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The Voyage of the Nancy, 1767

by Familia Ulster Genealogical Review: No. 19, 2003


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by Richard K. MacMaster

"WE USUALLY ASSOCIATE THE TERM ‘COFFIN SHIPS’ with some of the sailing vessels that carried victims of the Irish Potato Famine to Canada and the United States in 1847–1851.

Some earlier immigrant ships can be characterized as ‘coffin ships’ as well and few more accurately than the Nancy of Belfast arriving at Charleston, South Carolina, on June 5, 1767 with many sick and dying passengers.

The first newspaper reports were positive: ‘This day arrived here, in a ship from Belfast, about 240 protestants from the north of Ireland, intending to settle in this province, on the large bounty granted by the legislature’ (South Carolina and American General Gazette, 5 June, 1767)."

This article examines the voyage of the Nancy, an early immigrant ship that was characterised as a 'coffin ship', due to it having many sick and dying passengers.