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On 25 December 1885, the Parramatta made port in Sydney New South Wales, Australia. On board were a crew of 55, passengers numbering 59, (1) and a general cargo valued at £20,900 (2). Among the passengers there is a family listed: Fanny Holden and her children Harry, Fanny, Ellen K, Ethel, May, and Howard. But, there is a notable absence from this list. Where is Fanny’s husband, and the father of the children? Where is Henry Howard Holden?

The voyage was described in the Evening News (3) newspaper on 26 December 1885 as

Captain Goddard of the well-known trader Parramatta, which arrived yesterday morning from Plymouth, September 19, reports passing Madeira on the ninth day out, and carried brisk north-east trades to latitude 18deg north, fifteen days out. Thence to the Equator light baffling winds prevailed. Crossed the line on October 21, thirty two days from Plymouth. With moderate winds and very fine weather the meridian of the Cape of Good Hope was passed on November 14, fifty-six days out, and an extremely pleasant run of twenty-four days was had along the parallel of 40deg south to longitude 123deg east. Thence to the end of the passage nothing but light and contrary winds were experienced. On Monday, December 11; when in 40deg south, and 131deg east the wind set in at north-east, taking the ship south of Tasmania. On the south coast had extremely fine weather, but wind almost calm. Passed Cape Pillar on the 19th; the wind and weather on the east coast have been very unsettled and warm. On the 24th at 5 a.m. when off the Dromedary, a southerly set in which took the ship to the Heads. The vessel brings a large number of passengers, and comes into port in her usual good order. Two passengers died of consumption. Mr. A. G. Mickley on October 7, and Mr. John Spicer on December 12. The voyage with this exception, has been a very pleasant and social one, and the passengers speak in high terms of the kindness and courtesy shown to them by Captain Goddard and his officers.

After a voyage of just over 3 months with children aged 11, 9, 8, 4, 3 and 18 months, spending Christmas Day on board ship but in sight of the new country, probably knowing no-one in the unfamiliar town before her, probably not knowing where her husband was, knowing that two men had died of a potentially contagious illness while on the voyage, what sort of thoughts and feelings would Fanny have had as the new year approached.

Why did her husband Henry not travel with her? Did he come ahead to find work, find a home, and establish connections with others who could guide them in this new country? Did he stay in England to finalise matters there and follow at a later time, hoping that his wife and children would be able to find themselves a home at least in New South Wales?

Henry Howard Holden, when and how did you arrive in Australia?

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Sources:
(1) Mariners & ships in Australian Waters, PARRAMATTA, http://mariners.records.nsw.gov.au/1885/12/127par.htm
(2) MONETARY AND COMMERCIAL. (1885, December 26). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 6. Retrieved May 21, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13607659
(3) ALONG THE WHARVES. (1885, December 26). Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 – 1931), p. 4. Retrieved May 21, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article111345173

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