William O'Bryan.

A narrative of travels in the United States of America online

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A Narrative of Travels

in the United States of America

William O'Bryan















l^ TUX



j; '.?'ae account of American manners and polmy,


hftlzds.£LVT3 and TItAV£XiX.SItS


"f By Wm. QJBRYAN.









OCT 11 1913


Printed bt S. Thorite, Prospect-Place, Shebbear,



The travels which were the basis of the
followiDg Narrative, were undertaken chiefly
in preaching the gospel and visiting different
Ministers and congregations, in order to
ascertain the state of religion in the United

For many years the author had thought of
visiting that country; at last the way un-
expectedly opened, and he followed what
appeared to him to be the leadings of divine

In travelling through the various parts to
which the following work bears reference, he
was sometimes led to make, and write down,
observations on various subjects that fell un-
der his notice, which were likely to be useful
to the bodies and souls of men.

Having come to England on a visit, he
purposed before he returned to the United
States, to publish an extract of those notes,
under the impression ,that it is likfely to be
of considerable service to those about to em-
igrate thither, and also to be of some inter-
est to others.

The following Narrative is greatly abbre-
viated for two reasons : one is, on a consid-

Digitized by VjOOQIC

'v. PaEFACE.

eration that with some persons, money ber
ing scarce, a low price book with partial in-,
formation will please, or suit them better
than to have more information, (though to
others it might be highly interesting) which
would cost a little more. Another class ot
people have more money, yet they love it
too well to expand it on books. As these
two classes are likely to be the majority of
purchasers, the following Narrative has
been narrowed to meet their choice.

When a new book is published, the en-
quiry readily follows. Who is the author ?
The author of the following Narrative has
no objection to inform the reader as to this
particular, especially as his family name has
often been pronounced wrong, and spelled

It is a well know tradition in our family
that Qur forefathers came from Ireland, and
tl^at the name was O' Bryan, In course of
time some pf the family wrote Bryant^ while
the name of others was written only Bryan^
without the previous prepositionary appella-
tive. Several causes might contribute to
this Bryant is an English name, and I un-
derstand also a French name. Probably
that family in England at first came over
with William the Noripan, as there are the
names of many French farnilies still in Eng-
land. Bryant being known to be an Eng-
lish name, and the fwo names being so near
alike in sound, might be easily confounded


by those who were ignorant of the distinct
tion ; and it is common for men to prefer a
•short way of pronouncing names.

Tradition says, that our ancestors at first
caTne to England with Oliver Cromwell,—^
three brothers, one a general officer, the
other two captains, and that they came from
the neighbourhood of Cork, It is well
known in history that Oliver, on the close of
the civil war, went to Irehind, " To," as
he said, " sacrifice the papists to the ghosts
t)f the protestants that they had massacred."
It is also well known that the government of
the commonwealth lasted but a short time,
till Charles the second was placed on his
father's throne. Then nothing less could be
expected'5 than that the friends of the Revo-
lation should be slighted. What vicissitudes
befell our family in a strange land, on the
change of Government, to us is now un-
known ; no written record relative thereto
having come to my hand. It has been
handed down tti rough tradition, that one
of our forefathers (him from whom we in
Cornwall sprung) came down into Corn-
wall with lord Mohun of Boconnock, near
Liskeard. On this change of national af-
tjairs, our ancestors might have suffered their
iiame to be anglicised, or identified with the
English sound, uncontradicted. And school-
masters knowing- no better, writing the
children's name in the English way, would
be likely to get the children to write so too.

When at Boconnock many years ago, at

d by Google


the house of Thomas Bryant, one of my
kinsmen, while conversing aboiit our family,
he said, he had heard his father say, that the
O was lost ; and be attributed the writing
the name • in the English way, to the igno-
rance of schoolmasters, who put the children
to write their name so at school. Some
years since, being at the house of John
Bryan, then an Innkeeper in Penzance, while
conversing on the subject, he said, " They
sometimes write Bryant to me ; but I never
answer it." Others of our family, for want
of education, and information, have per-
mitted it to pass uncontradicted ; aifd know-
ing no better have written the same. I
have seen the name of the father and his
two sous written in three different ways ;
so it is plain in a low state of education
there w^s no strict attention paid to the ex-
act manner of writing the name. In my
youthful days, our name, in the neighbour-
hood of the place of my nativity, was pro-
nounced Brien or Brine, which was as near
the pronunciation as might be expected
among the country people, except omitting
the O ; and I rarely, if ever, heard it pro-
nounced any other way, until I got near to

