The 574 ton U.S. Ship James Pennell, was built at Pennelville (a part of Brunswick), Maine, in 1848 by Pennell Brothers. It was named after James Pennell, the third of the five brothers who constituted the firm. 
On October 1, 1850 the William Rex Family boarded the James Pennell at Liverpool, England, as part of the 254 souls traveling to America. The following information is from the Diary of William L. Cutler , unless otherwise indicated. I included the deaths he noted in brackets near the appropriate date. Their voyage was called “ordinary” in the Millennial Star account mentioned earlier. The William and Mary Mead Rex Family was part of this company, it is “extraordinary” to me.
According to an October 1, 1850 letter from Orson Pratt and Franklin D. Richards, Presidents in Great Britain & Ireland, Brother Cutler was appointed to preside over this company of Latter-day Saints sailing to New Orleans. Elders Christopher Layton and Henry Webb were called as his counselors.
At 7:00 a.m. on the 2nd the ship left the dock and went out into the Mersey River where it anchored throughout the day. An inspector and several Elders visited the ship “to take the last shake of the hand, and to bid us farewell until we should meet in the land of Zion.”
That night all assembled upon the quarter-deck and were read a letter of instructions which received universal sanction from the company. Following a comfortable night’s rest all were awakened at 4 a.m. by the tow boat fastening to the ship. The anchor was raised and they began their trip down the River Mersey. The next day, “The wind continues unfavorable yet the weather was very pleasant and we glided smoothly over the water.” The wind began to blow and the rain to fall on the 5th and “seasickness seized nearly all on board.”
On Sunday, the 6th [death-C. Meek], “after an almost restless night, we arose and found that the ship had had to contend with a severe headwind all night. The wind continued all day and a considerable part of the time it rained, and the sea frequently rolled over the bulwarks and we were compelled to have the hatches fastened down, which caused great suffering among our sick.” On the 7th "the storm continued through the night, and the morning presented a miserable and gloomy scene to our view and continued through the day. Nearly all our passengers were sick and not able to wait upon themselves or anyone else, and even the captain and mate were seasick. They said they had not experienced such a storm for three years. At sunset the storm began to abate.”
8th “The weather was a little more favorable and in the afternoon we ventured to open the hatchways to get a few of the passengers on deck.” The morning of the 9th “our hearts were cheered by a pleasant breeze and a clear sky and the restoration of the most of our sick and we passed quite a pleasant day upon the deck. At night we had a meeting for the purpose of making further arrangements relative to the organization of the company and to instruct and cheer the hearts of the Saints. Brothers [Christopher] Layton, [Heber] Webb and myself occupied the time.”
On Sunday the 13th they planned on having two meetings on the quarter-deck, but rain and showers “of which we have had more or less every day” prevented them from gathering there.
Sarah B. Layton, a passenger on the James Pannell, later wrote, “After I had been on the sea about two weeks I was taken down with a severe cold, and was so bad that I could hardly move. The captain told Brother Layton to take me out and put me in a chair on deck. This he did without telling me what it was for. But I soon found out, for I had not been there long before a great wave came in sight, and I sitting, there helpless and alone. I was fastened to the chair and the wave rolled over me and drenched me through. It made me angry, for I could not so much as change.”—from “Autobiography of Sarah B. Layton,” Woman’s Exponent 29:18-19 (February 15 and March 1, 1901) pp. 86-87.
The 19th counted two deaths: last night 2-yr old A. Ashwell and this afternoon, 29 yr-old E. Matthews.
Sunday the 20th the wind increased during the night, and the rain continued. On the 21st ”wind continued during the night and the sea became rougher than any since we started. Between 12 & 10 [sic] o’clock the wind had subsided so that we ventured to open the hatchways which was a great relief to our passengers who were very sick & had suffered much for the want of fresh air. We had a general cleaning out below and when night came they began to be quite cheerful. Also the sea became quite calm.”
The deck was dry for the first time in seventeen days was noted on the 22nd.
23 “We had a very pleasant day. At night we called 30 men of our company together, whom we had selected to act as watchmen for the remainder of the voyage. This was done because some were not willing to do that duty & they neglected it when they pretended to do it. The men whom we selected consented to act as watchmen & do what they were or should be instructed to do. One of our principal objects was to keep a few females in their proper place, after bed time & to prevent any person from going above or below deck unless they had special business."
Sunday, October 27 “Had a pleasant breeze and a fine day, being the first pleasant Sunday we have been favored with since we left Liverpool.” They held multiple meetings ... “I was so sick that I could not take any part in the service of the day; in fact I could not set [sic] up but a small portion of the time pain in my head, chest, & lungs. Those persons who have been so rebellious & caused us so much trouble, this day made a confession of their faults & promised to observe the regulations of the company & to obey our counsel for the future. This gave great satisfaction to all our company.”
28 “This day was very warm & but little wind, in fact I might say we had a calm. The first mate (Franklin Bartlet) caught a dolphin. The captain had it cooked & gave it to us to divide among the sick & aged. At 6 ½ p.m. we called a meeting when Brothers Layton & Webb addressed the company & gave them counsel upon various subjects, which was needed very much."
Brother Cutler wrote on the 31st that “At night we had a meeting between decks when Brother William Rex, Aldons and myself occupied the time."
(To be continued.)
1. William Arnstrong Fairburn, Merchant Sail (Center Lovell, Maine: Fairburn Marine Educational Foundation, [1945-55]), V.3303-3304.
2. Diary of William L. Cutler, James Pennell (October 1850), Mormon Immigration Index, Personal Accounts.
Photocopy of immigrants is something I copy 10-15 years ago from a long forgotten source.