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Extracts From The Lyttelton Times, New Zealand, 1851
Lyttelton Times (NZ) Vol. 1, No. 1, January 11, 1851Thanks to John Rayner for the transcription.
Ship Sir George Seymour, 850 tons, Goodson.
Voyages of the first four ships.
We have been favoured with the following accounts of the voyages of the first four ships, by passengers on board.
The Charlotte Jane
The Charlotte Jane, Capt. Alexander Lawrence, Commander, left Plymouth sound at midnight on Saturday the 7th of September. She sighted Stewart’s Island on Wednesday, the 11th of December, and cast anchor off Port Lyttelton on Monday the 16th of December, at 10 o’clock, thus making her passage in 93 days form land to land, or 99 days form port to port. She carried 26 chief cabin, 19 intermediate and 80 steerage passengers. The Rev. Mr. Kingdon, Chaplain, Alfred Barker, Esq., Surgeon Superintendent.
During the voyage, the usual domestic occurrences of an emigrant ship then occurred, of births 1, marriages 1 and deaths 3, the last being cases of very young children who embarked with the seal of death on their foreheads, one even died before the ship took the departure, and was buried on shore at Plymouth.
The course of the Charlotte Jane lay inside the Madeira and Canary Islands lay inside the Madeira and Canary Islands. She sighted Porto Santo, one of the Madeiras, on the 17th of September, and on the 19th, Teneriffe and Palma, steering close to the latter. Here she met the N. E. Trades, which gave her but feeble assistance, and left her in about lat. 18 degrees north. Her course was then south- easterly, and in about 6 degrees north, she was driven by currents and foul winds to the eastward as far as long 16 west. Here she met a N. W. wind, under which she again stood to the southward, crossing the line on the 9th October, in long. 19 degrees west.
In lat. 2 28’, she entered the S. E. trades, which carried her rapidly over 20 degrees of latitude. On the 12th of October, she spoke the Zeno of Richmond, U. S., from Benguela to New York, and sent letters to England. Her course then was speedily run southward and south easterly. On the 29th of October nearing Tristan d’ Acunha, she made 250 miles in the 24 hours, the largest day’s run during voyage. From Tristan d’ Acunha, which to the disappointment of many she did not approach near enough to sight, she steered S. S. E., with a fresh N. W. wind and crossed the meridian of Greenwich on the 29th of October. South eastward still to Desolation Island with strong gales, a dreary drive of three weeks in cold and rain, with no perceptible change in the sea, the sky, or the Cape pigeons in the wake. Desolation Island passed, she encountered the first foul wind from the eastward, and ran south bearing up again, she ran beautifully on promising a rapid passage, till the 110th degree of east long. Here for a week E. and N. E. winds prevailed, and drove her to the southward, not only out of her course, but to the extreme cold of lat. 52 26’ the furtherest point of the southing reached. Here bets which had previously been freely given in favour of 95 days and 98 days from port to port, were now freely taken about 105, 110 or even 120 days, she being then 88 days out. However the wind soon changed, and after a splendid run abreast of the Australian coast she at last made the land in the afternoon of the 11th of December. Passing close inside the ‘traps’ she was becalmed and baffled for four days on the coast, giving the delighted passengers, as she stood off and on, glimpses of the coast at Foveaux Straits, Molyneux and Taieri Rivers, Otago and Banks Peninsula.
On Monday morning early she stood into Port Victoria, and earned the proud distinction of being the first ship to land emigrants on the shores of the Canterbury Settlement.
From hence forward the age of the Colony will be described as dating from the arrival of the Charlotte Jane.
Little need be said beyond this sketch of the ships course to describe the voyage. The passengers had their share of the manifold discomforts which go to make a sea voyage a bye word for discomfort. Extreme heat, and extreme cold, confinement and ennui, are the lot of every Australasian voyager. But whether it was that with this courageous little baud a spirit of hope prophesied better things beyond, or the colonist spirit of resolution was strong, disregarding petty present evils, while greater menaced at a distance:- or whether it was that the unceasing attention to the wants of all, which characterised the management of the Charlotte Jane, smoothed everything, it may be safely said that by no party of passengers have discomforts been more patiently endured, by none more easily forgotten.
Of amusements, two manuscript newspapers, or weekly magazines, "The Cockroach", and "The Sea-pie", conducted with much spirit and ability afforded a fund throughout. The wonders of the deep, as they successively presented themselves, were unfailing in interest and delight, interpreted as they were by an enthusiastic naturalist, the excellent surgeon superintendent. Then there was the maritime, if not manly game of shuffle katy, the foil and single stick, the piano and the song, and during the fine weather the light fantastic toe. At on time a passion for building model Colonial houses animated the ship, designs and models were in every one’s hands, and the subject on everyone’s lip, at another, ship building was in vogue, and craft designed on the most courageously ingenious principles, to supersede all existing theories, were modelled, and calmly lectured on. Thus, as probably with every ship that makes the voyage, time flew rapidly away, anxious and more anxious grew impatient the expectations of the land sick passengers. At last the breeze became softer, and to the sanguine seemed to smell of land, and one afternoon while all were eager on the look out, the loom was seen by several at once. New Zealand was made, and the voyage was done.
