The Last Voyage of His Majesty's Transport Phyllis, 1795
by Henry K. Gibbons


Preparation for the voyage to Quebec

    After the siege of Quebec in 1759 in which both General James Wolfe of the British army and General Louis Montcalm of the French army were killed at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, a garrison was established there by the British army.The garrison was regularly supplied with men and materials including military equipment from England during the shipping season, which was during the period of  ice free navigation. One of the ships which made this voyage was His Majesty’s Transport Phyllis or Phillis which was based at Cowes  on the Isle of Wight off the South Coast of England.

    The summer was warm and sunny at Cowes in 1795. The Phyllis was laid up there, in ballast, for a considerable period of time without the proper maintenance necessary to keep the ship ready for sea, if the occasion arose. Her exposed hull and deck planking, had shrunk to the point where the ship would take on water during heavy weather, if ordered to suddenly go to sea in its existing condition without repairs.

    By mid - August, Captain L. Passmore,  Master of the Phyllis received orders to prepare his ship for a voyage to Quebec, with reinforcements for the garrison there. The provisioning of the ship began with the loading of tierces of salt pork, dried fish, sea biscuits, butter and other staples. On the day before departure, live animals usually pigs and sheep and other small animals that were easy to manage, were loaded for slaughter during the voyage. Casks of water and wine were also placed on board and a quantity of fuel for cooking and oil for lamps and running lights. The ship may have also had small brass swivel cannon that would be placed on the gunwales for the defence of the ship and hand weapons including firearms, knives and swords for the  ships crew. Weapons carried by the army personal who were on their way to Quebec would also be available.

    Included in the cargo were many items used by the garrison and the inhabitants of Quebec and consigned to the merchants there. Gold and silver coin for payment of the army personal would have also been part of the cargo because, in that time period it was the only way of moving wealth across the Atlantic Ocean. The gold and silver in the passengers possession and the silver lace of the officers dress uniforms would have been worth a considerable amount of money at that period in history and a fortune today. 

The Beginning of the Voyage

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