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James Coltart


Diary of James Coltart
Submitted by Sarah M. Iredale


The volume in which this Journal was written was discovered about the year 1879 in an old book-case in the house of my Uncle, Mr. John Coltart of Kirkcudbright. The book-case and its contents had come into his possession from his Father, Baillie Robert Coltart of Gatehouse-of-Fleet, who was a brother of James Coltart, the writer of the Journal.

Samuel, John, Robert and James Coltart were, respectively, eldest, second, sixth and eighth sons of my Great-grandfather, John Coltart, the "old man" of the Journal. In 1793, the Kirk-Session of Girthon issued a signed certificate, which is in my possession

"That the Bearer John Coltart an Unmarried Man came to this parish about Four years and a half ago with a good Character & Has resided in it ever since. That he has maintained an honest & irreproachable Character free form the least Ground of Censure is in name of this Session attested."

According to the family records, Samuel (the "Sam1" of the Journal) "left Gatehouse for America on the 17th of July 1817 & sailed from Belfast on the 11th of Augt following." John "sailed from Dumfries for America on the 8th of August 1818, and may therefore have been home on a visit when, in the Journal, he is returning to America with his little son James. The family record exactly confirms what is told in the Journal, namely, that "James Coltart left Gatehouse for America on the 19 February 1833 and sailed from Liverpool on the 7th March following."

Samuel was born in 1794, John in 1796, and James in 1811. Samuel and John lived until 1873 and 1859 respectively, but James, our diarist, died a violent death at Matagorda (Texas) in 1839, six years after penning the pages here copied out. Samuel and John lived out their days in Alabama and Tennessee where the Journal leaves them. Robert, my Grandfather, a merchant and farmer, never left Gatehouse.

When James Coltart left home in 1833, his Mother had been dead three years, and all his brothers were either abroad or dead, except my Grandfather. On July 4th of that year, the date when the Journal concludes, my grandparents were married, and it was a well-remembered saying of my Grandfather's that the anniversary of the day on which the Americans got their Independence was the anniversary of his losing his.

Gatehouse is a Scottish Burgh of Barony, near the mouth of the Fleet in Galloway, and some eight miles from Kirkcudbright, the county town; in a most beautiful countryside, Gatehouse is conspicuous for its charming situation. A railway-station some six or eight miles away has recently been re-named, "Gatehouse-of-Fleet," but the little old burgh is now no nearer the railway than it was fifty years ago. The Fleet divides the Burgh in two, half of it lying within the parish of Anwoth and the rest in the parish of Girthon. Four miles away, under the shadow of Auld Girthon Kirk, ivy-clad and ruinious, the "old man" was buried in 1844, in the grave where, 14 years earlier, he had laid his wife, and where four of his sons also lay. Half of the enclosure is the resting-place of the Clintons, to one of whom the Journal is addressed; the other half pertains to the Coltarts. The tombstone of the Coltarts was erected by Samuel and John and Andrew (of Antigua) to the memory of their Mother and brothers, before the decease of their Father.

I gather from the Journal that Mrs. Clinton ("Aunty Peggy") was James Coltart's aunt, but I cannot trace whether she was the sister of his Father or his Mother.

The reader will see that James Coltart was a candlemaker and that his cousin, John Clinton, was a tailor. He seems to have been recently married and the father of a baby son.


The Journal, in which the reader will see that the Diarist blames both pen and ink and paper, the shakiness of the coaches and the pitching of the ship, is in places rather a difficult thing to read. Beginning with decent vacant spaces to face the address, he finds his story incomplete when the last square inch of the last page is filled. The whole book is then again filled up with crosswriting, using the pages sidewise, and last of all are what I have called "mis-placed pages" which are crushed into all the vacant corners which have been left empty in his original plan of the book.

The book has a leather cover, one pocket (containing the strip of yellow paper) and a tape binder with which one can tie it shut. At the finish his name, "James Coltart" is printed in what he quaintly terms "tipe."

I feel sure that some errors must be blamed on my transcription; but I have tried to re-produce faithfully James Coltart's eighty-year-old spelling and capital letters and punctuation, all of them "original," like the man himself.

Few things in all literature have fascinated and charmed me more than the happy hours which I have spent in disentangling the quaint humanity of this young Scotsman, travelling with his eyes open and his pen busy. I have come to love the man, and I am proud to claim him as a kinsman.


