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The Early Journals of Henry Williams

X* — 1836 To 1839

page 433

1836 To 1839

Tribal wars in Waikato — Journey to Waikato — Tribal wars in Bay of Islands — Bishop Pompallier arrives — Mission established in Poverty Bay.

Tribal wars in the Waikato were causing widespread devastation, and the new mission stations there, except the Te Puriri station, were in sore trouble. It was, therefore, necessary for Mr. Williams to go to the troubled area to see what could be done to save the situation. To tell the story Carleton [Vol I, pp 187–193] publishes the following entries from his journal:

16 December 1835. At daylight, sailed with a large party on board, amongst which were Mr. and Mrs. Maunsell,1 and some Ngapuhi chiefs. Evening, breeze fresh, S.S.W

20 December. At daylight, close to Wakatuwhenua. At two, ran under Waiheke.

21 December. Took the two boats with all the natives, and pulled up to Puriri; found all well; Messrs. Wilson and Flatt here, from Matamata. Rewa appeared in full dress. After breakfast, went out to see the natives, Tuma, Tarawati, &c. Made speeches which continued till past noon; chiefs of Thames rather jealous of Rewa's intentions. Sent off messengers to Mr. Brown and Mr. Hamlin, to meet us at Manukau.

23 December. Pulled down to Kopu, and entered the pa in much page 434 form and ceremony. After going through the usual speeches, we returned to the vessel laying off this place.

24 December. Our party came on board to prepare for departure to Kaweranga. After breakfast, went on shore, and were soon on the way. The walk was pleasant, and we were enabled to see the site of the new settlement at Te Totara.2 As a Mission settlement it is admirable, under all the circumstances of the case,—a large pa on either side. We arrived about one o'clock, and received the usual welcome. After sitting in profound silence for a while, the old man, Horeta, made a long speech, which seemed very gratifying to Ngapuhi. After three or four persons had addressed the audience, I was required to get up. I spoke to them upon the present position of affairs amongst themselves, upon the jealousy with Waikato, and upon the stripping of Kati and Parati.3

25 December. Much conversation with Horeta. About noon, the boat and canoe arrived; immediately proceeded to embark, and pulled along the East Coast to Urumihia's place. The lady was very solicitous that we should remain here during the night. Towards sunset, assembled for prayers.

26 December. Arrived at —– by eleven. Very civil; speeches, as usual, not very bright I was obliged to give a few words.

27 December, Sunday. At ten, proposed to hold service, but everyone very reluctant. The chiefs were assembled in close debate, in a house, not disposed to leave off for karakia; I felt cast down: sitting upon a heap of stones not far off, I felt their situation to be truly distressing, and besought the Lord that they might be inclined to attend to the word spoken. In about half-an-hour, I gave them a second call, and was thankful to find that most of them came very cheerfully. We assembled a goodly muster, though several of the leading chiefs were not present. In the afternoon, I had a pleasant conversation with some small parties, and towards sunset held evening service. The attention of many of my congregation was very hard to gain; however, I delivered my message, and relied on Divine aid to bless the word sown.

28 December. At daylight, under weigh to Whakatiwai; over taken by Mr. Fairburn; not well, and returned home. Columbine not out, though the wind was fair all Saturday. Landed at Wharekawa,—a pretty place; took breakfast, and proceeded on to Whakatiwai. Entered the pa in due form and order; long silence. At length Kupenga commenced, but evidently laboured under some page 435 embarrassment, not knowing what to say, as Rewa was expected to be going to take possession of Tamaki; he sat down, and again a long silence. In order to set them in motion, I made them a speech, which soon had the desired effect. I was opposed by an old man, who vaulted from side to side as a rope-dancer, so lightly touching the ground. He spoke in an angry manner, and was replied to by Moka and Rewa in much anger. After Rewa had run himself out of breath, Kahukoti (Coat), the head chief, replied in a mild manner, expressive of good-will. I concluded by stating the part we were desirous of taking to keep peace.

