Murihiku: A History of the South Island of New Zealand and the Islands Adjacent and Lying to the South, from 1642 to 1835
CHAPTER XIV. — Macquarie Island Trade, 1810 TO 1820
Macquarie Island Trade, 1810 TO 1820.
In the month of December, 1809, a vessel called the Boyd, was in Whangaroa Harbour. She had on board a valuable cargo of skins and oil, and had called at that port to load timber and spars for England. While engaged in cutting down trees, her captain and her crew were attacked by the natives and killed to a man. The wild savages then attacked the ship, butchering everyone but a boy, a woman and two little children, and burning the ship to the water's edge. During the April following the captains of five vessels in the locality organized a punitive expedition which killed sixty natives and captured a large quantity of their property as well as the longboat and papers of the burnt vessel. One of the vessels engaged in this expedition was the Perseverance, under Captain Hasselbourgh. In her the longboat and papers were sent to Sydney. On her arrival there the Perseverance was fitted out for a trip to the south, in search of new sealing grounds. From this trip she returned on Friday, 17th August, 1810, and is reported simply as “from the Southward, having left part of her crew for the purpose of procuring skins.” As a matter of fact she had found new country, rich in seals, and before the news could leak out, every effort was being made by the firm of Campbell & Co., who owned the vessel, to get fully equipped vessels sent off post haste to the scene of the new oil and skin harvest. The day after her arrival the owners placed the following advertisement in the “Sydney Gazette”:—
“Wanted immediately, Ten or Twelve able Hands, to engage on a Sealing and Whaling Voyage, to whom good encouragement will be given. Apply at the office of Messrs. Campbell and Co.”
When the Perseverance arrived in Sydney, a New York brig of 180 tons called the Aurora was in that port, getting ready to sail on a sealing expedition. Having a slight start of the others in the matter of preparation, she was the first to get to sea, and cleared for the new discoveries on 19th September. Her regular master was Owen F. Smith, but for this voyage S. B. Chace was given command, doubtless on account of his experience in this class of work. No information of the locality of the find, nor even of the fact that one had been made, leaked out to the press. Only the activity in shipping circles disclosed that something unusual was in the air. The Aurora was quickly followed on 3rd October by the brig Star, 102 tons, (Captain John Wilkinson), and on 20th October by the schooner Unity, 160 tons, (Captain Daniel Cooper).1 The firm of Campbell & Co. had despatched the Perseverance and the Elisabeth and Mary, the large supplies of salt required for curing the skins having been obtained from the Government, in exchange for animal food, and from private individuals. The Sydney Cove, returning from Norfolk Island to relieve her gangs at the Molyneux and South Cape, also obtained information of the find, and, as we saw, was reported by Captain Holyford of the Boyd to have proceeded from Port William to the same destination. This was the “First Fleet” to Macquarie Island, six sail all told, starting within a few days of one another, and that no less than 99 years ago. But the discovery by the Perseverance of wreckage on the shore seemed to indicate that some previous voyager had already seen the hitherto unrecorded land.
By the end of the year the fleet began to arrive at Sydney. First to reach that port as she had been first to leave was the Aurora, on Sunday, 10th December. “A vessel was in sight on Saturday evening which did not get within the Heads till late on Sunday morning. She proves to be the American brig Aurora, Captain Smith, which sailed from this Port about ten weeks since in quest of islands, that were reported to be abundantly stocked with page 175 seal; upon which speculation several other vessels sailed about the same period, and amongst others the Perseverance, Mr. Frederick Hasselbourg master, who, we are sorry to learn, was drowned among the islands, as was also a young woman of the name of Fahar.”2 The ship's customs entry shows that she did not bring any very great cargo, having only 100 seals skins and 140 gallons elephant oil. In the next issue of the Sydney paper the above news was supplemented with the information that the passage back was done from Campbell Island in sixteen days, and that the unfortunate Captain Hasselbourgh lost his life on Sunday, 4th November, at Campbell Island, by the upsetting of his boat at the mouth of the harbour, and that three persons perished with him.
