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The Gloria Scott set sail in 1855

Shigeru Sugiyama

In his confession, Trevor Senior wrote that the Trevors had led peaceful and useful lives for more than twenty years. And when Hudson suddenly appeared, he said to Trevor Senior, "Why, it's thirty year and more since I saw you last." The two had been aboard the Gloria Scott, a convict ship to Australia. Trevor Senior also wrote, "...on my twenty-third birthday I found myself chained as a felon with thirty-seven other convicts in the 'tween decks of the barque Gloria Scott, bound for Australia. It was the year '55, when the Crimean War was at its height..."
The above statements have great significance for dating the departure of the ship in relation to Holmes's age. LAST reveals that Holmes was a tall, gaunt man of sixty in 1914. Thus, he is supposed to have been born in 1854. In GLOR, Holmes said to Watson, "[the case] was the first in which I was ever engaged." Victor Trevor, the only friend Holmes made during the two years at college, had invited Holmes to his father's place in Donnithorpe. The year Holmes went there is 1874 according to Baring-Gould, and 1872 - 76 according to Sayers, Bell, Folsom and other respected Sherlockians.

In analyzing the dating controversy, I should like to assume that Holmes was twenty years old in 1874.
When did the Gloria Scott leave Falmouth, in 1844 or 1855? There is an eleven year difference. If we start with 1874, then the Gloria Scott is supposed to have left Falmouth Harbour in 1844, or thirty years before. I call this viewpoint the 1844 theory. On the other hand, Trevor Senior's writing clearly states that she left the harbour in 1855. I call this the 1855 theory. It is an unpopular theory, because it means that Holmes was thirty-one years old, not twenty, when he visited Donnithorpe in 1885, thirty years after the departure of the Gloria Scott.

1. Historical facts

The Gloria Scott would have arrived in one of the Tasmania, Victoria and Norfork colonies, if she had set sail for Australia from Falmouth in 1844 and had arrived safely. If her departure had been in 1855, her planned destination would have been Fremantle, West Australia Colony (*1).
Both the 1844 and 1855 theories fit for the convict transportation, but other historical facts found in GLOR, and researched and analyzed from the data on internet, indicate that only the 1855 theory is possible. The facts not applicable to the 1844 theory are as follows:

A. In 1851, the gold rush started in New South Wales and Victoria for the first time in Australia(*2).
B. Tea clippers from China arrived at British ports in 1851 and thereafter(*3).
C. It was the year 1855, when the Crimean War was at its height.
D. Visiting Japan was probable in 1859 at the earliest, since the national isolation policy had been held in Japan for more than two hundred years(*4).

So the 1844 theory has problems with the historical facts, while the 1855 theory has a problem with Holmes's age.
For the 1844 theory to be plausible, the Crimean War would need to be replaced with another war, and Trevor Senior's writing of 1855 would need to be ignored. The gold rush, tea clippers, and visiting Japan, as well as the Crimean War, should be treated properly in accordance with history. It is impossible to find any good reasons for these facts to fit the 1844 theory. Therefore, it is necessary to support the 1855 theory by taking the historical facts as they are and, at the same time, keeping Holmes's age reasonable.

2. A new dating concept

Note two of Holmes's remarks to Watson:
"Those are the facts of the case, Doctor, and if they are of any use to your collection, I am sure that they are very heartily at your service." (GLOR)
"Voyage of the Gloria Scott. That was a bad business. I have some recollection that you made a record of it, Watson, though I was unable to congratulate you upon the result." (SUSS)

These have encouraged me to develop a new solution to the GLOR dating problem about the departure of the Gloria Scott. I have assumed that (1) the historical facts are taken as they are, (2) the twenty and thirty years are naturally true, and (3) Holmes was born in 1854. My dating concept is that Holmes told Watson the two stages, separated in time, of the events that had happened to the Trevors.

-- the 1st stage that Holmes told Watson --
When Holmes visited Donnithorpe in his college days for the first time, he surprised Trevor Senior in his accurate reasoning about the old man's past. Holmes became so convinced that he was causing Trevor Senior uneasiness that he drew his visit to a close. The date is 1874 when Holmes was twenty years old.
-- the 2nd stage that Holmes told Watson --
Eleven years had passed; All of the following happened in 1885. Seaman Hudson suddenly showed himself at Donnithorpe just seven weeks before Trevor Senior's death. Trevor Junior could not understand Hudson's selfish and intrusive behaviour, his father's patience, and Hudson's sudden leaving the squire's house. Trevor Junior thought that his father's stroke was caused by the enigmatic letter from Fordingbridge in Hampshire. He sent a telegram to Holmes imploring him to come again to Donnithorpe, and saying that he was in great need of advice and assistance from Holmes. With Holmes's help Trevor Junior understood the letter and learned the truth of his father's past. He was heartbroken and went out to the Terai tea planting.

