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The Old Whaling Days



The first arrival at the Port of Sydney from Cloudy Bay was the Martha with J. W. Harris and T. Ralph as passengers, on 23rd January, and two days afterwards the Sir David Ogilvy sailed with a shore whaling party for Queen Charlotte Sound.

The following month—on the 5th—Hempleman sailed in the Dublin Packet to establish a whaling station at Piraki in Banks Peninsula. There went with him Mrs. Hempleman, Captain Clayton, Mr. Ward and two whaling gangs. The party reached Piraki on 20th March, and the Dublin Packet sailed again on the twenty-seventh. Amongst the manuscripts of the late Mr. Hempleman which the author has been privileged to peruse, is a portion of the Agreement entered into between George Hempleman and the men constituting the gangs. They were “to catch or take the right whale or other marine substances the oil page 158 and bone of which or skins of seals to be considered the property of G. T. Clayton.” Desertion or neglect of duty rendered the men liable to a penalty of fifty pounds. The season was to last until 1st November, and a passage was to be found for the men back to Sydney, at Clayton's expense, in October. Amongst the names signing the Agreement are Simon Crawley, Wm. Biers, and others mentioned in Hempleman's log. Captain Leathart, on his road to Sydney, called in at Cloudy Bay on 2nd April, and reached Port Jackson on the twenty-third, with Captain Clayton and Mr. Maughan as passengers.

The length of time taken for the voyage from Sydney to Piraki would indicate that some other place was visited. Time may have been spent in selecting the new station, or in effecting the removal from Port Cooper of the station occupied there the previous year.

The same day that Hempleman sailed for Piraki, a gang sailed in the Marion Watson for Kapiti. When they arrived there Captain McPherson found that the Natives of that place, and of the Sound, were proving very troublesome, and had gone so far as to set fire to the dwellings of the shore parties, in retaliation for the death of the chief who had been killed the previous year. During this trip a seaman named Samuel White was drowned by a boat, overloaded with ballast, sinking in seventeen fathoms of water.

Seven days after the Piraki and Kapiti gangs sailed, Blinkinsopp and a gang went down in the brig Hind to Cloudy Bay to prepare for the season there.

Mention of Blinkinsopp brings up an interesting decision of the Supreme Court, Sydney, of 1st March, regarding employment in whaling vessels.

“Mr. Barnard signed articles with Captain Brown of the whaler Proteus, to go a voyage with him as second mate, for which he was to receive a forty-eight share or lay of the oil procured. When the vessel was going out, Captain Brown informed the ship's crew that it was his intention to promote the chief officer, page 159 Mr. Blenkinsop, to the command of the vessel and leave her himself, which on arrival at New Zealand he did, and from that time to the end of the voyage, Mr. Barnard acted and was always treated as chief officer by Mr. Blenkinsop. On the return of the ship Mr. Barnard claimed the thirtieth lay which is considered the chief mate's share, but Captain Brown would only pay him the forty-eighty lay according to his articles, upon which Barnard commenced the present action to recover the sum of forty-eight pounds, being the difference between the amount paid by Brown and the amount claimed by Barnard. The Acting Chief Justice ruled that the plaintiff must be nonsuited, as he was strictly held by the articles he had signed.”

On 19th March Wright and Long sent their brig Bee on a round trip from Sydney through Foveaux Strait, calling at Otago (20th April), Port Cooper (3rd May), Cloudy Bay (20th May), and Kapiti (22nd May). She reached Sydney on 30th June with Captain Richards as a passenger, and with a cargo of 10 tuns of black oil, 7cwt. of bone, 15 tons of potatoes, and 100 logs of firewood. Captain Gluvias reported the Alexander Henry and the Henry Freeling, at Otago; the Samuel Cunard at Port Cooper; and the Caroline, Marianne, Tuscaloosa, Erie, Virginia, and Thule, at Cloudy Bay; and the Louisa at Entry Island.

The Alexander Henry sailed shortly after the Bee called in at Otago, and she is reported as at Akaroa on 16th June and Piraki on 16th May. The Henry Freeling, which had also been at Otago with the Alexander Henry, reached Akaroa on 10th June and found there the Roslyn Castle, the Alexander Henry, the Mechanic, the Cheviot, the Orozimbo, the Fame, and the Pantheon, At Port Cooper at the same time, were the Samuel Cunard, the Sisters, and the Bowditch.

