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

Pioneer's Interesting Diary

Pioneer's Interesting Diary.

A few hours after the Charlotte Jane sailed, the Randolph followed. A vessel of 761 tons, commanded by Captain Dale, the Randolph carried 34 cabin, 15 intermediate, and 161 steerage passengers. There were two chaplains, the Revs. Puckle and Willock, and Dr. Earle was surgeon-superintendent. The voyage was a gen-page 71erally pleasant one with the exception of cold weather experienced when the ship was driven by contrary winds as far south as latitude 50. She was in the longitude of the Snares on December 11th, the day the Charlotte Jane sighted Stewart Island, and the two dropped anchor within a few hours of one another, in Port Lyttelton.

A diary kept by a Randolph passenger, the late Mr. Charles Bridge, father of Mr. C. Hastings Bridge, of Christchurch, gives unexpected glimpses into the shipboard life of seventy-six years ago, and shows how very much it differed from life on a modern steamer. The visits to other ships on the high seas are a picturesque touch wholly lacking to-day; they were not in such a hurry in 1850 as we are to-day. After describing the start of the journey and some rough weather with which the Atlantic greeted them the diary says:—"September 19th, 1850: I was awoken in the morning by the voice of the captain, speaking a bark, the Fortescue, bound from London to San Francisco; left Gravesend the same day we did, soon left her behind. A birth in the steerage. The water sails set, fair wind all day. An auction took place to-day on the poop; Mr. Tulloch auctioneer, myself clerk. Sold all kinds of things, cheese, eggs, candles, soap, wearing apparel, razors, telescope, pins, cigars, and other things too numerous to mention. Charged the sailors 5 per cent, which is to be spent in porter. The steerage passengers had a dance on deck, the black cook is the fiddler."

Not long afterwards they fell in with a French barque, which was becalmed a couple of miles off. The captain giving permission a boat put off from the Randolph. Says the diary:—"Our crew consisted of myself, Messrs. Scott (the chief officer), Butterfield, Willock, Fleming, Williams, and Duncan (T. S. Duncan, late Crown Prosecutor in Christchurch). As we approached the bark we met one of their boats with some ladies. They asked in French if we were going on board, to which we replied, "Yes." We accordingly went on board, where we were received with the greatest politeness. She appeared to be about 350 tons, with about 20 passenger, on board. We were invited down into the cuddy, and cigars, with brandy and other nice drinkables, put upon the table.

"We had rather a difficulty in making ourselves understood, as none of us could speak much French, but together we managed very well. After we had had some music, we persuaded some of the passengers to return with us on board the Randolph. The captain of the Active therefore lowered two boats, which were soon filled; we took two of the ladies in our boat, and though we were the last to leave, we were the first alongside the Randolph. As soon as we were all on board and all the proper ceremonies of introduction gone through, some bottled ale was handed round, which they all appeared to enjoy, the ladies included. We pressed them very much to dine with us. The French captain at first declined, but in the end yielded to the solicitations of the ladies, who were very anxious to stay. We had a very good dinner, after which we had some singing. Our party left us about seven o'clock, after spending a very pleasant day.

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"September 27th, 1850: Very fine morning, still no wind. Saw the French ship in the distance; she kept nearing us all the morning. Towards noon we proposed going on board, to which Captain Dale consented. The boat was accordingly lowered, and off we went with a large party, including two ladies. We took with us two pots of preserved milk, one of cream, and a bottle of mustard, as a present for the French captain. We were received with great cordiality. We were invited to dine with them, and about four o'clock sat down to a very good dinner, served up quite in the French style. We had six courses, consisting of soup, preserved meats, preserved woodcocks and asparagus, and their wines, claret, champagne, and Madeira, were excellent. Before dinner was over our captain fired the gun for our return. We took the ladies back first and returned for the gentlemen. We reached our ship about seven o'clock, after passing a very pleasant day.

"October 4th, 1850 (Friday): Saw a ship in the distance, which the captain thought looked like the Sir George Seymour. Upon signalling her, we ascertained that it was her. She told us that they had on board one of our passengers whom we had left behind at Plymouth. When we came near to her we lowered a boat and went on board her. We found all well, and after staying about half an hour, we bade them good-bye, and taking our stray passenger with us, regained our ship after a hard pull. (This "stray" passenger was Mr. Cyrus Davie, who thus made the voyage in two ships. He shared Mr. Bridge's cabin, and the friendship then begun has continued in the succeeding generations until the present day. Mr. Davie later became Chief Surveyor of Canterbury.)

