This is an account of a town, a street, a person, two ships and a house. But it starts with a mail bag. In the National Maritime Museum Cornwall there is a packet mail bag, found in a Falmouth attic, inscribed ‘H.M.S. Crane Letters for England’.

The final voyage of the Crane from Falmouth was on 6 September 1850. She was commanded by Lt John Parsons, RN, a consummate sailor who, for reasons that will become clear, was also known as ‘Honest Jack Parsons’.

Three months, three weeks and three days after departing, the Crane returned to Falmouth from Rio on 29 December 1850 with five passengers and about £10,000 worth of freight. This was her last voyage as a packet vessel.

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