On 16th June Captain Hobson visited Cloudy Bay in H.M.S. Rattlesnake, for wood and water. His stay was a limited one, as he sailed the next day. The ship's log page 160 ignores the existence of other vessels lying at anchor, but we know, from the log of the Tuscaloosa, that that vessel and the Erie were whaling there at the time. Captain Hobson had intended calling at Kapiti and Mana Islands, but was prevented by the boisterous nature of the weather from landing at these places. In his report to Governor Bourke at Sydney he mentions Bell's settlement at Mana Island. As a pasenger on board the Rattlesnake, the venerable Rev. Samuel Marsden returned to Sydney, from his last visit to New Zealand. It is the only occasion on which he visited the South Island, and the author has not, so far, been able to get details of the visit.

In June there were at Cloudy Bay and Kapiti the following vessels:—

The Fame, the Denmark Hill, the Marianne, the Louisa, the Tusculoosa, the Erie, the Virginia of Bremen, and the Thule. The Dublin Packet had been at Kapiti and had sailed, on the twentieth, for the south.

The brig Martha, belonging to McGaa, Breed & Co., left the Bay on 1st August. She had come down from Sydney in nine days, but had met such heavy weather, when returning, that she was driven 1000 miles out of her course and did not reach Sydney until 1st September.

On 15th July, Wright and Long sent down the Bee for another cargo of oil. When she called in at Kapiti she found the Louisa, Hayward, belonging to Jones & Co., the Roslyn Castle, Richards, belonging to Richards & Co., and the Caroline, Cherry, belonging to Campbell & Co. The shore whaling establishment of Richards & Co. had done well. having procured about 150 tuns of oil, 100 of which the Bee brought up to Sydney on 21st September. The Louisa had lost her boats, but had procured others from Captain Hopton, of the Persian, a trading vessel which had sailed from Sydney for Valparaiso viâ the Bay of Islands, but had been compelled to come to an anchorage at Kapiti, where she remained from 25th August to 7th September, on which date she sailed for her destination viâ the Bay of Islands.

page 161

J. P. Johnson, who was on board the Persian, and who published an account of his travels, states that the natives sold to the whalers, potatoes, turnips, pigs, firewood, mats, models of canoes, and baked heads, for muskets, powder, flints, blankets, shirts, prints, tobacco, pipes, spirits, beads, and axes, at a tariff of one pig, or a basket of potatoes or turnips, or two-thirds of a ton of firewood, for one pound of tobacco. The human heads were the most valuable, and brought at least one blanket. Te Hiko, the Maori chief, used to parade his slaves before the purchaser and sell the head alive, killing the slave and preparing the head in the oven after the bargain for the purchase was completed. Every adult, and every boy of fourteen years and upwards, had a gun of his own. The preference was for flint locks rather than percussion. The natives had a great name for their capacity to dispose of food. They enjoyed the flesh of the calf of the whale, but their principal dish was pork and potatoes, except when a ceremonial visit was made by a neighbouring chief, when the body of a female slave girl was the principal dish.

Mrs. Johnston accompanied her husband, and was a continual source of wonder to the great crowd of Maori women, whose presence on board the ships lying at anchor in the roadstead was sanctioned by the usage and custom of Kapiti, however much it might be condemned by the moral code of civilization.

The Persian took from Kapiti large quantities of oil, brought there at £22 and £18 per tun. Although the payment of the sailor was by lay, he was compelled by the terms of his contract to sell the oil at a fixed price, too often little more than half what he could get for it in Sydney.

Continuing the narrative of the Kapiti whaling vessels, we find that the Dublin Packet which sailed on the twentieth for Cloudy Bay, had, on her passage to Kapiti, been struck by lightning. On 3rd October, the Isabella arrived and after taking in oil, also sailed south to complete her cargo. she too, had been struck by lightning and one of her men page 162 had been killed. The lightning struck the main top-gallant masthead, ran down the topmast to the chain peak tye and struck the steward. The poor fellow's clothes were burnt to a cinder, and his body, from neck to heel, on the left side, quite roasted. He hung on for a few days in intense agony, and died at Kapiti before the vessel sailed.

A table of ships' movements at Kapiti will indicate the activity which prevailed there in the oil trade at this date:—

Arrival. Ship. Master. Departure.
25th. Aug. Persian Hopton 7th Sept.
19th Sept: Dublin Packet Clayton 20th Sept.
Roslyn Castle Richards 4th Oct.
Marianne Mansford 4th Oct.
Isabella Manughan 6th Oct.
Caroline Cherry 8th Oct.
Sea Witch Newson 12th Oct.
Louisa Hayward 12th Oct.
Samuel Cunard 14th Oct.
12th Oct. Bee Gluvias

When the Dublin Packet sailed from Kapiti for Cloudy Bay on 20th September, she was evidently bound for Piraki, as Hempleman's log gives us 23rd October as the date when “the schooner” sailed away. Though “The Piraki Log” states that Captain Hempleman, his wife and eight Europeans, were left behind, they were not brought there by the schooner on this visit. Captain and Mrs. Hempleman had sailed from Sydney in the Dublin Packet on 5th February, and it is probable that on 23rd October, the schooner was taking away the produce of the station, leaving the captain and his wife there for the off season. as from this time onwards they were to be residents at the Bay.