Captain Smith supplied for public information the following about the islands: “Campbell's Island lies in latitude 52° 32′ S., long, per observation of sun and moon 169° 30′ E. of Greenwich; high water at full and change at 12 o'clock; variation of the compass 12° E. This island is about 30 miles in circumference, the country mountainous; there are several good harbours on the island, of which two on the east side are preferable.”
The captain also visited Macquarie Island, situated in latitude 50° 40′ S. longitude 159° 45′ E. and the report thereon reads:
“This island is of a moderate height, nearly flat on the top, on which are several lagoons of fresh water; the island is about twenty miles in length, and five in breadth, lying nearly in a north and south direction, a straight shore on each side, with reefs extending from the north and south point; there is no harbour, but good anchorage is to be found under the lee of the island; about twenty-five miles N.N.E. of the north point of the Island lies a small Isle called the Judge, and a Reef called the Judge's Clerk: about thirty miles S.S.E. of the south point of the Island; and an Islet and Reef which Captain Smith gave the name of the Bishop and page 176 “his Clerk. Captain Smith saw several pieces of wreck of a large vessel on this Island, apparently very old and high up in the grass, probably the remains of the ship of the unfortunate De la Perouse.
“The above islands were discovered by Captain Hasselborough in the brig Perseverance, belonging to Messrs. Campbell and Co. during the last year; there are few seals on either of them, but there is an immense number of sea elephants on Macquarie's Island.”
The gentleman who supplied the foregoing information, suggested to the press the probability of the existence of numerous islands in the higher latitudes yet remaining undiscovered, and advised a good look out to be kept on vessels making the passage round Cape Horn.
One of the persons unfortunately drowned with Captain Hasselbourgh was George, the second son of Mr. Allwright, baker, of Sydney, a remarkably fine and promising youth,3 between 12 and 13 years of age, who had shipped on board the Perseverance. The sad circumstances attending his death cast a gloom over Sydney.
It is a matter for comment that although there is no uncertainty expressed by the “Sydney Gazette” of that date as to the identity of the discoverer of Macquarie Island, still publications from a very early date have given to Hasselbourgh the credit of discovering Campbell Island, but in regard to Macquarie Island have ascribed it to “a colonial vessel of Port Jackson.” This has always introduced an element of uncertainty into matters connected with the discovery. It should be distinctly understood that both Campbell and Macquarie Islands were discovered by the same man and on the same trip.
On 8th January, 1811, the Perseverance arrived with a cargo of elephant oil and brought the full particulars of the death of her captain, the unfortunate discoverer of these islands, and of the heroic valour of one of his men. The account furnished was as follows:—page 177
“On Sunday, the 4th of November, the Perseverance, of which he was master, then lying at Campbell's Island, Mr. Hasselbourg ordered the jollyboat to be got ready to take him on shore to a part of the island at which his oil-casks were, about five miles from the vessel; which his left at two in the afternoon, with five persons, namely, Elizabeth Farr, a young woman, who was a native of Norfolk Island; George Allwright, a young lad, second son of Mr. Thomas Allwright, of this place; Jas. Bloodworth, the ship's carpenter; Richard Jackson, a seaman; and a New Zealand boy. The weather being somewhat cold, Mr. Hasselbourgh had very heavily cloathed himself, and wore a thick Flushing boat cloak, together with a pair of strong high water-boots, the weight of which must have baffled every personal exertion when necessary to his preservation. After an absence of three hours, the vessel was unexpectedly hailed from the nearest point of land, whither the other boat was despatched, and the persons that had hailed proved to be Bloodworth, Jackson, and the New Zealand Boy, who gave the melancholy information of the three others having perished in the following manner. Having safely reached the place intended, where the Captain found the casks in safety, they put off to return to the vessel, and were obliged to beat to windward. When nearly two miles distant from the shore a sudden gust came off the land, which took the boat broadside on, and before the sheet could be let go she was gun whale under, filled instantly and disappeared. The safety of six human beings being thus committed to a Ruling Power, whose decrees are just and absolute, each was affected by the peril in proportion to their confidence in their personal strength and dexterity. Jackson pushed immediately towards the shore, and being a strong hearty man saved his life with ease. The little New Zealander followed his example, and had just strength enough to gain the shore. Bloodworth, regardless of himself, sprang forward to the assistance of the woman, whom he considered most likely to be in need of it; and finding that she could swim, he cheered her with page 178 the assistance of his ready aid, and turned towards his Commander, who was imploring his assistance; but who, alas, after struggling some minutes to sustain himself with an oar and boathook, before he reached him, sank into the abyss of eternity. His next object was to save, if possible, the litle boy whose danger was most imminent; and he, unhappily, sunk as he approached him. Thus sadly mortified by the disappointment of the hopes to which his generosity had aspired, even at the moment when his own safety was in doubt, his female charge remained alone the object of his attention. The poor creature was exhausted, and had not the power of contributing to her own deliverance. With one arm supporting her, however, he swam upwards of a mile, through a rough sea, and with her gained the strand; but vain had been his labour, for respiration had for ever ceased. Agonised with horror, disappointment, and regret, he laid the breathless body of the ill-fated female beneath the cover of a bush, and, dreadfully expent with his fatigues, explored his way towards the point off which the vessel lay, and fell in with the others in his route. A boat was the same evening sent in search of the body, which darkness prevented from being found. The next morning, however, it was discovered, and the day following interred on shore, with every decency the circumstances of the case admitted. The bodies of the other two were not discovered when the vessel came away.”