How gladly then,
The only general observation that occurs to us as suggested by the voyage is that of pronouncing it highly injudicious for emigrant vessels to run so far to the southward as the latitude in which the Charlotte Jane made her east course. The temptation of thus gaining a rapid passage is doubtless very great, but the utmost speed cannot compensate to poor emigrants for the miseries thereby inflicted on them. It is almost impossible on board ship to escape from cold, and from rain and spray, the only refuge is by huddling under hatches in dirt and darkness. The beds can never be properly aired on deck, and this single consideration should be sufficient to induce the authorities at home to prescribe a rule on the subject. A grievous loss to the colony was in this instance caused by the extreme cold to which the ship was exposed, out of six couple of partridges and four couple of pheasants which up to that time had continued healthy and lively, only one couple of pheasants and one partridge survived the damp and dreary climate of Desolation Island. Our excellent Captain, in this instance, tried the southern passage, having a comfortable and not over crowded vessel, and succeeded in accomplishing a rapid passage, but in his own opinion, the preferable course for emigrant ships bound for Lyttelton would be along the latitude of Bass’s Straits, through Cook’s Straits, and down the coast with the prevailing north east wind. Very few more years will set the question at rest for ever.
The Sir George Seymour
The Sir George Seymour, weighed anchor at Plymouth, about 11 o’clock, A. M. , on Sunday, Sept. 8 1850. She was the last, by several hours, to leave the shores of Old England. Her companions were all out of sight, and two out of the three were not seen again, till she met them in this harbour. Like the rest, she made an excellent run out of channel, and by the 13th was abreast of Cape Finisterre. On Sunday, the 15th, the passengers assembled, for the first time, for Divine worship, which was celebrated on the poop. All hands aft to rig the church, was a new sound to landsmen, but what church could be grander than that which had the sky for its roof, the ocean for its floor, and god himself for its architect. Great was the thankfulness of most, who, after a week of sickness and discomfort, were thus assembled together for the first time, to adore and praise him, who sitteth above the water floods. From that day forward, the morning and evening services of the church were celebrated, with occasional exceptions, throughout the voyage, and the Holy Communion was thrice administered, first, on Sunday Sept. 22nd, again, on Sunday, Oct. 20th, and lastly on Advent Sunday.
The weather, during the first part of the voyage, was very delightful. On Wednesday, the 18th, we had a beautiful view of Porto Santo, one of the Madeira group, Madeira itself being afterwards seen more dimly in the distance. On the same morning we were startled by an alarm of fire in the afterhold, which, though it was speedily extinguished, was sufficient to cause a thrill of horror in the minds of most, succeeded by a feeling of thankfulness for being delivered from so great a peril. It was broad daylight, land was in sight, though at a distance, but, even if the lives of all had been spared, which could hardly have been expected, to have lost all, and landed on a foreign soil, had been a sad disaster. On the Friday following, we had a clear view, though at a very great distance, ( as much as 90 miles,) of the far famed peaks of Teneriffe Palma, with its bold and rugged outline, and its many smoke wreaths, the signs of its industry and commence, divided with the lofty and majestic Peak, which stands as it were the mother of the group amongst her graceful offsprings, the interest of that lovely morning. Ferro, the southernmost of the Canaries, was in sight the following day. On the 26th we passed St. Antonio, the westernmost of the Cape Verds, and from that time, we saw no land for eleven weeks, that which we next saw being a part of the beautiful coast of this our southern Britain. On the 4th of October, and incident occurred, which we must not pass over. A sail came in sight, which proved to be the Randolph. Nothing could have happened more fortunately, since it gave an opportunity to our friend Mr. Davy, to pass the rest of the voyage in his own ship. He had narrowly escaped missing his passage altogether, having arrived at Plymouth too late to embark on board the Randolph, and was with difficulty permitted to take his passage with us. An opportunity was now afforded, most unexpectedly, of putting him in possession of his own cabin, in his own ship. There was not one, it may safely be said, who was not sorry to lose him from amongst us, still we could not but congratulate him on the now probable recovery of his cabin and his outfit. The expectation was realized, a boat was lowered from the Randolph and the chief officer, and two clergymen, and some other passengers, came on board to visit us, and after a short stay, returned in company with our friend, who has thus succeeded in accomplishing a feat, more often talked of than performed, namely, that of sailing in two ships, an honour supposed to reserved only for the most distinguished personages. We sailed in company with our friends of the Randolph, for the two following days, and did not finally part with them till the Thursday following, Oct. 10.
On Saturday, Oct. 12, at about 10 p.m., we crossed the line, within five weeks of the day on which we left England. On the day following, the bodies of two infants, who had died the night before were committed to the deep, and here we must not omit to express our thankfulness that no death of any adult, and so little of anything like serious illness of accident occurred throughout the voyage.
