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  Voyage of the Flora

  Flora: The Horses

  Flora: The Destination

  Shipping to the Antipodes


  The Voyage of the Flora: September - December 1767

Whitby in the 18th Century
Whitby Harbour in the 18th Century. Image from the Cook Museum, Whitby

Route of the Flora Follow the Route of the FloraBy David Wilkinson for Thoroughbred Heritage. ©David Wilkinson, 2009. David Wilkinson is author of Early Horse Racing in Yorkshire and the Origins of the Thoroughbred (Old Bald Peg Publications, Old Byland, York; 2003) and a contributor to Thoroughbred Heritage.

On the 16th September, 1767, the two masted brigantine Flora, of 240 tons, sailed out of Whitby harbour on the east coast of Yorkshire. She was embarking on a near three-month voyage of over 4,000 nautical miles, in heavy autumn and winter gales, across the Atlantic to Charleston, South Carolina, by way of Madeira. Her main cargo was six horses; Jack Ass (Sulphur), Danby, Lofthouse, Childers, Ruswarp and Ayton. The latter two were sold in Madeira.

These were not horses of the highest calibre, in the mould of Bulle Rock or Brutus, and none of them found their way into the American Stud Book. Two of them, however, do appear in Charleston historical records and Childers took part in the prestigious 1770 Charleston Subscription Race. Librarian Eileen Shone has discovered the log of the Flora in the Whitby Historical and Philosophical Library. Its importance lies in that it provides a rare, if not unique, account of the method and experiences of horse transport to America in this early pre-Revolutionary period, when bloodstock was being imported to improve the local breed in the American colonies.

The master of the Flora was Wiliam Manson (b.c. 1740), originally from the Orkney Islands, but trained as a seaman and navigator under his future Quaker father-in-law (and owner of the Flora), Jonas Brown, at Grape Lane on the harbour front in Whitby. This house is only a short distance from where James Cook also learnt his navigational skills. Manson became a captain at 20, and before leaving for this voyage, his second to Charleston, he had already taken the Flora around the North Cape to Archangel. Manson later decided to emigrate to America, but arrived in the middle of the Revolution, and lost his first wife in an Indian raid. He returned home.

The pedigrees of the Flora horses cannot be determined, but all appear to have originated in the Yorkshire area, which was a major horse breeding area and the "home" of the thoroughbred. Two have tantalising names: Danby and Childers.

Danby on Ure is the home of the ancient Scrope family (an ancestor fought at Agincourt), with a long tradition in horse rearing. However, because of restrictions placed on the Scropes, as they were Catholics, they also appear to have had associations with Mr. Meredith of the nearby Easby Stud at Richmond. At this time Catholics were not able to own a horse valued at more than £5 and they often ran them in the names of their friends. Cade (by the Godolphin Arabian, and out of Roxana) and Danby Cade (by Cade out of Panton's Matchless dam) were bred at Easby, and it is possible that Danby was obtained from that source.

Childers probably derives from either Flying Childers (owned by the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth), or his full brother Bartlett's Childers (owned by Mr. Bartlett at Masham) earlier in the century, and may have been of that stock. On the bill of sale Manson refers to Childers being related to the Duke of Devonshire's horse: "he is descendant (sic.) from the famous Childers, lately belonging to his Grace the Duke of Devonshire, is trained for the saddle, very governable and master of any weight."

In any case, given the eventual selling price of these animals in South Carolina, at around £50 to £60, it is unlikely they were outstanding individuals. At about this time, Cuthbert Routh, a breeder at Snape, Yorkshire, was regularly selling his prime horses for between £200 and £1,000.

It would seem that Brown and Manson were engaging in a relatively minor speculative venture, but this did not detract from their care for the animals, though the transport conditions were arduous. This appears to have been their only voyage carrying horses.

Extracts from the Log of the Flora
16th September - 9th December 1767
Whitby - Charleston
William Manson Master
(Jonas Brown Owner)

Remarks on 16th September 1767
Came out of Whitby with a fresh breeze -- towards Scarborough.

Remarks on Monday 28 Sept 1767
Fresh Gales. Clear ... All Sails set we can.
Great swell from ye East and Ship labours hard.
The Horses are hard matcht to keep upon their Legs.
A Great Sea Obliged to lay the Hatches close over.
Ruswarp had Like to been down upon us had Entirely Dropt his hinder Legs and hung by the slings.
Course Distance Lat. Observed Long. Meridiel Distance
  149 42º57' 12º 28'W 393 From England

Remarks on Friday 23 Oct 1767
Fresh Gales. Swell from the S Westward
Our Horses in Good Health and fine order.
But we are eaten up with flies.
Course Distance Lat. Observed Long. Meridiel Distance
Sth E 50 miles 30º20'N 22º14'W From London215 W From Madeira

Remarks on Saturday 31 Oct 1767
Little wind & fine. Swell from N Westward
Blooded all the Horses it being very Requisite against the Change of Climate. They are in better order now than when they came on board the ship.
Course Distance Lat. Observed Long. Meridiel Distance
W2º.S 58 miles 28º27'N 30º56'W from London670W from Madeira

