Hugh Ross. I only needed to mention that name and my father would say something along the lines of: “He was colour blind so he never passed out higher than bosun.”

Hugh (1849-1927) was his great uncle, an older brother of his grandfather, John, both children of Upper Seatter, North Walls, Orkney.

Documentary evidence

With that background, it was quite moving in a way to find his First Mate’s certificate.

Snip from Hugh Ross's 1st Mate certificate

“This officer has failed to pass the examination in colours”

In fact my father was wrong, to some extent. Hugh took the First Mate exams on 31 December 1879 and failed but then sat them again on 13 January 1880 and passed. His certificate is proof of that. However, at some point, his colour blindness came to light and the certificate was revoked.

One of his ships

This photo was on a wall at home for years. I did not like it, but now, knowing more about the man, Hugh Ross, who sailed on the Benares, it is of value. A card from Hugh to his brother John perhaps?

Photo of ship the Benares

The Benares

The Benares (official number 76765) was first registered in Glasgow on 12 June 1877. Hugh sailed on her after failing his 1st Mate exams as she is not in his service record 1877-1879.

A post on the theme “Random fact” for the #52Ancestors challenge.

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One comment so far

  1. Anna Rogalski says:

    What a pity the colour blindness affected Hugh's promotion. I love sailing ships. Are you old enough to remember the Onedin Line on TV? That could be why, although I have always loved the sea and was delighted to discover a Master Mariner on my tree . My 3x great grandfather Daniel Charleson, (possibly 1808 to definitely1878) sailed out of Wick on many ships, but his career came to a sad end and he finished his days at Sunnyside Asylum in Montrose. A year after a cabin boy had been washed overboard in the Baltic Sea, he had mental problems – delayed reaction I assumed, though later discovered two others in the family with mental health issues. The report into the tragedy called it a freak wave, a complete accident and not Daniel's fault. I cannot help thinking that nowadays a bit of counselling might have made all the difference. The Sunnyside records are excellent and I have a complete description of Daniel as well as (rather gruesomely) info re the post mortem, including the weight of his lungs etc! You never know what genealogy will bring you!

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