Letters of administration in the deceased's estate applied for by Charles Hook of the firm of Campbell, Hook, & Co.4 closes the record of the captain of the Perseverance.
Judge Advocate's Office,
Sydney, 12th Jan., 1811.
“Whereas Charles Hook Esq. of Sydney hath this Day applied to me to grant unto him Letters of Administration of the Goods, Chattels, and Effects of the late Frederick Hasselbourgh, Mariner, deceased, which were in this Territory at the time page 179 “of his Death, the next Kin of the said Frederick, and all others claiming to be interested in the Grant of the said Letters of Administration, are hereby summoned to appear before the Court of Colonial Jurisdiction, at Sydney, on Monday the 21st Day of this instant, January, to show Cause why the same should not be granted to the said Charles Hook, Esq., a principal creditor of the said Frederick deceased.”(Signed)
His name still survives on our coast in the Hazelburgh Islands just off Ruapuke. His name as spelt by himself, when reporting the massacre of the Boyd punitive expedition to Governor Macquarie, is “Hasselberg”; spelt in the Letters of Administration and by his employers who next to himself would know best, it is “Hasselbourgh”; spelt in the “Oriental Navigator” of 1816 and in New Zealand maps it is “Hazelburgh.” The last the author would surmise to be the most improbable spelling of the three. He named Campbell Island after the head of the firm he worked for, and Macquarie Island after the then Governor of New South Wales. The name of the discovering vessel is preserved in Perseverance Harbour, and that of Campbell's partner, in Hook's Kays, both in Campbell Island.
The third vessel of the “First Fleet” to return to Sydney was the Elizabeth and Mary (Gordon), Campbell & Co.'s second vessel. She returned on Saturday, 2nd March, 1811, with a cargo of skins. She reported that the Star had sailed from Macquarie Island for England—the first vessel to do this,—that a gang in the employ of Messrs. Kable and Underwood had met with “fine success,” and that the same firm's vessel, the Sydney Cove, and also the Unity, were at Macquarie Island.
The position of the islands having now been made known and the return of the “First Fleet” having supplied the shipping at Sydney with full information of the prospects page 180 of the skin and oil trade, the speculative nature of a voyage largely disappeared, and a regular trade set in. On 9th February the Aurora, cleared for the Derwent, and to proceed on to the islands. She returned on 19th May, a full ship. The Concord, a brig of 150 tons, left Sydney on 8th March and made for Macquarie Island. She reached that place early in April, 1811. On the 8th of that month she was there, and near the north end of the island “came to anchor in 12 fathoms water, strong winds and cloudy. At 5 drove off the bank, hove the anchor up, and worked the ship in-shore again. At 11 came-to again off Ballas Beach in 13 fathoms.” So she reported for the information of navigators.5 She left a gang of sealers on the island, and on 1st May returned to Sydney. On 10th April the Mary and Sally sailed for the islands, and on 1st June the Concord commenced her second trip.
