The First Steamer That Crossed The Atlantic.
Looking over the placid waters of our noble harbour on a
summer's morning in 1914, my gaze was focussed on the
magnificent Cunarder "Mauretania," as she gracefully and
almost silently glided out to sea for New York with her
thousand or two thousand passengers, and instantly the thought
arose abidden-"What of the Sirius,'" the shattered wreck of
which lies in Ballycotton Bay "Full many a fathom deep," a few
miles or so on the port side of the departing liner, and what
of her gallant captain, whose bones lie whitening in the
caverns of the deep, in the broad Atlantic, perhaps aye a
thousand miles from the remains of the steamship which he so
successfully navigated for the first time in maritime history
from our old city by the Lee to the land of the Stars and
Stripes, where so many of our people have found a new home.
As I will show later on Lieutenant Roberts subsequently
commanded the "President," and was lost in her with all hands.
To narrate the story of the historic Sirius" from her
cradle to her grave may possibly be of interest in view of the
marvellous developments which have taken place since she first
solved the problem of steam communication between Europe and
America, and thus attracted the attention of the maritime
world on the practicability of long ocean voyages, all the
more because, in 1836, at a meeting of the British
Association, and in a lecture on Steam Navigation, Dr.
Lardner declared as follows:-"As to the project of
establishing a steam intercourse with the United States, which
was announced in the newspapers, of making the voyage directly
to New York or Liverpool to the moon."
It is a curious fact that the result of the latter
statement was the immediate cause of sending the "Sirius"
across the Atlantic, and emanated from the suggestion of a
Corkman, Mr. James Beale, who was about that time a good deal
occupied in steam-ship business, and was also President of the
Cork School of Art and Science, and, I am glad to say, is
worthily represented in our City to-day by his newphews,
Messrs. Alfred and Henry Beale, of Adelaide Place, and also
his grand-nephews, Messrs. Charles E. Beale, William Goff
Beale and Alfred Beale, junr [junior?].
During a visit to London, and going to Blackwall in an
omnibus in company with several gentlemen, one a banker and
two members of the East India Company's Board, the above
speech of Dr. Lardner's was discussed.
In the course of the discussion he was referred to for his
opinion, and he replied that not only was it practicable, but
that if anyone would join him, he would guarantee to coal and
send out a steamer from Cork, then built, to New York, and
find a captain who should be competent to take her. He named
Lieut. [Lieutenant?] Richard Roberts, R.N. [Royal Navy?], of
Passage West, father of the late Major R. Roberts, of River
View, Glenbrook, Co. [County?] Cork, late 1st Batt.
[Battlion?] Norfolk Regt. [Regiment?], and also late Governor
of H.M. [Her Majesty's?] Prison, Cork, who kindly placed at my
disposal all the valuable and authentic records of the
Lieut. [Lieutenant?] Roberts was grandfather of Captain
Richard E. Roberts, R.E. [Royal Engineers?], at present
Recruiting Officer in Cork, and also of the late
Lieut.-Colonel [Lieutenant-Colonel?] Ivon D'Esterre Roberts,
Royal Field Artillery, who was killed in action June, 1915, at
Gallipoli, Dardanelles, while in command of the "Anson" Royal
His project was agreed to, and he chartered the "Sirius"
from the St. [Saint?] George Steam Packet Co. [Company?], and
Captain Roberts was appointed her captain. Thus we see beyond
doubt that a Corkman originated the idea, a steamer registered
in Ireland made the memorable voyage, and a Corkman navigated
her to New York, which we see from time to time that the
honour belongs to other ships and other ports.
The "Sirius" was built in 1837 for the Saint George Company
by Messrs. Robert Menzies & [and?] Son, of Leith, the
machinery being supplied by Messrs. J. Wingate & [and?] Co.
[Company?], of Glasgow. Her cylinders were 60 inches in
diameter, and the pistons had a stroke of six feet. She was
fitted with Hall's patent condensers, and used only fresh
water in her boilers. She had two masts and one funnel, with
a dog figurehead, holding between the forepaws a star,
representing the dog star Sirius, after which she was named.