Some people are quite uninterested con-
cerning their genealogy, or family descent,
as if it was not worth attention. But it was
not so with the writer of this. He recollects
that when a child, he felt deeply interested

d by Google


in this subject. Having some indistinct idea
that he came from somewhere, and came
into the world since some grown people, he
made inquires of his mother concerning it.
And being informed, he carefully treasured
up in his memory, the date of the year, — day
of the month, — <iay ot the week, — and the
hour of the day, in which he was born ; and
by often thinking on it, his memory was as
ripe of this interesting event, as it was of his
little horn book, that he carried to school, to
learn his letters in. Having ascertained
when, the next question was, where he came
from, and how he came into existence ? All
the answer that he could get from his mo-
ther or the maid was, that he came from
tinder his mother's arm. This was true in
a certain sense, and most probably the best
answer they could think on to repeated

As he grew up he often heard the older
people talking of the family progenitors, com-
ing from Ii*eland, and with this that the name
was formerly O* Bryan : but being accustom-
ed when at school to write Bryant, he con-
tinued for awhile still to write it so. His
father could not write, consequently the wri-
ter of this had no copy from him. My pa-
ternal grandfather's name was written Bryan^
as may be seen to this day, by a deed now
l)efoie me made in the reign of George the
second, dated the 19th December, 1735,con-
veying property, where his name is written



John Bryan. Many years ago the writer of
this being at the house of the Clergyman of
the parish where he then lived, (Lnxiliian)
the parish Register Book lying on the table,
on taking it up, he saw one of the ancient
registers of the family where the name was
written Bryan. After some years, consider-
ing the subject, the evidence appeared to ex-
clude all doubt, that the name by some of the
family and himself also had been written
wrong, and the steps seems to be easily fol-
lowed, first by a short pronounciation "Bryan^
then Bryant. This was found to be the case
on further examining the parish register,
anciently it was written Bryan, and latterly
Bryant ; and by the same rule it may be ac^
counted for how the O was lost in common
use, though tradition has kept it still in the

Probably many of the writer's primogeni-
tors, possessed equal filial, and reverential
regard for ancestry with himself: but were
not privileged with equal means of knowing
and making it known. Who does not know
that formerly the priests counted it their in-
terest to keep the people without learning ;
and in the churches, at one time, an the fore-
noon of the Lord's day the parson read what
was called " The book of sports,'' to excite and
encourage the people to practise sports in
the afternoon. At other times, yearly games
were instituted in the different parishes, in
addition to the Sunday sports; and which



are hot altogether abolished to this day.
Added to these were the chase^ cards, &c. in
which the clergy were partakers and en-
couragers. These things amused the people,
pleased the caroal mind, and stood in th^way
of learning, and sober reflection. In those
^ys of mental darkness and ignorance, the
priests could bear rule, and live as they list
without controul ; and through this deficien-
cy of learning most likely much family record
has been lost.

But there ar^e some people who feel no re-
gard for their progenitors, who may be said
to be. Without natural affection^ and feeling
oo interest whatever in keeping them in re-
membrance ; not so with the writer of this,
he was aware that the Irish are often de-
spised by the English., and made the subject
of merriment : but this did not prevent him
from owning his pedigree. As he received
information, and grew up to knowledge ca-
pable of understanding the sutject^, he felt a
peculiar regard fof that country, and respect^
and reverence for his ancestors ; and having
so much combined evidence as to the name,
he therefore gave the preference to what he
believed to be the ancient, and consequent-
ly the true way of speaking and writing it.

Since that, it has received additional con-
firming evidence • by different persons belong-
ing to our family^ The following has lately
tjome to hand.

^* Dear Cousin, — As yoli desire me to i^l
A 2




Containing an account of our Voyage from Liskeard to LiverpooL

Having understood that at Liverpool was to be found
the best vessels sailing to the United States, on the
10th of August 1831, we set out from Liskeard for Ply-
mouth, to go by the Steam vessel by way of Dublin. We
took our luggage to St. Germans ; and from thence down
the river to Catwater ; where the Steam vessel touched,
from London to Dublin, to take in coals.

- The tide having receded from the Basin before we came,
we were prevented saihng up to the Company's ware-
house, where we had intended to house the luggage be-
fore the vessel came in. But a kind providence so order-
ed it in our behalf, that the captain of the Lazaret offered
us the privilege of placing it in the Lazaret.