On Friday, 12th April, the fourth vessel of the “First Fleet” returned to Sydney. This vessel, the Sydney Cove, brought altogether 1,000 skins6 and 40 casks of sperm oil. The report on the work of her gang was favourable.
On 4th October the Concord reached port with a tale of storm and sea in the high latitudes such as the mariner of to-day in his larger vessel is a total stranger to. Told by the press of the day it reads:—
“On Friday, arrived the brig Concord, Captain Garbut from Macquarie's Island, whither she went from hence to supply her oiling and sealing gangs. She left this port on the 1st of June, and made the Islands on the 12th of July; when being boarded by two boats from the shore a hurricane began to blow, and she was obliged to take on boats and crews, which otherwise must have perished. In bearing off the land under close reefed fore sail and fore topsail, the canvas was rent from the yards, in which condition her bulwark was dashed in by one tremendous sea. Before she could regain her place six weeks elapsed, during which period Captain Garbut adhered to the latitude as nearly as wind and weather would permit, and at length obtaining a lunar observation, found himself page 181 10 degrees to the eastward of his distance. Upon his making the island the second time Cap. G. got his provisions and necessaries for his gangs landed with every possible activity; at which his people had much reason to rejoice, as upon the third day he was again blown off, but having perfected his object, returned to this port. The people stationed on the island are represented as being in a deplorable condition for the want of food and other necessaries, as neither the vessels sent thither had arrived. The Perseverance, from the last accounts received of her being in Storm Bay Passage, had not had time to be there, probably, when Captain Garbut came away, which was the 5th of August. The Mary and Sally had been seen off before the Concord's first arrival at the island, but was unfortunately unable to make it, and never had returned: she is in consequence supposed to have shaped her course for Campbell's Island, to procure elephant oil and hair seal skins until the weather should be more favourable, rather than persevere in an attempt to make Macquarie's at so tempetuous and precarious a season; and the more especially as her sealing gang, if landed, would have found little or no employ until the bodies of seals began to come up, which would not be the case for some weeks. The falls of snow had been very heavy, the whole island was covered, and exhibited a dreary scene, to which the intenseness of the cold gave additional effect.”
The Perseverance sailed serenely into Sydney Harbour on 31st October, and landed a cargo of not less than 35,000 skins without a whisper of any difficulties encountered.
The other vessel mentioned in the Concord's report, the Mary and Sally, reached port on 27th November. She had, on 12th April, sailed from Sydney for the Derwent, reaching there on 27th April, and remaining until 18th May. After sighting Macquarie Island she could not make the land owing to adverse winds and was compelled to run to Campbell Island, where she landed an oiling party. She afterwards made Macquarie Island and landed part of her sealing gang with some provisions, but was blown off the page 182 coast with the loss of an anchor and cable. She came back to Sydney, quite empty, to refit. When her hunting parties were at Campbell Island they reported seeing two animals of the hyena kind. From the description given it was thought they belonged to the same species as an animal that had been killed at Port Phillip some years before. Cook at Dusky, and Weddell at South Shetland, both mention this proclivity of the old sailor for seeing some strange animal.
After the terrible experience of the Concord already narrated, Garbut made every effort to get back to his men in their desolate wintery quarters in the far south. Early in the year he was at Macquarie Island killing sea elephants and seals, and bringing the skins round to the west side of the island. On 24th January, 1812, at 9 a.m., he sent a boat to the west side for skins, but the boat was upset in the surf and all hands lost. Six men were on board, but though the wreckage of the boat was found there was no trace of the bodies. This was the first boat tragedy at Macquarie Island. On 3rd February the Concord was still on the coast reporting strong gales and squally westerly weather.6 The Concord sailed from the island for England on 10th March with a cargo of 13,700 skins and 50 tons of oil.7 During the same month, presumably on her road to England, she called at Campbell Island, and, in suitable shelter, wooded and watered, but reported experiencing strong gales.8
Holding, who had sailed on 23rd February, returned on 7th May with the Perseverance and a cargo of 9,000 skins and 66 tons of elephant oil. He reported the Concord's accident to Sydney shipping circles, and the details inform us that the sad accident took place only some 20 yards from the shore, that of the six men in the boat four belonged to the Concord, and two to Mr. Murray's gang working for Campbell & Co. About two months after the accident a mutilated body was found on a bank, the only one of the bodies ever recovered.9 The account first quoted is that supplied by Captain Garbut in London, on the arrival page 183 there of the Concord, and is taken from the log of that vessel; the latter is from the Sydney files.
