Guide to the Diary of George Robert Pearson (as filmed by the AJCP)



National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2018

Collection Summary

Pearson, George Robert
Papers of George Robert Pearson (as filmed by the AJCP)
Date Range
1880 - 1881
Collection Number
2 items
Language of Materials
Australian Joint Copying Project
The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) online portal was created with the assistance of the Australian Public Service Modernisation Fund, 2017-2020. The National Library of Australia gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the other foundation AJCP partners, the State Library of New South Wales and The National Archives of the UK, and all other organisations which supported the work of the AJCP, the world's most extensive collaborative copying project, operating from 1948 to 1997.


Scope and Contents

Diary September 1880-January 1881, kept while Pearson was a passenger aboard the Lady Jocelyn, travelling from Portsmouth to Auckland, and June-August 1881 on his return trip to England on the SS Chimborazo. The journal gives a detailed account of shipboard life, including domestic arrangements and entertainment arranged by the passengers. Pearson gives brief descriptions of Auckland and Melbourne. A typescript of the diary is included transcribed by Pearson's son.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for access.

Conditions Governing Use

Many of the records digitised as part of the AJCP are still in copyright. Readers wishing to publish or reproduce documents should seek permission, in the first instance, from the owner of the original material.

Preferred Citation

Acknowledgement of use of this material should refer to the location of the original material and to the Australian Joint Copying Project.Items from this collection should include references to the location of the original material and to the AJCP nla.obj number, which serves as the online identifier for the digital copy.

Example:M Series: Journal of Capt. James Cook, 18 February-23 September 1770, British Library Add. MS 27885 (AJCP ref:

Archival History

Filmed as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1978. (AJCP reel M979). Original microfilm digitised as part of the NLA AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.

Existence and Location of Originals

Mr Nelson V. Pearson; Smethwick, Birmingham

Existence and Location of Copies

The original AJCP microfilm of the records filmed from this collection is available at the National Library of Australia [] as well as other institutions holding AJCP microfilm.

Finding Aid Note

This finding aid is a revised online version of the original finding aid prepared by the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP), published by the National Library of Australia in 2018. The original AJCP finding aids were unpublished typescripts or photocopies available from libraries that held copies of the original microfilm.


Auckland, New Zealand: visits to; Chimborazo (ship); Lady Jocelyn (ship); Melbourne, Victoria: visits to; Pearson, George R.; Pearson, Nelson V.; Portsmouth, England


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry number 364, page 139.

Biographical / Historical

George Robert Pearson (1858-1908) was born in Bristol, where he lived most of his life. After leaving school, he worked as an accountant in a tobacco factory, W.O. Bigg & Co., at Lewins Mead in the centre of the city. (The company was taken over by the Imperial Tobacco Company in 1901.) Pearson suffered from severe bronchitis and in 1880 he was advised to go to a warmer climate to escape the coming winter. His employers paid his expenses. Pearson sailed to New Zealand on the Lady Jocelyn as a second class passenger, arriving in Auckland in January 1881. He stayed in Auckland for five months before travelling to Sydney. He returned to England as a third class passenger on the Chimborazo, reaching London in July 1881. In 1885 Pearson married (Amy) Clara Osborne (who is mentioned in the diary).

Item Descriptions

Diary kept by George Pearson on a voyage from London to Auckland on the Lady Jocelyn, and on the return voyage from Sydney to London on the Chimborazo, 22 September 1880 – 7 January 1881, and 11 June – 31 July 1881 (File 1)

This exceptionally detailed diary begins in Bristol with Pearson's departure from his home and family, his journey to London, and his impressions of the sailing ship Lady Jocelyn (captain: George Jenkins). He includes a list of the clothes, utensils and books that he took aboard. The diary refers to the departure from London (27 September 1880), fellow-passengers, Pearson's sea-sickness, chores, shipboard entertainment such as concerts, plays, music and dances, church services, sunrises and sunsets, meals, the quantity of provisions given to each passenger, sightings of dolphins, albatrosses and other sea birds, the slow progress of the ship in the Doldrums, crossing the Equator ceremonies, the sightings of other ships, the first sighting of the Southern Cross, climbing the riggings, Christmas celebrations, rough seas in the Southern Ocean, the first sighting of New Zealand (31 December 1880), landing at Tauranga, encounters with Maoris, disembarkation at Auckland (7 January 1881) and the search for lodgings. At the end, Pearson gives details of the ship, her crew and the passengers and a summary of the voyage, showing their daily position, the distance covered, and remarks.

The second part of the diary begins with the embarkation on the steamship Chimborazo at Sydney (11 June 1881), brief visits to Melbourne and Adelaide, reading, church services, the deaths of passengers, Pearson's work in the galley, sighting of the Arabian coastline, the Suez Canal, impressions of Port Said and Naples, and the arrival at Plymouth (29 July 1881). The diary ends when the ship was at the Downs, near the entrance to the River Thames. Pearson again gives details of the ship and the crew and a summary of the voyage.

The writing is faint, but generally legible.


Typescript copy of the diary of George Pearson by Nelson V. Pearson, the son of George Pearson (File 2)

The transcript has been slightly edited, with short breaks in the text, especially in the first half of the diary. Very occasionally, there are explanatory notes. (134pp)