From Tasman To Marsden.
On 9th April the snow Commerce came into Port Jackson from the Penantipodes, with 39000 skins for the London market. She touched at that part of the New Zealand coast page 110 which was governed by Te Pahi, and Captain Bierney was informed that the Venus, which had been piratically seized and taken away from Port Dalrymple the previous year, had been there, and that two of the pirates—Kelly and Lancashire—had been left behind. Kelly had, since that, been taken prisoner to England by the master of the Britannia, and Lancashire, by the master of the Brothers. The Venus was then supposed to be wandering about the coast without anyone who understood navigation on board, a state of things which would soon bring her crew into the hands of British, or, more likely still, into the mouths of New Zealand, justice.
Te Pahi behaved very well to the Commerce, supplying her with potatoes and anything else the place produced. He had sown some maize, but it had unfortunately been devoured by the pigs; a second effort however, with his whole reserved stock, had proved successful. The Inspector and the Albion were both at the Bay.
The same day as the Commerce, Captain Bunker arrived at Sydney in the Elizabeth from the Bay of Islands, bringing news got from Captain Turnbull of the Indispensible, and what he had himself learned at the Bay in December of the previous year. Captain Bunker stated that, in addition to Kelly and Lancashire, two women and a child were put on shore from the Venus, and that the charge of the vessel had fallen into the hands of a black man who had stated his intention of returning to Port Jackson, but, unfortunately, he was incapable of piloting the vessel. One of the women had died on shore, and the other, with her child, had refused an offer to accompany Captain Bunker. Kelly and Lancashire had each erected a hut which they were occupying when taken, and which were now occupied by eight or nine men from the Inspector, whose captain took from there five or six others left by a former vessel.
The Venus was the first of a number of vessels piratically seized by convicts on the Australian coast, and brought over here for some spot where a residence would mean for the pirates freedom from the avenging arm of the law. This particular craft was well known in the New Zealand trade, page 111 and had latterly been associated with the sealing at the Penantipodes, where, on its last visit, Captain Stewart had been left behind, and the brig taken to Port Jackson by Chace, the mate. At Sydney she was loaded with grain, flour, and salt pork, and various public and private stores for the settlements at Port Dalrymple and Hobart Town. It was also understood that she was to proceed to the Penantipodes in the interests of her gangs. Being short of labour the vacant places were filled with convicts. Trouble started with the purloining of the cargo, and culminated on 17th June, in Port Dalrymple, when the captain was ashore, with first mate Kelly, pilot Evans, and private Thompson of the N.S.W. Corps, knocking down and confining the second mate, turning five seamen out of the brig, and sailing away. On board the pirate craft were eleven persons, including two women and an infant child.
At Sydney, when the news of the piratical seizure became known, a Proclamation dated 18th July 1806 was issued describing the occupants of the vessel and appealing to
“all Governors, and Officers in Command at any of His Majesty's Ports, and the Honourable East India Company's Magistrates or Officers in Command, at Home and Abroad, at whatever Port or Ports the said Brig may be taken into, or met with at Sea, against any frauds or deceptions that may be put in practice by the offending Parties; and to require their being taken into custody wherever found; and information rendered thereat to the Governor or Officer in Command at these Settlements, or to any other British Authority, that they may be brought to condign punishment."
We next hear of the pirate brig at the Bay of Islands not later than December. The “black man" who had charge of the brig, and was unable to navigate her, was, probably, Joseph Redmonds, a mulatto who came to Sydney in the whaler Venus. The two women, who are the first white women known to have resided in New Zealand, are thus described in the Proclamation:page 112
“Catherine Hagerty, a convict; middle sized, light hair, fair complexion, much inclined to smile, and hoarse voice.
“Charlotte Edgar, convict; very corpulent, with full face, thick lips, and light hair; has an infant child."
It was evidently Catherine Hagerty who died not long after landing, and Charlotte Edgar who, “with her child" refused to go on board the Elizabeth with Captain Bunker.
Regarding the subsequent movements and fate of the Venus there is not that amount of definiteness which the author likes to present to his readers. It is recorded that the colonial schooner Mercury, which touched at New Zealand, learned that she had been taken by the Natives, who killed and ate her crew and burnt the hull for the sake of the iron. Marsden, in 1815—nine years after the event—tells us, on Native authority, that she visited Bream Cove (Whangarei), the North Cape, and the Thames, stealing Native women at all these places. At the last-named anchorage a chief and two women were taken, but the former, watching his opportunity, jumped overboard and was rescued by a friendly canoe. The women never returned. It is quite probable that both accounts are correct, as they describe what one would naturally expect to happen. In the case of the women their reported death and eating at the East Cape was the cause of more than one Native war.
