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Early Wellington

Arrival of the “Bengal Merchant.”

page 28

Arrival of the “Bengal Merchant.”

The “Bengal Merchant” was chartered by the New Zealand Company, and left Glasgow on the 30th October, 1839, weighing anchor on the Clyde on the 31st under the auspices of the Company. The departure of this ship was viewed in Scotland as an historical occasion; shortly before she left, the Lord Provost of Glasgow, with a large party, went on board and addressed the passengers. The Rev. John Macfarlane, the minister to the colonists, began his duties on board, and every Sabbath Day the passengers and crew assembled for worship. After the first service, he distributed copies of a pastoral address.

Mr. Alexander Marjoribank of Marjoribank, was the historian of the voyage, and Dr. Logan was the naturalist. After a tedious voyage of 113 days the ship touched at D'Urville Island on the 10th February, 1840, after a four months diet without fresh meat or vegetables. Mr. Macfarlane offered a prize for the best poem composed on board ship, but mention is not made of the successful poet.

In Mr. Marjoribank's “New Zealand” will be found one of the poems, written by him, “On board the Bengal Merchant, at ten o'clock at night, off D'Urville Island, Cook's Straits, N.Z., 11/2/1840;” it commences:

“The bell tolls four, the knell of parting day—
The night watch sings, ‘Let lights extinguished be’ “—

In another verse he refers to Mr. R. R. Strang, late solicitor in Glasgow, who used to drill the passengers, to be ready for battle in case of being attacked by the New Zealanders:—

“Once more the gallant lawyer mounts his guard,
Prepared for fight in yonder savage land.”

There were 30 married couples, 23 single men, 6 single women, 16 children under nine, 4 between nine and fifteen, and 13 under one year. One birth and one death occurred on the voyage.

A certificate of correct list of all those on board, when off the Clock lighthouse, dated 31st October, 1839, at one o'clock was signed by Dr. F. Logan, surgeon superintendent, and T. Hemery, commander. Following are the names of the passengers who arrived at Port Nicholson on the 20th February, 1840:—

Name Age Wife's Age No. of Children
Anderson, A.
* Branks, John 31 27
Branks, Robert
Brown, Adam 23
Brown, Peter 27 21 1
Brown, Malcolm 20
Brash, William 39 28 1
Bryce, John 33 —2
Buchanan, W. T.
Burnett, Samuel 28 28 2
Campbell, James 24
Colville, J.
Cook, Mathew 35 35 3
Cook, William 17
Crawford, George 27
Cullen, James 20
Dick, David and Robt. 22 24 3
Dorrain, Peter (senr.) 49 49
Dorrain, Thomas 19 17
Dorrain, Peter (Junr.) 24 19
Dorsey, Dr., and wife 2
Drummond, Don 28 22
Dugald, Elizabeth 19
Duncan, A. (Junr.), and wife 2
Eckford, Thos. 28
Forbes, Ann 22
Galloway, David 20 18
Garuth, John and Rebt.
Gilbert, James 22 24
Golder, William 29 26 4
Hay, Mr., and wife
Johnson, David and Jas.
Kelly, Chas. 34 27 3
Landsdale, James 31 20 1
Leckie, William 23 24
Lockhart, Isabella 21
Logan, Dr. Francis, wife and F. H. 1
Macfarlane, Rev. John
Marjoribanks, Alexander page 29
McBeth, J. 27 27 1
McBeth, Jane 17
McBeth, Daughter, born on Board, 29/12/'39
McDowall, Wife and children 2
McEwan, Andrew 45 47
McEwen, David 21 20 1
McGechean, John 20 20
McLaggan, John 29 25
McLatchie, George 20
Millar, Mrs. (widow) 57
Mitchell, James 23
Murray, Job A. 25
Murray, William 21 19
Neilson, James 27 27
Nisbet, John 40 36
Nisbet, Thos. 31
Pollock, Thos. 21 20
Rankin, Mary 22
Reid, Mr., Wife and Daughter
Reid, David 39
Riddle, James 27
Rowand, Andrew 22
Scott, Alexander 30
Scullers, Henry, 25 22
Simpson, Thos. 21
Strang, Robt. Rog., and Lady
Strang, Miss
Tannahill, Wm. 20
Telford, John
Todd, Arch, and G.
Turner, John 19 19
Turner, Andrew 20
Wallace, George
Webster, W.
Wilson, James 39 32 5
Yule, J.
Yule, Alexander 32 28 3
Yule, Moses 24

On the 10th March, 1840, in the midst of the bustle attendant on the disembarkation from these three vessels, some alarm was produced among the newcomers by the report of a native attack. A smart firing of muskets was heard in the evening on the ridge of hills east of the valley, near the native village at the mouth of the Hutt, occupied by Puakawa (Te Pu-wha-kaawe) and his people.

Colonel Wakefield started along the beach for the scene of action. Natives and white men came running to him, with arms in their hands, seeking guidance from him, and the women and children screamed in chorus. On arriving at Waiwhetu, or “Star-river,” as the village was called, after the stream which flows under the eastern hills, he heard that the firing proceeded from our own natives up among the hills in search of Puakawa, whose protracted absence at night had raised the fears of his sons, who, upon searching for him, had found only a pool of blood. They had returned for the other men of the Pa, and these, firing their muskets at random in their usual way when excited, as they went up the hill, caused the alarm.

Colonel Wakefield returned to the Pa at Pito-one, issued forty stands of arms to the men on the beach, and appointed a rendezvous in case of need. Late in the evening, armed boats landed from the ships, ready to assist, and anxious to hear the news. At daylight, Colonel Wakefield returned to Waiwhetu with Te Puni and Wharepouri, and a large party of natives started up the hill to renew the search. About a mile from the Pa, Puakawa's body was found in the potato ground. His head had been cut off and his heart taken out. The woman and slave boy who had accompanied him were not to be seen, and were supposed to be captives. They wrapped the mutilated corpse in his red blanket, and bore it, lashed to a tree, in procession to the village, where the usual Tangi took place, after it had been deposited in the Wahitapu, or “sacred ground.” Colonel Wakefield tried to console the widow and children, and then returned to Pito-one with the chiefs. They seemed inclined to believe that the murderers came from the neighbourhood of Kapiti.

No sooner had the settlers disembarked than the want of authority for the preservation of order amongst them began to be felt. Ignorant of the difficulties of the enterprise in which they had hastily page 30 engaged, the New Zealand Company had made it their boast that they had undertaken the colonization of New Zealand in direct defiance of the authority of the Crown, but their first body of colonists soon found that, whatever may be its form, some governing power is the first necessity of the social state. Before leaving England the emigrants had entered into a formal compact amongst themselves that, when they reached their adopted country, every offender should be punished in the same manner as if the offence had been committed against the law and within the realm of England; that certain members of the colonizing body should constitute a Council of Government; and that in all criminal proceedings, an umpire, assisted by assessors, should decide on the guilt or innocence of the party accused.

* The age of some not shown on the Register.

Spelt Doreen in Bretts, p. XII.

Did not embark.