Indenture Ships To Fiji

Between 1879 and 1916, a total of 42 ships made 87 voyages, carrying Indian indentured labourers to Fiji. Initially the ships brought labourers from Calcutta, but from 1903 all ships except two also brought labourers from Madras.

A total of 60,965 passengers left India but 60,553 (including births at sea) arrived in Fiji. A total of 45,439 boarded ships in Calcutta and 15,114 in Madras. Sailing ships took, on average, seventy-three days for the trip while steamers took 30 days. The shipping companies associated with the labour trade were Nourse Line and British-India Steam Navigation Company.

List of Ships in a Searchable/Sortable Format.

List of Indenture Ships to Fiji

Name of ShipDate of ArrivalRegistered NumbersNumber of Arrivals
LeonidasMay 15, 18791–463463
BerarJune 29, 1882464–887424
PoonahSeptember 17, 1882888–1364477
PoonahJune 19, 18831365–1860496
BayardAugust 20, 18831861–2354494
SyriaMay 14, 18842355–2792438
HowrahJune 26, 18842793–3287495
PericlesJuly 3, 18843288–3748461
SS NewnhamJuly 23, 18843749–4323575
MainApril 30, 18854324–5048725
GangesJune 27, 18855049–5571523
BoyneApril 26, 18865572–6108537
BruceMay 21, 18866109–6566458
HerefordApril 24, 18886567–7105539
MoyMay 3, 18897106–7782677
RhoneMay 15, 18907783–8367585
Allan ShawJune 17, 18908368–8940573
DanubeJune 15, 18918941–9531591
JumnaJune 27, 18919532–9978447
British PeerApril 23, 18929979–10505527
AvonMay 5, 189210506–11025520
HerefordJune 15, 189211026–11504479
MoyApril 14, 189311505–11971467
JumnaMay 23, 189311972–12281310
EmsApril 20, 189412282–12851570
HerefordJune 28, 189412852–13362511
SS VadalaMarch 26, 189513363–14109747
SS VirawaApril 26, 189514110–14786677
ErneApril 24, 189614787–15343557
ElbeJune 13, 189615344–15958615
RhoneMay 11, 189715959–16611653
ClydeJune 1, 189716612–17281670
MoyJune 1, 189817282–17849568
AvonJuly 25, 189917850–18316467
GangesSeptember 3, 189918317–18780464
GangesJune 21, 190018781–19334554
ElbeJuly 26, 1900
19335–19938604
ArnoJuly 23, 1900
19939–20565627
RhineAugust 30, 190020566–21056491
SS FazilkaMarch 28, 190121057–21860804
SS FultalaMay 12, 190121861–22669809
SS FazilkaJune 18, 1901

22670–23445776
SS VirawaApril 26, 1902
23446–24163718
SS FazilkaJune 20, 1902
24164–25003840
MerseyJune 13, 1903
25004–25588585
ElbeAugust 5, 1903
25589–26178590
ArnoSeptember 4, 1903
26179–26812634
ArnoMay 3, 190426813–27443631
EmsJuly 30, 1904
27444–27969526
SS FultalaApril 10, 190527970–28796827
SS VirawaJuly 17, 1905
28797–29411615
SS WardhaJuly 28, 1905
29412–30303892
SS FultalaAugust 17, 1905
30304–31093790
SS FazilkaApril 17, 1906
31094–31974881
SS FultalaApril 28, 190631975–32775801
SS WardhaJune 28, 1906
32776–33609834
SS FazilkaJanuary 28, 190733610–34484875
SS VirawaMarch 23, 190734485–35243759
SS FazilkaApril 25, 1907
35244–36039796
SS SangolaMarch 18, 1908
36040–371711132
SS SangolaJune 6, 1908
37172–382571086
SS SangolaFebruary 1, 1909
38258–394091152
SS SangolaApril 21, 1909
39410–40076667
SS SangolaMarch 7, 1910
40077–41002926
SS SanthiaApril 22, 1910
41003–420231021
SS SangolaJune 5, 1910
42024–42892869
SS SanthiaJuly 8, 1910
42893–439221030
SS MutlahMay 22, 1911
43923–44756834
SS SutlejJune 25, 1911
44757–45606850
SS GangesJuly 22, 1911
45607–46466860
SS MutlahAugust 18, 1911
46467–47329863
SS SutlejOctober 4, 1911
47330–48140811
SS SutlejApril 27, 191248141–48997857
SS IndusJune 8, 1912
48998–49801804
SS GangesJuly 18, 1912
49802–50644843
SS GangesNovember 8, 191250645–51490846
SS GangesFebruary 21, 191351491–52261771
SS SutlejApril 11, 191352262–53069808
SS GangesMay 29, 191353070–53917848
SS GangesSeptember 9, 1913
53918–54701784
SS ChenabMarch 24, 191454702–55556855
SS ChenabJune 16, 1914
55557–56273717
SS MutlahMay 7, 1915
56274–57125852
SS GangesJune 21, 1915
57126–57971846
SS MutlahAugust 1, 1915
57972–58783812
SS ChenabSeptember 1, 1916
58784–59665882
SS SutlejNovember 11, 1916
59666–60553888