On 30th March 1807, while on a visit to Tahiti, McArthur and Blaxcell's vessel, the Elizabeth, which had been a Spanish prize, called in at the Bay of Islands for provisions and some repairs. On board of her was one Gregory Warner, a medical missionary. She remained in the Bay twelve days, and was assisted by some other whalers which were there at the same time. Beyond the fact that the actions of the crew fairly horrified the missionary, nothing is recorded of her doings.
Amongst other vessels which called at New Zealand during 1807 was the General Wellesley on her road to the Prince of Wales Island in Malacca Strait. She called in at the Bay of Islands for a cargo of spars, and was there in page 113 October when the Venus, Captain Birbeck, looked in on her road from Sydney to Tahiti. The Inspector was there also, a full ship, and sailed for England with a cargo of sperm and black oil during the stay of the Venus.
Other successful whalers reported off New Zealand were the Seringapatam, the Albion, and the Eliza.
It was mentioned, when recording the movements of the Lady Nelson, that a convict had run away from her at the Bay of Islands. George Bruce, the convict in question, got under the protection of Te Pahi, and ultimately married his daughter. When Captain Dalrymple was on the eve of sailing with a cargo of spars, he asked Bruce to go to the North Cape with him, promising to land him before leaving New Zealand. Bruce went, and took with him his wife, but Dalrymple, when the mission to the North Cape was over, after an unsuccessful attempt to land Bruce, sailed away with him to India. The voyage was an exceedingly protracted one and Malacca was not reached until some nine months had passed. While Bruce was ashore here complaining to the Governor of his treatment, Captain Dalrymple sailed away for Penang, on Prince of Wales Island, taking Mrs. Bruce with him. Bruce followed, and ultimately got possession of his wife after an absence of three months. From Penang Bruce took ship to Bengal and placed his unhappy plight before Lord Minto, who, after some delay, put him on board an Australian vessel and in due course he reached the Derwent where deposed Governor Bligh was at that time on board H.M.S. Porpoise. It was a singular coincidence that Mrs. Bruce's brother, Matara, had lived with Governor Bligh's family in Sydney while he was waiting for a New Zealand bound ship. At last Bruce, with his wife, and a child born during the passage from India to Hobart Town, reached Sydney in 1809, having just missed Te Pahi, Mrs. Bruce's father, and Matara, her brother.
On board the General Wellesley, when she came to New Zealand, was another interesting individual named Roberts, who had dwelt for some years at Nukahiwa, where he had married a relative of one of the chiefs. He had acted as pilot for the ship, more especially among the Ladronepage 114
Islands, and accompanied her to Penang. His name figures in Krusenstern's account of his visit to Nukahiwa.
The last vessels at the Bay of Islands during the year were the Mercury, Reibey, trading to Tahiti, and the King George, bound for Fiji. Both sailed from Sydney on 10th December, and, after obtaining refreshments at the Bay, separated in latitude 33° 29′ S.
As a matter of interest to students of Cook it may be mentioned that when the Mercury was at Ulitea, a Chief named Mahee gave the Captain a medal which his father had received from Cook during his Second Voyage. Five of these have been found in New Zealand, but this is the only one recorded as found beyond our shores.
It was during this year—1807—that Whangaroa was discovered; prior to this it had been but mentioned to Governor King by Tuki and Huru in 1793. Captain Wilkinson carried on extensive sealing operations at the Penantipodes and other islands to the south, on board a vessel called the Star. Leaving his gangs on the southern islands Wilkinson ran up the western coast of New Zealand, rounded the North Cape, and came down the eastern coast looking for some harbour between the Cape and the Bay, where he could get wood and water.
“In coasting along, he discovered an open bay, only sheltered by a small island, under which he came to an anchor for the night. The coast of the main-land was high and precipitous, and appeared one continuous line; he was, therefore, greatly surprised next morning to see a great number of canoes, filled with natives, approaching the ship for the purpose of trading. They informed him that they came from a place called Wangerooa [Whangaroa], the entrance to which lay at the bottom of the bay. Captain Wilkinson immediately examined it with his boats, and found a narrow entrance which expanded to the right and left into two capacious basins, while a high middle head projected so immediately into the entrance, as entirely to conceal the harbour. … Captain Wilkinson having obtained such supplies as the page 115 natives were capable of affording, returned to the southward, to relieve his sealing gang, without, for the present, entering into the harbour."
After sailing south and attending to the necessities of his gangs, Captain Wilkinson returned to Whangaroa to make a more complete examination of its potentialities. He found that a chief called Kytoke ruled the district; he was “equally feared and beloved" by the Natives, possessed an excellent understanding and a most pacific disposition, together with great courage and bodily strength. The stay of the Star was marked by the most perfect harmony between Natives and Europeans, and when Captain Wilkinson sailed away there accompanied him as a sailor a young Native chief called Tara, to whom the name of George was afterwards given by the sailors.