Exciting Find in the Archives

A recent find in the Monastery Archives has caused a great deal of excitement!

The journal of a trading ship named ‘The Fox’ from 1773 has been discovered here at Downside, and whilst labelled as the naval journal of Thomas Dwyer, and being a wonderful account of 18th century trade, further investigation of the item has revealed it is something altogether more interesting. 

‘The Fox’ was no normal trading vessel. It was in fact highly involved in the triangular slave trade, namely transporting slaves from the west coast of Africa to the West Indies. The journal is a detailed account recording wind speeds, course changes, weather, knots and all the events which happened on board. This includes the births and deaths of slaves. The journal is also well salt stained, evidence of its trip across the globe. 

In the archives, one of our volunteers has taken on the task of transcribing the 18th century handwriting, which is no mean feat. Patrick Magee has been working on the journal for a number of weeks and its secrets are slowly being discovered. The ongoing work on the journal is yet another result of the hard work of the archive and library volunteer teams as part of our partially HLF funded Beacon of Learning Project.