Murihiku: A History of the South Island of New Zealand and the Islands Adjacent and Lying to the South, from 1642 to 1835
CHAPTER XIII. — Stewart Island Exploited, 1809 and 1810
Stewart Island Exploited, 1809 and 1810.
ON 1st October, 1807, there reached Port Jackson a vessel called the Pegasus, destined afterwards to be recorded pioneer of Foveaux Strait, and to give her name to the southern port of Stewart Island. She had been captured from the Spaniards by the frigate Cornwallis, and in the early part of 1808 had been selected to take Bligh, the deposed governor, to England. Later on, in the same year, she was purchased by Thomas Moore of Sydney, and fitted out to engage in the sealing trade. On 15th May, she advertised for men to proceed on a sealing expedition. Her captain's name was Bunker, probably the same man who, in 1791, contemplated visiting Dusky from Sydney, and who, later on, commanded the whaling ship Albion. Captain Bunker was on the eve of sailing for New Zealand, when a gang of desperadoes seized upon the brig Harrington in Farm Cove, Sydney. The next day, 17th May, the Pegasus was chartered, and in twenty-four hours fitted with ballast, provisions, and stands of arms, and on the 18th she sailed in pursuit of the pirates. The Pegasus made for the Bay of Islands and then to Fiji. Her mission was, however, unsuccessful, and on 22nd July, 1808, she returned to Sydney having suffered much from scarcity of provisions, owing to the length of time she had been at sea, and the large number of men (58) which she had on board.
A month was spent in once more fitting the Pegasus for the sealing expedition previously contemplated, and she sailed on 26th August, 1808. Whilst she was lying in Sydney, the Governor Bligh, a colonial vessel commanded by Grono, was also preparing to proceed to the sealing page 156 islands off the southern part of New Zealand. Both vessels returned in March of the following year, 1809. The story of their trip is the first record given to the world of the existence of Foveaux Strait and the presence of the island, now known as Stewart Island, at the extreme south of New Zealand. At last the mistake, made by Cook 39 years before, was pointed out. The story is best told in the published account of their voyage.
“Yesterday, 11th March, arrived from the Southward the Governor Bligh, colonial vessel, Mr. Grono master, with upwards of 10,000 fur seal skins. The 31st of January she fell in with the brig Fox at sea, with about the same complement. The Fox had lost her anchors and cables, and was very short of water, which latter want Mr. Grono relieved as far as was in his power. In a new discovered Strait, which cuts off the South Cape of New Zealand from the main land, fell in about the middle of February with the Pegasus, Captain Bunker, who had been pretty successful; and learned from him, that he had spoke the Antipode schooner 9 or 10 weeks before, she being then very short of provisions, and upon the return to the Seal-islands to take her gangs off. In the Strait abovementioned, which is called Foveaux Strait, the Pegasus struck upon a rock but received very little damage, and the Governor Bligh met a like accident, though with no material damage.
“The above Strait Mr. Grono describes as being from about 36 to 40 miles in width, and a very dangerous navigation from the numerous rocks, shoals, and little islands, with which it is crowded.1
“On 15th March arrived the Pegasus, Captain Bunker, belonging to this port, with about 12,600 skins. In Foveaux Straits she fell in with a schooner from England, also on a sealing voyage, commanded by Captain Keith; out eight months. No news of consequence.”
The name of this schooner was probably the Adventure, the captain of which was named Keith, and which is recorded as arriving at Gravesend from the South Seas on 15th September, 1810.2
On the same day as the Pegasus, arrived the Fox,3 with between 13,000 and 14,000 skins and 190 whale's teeth, which were at that time used in the Fiji trade. Captain Cox's crew had been virulently attacked with the scurvy, 26 out of 28 suffering from it, which rendered the navigation of the vessel very difficult. Bad weather experienced was responsible for the loss of a boat, so that it wanted something to compensate for the damage.