From the line to the Cape, we make a splendid run. On the 23rd, in about the latitude of Rio Janeiro, we reached the westernmost point of our course, about 33 west longitude, and then first began to turn our faces in the direction of our new home. On Nov. 1st, we crossed the meridian of Greenwich, by the 5th we were abreast of the Cape. Though we experienced some rough weather about this time, and occasionally afterwards, yet all, we believe, whose first voyage this was , are agreeably disappointed in having escaped, in this respect, so much better than they had anticipated, and it must be a cold heart indeed, which would not feel thankful for the speedy and favourable voyage, which was granted to us. But little remains to be told. We passed about halfway between St. Paul’s and Desolation Island, on the 20th of November, making gradually southward, till on the 7th of December, we were nearly in the parallel 49 degrees.
On Wednesday, the 11th, about 4 o’clock in the morning, we sighted Stewart’s Island, earlier, it appears than either the Charlotte Jane or the Randolph though on the same day with them, and 94 days from the time of leaving Plymouth. We are surely not presumptuous in viewing it as a signal proof of the divine blessing upon our undertaking, that three ships, starting at the same time, but not intentionally keeping together, and running indeed in very different tracks, and passing over so immense a space of ocean, and not coming in sight of one another ( with the exception of the time above entioned, when a special object was answered by the meeting) for the space of three months, should, at the end of that time, come in sight of the promised land on the same day. So nearly did three out of the four vessels which composed the ever to be remembered first Canterbury fleet arrive together, that the one of the three which came into the harbour last was the first to see the land, and that also was the one which had started last. Few will ever forget the joyous excitement and flow of spirits which prevailed on that beautiful day when we first beheld the noble harbours and magnificent mountain peaks of the Southern Island of New Zealand, and on the following day, when we ran in so close, and almost longed to land on the lovely sea beach backed by the low cliffs, and again on the Sunday following when the snowy peaks of our own mountain range first became visible, and afterwards shone so grandly in the glorious sunset of that evening. Monday and Tuesday were brilliant days, and it is impossible to describe the pleasure we derived as we passed along the eastern and northern coast of Banks’s Peninsula, descrying continually fresh beauties, recognizing spots known before by name, and comparing the veritable land itself with the maps with which we had been so long familiar. And when at length Godley Head came into sight, and the harbour of Port Victoria opened before us, and when at length we entered, and sailed as it were into the bosom of its encircling hills, who was there that did not feel at the time that he could have gone through the fatigues of the whole voyage if it were only to enjoy the keen and pure gratification, and the life long memories of those few last days. The Sir George Seymour came to anchor about 10 o’clock on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 1850, being 100 days almost to the very hour from the time she left Plymouth.
The Randolph, left Plymouth on the night of Saturday, Sept. 7, 1850, a few hours after the Charlotte Jane, having on board 217 passengers. The officers of the ship were Captain Dale, Commander, Mr. Scott, Chief Officer, Mr. Puckle and Mr. Willock, officiating ministers, and Mr. Earle, Surgeon Superintendent.
Her course lay outside Madeira, and crossing the line in longitude 24 20’ west, she proceeded as far to the westward as longitude 36 30’ on Oct. 23rd, being then in latitude 23 46’ south. On Nov. 14, her last lat. was 45 55, south, long. 44 40’. On Dec. 1, lat. 48 26’ south, long. 109 1’ east. On the 7th, she was driven by foul wind to lat. 50 south. On 11th December, she was in the longitude of the Snares, in lat. 48 33’, and after a most delightful run up the coast, she entered Port Victoria at half past three o’clock in the afternoon of the 16th, having accomplished the passage in 99 days. On the anchor being dropped, ‘God save the Queen’ was sung by all passengers on the poop.
The Randolph spoke an unusually large number of vessels during the early part of the voyage, and on the fourth of October fell in with the Sir George Seymour, which had left Plymouth about 12 hours after her, bringing a passenger who had arrived at Plymouth after the sailing of the Randolph.
She was becalmed two days in company with a French Barque, having on board an operatic company who were proceeding to Mauritius. On the first day some of the Randolph’s passengers pulled to the French vessel, and invited a large party to dine with them, and on the second day they kept a promise exacted by their visitors on leaving the day before, by dining on board the Frenchman, the toast drinking on both sides was most amusing. A great deal of Italian music was sung in really first rate style. On the 6th of November, there was almost mutiny on board, which by the mercy of god was suppressed, through the promptness of the Captain, supported by his officers and the passengers. On the 25th, was performed Sheridan’s play of the‘Rivals’, the female characters being played by gentleman. The characterswere supported in a manner which gave universal satisfaction. To the ladies on board the greatest praise is due for the effective way in which the characters were ‘got up’, the wonder was where all the dresses could have come from, and it was very curious to hear what they were composed. The representation took place between decks before an overflowing audience, and a second performance was asked for by many who were unable to gain admittance.
There were 5 deaths, all children, and 9 births on board. The voyage is declared, by common consent, to have been most agreeable, the only unpleasant part of it being that which passed in the low latitudes between the Cape and New Zealand, on account of the cold and fog, which proved fatal to almost all the game on board.
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