From Tasman To Marsden.
Early in the year a calamitous event happened to a vessel called the Parramatta, which traded between Sydney and Tahiti. Leaving Port Jackson on 14th April, Captain Glynn sailed for the Bay of Islands, and nothing definite was heard about his fate until John Besent, who went to the Bay in the King George in 1812, and lived among the Natives, learned from them the sad fate which had befallen the ship and her crew of eleven men. She had, in distress, put into the Bay for provisions and water. The Natives supplied them with pork, fish, and potatoes, as much as the Parramatta could stow away. After the schooner had received her refreshments, the Natives naturally wanted their pay, but, on making application, were thrown overboard and fired at by the crew, who immediately thereafter weighed anchor and sailed away. Besent saw three who had been wounded with small shot in the fight. A heavy gale of wind came up immediately and blew the vessel on shore not far from Cape Brett, where her remains lay for several years. The New Zealanders naturally took advantage of the wreck to have their revenge, the shipwrecked sailors were cut off to a man, and the fate of Marion and his companions was theirs.page 116
The year 1808 saw a second vessel seized by pirates and taken off to New Zealand. On Monday morning, 14th May, the brig Harrington was missed from her anchorage at Farm Cove, and Captain Campbell reported the circumstance to the Lieutenant Governor. Inquiries were at once instituted, when it was found that one Robert Stewart and several others were absent from their work that morning; it also transpired that a vessel had been seen from the South Head, at daylight, standing off. The Halcyon was manned, and, with a flotilla of boats, set off in pursuit, but as it was a dead calm, and the Harrington was already out of sight, the attempt to follow her had to be given up.
Between three and four in the afternoon the chief officer and crew arrived in two boats, and reported that about 10 o'clock the night before, while the vessel was at anchor and the men in their beds, he was awakened by armed men. They took possession of the ship, cut away both anchors and towed the vessel out to sea. About seven in the morning, when about 20 miles out, they put the crew into boats to make the best of their way ashore. Stewart was the leader, and there were about 30 pirates all told. As the Harrington was ready to sail for Fiji she was fully provisioned for a long voyage.
On Tuesday the Pegasus was chartered, and the Government artificers employed to fit her up. In less than 24 hours she was ready, furnished with water and provisions, several guns, stands of arms, and other equipment. On Wednesday she sailed with Captain Symonds, Captain Eber Bunker, his first and second officers, Captains Graham and Campbell, Mr. Fisk, and part of the Harrington's crew. A military detachment of 20 privates, 2 corporals, and 2 sergeants, completed the personnel of the ship.
It was supposed that the pirates intended to make for the Bay of Islands, to seize the American brig Eliza which had sailed for that port on the twenty-second of the previous month, hoping to supply their wants in this manner and make themselves masters of all the specie Captain Coley was known to have on board. They had no anchor, no boat, and no time- page 117 piece on board. The Captain and the cook being both ashore with their watches at the time of seizure, and the mate having left his ashore, accounted for the strange situation of there not being a single timepiece on the ship.
Reaching the Bay of Islands it was found that the pirates had not been there, and the Pegasus, after a short stay, proceeded to Fiji. Two days afterwards a brig hove in sight, stood in, and then, hauling her wind suddenly, went off to the eastward. This was supposed to be the Harrington, alarmed at finding three vessels lying in the Bay.
The Pegasus was unsuccessful in her search and, on 22nd July, returned to Sydney in sore straits. Some time afterwards it was reported that the Harrington was captured by the frigate Phœnix on her road to Manilla, and that Stewart and some others were taken out of her, but that she went ashore later on and the prisoners escaped.
The Commerce was one of the vessels in the Bay when the Harrington was supposed to have entered. She was returning from the sealing islands with about 3000 skins on board. When she sailed she was accompanied by the other two vessels—the Inspector, Captain Poole, and the Grand Sachem, Captain Whippey, both of which were homeward bound full of oil.
