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Early Wellington


“A land whose beauties importune
The Briton to its bowers;
To sow but plenteous seeds and prune
Luxuriant fruits and flowers.
Cheer up! Cheer up! Your course then keep
With dauntless heart and hand;
And when you've ploughed a stormy deep
Then plough a smiling land.
Thos. Campbell, 1839.

The ship “Adelaide,” 640 tons register, commanded by Capt. William Campbell, left the river (London) on 18th September, 1839, and arrived at Port Nicholson on 7th March, 1840. There were 37 cabin and 144 steerage passengers on board. Five births occurred during the voyage, totalling the number of passengers to 186.

The names of the adult passengers and children over fifteen years of age comprised the following:—

Name Age Wife's Age No. of Children
Alzdorf, Charles 24
Andrews, George
Bradey, Francis 45 38 5
Brady, Emma 20
Beaumont, Robert 30 26 1
Beckers, Eliza 19
Bell, Charles Frater 27 30
Bennett, Charlotte 22 1
Boyle, Catherine 30
Boyle, Rachael 30
Bradford, Robert 34 31 2
Brown, J. W. Henry 25 26 1
Buchanan, James M (Schoolteacher) 55
Burcham, James 33 33
Buxton, H. B. 39 33 4
Campbell, Robert 16
Cole, G. S. & H.
Constable, Edward 24 25
Constable, John
Clarke, George 25
Cook, H. and T. W.
Cooke, E.
Daniell, Cap. Edward
de Oliveira, Leocadia
Durie, D. Stark (Major)
Ellerm, Edward (Senr.) 35 34 3
Ellerm, Edward (Junr.)
Evans, Caroline
Evans, Dr. G. S. Lady and Child
Evans, J. E. 24 20
Evans, John
Fox, John 22 24
Galpin, William 24 29 1
Galpin, C. and C. M.
Guthrie, Thomas 26 24 1
Harris, John 31 31 4
Henderson, D. 28 24
Hewitt, A. and R. 28 26 1
Hunt, Charles 51 44 1
Hunt, Maria 24
Hunt, Emily 20
Hunt, Fanny 17
Johnson, F. J. & W.
Jones, Clara Elizabeth 18
Kemble, R.
Kimpton, Thomas 29
Knight, W. (?)
Knight, Thomas 28
Laurance, Joseph 21
Longmore, Thomas 20
Luscombe, J. H.
Luxford, William 39 39 6
Luxford, C. E. and G. H.
Luxford, W. N.
Marshall, Sampson 24 22
McKenzie, Mrs. 35
McKenzie, Thos. 20
McKenzie, Thomas W.
McKew, Peter 34 36 4page 34
McKew, Mary Ann 15
McNally, James 36 35
Miller, M.
Minifie, John 24 23 1
Minifie, Elizabeth W. 44 1
Minifie, Matilda 15
Minifie, Thomas 22
Minifie, Joseph 17
Montague, Lydia 19
Natrass, J.
Oliver, Miss.
Partridge, T. N.
Pike, Mary Elizabeth 20
Reid, James (Brewer) 39
Revans, Samuel
Riddiford D., Lady and Miss
Roe, Charles Ed. & E.
Rutler, Samuel 20
Shannon, Florence Mr. Shannon arrived by “Cuba.” 32—
Simpson, Joseph 26 27
Smith-Mein, Mrs. W. 3
St. Hill H. and Lady
Stoddard, Mr. and Mrs 25 25
Swann, James 38 39 5
Taine, J. J.
Thomas, Cap. J.
Thomas, J.
Ticehurst, Edwin 27 27 3
Tilke, Ann, c/o Mrs. Evans
Turnbull, William 24
Turner, Ann 20
Waddell, J.
Ward, Edward 18
Ward, James 32 27
Weston, Frayton 19
Whiteman, William 15
Williams, Eliza 35
Wright, James 25
Wright, William 29
Yates, F. Thomas 22

Certified while under weigh for New Zealand about 4 o'clock 18th September, 1839.