She arrived in Cork 9th August, 1837, and cost 27,000, and
was placed on the London line, under the command of Lieutenant
Roger Langlands, R.N. [Royal Navy?].
The "Sirius" when fully loaded drew fifteen feet of water,
the depth of the river at that time not being sufficient
(during neap tides) to permit the vessel to take a full cargo
on board, and the St. [Saint?] George Company had an iron
lighter called the "Kate," in which portion of the cargo was
placed and towed to Horsehead by the "Sirius," at which place
it was transhipped into the latter vessel.
On the 28th March, 1838, she hauled out of the London Dock,
and sailed from the Eastlane Stairs under the command of
Captain Roberts, and proceeded to Cork Harbour, steaming up to
Passage Quay to embark her passengers for New York, and at 10
a.m. on the 4th April, 1838, Captain Roberts announced, by
firing a gun, that all was ready for starting.
The "Ocean," which arrived the day before with passengers
for her, lay alongside, and the latter vessel sheered off, and
both vessels got under way. As the "Sirius" passed down the
river she was cheered loudly by the thousands of people who
lined the shores, and the battery at Rocky Lodge, Monkstown
(then the residence of Mr. John Galwey), fired a salute. The
"Ocean," with Mr. Jos. [Joseph?] R. Pim, one of the Directors
of the Saint George Co., Mr. James Beale, and
Mr. Geo. [George?] Laird, on board, proceeded to the harbour's
mouth. Then the two steamers saluted by dipping their flags,
and the "Sirius" stood her course for the New World
majestically, and was watched with keen interest until she
finally disappeared on the waste of waters, between two
continents, hitherto untracked from shore to shore by any
The particulars of registry, and also a list of the crew on
this historic voyage, are as under, which have been supplied
to me by one the Registrar General of Shipping, London.
"General Register and Record Office of Shipping and Seamen,
Carlisle Place, Westminster, S.W.,
Sir-In reply to your letter of the 8th inst., I enclose
herewith a copy of the original register of the ss. [steam
ship?] "Sirius," of Dublin, No.33, in 1837, also a copy of the
crew list of the vessel for the voyage covering April, 1838.
I may add that it is not clear, from the list of crew, whether
the stewardess made the voyage, or failed to join.
I am, Sir, your obedient Servant,
Henry N. Malan, Registrar General."
No.33, 1837. Certificate of British Registry.
Cancelled and registered de novo at Cork, 21 June, 1844,
This is to certify, that in pursuance of an Act passed in
the fourth year of the reign of King William the Fourth,
intituled [entitled?], "An Act for the Resigtering of British
Vessels," Joseph Robinson Pim, of Oakfield, in the County of
Chester; Paul Twigg, of Hartfield House, in the County of
Dublin, and Jonathan Pim, of Bloomsbury, in said County of
Dublin, merchants, having made and subscribed the declaration
required by law, and having declared that they, together with
William Heap Hutchinson, of Liverpool, in the County of
Lancaster, merchants, being the five trustees duly elected and
appointed, and the other persons or members associated as a
Joint Stock Company by Deed of Trust bearing date 20th
September, 1833, in the name of The Saint George Steam Packet
Company are sole owners (in proportions specified on the back
hereof) of the ship or vessel called the "Sirius," of Dublin,
which is of the burthen of four hundred and twelve tons, and
whereof Roger Langlands is master, and that the said ship or
vessel was built in the year one thousand eight hundred and
thirty-seven at Leith, as appears by the 1st July, 1837. And
William Brown, Tide Surveyor, Port of Leith, having certified
to us that the said ship or vessel has one deck and two masts,
and that her length from the inner part of the main stem to
the fore part of the stern post aloft is one hundred and
seventy-eight feet four-tenths, her breadth in midships is
twenty-five feet eight-tenths, her depth in hold at midships
is eighteen feet three-tenths, that she is a schooner rigged,
with a standing bowsprit; is square-sterned carvel built; has
mock quarter galleries, and dog figurehead; and that she is
propelled by steam, with an engine room fifty-seven feet in
length and two hundred and ninety-one tons; and the said
subscribing owners having consented and agreed to the above
description, and having caused sufficient security to be
given, as required by law, the said ship or vessel called the
"Sirius" has been duly registered at the port of Dublin.