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The most important man on these ships was the Surgeon-Superintendent, who supervised the medical care, ventilation, clothing, cleanliness and exercise of the passengers and his authority extended over the Captain. He inspected the stores before departure and reported on any defects during the trip. The Surgeon-Superintendent also intervened to prevent passengers from being mistreated by the crew. He was paid a bonus for each laborer landed alive.  The table below shows brief details of the two ships, Howrah and Rhone II.

From the early 1900s, Indians started arriving in Fiji as free agents. Many of these paid their own way and had previously served in Fiji or other British colonies or had been born in Fiji. Amongst the early free migrants, there were religious teachers, missionaries and at least one lawyer. The government and other employers brought clerks, policemen, artisans, gardeners, experienced agricultural workers, a doctor and a school teacher. Punjabi farmers and Gujarati craftsmen also paid their own way to Fiji and in later year years formed an influential minority amongst the Fiji Indians.

Conditions of return

According to Clause 10 of each labourer’s indenture agreement:

10. After ten years continuous residence every Emigrant who was above the age of twelve on introduction to the Colony and who during that period has completed an industrial residence of five years, shall be entitled to a free-return passage if he claims it within two years after the completion of the ten years’ continuous residence. If the Emigrant was under twelve years of age when he was introduced into the colony, he will be entitled to a free return passage if he claims it before he reaches 24 years of age and fulfills the other conditions as to residence. A child of an Emigrant born within the colony will be entitled to a free return passage until he reaches the age of twelve, and must be accompanied on the voyage by his parents or guardian.

Due to the high cost involved in returning after only 5 years of servitude, of the indentured immigrants returning to India, most left Fiji under the free-return passage option 10–12 years after arrival. As the first ship carrying indentured Indians to Fiji “the Leonidas” arrived in 1879, the first ship to take Indians back “the British Peer” set sail just over 12 years after in 1892.

Repatriation

Given the steady influx of ships carrying indentured Indians to Fiji up un til 1916, repatriate Indians generally boarded these same ships on their return voyage 10-15 days after arrival. The total number of repatriates under the Fiji indenture system is recorded as 39,261, while the number of arrivals is said to have been 60,553. As a proportion this works out ot be 64.8% which appears quite high. However, this figure includes children born in Fiji so the actual percentage is significantly lower. After 1951 return voyages by ship ceased and arrangements were made for flights from Sydney to Bombay, the first of which departed in July 1955. Ship charter were however organised for Fiji to Sydney leg of the journey.

References

Indian indenture ships to Fiji. (2012, June 15). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 11:12, July 8, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Indian_indenture_ships_to_Fiji&oldid=497653826

Repatriation of indentured Indians from Fiji. (2012, June 18). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 11:07, July 8, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Repatriation_of_indentured_Indians_from_Fiji&oldid=498152187

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