The arrivals of seal skins at this time were phenomenal. In one week no less than 45,000 were brought into port, exclusive of 20,000 which were then ready to proceed to England direct in the Santa Anna. As London advices just then indicated an average of thirty shillings per skin when delivered there, the week's imports to Sydney from the sealing islands amounted to no less a sum than £72,500 when delivered in London, and when the Santa Anna's cargo was added, the sum of £102,500.3
On 22nd March, the Antipode arrived with 4,000 seal skins. She was a vessel of 58 tons, belonging to Messrs. Hullets and Blaxland, and on 28th July sailed for Calcutta with coals and cedar under the command of William Sawyers.
On 13th April, 1809, the Governor Bligh sailed for “the sealing islands,” so that it is reasonable to suppose she made back to Foveaux Strait to further exploit the new sealing grounds.
When we consider the length of time—no less than 39 years—which had elapsed since Cook sailed past the entrance of Foveaux Strait, and the continuous trade which shipping had carried on to Dusky Sound, Solander Island, the South Cape and the Snares, to say nothing of the Penantipodes and the Bounties, it passes comprehension that the existence of Foveaux Strait should so long page 158 have remained unknown. The fact that Cook's chart showed a dotted connection of the South Cape with the mainland, might well have suggested bays for sealing, if not a strait. The balance of probability is enormously in favour of the opinion now expressed, that the existence of the strait was known prior to 1809. The shipping reports of the vessels first mentioned as being in Foveaux Strait do not speak of the Pegasus or Governor Bligh as having discovered it. No indication is given of the discoverer. It is simply mentioned as a “new discovered Strait.” The fact that we find the Pegasus, the Governor Bligh, and the Fox of Sydney, the Adventure of London, and possibly the Antipode, engaged at one time in sealing on its shores, would suggest that it was known of before 1809. The name Foveaux was in everybody's mouth in Sydney about the time the Pegasus and the Governor Bligh sailed. Lieutenant-Governor Foveaux had arrived from England in July, 1808, and finding that Governor Bligh had been deposed by the people, and about six months before, placed under arrest, had immediately assumed the reins of office and administered the government, until the Home authorities decided the colonial dispute. The fact of his name having been given to the strait only indicates its naming to be after July, 1808. The vessel Governor Bligh being named after the deposed governor, it would be natural that the captain of that craft would suggest the name of the succeeding governor, particularly as Foveaux was at the time the most conspicuous person in the young colony. The name does not solve the question of when the strait was actually discovered, but it very strongly suggests that Grono, the captain of the Governor Bligh, named it. It will be observed that the island now known as Stewart Island remained unnamed.
The owner of the Governor Bligh was Andrew Thompson who had been manager for Governor Bligh in his farming operations in the Hawkesbury District. Thompson had formerly been a convict, but had by good conduct and industry so rehabilitated himself as to secure the favour of page 159 the Governor and had been appointed a magistrate. He had also become a shipowner and died a wealthy man. The Governor Bligh was launched from his shipyards at Green Hills (afterwards called Windsor), on 1st April, 1807. In addition to this vessel he owned the Hawkesbury and the Speedwell, small craft of 18 tons each, which he employed in the sealing trade. After his death in 1810, Governor Macquarie, who inherited one fourth of his estate, erected a monument over his grave.
On the return of the Pegasus from her successful trip to Foveaux Strait Captain Bunker left her, and his place was taken by Captain S. Chace (sometimes spelt Chase). The contemplated route of the Pegasus is shown by the following advertisement dated Sunday, 9th April, 1809:—
“Wanted immediately six seamen for the ship Pegasus about to proceed to the River Derwent, and from thence on a Sealing Voyage; after which to England—Application to be made on board to Captain Chase.”
She was bound for England, via Hobart Town, and intended to do some sealing on the road. On 3rd May she sailed for Hobart Town “with provisions and upwards of 50 male prisoners to be distributed among the settlers removed from Norfolk Island thither. The Pegasus arrived at the Derwent on 19th May.4
Leaving Hobart Town after this date, probably in July, she made across to the southern portion of New Zealand. We find in August, 1809, that she was under the command of Captain S. Chace, with Mr. William Stewart (after whom Stewart Island was named) as first officer. On the 7th of that month, when skirting along the southeast coast of Stewart Island, she fell in with a harbour, to which was given the name of Southern Port and into which she sailed, while Mr. Stewart took observations of the position, and made a chart of the harbour, showing the depths of water with great detail. The draft of the chart was forwarded to the editor of the “Oriental Navigator” and published by him in 1816. The notes on Stewart's page 160 discoveries are to be found on pp. 87 to 90 of the Tables which accompany the “Oriental Navigator,” and are as follows:—
“The coasts of Stewart Island were explored by the ship Pegasus, Captain S. Chase, in 1809. The island was then found to be uninhabited, abounding in wood fit for shipbuilding and all other purposes, containing several excellent harbours, and runs of the purest water, &c.”