Referring to these sealing gangs, Charles Hook, who managed the business of Robert Campbell & Co., tells us that “the number varied. In the brig Perseverance he never had less than twenty men, officers included. There was also a gang of additional men on board to be left at the islands with provisions for the purpose of sealing. The vessel generally returned from her voyage without them and went to the islands with fresh supplies for the men and to receive their skins and oil they had collected. They were always upon lays, a term used for a certain proportion of the earnings differing according to the qualifications of the men.”
Holding reported success all along the line. The Mary and Sally had made Macquarie Island bound for Campbell Island on 20th March. The Sydney Cove had been at Macquarie Island two months when she was driven off on 11th March with the loss of her anchors and cables, and had not returned on 7th April, when the Perseverance left. She had received on board 11,000 skins and 70 tons of oil. The Governor Bligh had gone eastward with 10 tons of oil and 4,000 skins, and Captain Stewart in the Cumberland had procured some oil and left Macquarie Island three months before.
The Governor Bligh returning on 7th June reported that from about 20th December, 1811, to 24th February, 1812, she had been beating off and on the coast at Macquarie Island, occasionally corresponding with the shore when the weather permitted, but on the latter date she had been blown off with only three men on board besides the master, and was unable to make the island again.
Stewart in the Cumberland, on reaching Campbell Island, found that of the gang of six men left by the Mary and Sally, only one, Henry Neale, a cooper, remained alive. It appears that two months before his relief the whole of his companions had gone on an excursion in a boat, and had never returned. Neale when rescued was in a very page 184 debilitated state, brought on by despondency, but quickly recovered.10 This was the second boat tragedy on Campbell Island.
With such an extensive shipping in such a wild inclement region it was to be expected that shipwrecks would not be uncommon. So far however none had occurred. As a matter of fact, throughout the period of history we have been engaged with, not one wreck had been experienced upon the coast. The Endeavour was taken into Facile Harbour and condemned. She was not wrecked. Wreckage, it is true, was found on Campbell Island when the latter was discovered, but its origin to this day is shrouded in mystery. The same may be said of the wreckage at South Cape. Both may have come from a distance. When any vessel of the New Zealand trading craft met with disaster it was generally on the Australian coast. Now however, we have to record a wreck.
The Campbell Macquarie was a vessel of 248 tons, built and registered at Calcutta. On 22nd March, 1812, under the command of Richard Siddons, she was sent to Macquarie Island to take thence the sealing party connected with the House of Underwood. It had also been agreed, that any of the other gangs that wished to be brought away could come in her.11 It was likewise intended she should do some exploration work in the way of looking for new sealing grounds in the higher southern latitudes.12 From Sydney she sailed to Kangaroo Island, and thence to Macquarie Island.13 On 10th June while there she ran aground and went to pieces. Her crew of 12 Europeans and 30 lascars were all got ashore. She had nearly three suits of sails, and when the weather cleared up the crew succeeded in getting these ashore, where they were stored in a hut, which was afterwards accidentally destroyed by fire. All her stores were lost, independently of which she had on board 2,000 prime skins, 36 tons of salt, and 118 tons of coal taken in lieu of ballast. Captain Siddons, Mr. Kelly, chief mate, and the crew remained ashore from 10th June to 11th October, when they were taken off by the page 185 Perseverance and given passages to Sydney, where they arrived on 30th October at Broken Bay. While on the island four of the lascars died, also a seaman of the Mary and Sally named Thomas McGowen. On receipt of the unfortunate news, Mr. Underwood of Sydney made every effort to secure the relief of the men marooned by this wreck. He purchased the Elizabeth and Mary, and fitted her for a trip to the southern islands. In his anxiety to secure men he advertised in the rather unusual manner that he would be responsible for anyone's debts that would go.