We have already seen that Captain Clayton was bound by agreement to take the gang back to Sydney in October.

Hempleman tells us that Taiaroa called in at the station on 24th October, and left again for Port Cooper on the thirty-first. On this date, also, came a summons to the page 163 natives to proceed to Cloudy Bay to fight Te Rauparaha. Taiaroa was again a visitor on his return journey, on 18th November. On the fourteenth Hempleman's station was visited by a boat belonging to Queen Charlotte Sound, owned by Jones, and containing a party of Europeans. After staying two days, and after plundering Hempleman of what they could lay their hands on, the boat's crew returned to the Sound.

On 13th October the brig Martha sailed from Cloudy Bay with 100 tuns of oil and 12 tons of bone. Captain and Mrs. Guard and the family went up in her to Sydney, and they were accompanied by Mr. Flegg. Captain Maughan left the three American whalers, Mechanic, Chariot, and Orozimbo, and the Fame, and Caroline, in Port Underwood. On board the last two were cargoes of 50 and 160 tuns respectively. Messrs. McGaa and Co.'s gangs had procured 100 tuns, and Ferguson's 60 tuns, during the season.

This same month H.M.S. Conway paid a visit to Kapiti and Cloudy Bay. The author has already had occasion to call attention to the peculiar manner in which the officers of H.M. ships of those days recorded their movements. C. R. Drinkwater Bethune, the commander of the Conway, was not so bad as some. He did give some information. He tells us that on 19th October, he observed a brig under Entry Island—the naval men never called it Kapiti—that a boat came from the brig, and that an officer of the brig piloted the Conway to an anchorage. Our curiosity to know the name of the pilot, or of the brig, is not satisfied. On the twenty-first the Conway left the anchorage, and next morning worked into Cloudy Bay, where the Caroline and Denmark Hill were anchored. Wood and water were taken on board on the twenty-fourth, and the same day the Bee arrived. H.M.S. Conway sailed next morning.

The vessels which were anchored in Port Underwood when H.M.S. Conway was there did not remain long after she sailed. The Caroline sailed for the sperm fishery on 1st November, but, when off Lookers On, on the third, page 164 shipped a heavy sea which stove her bulwarks, broke the staunchions, split the covering boards, and stove all her boats. Badly damaged, she made for Port Levy for repairs. There the Bee met her on the seventh, and the same day the Denmark Hill was compelled to creep into the same refuge for repairs.

On 7th November the Roslyn Castle reached Sydney after an absence of 19 months with what was believed to be the largest cargo of oil which had ever been brought into port—3000 barrels of black oil, 500 of sperm, and 15 tons of whalebone. Large and all as the cargo was it did not prevent the owners, Richards & Co., getting into financial difficulties. William Long, James Wright, and Wm. Richards, Senr., were all associated in the whaling trade on the New Zealand coast under the style of Wright and Long, and Richards & Co., and, under one or other of these designations, owned the Proteus, the Roslyn Castle, and the Bee, and two shore whaling stations at New Zealand.

About a fortnight after the arrival of the Roslyn Castle Long and Wright called a meeting of their creditors, and followed it up by assigning the estate to trustees to realise. The proposal was that if 15s. in the £1 were paid inside of two years a general release should be given; dividends were to be paid when 5s. in the £1 was available, and when another 2s. 6d. was to hand. Valuations showed a surplus of about £10,000. The estate of Wm. Richards, Senr., and of Richards & Co. were also brought under trustees.

The first difficulty which arose in the administration was that the sailors had to come in as ordinary creditors, and did not enjoy any prior right of payment of their wages such as sailors in the British merchant service enjoyed. Although it was suggested in the press at the time that the sailors should be paid at once and in full nothing appears to have been done and the omission was responsible for a tragedy.

What is very probably the first paper money made for circulation in the South Island of New Zealand was a £1 page 165 note made by Captain Clayton for circulation at his whaling establishment at Queen Charlotte Sound. So far the author has not had an opportunity of seeing one of these interesting pieces of money, but he has the authority of the editorial “we” of the “Sydney Gazette” of 9th September, 1837, that the note was “a neat specimen of workmanship and reflects credit on Mr. R. Clint of George Street who executed it.”