“Pegasus Island. From Captain Stewart's chart, this island appears to be a league and a half in length from N. to S., and a league in breadth E. and W. In the bay there is anchorage in 6, 6½, and 7 fathoms. Latitude observed as stated in the Table, 46° 47′ S. Longitude, same as Cape South.”
Pegasus was evidently the island now known as Codfish. The details given would suggest that the Pegasus circumnavigated Stewart Island.
On the subject of nomenclature, changes in some of the names in Southern Port may be pointed out, and the origin of others may be referred to. Southern Port has given place to Port Pegasus, Chase Island (after the name of the discoverer) to Pearl Island and Sugar Loaf Passage to Narrow Passage. The names Noble Island and Wilson's Inlet probably owe their origin to William Wilson and William Noble who were among the crew of the Pegasus.5 With the Pegasus on her former voyage was a Mr. Mason, which may account for Mason's Bay and Head on the west coast of Stewart Island. They were known by these names as early as 1823.
The name Pegasus also occurs in Pegasus Bay, north of Banks Peninsula. Some of the older maps lay it down as Cook's Mistake or Pegasus Bay. The author's impression is, that after completing his work at Stewart Island Chase sailed up the coast, and, discovering the mistake Cook had made in naming the peninsula, Banks Island, gave the bay the above name. The editor of the “Oriental Navigator” mentions on page 91 of the Tables quoted above page 161 “the ship Pegasus advancing from the northward to pass through this supposed channel (between Banks Island and the mainland) fortunately discovered, before night came on, that the island, so called, is really connected with the mainland by a low isthmus, in approaching which they had soundings of 15 and 14 fathoms.” This supports D'Urville's statement, that Chase discovered that Banks Island was a peninsula, and he gives the date as 1809.6
After leaving New Zealand the Pegasus is next recorded as being at the Chathams, where Stewart is again working at his charts, and completing the outline of the island left uncompleted by Broughton. This chart, which is the first complete one of the Chathams, is also to be found in the “Oriental Navigator.” From this point the movements of the sealers are lost, until Lloyds List of 21st August, 1810, records her arrival at Gravesend from Rio, under the command of Chace on the 18th of the month.
The chart made by Stewart, of Pegasus, was in use in the British Navy and among merchantmen down to 1840. We find Captain Nias of H.M.S. Herald, when declaring British sovereignty at Port Pegasus in June, 1840, stating:
“This is one of the finest harbours I have seen, and its survey by our present pilot, Captain Stuart, in the year 1809, I am told by the officers of the ship, does him great credit.”7
This is an appropriate place to discuss what exactly was Stewart's relations to the discovery of Foveaux Strait, and to Stewart Island, of which he is generally referred to as the discoverer. In passing backwards and forwards to the Penantipodes, it is impossible to say whether Stewart learned of the existence of the strait or not. If he did, Sydney journals made no mention of the fact. Stewart is not recorded as being on board either the Pegasus or the Governor Bligh when they met in Foveaux Strait on the occasion of the discovery first being notified. Though not an absolute criterion, still the custom of advertising the departure of men on sealing trips gives a very good idea of the constitution of the crew just at this period, and we page 162 cannot find Stewart mentioned as sailing in any of these vessels. Taking the name Foveaux as indicative that the strait was named after Foveaux assumed the reins of government, there is no evidence that Stewart was in the south of New Zealand when the strait was named. In 1809 however, we find Stewart as first mate of the Pegasus surveying the coastline of the island, and it is just probable that the name Stewart Island was given to the land, because Stewart surveyed it, not because he discovered it. His name is here mentioned as W. W. Stewart. As a matter of fact it was William Stewart, but he had a very peculiar signature, and when he signed his name Wm. Stewart, the m was formed exactly as the W, and it read like W. W. as can be seen by a perusal of the facsimile of the treaty of Waitangi.
