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The Old Whaling Days

Appendix “C.” — The Harriett Papers, 1834

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Appendix “C.”
The Harriett Papers
, 1834.

(1) Mrs. Guard's Account.

“Mrs. Guard states, that when the New Zealanders first took her prisoner she was nearly exhausted with the loss of blood, which was flowing from the wounds she received in her head with their tomahawks. They voraciously licked the blood, and, when it ceased to flow, attempted to make an incision in her throat for that purpose, with part of an iron hoop. They then stripped her and her children naked, dragged her to their huts, and would have killed her, had not a chief's wife kindly interfered in her behalf, and when the bludgeon was raised with that intention, threw a rug over her person and saved her life. The savages took the two children from under her arms and threw them on the ground; and, while they were dividing the property they had stolen from the crew of the Harriet, kept running backwards and forwards over the children as they lay upon the ground—one of which, the youngest still retains the marks of this brutal operation. They afterwards delivered the youngest child to the mother, and took the other away into the bush, and Mrs. Guard did not see it for two months after. A short time had elapsed, when the Natives took Mrs. Guard to Wymattee, about forty miles from where the Harriet was wrecked, being in a perfect state of nudity, both her and her children, where they gave her an old shirt; this was the only covering she, and the infant sucking at her breast, had for the whole of the winter. They gave her potatoes to eat; and as she had made them great promises of what they would receive when Mr. Guard returned, if they spared her life, they did not afterwards ill-use her. In this state she remained for page 424 about five months; and during that time, saw the Natives cut up and eat those they killed belonging to the Harriet, (one of whom was Mrs. Guard's brother), occasionally bringing some pieces of human flesh to her, and asking her to partake of it with them. When the vessels arrived off the Nooma, they brought her down and expected the long-promised payment; Captain Guard immediately seized the man who had her, and secured him. The Natives on seeing this, fired several shots at Mr. Guard; and the military, not having come up to Captain Guard's assistance in sufficient time to secure her, the New Zealanders ran away with Mrs. Guard into the bush, and took her back to Wymattee. Here they again wanted to kill her, but as numbers of them were against it, expecting she would fetch a large sum, she was allowed to live. The Alligator followed to Wymattee, and exchanged the native prisoner for Mrs. Guard and her child; the other child was afterwards given up as we have before stated. As soon as the unfortunate Mrs. Guard and child were on board, they were treated with the greatest kindness by the officers and men of the Alligator, who also made a subscription for them. Mr. and Mrs. Guard have requested us to take this opportunity of acknowledging their sincere gratitude for the kindness of the officers on board His Majesty's ship Alligator, both of them and family—not in only rescuing them from savage thraldom, but for their charitable treatment afterwards—the recollection of which will never be effaced.”

(2) The Sailors' Account.

“On the 10th of September a mob of natives came running into the hut where we stopped, calling out “corbura corbura,” (a ship); we rushed out and saw two vessels bearing down towards us. You may imagine how we felt, having been five months among these wretches, eaten up with vermin, half starved, nearly naked, and our lives in hourly danger. At nine o'clock the wind changing, the vessels bore away. As one of them seemed page 425 to us to be a man of war, we expected their return the first fair wind. On the 22nd the two vessels again hove in sight, and having a fine breeze, in a few hours anchored under the par where we were. The natives were very anxious to know what ship it was, and hearing us talk of the man of war, began to be very frightened, and told us they did not like to see the sailors with pistols and megara roar (a big knife) by their sides. Instead of asking us to pay them in muskets, blankets, powder, &c., they said they would be content with a few pipes or a bit of tobacco. By this time the Alligator had sent her boats ashore, and the natives did not hesitate to let us go on board, and in an hour's time we were under weigh. Captain Lambert and the officers kindly provided us with clothes which were much wanting.


“On Mr. Guard stepping out of the boat, one of the chiefs came up to shake hands with him whom he recognised as the one who had ordered the men to rush at the fight on the 10th of May, he being the chief who detained Mrs. Guard; he was accordingly secured and taken in the boat of the Alligator.


“The chief told Captain Lambert that if he would take him ashore at a place called Naturawey, he would call out for Mrs. Guard and the children.


“Before we had been long on shore, and before we could reach the hills above the beach, we saw the natives coming, one of them carrying the boy on his back. Captain Guard with seven of his crew and a few of the sailors of the Alligator, went to receive the boy, who was dressed in a clean mat, with several feathers on his head. A sailor of the name of Ruff, captain of the forecastle of the Alligator, was the first who reached the boy, and finding him fastened to the man's back by an old mat, took out his knife, and securing the child, deliberately drew his knife across the man's throat. The crew of the Harriett, finding the child safe, now determined on having ample revenge on the page 426 murderers of their shipmates, and there being about 103 natives assembled on the beach, we fired upon them; the soldiers on the hill supposing that orders had been given for firing, commenced a discharge of musketry upon them; numbers of their dead strewed the beach, the others fled for shelter to their par and to the woods.


“All the remaining crew of the Harriet shipped on board the Elizabeth, Cap. Currie, for England, except the carpenter, who came up in the Isabella schooner.”

(3) Complaint of “Harriett's” Crew.

To the Editor of the “Sydney Times.”