William Johnston


About four in the afternoon of the 7th March, 1840, Colonel Wakefield and his nephew Jerningham were sitting outside Mr. Moreing's tent, enjoying a cigar and the genial weather, when they saw three large vessels at once at the entrance of the harbour. One was recognised as the “Tory.” The others were the “Adelaide” and “Glenbervie.” A sudden storm of southerly wind, lightning and rain made them retreat under the tent as the squadron emerged from behind Somes Island under full sail.

They had not been long under shelter when Dr. Evans, one of the earliest members of the Association of 1837, burst into the tent, soaked through, but apparently wild with excitement and pleasure at having at length landed on the shores of the country in which he had been so long interested. He had arrived, with his family and several of the principal Colonists, in the “Adelaide.” The other ship, the “Glenbervie,” carried the Manager, Clerks, and well-lined safe of a branch of the Union Bank of Australia.

In the morning a grand salute was fired by all the ships, which lay at anchor in an extended line between the beach and Somes Island. The weather was delicious, and a large concourse of those on shore assembled to gaze on the imposing sight.

The six large ships, that had arrived previously, decked with colours, above which the New Zealand flag floated supreme, were thundering away. The natives shared in the general excitement, and proposed to take Colonel Wakefield in their canoes round the fleet. They started in three large war-canoes, racing under the stern of each ship in succession, while the salute continued. The place of honour was assigned to Colonel Wakefield, who was in Te Puni's canoe. The other canoes were commanded by Wharepouri and Tuarau. They shouted their war song most vigorously as they passed close to each astonished poop-load of passengers, and completed the circle of vessels at full speed without a single pause. Moe, or “Sleep,” a brother of Te Puni, caused much amusement by his grimaces as he plied his paddle at the bow of Te Puni's canoe, which got back first to the beach.

During the next few days the passengers of the “Adelaide” made themselves page 35 acquainted with the respective merits of the two sites for the town (Pito-one and Thorndon), and gave their decisions almost unanimously in favour of Thorndon. It was, therefore, decided to commence the survey of that district.

Some delay was caused by the change, as the time already spent in cutting lines and laying out the streets in the valley of the Hutt became almost useless!*

The following is an extract from a letter written by a passenger of the “Adelaide” on the 21st December, 1839.

“We left Teneriffe on the 16th of October and crossed the line on the 14th of November. We are all well and in good spirits and have lost only two or three children, and a man who fell overboard. Mrs. Miller gave birth to an infant, and Mrs. Riddiford had a daughter on board on the 28th November. Some quarrels have occurred; one cause of difference was the putting into Table Bay on the 19th December, under the impression that the delay would swell to a month at least.”—“N.Z. Journal,” 1840, p. 42.

A passenger on the “Adelaide” related some of his experiences, which were published in Bishop's Guide to Wellington, 1883, kindly lent to the writer by Mr. Hamilton Bannister, and from which a few extracts are here given:—

“On the 7th March, 1840, I arrived in the harbour of Port Nicholson, in the ship ‘Adelaide,’ after a protracted passage of six months. The voyage was rather an eventful one. In crossing the Bay of Biscay we encountered a severe gale, with a high tumultuous sea, and it was with great difficulty that the Captain saved the masts. After crossing the Bay we put into Santa Cruz, Teneriffe. We lay there three days, and took on board some live stock, and a large supply of fruit… . Previous to crossing the line, a dispute arose amongst the passengers, occasioned, no doubt by the ‘strength’ of the bilge water (?) which could only be settled by an interchange of civilities on shore. This necessitated the calling at Cape Town, very much to the annoyance of our Captain, as it would considerably protract the voyage. On arriving at Cape Town, the belligerents landed, and arrangements were made to settle their differences. After stepping off the usual number of paces, and the seconds placing their men, one of the principals refused to fight. He was willing enough for his opponent to fire at him, but positively refused to return the fire. The seconds, of course, could not allow this to be done, and so the matter ended in the Law Courts. The result was that the Captain and one of his principals were bound over to keep the peace, and thus ended this bloodless affair. After a detention of about a fortnight at the Cape, we again set sail for New Zealand, and arrived here as above, having previously called at Port Hardy for instructions.”

