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Historical Records of New Zealand

(No. 2.) — The Deposition of Mr. James Elder

(No. 2.)
The Deposition of Mr. James Elder.

James Elder, being first duly sworn before the Revd. Saml. Marsden, one of His Majesty’s Justices of the Peace, deposes: That in the year 1807 the ship General Wellesley, Captain Dalrymple, touched at Otaheita, in which island this deponent was then resident, when Capn. Dalrymple requested deponent to go with him as interpreter in a cruise to the Palazeers and other islands, to ascertain what quantity of beech le mar and pearl shells could be obtained. To this requisition deponent gave his consent, and went with Capn. Dalrymple accordingly. page 423 Was six weeks among the islands, and minutely explored nineof them, and was finally leaving them and coming past the end of one of them, called the Prince of Wales’s Island, about sunset, with a light breeze and the vessel under sail; four or five hundred of the natives, composed of men, women, and children, came down on the beach to look at the ship as she passed; the captain, wantonly, barbarously, and without the least provocation whatever (as we had no communication with this island or the natives), fired five or six large guns amongst them, laden with grape shot. The deponent remonstrated with the captain before he fired the gun, and endeavoured to persuade him from such a wanton act of cruelty and inhumanity, but he paid no attention to his remonstrance, but observed it was necessary to strike terror into the minds of these natives, and to convince them what power we possessed. Perhaps he would have fired more guns than the number already stated had not one of his sailors, while loading a gun which had not been spunged, had his arm blown off near the shoulder, which occasioned his death. The captain showed no inclination to cease firing till the sailor had lost his arm. Some months after some of the natives visited Otaheita, and informed the deponent that several of the natives were killed and several wounded at the time Captain Dalrymple fired so wantonly on them.