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Voyages from the Past (ePub)

A History of Passengers at Sea

Maritime P&S History Social History 1915

By Dr Simon Wills
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
File Size: 10.0 MB (.epub)
Pages: 176
Illustrations: 16-page plate section
ISBN: 9781473842731
eBook Released: 22nd October 2014


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From the days of sail to the majestic ocean liners of the twentieth century, this is a history of British sea travel from a passenger's point of view.

Each chapter narrates one traveller's voyage based on their first-hand description, and the day-to-day details of their experience. Their stories, some previously unpublished, illustrate the evolution of journeys by sea, exploring three and a half centuries of maritime travel. Simon Wills transports readers from Elizabethan times to the eve of the Second World War, on voyages to destinations all over the world.

The passengers featured in this book came from all walks of life, and travelled for many different reasons. There were emigrants seeking a new life abroad, such as the pilgrims on the Mayflower, and others hoping to be reunited with their families like Phoebe Amory on the ill-fated Lusitania in 1915. The author Henry Fielding travelled to improve his health, whilst the wealthy George Moore crossed the Atlantic on Brunel's Great Western to do business.

Yet, whether travelling in steerage or first class, every passenger could experience trials and tribulations at sea – from delayed sailing schedules and poor diet, to the greater hazards of disease, enemy action, and shipwreck.

This engaging collection of stories illustrates the excitements, frustrations, and dangers of sea travel for our forebears. Family historians will perhaps identify with a voyage taken by an ancestor, while those with an interest in maritime or social history can explore how passenger pursuits, facilities, and experiences at sea have developed over time.

'Simon Wills learns about a fascinating Scottish family history society project to capture the stories of local convicts over a period of nearly a century'

Family Tree, June 2018

Author article 'My ancestor went to sea' as featured in

Discover Your Ancestors, issue 7

Author article 'Headstone hunter' as featured in

Family Tree, April 2018

Author article as featured in

Family Tree, February 2018

Author article on finding Peterloo roots as featured in

Family Tree, January 2018

Author article on preserving the past online as featured in

Family Tree, January 2018

“Voyages From the Past” fascinates and entertains while rejuvenating the maritime adventure genre. It is worthy of a spot on your bookshelf alongside the finest adventure thrillers.

The Indy Squadron Dispatch

As featured in part of author article

Family Tree, October 2016

As featured in part of author Q&A

Family Tree, September 2016

As featured in.

Family Tree Magazine May 2016

As featured in.

Family Tree - April 2016

As featured in...

Family Tree - March 2016

This is an engaging review of a way of life and travel that is now long gone. This is perhaps a genealogist's view of the subject, bringing it to life through the people who took passage, the sailors, and the people who built and operated the ships. This is a book that deserves a wide audience because it contains so many fascinating cameos and a great period in history.


This book covers a huge and fascinating subject in a manageable style and clear format. Its major strength is in introducing a range of important historical sources in an accessible way.
For family historians who want to get a flavour of what their forebears may have experienced on board, there is much to reflect on in these stories.
This is a book that whets the appetite, and the clearly structured bibliography will be useful for readers who want to become more familiar with the sources that Wills has chosen.

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine

A hugely welcome guide to the history of sea travel from the passenger's point of view. Laden with descriptions of adventurous sea travel from the passenger's viewpoint, 'Voyages from the Past' is a must for fans of British sea travel. A well-assembled collection of first-hand accounts of sea voyage and a lovely read for those with seafarers in the family.

Your Family Tree
Dr Simon Wills

About Dr Simon Wills

Dr Simon Wills is a maritime genealogist, researcher and author, who writes for many genealogy and history magazines including Who Do You Think You Are?, Family Tree, Discover Your History, and Your Family Tree. He has over 25 years' experience researching maritime history and also works part-time as an information adviser to the NHS and other healthcare organisations.

Mayflower's departure for America

16th September 1620

On 16 September 1620, English colonists aboard the Mayflower set sail for America, where they established the first permanent New England colony in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

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