John George Moffat

Chestnut Grove




To Mr John Clinton Gatehouse of fleet Scotland _____


Journal of James Coltart from Gatehouse of fleet Scotland to Huntsville State of Alabama North America


James Coltart

Feby 19 = 1833 _____


Left my dear friends at Girthon Manse = trudged on to Kirkcudbt heavy enough about the heart = Dinorwick ready to sail for Liverpool = got some Provisions and went on board took fare well of JA = was towed down the river as far as fish house = no wind = saw J Armour & Mrs Hornel at a long distance looking after us = perhaps saying poor soul he'll likely never be here again = he was a funny sort o a creature but only warst for himsell = John and Jas stopt all night at McMinns Nun Mill I slept on board

20 - Sailed at 12 o'clock noon fair wind = went down the river scriven = 3 PM = a disemal boal o a sea on as the Deacin says = we all three went down to Cabin-and got sick immediately John & Jas got to bed - I lay down at the bottem of the cabin did not rise for 24 hours Sick Sick aye tremendious sick Jn & Js was as bad as myself = we soon filled a bucket with the assistance of a few woman but the afful thing was = when it was full it  and I was the only two that was at the bottem of the Cabin what must I tell you = the boat give a great list down came the bucket with all its contents about my lugs and face = indeed I did not care about it at the time but when I think on it now I shudder = cast anchor of the Isle of Man at 4PM the storm is now over and now a calm

22 - Wind N E = saw stumps standing out of the water it was a ship that foundered on the banks in the storm got into Dock at 1/2 Past 11AM  Went to Mr Murdoch where we intend to stop a week = had a call of J Murray went to John Nish's with him = met with G Stewart there had a great crack about G = returned at 10PM with J M = could hardly pass the Theatre for a set of Heifers

23 - went to sloop to get our Luggage Paid 1/6 for Cartage = went to Princes Dock saw great many fine Ships we intend to sail in Great briton for N Y the cabin is very fine not under the Cally house in any one thing = went to see Willie Scambell at 9PM he is the same old man

Sunday 24 -11 AM went to High Church St Luke's uncommly taken up with the Organ and Female Singers = it almost Dumfoundered me = 3 PM went to docks with J N looked for R Broadfoot could not find the vessel = hir name is Rusco Castle = come home and read my Bible to 9 then went to bed =

25 - Went to Dock with Mr Murdoch Paid our Passage to N Y in Great Briton Paid L13 for all three in 2nd Cabin we have to Provide our own Provisions = 1st cabin L25 per man thinks it is rather saut for our stomachs = she is the largest and best ship in Dock at least gets that name = got Dinner = went to new cemetry saw where Huskison was burried = grandest Place I ever saw = had a call of Robt Broadfoot thinks he is ratherly a wild inclined boy Swares much and can drink his glass well = 19[10] PM washed my clarinette then to bed

26 - John sets off to Manchester by railway at 10 AM went to meet him at 5 in the Afternoon = was much taken up with the steam carrages = did not see her going at full speed = had a call of Miss Wilson at 8 PM convoyed her home at 10

27 - Went to Ship intends to sail to-morrow = goes to markett Purchases a few things for Pasage - 3 PM John has got a violent pain in his breast = gets very much affraid for him = a singing club meets here once a fortnight all Scotch lads = some very good singers but none like our Alexander among the whole tote

28 - Packs up for our Journey at 9 AM = John no better = went to dock with our luggage = no signs of sailing = a letter just arrives from father = went to Miss Wilsons drank two cups of Tea = on the way coming home met with two of the Lados which asked me very civally to go to there house = misca'at them for real Heifers and walked on = John no better

March 1 - 1833 - very rainy and blowy morning went to ship found everything locked up = had Miss Wilsons company from 8 to 10 PM = went to bed at 10 minutes Past 11 = John a little better

2 - goes to dock = wind straight a Head - went to railway saw many fine things = put my name on one of the arch's which the engines runs through saw a great many engines passing and repassing every one then on road - no person has any Idea of them until thy see = on the way coming home saw a great many fine churches uncommonly splendid = called at Miss Wilsons and got a Glass of Holland Gin = we have our Porridge morning and evening = goes to ship with John expects not to sail before monday = had a call of J M & J N = in the evening had a glass of beer along with them

3 - Went to Dock found all correck = went to hear Mr Spence cecedar minister = afternoon goes to dock with Miss Murdoch and J Murray John goes to High Church = on our way to dock met David Broadfoot very much wether beaten = Murray and I calls at Guiballs on Miss W = is offered some Gin takes none = went to bed at 1/2 Pass 7

4 - ship ready to sail is hauled down to Dock Gates = cant get of before next morning = on my way home see a Police Caravan full of well Dressed Bitches or real Heifers put into bridewell either 14 or 15 = went to Miss W to pass the time a little came home at 9 AM found J Murray waiting upon us = asked me whare the deavl I had been = went to see Mrs Jones Moses Henderson Daughter = Margaret = finds D and R Broadfoot = all came to Mr Murdochs & had a glass of beer

5 - went to Ship = wind straight a head = there will be nearly 70 Passengers I understand = had a comfortable walk with Miss Wilson to the Principal parts of the town = thinks she is very kind in showing me the beauties of the town = had a peep at the News room = Splended = had a call of J N and J Murray had a walk to market house = wrote a letter to John Clinton if you know such a man = John propses to have some tea in the morning

6 - went to ship = Wind ahead = 12 o clock noon = wrote a letter to Gatehouse

7 - Set sail for New York at 2 minutes to eleven o clock AM Towed to Hollyhead with a steamer = just when starting a rope tooke the foot of an Irishman and through him over board for Poor man could Swim none - he was just sinking the 3rd time when a small boat came up and saved his life 1/4 of a minute more he would have been in eternity