29 December. Before sunrise we were on our way with a fair breeze. We saw a vessel, which we supposed to be the Columbine. Landed on Motu Nau to breakfast; at ten o'clock the canoes proceeded on, leaving us to remain for the Columbine, which did not appear to be nearing us. At 2 p.m. the Columbine neared us fast and we were soon on board, with a fair wind, standing for Waiheke. We brought up in a small bay at the west end, and went on shore in quest of Patuone, whom we found in a very snug pretty place. Our party soon followed, when Rewa and Patuone immediately commenced a duet, at a tangi, which lasted about twenty minutes. After this was well concluded we took leave, and retired on board for the night.

30 December. Went on shore to ascertain the will of our friends: no one disposed to move. At length it was proposed that we should proceed on by ourselves to Waikato, and return with some of the opposite party to meet them at the landing place. This arrangement quite met our views; we therefore took our departure without loss of time in order to save tide up to Otahuhu, and arrived at the landing place by high water. We immediately had the baggage carried over the neck of land, intending to move on at high water to Manukau; but by the time the boat was brought over, the sky became overcast with heavy clouds, threatening for rain. We therefore pitched our tents for the night and were but just in time to escape a good wetting.

31 December. About five o'clock was awoke by Mr. Fairburn's voice, who had just come over from Tamaki, having followed us. We were very thankful he had arrived, and that we had not proceeded, as we certainly should have done had not the rain set in.

1 January 1836. Took our departure for Waikato. As we drew near the Manukau heads, we observed the natives on the right side of the harbour. Mr. Hamlin was not here. Natives not very communicative, nor did any offer food—the first instance yet witnessed page 436 this journey. They brought a little fern-root, and some fish for sale during the day. Te Wherowhero and some other chiefs came to learn news, and then returned to their respective places. Towards six o'clock, Mr. Hamlin's boat was announced; I was sorry not to see Mr. Brown.4 We learnt that Mr. Brown was under considerable alarm for the safety of his house, owing to the woods around them being on fire, and therefore he could not come. He had had some trouble with his people, but had now brought them to order. Mr. Chapman at Rotorua had suffered considerable loss from plunder, and at Mangapouri a disturbance had taken place, owing to the insolent conduct of an obstinate young man named Awarahi, who not being pleased with Mr. Stack's mode of dealing with him, fired nine guns at his house, the balls striking various parts of the building. This last is certainly a very serious affair, and one which must be noticed; but there is in all these things abundant consolation in knowing that there is One on High who will cause all to work together for good.

2 January. Went to look at point of land on the north side of the harbour, to see if suitable for a station; very barren. At five o'clock, left for Otahuhu, to fetch Rewa and others. A long pull; landed late; no sign of Ngapuhi.

4 January. Ngapuhi announced; they did not hurry, but all came after waiting two hours, and fired off between two and three hundred cartridges (powder mamae) for Kati and Toha; Rewa afterwards burnt a fowling-piece for the same cause; they then assembled round Toha, and had a long tangi. At high water, moved off; proceeded to the heads, and joined Messrs. Fairburn and Hamlin.

5 January. Woman killed; head half off; trifling circumstance, all laughing and jesting; body thrown into the river. A few words with the man; he afterwards came with the others to receive Ngapuhi. Rewa and party came; feasted on fern-root, a new thing for Ngapuhi. General accusation of natives in Thames. I gave them a few words upon the necessity of making peace, saying that unless they were so disposed, Missionaries could not live amongst them. We had come as their fathers, but they must themselves determine the question. Messrs. Fairburn and Hamlin followed on the same side. I had some conversation with several chiefs; they approved of all we had to say, but doubted the sincerity of Ngatipaoa. At low water, crossed the river within the heads; very rough. A large party waiting for Rewa and Ngapuhi; all very civil.

6 January. At break of day, firing of guns at the approach of page 437 Rewa; a great noise, and men running about naked in all directions; they had their hellish dance, and then dispersed. As our time was advanced, we wished to proceed up the river, but had first to obtain permission, which was granted. We accordingly left the noisy throng in quest of a site further up the river. We landed at some places going up; the land very barren. At sunset, brought up two miles from the dragging place to Waikato (the Awaroa). Clean lodging, plenty of fern-tops.

