the 1860s and 70s, which marked the peak of Irish emigration to
Argentina (with the exception of 1889 Dresden), the most active
shipping company was Lamport & Holt, or Liverpool, Brazil and
River Plate Steam Navigation Co. Lamport & Holt was established
in 1845. In 1863, they began to sail to and from Brazil and the
River Plate. In that year, ‘the Company despatched 2 vessels
to South America from Liverpool; in 1864, 8; in 1865, 24; and in
1866, 41’ [Howat 1984: 159]. Their business was carefully
planned, as part of the migration market that began to increase
significantly during those years.
number of British settlers in these States [Uruguay and Argentina]
is immensely large – and, unlike most other fields which attract
Emigration, they comprise all classes of society from Upper middle
class downwards. A very great number of the estancias and saladeros
(ranches and meat-salting plants) in the country are the property
of and managed and worked by Englishmen [Lamport to Scudamore, 15
June 1868, in: Howat 1984: 161].
1868, Lamport & Holt signed the contract with the Royal Mail
to service South American ports. The fifth article of the agreement
established that ‘the voyage from Liverpool to Buenos Aires
was to take no more than 34 days, including the stoppages at Rio
de Janeiro and Montevideo’ [Howat 1984: 162]. Indeed, that
year the average journey was 30.5 days, and in 1869, 30.8 days.
Later in the late 1880s, Lamport & Holt vessels sailed 'from
Antwerp under the Belgian flag, and call at Shouthampton, it being
stated that they do not carry more than forty-nine passengers (emigrants)'
[Board of Trade to Foreign Office, 15 April 1889].
in 1892, 'the voyage direct, in 22 days, is not so amusing as when
the steamer touches at various ports. In the former case Madeira
is generally sighted on the fifth day, and Montevideo 17 days later.
Nine times out of ten the sea is as calm as a mill-pond, except
crossing the Bay of Biscay. The distance from Southampton to Montevideo
is 6,126 nautical, equal to 6,739 English statute, miles' [Mulhall
1892: 67]. The same source adds that:
is reached on the fifth day from England, [...] the Canary Islands
are 4 days from Lisbon, Cape Verds are 3 days from the Canaries,
Fernando Noronha (a small, rocky island used as a Brazilian penal
settlement, and has a lighthouse) is sighted on the seventh day
from Cape Verds, the first point of the continent visible is Cape
San Roque, which juts out into the Atlantic, 200 miles N. of Pernambuco.
[...] From Pernambuco to Bahia is only 36 hours by sea, distance
450 miles. Rio Janeyro is 860 miles from Bahia, the voyage taking
3 days. From Rio Janeyro to Montevideo is 1,100 miles, and takes
from 4 to 5 days, according to weather. Stiff pamperos are sometimes
met with off the mouth of the River Plate, where the numerous sandbanks
made the navigation so difficult in the old times of sailing vessels
that sailors called it Boca de Infierno. Even before land be in
sight the colour of the ocean is changed by the volume of fresh
water from the River Plate, 52 million cubic feet per minute. [...]
Montevideo is seen to great advantage from the bay, the Cerro completing
the picture. [...] At Buenos Ayres the customs officers are very
polite, but will certainly charge duty on whatever may not be for
personal use in the passenger's baggage [Mulhall 1892: 67-73]".