Te Pahi, with three of his sons and several attendants, took advantage of the Commerce coming to Port Jackson, to accompany Captain Ceroni to Sydney. Acting on the advice of the Chief, Ceroni took the Commerce around to Whangaroa where all food stuffs were more abundant than at the Bay, which had been cleared out by the great number of whalers which had recently visited it. The result of the visit was quite satisfactory to Captain Ceroni.
Connected with this visit is a strange piece of history, told by Mr. Berry of the City of Edinburgh, in 1819, as having been heard by him when at the Bay of Islands in 1809. Amongst other things owned by Captain Ceroni was a watch, which so impressed the simple Natives that they called it Atua or God, and in a rather vain-glorious way this watch was displayed by the Captain on every occasion. Once, unfor- page 118 tunately, it fell into the sea, to the great terror of the superstitious Natives. Later on when the Commerce sailed, she left in the night and without the usual formal farewells having been given. The superstitious fear of the Natives was intensified. To crown all an epidemic broke out, carrying off great numbers, amongst whom was the Chief Kytoke. This was attributed to the evil spirit left among them when the watch was flung overboard, and the survivors vowed vengeance against the white men.
On his road to Sydney, Captain Ceroni called in at Norfolk Island just as that Settlement was being evacuated, and Mr. Berry, who was there engaged in that work, met Te Pahi at the house of Captain Piper the Commandant, and afterwards placed on record the following recollections of his appearance, &c.:
“He was dressed in certain robes of state presented to him when on his former visit by Governor King. They were covered with tinsel, and in some measure resembled those worn by a merry Andrew, with some improvement, emanating from his own invention. He was lame of one leg, on which he wore a black stocking, and on the other a white one. He appeared a man of considerable gravity, displaying an easy consciousness of his own dignity. Upon the whole, he showed himself a man of some observation, and was by no means deficient in intellect, but the most prominent features of his character were a certain shrewdness, and low cunning; from what I had an opportunity afterwards of observing, he was much inferior to several of his countrymen of equal rank. Being the first of his nation of any consideration who appeared at Port Jackson, he obtained unmerited distinction among Europeans, and eventually amongst his own countrymen, who were equally dazzled by the riches he brought back, and the attentions which were shown him by men so much superior to themselves. The Europeans amongst whom he first appeared had formed a very wrong estimate of the character of savages in general, from their intercourse with the poor natives of page 119 New Holland; they were, therefore, surprised to see a man of observation and clear judgment, and regarded him as a phenomenon, when a little more intercourse with the natives of New Zealand would have convinced them that he only displayed the common attributes of his nation."
The old chief was very ill during his voyage, and on his arrival in Sydney on 10th July 1808, Lieutenant Governor Foveaux gave directions that he should receive every possible attention and nourishment. For a home he was provided with accommodation in the Governor's own house.
After some months Te Pahi returned to New Zealand.
In addition to the seal skins on the Commerce was a cargo of New Zealand timber which was advertised for sale by Mr. Blaxcell, “a number of desirable fine logs, fit for flooring boards, and spars for masts, just imported from New Zealand in the snow Commerce."
The whaler Seringapatam touched at Tahiti in distress, about the end of 1807. She was bound for New South Wales, and, taking on board James Elder, the missionary who had come out in the Royal William in 1801, she sailed for the coast of New Zealand, where she cruised about some two months. There were seven or eight English whalers about at the time, and the Seringapatam, in company with three of them, visited the Bay of Islands and spent a week obtaining refreshments. As a result of what he saw there Elder reported to Marsden various acts of cruelty perpetrated on the New Zealanders, and expressed his surprise that the latter did not rise and murder the Europeans. If Elder's statement is not exaggerated, one can understand what took place when the crew of the Parramatta fell into their hands.
On 15th October the Mercury sailed for Fiji and, on her road, put into the Bay of Islands, where she remained for some time. When she had been ten days lying in the Bay, Captain Campbell brought in the Favourite with a cargo of 100 tons of sandalwood for Sydney. On 14th February 1809, the last-named reached her destination.