7 January. Examined the country in the neighbourhood, as Mr. Hamlin had considered this place desirable for a station. Could not recommend this situation under present circumstances, preferring to occupy the boundary between the two parties. Returned with the ebb tide to Awitu; saw the chiefs, and had long conversation with them. We told them we were now on the eve of departure, and wished to know their desires as to peace, this being now the second year, and little having been accomplished. They of course attributed all mischief to the others, but desired us to say that they were willing, and would leave the adjustment of the affair to the Missionaries. We were much encouraged by all they said, and concluded to go in quest of the leading men in the Thames, and learn what their desires might be, trusting that the Prince of Peace would lead us in the right way, and incline the hearts of the people to listen to Him.

8 January. At low water took our leave, after receiving particular instructions from Te Wherowhero, Haukai,5 and others, as to the nature of our message. As we approached Otahuhu, observed smoke and a number of natives, whom we found to be Ngatipaoa; they were very civil, and enquired with much interest as to the result of our intercourse with Waikato. In the course of the afternoon we held a council, when the chiefs acceded to our wishes to make peace. The disputed points were not much insisted upon, and they appeared to approve of our occupying the land between the tribes.6 Two chiefs were deputed to return with us, Maukoikoi and Potiki.7

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9 January. At two o'clock, struck the tents and embarked. As we drew near the native settlements, hoisted a white flag, as signal that we had a commission of peace. It did not, however, appear to be clearly understood. Moka came down to meet us, and immediately announced the names of the two chiefs. This was instantly answered by firing of guns, which brought the distant parties together, to learn the news. We walked up in state, and when we arrived, our friends arranged themselves in front of each other, and commenced a tangi. After a long interval, Kaihau arose and gave them a welcome, though interspersed with a few sharp expressions upon their desire to seize the land. All, however, passed off in good humour, and all seemed glad at the prospect of a cessation of hostilities.

10 January. At present, all are under great excitement, having but just arrived at the place, the scene of former desolation; they as yet do not feel themselves secure, the enemy within a few miles of them. Numbers of young people with them. Their state at present very degraded, their minds enveloped in darkness, and their bodies in filth. In the afternoon, went to see the natives around; very dark, and but slender desire for knowledge. In the evening, Mr. White announced Mr. Mitchell and Captain Wing, just arrived in the Fanny; they had come from Kaipara, which they reported as a noble river, and entrance good. Mr. Hamlin gave up his tent for their accommodation.

11 January. At daylight, embarked with our party—Ngapuhi and the commissioners for peace. The cross-sea caused by tide was such that the canoe nearly swamped, and I felt very thankful we were well through our difficulties. We afforded the commissioners an opportunity to pay their respect to Ngatiwhatua, who seemed now even disposed to treat them with disrespect; their speeches were not of a pleasing kind.

12 January. In the morning learnt that Mr. W—– had been purchasing a tract of land, about twenty miles square, for four casks of leaf tobacco, value £8, whereby he had nearly bought up all the sitting place of the natives, and consequently hindered our Mission movement. Mr. Fairburn left for Mahurangi. No appearance of natives from Waikato for the purpose of ratifying peace. It is generally thought they will not come.

14 January. No signs of any one from Waikato; our natives feeling much indignation. At two, being high water, we took leave of Mr. Hamlin; pulled out to the entrance of the river, where a large party of Ngatimaru were sitting to see the conclusion of this page 439 negotiation. Here we are to stay for a few days, to allow the opposite party opportunity to come up, if they think proper; but I fear the great enemy is keeping them back, his work not being yet complete.

15 January. About two a.m., a fire observed on the opposite side of the river; crossed over; a messenger from Waikato, stating that the party to ratify peace had been hindered by strong wind, and had but just arrived. Our party appeared pleased; Mate, a chief from Mangakahia, was deputed to conclude peace.

16 January. At daylight, Rewa and I pulled up to Otahuhu; met Mr. Hamlin, tired and weary. Chiefs not yet up, but near at hand. At noon, went to see them; had long conversation with them. Chose a site for a house. Ngatiwhatua down about Mr. W—–'s purchase. Te Wherowhero, Kaihau, and Maiora8 accompanied us to Otahuhu to see Rewa; all very impatient; no food.

17 January. Took commissioners to meet Ngatipaoa; Ngatipaoa stiff at first, but more agreeable in their speeches.

18. January. Brought back commissioners to Otahuhu. Took departure for Puriri; arrived at Mohunga.

19 January. Proceeded on our way across Thames, and arrived by one o'clock; walked over to Puriri; found all well; very glad at peace being concluded.

