Sunday, November 26, 2017

Bosomworths Nearly Shipwrecked 1853

Robert T. Bosomworth, courtesy of
Sarah Schorfheide Erwin

Since writing my piece on Robert T. Bosomworth and his family, I have discovered further information about their lives in England, and about the circumstances of their voyage to America. As I previously stated, four generations of the family travelled together. Robert came with his wife, most of his children, his grandchildren, his father George, and his brother John and his wife. In addition, his niece Amelia, daughter of his sister Hannah, accompanied them.

According to a profile of William Bosomworth, Robert's son, in Portrait and Biographical Record of Madison County, Illinois, the ship on which they originally sailed “sprang a leak” and they were “nearly shipwrecked”. They were “obliged to return to Liverpool”. From there, they boarded the ship the “George Washington”, and after a voyage of roughly thirty-five days, which was the average on a sailing ship, arrived in America “the day before Christmas”. The incoming passenger list is available on, which shows them arriving on December 19, 1853. The total length of the family's journey is described as being “eleven weeks”, which likely includes the first attempt. I have not yet been able to find the pertinent outgoing lists. The family must have been determined to come to the New World, as four generations of Bosomworths were nearly lost all at once.

There does appear to have been at least one family tragedy aboard the George Washington. The memorial for Robert's granddaughter, Mary Elizabeth Bosomworth, daughter of his son George, states that she died at the age of one of the measles and was buried at sea. It is possible that other Bosomworths also died during the voyages, but the incoming passenger list only tells us who arrived alive.

It can be imagined that the family came to America for a better life, but there seems to be another circumstance which may have influenced their decision. I have found a newspaper article on which reveals that Robert's fourteen-year-old son John, committed suicide in 1845 by hanging. He had been a “footman” in the employ of “Richard Hill, Esq.” of “Thornton House near Pickering”. The verdict of the coroner's inquest was “temporary insanity”.

In my 2012 blogpost on Robert T. Bosomworth, I asserted that I did not believe that Robert's father George travelled with the family, particularly as the age listed for “George Bosomworth” on the passenger list was about twenty years off. However, I now defer to the account in the Madison County history, previously mentioned, which states that George came with them and died soon after. I also stated that the George on the list was likely Robert's son George Robert, but I now believe that the twenty-one year old “Robert Bosomworth” on the list was probably him. The elder George died soon after their arrival, according to the account, possibly in Springfield, Ohio, their first home in America.

Robert T. Bosomworth is reported while in Ohio to have been employed “cutting wood at fifty cents a cord”. The family removed to Lynnville, Morgan County, Illinois in 1854, and then settled in Madison County in 1856, where Robert purchased land after renting a farm for ten years.

I am wondering if their choice to move to Lynnville might have been influenced by knowing people from their hometown in England who were living there. These are namely Thomas Dickenson and his family, whose daughter Ann married Robert's son, my great great grandfather, Charles, in May 1856. Ann and Charles had been baptized in the same church in Thornton Dale, Yorkshire three years apart.

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