Newspapers, always a rewarding source, can provide a surprising amount of information if the family historian is prepared to go the extra mile, extract as much as possible on the topic being investigated, and carefully interpret the details.
An example is the arrival at Natal of the ship Silvery Wave in November 1863. The passenger list, with those of other vessels, appears in The Natal Mercury of 3 November.
Continuing the forward search, on 13 November a more substantial nugget emerges: an account of the voyage of the Silvery Wave ‘by a passenger’. Reports of this type aren't uncommon and are often combined with an expression of thanks to captains as well as ships’ surgeons for their skills in making the voyage as pleasant as possible for all on board. These ‘testimonials’ published in the press were a feature of successful mid-19th century voyages before the increase in sailings, and consequently in captains, made such personal expressions of gratitude obsolete.
To be continued ...