[At this point Carleton departs from the journal, to describe the background to the subsequent entries. Henry Williams, not finding the Columbine at Puriri, determined to visit Matamata to discuss the troubles at Mangapouri with Te Waharoa. He found that the chief had gone to Tauranga on his way to punish the Rotorua Maoris for the murder of his cousin, Hunga.9.]

26 January, 1836. Reached Matamata by two p.m.; Mr. Brown arrived in the evening. News of disturbance at Rotorua.

29 January. Preparations to depart for Tauranga.10 At one, Mr. page 440 Brown and I took leave, carrying with us a long train for some distance. Had to cross a large swamp; called at Mangapouri; was carried on a litter, which at times was uneasy from the beam sinking. We walked on in full view of the fall, which rolls down from the summit of the long range of hills which runs from Cape Col-ville in a south-east direction. We found the river somewhat deeper than usual, owing to late rain; I should have been glad to have waded over, but our natives objected to it; we were consequently carried over on their shoulders, and landed safely on the opposite side. We continued on to the foot of the fall, where we halted to dine, our distance being ten miles. Having rested about an hour, we commenced our ascent up the hill, which really required great exertion, but the view from the summit amply compensated for the fatigue. We here have an extensive country before us of level land, with rivers winding as far as the eye can reach; then we saw swamps which might be drained with little trouble. In the distance are hills which, for the most part, are extensively rich, well watered and wooded. We continued our journey upon table land for about three miles; it was very level, thickly wooded, and a delightful stream of cool, clear water running by the road side, over stony bottom; we also crossed several smaller ones, the sight of which refreshed us. The ground was very wet, owing to the clouds resting upon the hills; there are but few days without rain, though in the valley beneath the sun may shine in all his glory. Towards sunset we brought up in the woods, by the side of a clear brook, and pitched our tents. Our party was large, being accompanied by about forty persons carrying flax; amongst them several fine young women, but extremely low in their ideas of propriety. Held a pleasant service, and spent an agreeable evening.

30 January. Fine. At break of day all in motion, and had a good tough walk through wood; a dirty, rough, irregular road. At nine, came out into open space; had full view of Tauranga and coast for a long distance; continued course over hill and dale till past noon, when we arrived at Tupuna,11 where we found Waharoa, whom we wanted particularly to see upon the present state of affairs. We had much discussion upon the late events and desolating consequences of war. He admitted the justness of what was said, and his desire for quietness, but turned off to the evils of Rotorua; we could only say, all were evils alike. It was near sunset before the boat came for us; Waharoa and wife accompanied us to the settlement.

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31 January. Waharoa came at daylight to go to the Columbine, which had arrived.

1 February. Nakuku went to learn Waharoa's mind and intentions; he returned at ten o'clock, with a message to remain, and he would call on the morrow.

2 February. Fine. No sign of Waharoa; a second vessel arrived this morning, which will doubtless hinder our friend. Poor old man, he is very active in temporals, but no desire for things eternal. Mr. Wilson and I went to Otumoetai.

3 February. Moved on to Maketu; took refreshment at Mr. Tapsel's. We were enabled to proceed; canoes to carry us up the river; we brought up for the night upon a low piece of land scarcely above the water, and assembled the natives to service. I felt more weary with my walk than for a long time past.

4 February. At daylight, proceeded on our journey up this winding river, which runs through a swamp, generally deep, and but few places to land at.

6 February. Arrived at Rotoiti about eleven o'clock; the sight was beautiful and refreshing; we soon forgot the roughness and unpleasantness of the latter part of the road. The boat hove in sight after a few minutes. By the aid of a canoe we embarked all our party, and launched forth upon the bosom of these waters. The scenery was very beautiful, and the lake scarcely disturbed by the breeze, which carried us quickly on to our friends. We observed recently-formed settlements of natives in several places, where there were no signs of life on my last visit; everything was much altered for the better. We passed Mokoia; fair breeze, and did not escape a shower of rain. We landed on the Mission ground about three o'clock. Messrs. Chapman, Pilley, and Knight all well. Several natives came to see us. We walked out to the pa, but with considerable circumspection, owing to the holes of boiling water, which were very numerous in certain places; were received in a gracious manner, and conducted to an open place, where we met a large assemblage, who were soon seated in a circle. When silence was obtained, Pango rose and made his speech, bidding us welcome; he declared that the error was their own respecting the murder of Waharoa's relatives, and that they did not wish to fight. Being expected to speak, I expressed my displeasure at their late conduct. Instruction had been afforded them, but had now brought war in its foulest shape upon the country; God had loved them, and had given His Son as a Saviour to them, but to those only who received page 442 Him was He precious; their deeds were bad, but we would still see what could be done to appease the anger of their enemies.