Passed some ships which sailed on monday before we were 60 miles out and 2nd Cabin Passengers is like to kike up a row about about Steerage Passengers coming in to our Cabin they were all put out by Captain French's orders

8 - fine breese from N E gets very sick = all on board are sick but the crew exceptong 3 or 5 no meat cooked or ate to day

9 - a good deal better this morning = made some Porridge for breakfast I cannot give you a corecke statement as long as I am this way = expects to clear the Channel this evening = we have on board 1 Clarinett 2 Violons = good regularity keept among sailors you will seldom hear their word there is no Spirits allowed among them = 2 P M Passed a Ship with one of hir masts blown away = going at the rate of 8 Nots or 8 miles per hour wind I think N E I am sory to say that there is no sunday on board I know no difference from Saturday = 11 A M runs 9 Nots passes a brig with great speed 5 P M more than 9 Nots went to bed at 6

11 - none sick on board = I may say that their was only 1 days sickness = I am sorry that I cannot tell you the Lat & Lon as we go along but the fack is the Captain wont tellus = if we have the same wind we will be their in 3 weeks erecked an other grate as the one was two small for so many people = runs 8 Nots 11 A M made some stovies for dinner with our ham = 3 P M 7 Nots = comenced at 6 P M musick to 9 = went to bed =

12 - in the middle of the night hears some hubble upon deck = I beleave one of the sailors had got some drink from some of the Passengers and fell asleep while upon watch the Captain had found him so = and gave him a kick with his foot they immediately lifted Handspeets to each other but fortuneatly did not strike the captain told John that if he had had his Pistols loded he would have blown his brains out = they care very little for the life of a man here = = wind N N W = sees a ship about 12 miles off going the same course = a very stif brease = 9 Nots = their is 16 beds in our cabin 25 in steerage all capable of holding three in each - 4 in a pinch = the more Packed in a bed their is less rolling = made up on a brig = with hir sails reifed she is bound for Britain = wind fair = at 5 P M made some Coffee roasted a reed herrings for Jn a white one for myself = comenced musick & singing till 10 o clock = then retired to rest

13 - very stormy morning and heavy sea = made some Porridge runs 10 Nots per hour = we are 13 or 14 Hunderd miles on our Passage at any rate thinks that if Aunty Peggy was here and see the Waves flying like Mountains she would make a dreadfull fuss- Jas is very sick = every meal he takes for these two or three days he through it to the Leaward = Ponders over Miss Broadfoots songbook = find it very entertaining = some things sutes me exactly = still very stormy runs 9 Nots = reifed 3 topsails had a game at catch the ten and a song = reads a book of travels in upper Canada = I like well to hear about a score of salors singing while they are pulling a rope they have a real sea song the cerword is Charlie ho - it looks very beautiful

14 - Wind N E runs 7 Nots = a very stormy morning - my turn to wash the cabin and keept it clean for half a week I have the double of any of the rest as I have to do Johns part too = Unreifed topsails fine steddy wind Passed a ship for Britain = thinks of W Munroe was two or three days at sea and get his stomach empyed he would be a new man he complains very much of the boil of the Stomach - had some musick and Dancing

15 - had to start to kindle fire and keep it up thorugh the day I have the double of the rest at this two = made some Porridge = we are allowed half a Gallon of water a piece per day = 3 P M a large beem fell from the top of the main mast and went down through a 4 inch board if it lighted on one of us it would killed us imeadiately a little boy was not 1/2 a yd from it = I was not 1 1/2 myself all Passingers was on deck being a fine day = enfernal bad Paper to write on = 5 P M fine steddy breese 2 studding sail out of the fore mast

16 - fine fair wind going 10 Nots = I had a mote in my eye which troubled me for 2 hrs very much = a very heavey sea at 11 A M = 5 P M wind left us altogether = a compleate calm =

a fine brease starts up about 5 in the morning = still no signs of a sunday yet = got a track from Captin read it attentively through = a dreadfull storm arisen in the eavening and cond all next day

18 - most tremendious wind and sea the wave is sometimes lashing the main Yard = A brig passes us by the way for Briton = she was not 20 yds from us if we had struck we would all have Perished in such a dreadful storm the rudder had very little Power = at a great Distance spyed a French Frigate very melancolly like = John is in bed with Jas = he is very much affraid = I cannot say that I felt the least fear although I got many a compleate wet skin Jas has not been out of bed for 36 hrs = very little sail up = thinks we are about the bank of N=foundland = some dreadfull tumbels is got upon the deck occationed by the listing of the vessel = thinks that if Father & Aunty hard the noise of the wind and sea they would think we were all perishing = could cook none pots would be upside down directly = John has got no sleep for 3 nights

19 -  Storm is over = and left a fine wind = all sail up going at 9 Nots = very often pulls a rope with the sailors to keep myself in exer sise = I am turning as fat as a pig = John & Jas is still in bed = 11 A M 4 Points of our course to South =

