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White Wings Vol II. Founding Of The Provinces And Old-Time Shipping. Passenger Ships From 1840 To 1885

Unlucky Start

Unlucky Start.

"After various delays everything was ready for sea. On November 22, 1847, Captain Cargill received his formal appointment and power of attorney as the company's resident agent. His salary was £500 per annum, and he and his family had a free passage provided. On the 24th the John Wickliffe sailed from Gravesend, and this was the signal for fresh disaster. It did seem, as the pious Mr. Burns had long before surmised, that the devil himself exercised a baneful influence on the scheme, which he was determined yet to thwart. Heavy weather raged round the British Coast, and for three weeks the vessel was buffeted about the English Channel; she commenced to leak, which necessitated constant pumping.

"At length, with opened seams and the cabin afloat, she dropped anchor at Portsmouth, there to effect necessary repairs. Leaving again on the 16th inst. amidst boisterous weather and heavy seas, she narrowly escaped collision with a large Homeward-bound barque—the two vessels being within a few yards of each other. Thus commenced a voyage undertaken, as one of the Glasgow resolutions put it, 'to secure the settlers a summer voyage in southern latitudes.' With the exception of a narrow escape from wreck on the Scilly Islands, and then on Kerguelen's Island, all further mischance ceased.

"The Equator was crossed on January 15, the thirty-second day out, and on March 22, 1848, the ship dropped anchor within Taiaroa Heads, moving up to Port Chalmers the following day.

page 82

"There were twenty-four persons in the cabin, thirteen adults and eleven children—Captain Cargill, his wife and five children; the Rev. T. D. Nicolson, a Presbyterian minister, who, with his wife and three children, was proceeding to Nelson; Mr. Garrick, a solicitor, his wife, governess, and three children; Mr. W. H. Cutten, who afterwards married Miss Cargill and later resided at Anderson's Bay; and Mr. Julius Jeffreys, long a well-known settler. The remaining cabin passengers were destined for other parts of New Zealand. In the fore-cabin and steerage were 72 passengers, mostly English. The religious services were conducted by Mr. Nicolson, A small school was established with Mr. Henry Monson as master and Miss Westland as matron, who received for their services gratuities of £10 and £5 respectively. The late Mr. William Mosley, of Inch Clutha, was constable; his duties were to preserve order and look after the lights, for which he received a gratuity of 2/6 per week.

"But most interest centred round the Philip Laing, the representative vessel of the expedition, with her 247 Scotch passengers. She weighed anchor at Greenock on November 27, 1847, but like her sister ship, encountered the same wild weather, which compelled her to take shelter first in Lamlash Bay, and then in Milford Haven, from which harbour of refuge she did not finally sail until December 20. Prior to her departure an interesting ceremony took place. In the early days of New Zealand emigration it was not an unusual custom to speed a departing emigrant vessel by means of some function—a breakfast, ball, fete, or religious service. Probably the last of the send-offs was in 1850, when the 'Canterbury Pilgrims' sailed. On that occasion there was a large public breakfast, followed by a ball on board one of the vessels. The sober Scotch chose no such way to bid farewell. When nearly ready for sea a large party assembled on the vessel. A portion of the appropriate 72nd Psalm was read, followed by singing and a prayer. The hymn chosen was

'O God of Bethel by whose hand,
Thy children all were led.'

"There were twelve passengers in the cabin, the Rev. T. Burns, his wife, son, and five daughters; Mr. Blackie, the schoolmaster; Mr. and Mrs. Carnegie, of Edinburgh; and Mr. Donaldson. The remainder of the passengers were in the steerage, where most complete arrangements had been made. Ninety-three were children under fourteen years of age. The regulations were admirable, but Spartan in their strictness, and not such certainly as would be complied with to-day. The people rose at 6.30 and by 7.30 were all on deck. There was no breakfast until all the berths had been scrubbed out and cleansed. Twice a day, at 10.30 and 7.30, there was religious service, with one additional on Sunday. At 11 o'clock school commenced, and again at 4, conducted by Mr. Blackie, who was assisted by a few of the better-educated passengers. Dinner was served at 2, and tea at 5.30.

"The discipline was rigorous, and faithfully enforced. One persistently guilty youth was condemned to have his head shaved, a sentence which was commuted at the earnest request of the parents to close-cropping of his hair. Another criminal was imprisoned inpage 83 the coal-hole for several hours. The enjoyments consisted principally in singing national songs, and in practising church psalmody. The voyage, after the first bitter experiences, was on the whole an agreeable one. Otago Harbour was entered on April 15, 24 days after the arrival of the John Wickliffe, and 140 after the first start from Greenock.