Certified under our hands, at the Custom House, in the said
port of Dublin, this eighth day of August in the year one
thousand eight hundred and thirty-seven.
W. PALGRAVE, Collector.
J. McCASKY, Comptroller.
Tonnage under 3rd and 4th William IV., cap.55, 450 44/94
Names of several owners within mentioned:-Joseph Robinson
Pim, Paul Twigg, Jonathan Pim, William Heap Hutchinson, and
James Hutchinson, being the five trustees duly elected and
appointed, and other persons or members associated as a Joint
Stock Company by Deed of Trust dated 20th September, 1833, in
the name of The Saint George Steam Packet Company.
Number of sixty-fourth shares held by each owner-
W. PALGRAVE, Collector.
J. McCasky, Comptroller.
I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true copy of the
Original Registry of the Ship "Sirius," of the port of Dublin,
Number 33, in 1837, as taken from the records now in my
HENRY N. MALAN,
General Register and Record Office of Shipping and Seamen,
Carlisle Place, Westminster, S.W.,
11th January, 1906.
Name of the persons on the list of crew of the "Sirius," of
Dublin, 412 tons, for the voyage which commenced at Cork on
the 31st March, 1838, and terminated in London about the 23rd
Richard Roberts master Dennis Donoghoo fireman
John Dudley first mate Benjamin McCulloch boy
George Briggs second mate Margaret Linch stewardess
Francis Whittaker third mate John Driscoll seaman
Richard Jones boatswain John Mahoney seaman
John Lambert first engineer Robert Tuttle seaman
William Denning second engineer Charles Frazer seaman
Charles Brown fireman Joseph Lancaster seaman
James Douglas fireman John Wheaton seaman
John MacCue fireman William Penahy seaman
John Mahoney fireman James Smith seaman
Simon Atkin fireman George Ratley first steward
Richard Paton fireman Joseph Sidler seaman
John Keating fireman John Callaghan second steward
Cornelius Connell fireman Michael Shuane third steward
Jer. [Jermey?] Harvey fireman William Williams attendant
Michael Regan fireman William Adams cook
James Ryan fireman George Julian second cook
James Henly fireman Alexander Callaghan boy
The following is an abstract of her Log, which gives full
particulars of the voyage:-
4th April-From noon to midnight 85 knots; course W.N.W.
[West-North-West?]; light and clear weather.
5th April-135 knots, fresh breeze, and cloudy; head sea at
noon; strong breeze; pressure on boiler 5 3/4lb.; at midnight
6th April-Fresh gale, wind W. [West?] by N. [North?]; 106
knots; midnight, strong breeze and squally weather.
7th April-Storm and gale; passed a large ship steering to
the eastward, under close-reefed topsails; ran 140 knots in
the twwnty-four hours; very high sea, split foresail.
8th April-85 knots, fresh breeze, head wind with rain; used
rosin with the ashes for the engines, as it made them burn
better, and cleaned the chimney; wind N.W. [North-west?] by N.
9th April-136 knots, fresh breeze, head wind; 4 p.m. gale,
with heavy sea.
10th April-95 knots, fresh gale and squalls, rain and heavy
head sea, wind W.S.W. [West-South-West?]; spoke the ship
"Star," of New York.
11th April-165 knots, heavy gale and great swell, wind
N.E. [North-east?]; burned rosin with ashes and small coal.
12th April-190 knots, light wind and cloudy weather; 5lb.
pressure, water in boiler quite fresh; hove for an hour to
fasten floats and pack stffing boxes.
