters than workers, so I am afraid will prove the same at the Cape. These are the Frame Work Knitters. I must sincerely beg and pray you to send no more here"

He also adds that the Settlers are lying 4 to 6 in a bed and even that there are two men with their wives in the same bed, notes : " I wonder no mistakes are made"

15 March 1820 Crossed the Equator

18 March 1820 Met up with Clydesdale merchant ship Bengal heading to Bengal

19 March 1820 Sykes very ill

20 March 1820 John Sykes died at midnight

21 March 1820 The captain went aboard Nestex on her way from Calcutta to England

27 March 1820 Got the trade winds after being virtually becalmed since the 10th

4 April 1820 Crossed the tropics with a moderate breeze 

8 April 1820 Gales and heavy winds continued till 17 April

17 April 1820 One man shot a large bird

18 April 1820 Light breeze, three albatrosses shot, one with a 5 ft 9 inch wingspan

1 May 1820 Came in sight of the Cape

1 May 1820 Anchored at midnight in Simon's Bay

To their dismay the Nottingham Party was not allowed to go ashore but had to wait on board before they could commence the final leg of their journey.

More about the Albury

Built in 1804 and classified as a ship with Mr W Worts as Captain. It had a single deck with beams and the boards were sheathed with copper. Accommodation was apparently rather cramped as the single men were given a blanket and had to find a place to sleep on the bare boards. In some instances the married folk were even lying 4, and some instances, 6, to a bed !
Afraid of the spread of disease aboard, Elijah Pike recalled how he and many other children were continually washed by their respective mothers as a preventative when one of the children died on the journey.  
The Settlers traveling on the Vessel Zoroaster had to transfer to the Albury at Simons Town and joined the Nottingham Party for the final leg to Algoa Bay. The Zoroaster carried 142 persons; C Dyason's Party from London numbering 67, W Wait's Party numbering 40 from Middlesex and C Thornhills Party numbering 35. The Albury accommodation was already cramped and with an additional 142 persons joining, conditions could not have been pleasant. Jeremiah Goldswain of the Wait Party had this to say about the Albury : 
" we got on board to see the difference between the two ships. I was astonished; the Zoroaster was as clean as possible for a Vessel to be, but the Albury you could not walk upright between her decks and she was not the cleanest Vessel I ever saw."

The Arrival

Artist's impression of the landing of the 1820 Settlers

On 15 May 1820 The Albury finally arrived at  Algoa Bay but due to congestion and heavy seas her passengers could not disembark. On this date not only did the Albury arrive but 3 other ships also anchored off Algoa Bay; the Aurora carrying 344 Settlers, the Brilliant carrying 144 Settlers and the Weymouth carrying 478 Settlers.

There was no pier or infrastructure at Algoa Bay. All Vessels had to ride at anchor and await their turn, in strict rotation according to arrival, before instructions were given to disembark.

The Albury passengers had to wait on board for almost two weeks before they could disembark. They finally stepped ashore on 28 May 1820, having spent a total of 131 days aboard the Albury from the day we know that they were allready aboard, which, according to documentation, was January 17 1820 in Liverpool.( We are not certain of their actual embarkation date )

 Settlers were lowered in their vessel's boats and then transferred to flat bottomed surf boats and pulled through the tumbling breakers by ropes from the shore. When they reached shallow water the men got out and had to wade through the surf. The women and children were carried by sailors and soldiers to the beach. Captain Fairfax Moresby of the H.M.S.Menai was the naval officer in charge of arrival and landing of the Settler vessels. Captain Evatt was in charge of the actual landing operations. He was Commandant of Fort Frederick, the stone fort that stood atop the small hill above the landing beach. All credit to his concern to the wellbeing of this vast influx of people that not one fatality resulted from the landing process.

 The Journey from Algoa Bay to Clumber

Accommodation for the Settlers was provided in some 2000 tents on the sea shore which the Settlers named Tent Town. The Nottingham Party had to wait here for wagons and carts to transport them to their destination. All Settlers were made to wait in strict rotation, as landed, for transport. There were allready 1500 people in the queue ahead of the Nottingham Party. They were still waiting for transport on 8 July 1820 when Thomas Calton , the leader of the party, died. They elected a new leader, Thomas Draper, on 10 July 1820.
The Nottingham Party finally left Tent Town on Algoa Bay on July 15 1820. (Based on a recollection of 3 families sharing a wagon, the number of wagons would have been about 15.) Soon after leaving, one of the wagons tried to cross an old road, lurched, and fell on its side upending its contents and pinning the young Elijah Pike underneath. Fortunately soft sand cushioned the blow and he escaped unhurt. The wagon train travelled North, then East, crossing the Zwartkops and Couga Rivers near the coast. Then inland over Grass Ridge to Addo Drift, across the Sunday's River about 20 miles from the mouth, and then over Addo Heights. Then South East, more or less parallel to the coast, passing Congo's Kraal and Graafwater to Jagers Drift on the Bushman's River. After the Mission Station at Theopolis, they forded the Kowie River at its mouth at low tide by utilizing two exposed sandbanks. Then inland via Kowie Pass to Bathurst and on to their final destination. They outspanned at the foot of a small hill close to the Torrens River on 25 July 1820. There was no infrastructure here, no town, only open uninhabited and unworked land. After offloading their possessions the wagons departed, leaving the Nottingham Party to fend for themselves and to forge a new life. 
Young Rosa Pike recalled :
"I remember that while the wagons were being unloaded...I ran down to look at a small river which was near, and on my return found my mother sitting on a large box and crying. On asking her what was the matter, she said she was afraid, she thought the tigers and wolves would come that night and eat us up."
They named the small hill at the base of which they had offloaded their belongings, Mount Mercy. At the top of the hill they held a service of thanksgiving for safe deliverance of a journey that had taken over 6 months.
"It seemed very lonely to us when the wagons went away and left us all alone among the thorns and bushes" said a young Elijah Pike.

The Party originally considered naming their location Mansfield, but decided to name their location Clumber after the seat of the Duke of Newcastle, Clumber Park. This in appreciation for his genuine concern for the welfare of this group of people whose financial situation was dire. Under his chairmanship a public subscription was raised to assist the unemployed to emigrate.
An example of a Covered Wagon
An Example of a Transport Wagon
The Area at the Base of Mount Mercy where The Wagons were Offloaded
Artist's impression of the Boer escorts and wagon's on the the Settler's journey
Comings and Goings at Tent Town
Elijah Pike, Edward Timm and George Tarr; 1820 Settlers
William Pike - Leader at Clumber

Is it Calton's Party or Nottingham Party ?

 On this Website we refer to the " Nottingham Party".

In the articles on 1820 Settlers it is generally referred to as "Calton's Party", in reference to his leadership of the Party. We refer to it as the "Nottingham Party" as they departed from there and the leadership of the Party was eventually passed to 3 people.  Calton, the original leader, died in Algoa Bay whilst the Party was awaiting transport. Leadership then passed to Thomas Draper and subsequently and finally to William Pike.

Interior of the 3rd Clumber Church opened in 1867
Created by Courteney George Bradfield