I can't find a passenger list for the 1738 voyage of the Princess Augusta
, which sailed from Rotterdam, Holland, and wrecked in December of that year on Block Island, RI. What happens to passenger lists of ships that never reach their final destination?A
Passenger lists weren’t common until after 1820, when the United States passed a law requiring them, so it's likely one didn’t exist in the first place. After 1820, lists were created at the port of departure as passengers obtained tickets. The lists traveled with the captain to the arrival port, where immigration officials matched up names on the list with passengers coming off the boat. If the ship went under, the list probably did, too. (For help finding other records of pre-1820 passengers, see the July 2007 Family Tree Magazine
and the Web Extra
You may be able to learn something about who was on the Princess Augusta
, though. The wreck is the basis for John Greenleaf Whittier's poem called The Palatine
(so-called because the ship carried many people from the Palatinate region), published in The Atlantic Monthly
According to a Boston-based news site
, surviving Princess Augusta
crew members testified in a deposition that during the voyage, “provisions were scarce, half the crew had died, and others were hobbled by the extreme cold.” After the ship ran aground in a snowstorm, its captain, Andrew Brook, encouraged those on board to take what they could.
The deposition was reprinted in 1939 by E.L. Freeman Co. The short book is called Depositions of officers of the Palatine ship "Princess Augusta": wrecked on Block Island, 27th December, 1738 and which was apparently the "Palatine" of Whittier's poem
. You can find it at large libraries (try to borrow it through interlibrary loan of yours doesn’t have it).
You also may find more information in articles such as "The Emigration Season of 1738—Year of the Destroying Angels,"
in The Report, A Journal of German-American History
, volume 40 (1986), from the Society of the History of the Germans in Maryland
grew out of the incident. According to one, Block Island residents nursed rescued passengers back to health; the second says islanders lured the ship onto the shoals with false lights for the purpose of pillaging it, then set it afire. Supposedly, apparitions of a burning Princess Augusta haunt the island today.