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Robert Wilson Diary On Board the Ship Parsee, 1874: Finding Aid

Published in March 2019

Summary Information

  • Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
  • Publisher Address:
    589 McNair Road
    Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
    Phone: 410-293-6917
    https://www.usna.edu/Library/sca/index.php
  • Call number: MS 486
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Robert Wilson Diary On Board the Ship Parsee
  • Dates: 1874
  • Size: 0.02 linear feet (1 folder)
  • Creator: Wilson, Robert, 1851-
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract: Robert Wilson was a blacksmith and the seventh mayor of Winton, New Zealand. The Robert Wilson Diary On Board the Ship Parsee, comprising a photocopy typescript, spans from June 10, 1874 through September 4, 1874. The diary was written by Wilson on his journey from Scotland to Dunedin, New Zealand, and offers insights into life aboard a late nineteenth century passenger vessel.

Biography of Robert Wilson

Robert Wilson was born in Midlothian, Scotland in 1851. Wilson was educated at Tranent Parish School in Haddingtonshire and learned blacksmithing from William Kirkwood. In 1874, he emigrated from Scotland to New Zealand, traveling aboard the ship Parsee. Upon arriving in Dunedin, New Zealand, Wilson was employed by the Morgan and McGregor foundry where, among other projects, he worked on the construction of the boilers for S.S. Comerang. Wilson later practiced as a blacksmith in Winton, New Zealand where he eventually served as the town's seventh mayor.

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Description of Contents

The Robert Wilson Diary On Board the Ship Parsee, comprising a photocopy typescript, spans from June 10, 1874 through September 4, 1874. The diary was written by Wilson on his journey from Scotland to Dunedin, New Zealand, and offers insights into life aboard a late nineteenth century passenger vessel.

Included with the diary are four poems and a map plotting the course of the Parsee.

The entries within the Robert Wilson Diary, written daily, are arranged chronologically. Throughout the diary, Wilson offers observations on topics such as the ship's daily progress, shipboard food and mess arrangements, social life and recreation (such as music and dancing), sightings of other vessels, sightings of birds and marine life, the ravages of sea sickness, religious obligations, deaths from shipboard disease (especially measles), the heat of traveling through the tropics, frigid weather of the Southern Hemisphere, and Wilson's shipboard work as a blacksmith. Specific events noted by Wilson include a description of the scouring and delousing process (June 19); attempts by the ship's captain and crew to keep the men and women aboard segregated (June 20); the death of a young passenger and subsequent description of burial at sea (June 26); the ship's Doctor performing an operation on a passenger (July 2); drunken threats from a Scotsman named McKenzie against various passengers (July 11); questions over the ship's doctor's competency following the death of a young woman (July 23); details of the nature of sailing through rolling seas (August 21-22); the rescue of a man overboard (August 26); and arrival at Dunedin, New Zealand (September 4). Following the entry of September 4, Wilson offers his thoughts on the captain and crew of the Parsee.

The diary closes with several poems by Wilson, entitled "Do They Miss Me at Home," "On Leaving Home," and "To John Weir, a Talking Machine on the 'Parsee'," as well as one poem by one of the Parsee's sailors entitled "In Memory of Mary Muir Who Died at Sea on Board the 'Parsee' on the 23 of July, 1874."

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Arrangement

The entries within the Robert Wilson Diary On Board the Ship Parsee are arranged chronologically.

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Access and Use

Access

Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

The Robert Wilson Diary On Board the Ship Parsee is the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.

It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information.

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Acquisition and Appraisal

Provenance and Acquisition

Gift of Michael Patrick Wilson in August 1980.

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Related Materials

Location of Originals

The disposition of the original of Robert Wilson's diary is unknown.

Related Archival Material

There are no other known collections of papers of Robert Wilson.

Materials Cataloged Separately

No materials have been removed from this collection and cataloged separately.

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Robert Wilson Diary On Board the Ship Parsee, MS 486

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Selected Bibliography

The following sources were consulted during preparation of the biographical note:

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand. Dunedin, N.Z.: Colonial CD Books, 2007.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in March 2019. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in March 2019.

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Subject Headings

These materials have been indexed in the Naval Academy Library online catalog using the following terms. Those seeking related materials should search under these terms.

Name and Subject Terms

  • Parsee (Ship)
  • Seafaring life
  • Voyages and travels
  • Wilson, Robert, 1851-

Genre Terms

  • Diaries
  • Manuscripts
  • Poems
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Robert Wilson Diary On Board the Ship Parsee, 1874 June 10-September 4

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