13th April-220 knots, wind variable from midnight to 3
a.m.; at 6 a.m. spoke the "Roger Sherman," of Bath, under
American colours, thirty-six days out from New Orleans, bound
to Harve; at 7 a.m. hoisted colours to one of the Falmouth
packets, bound to Halifax; three sail in sight.
14th April-200 knots, light breeze and cloudy weather, wind
S. [South?]; weighed one ton of coal, which burned one hour
and fifteen minutes; lat. 44 3', long. 42 9'; observed a
change in the colour of water.
15th April-205 knots, mild and cloudy; one ton of coal
burned in one hour and fifteen minutes; wind southerly, great
quantity of birds insight; at 3 p.m. cloudy, with strong
minutes; at 9 p.m. stopped engine quarter of an hour, owing to
square sail flying to leeward; at 11 p.m. taken aback with
fresh gale, very dark and foggy weather, shortened sail,
thermometer fell ten degrees.
16th April-195 knots, fresh gale and sea heavy, with rain,
sea rising at midnight; stopped engines for three-quarters of
an hour to fasten screws of eccentric.
17th April-112 knots, heavy gale, with sleet and snow;
pressure of steam 5lb.; at noon, fresh gale, with heavy sea
18th April-126 knots, wind W.N.W. [West-North-West?];
strong breeze, with squalls; average of engine thermometer, 26
19th April, 145 knots, burned a good deal of rosin, wind
20th April-180 knots; in the morning wind S. [South?], in
the afternoon, W. [West?]; violent rain; at ten minutes past
one p.m. spoke H.M.S. [Her Majesty's Ship?] "Cornwallis,"
seventy-four guns, Captain Richard Grant, with the 11th
Regiment for Bermuda; parted company 2 p.m.
21st April-195 knots, light wind and fair weather;
exchanged signals with an American vessel.
22nd April-To 10 p.m. 267 knots, light breeze and fine
weather; observed the high lands of Narranganest, at 8 p.m.
slowed the engines; at 9 p.m. fired signals for pilot; then
hove to for pilot, and anchored off the Battery at 10 p.m.
(The eve of St. George's Day.).
Total knots, 2,897, averaging 161 knots per day; highest
220, lowest 85.
The total amount of coal consumed was 450 tons, and the
engines made 15 revolutions per minute (The "Mauretania"
consumes on a similar voyage 6,600 tons, equal to 22 trains of
30 trucks, each containing 10 tons.).
EXTRACT FROM CAPT. ROBERTS' JOURNAL OF VOYAGE.
The "Sirius" started from Passage, port of Cork, on 3rd
April at 10.30 a.m., in company with the "Ocean," another
splendid steamer of the Saint George Steam Packet Co.
[Company?]. On leaving Passage, about seven miles below Cork,
we were loudly cheered by the inhabitants, together with the
most respectable families in Cork, who had assembled with warm
hearts and handsome faces (the ladies I mean) to witness our
departure and wish us success on our passage to our
translantic brethren. Most of the gentlemen interested in our
vessel proceeded with us as far as the Cove of Cork, where we
stopped to let the "Ocean" come alongside to take the above
gentlemen out, which having been done, with three hearty
cheers and many heartier wishes, we gallantly bent our way for
We had now on board 450 tons coal, 20 tons water, and 58
casks resin, besides an incalculable stock of other stores,
all of which I beg to be understood (with the exception of 90
tons of coal) was over and above what she was ever intended to
carry as a dead weight, add to which her having 22 tons of
water on deck, and you may form some conjecture as to her
probable fate had she not been an admirable sea boat and in
every respect qualified for the most dangerous weather, as
well as her being one of the fastest boats out of London, in
proof of which assertion I quote our unprecedented run from
London to Cork in 50 hours and 30 minutes, a distance of 650
or 660 miles, but as we started from off the Nore, say 600,
which will give an average of twelve knots an hour.
Our jibboom was out the whole of the passage, and only on
one occasion did we house our topmasts, yet, strange to say,
she has not strained a rope-yarn.
