Head of Collections Nick Booth shares some of the more interesting - and unexpected - names found in passenger and crew records.
During the SS Great Britain’s 40+ years as a passenger and cargo ship, she carried an estimated 40,000 passengers and crew to places such as USA, Australia, India and the Crimea. At present, we have just over 33,000 names on our online database, Global Stories, and we are working to add more as we gather information.
With so many names on the database, there are bound to be a few which catch the eye, so here are my current favorites that I'd like to share with you.
Euphemia Menzies and lots of family, 1853
The Global Stories database allows us to link people with others who appear to be travelling with them, either as a family or companion. People are linked in this way because they are travelling on the same numbered ticket – although we are assuming that they knew each other, it seems reasonable to do so. I was recently creating groups for Voyage 10 out to Australia (1853) when I found the Menzies family, James (aged 53) and Euphemia (44) and their 10 children, aged 21 to 4 years old. There appear to be two 4-year olds, Emily and Amelia, so they could possibly be twins. See the whole family.
James Bond, 1852
In what we can only imagine was a long-term undercover role for the secret agent, James Bond was a crew member on the SS Great Britain bound for Australia in 1852. This particular Bond was a steward on the first trip to Melbourne, Voyage 9 (sadly not Voyage 007), and was born in Coventry. See his voyage.
Julius Ceasar, 1863
Yes, that’s right, THE Julius Caesar (the 19th-century Surrey County Cricket all-rounder, who else?) travelled on board the SS Great Britain. He voyaged to Australia in 1863 as part of the second All-England Cricket team to tour there – the first had travelled there in 1861 on board the ship. Find out more Julius Caesar's journey.
A Bonjour, 1869
The SS Great Britain’s passenger lists record people as either English (this includes Welsh), Scottish, Irish or ‘Other Parts’. We think this gentleman from ‘Other Parts’ and travelling from Melbourne to Liverpool in 1869 approached the crew member taking names and simply said "hello" in his native tongue... See more on Global Stories.
Alice Cooper, 1858
Travelling at the tender age of five on Voyage 16, 1858, we can only assume this wasn't the shock rocker we know today making their way to Melbourne. What we do know about this passenger, however, is that she travelled with her parents Vituria and Edward, along with her 11-year old brother, Herbert. This name pops up once more in the records on Voyage 20, just over two years later, returning to Liverpool from Melbourne. As this second entry for Alice Cooper is aged seven, we would guess that this is indeed the same Alice, although this record does not list her family; whether this was a clerical omission or a rather more sad story, we may never know. Discover her voyage.
John Farmer, 1872
Fans of nominative determinism should hopefully enjoy the fact that the Irishman John Farmer, a farmer, travelled out to Australia on the SS Great Britain. He arrived in Melbourne on 21 February, 1872, shaking off his sea legs after 67 days at sea and probably looking forward to some good, wholesome farming. See his voyage.
Betsey Booth, 1860
It seems the ship was never lucky enough to carry on board a ‘Nick Booth’ during its service life. However, a Betsey Booth did voyage from Melbourne to Liverpool in 1860, and I think the name has a nice ring to it! Find her on Global Stories.
Author: Nick Booth, Head of Collections
To discover more interesting stories and voyages from the ship's history, visit Global Stories.