Reprints of Stewart's notices are here given to meet questions which might be raised as to the identity of the apparently different names.
The first is a correct copy of an advertisement inserted in 1812, after Stewart had notified his intention to leave Sydney as master of the Cumberland.8
“I, William Stewart being about to sail out of this Port in a Colonial Vessel, and finding that Detainers have been exhibited against me by Edward Lamb, Thomas Laughlan, and William O'Neal, to neither of whom I am thus indebted, I thus publicly require each of the said Persons, to attend at the Civil Court, on Thursday next the 23rd Instant, to assert their Claims, as I then intend petitioning the said Court that such Detainers may be dismissed as unjust.
An advertisement of a Release executed by Stewart and R. Campbell, junr., 1819, shows the mistake of the W. W.
On 7th May, 1809, the brig Fox sailed for the sealing grounds of New Zealand. She visited Foveaux Strait, and on 7th October landed a gang under a Mr. Murray. Provisions for six months were left, and the Fox sailed for a six months' cruise, intending at the expiration of that time to call and pick up the members of the party.9 This vessel was spoken by the Governor Bligh before she entered Foveaux Strait for the first time, early in the year, and she was evidently in all haste to take advantage of the new sealing ground opened up by recent discoveries.
Others displayed equal activity in the same direction. With this new trade rush, tragedies continued on the coast. The old pioneer of the trade, the Endeavour, under a new captain, Goodenough, left Sydney in the middle of June, and returned on 25th August with a doleful tale. On the coast of New Zealand, when sealing, she had despatched a boat and six men to find the best station for a gang. Nothing more was heard of them. Every possible search was made along the coast, but all to no purpose. Reduced in strength by this untoward calamity, the Endeavour returned to Sydney to complete her numbers. The sad advertisement rendered necessary by this accident is here given.
“Wanted.—Ten able Seamen or Sealers free of any encumbrance, for the schooner Endeavour, able to proceed to sea on a sealing and whaling voyage, within ten days from the present date. Liberal encouragement will be given. Apply to Messrs. Kable and Underwood.”
Although the south is not mentioned here, we know that Kable and Underwood had their stations in the south, and that the centre of the sealing trade was around Foveaux Strait. Beyond this, we cannot locate the calamity.
In August, 1809, a schooner, the Unity of London, commanded by Captain Daniel Cooper, had got into trouble in Sydney through three convicts and a seaman of the Sydney Cove being found on board of her, and her captain was fined by the authorities £900. She was on the eve of page 164 sailing for the southern part of New Zealand when the offence was committed, and returned on 27th October with 3,600 skins. On 15th August, 1810, she again returned to port, after a long sealing voyage, for provisions and to refit. Her cargo consisted of about 6,000 seal skins. The shipping news says:
“She had been mostly about the Islands on the coast of New Zealand, and in Foveaux's Straits, which are about 700 miles to the southward of the Bay of Islands, and describes the natives as particularly friendly. About 45′ to the northward of Dusky Bay she encountered a heavy thunder storm in a port named by Mr. Grono (master of a colonial vessel), Thompson's Sound, another entrance to the southward of which is laid down in the charts by the name of Doubtful Harbour. Her foremast was struck by lightning in five places, by which the lower mast and top mast were much damaged; five men were knocked down at the same instant, between decks, and for a length of time deprived of the use of their limbs, one of them being also severely burnt on the crown, of the head. Three days after, lying at anchor in the above place, the people felt most sensibly the effects of an earthquake; the vessel trembled, and a noise like that of casks rolling about her decks lasted for 3 or 4 minutes.”
The Unity reached Gravesend on 12th June, 1811.