“Mr Joseph Underwood hereby gives Notice that the Schooner Elizabeth and Mary will sail for Macquarie Islands for the Relief of the Gangs there stationed at the end of the present Week, and that he will be responsible for the payment of any Persons Debts who may proceed thereon, provided they shall be brought in to him before the Vessel sails.”11
Such expedition did Underwood show, that on 7th November, just eight days after news of the wreck was received in Sydney, the schooner Elizabeth and Mary, under Captain Siddons, sailed for the relief of the shipwrecked crew and of the sealing gangs belonging to the firm generally.14 The same expedition distinguished her journey as her fitting out, and on 20th January, 1813, the relieving vessel reached Sydney with such of the rigging, stores, &c., as had been saved from the wreck.
After the wreck of the Campbell Macquarie and the return of her gangs to Sydney, the sealing and oiling trade of the far south appears to have flagged. The Governor Bligh returned on 15th December, 1813, with the gang of the Active, found on the West Coast, and the fact that her cargo contained 5 tons of elephant oil, shows that amongst other places she had visited the southern elephant ground.
In the same year, 1813, the Mary and Sally is also reported making for the Campbell and Macquarie Islands, returning on 10th April, 1814, with a cargo of 80 tons of elephant oil, got in three months, at Macquarie Island. On page 186 17th December, 1814, the Elizabeth and Mary arrived in Sydney, after placing a gang on Macquarie Island. The same month witnessed the departure from Sydney of the Cumberland and the Endeavour on the 6th, and the Betsy on the 28th.
The tragic voyage of the last named crew is recorded under another heading.
We have seen from the great falling off in the number of vessels that cleared from Sydney to Macquarie Island, that the apparently inexhaustible supplies that greeted the first visitors had been sadly decreased, if not almost exhausted, by the wholesale butchery carried on. This was not a new thing in sealing. The Bass Strait sealing had proceeded on the same lines. The supplies from the West Coast Sounds and the coast of Stewart Island had given out. Now Macquarie Island supplies were doomed to a like fate. The position at the time (1815) is well put in the following article in the “Sydney Gazette.”15
“Between three and four years ago Macquarie Island was discovered to abound in seals and above 100,000 skins were procured there in the season. The case however, is now very different, as the whole number collected there by several gangs this season does not exceed five or six thousand. The decrease of the amphibious brood may be very naturally accounted for from the practice adhered to of killing promiscuously all the seal that offer, of which the Clap Match or female seal, furnish great proportion. The Pups or young seal were also indiscriminately slaughtered, so that the means of increase were totally annihilated unless from the solitary few which escaped the vigilance of the hunters, and which would require to enjoy length of undisturbed security and repose before their numbers were sufficiently recruited to afford a competent allurement to renew hostility. These causes were sufficient to counteract the prospect of benefitting from a fitting out hither for seal for many years to come, but it might have page 187 “been looked forward to as an advantageous scene of adventure at a future period. This prospect is however totally obliterated by the ravages committed on the younger seal by innumerable wild dogs bred from those unthinkingly left on the island by the first gangs employed upon it. The birds which were formerly numerous, and were found capable of subsisting a number of men without any other provision have also disappeared from the same cause. Their nests which were mostly in inaccessible situations have been despoiled of their young, and the older birds themselves surprised and devoured by these canine rovers, which as they multiply must every day diminish the value of one of the most productive places our sealers were ever stationed at.”
There is little room to doubt the correctness of this description of Macquarie Island; and the anticipations of the future trade are borne out by the fact that during the next five years the Elizabeth and Mary, owned by Joseph Underwood, was almost the only vessel engaged in the trade. The few avenues of information open to us do not supply us with much information, but in 1817 and 1818, when making south, Underwood's craft touched at the Derwent for wood and water. During the greater portion of this time she was commanded by Beveridge, and combined whaling with her other pursuits. As a sample of the frightful weather which had to be faced in the pursuit of the riches of the South it may be mentioned that during a trip in 1819, the Campbell Macquarie, while under Beveridge, was blown off the island no less than seven times, losing two anchors and cables. The probability is that on that occasion she was relieving a gang which she had taken down in February, 1819, as the columns of the Sydney press give us the following advertisements.16
“Wanted, Twelve or Fifteen men principally Sealers. Apply at Mr. Joseph Underwood's.
