Wooden paddle steamer Britannia built Dawson & Pearson,
320 grt, 219 nrt, 136 x 24.3 x 14 ft; engines by Fawcett & Co.
Owned City of Dublin Steam Packet Co., registered Dublin from 1843
19 April 1849, voyage Dublin to Liverpool with 414 deck passengers
3 passengers died of exposure to cold
In the late 1840s, because of the Irish potato famine, there were large numbers of poor Irish wishing to emigrate. There was great concern that deck passengers crossing from Dublin (and other Irish ports) to Liverpool were treated worse than the cattle also carried. A report by Captain Denham in 1849 presents this evidence - and makes proposals for a more humane procedure.
From Liverpool Mercury - Tuesday 24 April 1849
INQUESTS. On Thursday last [19 April 1849], Elizabeth Noon and her child, and a man whose name could not be ascertained, died from exposure to cold on board one of the Dublin steamers. The deceased parties were deck passengers on board the steamer Britannia, Captain Sarsfield, which left Dublin for this port on Thursday night. The weather was exceedingly cold, accompanied with snow and hail, from which the deck passengers suffered severely, having no covering or protection of any kind. About six o'clock on Friday morning, Elizabeth Noon and child were so much affected by the cold that the former was taken into the cabin, where, though every attention was paid her, she died shortly afterwards. The child was placed in the engine-room, when, on examination, it was found to be dead. About nine o'clock the same morning, a man, unknown, was found lying dead upon the deck. It was stated by one of the passengers that the boat was so much crowded that a number of the passengers were obliged to go on the paddle-boxes. There were 414 deck passengers. All the unfortunate deceased were quite well when they left Dublin. The medical testimony was, that death had resulted from exposure to cold and the inclemency of the weather. A verdict was returned accordingly.