20 - 1/4 lb Tea is missing from a young mans box = still off our course to South = there is a woman in 1st Cabin that has been sick very sick ever since she came on board = she has been at the East Indies and every day that she is on board she was sick = if I was in hir place I would keep on shore = there is fighting in our cabin every day which makes us very uncomfortable we are among a very wicked crew = in the forenight several of them was telling what they liked best for a meal after they had all told but one young man a Donaldson the 2nd he starts up and ways that the best meal that ever he got was in Soith America it was a roasted monkey stuffed with bugs = which re created a great Laugh

21 - lost my Trousers and my keys = got the carpenter to breack open my trunk to se that all was right = found all correck = found my trousers in anothers Person bed which they had picked up for there own = runs 6 Nots = thinks we are south of the Banks of Newfoundland alltogethr = we have to put out our lights at 8 o clock all but one which is keept in a langthron = stewart got 4 large lumps of beef stolen we were all examined but it could not be found they must have thrown it overboard it had been some of the steerage passengers = in our cabin we are going to keep a strick watch every man watch for two hours as it comes his turn I will have to take two watches one for John and another for myself = the theaves will only begin now as we are coming pretty well on with our voyage = fine brease but going to S W instead of N W = I beleave the steerage is in an afful situation with lice among the poor Irish = in our cabin every man was stripped to the buff and we appointed 2 men to examine us both flannel and draurs not one louse was found = there was one Irishman would not allow himself to be seerched so he was pronounced to be lousey = he sleeps above us = we don't like it = his name is Pat Mc Cartie = the first watch commences from 9 to 11 = 2nd 11 to 1 = 3rd = 1 to 3 = 4  3 = 5 so that takes 4 men each night and there 16 men in cabin

22 - Quite becamed = could hardly make our Porridge for the rocking of the vessel = 3 P M a very stif brease starts from S W going 8 Nots N N W = gets a wet skin from a great broken wave which flew over us = Captain affraid of a squal = in the evening came on a tempestious storm which lasted til 12 o clock next day = reifed all the sails

23 - got no breakfast this morning ship heaves so dreadfully = a great deal of water is lasshed into into our cabin = got a wet skin tore the sleave out of my coat = got a tailor to mend it charged /6 = to look at the ship in dock a person would think that no wind or waves would hurt hir but she is no other than a thimble to the storms of the Atlantic = wind nearly a Head = sees plenty of Porpoises swimming about = they are all drinking their rum on board but I would not taste on board nor does not intend tasting on shore = a battle ensued at the galey about some pots by two Irish bloods = Mate gets a bucket of water gets up the rigging unobserved and discharged the whole contents about the two bullies

24 - another dreadful stormey day = Wind a head going back to Liverpool as hard as we can = got only one meal today could not cook for the vessel listing = she is pretty Leaky = the french ship came up on us to day which passed a few days ago = tacked to N W the forenoon = went to bed at 8 P M Jn & Js keep close to bed

25 - 8 A M compleate calm = spirits all in the low key = got 2 Meals to day = vessel rocking very much = sailors are always working hard their ode time repairing ropes & sails = opened my desk and got out my lucifer matchs thermometer & compass = sued it all up again = 3 P M saw 2 Whales very near the ship = denotes a storm = if we had only 4 good days good sailing we would be in N Y = very cold Wether had some dreadful dreams about Roby - I wish a be right

26 - another dreadful storm you see we just have a storm and a great calm time about = got no meat = John & Jas = never out of bed = at 4 P M a complete calm for the course of an hour then came on a squal doubly worse than it was before = water thrown into cabin got out provisions wet = and spoiled out Sugar, Bisquet, Meal, Coffee, Tea, fortunately it did not spoil the main thing the Potatoes = had to watch from 3 to 5 = this morning can get nothing to eat but dry bisquet = Oh for one single Spoonfull of Jeans Potatoes  Wind quite foul

27 - had to watch from 3 to 5 for John = another dreadful hurricane = I really could not give you any Idea of it = Wind, Hail, Snow, & rain aful afful storm = men and trunks flying from one side of the cabin to another like to breack our necks the bulworks was dipping the wave in the lea side every time - tuns of water thrown into our cabin almost every breack steerage worse & worse = I have not had a Dry stitch on me for three days thank God I am in good health and quite happy as no fear attends me = tore my coat second time will be obliged to leave it at New York = Wind straight a head got no meat now for 48 hours but dry bisquet which will hardly go down

28 - Wind still a head = sailing North still a stormy day and much rain = tremendious Sea = my fire day for John = must stand on deck for the most of the day 4 P M Wind a head and now very little of it = 6 P M a dead calm you know after a storm generally comes a calm = had to occation for Phisick yet Captian is very relegeous and strickly temperate man = although he has got his failings for all that = he has not Paid so much attention to us as he ought to have done =

29 - quite calm for the whole day ship rocking very much broke two plates one bowel lost a fork we ought to have all made of tin = I will know when I come the same road again =