The Shannon Steam vessel, by which we intended to
go, was expected to arrive in the morning of the 16th,
but through some binderance, she did not arrive till late
in the evening. We went on board about eight o'clock,
and found it all bustle, something like a fair, so that it
was with difficulty we could cross the deck to the Lazaret.
Here were carriages, horseS; dens with foreign animals,
three hundred and sixty passengers and crew, besides
others from shore coming and going. Then I could dis-
cern a kind providence, that prevented our getting to the
Basin before the tide was gone out. For as the vessel
came in so late, it would have been very difficult in the
night, amidst such confusion, to have got in our heavy
packing cases, if we had at all. Now it was only for the
men to carry them over a plank from one vessel to the

17th. About two o'clock in the morning we weighed
^anchor ; and about eight a. m. touched at Falmouth^



where they had to stop one hour to land, and take in,
passengers and goods. There my wife and two of our
daughters who had been in the West on a visit to some
friends met us. It being a fine day we had an opportu-
nity, by running near land, to see the bold Western coast,
with its harbours, and coves ; which to our young travel-
lers, was entertaining. The Lizard point, Cornish Mount,
Towns of Penzance, Newland, and Mousehole. We also
passed the famous Logging- rock, so much noted in the
Cornish history, and rendered additionally famous by the
huge exploit of the Commander of a Custom-house Cutter,
Lieutenant Goldsmith, and his men, in the year 1824,
throwing it off its pivot from the tier of rocks where it had
stood from time immemorial. Rather than be prosecuted
.by the landowner, and broke of his commission, he with
vast labour and skill, together with 50 men- and Gear
from the Government Dock Yard at Plymouth, at last
succeeded in replacing it. However this Commander
might be censured for his wanton frolic, it settled tJie
question, whether the stone had been created there, or
whether it was possible such a vast rock could be placed
so high on another rock, by art. Most likely it was first
put there in the times of the Druids. But by what means
at that period who can even guess ? This rock had a
bulge or pivot underneath, which rested on another rock,
with a nearly flat surface. Taking it in one particnkr
. place, a single person could shake it, I have myself; but
to take it at any other place it was apparently immovea-
ble. Probably it was a Duridical ordeal.

About five in the evening we doubled Cape Cornwall.
The Land's-end presents an awfully grand appearance.
The craggy, high, and bold cliff on one hand, and the
long sea- beaten rocks, with the light-house thereon on the
other hand ; with the roaring waves rolling in from the
Atlantic, which for ages have been spending their fury
against those firm barriers of the great deep. To a con-
templative mind this interesting place is a striking com-
ment on that subhme passage in the xxxviii. chapter of
Job. The Most High speaking to him says, Where wast
thou when I laid the foundations of the earth, —or
who shut up the sea with doors ; and brake up for it



my decreed place, and set bars and doors, and said.
Hitherto shalt thou come but no further; and here
shall thy proud waves be stayed'^ How loudly it speaks
the work of Omnipotence ! A consideration of the power
and providence of God, encouraged the psalmist, who in
the Ixv. psalm says, By terrible thingis in righteousness,
wilt thou answer us, God of our salvation. Who art
the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them
that are afar off upon the sea ; which by his strength
setteth fast the mountains; being girded with power.
The wonderful works of Qod should teach us also to fear
before him. The Lord says by Jeremiah chap. v.
Fear ye not me 9 saith the Lord : will ye not tremble
at my presence, which have placed the sand for the
bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot
pass it ? and, though the waves thereof toss themselves,
yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can
they not pass over it.

The wind increased to a fresh breeze as we got round
the Cape. About sun set we lost sight of Cornwall. In
the night it rained, and the wind increased. Some of
the passengers became sick ; bit by the blessing of our
•God upon us, we were all well, except one of my daugh-
ters about five minutes.

18th, It blew hard, — wind nearly on our larboard
bow. Our vessel was heavy laden : but being large and
Strong, and the blessing of God attending us, she beat
through well, against wind and wave. I believe none of
ocir little company (my family, and a young man, a friend
of our's) felt any dread, though the weather became

Many soldiers belonging to Ireland were on board :
some of them being discharged, were returning to their
homes. While some of them were conversing together on
deck, one of them spoke profanely. I felt it a duty to
reprove him. He candidly acknowledged his fault. Many
gath/ering round me, I took the opportunity to talk to
them on their great business in this world, which they
seemed to have overlooked. All paid attention to what
was «poken« Afterwards the soldier that I had reproved
desired me to go below. When we got alone, he frankly



b'wtie^ himself a backslider from religion, and lamented
♦lis fallen state. He said he had been a soldier twenty-
one years, and shewed me his discharge. He had a wife
atid several children, who were with him, and having a
pension of thirty pounds a year, he hoped to get a com-
fortable settlement, and expressed a resolution to open his
door to the ministers of the gospel, and to return to Him
from whom he had revolted.

