On the Ship Ion

To continue last post’s topic of the emigration of Thomas J. Trewin and Mary Ann Phillips to Canada in 1857, a while back I came across The Ships List website when searching for information on the ship Ion. The site lists news from the Canadian News and American Intelligencer 1857. The entry for July 8, 1857, states:

“The ship Ion leaves Woolwich Arsenal jetty this day, having on board 187 emigrants (about 240 souls), bound for Quebec. On Saturday 17 single men will leave in the Hibernia, which will complete the shipment of the unemployed artisans connected with the Government works. These poor people have all been shipped under the superintendence of the shipping committee of the Wellington Emigration Fund.”

I was very intrigued by this information since I had no idea the Trewin family had emigrated to Canada because of impoverished circumstances. The web page contains news and information on many different ships (both commercial and passenger) making the crossing from Europe. Some passenger names are listed. These are mostly those who were located in cabins. As the Trewins are not listed, I can only surmise that they were in steerage. I also was curious to see what caused these artisans to be unemployed and what the role of the Wellington Emigration Fund was. I discovered that there was an armaments factory located in Woolwich which is located on the south side of the River Thames in southeast London (formerly in County of Kent). The arsenal expanded greatly during the Crimean War (1854-1856), but once the war ended, a substantial number of the workers there became unemployed. Evidently, the Wellington Fund Emigration Committee worked to resettle many of these unemployed artisans, together with their wives and children if married, in Canada.

Another entry from the Canadian News and American Intelligencer for June 10, 1857, which is located on the same web page, states:

“We are glad to learn that the Wellington Emigration Fund Committee are exercising the utmost vigilance, in conjunction with the Woolwich Committee, to ship off a number of the unemployed workmen from that locality to Canada with all speed. On Thursday next, the ship Midlothian will call at the Arsenal Jetty to take on board sixty adults. These will consist of the most extremely destitute cases, and sad, indeed, was their condition when mustered for inspection. The gentlemen forming the Woolwich Committee, however, have behaved most liberally towards the unfortunate people, all of whom appeared very thankful for the generosity exhibited towards them. Each emigrant will be supplied with a railway ticket franking them from Quebec (the port of debarcation) to Toronto. Next week, from 150 to 200 adults will be shipped in the Henry Cook, from Liverpool, and they will be speedily followed by about a similar number in the Ion, from London. By this means the severe distress at present existing in the neighbourhood of Woolwich will be partly alleviated…”

This explains how the Trewins ended up in Toronto for the two years before heading south to resettle in New Jersey. The July 22, 1857, entry of the Intelligencer informs as to how many individuals emigrated to that point under the umbrella of the Wellington Fund Emigration Committee’s efforts. From May 24 to July 17, 1857, the total number of “souls” was 1,097. Two hundred forty-eight of them had traveled on the Ion.

So this explains the circumstances under which the Trewins came to Canada. I don’t yet know what prompted them to leave Toronto and head south to New Jersey. More on the Trewins in the next post.

Categories: Crimean War, Quebec City, Quebec, The Ion, Toronto, Ontario, Trewin, Woolwich, Greater London | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “On the Ship Ion

  1. Hi. I just came across your blog when I too was looking for information about the Ion. I’m pretty sure my family as well came across on the same ship at the same time. The reason I suspect this was that my great, great grandfather kept an advertisement for that ship, for that year. We know he emigrated in that year as well. I now have a rather poor photocopy of it. One other thing, I would suggest that it may not necessarily be the case that your family was on the ship because they had been employed at Woolwich. I’m pretty sure my family was not working at Woolwich before they emigrated. I think they just wanted a better life. Lots of their relations had already gone to the US and Canada so I think they knew things could be better. regards Mark

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    • Thanks, Mark, for stopping by my blog and sharing your thoughts. I’ll have to revisit that post. Perhaps Thomas Trewin, carpenter, was not an arsenal worker. It’s great you have an advertisement for the Ion!

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      • Hmmm, interesting! My great, great grandfather was a carpenter too! I wonder if there is some sort of connection in why they were all going on this one ship.

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      • Hmmm, interesting! My great, great grandfather was a carpenter too! He worked for a “gentleman” in Middlesex, building houses. I wonder what is going on here with all these tradesmen going on the same ship?

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      • Well, I don’t know but I do suspect work at the Arsenal is what drew my family to Greater London. They had been down in Hampshire before that. And before that they lived in Cornwall/Devon. I do think they were impacted when the war ended and work dried up.

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