30 - Plenty of Wind but a head Passed a ship going to Britain from Boston = fine fair wind for her she passed like a steem carrage if we had the same wind aft we would be in N Y directly =

3 P M sailing to S W = got some oat cake from a young man resolved to have a fine feast got some tea ready and give it unto John to take care of it till I would fry some Bacon he put it in beside him among the blankets and overset it = so we were obliged to want = confound the things says he = a battle was fought over the fire two black faces but no crimson = we are all in a miserable condition with dirt =

31 - another dreadful stormy day which cond through the night sails were reifed and ship left to take hir own course = 3 P M I lay down in bed and fell sound asleep when lo and behold Mc Carties bed came down with a vengenace upon us all three and would have smothered us if it had been in the night time but fortune ately plenty of help was at hand there was a large trunk in the bed beside him I wonder we got clear = after I got out I took a most hearty laugh what made me do so was poor Mc Carty was thrown on the middle of the floor with not so much as a shirt on his back = you would not have heard your own ears with laughing = he was a man that was generally hated by the whole company = he liked to make a great show of his releagion he Prayed very openly and read his Prayer book very attentively in fack nothing of that sort suited here = one morning he was rather longer at his Prayers than useal I think he was about 1/2 an hour = a young man through a rotten potato at him which scattered like an egg about his head = he starts up and damns his soul if ever there is a bogger in the company that could box him = there was a pious man for you = = we had a laugh over him

April 1 1933 - still a most tremendious storm can get no meat cooked strong west wind tacking to S W and N E time about = a man of war came close Past us she wanted nothing but to see what we were = went on deck at 5 P M got another wet skin still a very stormey day = a great deal of snow hail & rain John is much alarmed

2 - Storm is over but still a great sea = Wind more favourable = I beleave we are going our course but slowly water came about Johns trunk = wet some cloths and books at the bottom = have only got one meal for 73 hours = excepting a small bit of Bisquet now and then which we could hardly swallow 12 noon boiled some beef and made some stovies had a Glorious feed = wind now in our favour 11 sails up = 2 P M a mast of the ship past us with some of the bulworks on it 4 P M a small boat passed up set you may depend it was the coffin of some poor fellows in the storm =

3 - kindles the fire = wind fair going 6 Nots = preparing to put up the royals sails to cast a dash going in to N Y 11 A M now full sail = for instance she was coming up fleet and you upon the top of the old castle a fine morning like this you would think she had a most splendid appearence = she would surprise the Gatehouse folk if she was seen coming up the canal = this is one of my fire mornings I am in a dreadful situation with dirt = excuse blunders as I have only the top of a trunk to write upon a fine brig passed us = told hir by our 1st colours we were from Liverpool 2n = for N York 3rd an american ship = we were answered by theres but did not understand them & Captain would not tell us what she was = wind N E going 10 Nots = I beleave that there is 3 Nots of the Gulph streem against us = watched from 9 to 11 =

4 April - wind fair studding sails out on each side going 8 Nots = a ship came to us and asked in what Lond = she had wandered she was a Whaler form the south seas = rain came on at 5 P M going from 8 to 10 Nots = we are farther from N York than what I imagined but you know we were driven back a long way by head winds = I was sitting museing upon the quarter deck with I saw a large coil of roop pass me you may be sure that it was part of some wreck

5 - watched for John from 1 to 3 fair wind and fine morning went to bed for 2 hrs when I arose = it was a most dreadful storm all hands at work hauling in studding sails = reifing top sails & main mison sail = Wind right aft vessel rock tremendiously 3 P M wind not so blowy

6 - Wind fair going pretty fairish a good way to the South of N Y = the name of our 1st mate is Champion 2nd Samson they are well met =

7 - quite calm = what wind is if any is aft = square yds two studding sails out = runs about 1/2 a not per hour and 3 nots of Gulph Streem against us this is a new fashioned way to N Y = if we had escaped the Gulph Streem we would have been ther long ago = nearly run of coals, what a shame, = the captain ought to be published & punished = only a month out yet and only 3 casks of coals, all to save the Peny = we get our meat cooked on the main galley now to save the coals = John is in good health and spirits = got a Peace of cake from a young man the last I ever expect to see = at any rate for a good many years = plenty of land birds flying about the ship it is a sure token that land cant be far off = 10 A M captan spying for land = Jas was very bad with a headatch through the night occationed by eating too much fat Bacon = got out my music book and hummd over some of our old tunes when I came to beathel & Piety I declare I could sing no more but sat down and thought upon Gatehouse = sea quite smooth as smooth as every you saw the dam = what a difference by this day 8 days when the sea was like no other than cairnsmuir rolling down and up just as if it was going to swallow us up every moment we tumbled over it wonderfully though allthough not without a wet skin = 4 P M another storm comenced just in a handclap = a sailor was blown of the forecastle into the raging main fortuneately he had a rope in his hand which went along with him and by that means saved his life a ship passed us not more than 4 yds from us and on person on either ship saw one another = thank God we did not strike each other for if we had we would have all perished immediately