I beg to say that the "Sirius" is to be followed by the
"British Queen," as noble a piece a naval architecture as ever
floated on the bosom of Neptune's watery domain. The said
vessel is about 1,834 tons, and will be of 500 horse power.
The engines alone will cost 30,000, and I should say
altogether her cost will not fall short of 120,000 when ready
for sea. This as it deserves to do, is the prayer of a
sincere well-wisher to the British and American Steam
Navigation Co. [Company?].
It really appeared to me as if Providence smiled
propitiously on our voyage, as we passed through, or, I may
say, under, as it appeared to us, on the three last days of
our voyage, three of the most splendid arches (I may say
triumphal) I have ever witnessed, extending from north to
south about six miles, the centre hanging immediately over our
tracks, the sun going down clear resplendent. The dark, thick
clouds hanging in our rear like an impenetrable mass, tinged
along the margin by other clouds of a snowy whiteness, formed
a most beautiful sight, such as the mind of man cannot truly
imagine unless he had previously seen it.
LIEUT. [Lieutenant?] RICHARD ROBERTS, R.N. [Royal Navy?],
JOHN DUDLEY, Chief Officer.
G. T. BRIGGS, R.N. [Royal Navy?], Second Officer.
F. A. WHITTAKER, H.C.M., R.N. [Royal Navy?], Third
She carried 40 passengers, viz., first cabin, 5 ladies, 6
gentlemen; second cabin, 5 ladies, 3 gentlemen; steerage, 1
lady, 20 gentlemen. Total passengers, 11 ladies, 29
gentlemen. The only surviving passenger is the
Rev. T. Ransome, Rector of Compton Bassett, Wilts, who, when
four years old, crossed the Atlantic on this memorable voyage,
together with his father (who was proceeding to quell the
Lower Canada Rebellion), sister, and brother. Mr. Davenport
and his daughter, actor and actress, were also amongst the
passengers. The saloon fare was 35 guineas (the same as the
sailing ships); second cabin, 20 guineas; and steerage, 8
The agents in New York were Messrs. Wadsworth & Smith, 4
Jones Lane, near 103 Front Street.
Her arrival caused great excitement, and the newspapers
gave her the greatest prominence; for instance, the Herald
announced as follows:-
"THE SIRIUS! THE SIRIUS! THE SIRIUS!"
"Nothing is talked of in New York but about this "Sirius."
She is the first steam vessel that has arrived here from
England, and a glorious boat she is. Every merchant in New
York went on board her yesterday. Lieut. [Lieutenant?]
Roberts, R.N. [Royal Navy?], is the first man that ever
navigated a steamship from Europe to America.
And, again, the New York Daily Express of 25th April, 1838,
gives the following account of the visit to the "Sirius" of
the Corporation of New York, Tuesday, 24th April, 1838:-
"THE VISIT OF THE CORPORATION TO THE 'SIRIUS'-
A BEAUTIFUL SPECTACLE."
"The Mayor of the City, the Boards of Aldermen and
assistants, according top previous announcements, embarked
yesterday afternoon about half-past one o'clock in barges,
escorted by a fleet of other barges belonging to the Navy
Yard, under the direction of Capt. [Captain?] Stringer of the
Navy, all bearing the American flag, and arranged in beautiful
order in the river, making one of the most delightful pictures
ever seen from the city. About the same time a large number
of citizens, some two or three hundred invited guests, put off
from the North River, all for the purpose of doing honour to
the steamship 'Sirius,' her captain and crew, and for
celebrating the great event in our harbour. The 'Sirius' was
dressed out in flags and pennants, the United States' Flag
being on one mast and the British flag on the other. The band
on board the 'Sirius' played 'Hail Columbia.' After the
Corporation and several of the officers of the army and navy
were put on board the sides and from all parties, the guests
were admitted, and immediately the cabin, as well as the
quarter deck, were thronged by the crowd who had assembled for
"The gallant Commander, Captain Roberts, was seated at the
table in the cabin, with the Mayor on his right and Alderman
Hoxie, the Chairman of the Corporation Committee appointed on
the occasion, on his left. Capt. Hoskin, of the
'Great Western' (Arrived the day after the "Sirius," viz., 2
p.m., 23rd April, 1838.) the British Consul, and several other
gentlemen being at the table. The cabin of the 'Sirius' was
by no means fitted for such a welcome as the Corporation of
the City wished to give Capt. Roberts, nor for such a welcome
as the Captain wished to his honoured guests, but the cheer
was abundant on the heavily-laden table, and the wines soon
made the compact crowd so happy that they forgot the pressure
to which they were subjected. All tongues were soon in motion
in commemoration of the great event.
