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White Wings Vol I. Fifty Years Of Sail In The New Zealand Trade, 1850 TO 1900

The James Nicol Fleming

The James Nicol Fleming.

I believe no other ship trading to New Zealand has a record equal to the James Nicol Fleming for regular and consistent passages. She made nine complete voyages between Glasgow and Dunedin, and three from London to Dunedin, and the average of the outward passages was only 86½ days!

the James Nicol Fleming was a beautiful composite clipper ship, close on 1000 tons register. As already stated, she was a sister ship to the Otago—built on exactly the same lines—but she did better work than the Otago, as only on two occasions did she exceed 90 days. In 1873, as will be seen from her records, she ran out to Dunedin from Glasgow in 71 days, anchorage to anchorage, or 69½ days land to land. This places the Fleming third on the list for the record passage to Dunedin, the Westland coming first, and Scimitar (Rangatiki), second.

The "Otago Daily Times," referring to the ship's arrival in 1873, said:—"Patrick Henderson's clipper ship has astonished even her well-wishers by making the passage out in 69 days and 11 hours from the time she parted with the pilot off Inistrahull to rounding the Snares. Her greatest run was 320 miles in one day, and for two days off the pitch of the Cape she logged 632 miles. She crossed the equator in 21 days, and the S.E. trades proved favourable until losing them on May 21, in latitude 23.40 S., when strong southerly winds delayed her for six days—the ship making an average of 80 miles per day. The Cape was passed on June 4, and Cape Leeuwin on the 20th. The easting was run down on a parallel of 43 S. until passing Cape Leeuwin, when a more southerly course was shaped, the ship going down to 47 S. until reaching the Snares on Junepage 157 29." On this occasion the ship brought 280 passengers.

The Fleming was credited with having made some remarkable runs from Port Chalmers to the English Channel.

Change Of Name.

In 1879 the James Nicol Fleming's name was changed to Napier. This change came about as a result of the notorious failure of the City of Glasgow Bank in September, 1878. Many people will remember the sensation this and other bank failures in Great Britain caused at the time. The Glasgow Bank failed for several millions of pounds, and thousands of people were ruined. Fleming was one of the directors, and when the smash came he levanted to Spain, but some time afterwards returned to Scotland and gave himself up, as he was wanted on charges in connection with the bank's affairs. He was sentenced to a term of imprisonment, serving one year, I think, and in the latter days lived at Campbelltown, a broken and ruined man. If I am not mistaken, the ship Margaret Galbraith bore his wife's maiden name.

Following is the record of the ship's voyages to New Zealand, the port of departure being Glasgow, except where mentioned in parentheses:—

Sailed. Arrived. Capt. Port to Port. Days.
July 28 Oct. 24, '69 Logan 88
(Land to land, 80)
Aug. 3 Oct. 26, 70 Logan 83
July 8 Oct. 4, 71 Logan 88
June 1 Aug. 22, '72 Logan 81
(Land to land, 75)
April 20 July 1, '73 Logan 71
(Land to land, 69)
Feb. 19 May 24, '74 Peacock 94
(Land to land, 87)
(From London)
May 6 Aug. 4, '75 Gale 87
(From London)
Aug. 2 Oct. 29, '76 Campbell 88
(From London)
July 12 Oct. 3, '77 Morratt 82
May 9 Aug. 7, '78 Moffatt 89
May 8 Aug. 4, '79 Moffatt 88
(Land to land, 80)
March 7 June 15, '81 Wilson 99
(Land to land, 87)

The last two passages were made after the ship had her name changed to Napier.

There was another vessel bearing the name of Napier which arrived at Auckland on the 16th February, 1865. She was a barque of 571 tons, in command of Captain Petherbridge. The barque also visited Nelson, arriving there on December 8, 1863, with Captain Pether-bridge in command. She was then a new iron vessel, and she made the passage in 83 days, the quickest run of any vessel to Nelson at that date. She landed 70 pairs of partridges, skylarks, blackbirds, thrushes, and goldfinches for the Provincial Government.