9 - stormy still a little = going to S W by W = 6 nots 3 P M a ship came to us to know hir Longd = she was too a whaler = we are about 60 mls from N Y - John in bed all day = wether very cold = I get myself kept dry now as I have no cooking to do = a shark is seen and two whales blowing = plenty of mother chickens flying about the ship = captian gives a young man a great scolding about dirt seeing a great louse upon his back = he belongs to steerage = I saw it myself it had a large strip down its back like a donkey = wind a head tacking to N E = =

10 - Wind more faverable = a ship in sight = getting ready 2 Jolly boats = I dreamed last night that my father had fell on his Tobacco box and it had run through his loin and he was in a very bad situation = but it was only a dream = John awake me and asked me what was the matter with me when I was keeping moaning in that manner =

11 - arose at 1 A M to see sandy hook lighthouse it appeared very beautiful we only saw it about 3 minutes = it has a dark side and a light side and turns every 3 minutes = arose at 5 sea as smooth as a bottle = sees land at a great distance = plenty of sea and land foul seen about the ship = 10 A M = a little puff from E = fine for taking us in = throughing out studding sails = Pilot came on board off sandyhook = 1 P M Doctor came on board and examined us all and found us in good health a beautiful Steem Vessel called the Boston came along side and towed us up to the warff = New York is alltogether a different Place from Liverpool = there is no Docks = they are all warfs built into the river = there is a great many steem ferry boats crosses the river or bay to N Jeresy = and Brook lin = first place we went to was a eating house


Thus ends this portion of the journal. James set sail for New York on March 7th and arrived in New York April 11th.


The following documents are from the archives of the Matagorda County Museum and probate records of the Matagorda County Courthouse.


Land Certificate Book - Matagorda County Courthouse


The Board of Land Commissioners for the County of Matagorda met this day 29th July 1839. Present  H. L. Cook & E. R. Wightman associate Justices of the county court & the Board of Land Commissioners.


No 67  Certificate to James Coltart for his headright of Three hundred and twenty acres of Land he being a single man and emigrated to this county in the month of May 1839.

Witnesses, John G. Lousdale and W. Donaldson



Republic of Texas

County of Matagorda

To the Hon. Silas Dinsmore

Judge of Probate of said county

The petition of J. F. Martin

respectfully represented that James Coltart departed this life in the early part of the last month intestate. Dec'd was a Resident of this county and acted as clerk to your Petitioner. Having no relatives in the country your Petitioner has thought it proper to apply for the administration of his estate which he prays the court to grant upon due advertisements being made and complying with the requisites of the Law.

Oct 2nd 1839                          E. L. Holmes

Atty for Petitioner


Let advertisement be made according to Law. 3 Oct 1839

Silas Dinsmore

Judge of Probate


Republic of Texas

County of Matagorda

There being no opposition to the foregoing Petition of James F. Martin, praying to be appointed curator & administrator of the succession of James Coltart deceased & all the requisites of the law having been complied with, it is by reason thereof of the Laws hereby ordered, as judge, of decree that James F. Martin be & he is hereby appointed, administrator & curator of the succession of James Coltart decd in giving Bond of Security & taking oath prescribed by law.

Matagorda March 10, 1840

Silas Dinsmore

Judge of Probate



Succession of

James Coltart

Petition for ad-


filed 3d Oct 1839

Decree entr 10th

March 1840




Republic of Texas                               Probate Court

County of Matagorda             October Term 1839


To Thos Harvey & Wellington Donaldson

You are hereby appointed Experts and appraisers in making an Estimative Inventory of the property belonging to the succession of James Coltart Dec'd.                 Silas Dinsmore

Judge of Probate



We accept the appointment of Experts & appraisers in making an Estimative Inventory of the property belonging to the Succession of James Coltart Dec'd and do solemnly swear that we will make a true estimate there of as far as the same shall come to our knowledge--Sworn to and subscribed before me 30th Oct 1839

Silas Dinsmore                                                                        Thos Harvey

Judge of Probate                                                                     W. Donaldson


To E. L. Holmes

You are hereby appointed counsel for the absent Heirs of the succession of James Coltart Dec'd--                                                                                     E. L. Holmes


James Coltart


Recorded in Book A

pages 339 & 340 this

8th Nov 1839


An Estimative Inventory of the property

belonging to the Succession of James Coltart

Dec'd made by Silas Dinsmore Judge of

Probate of the County of Matagorda on

the 30th Oct 1839



one gold watch------------------------------------$75.

one Bedstead---------------------

two mattresses & bedding----------------------25.

one trunk of clothing-------------------------------20.

1 Bugle------------------------------------------------10.

2 Clarinets--------------------------------------------10.

Small Lot of merchandise

Bonds of I. W. Lann--------------------------------10.

some old music---------------------------------------3.

few odd books----------------------------------------2.

