Guide to the Papers of John Lewis (as filmed by the AJCP)



National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2018

Collection Summary

Lewis, John
Papers of John Lewis (as filmed by the AJCP)
Date Range
1852-1860 (1981)
Collection Number
24 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

Letters of John Lewis to his family written on board SS Great Britain and SS Royal Charter on a voyage to Australia. Transcipts of letters prepared by Mrs Diana Deason.

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 1770, British Library Add. MS 27885 (AJCP ref:

Archival History

Filmed at the private residence of Mrs Diana Deason, England, as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1989 (AJCP Reel: M2344). Original microfilm digitised as part of the NLA AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.

Existence and Location of Originals

The private Residence of Mrs Diana Deason. Gloucestershire, England.

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 Notes

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.

Dates used in this finding aid refer to the date range of the records selected for filming rather than to the date range of the Series or Files.


Emigrant voyages; Great Britain, SS; Lewis, John (chief steward); Royal Charter, SS


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry 277, p.103.

Biographical / Historical

Chief steward on SS Great Britain 1853-1856 and purser on SS Royal Charter 1856-1859.

John Lewis was born in Bristol in 1825 or 1826. He was Chief Steward on the SS Great Britain between 1853 - 1856 and Purser on SS Royal Charter 1856 - 1859. He went down with the ship when it was wrecked off Moelfre, Anglesey in the great storm of 26 October, 1859.

The letters and papers are in the possession of his great Grand daughter Mrs Diana Deason who has very kindly allowed them to be filmed by the AJCP. Mrs Deason has transcribed the letters and the transcripts have been filmed after their relevant letter.

Item Descriptions

Series 1. Introductory remarks to the transcriptions by Mrs Deason. (1p), 1981

Series. SS Great Britain, 22 August 1853 - 7 January 1856

5 items

Great Britain at sea and St Vincent Cape., 22 August 1853 - 24 August 1853 (File 2)

John Lewis to his wife re his health, his duties, death of children and their burial at Cape Verde Islands.

Melbourne, J.L. to wife, 24 November 1853 (File 3)

Re arrival from Sydney; sailing 3 Dec via Falklands - immense amount of gold on board; dirty place; high prices and wages; bringing her a bulla bulla bird.

Accounts of wages, 26 January 1855 - August 1855 (File 4)

Certificate of character and discharge, 21 August 1855 - 7 January 1856 (File 5)

Rules for passengers, n.d. (File 6)


Series. Royal Charter, 16 August 1856 - 25 January 1860

18 items

Liverpool, John Lewis to parents, 3 September 1856 (File 7)

Re ill health; Royal Charter to sail on 10 Oct full of passengers; hard time last voyage.

Royal Charter at sea [enroute to Australia]. John Lewis to wife, 15 March 1857 (File 8)

Re bad weather; two births and no deaths; two fires on board - powder thrown overboard.

Melbourne, John Lewis to daughter, 11 January 1858 (File 9)

Sending her verses, hopes she is good to baby . [verses wanting]

Melbourne. John Lewis to daughter, 30 March 1858 (File 10)

Hopes she is good; to sail for England on 8 April.

Liverpool. John Lewis to mother re birth of son, 15 September 1858 (File 11)

Royal Charter at sea [to Australia]. John Lewis to wife will eat meals regularly, 2 October [1858?] (File 12)

Off Cork, John Lewis to wife has written on Wednesday (see no. 12) he is well, 4 October [1858?] (File 13)

At sea (enroute to Australia). John Lewis to wife, his health, 22 May 1859 (postmark) (File 14)

Gibbs, Bright and Co, (Liverpool) to John Lewis, 2 October 1856 (File 15)

Re his appointment as purser on Royal Charter.

Purser's Instructions (4p) (File 16)

Accounts of wages, 25 April 1857 - 21 October 1857 (File 17)

Certificates of character and of discharge, 16 August 1856 - 21 October 1857 (File 18)

Abstracts of Log Royal Charter 5th voyage (4p), 23 Oct 1858 - 28 Dec 1858 and 30 January 1859 - 4 April 1859 (File 19)

Details of wind, course, coals consumed.

Receipt from Gibbs, Bright and Co., 19 July 1858 (File 20)

Re shortage of supplies on Royal Charter voyage from Melbourne to Liverpool.

F. Cobham, Accidental Death Insurance Co, London, to Mrs Ann Lewis, Bristol, re receipt for policy, 23 January 1860 (File 21)

Copy of receipt signed by Ann Lewis re death insurance policy, 25 January 1860 (File 22)

(Ann Lewis) Bristol to Solby re payment of insurance policy, 25 January (1860) (File 23)

Press cuttings re wreck of Royal Charter papers include Western Daily Press, Morning Post, Times (File 24)