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Timothy’s Journey 1819

Crown and Anchor Tavern in the Strand. A meeting place for scientists.
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Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0

09 August, The Crown and Anchor Tavern, the Strand, London

My name is Timothy Devine. I am 33 years old. I have been travelling for nearly three weeks to get here from my home Tipperary, Ireland.

God bless this wretched city. I fear my family will not survive Ireland for many more years and pray they are well in my absence with at least one less mouth to feed. The civil unrest, poor trade and blighted soil brings in waves of misery to the Irish. It being so bad on us that I thought hell is ascending to our land Now that I have finally made it to this English capital I realise that hell has surely arrived here, on these filthy streets!  I being grateful for summer, did much walking to Ireland’s east coast and across that sea to walk again but thankful for sleeping under trees  without the winter chill.

Now that I stand in the August heat waiting for the meeting, sewerage runs freely through these cobbled roads, the stench rising to the back of my throat. Breathing so difficult already here, the air thick with black dust. Such shades of dirt on these poor children wondering these roads that even there eyes have lost there shine. I cannot afford the lodgings in London, and what I have seen for the cheapest rate appears to be rows of coffins that has men waiting to rest in. Sleeping posts with just a hard bench and a rope across the chest for support. I will surely wander these streets till the meeting is done and then wander some more till sunrise with the only comfort of hope – To get my wife and four young children to the shores of Africa.

Lieutenant John Bailey, secretary to British War Claims commission will be hosting in this tavern tonight, his proposal to lead a party for Algoa Bay. For the likes of Bailey and the other well dressed gentlemen gathering, money will surely get them a berth to sail. I am a 33 year old carpenter who carries a good name and my berth will not be so easily assured. There seems to be many men here in opposition but there are at least 600 here who want to apply to the Colonial Department to emigrate. That is double the size of the party proposed.

It is time for me to press forward to get a good place inside the Crown, May Gods good grace be with my family and be with my application for our hope of a new life.

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