Headright of Land 320 acres-------------------30.

abt Eighty dollars of Texas money

in hand of I. W. Lann                          26.66




Republic of Texas

County of Matagorda

I Silas Dinsmore

Judge of Probate of said county did on the 30th Oct 1839 proceed to the drugstore of Jas. F. Martin and in with the Appraisers Thos Harvey & W. Donaldson make an estimative Inventory of the property belonging to the succession of James Coltart Dec'd which amounted to two hundred and eleven 66/100 dollars which was concluded without adjourment.


G. R. Cayce                Silas Dinsmore            Thos Harvey

Wm. Russell                Judge of Probate         W. Donaldson





James Coltart

Letters of admin



Republic of Texas

County of Matagorda


Probate Court, February Term 1840


James F. Martin having been appointed Curator and Administrator of the vacant Succession of James Coltart by the Honorable Silas Dinsmore, Judge of Probate, and taken the oaths prescribed by Law.

This is to authorize the said James F. Martin and he is hereby authorized and requited to do and perform all the duties fo said appointment according to law to take into his charge all effects and property of every description or kind into his hands, belonging to said Succession, and make a true and faithful return of all his acts and deeds whenever and whereunto required by the Court.


Given under my hand and seal of

Office, in the City of Matagorda,

the _____ day of March






Republic of Texas

County of Matagorda                         To the Hon Silas

Dinsmore Judge of the Probate Court in and

for the County aforesaid


The petition of James F. Martin, administrator of the Estate of James Coltart deceased respectfully represents that there is only a small amount of personal property, together with a head right of Three hundred and twenty acres of Land belonging to said Estate, that there are no debts due by said Estate except what little may be owing as costs of administration; that there is therefore no reason why the administration of the said Estate should be kept longer open.

He therefore prays that your Honor would grant an order for the sale of all the property belonging to said estate for cash with a view to the final settlement of the same.

14th Oct 1840                         J. F. Martin


Monday 19th October 1840.

The Court opened this day pursuant to adjournment.


The Hon. Silas Dinsmore, Judge of Probate.


Having read and examined the petition of James F. Martin, Administrator of the Estate of James Coltart dec'd praying for the sale of all the property belonging to said Estate, consisting of a small amount of personal property and the head right of the said deceased, and being satisfied that it is to the interest of said Estate that the said property should be sold, it is by reason of the facts & the law in this case ordered, adjudged and decreed that the said property be sold on the first Tuesday in December next for cash after the legal advertisement.

The Court then adjourned until tomorrow.




Republic of Texas

County of Matagorda             You swear that James Coltart dec'd died without any lawful will as far as you know or believe and that you will well and truly administer all and singular the succession of the said deceased and retain a true Inventory thereof as far as the same may come to your Knowledge and a just account of sales and of your administration as required by law.


J. F. Martin

Sworn to subscribe

this 19 day of October 1840

before me

Silas Dinsmore           

Judge of Probate


Succession of

James Coltart


Recorded in Book

A. page 150 this

19th Octr 1840

Wm. Russell

Deputy Clerk of Probate



Republic of Texas

County of Matagorda             Know all men by these presents that we James F. Martin as principal and Neal Maynard and John M. Marden as security are held and firmly bound unto Silas Dinsmore, Judge of Probate and his successors in office in the said sum of Four hundred and twenty five dollars good and lawful money of this Republic, to which payment will and truly to be made we bind ourselves, our heirs executors adn administrators, In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands and seals (the seals being seraiols) this 19th day of October 1840.

The condition of the above obligation of such whereas the above bound James F. Martin has been duly appointed administrator of the Estate of James Coltart,  Now if the said James F. Martin shall well and truly perform all the duties that are or may be required of him as such administrator then the above obligation to be void otherwise to remain in full force.

Signed & Sealed this 19th

day of October 1840                                       J. F. Martin   seal


in presence of                                      W. J. Maynard  seal

Thomas M. Dennis                                          John M. Marden seal

Wm Russell



Judge of Probate






James Coltart

Return of sales of personal property

Files 1st Decr. 1840


a/c Sales of Personal Property belonging to the Succession of

James Coltart decd.


One Gold Watch                                            Thos M Dennis                        75.00

One Kent Bugle                                              Do                                            20.00

One Head right 320 acres                            Do                                            15.00

One Clarient                                                   Wm. J. Maynard                        5.00

One Lot Music                                                J. R. Value?                              1.00

One Lot paper Thos M Dennis                                                                        1.13

One copy Mrs. Trollope                                  Robt Ludington                          .75

Bennets Bookkeeping                                   John Carter                                .12

4 small _____ Books                                    J. M. Marden                              .87

2   Do          Do                                               Robt Ludington                           .75

Song Book                                                     Do                                                .75

Burns Works                                                  Wm Russell                                 .62

Young Man's Guide                                       J. R. Value?                                 .25

Tour on the Prairie                                        Silas Dinsmore                           .25

Sacred Music                                                Thos M. Dennis                           .25

Book of Plays J. M. Marden                                                                              .25

Scrap Book                                                    Wm L. Delap                              .13

Young Man's Library                                      J. R. Value?                                .44

Humorists _____ Book                                 J. M. Marden                              .37