One winter's night, Holmes told Watson all of the above. Holmes explained the times clearly and SEPARATELY. Watson had often endeavoured to elicit from his companion what had first turned his mind in the direction of criminal research, but had never before caught him in a communicative humour. He was impressed and excited about the contents in Holmes's speech about the 1st stage as well as the fact that the case was the first one in which Holmes had ever been engaged. Holmes permitted Watson to use the facts of the case freely, if he wanted, by saying "... I am sure that they are very heartily at your service." And so, Watson took liberties to combine the two stages into ONE to make a story in the time when Holmes and Trevor Junior had been at college. As a result all events of the case were made happen during their summer vacation in his record of GLOR, where the eleven year intermission between the stages was shortened to seven weeks by putting all the events in the summer vacation period.
Watson had Holmes meet Hudson, but in the REAL scenes of the case that Holmes told Watson, Holmes had never met Hudson. Holmes heard about Hudson's personality and behaviour from Trevor Junior during his overnight stay at Trevor's house in the 2nd stage.

Of course, Watson did not know the events in the 1st stage since they had happened in Holmes' college days. Holmes did not tell Watson when he (Holmes) received the telegram asking him to come to Donnithorpe again because Trevor Junior had been his only friend in the college and the request seemed to be a private matter not a crime. Likewise, Holmes did not ask Watson to go with him. That winter's night, Holmes, for the first time, told Watson about his friendship with Trevor Junior and what had happened at Donnithorpe.

3. Additional explanations

A few additional explanations may be necessary regarding to the dating concept.

If Holmes had met Hudson in the 1st stage, Hudson would have kept the Trevors annoyed for eleven years. This does not coincide with the old man's writing that the Trevors had led peaceful and useful lives for more than twenty years. Annoyance would be enough for seven weeks in the 2nd stage at the longest, though I do not object to the opinions that the annoyance period must have been much longer. The period of seven weeks has come from Watson's need.

Trevor Junior, the friend of Holmes, was also born in 1854. Both were twenty years old when Holmes visited Donnithorpe in 1874. Trevor Junior was born one year before 1855 or the year of the departure of the Gloria Scott. He must have been his father's stepson, as Clifton Andrew says. Apparently Trevor Junior was ten years old or so when Trevor Senior got married.

Trevor Senior was fifty-three years old when he died, thirty years after boarding the Gloria Scott when he was twenty-three years old. Thus he was forty-two years of age in the 1st stage when Holmes met him at Donnithorpe.

4. Conclusion

The timeline for the Trevors would be shown as follows:
year Armitage/Trevor Senior Trevor Junior
1832 born

1851 - knowing about tea clippers

1855 23 years old, aboard the Gloria Scott

1856 - digging gold

until 1864 traveling and coming home

1864 - 65 32 - 33 years old, married
10 years old
1874 42 years old, meeting Holmes 20 years old
1885 53 years old, dead 31 years old, going to Terai
1887 - 88 One winter's night, Holmes told Watson according Baring-Gould

The case of GLOR in 1874, with its closing part in 1885, is naturally regarded as the first one in which Holmes was ever engaged. Holmes read the papers in the old study that night to Trevor Junior. This shows that he stayed overnight at Trevor's house on the very day of his second visit in 1885. Any two days in 1885 would be acceptable. Henry Folsom writes, in his Through the Years at Baker Street, that there is no specific case settled by Holmes in 1885.
In conclusion, my theory allows the Gloria Scott to set sail in the year of 1855, thirty years before the 2nd stage. The Crimean War and other historical facts are taken as they are, while Holmes and Trevor Junior were twenty years old in the 1st stage and thirty-one years of age in the 2nd stage.
Further examination will be needed in referring to some mysteries and doubts found in GLOR, other than the dating.

Explanatory Notes about Historical Facts

1. Convict ships to Australian colonies
On the "Convicts to Australia" website, Charles Bateson and Rica Erickson provide detailed information on the convict ships. During a period of eighty years from 1788 when the first fleet of convict ships arrived in New South Wales Colony to 1868 when the last ship arrived at Fremantle, West Australia Colony, about 160,000 convicts, male and female, were transported to Australian colonies. The transportation periods and destinations are as follows;
    1803 and 1844 - 1849 Port Philip, Victoria
    1812 - 1853 Hobart, Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania)
    1840 - 1847 Norfork Island
    1849 - 1850 Moreton Bay, Queensland
    1850 - 1868 Fremantle, West Australia
    1788 - 1840 and 1849 New South Wales (NSW)
No convict ships had arrived in NSW for nine years from Eden on 1840/11/18 until Hashemy on 1849/06/09. Three ships arrived after Hashemy, and transportation to NSW ended within the year. No arrival record is found in the Eastern Australian Colonies after that, though Tasmania accepted convicts until 1853. The main destination was switched to the western part of Australia in 1850.
In the 1844 theory, the expected arrival of the Gloria Scott would have been in 1845, the year following the departure, after several months sailing down south in the Atlantic Ocean, taking the route by southern part of the Australian continent, getting strong winds of so-called "roaring forties" in the Antarctic ocean. The destination would have been one of Tasmania, Victoria and Norfork. More than ten convict ships arrived in Tasmania in each year of 1844 and 45. One ship to Victoria and three ships to Norfork were recorded accordingly.
In the 1855 theory, West Australia Colony had been the only colony where convicts were transported after 1853. Two convict ships from Plymouth arrived at Fremantle in 1856.
    William Hammond, 683 tons, in March, 249 male convicts
    Runnymede, 720 tons, in September, 248 male convicts
For the period of eighteen years from 1850 to 1868 thirty-seven convict ships as well as seven cargo ships arrived at Fremantle. Rica Erickson's survey says 9,665 male convicts and 3,855 passengers were brought to West Australia. The number of transported convicts by year reveals 175 (Min in 1850), 1,109 (Max in 1853) and zero (in 1860.)