8 February. Took departure across the lake with Messrs. Chapman and Brown in a small boat, which was deep with people and luggage.

10 February. At daylight on the move; walk very wearisome over the sands to Tauranga; relieved to find Columbine at anchor; went on board; Taipari12 came on board and Hekereia.

11 February. At seven, weighed and stood out on ebb tide.

12 February. At sunset close to Cape Brett; landed about mid-night.

[Here again Carleton leaves the journal to summarise. “Mr. Williams had desired to return to the South almost immediately, Titore having announced that he was himself about to proceed thither on a peace-making errand. Titore changed his mind, having to do a little fighting on his own account, and the project was abandoned. But on 11 October, the Columbine came in with ill tidings: Mr. Brown and Mr. Morgan had been stripped at Matamata; there was general confusion; Mr. Chapman wrote, urging Mr. Williams to go down again, which he did without delay. No detailed account of this journey has been preserved; only some memoranda in his travelling note-book. Even these must be now abridged.” Carleton then records the following entries:]

28 October, 1836. Took leave, and embarked on board the Columbine.

30 October. Kaweranga, ten miles. Anchored by ten a.m. Had service on board. In the afternoon, landed, and met the natives at Kopu.

31 October. Went up the river to the settlement (Puriri). Met Messrs. Fairburn, Preece, Brown, Wilson, Morgan, Chapman. News. Matamata withdrawn. J. Flatt stripped by Rotorua. Child killed.

9 November. Showers and strong wind. Late in the afternoon, in company with Messrs Brown, Chapman, Wilson, and Knight, pulled up river, and at dusk brought up. Pleasant evening.

10 November. Moved on, and landed at Ohinemuri; walked on page 443 till sunset, and brought up in a wood. Fine country, level for considerable extent.

11 November. Pleasant night. In the afternoon had a view of the sea, and arrived at Katikati by three, the boat waiting. Had some refreshment, and proceeded towards Te Papa.13

12 November. Arrived at Te Papa by two a.m.; all well. After breakfast, went to Maungatapu—some speaking, but no disposition to peace. Returned found Taharangi and several others waiting for us.

16 November. Sent messenger to Waharoa and Puriri. Afternoon, went to Otumoetai, and passed on to the place, on an island, to which it is proposed to retire in the event of war being brought into the neighbourhood. Had much conversation with Taharangi. After some considerable time, they seemed disposed to give way, and one man in particular, Amohau, said that peace should be made as soon as Waharoa made his appearance. In the evening, news from the Thames that the Rarawa were coming down with a vessel.

17 November. Went to Maungatapu, to see the natives. Nuka the only speaker; long conversation; his thoughts evidently evil. When coming away, he observed that if Waharoa should approve it might be well.

18 November. Waiting for Waharoa.

20 November, Sunday. Mr. Brown and I went to Maungatapu; assembled three hundred, men, women, and children.

21 November. Fine. Canoe from the southward, with Tapsel and Mr. P—–. Ngatihe landed in considerable numbers. Held long conversation; pakeke rawa (very hard). Afternoon, held examination.

22 November. Waharoa came over; his speech maro tonu (very stiff). Determined to return, and hold on here as well as can be done; gloomy, very gloomy.

