Gone Ashore at Own Request

Week 2 of Writing the Family Saga was under the theme of ‘Speaking, Thinking, Overhearing’.  It was to be a piece of fiction and was to try and show what the characters were like rather than telling.  I chose to write about James Shingles and his mother Sarah Shingles nee Carmen and how it may have been when James decided to immigrate to Australia in 1849.

Gone Ashore at Own Request

“Ma, I don wanna be a baker anymore” sixteen year old James said determinedly.

“Ave ya talked to ya da?” she replied distractingly.

“I ave tried many a time but he just thinks I’m joking.  I ain’t though Ma.  I’ve had enough of working all night, sloshing round buckets of brewer’s yeast and haulin sacks of flour I can barely lift”.

Acknowledging the frustration in his voice, Sarah turned all her concentration on her youngest son as he continued to prattle on about how bad it was being a baker. She wasn’t really surprised by his declaration.  He had always been different from his father and older brothers; more inquisitive and adventurous.

“I suppose ya gotta plan then?”

James look sheepishly at his mother.  She knew him so well. “A mates got me a job as crew on a ship goin to Australia” he replied excitedly “I sail next week”.

“Oh James, ya swear to me ya gonna come back.”

“Ah Ma, I promise.  I just wanna see some of the world. Try somethin’ else” James solemnly pledged.

“I’ll be back before ya know it Ma” reassured James a week later as he said his goodbyes on the wharf before boarding the barque ‘Saxon’.

“Be careful an always remember I love ya”, Sarah managed through a constant stream of tears running down her face. Knowing deep down in her heart that she would show no surprise that on arrival in Melbourne, James was listed as ‘Gone ashore at own request’.

Reflective Statement

While this narrative is pure fiction its how I imagined it might have been for James.  He came from a long line of bakers yet ended up on a ship as an errand boy. The statement gone ashore at own request suggests that he didn’t board the ship intending to stay. It all became clear when he married in 1853. His wife had also arrived on the Saxon in 1849!

As I am more comfortable writing non-fiction, it took me quite a while to write this narrative but I was determine to concur my fear of writing fiction and speech!

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I have been researching my family history since 2009. I am interested it the family names Shingles, McEwan, Snowdon & Witt around Gippsland and Wodonga areas of Victoria, Australia

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