White Wings Vol II. Founding Of The Provinces And Old-Time Shipping. Passenger Ships From 1840 To 1885
The Cresswell, a barque of 574 tons, was a superior craft to most of the vessels sent out by Messrs. Willis, Gann and Co., and on each voyage to New Zealand made a fair average run for a ship of her size. She brought out a large number of our early settlers. Judging from the brief reports of the passages published in the papers during the fifties, nothing of an eventful nature occurred on any of her voyages.
It was in 1851 she made her first appearance in New Zealand. She sailed from Gravesend on the 19th November, 1850, and arrived at Auckland on the 20th March with 65 passengers, 121 days out from Gravesend. After landing some of her passengers and part of her cargo, the barque went on to Wellington and Dunedin, arriving at the latter port on May 6. China was her next call, and then in the following year she was out in New Zealand again, sail-page 148ing from Gravesend on March 5, and arriving in Auckland on June 30th. Later she sailed for New Plymouth, where she arrived on August 25, and landed 52 passengers.
On these voyages the barque was in command of Captain John Williams, who was both capable and popular. In the present days of wireless a reference in the "Southern Cross" to the barque's arrival in 1852 makes rather quaint reading. That paper said: "The Cresswell was visible outside Rangitoto to several persons, but was not reported by the man in charge of the signal station at Mount Victoria, and the barque made known her own arrival in the dark, and to the surprise of most of the inhabitants, by a lively and unexpected cannonade."
In 1853 the Cresswell made a voyage from London direct to New Plymouth, where she arrived on August 25, and after landing passengers and cargo, proceeded on to Auckland, arriving there on September 6. Another voyage was made to New Plymouth in 1855. She arrived at the Taranaki port on June 3, and was at Auckland on the 25th of that month.
In 1856 the barque arrived at Nelson on the 6th October, after making the passage in 104 days, and on this occasion landed 172 passengers. She made another voyage from London direct to Nelson in 1858 with general cargo and 40 passengers, arriving on the 8th February, 111 days out.
In 1859 she made another voyage from London, and called at three New Zealand ports. She arrived at Lyttelton with 161 passengers on the 12th September; Nelson on the 24th, with 42 passengers, and New Plymouth on the 1st November, with 24 passengers. This was the last voyage of the Cresswell to the colony.
Even in those days immigrants were not always too welcome, and in the "Lyttelton Times" account of the arrival of the Cresswell we read that "some fellows attempted to go on board and discourage the newcomers by fabulous accounts of the sorrows to come." But the Cresswell's people refused to be intimidated. One young woman, as soon as she got ashore, was offered marriage and a home and she was married right away the next morning. They didn't waste much time over courtship in those days! As an indication of rates of pay, it may be mentioned that a squatter offered to engage six single men at a pound a week and found, with free passage to Timaru, where his station was located. The newcomers said they would rather starve than accept such pay!
There was another vessel named Cresswell, a craft of 464 tons, but she was not built until 1863.