23 November. Prepared for departure. Nuka and others came from Maungatapu to see me.

24 November. Daylight, on the move. Taharangi came to see us. With much difficulty landed at Kati Kati.

26 November. Arrived at Puriri by sunset.

29 November. Committee till noon; took our departure in Mr. Wilson's boat. Landed about eight on west end of Waiheke.

30 November. Fine, calm afternoon; wind S.E. Landed at dusk on north end of Kawau; laid down on fern.

page 444

1 December. At half-past six, rounded Cape Brett; landed at Maunganui.

2 December. Bed of stone; hard. At daylight, moved on; at two p.m. landed at Paihia; all well.

[In 1837 Carleton has no entries from Henry Williams's journal, which, he says, “is singularly meagre. He does not even make mention of his final success, though he recounts the steps which led up to it”. The northern part of New Zealand had been free of tribal wars for some considerable time, but in March 1837 it broke out again. The cause, as often happened in tribal wars, was complex, but it resulted in a war between Titore and Pomare and their allies in which Pi of Waima, and Titore were killed. Marsden was in New Zealand at the time and reported this in a letter to the Church Missionary Society (Marsden, L. & J., p 524). Henry Williams was absent when the disturbance began, being on a visit, with Marsden, to the mission station at Kaitaia, but when he returned he managed to secure a peace settlement.

[For 1838 Carleton gives no entries from the journal, except two short extracts, referring to the peace efforts in the war referred to above:]

10 May 1838. Kawiti sent to Tareha to whakatika (make straight) his pukapuka; but no notice appears to have been taken.

12 May. Mr. Baker and I went over to Kororareka to take Kawiti's patu; the Kororareka people not inclined to receive it.

[He records, however, several facts: Henry Williams' son, Edward, returned from England, invalided by consequence of brain fever. Henry Williams himself was called to New South Wales to give evidence in a case in which four Europeans were tried and convicted for an attack on Captain Wright's house. During this year Bishop Pompallier and two priests arrived to establish a Roman Catholic mission. In October Henry Williams sailed with six Maoris to establish them as native teachers at Waiapu and Turanga. During his absence, Bishop Broughton arrived from New South Wales on a pastoral visit, bringing with him the Rev. Octavius Hadfield.]

1 The Rev. Robert Maunsell arrived in New Zealand in November 1835. He was for a short period stationed at Mangapouri, and in 1836 went to Maraetai, Waikato Heads, where he worked with distinction until 1853 when the station was moved to Kohanga. Here he remained until the Maori wars of 1863, after which he went to Auckland. Maunsell was an able scholar and rapidly mastered the Maori language, rendering valuable service in the translation of the Scriptures and Prayer Book.

2 The new mission station at Te Totara.

3 See note for entry of 7 September 1834.

4 Gordon D. Browne.

5 Haukai, a Waikato chief.

6 This piece of land was a bone of contention between the Ngati-Paoa and the Waikato tribes. It was unoccupied land in the district now known as Panmure, and to preserve peace the Ngati-Paoa asked that the missionaries purchase it, so that it would no longer be a cause of trouble. Henry Williams did not want it, and suggested to Fairburn that he should buy it. In order to make peace possible, Fairburn bought it for £900 in goods, and in this way peace between the tribes was assured. In after years Fairburn was unfairly criticised for this transaction. [Fairburn to C.M.S., 27 November 1838; Henry Williams to C.M.S., 11 January 1839; quoted by Carleton, p191f.]

7 Chiefs of Ngati-Paoa.

8 Probably Maioha, brother of Te Wherowhero.

9 Hunga, a cousin of Te Waharoa who was murdered and eaten in December 1835 by Huka of Rotorua. Maori custom demanded that Te Waharoa should attack the Rotorua tribes as utu, and this he proceeded to do by attacking Maketu, a pa which belonged to the Rotorua tribes, and destroying it on 28 March 1836. Rotorua retaliated by capturing Te Tumu on 5 May. In August Te Waharoa attacked and defeated Rotorua itself. Henry Williams strove in vain for peace, and in the general disorder the mission stations at Matamata and Rotorua were plundered. The Rev. A. N. Brown left Matamata for Puriri, and later for Tauranga.

10 The route taken was the Maori track across the plains to the Wairere Falls on the Kaimai Range. The journal gives a good general description of the track, which ends at Te Puna Peninsula in the Tauranga Harbour.

11 Te Puna.

12 This would be Taipari of Ngati-Maru, who was present with his father at the fall of Te Totara pa to Hongi. Just afterwards he came under missionary influence, and was a wise and influential chief, co-operating with the pakeha. He died [gap — reason: illegible] 1880.

13 Te Papa, the site of the Tauranga mission station.

* As the original journal entries for the period from April 1835 to 30 September 1839 have been lost, events are summarised from Hugh Carleton's Life of Henry Williams, together with the entries from the journal there recorded.