The wind still blowing hard I went on deck and gave

^* Peace doubting heart, my God's T atn,

Who form'd n)e man forbids my fear :
I'hf* Lord hath call'd me b^ my name, ,

The Lord protects, for ever near :
His blood for me did once alone,

And still He loves and guards His own.

When passing through the w^atery deep,

I ask in faith His promisM aid,
The waves ati awful distance keep.

And shrink from my devoted head:
Fearless their violence I dare.
They cannot harm : for God is there." &c.

To he found in Wesley's CoUeeiioit*

Many soldiers and others gathered around me ; nearly
all, whether Roman Catholics or Protestants, appeared
attentive. After singing, I gave them an exhortatioHi.
The soldier that I had reproved stood forth boldly by
me, and joined in the singing. There are some who say
that a person should not be reproved in company for
sinning. But what says the Bible ? Thou shalt in any
wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.
Leviticus xix. 17. Them that sin rebuke before all.
1 Timothy v. 20.

The night before, my wife m her sleep appeared un-
usually affected. When she awoke she related a dream,
v^hich I forbear to mention • but w^hich gave her much
encourageinent, and prepared her for the next voyage, as
well as strengthened her in this. Some speak lightly of
dreams; but St. Paul's Biographer, thought it not a dis*-
paragement to either of them to mention St. Paul's dream^
Acts xxvii. 23, 24.



19th, About two in the morning we got into Kings-
town-roads, cast anchor and waited for the tide. About
five o'clock we weighed anchor and ran up to Dublin,
about seven miles.

For safety, while we secured our passage for Liverpool,
we had our luggage carried into a warehouse near the
quay. I agreed with a porter to carry it into the ware-
house for three shilings. When he had carried it into the
warehouse, I tendered him the money : but he refused
taking it, and said he ought to have four. Others of like
appearance seconded him, all using very impertinent lan-
guage, and the man imperatively demanding four shillings.
To reason with them appeared as useless as to reason
with the waves of the sea, so I appealed to the clerk of
the warehouse, to know if what he had agreed for was a
sufficient remuneration ? The cleik as a man surprised
at the overcharge, told them it was too much ; and drove
them from the door for their imposition and impudence.
I mention this to guard strangers against imposition. As
near, as I can guess, he was about half an hour at work
about it; and if Irish, or any other labourers can get
three shilings in an houTy I think they need not complain.
We talk of the avarice of Lawyers, of the avarice of the
C'6''gyj of the avarice of Doctors ; but I question if there
be one truly honest man in the world, that is not converted
to God. I afterwards found tliis sort of practice was not a
new thing in Ireland.

Finding a Steam vessel about to start for Liverpool, I
could not reconcile my wife to stay over night in Dublin,
though I had business to transact, which if not attended
to then, would call me to return. Being so disgusted
with the rabble about the quay, she was anxious to get
out of that place and country. About seven o'clock, p m.
we went on board the Ballinsloe steamer for Liverpool.
Ihe vessel was heavy laden, with bullocks and sheep
crowded into the hold, as well as a number on deck. I
put my family mto the Cabin : but our luggage being on
deck, I thought fit to watch it, and took a deck passage
for myself; the fare for which was then six-pence. The ^
evening was fair, but as night approached it rained, with
ihigh wnd ; and I may say it was a tremendous night.



Finding the weather so severe I went into the Cabin also.
The roaring of the horned cattle added to the awfuhiess
of our situation. Off Holyhead is noted by Sailors for a
rough sea, and now it blew a gale, it was very rough. My
little boy and P. Buckthought slept soundly. I went
from Cabin to Cabin to see how my family bore up.
There were two females in the cabin with my wife and
daughters ; all appeared calm. We put our trust in
God, and he preserved us.

There were men, women, and children on deck, going
from Ireland to Liverpool ; one might have thought,
scarcely any of them would long survive such suffering.
Twice the sea went over us as if the great deep would
swallow us up, yet none of us were sick.

Online LibraryWilliam O'BryanA narrative of travels in the United States of America → online text (page 1 of 35)