52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week Seven.

Topic: Outcast.

I have chosen a broad interpretation – “someone different from the others” but without the usual connotations of being cast out as a pariah.

My Great Uncle George Johnston (1855-1885) certainly fits this bill. With 12 close uncles and aunts and almost 40 first cousins in Scotland, he was the first seaman in his extended family.

Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that he was born in Tasmania, Australia a few weeks after his parents Alexander Johnston and Margaret Lyle arrived from Glasgow on the Storm Cloud in 1855 after a voyage of 71 days in the stormiest seas of the world.

He must have started at sea before he was aged 20. A number of letters George wrote to his family in Tasmania show that he spent many years on cargo and passenger boats, both sail and steam, plying between the Far East, The British Isles, North and South America and Australasia. He visited his extended family in Glasgow whenever possible and often mentioned them in letters home, making the letters a great treasure trove for this family historian!

Sadly George lost his life at sea when he was only 29. Not on the high seas in a howling storm, but off the Australian coast in reasonable weather when the powerful screw steamer on which he was second mate ran aground. He was posthumously awarded a gold medal for bravery.

His full story is at https://nancyvada.me/sailing/george-johnston-sailor-boy/

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