An Invitation to Samuel Shaw for Christmas Dinner

Xmas tree

I don’t suppose you my dear Great, Great, Great Grandfather have ever been to Australia, even though your eldest daughter, Emily, eventually settled here? I suspect you may have liked the idea though and I wonder what you would think of it, a seasoned Captain of the sea such as yourself?

You are said to be a native of Killyleagh, does that mean you were born there? I am not sure, the question seems to be debatable, but I take it as that. Growing up beside Strangford Lough I am sure you learnt the ways of the sea. Samuel, at some stage your parents, that I believe to be John and Mary Shaw, moved to Hollywood. Did you go with them or were you already in Belfast then and did they follow you?  Was it in Belfast where you began a career that took you on many adventures and to faraway places? I am sure there is many a story you could tell. I suspect some of the tales my Great, Great, Grandmother wrote were inspired by your tales of the sea. If my father was there the two of you could swap sea stories all night.

I would love to ask about your family – did you have brothers and sisters or, were you an only child? Is that what is meant on Mary’s burial record at Clifton Street – “Mary Shaw relict of John Shaw born at Killileagh who came to Belfast from Hollywood. One son settled in Belfast”. How many children did you have? Are there more for me to discover, or have I added one or two by mistake? No parish records make it hard going but I think I have it right?

 What was Isabella, your wife and my Great, Great, Great Grandmother like? Was she the daughter of William McMorran and Eliza Pringle and from Downpatrick like I think she was? You all packed up and went to live in St John, New Brunswick in about 1836. It is said you regularly sailed between Belfast and St John. What made you take that big move and why did you return again to Belfast in about 1844? Was sailing getting too much for you by then, or did you just miss home?

Perhaps it was getting too much because soon after, by 1846 at the age of about 57, Samuel Shaw appears to have retired from his sailing life. I find you listed in the Directories as the Overseer of Delivery for the Ballast Corporation then and, again, you were listed as Clerk of Delivery for the Harbour Commissioners in 1856. You carved out a career with the Ballast Corporation that continued on for the rest of your life. Promotion must have happened during the following years and in 1861 you are listed as Superintendent of Ballast Delivery. At this time you were living at 35 Henry Street. Your son, Thomas once gave 35 Henry Street as an address so I think the family lived there for quite some time?

It was sad to read in the Belfast Newsletter of your passing away from old age on 3rd November 1869, where, at that time, you lived at 4 Eglinton Street. Your son, O’Connell had the sad task of registering your death and the following Obituary appeared in the Belfast Newsletter 4 November, 1869:

DEATH OF CAPTAIN SHAW: Our readers will learn with regret from our paper of to-day the death of Captain Samuel Shaw, at the time of his decease, the oldest master mariner in Belfast. In early life he was a successful master in Langtry’s line of packets in the Liverpool and London trades. For upwards of the last twenty years of his life he acted as clerk of ballast under the Belfast Harbour Commissioners. Through life he was remarkable for his knowledge of navigation, and devoted pursuit after its development. As an officer of the port he was revered by all on account of his many talents and quiet inoffensive disposition.

So please come to dinner on Christmas Day, I would love to meet you, talk with you and for you to see my children, your descendants and what lovely adults they have become. I could introduce you to some others who are also your descendants, if you wouldn’t find it all too much. I hope you would be proud of them. I certainly am of you.


© 2015 Lynette Nunn