As the only advertised sale of a shore whaling station and plant at New Zealand, the advertisement of the Trustees of Wright and Long of the two stations at Kapiti is given.

  • Wright and Long's Extensive and very

  • prosperous Whaling Establishments,

  • at Wycatti and Capertee,

  • New Zealand.

  • By Order of the Trustees.

  • Isaac Simmonds & Co.

Have been instructed by the Trustees of the Estate of Messrs. Wright and Long, to sell by Public Auction, on Tuesday next, the 28th of November, at 10 o'clock precisely, on the premises of Mr. W. Long, George Street,

The whole of the said Whaling Establishments at New Zealand.

  • At Capertee

  • One hundred and fifty tuns of casks, more or less.

  • Five boats, ditto, ditto.

  • Three coolers, ditto, ditto.

  • At Wycatti or Entry Island.

  • Sixty tuns casks, more or less.

  • Seven Boats, ditto, ditto.

  • Whaling Gear, &c.

  • Terms made known at time of sale.

When the Bee reached Sydney on 11th December, she had 40 tuns of oil and 2 tons of bone on board. There also came up as passengers a whaling gang of 17 men.

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“On Tuesday, Captain Gluvias waited on the owners on shore and was made acquainted with the state of Messrs. Wright and Long's affairs, and the asignment of all their effects to trustees for the benefit of their creditors. It appears, that during the conversation, Captain Gluvias was informed that the Trusteees showed every disposition to satisfy all just claims, as the cases of the Proteus and the Roslyn Castle instanced. The result was, that as the Captain was going away, he expressed his determination to haul the vessel alongside the wharf of Messrs. Walker the next day (Mr. Thomas Walker being one of the trustees) and discharge her cargo. The cargo, as before stated, consisted of oil and bone. Oil for Mr. Jones; oil and bone for Messrs. Wright and Long, and oil for Mr. M'Gaa. The circumstances that afterwards occurred will be best explained, from stating the case as it appeared before the police. On Thursday, two persons named Abraham Sharing and—Woodhall were placed at the bar of the Police-office, on the charge of constable Edward Sweenie, who stated that about half-past two on Wednesday morning, while on duty at the King's Wharf, he observed a boat approaching, which he hailed; there were two persons in the boat, but they returned no answer; the constable saw the boat pulling towards Captain Carter's Wharf he then went round and observing that the boat contained a quantity of whale bone, and a few other articles, he accosted the two persons to know whence they had obtained it at so late an hour; they answered that they received the property from the Captain of the Bee; Sweenie not thinking this account satisfactory, took the persons to the watch-house. The next day they were brought before the Magistrates, and the account they then gave of themselves, was such as to induce the bench to discharge them, and grant a warrant for the apprehension page 167 of Captain Gluvias of the Bee. On Friday, Thomas Gluvias, the master, was placed at the bar on a charge of robbing the estate of Messrs. Wright and Long. Mr. E. D. O'Reilly, the solicitor for the trustees, and Mr. A' Beckett appeared to prosecute. The evidence which was very lengthy, amounted to the following:—On Tuesday afternoon Captain Gluvias called upon Mr. Woodhall where he met Sharing, formerly storekeeper to Marsden and Flower, and had some conversation with them respecting the situation in which he was placed; after speaking of the precarious state of the affairs of Messrs. Wright and Long, he said the trustees had guaranteed to pay all just debts, but that assertion would not protect him, it only extended to the sailors whose wages would be paid, but he (the Captain) would have to come in as a creditor; he also said he had property on board, which it would be a pity for him to lose, for the trustees would come on board the next day and seize all, which would be sold; he then requested them to come on board with him and assist in removing his property. Woodhall, in his evidence, stated that in the conversation just alluded to the Captain wished him to assist him in removing some whalebone from the Bee to remunerate him for his wages, this, he said, he should acquaint the owners with, and would either give it up or account to them for it, when paid. The three proceeded on board the vessel where they saw the chief officer, James George Bailey, a New Zealander, who requested leave of the Captain to go ashore; Captain Gluvias asked him how long he should be away? The mate said half-an-hour; the Captain replied, it is of no use saying half-an-hour, if you mean to stay two or three hours; Bailey then said, he would stay two hours; Captain Gluvias then remarked, you had better take some of the crew with you to take care of the boat and bring her off. page 168 Bailey said there was only a man and a boy on board who would be required for the watch; but being told by the Captain to take the man, he went forward to him, but returned without him and went ashore by himself. The party then consisting of the Captain, Woodhall and Sharing, went down to the cabin, and had some refreshment, and returned on deck, and the Captain and Woodhall went down the after hatchway with a light to select the whale-bone, leaving Sharing on deck. This transaction took place about half-past eight o'clock; the night was very dark. The Captain commenced selecting the bone, but observing a light forward, he then blew out the candle and went on in the dark. and handed up some of the bone. Sharing seeing a boat approaching the vessel, told the Captain, who jumped on deck and threw down the property into the hatchway. After the boat had passed. the Captain again handed up the bone, with which they loaded the boat and the three pulled to Captain Carter's stores, where the property was deposited. They then returned to the vessel to leave the Captain; when there, Gluvias observed I have got some more whalebone, and you may as well not go back empty-handed, he then handed up some more bone, which, with that previously sent ashore, amounted to about half a ton. While the bone was being handed into the boat, Woodhall said, by G—–I'll not take more, he has already got as much as will amount to his wages. Sharing stated that the Captain had previously observed, he would take nothing but what belonged to him. As they were about to leave the vessel, the Captain threw a piece of sailcloth over the whalebone, and asked Sharing if he would like to have a piece of pork, to which he assented and received a few pieces. Before leaving the vessel, Sharing looked at the muskets in the cabin, and observed to the Captain, you may as well let me page 169 have this one, Gluvias said, very well, it will do to shoot pigeons. Sharing and Woodhall then left the Captain aboard and pulled ashore, where they were apprehended as before described. Bailey the mate states, that the bone was shipped at New Zealand by the Captain; some also was shipped at other places; and some of it belonged to the Captain. The Captain urges as his reason for acting with secrecy, that, had the affair got wind with the trustees, his property would have been detained and sold with the rest, and he would, after all his services, have to come in as a creditor, with little benefit to himself. Captain Gluvias declined calling any witnesses, and the case was remanded to Saturday.