Grono at this time commanded the Governor Bligh, which is recorded on 13th April, 1809, as sailing for “the sealing islands,” and on 19th January, 1810, as returning from “the sealing islands” with about 10,000 skins. The above extract would show that the Sounds were visited by the Governor Bligh, and Thompson Sound named by its captain. Thompson was the shipowner, whose name has been mentioned before as owner of the Speedwell, which he had floated off after it had got ashore. Grono, it will be remembered, was her former captain and owner. He was now regularly sailing as one of Thompson's captains. page 165 In 1810 the firm consisted of Lord, Williams and Thompson, and the Governor Bligh was one of their vessels.10 The names of the three members of the firm are preserved in New Zealand in Lords River, Port William (formerly called Williams Bay11) and Thompson Sound.
The view generally held among shipping men is that the Sound was called after Deas Thomson, Colonial Secretary, and in support of this, it is pointed out that one of the coves in the Sound is called Deas Cove, one of the headlands, Colonial Head, and the main island, Secretary Island. Deas Thomson did not leave England until 1828, or 18 years after the Sound is here shewn, from the columns of the Sydney press, to have been named.
Two items of bad news reached Sydney early in 1810. A duty of £20 per ton was imposed on all oil the produce of Australian seas, procured by colonial vessels; and fur seal skins had fallen to an average of from three to eight shillings per skin.
The following report of the doings of the Sydney Cove, during these palmy days of Stewart Island sealing, did not see the light of day until 1826, when in a letter to the “Colonial Times,” Hobart Town, W. Nicholls, ship's mate, described the following circumstances.12
“On the 8th of January, 1810, I was sent on shore with several other men from the ship Sydney Cove, Captain Charles McLaren, at the South Cape of New Zealand, in order to procure seal skins. After leaving the vessel I made towards the shore, and was some distance from it when it began to blow a gale of wind directly off the shore. This forced us to go into a bay near the Cape, contrary to my wish, as I had passed it before, and saw it was iron-bound, having no beach. I proceeded to the north-west end of this bay to procure the best shelter I could, and found to my great surprise an inlet. At the end of the inlet there was a pebbly beach, where we hauled up our boat for the night. The next moming one of my men told me he had found a mast near the beach; I went to look at it and found it to be a ship's top-mast of a very large size. It was very sound, but page 166 to all appearances had laid in the water a long time. It was full of turpentine, which, of course, had preserved it. As I was compelled by contrary winds to remain on this inlet three days I had time narrowly to examine the mast. I measured it, and found its length 64ft. from the heel to the upper part of the cheeks; the head had been broken off close to the cheeks. There were two lignum vitae sheaves near the heel, which I took out. Each of these sheaves was 16 inches in diameter; had an iron pin. two round brass plates a quarter of an inch thick and four small iron bolts or rivets, which went through the sheaves and the two brass plates to secure them. I have been some years in the British Navy, and am well assured that this bushing was not English. On taking off the plates from the sheaves I found inside each of the plates ‘No. 32,’ which was, without doubt, the number of the vessel which the mast belonged to. Every ship in the British Navy is numbered, and I doubt not it is the case in other countries. When the ship came for me and my men I informed Captain McLaren about the mast. He looked at the work and gave it as his opinion that the bushing was French. He observed that he did not know of any vessel that was ever lost on the coast that required a topmast of that size except the Endeavour, which was towed into Dusky Bay, and everything that belonged to her got on shore. The Sydney Cove was nearly lost on the Traps one night, and I understand Mr. Kelly our harbourmaster, had also nearly fallen a victim on them. I had almost forgotten to say that, at Captain McLaren's request I gave him the sheaves of the mast to carry them to Europe; but, as the ship he sailed in was confiscated at Rio de Janeiro it is probable that they may have been lost. Captain McLaren is still (1826) sailing out of Rio, and it is very likely he may have some memorandum which will corroborate this statement of mine, the greater part of which I have taken from my log.”