“Wanted, a Cooper, for Macquarie Island Apply at Mr. Joseph Underwood's.”page 188
While the Betsy's gang was stationed at Macquarie Island a series of very severe earthquakes were experienced, commencing on 31st October, 1815, and continuing with more or less severity until 5th May, 1816. Mr. Thomson, who had charge of the sealing and oiling party, kept a journal of these remarkable phenomena, and as it may be of interest to scientific men to know their sequence, an extract is reproduced here.17
“The first which took place on 31st of October, 1815, at one in the afternoon, overthrew rocks, and gave to the ground the motion of a wave for several seconds. Several men were thrown off their legs, and one was considerably hurt by his fall, but soon recovered. At two o'clock the same afternoon another earthquake was felt, another at four o'clock, and ten during the night, all of which were accompanied with a noise in the earth like that of distant thunder, the wind northward and westward. The 1st of November another shock was felt; and as the people were employed in distant divisions, their observations of the effects produced by the phenomena was most general. An overseer of a gang states that he witnessed the falling of several mountains, and the rocking of others which seemed to have separated from the summit to the base. On the 3rd of Nov., hard frost and heavy snow, two very severe shocks were felt. The 5th, 9th, and 11th were attended with some alarming phenomena. The 7th, 8th, and 9th of Dec., one was felt on each day; and also on the 16th of January and 1st of April.
“The first which was upon the 31st of October, was generally supposed to have been the most alarming. It was preceded by a cloudy atmosphere of seven days duration, in the course of which neither sun, moon, nor stars were seen. The people were much alarmed and expected nothing short of the islands total disappearance, or of being engulphed within its bowels.”
Though not strictly connected with Macquarie Island trade, still the visit of a scientific expedition to Campbell Island is always worthy of mention. The Uranie bound for France left Sydney on Christmas Day, 1819, and passing the southern part of New Zealand sighted Campbell Island on 7th January, 1820. Captain Freycinet's account of the island is a description of its bare hills and absence of vegetation. A Sydney convict stowaway who had once been on the island sealing, mentioned the existence of an anchorage in the southern part, but owing to his legendary stories he was discredited. She appears to have done nothing beyond sighting the island and sailing away.
So far the Macquarie Island trade had been wholly a Sydney one and, latterly, confined to one firm which employed but a single vessel, the Elizabeth and Mary. The natural result began in due course to make itself manifest. The butchery having ceased, the reproductive powers of the seal and the elephant caused an increase in these amphibious herds, and by 1820 the hunter found it profitable to put in his appearance. This revival of the trade made itself more largely manifest at Hobart Town. It developed in a new direction in that the vessels, when laden, sailed to England with their cargoes, instead of regularly plying between the Australian ports and Macquarie Island.
On 11th May, 1820, Beveridge brought the Elizabeth and Mary into port from Macquarie Island, after a terrible fight with wind and weather.
During this visit he made search after an island laid down on some of the charts and globes of that day, by the name of Company's Island, having, as it was said, been discovered by some Spanish Indiaman, about a century before, but lost sight of. Its situation was described to be in 49° S. lat. and 142° E long. Captain Beveridge could not find it. He succeeded in getting to 135° E. and then kept an east course within 6 miles of the given bearings of the island, but none such were visible. Other commanders had also sought for it in vain; from which the Sydney navigators inferred that an error had been made in its page 190 description. Beveridge reported that on Macquarie Island seal was not to be procured, owing to the want of policy in killing all ages and sexes on the first descent made upon it.
In August and September of 1820 the Regalia (Dixon) and the Robert Quayle (Leslie) sailed from Hobart Town for Macquarie Island, taking with them a strong sealing gang. The venture proved a complete success. On 13th November, 1820, the Robert Quayle sailed from Macquarie Island for England with no less than 150 tons of elephant oil, which with her other cargo made her a full ship. The Regalia took on board 260 tons of the same kind of oil. This large supply of 410 tons was obtained by the two vessels within the short period of six months. Captain Dixon, of the Regalia, reported on his arrival that the Island furnished elephant oil in season to almost any extent to industrious gangs and active overseers.18
Captain Dixon also reported that the two Russian Discovery Ships, the Wostok and the Mirny, had called at Macquarie Island for water.