On Saturday Captain Gluvias was again brought up. Captain Maughan of the Isabella, proved the value of the bone to be about twenty pounds. Mr. O'Reilly stated that he had been to the Custom House, and inspected the entry of the Bee's manifest, which stated the cargo to consist of oil and bone part the property of Messrs. Jones, M'Gaa, and Long and Wright; respectively, the whalebone, stated, two tons, was entered as the property of Messrs. Long and Wright. In answer to this the defendant observed, that the quantity of the oil and bone could only be ascertained when the one came to be gauged and the other weighed; he had not entered any of the bone as his own property, as, when he entered this port he expected to have disposed of his portion to his employers. He was then asked if he had anything to say why he should not be committed, on which he requested the case might be postponed till Monday, in order to allow him to consult his counsel, in whose attendance he had been disappointed on the previous day. The case was accordingly postponed. He had already applied to be admitted to bail, which request the page 170 Bench could not comply with, until the examination was concluded.

“After he was remanded, he was removed to one of the cells of the receiving watch-house, where he remained until the female prisoners were brought there, when he was removed to the common strong room. About three o'clock on Saturday afternoon, Mr. Gluvias first appeared unwell, and soon exhibited symptoms of a fit of apoplexy; he was then brought out of the cell and laid down on blankets on the floor of the passage, a constable was dispatched to the nearest medical man (Mr. Campbell residing opposite the Police Office) with a request that he would come and bleed him. The constable (Carroll) saw Mr. C., who said, that he was too much occupied to come over. A gentleman connected with the Police Office also endeavoured to induce him to come over, but without effect. Messages were sent to other medical men residing in the neighbourhood, but none could be met with at home. Information was then sent to the General Hospital, whence a cart was despatched to convey him to that place, and Dr. Robertson remained in attendance to receive him. About half-past seven the cart arrived at the Hospital with Captain Gluvias, who was speechless; every effort was made by copious bleeding, in the arms and temples, to relieve him, but all without effect; he expired about twelve o'clock. His head was subsequently opened by the surgeon and it was found that a rupture of some of the vessels had taken place, producing apoplexy, and causing death. From the appearance of the body and head there was a manifest predisposition to apoplexy, but it appears that it was hastened in the present instance by mental despondency. Since his confinement in the watch house, no one had visited him, and it appears that he was without the means of obtaining the assistance of page 171 counsel; the gentleman to whom he had applied having refused to interfere unless his fee was first sent; Captain Gluvias was at this time without the necessary funds, but attempted to procure a loan of money on his watch, in this he was also disappointed, and his watch detained in the custody of the Police. He never spoke a word after he was remanded on Saturday, until he was seized with apoplexy. An inquest would have been held on the body yesterday, but for the indisposition of Mr. Ryan Brenan, the Coroner, which rendered it necessary to procure the attendance of Mr. Hayward, the Coroner of Paramatta, on whose arrival the Inquest will be held.”

The Bee, when sold in the bankrupt estate, realised £920.