In the latter part of 1809 a syndicate had been formed in Sydney to collect flax in the North Island and manufacture it into cordage and canvas. Messrs. Lord, Williams, page 167 and Thompson despatched a party of men in connection with this syndicate, under the command of William Leith, to gather the flax. Leith was disappointed with the prospects of the trade and advised his principals:
“As soon as I have completed the cargo of the Experiment and dismissed her, shall continue to trade about the East Cape if possible for a short time, and then proceed to Queen Charlotte Sound, Cooks Streights, being informed here by the whalers who have been there this season that the flax plant abounds in that Sound, even to the tops of the hills. I have likewise information that there is very few if any, natives there. This sound being not far out of our way to Foveaux Streights induces me to make a tryal of it. Should it, on my arrival, promise to answer my purpose, I intend remaining in it during the midwinter months. You will therefore please to direct the master of such vessel as you may judge proper to send to our relief to make Cook's Streights. On each side of the entrance of the Sound I purpose fixing a cross, or nailing a piece of timber across a tree, as a signal of our being within it. Should we leave the Sound previous to the arrival of such vessel, I will leave directions pointing out our course, enclosed in bottles and buried at the root of trees, or crosses with a string affixed and leading above ground. If we should not be in the Sound, nor any signs remain of our having been there, it will be necessary for such vessel (the relief) to run up to the Bay of Plenty and the East Cape before the master attempts to search for us in Williams's or any other bay in Foveaux Streights. The same signals I shall make in the last as in the before mentioned streights.”13
This is the first mention of a visit to Queen Charlotte Sound since Cook last saw it in 1776, and gives us the interesting information that Cook's old Sound had been used by whalers during the season of 1809. The names of page 168 the vessels to which Leith refers are not recorded but those met with by him at the Bay of Islands were the Speke (John Kingston), the Inspector (John Walker), the Atlanta (Josh. Morris), the Perseverance (Fredk. Hasselbourgh), the Spring-grove and the New Zealander.
The Governor Bligh, Chace, was despatched with supplies for Leith on 27th March, 1810. Before however, she reached her destination, Leith's men had become impatient, if they had not become frightened at the state of the natives, and returned in the New Zealander under Captain Elder. The Governor Bligh meantime, failing to find the whereabouts of Leith's gang, returned via Stewart Island, reaching Sydney on 18th August. While coming through Foveaux Strait, she fell in with a gang left there by the Fox, and brought back with her the overseer, Mr. Murray, who came on to Sydney to get provisions, the gang being left in great straits, owing to their stock of six month's provisions, left them on 7th October, 1809, being exhausted.14
The Fox had gone to Amsterdam Island, where she was wrecked on 26th September, 1810. On 28th December following, the Ranger (Parker), called at the island, but on account of her destination could render no assistance. The shipwrecked men waited patiently until 3rd March following, when the Rose (Cary), of Nantucket, bound for China, called in and took Captain Cox, his mates, boatswain and an apprentice on with her. The captain went on board the Canada (Ward) in Gaspar Strait beyond Sumatra, and in her to London. Arrived at his destination, he arranged for the Mary (Laughlan) to call on her way to Sydney. On reaching Amsterdam Island, Laughlan found that eight shipwrecked mariners had been rescued by the Venus (Bunker) of London, on her way to Timor on 3rd June, 1811. The Mary reached Sydney on 7th May, 1812.15 The “New Bedford Mercury” of 16th August, 1811, records the rescue by the Rose, and states that the eight were left on the desolate island owing to the want of water on board the rescuing vessel.page 169
The shipping report of 25th August, 1810, says: “We also learn from Mr. Murray that two gangs left by the Sydney Cove, one in Molyneux's Straits, and the other on the South Cape of New Zealand, were under similar circumstances, being left with three months' provisions in November last, since which period the vessel had not returned. Their distresses must in consequence be severe, but will be brought to as speedy a crisis as every possible exertion on the part of the owners can render practicable. The gang at the South Cape had unfortunately lost their only boat shortly after they were landed; which was however replaced by one that was spared to them from the Fox's party, without which their condition would have been exceedingly distressing.