"Alderman Hoxie, after calling for order, congratulated
Captain Roberts on his safe arrival here, and in the name of
the great city of the New World, welcomed the gallant
adventurer from the Old. What was a matter of experiment, he
remarked, it was reserved for the great good fortune and for
the high fame of the gallant Captain to prove to be a fact.
Though another had the honour of discovering the New World,
yet that New World for centuries had been approached only by
canvas filled with the varying winds; or if otherwise, but
cautiously and timidly by some trembling steamer whose arrival
and departure had not been a matter of great note. Yet
certainly to the 'Sirius,' to her gallant Commander and
gallant crew, was reserved the fame of first shooting boldly
from Europe over the broad Atlantic in defiance of winds and
waves, and in first bringing into our city the flag of Great
Britain upborne on the masts of a steamship, to wave side by
side with the Stars and Stripes of our states. The Hudson
river surely had never before seen such a sight. Here was a
steamship from England, and there were steamboats from Albany
and Providence and New Haven.
"He looked upon this, therefore, as a great event. He
awarded, in the name of the city, to her gallant Captain and
her gallant crew the high favour of creating a new era. If it
did nor bear his name over the world with the imperishable
lustre of the great discover of America, it gave him a name
among the great benefactors of mankind. It ranked him with
Fulton of America, and that was an honour enough for any man
to bear. I purpose, said the Alderman, in conclusion, the
health of the gallant Captain and crew of the 'Sirius.'
"This toast was drunk standing, and was received with
deafening cheers. When the applause subsided, Captain
Roberts, who, by the way, is a British sailor every inch of
him, and who therefore does not set up for an orator any more
than our own Jack Tars, returned his heartiest thanks in a few
pithy words: 'I am a happy man,' said he, his face all glowing
with joy and cheerfulness. 'This is an honour I could hardly
ever dream of getting. Thanks to you great city, thanks to
the distinguished gentlemen who have given it, thanks to you
all, gentlemen. If I could live a thousand years, I would
give them all up for the honour of this day. It is the
happiest hour of my life; I am the proudest man in the world.'
"All this was said with so much sailor enthusiasm and
hearty goodwill, that it was one of the most eloquent speeches
ever heard. The applause from all sides was most hearty.
Captain Roberts concluded his remarks with the following
sentiment, which was responded to with nine cheers-'The City
of New York and its worthy Chief Magistrate.'
"His Honor the Mayor then rose and electrified the whole
assembly with a brief and very eloquent address, but of little
of which we have room to report. Amongst his observations he
remarked to the Captain that this favoured and enterprising
city hailed his successful effort with great joy. 'We feel,'
said he, 'a deep interest in your success, and this is fully
proved by the many anxious and enthusiastic Americans who
greet you on this occasion. We welcome you to our country
with all our hearts. As you are a stranger amongst us, allow
me to tell you that here you will find a people proud to
congratulate you on your noble triumph. The memory of Fulton
is dear to the country, and were he now present he would
rejoice to join with us to do honour to the authors of this
splendid achievement. The far-sighted mind of that
illustrious man fondly anticipated this very hour-this hour
when two mighty continents would be brought near to each othr
by the magic power of steam, and when the war of the elements
would cease to interpose invincible obstacles to speedy
intercommunication. We do not envy your prosperity-we glory
in it, and we emulate it. The genius of our citizens is
adequate to any purpose, and their industry and perseverance
are commensurate with the unlimited means of accomplishment.