Under the present circumstances, I have been advised by a few friends to mention to you some particulars concerning the fate of the barque Harriett and her crew.

After being among the natives for about five months, we were happily relieved by the aid of Captain Lambert, to whom I return my most sincere thanks for his humanity I towards me and my shipmates. Words cannot express I the feelings of my heart towards him and his officers, who not only behaved to me but to all my shipmates as gentlemen in every respect; they gave us all in their power to make us comfortable; but unfortunately owing to the number of people on board the Alligator, we were placed under the protection of Captain Boyle, on board His Majesty's schooner Isabella; who, I regret to say, behaved very indifferently towards us. Three days after we were brought from the shore, we were sent on board the Isabella; the very first night the Captain called us aft, and appointed us to regular watches; we told him we were not able to keep watch not being strong enough; we had no clothes and the weather was cold. He insisted on it, and in consequence of our refusing to do so, stopped our victuals. We then acquainted the purser of the man of war of the fact, to whom I shall always my most sincere thanks for page 427 his goodness—he ordered us our rations, but Captain Boyle would not give them, though he promised he would do so—in fact he stinted us in everything that he could, and behaved to us more like a brute than a Christian.

I remain Sir

Your Obedient Servant
The Carpenter of the unfortunate Harriett.

[This Letter of Complaint, penned by the Carpenter of the Harriett, is here given, in order to place before the reader a defence of the action of the sailors from the charge made by Marshall in his “Personal Narrative” of the incident, published in 1836. At p. 157 that writer says:—

“But they were a base and selfish set of men, altogether unworthy such an act of private beneficence, as was some time afterwards seen in their refusal to take part in working the Isabella, where they were furnished with accomodation and food on their way home, unless paid for doing so.”

The fact, too, that the men left the Isabella at the Bay of Islands and went on board a whaler—the Elizabeth—and did not go on to Sydney, would indicate that dislike to something on the ship, rather than dislike of work, was the cause. The Author.]

(4) Public Appeal for Mrs. Guard.

To the Public.

The dreadful case of Mrs. Guard and her two infant children, who have been so providentially preserved amongst, and at last rescued from the cannibals of New Zealand, by whom they were seized and carried away, is already before the public, and has excited greater interest and a more general expression of sympathy than perhaps any case of distress and suffering upon record, indeed the case is happily without a parallel. At the time that Captain Guard had the misfortune to be wrecked upon the coast of New Zealand, in the barque Harriett, in which he was a shareholder and by which wreck, besides the personal page 428 sufferings to which the survivors were exposed in common with the whole crew (of which twelve, including a brother of Mrs. Guard, were inhumanly butchered and eaten by the savages), Mr. Guard lost the whole of his property, which had been left him by the former wreck on the same coast of the schooner Waterloo, of which he was joint owner, in October 1833, the very hull of which vessel it may be remembered was burned by the natives.

The promptitude of His Excellency and the Colonial Government in despatching forces to New Zealand, and the gallantry of His Majesty's 50th, under the command of Captain Johnstone, and of the marine force under Captain Lambert, effectually seconding the local knowledge of Mr. Guard himself, are entitled to the highest praise and to the unbounded gratitude of the sufferers. These have rescued the captives from a situation more dreadful than was perhaps ever before known or heard of; and the public now appealed to will not be backward in displaying its sympathy and genuine commiseration; but impelled by every feeling of humanity as husbands or wives, as parents or as children and as Christians, the attention cannot be directed to the extraordinary case of poor Mr. and Mrs. Guard, and their two infants, without the heart being irresistibly impelled by every feeling honourable to human nature, to open wide the hand and extend substantial relief to the sufferers.

Had Providence seen fit to deprive these parties of the husband and father, the mother or the children, money indeed could not purchase their restoration; or even had they been shipwrecked without loss of property, it might be unfair to apply for pecuniary recompence; but this is a case in which a female and her children have been for months exposed to every conceivable horror—shipwrecked, seized, and detained among savages—her husband and some of her companions effecting their escape, but twelve of them, including her brother, killed and eaten in her presence; and the husband a sober and industrious man, loses by the act of God many hundred pounds of property— page 429 the whole of the hard earnings of many years—and though recovering his wife and children, finds himself with his family, rescued indeed from the jaws of death, but robbed of everything literally to their very skin, for the natives left them in a state of nudity.

To recompense the world after such losses and sufferings as these—to enable this family to preserve its energies and again exert them usefully, and it is hoped successfully, this appeal is made to all such as are blessed with hearts to commiserate such great and unparalleled distress.

Subscriptions are received at each of the Banks and at the office of the Sydney Times.

£ s. d.
Robert Campbell, junior, Esq. 10 0 0
Captain Collins 5 0 0
Mr. N. L. Kentish 5 0 0
Mrs. Kentish 5 0 0
S. Smith, Esq. 1 1 0
Mr. Jones 0 10 0
Captain Irving 2 0 0
Mr. Ferraby 1 0 0
Mr. Ross 0 5 0
The Commanding Officers and Crew of the Joseph Weller 3 7 10
A Friend of the Distressed 0 10 0
W.F. 0 7 0
Follow my example 0 10 6
A Whaler 0 5 0
N. & N.B. 1 0 0

Liberal and Humane persons in the country are earnestly requested to make collections and forward their contributions to the “Times” Office.