“From his long stay in Foveaux's Straits, Mr. Murray became tolerably conversant in the native language which he describes as totally different from that of the Bay of Islands, though the people of both places dress much alike, and are nearly similar in their manners. There were two small towns on that part of the coast upon which his gang was stationed, each of which contained between 20 and 30 houses, each house containing two families. These houses are built with posts, lined with reeds, and thatched with grass. They grow some potatoes, which with their mats they exchange with the sealers for any articles they choose to give in exchange, preferring iron or edged tools, none of which they had ever before had in their possession. Those on the sea-coast live chiefly upon fish; their canoes are very inferior to those of the Bay of Islands, not exceeding 18 inches in breadth, but from 14 to 16 feet in length; which want of proportion renders it unsafe to venture at any distance without lashing two of these vehicles together, to keep them from upsetting. Their offensive weapons are stone axes of an immoderate size and weight, and large spears from 12 to 14 feet in length, which they do not throw; and as an unquestionable evidence of barbarity, Mr. M. affirms, that when two page 170 factions take the field, their women are ranked in front of either line, in which posture they attack and defend, the men levelling their weapons at each other over the heads of the unfortunate females, who rend the air with shrieks and lamentations while the conflict lasts, and frequently leave more dead upon the field than do their savage masters. The vanquishers devour the bodies of their fallen enemies, and bury their own dead; and like the Gentoos, the women follow their husbands to the shades. To their king or principal chief, whom they call the Pararoy, they pay profound respect; and such was their deference to superior rank, that no civilities were paid to any of Mr. Murray's people unless he were present; and he also was honoured with the rank and title of Pararoy.”
All concern about the safety of the Sydney Cove was set at rest by the news in November from Norfolk Island, per the Cyclops, that the missing vessel had been there and sailed for the relief of her gangs in Foveaux Strait.
On 26th March, 1811, the schooner Boyd, a vessel constructed from the long boat of the ill-fated Boyd, of Whangaroa Harbour fame, returned from the relief of various sealing gangs in the employment of Campbell, Hook & Co., in Foveaux Strait. She reported:
“At Port William, which is distant about 60 miles from Solander's Island, she fell in with a whale boat with seven men left by the Brothers in October 1809; from the Overseer of whom Mr. Holford (the captain) received the mortifying intelligence of several boat's crews in various employs having been barbarously murdered, and mostly devoured by the cannibal natives.”
The Brothers must have sailed from England and left the sealing gang there, as she reached England on 12th September, 1808. In November, 1811, Mr. Robert Brown, late chief mate of the Brothers, was in Sydney, and left word at the “Sydney Gazette” office that in Foveaux Strait he found a cask of seal skins, 42 in number, at high page 171 water mark, out of all protection, and intimating that they could be obtained by the owners on proof and payment of expenses.16
The following further quotations from the Boyd's report are of interest:
“The Sydney Cove, for whose safety some serious apprehension had been entertained here, Mr. H. reports to have been at Port William, and from thence proceeded to the Island of Macquarie, where it is hoped her voyage will turn to good account.
“Three men who had fled from a gang in the above straits, and had gone among the natives, with a boat and a number of carpenter's implements, were also killed and devoured, and thus sadly atoned for their desertion under circumstances that intailed a series of inconvenience and distresses on their companions, as well as for their temerity in wantonly exposing themselves to the fury of the merciless hordes of savages that infest that barbarous coast.
“One of the persons brought up in the Boyd from New Zealand, gives an account of a hurricane that happened there on the 21st of March 1810, which he describes as most furious and terrific, dismantling forests of their largest trees, separating massy rocks, and filling the imagination with awe and terror. To a lonely European, constantly in dread of being surprised and murdered by the people upon whose soil the destinies had cast him, without a shelter from the fury of the elements, miserable and deplorable must have been his condition. But to one so lost and so seemingly forsaken for a time, it was the Will of Providence at length to find relief, and to preserve him as an example to Mankind that the Divine Aid extends itself to the most humble, and can exalt to happiness the mind that sinks beneath the cheerless gloom of hopeless melancholy.”17
In April, 1811, the Sydney Cove returned to Sydney and confirmed the account brought by the Boyd, of the loss of a boat's crew of six men on the coast of New Zealand, the victims of savage barbarity.18
No vessel's name was specified in the Boyd's report, but from the above it is plain that the boat with the six men belonged to the Sydney Cove, and that 1810 was the date when she had her gangs stationed on the coast of Foveaux Strait and Stewart Island.