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White Wings Vol II. Founding Of The Provinces And Old-Time Shipping. Passenger Ships From 1840 To 1885

The Martha Ridgway

The Martha Ridgway.

Shortly after the Martha Ridgway, 621 tons, Captain James Forbes Bisset, left England, smallpox broke out, and during the passage to New Zealand the ship was never wholly free from cases. She sailed from Gravesend on July 5th, 1840, with 225 emigrants, and arrived at Port Nicholson on November 14th. The first to contract the disease was a steward, who developed it soon after leaving England. It must have been of a mild type, for we do not read of any deaths. Several of the passengers were down when Port Nicholson was reached, so a quarantine ground was established on the eastern shores of the harbour. The ship was taken across, and everybody aboard was placed in strict quarantine for three weeks. Like everything else it did, the Company had seen carefully to it that the new settlement was supplied with first-class medical men, and these soon had the disease stamped out.

It was by the Martha Ridgway that news came out of the intention of the directors to change the name of the settlement from Britannia to Wellington, after the Duke of Wellington. In 1834 the Duke had succeeded in getting through the House of Commons the South Australia Act, which was the charter under which that colony was colonised. It had been thought that the chief town of the South Australian colony would have been called after His Grace, but it was stated that other influences prevailed at the Colonial Office, and the place was called after the Queen. Some of the people at the head of affairs in the South Australian colonisation scheme were also connected with the colonising of New Zealand, and they decided to honour the Duke by naming their principal settlement after him. Many people think that New Zealand's capital got its name from the pride men took in the memory of the great victory of Waterloo, whereas it was due to this appreciation of a much more peaceful side of the character of the Iron Duke.

This splendid Liverpool-built ship had been constructed expressly for the passenger trade. She had a very spacious poop, with a height ofpage break
This sketch, taken in 1842, shows the old foreshore looking towards the Thorndon end.

A Very Early View Of Port Nicholson And The Town Of Wellington.

page 25 6ft 9in in the 'twixt decks, and was replete with every arrangement for the comfort and health of the passengers.

The end of the Martha Ridgway was that, while bound from New Zealand to Bombay, she was wrecked on a reef at Nimrod's Entrance, Torres Strait, and was abandoned by the crew. Mr. G. B. Earp, the well-known Wellington merchant, member of the Legislative Council, and author, was a passenger.