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Historical Records of New Zealand Vol. II.

[Enclosure.] — Report of Riot at Bay of Islands

Report of Riot at Bay of Islands.

Statement of the circumstances connected with the destruction of a house belonging to a British Subject at Kororarika in the Bay of Islands New Zealand by a party of armed Americans on the 15th August 1839.

In consequence of a house belonging to a British subject residing at Korararika in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand, having been attacked and pulled down by a party of armed Americans, the British Resident and the American Consul proceeded to the spot, and having investigated the circumstances connected with the proceedings have agreed upon the following statement to be transmitted to their respective Governments.

It appears that the American ship Hannibal of Sag Harbour commanded by Lewis L. Bennett came to an anchor in the Bay of Islands on the 6th of the present month of August 1839, that during the following night John Corney and George Jackson two of the crew who were both shipped at Rio de Janeiro as foreigners, absconded carrying with them all their clothes and property. And that an American youth named Benjamin Savage who was under the special charge of Captain Bennett, disappeared at the same time, having been in the same watch on deck with one of the seamen above named—But that part of his clothes were found in his chest, and his cap, one shoe, page 610 and comforter on the deck, the cap much crumpled—That as there were no grounds for supposing that the said Benjamin Savage had any wish to leave the vessel it was feared that he had been unfairly dealt with by the said John Corney and George Jackson and that considerable anxiety was felt for his safety— That on the morning of Thursday the 15th instant Captain Bennett having seen George Jackson at the house of—Chalk a grogseller at Kororarika required him to proceed with him on board ship when George Jackson entered the House and ascended to the oft by means of a ladder;—that Captain Bennett followed him to the foot of the ladder where he was stopped by some men who were standing about the house, and who told him, with much obscene language, that he should not have the man—That he thence proceeded to the other American ships in the Harbour and requested assistance from their respective commanders to recover his men by force— that he returned to Chalks with two boats and twelve men belonging to his own ship, and accompanied by William Sloan Master of the Ship William Hamilton of New Bedford and John Tucker Master of the Ship Richmond of the same place with five boats and officers and men from their own ships and from other ships in the harbour—that the officers of the ships were armed with pistols and cutlasses, and the men with guns, that they unfurled the United States flag in front of the House, and after Captain Bennett had demanded that the deserters and a bag of clothes which he had identified as belonging to the said deserter, should be given up and having been answered that they were not there, and before he got the man and bag he said were his, blood should be spilt, And after waiting a few minutes he gave order to pull down the house—When the men proceeded to pull off all the weather boards from two to three feet upwards from the ground, so that they could see through the house, when the bag above alluded to, was found containing the deserters clothes and some clothes stolen from the crew. That at this stage of the proceedings the Reverend Henry Williams one of the Missionaries of the Church Missionary Society suggested to one of the Captains, that as they had now shown what they could do, it might be well to stop—that orders to that effect were immediately given, and the men desisted— But at this time Chalk the occupier of the house who had been in a state of insensibility from intoxication on Captain Bennetts first visit to the House, appeared and attacked the party with the most abusive language; when orders were given, and the page 611 work of demolition recommenced—But on the Revd Mr. Williams again interfering and representing that Chalk was only the tenant of the House which was the property of another man, they again stopped—But renewed the attack for the third time, on its being found that a part of Benjamin Savage's clothes were in the bag which had been discovered in the House, and did not desist until they had thrown down the front wall and the ends of the House; the roof being only supported by some of the Gable posts. The owner of the house has estimated the damage sustained by him at Fifty pounds—Two casks of spirits belonging to the tenant were also staved, and the liquor spilled out, and it is also alleged that some property, including the clothes of one of the lodgers, was carried away by some of the seamen.

James Busby

British Resident at New Zealand.

James R. Clendon

United States Consul
Bay of Islands New Zealand.

Bay of Islands, New Zealand
17th August 1839.