Remarks on Monday 2 Nov 1767
Fresh Gales...Small Sails
A Great sea from the West. Ship Labours very hard yet the Horses able to Stand fast in ye hold....Tumbled down several times upon ye deck...very high sea and Cross
Course Distance Lat. Observed Long. Meridiel Distance
W3º.N 83 miles 28º57'N 34º30'W from London857W from Madeira

Remarks on Thursday 5 Nov 1767
Fresh Gales & Squally with heavy Shower of Rain and a very Cross sea from ye N Wwards.
The Horses still Continue in Good Health having Good Stomachs for their victuales
Course Distance Lat. Observed Long. Meridiel Distance
W3º.N 53 miles 29º51'N 37º12'W from London997W from Madeira

Remarks on Friday 6 Nov 1767
Danby kicked Lofthouse very hard on his left hind Leg which is very much swelled to which we applyd a medicine for it.
Lofthouse was taken badly with a Cough and Short Wind -- we gave him one of the [Groas]. Drinks in Ale.
Course Distance Lat. Observed Long. Meridiel Distance
W NW4 N 50 miles 30º13'N 38º04'W from London1042W from Madeira

Remarks on Monday 9 Nov 1767
Showery & Squally Swell from W
Blooded the Horse Lofthouse in the Thigh Vein and annoynted his Leg Which seems to be much swelled.
Applyd a poultice to Lofthouse Leg
Course Distance Lat. Observed Long. Meridiel Distance
SOW 2º.W 20 miles 29º42'N 38º46'W from London1079W from Madeira

Remarks on Friday 13 Nov 1767
Fresh Breeze and Cloudy with a swell from ye Northward with all sails set. Lightening to the west.
Lofthouse seems to be Something better than he was yesterday
Course Distance Lat. Observed Long. Meridiel Distance
SW 1/2º.W 116 miles 28º14'N 43º29'W from London1325W from Madeira

Remarks on Saturday 14 Nov 1767
Fresh breeze and fine Clear Wr.
With a very Cross sea and ship Labours very hard
Sulphur and Lofthouse have both Rubbed off some hair of their Buttocks against the Side Rails with the Quick motion and Rowling of the ship.
Course Distance Lat. Observed Long. Meridiel Distance
W 2º.W 120 miles 27º30'N 45º36'W from London1437W from Madeira

Remarks on Sunday 15 Nov 1767
Fresh Gales and Showery with a Great Sea from the ENE
Lofthouse Leg still continues Swelld and painfull to him
Course Distance Lat. Observed Long. Meridiel Distance
W 8 S 140 miles 27º10'N 48º12''N1576W from Madeira

Remarks on Monday 16 Nov 1767
Small breeze and clear with a very Cross Hobble of a Sea the ship Labours very hard
The horses all in Good heart only Lofthouse Leg Continues Swelling but has a good stomach
Course Distance Lat. Observed Long. Meridiel Distance
W. 2nearest 100 miles 27º09'N 50º04'W from London1676W from Madeira

Remarks on Saturday 21 Nov 1767
Lightwinds & fine Clear.
Capt. McKenzie came on board again to see me I continued still very bad the symptoms Enormousing Dayly. Got Blooded - in the arm
Blooded All the Horses. It being very Necessary to be done,
Course Distance Lat. Observed Long. Meridiel Distance
W B.S 48 miles 26º48'N 54º25'W from London1909W from Madeira

Remarks on Saturday 28 Nov 1767
A fine steady Gale With a great Sea from N Eastward.
A Great Deal of Hair has pilled of Sulphurs Legs but he has entirely [Clear] of Grease and all of them in Good Health
Course Distance Lat. Observed Long. Meridiel Distance
W 5º.N 135 miles 26º22'N 67º07'W from London2591W from Madeira

Remarks on Monday 30 Nov 1767
Fine Steaddy Gale all sails set
Sulphur's legs still continue very Scabbed but ye Old hair pills of in ye places ? & new Hair begins to grow..Nothing Else but ye Dr [give] Of ye Greased & heat of Blood. Lofthouse mends fast & ye new hairs grow.
The Stallion and Bay horse ...in Good health and Good order
Course Distance Lat. Observed Long. Meridiel Distance
W N W 140 miles 28º14'N 71º40'W from London2833W from Madeira

Remarks on Saturday 4 Dec 1767
Fresh Breeze and Cloudy all sails set
Strong Gales and Squally.
The horses are hard matcht to keep upon their Legs
Course Distance Lat. Observed Long. Meridiel Distance
N 16º.W 52 miles 31º35'N 75º42'W from London3043W from Madeira

Remarks on Monday 7th December 1767
At 7 made land about 6 leagues off. Two sails in sight.

Remarks on Wednesday 9th December 1767
Two pilot boats

Charleston in 1764

"From Rocks and Sands and Dangers ill
May God preserve the Flora Still."

The Flora had arrived at the beautiful harbour of Charleston, at the junction of the Ashley and Cooper rivers.

Left: 1764 French Map of Charleston

The Voyage of the Flora
The Voyage The Horses The Destination

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