“The settlers from the first five vessels—‘Aurora,’ ‘Oriental,’ ‘Duke of Roxburgh,’ ‘Bengal Merchant,’ and ‘Adelaide’—landed at Pito-one, and the ships lay at anchor under the lee of Somes Island. On my first landing, a mere lad, I was delighted with the novelty of the scenes that met my view, and the bustle and activity going on around me so occupied my thoughts as to leave no room for gloomy anticipations of the future. There was one scene, however, that was more deeply impressed on my mind than any other, and that has never been effaced during the vicissitudes of a Colonial life. I allude to the first page 36 Sabbath service I attended after my arrival in New Zealand.”

Church Service at Pito-One, 1840.

“It was a beautiful calm day, not a cloud to be seen in the sky, and the sun shone forth in its meridian splendour. The magnificent harbour of Port Nicholson lay before us, but not a breath of wind to ruffle the surface of its waters; and the laving of the tide upon the beach was the only sound heard in that direction, to break the stillness of the peaceful scene. To the left might be seen, anchored off Somes Island, the vessels which had been for months the temporary homes of the settlers, and which had brought them in safety across the mighty deep, with the British Ensign hanging at their peak. To the right, and about a quarter of a mile distant, was the bush with its various and beautiful foliage. The Nikau palm and the Tree fern being conspicuous in their beauty; and the woods were musical with the song of birds. The back ground consisting of tall flax and the feathery toi toi (toetoe), which was then in full bloom. Adjoining, and a short distance from Petone Beach there was a small clump of Karaka trees, under the shade of which the settlers assembled to worship God. There was no Sabbath bell to call the congregation together, but the song of the bell bird could be distinctly heard above all the songsters of the grove. There were about thirty or forty persons, among whom I remember Mr. Robert Roger Strang, Mr. George Hunter (afterwards the first Mayor), Mr. Wm. Lyon, Mr. K. Bethune, Mr. J. Telford, Mr. Francis Yates, Mr. Robert Kemble, Mr. Buchanan, and many whose names I have forgotten.

“The greeting was most cordial as friends met and briefly related their several experiences to each other, since leaving the Mother Country.…

“The Rev. John Macfarlane, the only clergyman who accompanied the first expedition, officiated. He was then in the vigour of manhood, was of medium height, and formed a prominent feature in the group. When the Rev. gentleman said ‘Let us worship God,’ every head was reverently uncovered and the small company joined with all earnestness in singing the C. Psalm: ‘All People that on Earth do Dwell.’ He then read a portion of Scripture, after which he offered up a prayer. And there, with the canopy of heaven for a covering, did they pour forth their thanksgiving to God for bringing them in safety across the mighty deep to their desired haven.… Then was sung ‘O God of Bethel, by whose hand,’ etc. After a short sermon the XXIII. Psalm was sung: ‘The Lord's my shepherd; I'll not want,’ etc. And here I may mention that Sabbath services were afterwards regularly held in Bethune and Hunter's store on the banks of the Hutt, and sometimes at Colonel Wake-field's house at Pito-one. What a contrast the previous week had been to this peaceful and holy Sabbath.”

The writer of the above then refers to the murder of Poukawa, a Ngatiawa chief, and continues:—“In order to make reprisals, an expedition of over 300 warriors was raised to secure ‘utu’ (or blood for blood payment), and had departed with threats of direful vengeance.

“It was in the interim that the ‘First Sabbath service,’ as above recorded, was held.”

* Wakefield's Adventure in New Zealand, p. 158.