2. Gold rush in Australia
In 1851, the gold rush started in New South Wales and Victoria, two years after the California gold rush. Queensland followed in 1857, New Zealand in 1861, and West Australia in the late 1800s.
Trevor Senior wrote, in his confession, "After an excellent voyage the Hotspur landed us at Sydney, where Evans and I changed our names and made our way to the diggings, where among the crowds who were gathered from all nations, we had no difficulty in losing our former identities." The 1844 theory does not fit this scenario.
In the 1855 theory, gold rush was "at its height" in NSW, though it might have been a little bit late for their success in digging gold. Rosane McNamara points that new diggings were found in Sofala and Wattle Creek near Bathurst in 1855.
Digging or panning gold by hand is said to have been possible in Ballarat, Victoria, until 1860. Machineries was used to get gold and quartz kept in depth after that. I believe the situation must have been the same in Bathurst, NSW. Luckily, the gold rush in Otago, New Zealand, started in 1861. Armitage and Evans might have moved to the new diggings there, getting enough gold and traveling after that. Trevor Senior said to Holmes, "Made all my money at the gold fields." He must have tried digging in not a few places, since his callosities, Holmes noticed, were still visible after more than twenty years.

3. Tea clippers
The American clipper ship era extended only from about 1845 to 1859. Not many American clippers were launched before 1850 and few were built after 1857. The British tea trade employed fast-sailing ships long after that and similar trades became unprofitable for American vessels.
The East India Company cancelled its monopoly on trade with China in 1834. Any British citizen could buy Chinese tea and ship it home. The Navigation Acts were repealed in 1849 and anyone in the world could land tea at a British port. A few American extreme clippers unloaded cargo of Chinese tea at London. The following four ships and five voyages are found in the database on the internet.
    Oriental. built in 1850. 1,050 tons, from HongKong in 1850/12
    Surprise, built in 1850, 1,261 tons, from HongKong in 1851
    Celestial, built in 1850, 860 tons, from Shanghai in 1852/10
     ditto, from Foochow in 96 days, in 1854/01
    Sea Serpent, built in 1850, 1,337 tons, from Foochow in 1852/06

Most of the British clipper ships were extreme models, or extremely fast clippers. The first British extreme clipper, Stornoway, was launched at Aberdeen in August, 1850. She arrived at London from Canton with a cargo of tea on 1851/10/17 after 104 day voyage. British shipping companies brought tea from Chinese ports as fast as possible through use of extreme clippers.
Trevor Senior wrote, in his confession, "The Gloria Scott had been in the Chinese tea-trade, but she was an old-fashioned, heavy-bowed, broad-beamed craft, and the new clippers had cut her out." "The new clippers" described here would be for the use of tea cargo. A clipper ship is "a long, slim, graceful vessel with projecting bow and radically streamlined hull, carrying an exceptionally large spread of sail on three tall masts." The description in GLOR of "an old-fashioned, heavy-bowed, broad-beamed craft," would be a contrary expression to a clipper as "a new, slim, streamlined hull with projecting bow."
Tea clippers were seen in England in 1851 and thereafter. In the 1844 theory, seeing or knowing about tea clippers would be improbable.

4. Visiting Japan
Nagasaki was open to only Chinese and Dutch ships since the national isolation policy had started in 1639. The Tokugawa Regime had been anxious to avoid having the religious influence from abroad come into their Shinto and Buddhist country. They also had thought that Japan could survive without any help from foreign countries and had feared the colonization by European powers.
Commodore Perry with his fleet of black battle ships came to Shimoda in 1853. His request to save their sailors in case of shipwreck in the Japanese sea territory was granted in the form of the Japan-U.S. Peace Treaty in 1854. Admiral Stirling of British Navy also requested opening the ports in Japan in the same year, and the treaty was signed to permit their use of Nagasaki Port. The Commerce Treaty was signed on 1858/08/26 with Great Britain to allow commercial relations and staying in their own residential quarter near the port. British cargo ships could put down their anchors at Nagasaki since 1859. During the isolation period, trying to disembark in a Japanese port, if any, would have caused a conflict or a battle between Japanese samurais and British ships.
In the 1844 theory, twenty year peaceful lives would mean that Armitage and Evans visited Japan in 1854 at the latest, during the isolation period; and in 1865 at the latest in the 1855 theory. Again the 1844 theory is not applicable, while the 1855 theory is probable, because of Holmes's saying to Trevor Senior, "You have visited Japan."

Major Internet Sources of Historical Facts in GLOR

Convicts to Australia
Fremantle Prison

Ships and Shipping
The Maritime History Virtual Archives

A History of Tea Timeline
Tea clippers and the end of sail, Twinings and Co.

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