Friday, 12 December 2014

Putting a Mistake Right!

So far, touch wood, I have had only a couple of mistakes in my books on immigrant ships.  Mistakes are terrible when published in print and I always get a sinking feeling when I learn of them.  In my book on the ship Lancashire Witch I have made a mistake of epic proportions and need to put it right somewhere.  I'm using my blog to correct it.

The 1867 journey of the Lancashire Witch included four prostitutes of the lowest grade and Eliza Trumper, "far gone in family way," as was written on an official document in the archives.  Click here to view the document.

Now one could presume that Eliza had been lumped in with the "prostitutes," or rather, a few women who caused a bit of trouble or had slightly lower morals than the majority on that ship.  I'm pretty sure now that Eliza did no wrong.

While researching the book I traced the baby that Eliza had in Christchurch and followed him to Hastings.  This research was correct.  Eliza then seemed to disappear from the records apart from a marriage for an Eliza Trumper that seemed to match exactly.  Age, place of birth, area of marriage etc all matched.  I presumed this was the same Eliza as she didn't have a common name and this was in the early days of Christchurch when there weren't that many people and you could easily track a person's movements.  Well haven't I learnt a lesson.  A relation has since contacted me and said that this wasn't the correct Eliza.  I was wrong.

Eliza Trumper had a cousin by marriage named Eliza Trumper!  So there were two Eliza Trumpers in Christchurch at a similar time.

So what actually happened to the Eliza Trumper on the ship Lancashire Witch?  She was a good girl and was already married, her maiden named being Williams.  She was travelling out to New Zealand to meet her husband James Trumper, who had travelled out earlier.  This was common practice as often the family couldn't afford to all come out at the same time and relations were sent for or waited for the opportunity to get a free passage (like Eliza).   Why did Eliza end up on the official list with the prostitutes?  I have a couple of theories which I will never be able to prove or disprove.

  1. Did Eliza withhold the fact she was pregnant and had a husband in NZ?  This would not have gone down well as the colony was after single women domestic servants and they gave free passage to these women.  Once married or pregnant, a woman often stopped working and being useful to the Provincial Government.  Eliza suddenly became useless to the colony.
  2. Did they suspect Eliza was unmarried and pregnant?  They often didn't believe young women who said they were "meeting their husband" in the colony.  Maybe she got treated very unfairly.    

Eliza and her husband only had the one child.  They apparently moved back to England at some stage but Eliza's death can not be found by family members. What happened to her is a mystery?

The other Eliza Trumper married Samuel Derbidge and had a large family.  She was a completely different lady, who came out to New Zealand on the ship Huntress.

Ok, I feel better now for putting right a wrong.