Chemical catechism                                      Wm. L. Delap                            .13

Map of Texas                                                  J. R. Value?                               .19

3 _____ Books                                               Chas Howard                            .44

M. L. Sheaker Wm Russell                                                                               .25

French Vocabulary                                         J. R. Value?                                .06

___ Folder                                                      Wm. L. Delap                              .13

2 Lots Brushes                                               C. S. Be___                              1.37

1 pr gloves                                                      Wm. Russell                                .56

Magindies Formulary                                     Wm I. Maynard                           .50

Satin Vest                                                       Wm. L. Delap                           3.12

1 Pair Pantaloons                                           J. M. Marden                           1.12

1 Do     Do                                                      Robt Ludington                           .75



[total for first page and]                                  Amt Brot Forward           $131.55

Cambric Handkerchief                                  J. M. Marden                           1.12               

1 Vest                                                              Robt Ludington                         .38

1 pr White Pantaloons                                    Do                                             .75

2 col d Shirts                                                    Do                                             .75

1 pr White pantaloons                                     Do                                             .50

2 Locks                                                           Dr. Hunter                                   .12

1 Lot Socks                                                    Isham Thompson                       .44

2 H____                                                         Thos M. Dennis                        1.00

1 Lot                                                               Isham Thompson                      2.00

Letter Stamp                                                  Abill                                             .37

Clock                                                              J. R. Value?                                .56



Republic of Texas     

County of Matagorda                        I Solemnly swear that the foregoing is a true and correct statement of the sales of personal property belonging to the Estate of James Coltart deceased

Sworn to & subscribed this

1st day of December 1840

Silas Dinsmore                                               J. F. Martin

Judge of Probate


Board of Land Commissioners met this 3d day of November 1845

Present The hon         A. Wadsworth chief Justice

Seth Ingram Associate




No 207

3d Class

Certificate granted to James Coltart for Three Hundred and Twenty Acres of Land proof having been made by John W. McCamly and Joseph Smith of his death and that he arrived in this Republic in the month of May Eighteen hundred and thirty nine.




John Coltart b 06 Jun 1766 - d 16 Mar 1844 married 13 Jun 1793

Janet Carter b 13 Dec 1770 - d 01 Mar 1830

Children of John and Janet Carter Coltart:

1. Samuel Coltart b 16 Mar 1794 - d 1873 Huntsville, AL

2. John Coltart b 08 Oct 1796 - d 15 Mar 1859 Nashville, TN

Had a son named James

3. Andrew Coltart b 07 Mar 1799 - d 17 May 1855 Antigua

4. William Coltart b 05 Jun 1801 - d 19 Sep 1818

5. Thomas Coltart b 29 Aug 1803 - d 09 Nov 1804

6. Robert Coltart b 13 May 1805 - d 24 Nov 1858 [continued below]

7. Gordon Coltart b 04 Nov 1807 - d 12 Jul 1825

8. JAMES COLTART b 13 Nov 1811 - d 03 Sep 1839 [writer of diary]

9. Charles Coltart b 30 Apr 1817 - d 05 Feb 1818


Robert Coltart 1805-1858 married 04 Jul 1833

Margaret Douglas b 27 Apr 1804 - d 02 Aug 1875



Children of Robert and Margaret Douglas Coltart:

1. Josephine Coltart b 29 Oct 1829

2. Anne Coltart b 07 Aug 1831

3. Emma Coltart b 08 Feb 1835 - d 10 Nov 1838

4. Robert Coltart b 01 Jan 1837

5. Jannet Coltart b 10 Oct 1838 - d 03 Oct 1907 married

William Moffat b 04 Jan 1844 - d 24 Jun 1920 [continued below]

6. Emma Coltart b 11 Mar 1840 - d 05 Oct 1907 unmarried

7. Georgina Douglas Coltart b 08 Mar 1842 - d 19 Feb 1910 unmarried

8. John Coltart b 23 Dec 1847 - d 04 Jun 1909 unmarried


Children of William and Jannet Coltart Moffat:

1. William Robert Moffat b 29 May 1870 - d 21 Aug 1870

2. John George Moffat b 01 Jul 1871 d 1946 unmarried [transcribed diary]

3. William Gordon Moffat b 11 May 1874 - d 08 Nov 1874

4. Alexander Duff Moffat b 22 Feb 1878 - d 1941 South Africa married, but no children

5. Douglas Moffat b 16 Feb 1881 - d 01 Nov 1961 married 05 Aug 1914

Daisy Bland b 05 Oct 1888 - d 26 Jan 1972


Children of Douglas and Daisy Bland Moffat:

1. Margaret Douglas Moffat m John Gordon Jones


1. Sarah Jones [submitted diary for publication] m Brian Iredale

2. Ruth Alison Jones

3. Stephen John Moffat Jones

2. John Douglas Moffat m Barbara Griffin

1. Ian Moffat

2. Claire Moffat


Copyright 2014 - Present by the Iredale Family
All rights reserved

Jan. 14, 2014
Jan. 14, 2014