"October 21st, 1850 (Monday): Our ship becalmed, and I was called up before six o'clock to prepare letters to take to a bark sighted yesterday in hopes that she would be able to forward them from one of the American ports. All the letters being ready, and having had an early breakfast, the whale boat was cleared away and in her was put a keg of water, two bottles of brandy, two bottles of ale, biscuits, cheese, etc. We took also a telescope and a pocket compass. Our crew consisted of Messrs. Scott, Willock, Duncan, Fleming, Butterfield, and myself, also two seamen. After a very hot pull of about eight miles we were alongside the vessel. She proved to be a bark from Liverpool to Buenos Ayres with Irish emigrants on board. The captain received us very kindly and promised to take off our letter bag. We lunched on board and, after remaining about an hour, we again pulled towards the Randolph and reached her in time for dinner, after an absence of more than six hours. We saw two whales during our pull.

"November 7th, 1850 (Thursday): A very fine morning, bright sun. A busy day amongst the emigrants as all the boxes were brought up out of the hold, as the weather is colder and warm clothing is required. In the afternoon the sailors showed signs of mutinous conduct. It arose from one of the men at the wheel using abusive language to our chief officer. He was sent away from the wheel and ordered to keep an extra watch and when he refusedpage break
From a contemporary sketch, showing the first four ships anchored at Port Lyttelton.

Arrival Of The "First Fleet" Of The Canterbury Settlement.

page 73 to do this, the captain had him put in irons. As soon as he was in irons the remainder of his watch came aft and gave notice that they would not perform their duties unless their comrade was released. This, of course, Captain Dale refused, and ordered them to go below until it was their watch on deck. Soon after this the cook (who is disliked very much by the sailors) was attacked by some of them. Captain Dale, on seeing this, ran forward to separate them, when he was collared and struck by one of the combatants. This man was soon overpowered and put in irons with the other man.

"It was now six o'clock, the time for calling the watch, who, when called, refused to come out, and the man refused to take his turn at the wheel. The captain, on hearing this, mustered all hands aft and addressed them. He said that there appeared to be a strange mutinous feeling amongst them, and called upon us, in the Queen's name, to assist him in punishing the man who refused to take his turn at the wheel. He was taken upon the poop and cutlasses were distributed amongst us. Preparations were made for flogging the man when he fortunately consented to return to his duties, and to our great satisfaction the rest followed his example. The men were released from the irons about eight o'clock.

"November 12th, 1850: Very little wind, almost a calm. The day was fine, but cold and damp. A boat was lowered this morning, and the captain and some of the passengers went on a shooting expedition. They killed a Cape pigeon, a whale bird, an albatross, and a mollyhawk. The albatross measured 9 feet 3 inches from tip to tip of the wings. The birds were all skinned and preserved. About six o'clock a shoal of porpoises and grampuses came close to the ship.

"November 25th, 1850: We were all very busy all day in preparing a theatre for the performance of "The Rivals." It was erected between decks, and formed a very pretty theatre, and the performance went off very well. The cast of characters was as follows:—Sir Anthony Absolute, Captain Dale; Captain Absolute, Mr. Boby; Sir Lucius O'Trigger, Mr. Scott; Bob Acres, Mr. Bayfield; Fag, Mr. Fitch; David, Mr. Peel; Faulkland, Mr. Davie; Thomas, Mr. Blanchard; Mrs. Malaprop, Mr. Williams; Lydia, Mr. Keele; Julia, Mr. Lee; Lucy, Mr. Cuddeford; Boy, Servant, and Maid, the Misses Earle and Williams and Master Puckle. Leader of the orchestra, Mr. Wood; scenery painter, etc., Mr. Blanchard and assistants; stage carpenters, Messrs. Tullock and Balby; prompter and stage manager, Mr. Bridge. After it was all over, the stage was cleared away and supper was laid out. After spending a very convivial evening, we all separated about 12 o'clock and went to bed."

When the Charlotte Jane reached Port Lyttelton she found there two vessels at anchor, the Government brig Fly with Governor Grey and Lady Grey on board, and a merchant vessel, the Barbara Gideon, which had sailed from Plymouth two months before "the first four ships," and was probably the vessel by which the Canter-page 74bury Association had sent out the material used in preparing for the arrival of the pioneers. Governor Grey and the settlers afterwards had differences, but his welcome of the newcomers seems to have been most courteous and his presence on the spot smoothed over many difficulties that might have arisen through the sudden influx of such a large number of new settlers. Not the least appreciated act of his was the remission of all Customs duties on the belongings of the immigrants. There was going to be some trouble over the interpretation of "personal belongings," which were admitted free, but the Governor was higher than red tape, and everything went ashore free of toll.

Bishop Selwyn was too keen a Churchman to allow the settlers to come unwelcomed by the Church, particularly in view of the strong Anglican tone of the settlement, and on January 3, 1851, he came sailing into Port Lyttelton in his little schooner yacht, the Undine, which he used to sail himself. His visit was much appreciated, early reminiscences containing many references to his thoughtful attention to the settlers.