Although we received from Old England early and useful
information upon the application of steam, we soon extended
the value of her discoveries, and she in turn has continued to
astonish the world by new developments. We are now
banquetting within the last of the wonders that has crowned
her labours. Although we yield not to any nation the palm of
exclusive renown upon this subject, we do not hesitate to give
you that high meed of praise so justly your due. On behalf of
our favourite metropolis, we bid you welcome, thrice welcome,
to New York. You offer to us a new course of prosperity, and
be well assured that whatever you leave the green hills and
the white cliffs of Britain for the fertile and romantic
shores of this vast Republic, you come to a land and a nation
that knows how to appreciate your work-to one where your
person and your rights, in common with our own, will be
acknowledged and protected-and to a people whose hospitality,
whose sympathy, whose love of justice and respect for the
laws, is surpassed by none other. Though you have for the
first time crossed the broad sea as an explorer in a new way,
yet you have found a great nation already in being, of the
same stock as your own, with the same language you left at
home, and a people of true English hospitality, who will be
happy to encourage you to repeat your visit as often as you
please. Indeed, sir, it is enough merit the just compliment
we all pay when we say you have elevated the high character of
England and given hope of new and higher destiny to America.
The following also appeared in the New York Weekly Herald
of Saturday, 28th April, 1838:-
"Capt. [Captain?] Roberts, of the "Sirius," was spoken of
in most complimentary terms by the ladies, his passengers.
They should, they said, have been dreadfully alarmed by the
bad weather, but they felt quite safe under Capt. [Captain?]
Roberts' care. In short, nothing could have been more
satisfactory for all purposes than the expedition, and we
trust it will redound to the permanent profit, as it certainly
does to the enterprise, of all concerned."
The "Sirius" sailed from New York on the homeward voyage on
the 1st May, and on her departure thousands of people
assembled on the wharfs to wish her a prosperous passage, the
Battery saluting with 17 guns, a mark of respect seldom or
never before to any merchant vessel.
She arrived at Falmouth at 8 p.m. on the 18th May, after a
boisterous passage, the prevailing winds being S.E.
[South-east?] to N.E. [North-east?], and proceeded to London
same day, where she duly arrived all well.
The following were her daily performances in miles:-153,
193, 155, 90, 106, 131, 158, 180, 225, 220, 176, 156, 172,
181, 200, 227, and 199 to Scilly.
On the 16th she spoke the "Tyrian," sailing packet, for
Halifax, and brought in her mails to Falmouth.
Capt. Roberts was presented with the following
interesting address from the passengers on arrival:-
"Steam Ship 'Sirius,'
May 19th, 1838.
The undersigned passengers in the steamer 'Sirius,' from
New York to London, beg leave, before parting, to express
their sense of the merits and high capabilities of Lieutenant
Roberts, R.N. [Royal Navy?], Commander, during the first
voyage by steam ever made across the Atlantic. The estimation
of his gentlemanly attentions, skill, and seamanship is
enhanced from the fact of experiencing nearly a succession of
contrary winds during the whole passage, with the slight
exception of a few days.
In the present infant state of Atlantic steam navigation
the undersigned cannot forbear expressing their decided
conviction of its security and speed, far outstripping any
mode of conveyance hitherto known, and from the facts coming
within their knowledge, they have no doubt of the complete
solution of the problem hitherto propounded respecting the
practicability of Atlantic steam navigation.
Henry Wikoff H. E. E. Vernon Graham, Col. [Colonel?]
James G. Bennett Yn. Schopfer
Joseph R. Walker Tyrell Moore
B. G. Schmidt Jep. Robcot
Thomas W. Wright Paul Glasgood, of Brookville, Upper
Edward M. Davies Canada.
On his return to Cork Captain Roberts wrote to his agents
in New York, advising them of his successful voyage home, and
that he expected to arrive again at New York about September
in the "British Queen" (to which steamer he was just
appointed), and stated she was the most handsome manner by the
citizens of Cork, who were about to present him with a service
of silver value 200, the Corporation with an address and
freedom of the city, in a silver box, and the town of Passage
(where he was living) a large salver.
