William Fea's Sojourn to Peru

It was in 1837, the year after his father's bankruptcy and the same year that his older brother emigrated to America, that William Fea set sail for Peru. He embarked on the Lady Charlotte from Liverpool on 26th September.

He arrived four months later on 26th January 1838. His first impression of Lima in the distance was that it was oriental looking with its numerous domes and towers. It was fronted by the bay and backed by the stupendous Ural Mountains. William thought it like a scene from the Arabian Nights.

On one occasion, William experienced an earthquake. While he may have wished for the experience, having had it he found it so awful and terrifying the he had no wish for a reoccurrence. Balconies came down, the high tower of Santo Domingo lean over and the inhabitants fled for their lives or sought the safest place: the archway of a door.

William also attended a bullfight and refers to the arrival of an elephant in Lima, which caused a great sensation. He mentions it to be the first time that an elephant and been seen in the city. This was in 1838.

Lima and Peru were in a state of political unrest at the time. William first arrived in Peru at Callao Bay and stayed with General Miller at his residence there while working in a commercial office in Lima. The evening of William's arrival was not exactly uneventful as three Chilean ships hove into view, were fired upon and sent off. William subsequently moved into Lima. Business came to a standstill with the unrest caused by further Chilean action, a few months later, and William considered himself fortunate in obtaining his position.

Political unrest was again gathering in 1841 and continued for some years. Unfortunately, there is a gap in William Fea's diary of some seven years from 1841. For some reason, pages have been cut out and nothing is readable until January 1848.

William Fea set out on his return voyage to England at half past five on 16th June 1848 on the Callao under Captain Moon and had a last glimpse of San Lorenzo. The voyage was as monotonous as the outward one. His time was perhaps tinted by the fact that he was returning as he mentions the excellent crew, officers and food.

I sleep at night like a Black Sea duck and dream of old Canterbury.

William Fea

He considered the Callao to exceed the Lady Charlotte in grace and general pluckiness. There were the usual gales off Cape Horn in July.

There has not been a dry spot on deck for many days past, neither fore nor aft, and walking is out of the question; it is hard work to hold on to the weather rail, but so far, no bones broken.

William Fea

On 21st July 1848, the "little brig" was literally covered with ice and snow and the rigging thickly encased. The chief officer was laid up with frostbite.

A great change for the better came with the Trade Winds but this was not until nearly August 1848. They hooked a large shark, which was hoisted on board and dissected. This caused some concern until its tail was chopped off with the carpenter's axe and it ceased to struggle.

William expressed delight at seeing the sunshine again and having the window open.

Unfortunately, the diary ends there abruptly and nothing is known of the reunion on his return to England after an absence of ten and a quarter years.