Tom Cary Durston

Tom Cary Durston was a sailor. He was born at Bleadon December 9, 1859, the son of Martha and Thomas Durston of South Hill farm.He evidently was an apprentice seaman on the Rodney (a square rigged vessel 235 feet long and 38 feet abeam), from 9/8/(18)76 to 9/8/(18)80. At the conclusion of this he applied to be examined as mate and declared that he held the rank of second mate. On July 13, 1883 he applied to be examined as chief mate, adding an additional two years and two months at sea to his experience on the Rodney, during which time, according to Rodney historians, she made at least two voyages to Australia and return. He passed these examinations on July 17 and was awarded his first mate certificate. These facts were brought to light by Mr. Edward Gamley, who was doing research in 1982 on a voyage of the Hawksebury, upon which Tom Cary acted as first mate on a voyage to Australia.

Working from only an old notebook which recorded the date (but no year) and longitude and latitude notations, Mr Gamley was able to decipher that Hawksebury set sail from London May 12, 1884 and made her way to Sydney, Australia. This notebook had been brought to Canada by Arthur Durston (brother) and found its way to Isabelle Heron (Arthur's granddaughter). Thinking that the author might have been a Gamley, Mr. Gamley set about to discover the voyage and worked with port authorities, archivists, handwriting experts, and a host of other interested participants. He discovered that the author was Tom Cary Durston and was rewarded to discover that Durston was Mrs Heron's mother's maiden name..

Elsewhere in the family, Charles Arthur Durston has a ruled notebook which also came to Canada with Arthur Durston. In the front cover is written the words "Ship Hawkesbury" and inside is a detailed accounting of rope stores which were brought on board May 7, 1884, the lengths of rope on the various places on the ship, and the useage of each piece of rope by date. Of course the handwriting matches that on the log examined by Mr. Gamley, and the dates coincide with the same voyage, thereby confirming Mr Gamley's research. The notebook was later turned over by Arthur and used to keep an accounting of his farming efforts in Canada. At least two other belongings of Tom Cary made their way to Canada with Arthur, a sea trunk with the name T.C.Durston carved in script and a seaman's whistle, now in the possession of Cliff Durston .

Tom Cary was dead by the time his parents will was probated in 1901 and there was no mention of him there. He was also dead by the time Arthur left home in 1887 since he had so many of Tom's personal belongings. He evidently thought a great deal of Tom since he named his first son Tom (not the "Thomas" of his own father). If one reads the research and the logbook carefully, one finds that the trip is only recorded in one direction, although Tom Cary signed off the ship back in London on March 2, 1885 with a note that he "did not appear" (to collect his wages). Possibly he was incapacitated even then and unable to continue as first mate on the return voyage.

Tom Cary Durston died in London at 10 Woodstock Road on March 27, 1885. Cause of death is listed on his death certificate as "Blood Poisoning, Cynanche Maligna 5 days." (Cynanche Maligna might have been the term used for diptheria or quinsy). His Brother, William F Durston, Was present at his death and reported it to authorities.

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