Accordingly, we find in the Cork Constitution of 14th June,
1838, the following notice:-
"The Right Worshipful John Bagnell, Esq., Mayor. The
Freemen at Large are requested to take notice that a Court of
D'Oyer Hundred will be held in and for the County of the City
of Cork, at the Court House thereof, on Wednesday, the 20th
June, inst., at 12 o'clock, to read and consider an Order of
Council for granting the freedom at large of this City to
Lieutenant Richard Roberts, R.N. [Royal Navy?], and presenting
him with a certificate thereof in a silver box, with a
suitable address, in reference to his recent voyage in command
of the 'Sirius' Steam Ship."
In due course the presentation was made, the arms of the
city being elegantly engraved on the box (Lt. [Lieutenant?]
Roberts was also presented with the Freedom of the City of
London in a gold casket, which unfortunately was lost with him
in the "President.").
Our late President, the late Mr. Robert Day, in Journal
Oct.-Dec., 1899, described the casket as follows:-
"The casket measures 4 inches in length and two
three-quarters inches wide. It is of English manufacture,
with the town mark, and forms a projecting rim for the City
Arms and civic emblems which are engraved upon it.
These latter are the Maces, Sword and Oar. The treatment
of the Arms is unusual; the ship, instead of entering the
harbour, is shown outward bound, and has the house flag of the
old St. George Company floating from her stern. The
underneath part of the box is engine turned, and the sides,
which swell towards the base, are richly chased in high relief
with clusters of flowers and roses. The inside is fire gilt,
and has the following inscription engraved on the cover:-
'Presented by the Corporation of Cork, with a certificate
of the grant of the freedom of that City, to Lieutenant
Roberts, R.N. [Royal Navy?], Commander of the "Sirius," in the
accomplishment of the first voyage made by a steampacket from
the European coast to the American coast.
John Bagnell, Mayor.
Robert Vincent and Geo. [George?] Forster Sadlier, Sheriffs.
George Newsom, Common Speaker.
Julius C. Besnard, Town Clerk.'
This was probably the last box presented by the old
Corporation, as they ceased to exist in 1842."
The address is surrounded by an elaborate and rich
arabesque border of scrolls interwined, and corners ornamented
by shells and dolphin. The headpiece contains the City Arms,
with the very appropriate motto, "Statio Bene Fida Carinis."
The effect is heightened by irradiations in all directions, as
from a central point. With the city arms blended the
municipal regalia, consisting of fasces, collar of SS, maces
with imperial crown, the sword of Justice, silver oar, and
other symbols of civil government. The tailpiece is designed
to illustrate the address. In the centre (on a rugged rock)
sits old Ocean, in an appropriate attitude, with a venerable
beard, his hair entwined with sea weeds, reclining on a water
urn, and holding a classic helm. On the right of the figure
are allegorical emblems of the United Kingdom, the Imperial
Arms on a shield, the Union Jack, harp, etc., with appropriate
representations of Trade, Manufacture, and Commerce, such as
sailing vessels and steamers, bale of merchandize
[merchandise?], etc. On the other side, separated by Ocean
from the figures which represent England, an emblem of the
United States, the Eagle with the Arms of America with a
shield on its breast, the Vine, indicative of the timber
trade, and various objects having reference to American
commerce, under the national flag of that enterprising
people. In the centre of the lower border are introduced the
arms, crest and motto of Lt. [Lieutenant?] Roberts. The
address is signed by the Town Clerk, J. C. Besnard, under
whose direction it was executed, and is sealed with the
ancient Corporate seal.
Although the address presents the appearance of a very
beautiful line engraving, the entire was executed with a
common pen and ink by an ingenious artist of this city, Mr.
James McDaniel. He was a gifted musician, a clever
caricaturist, and excellent pen and ink artist. His son
Daniel was a portrait painter on the Parade. Shortly after he
settled in London, and died there of fever.