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Early Wellington

Chapter VII

page 66

Chapter VII.

Removal from Pito-one to Thorndon—A Quarrel at Te Aro—Bullock Driving on Lambton Quay—Schools—Hotels—Small Pox—Naming the Town—Arrival of the “London.”

Before you lies the future, clear and vast;
Builders of Empires in the Golden Chimes,
Oh! learn a lesson from the perished past—
'Tis yours, to shape and mould the coming times.
Thos. Bracken, 1890.

The pioneers of the Port Nicholson settlement were nothing if not thorough; and when they discovered that they had made a mistake, they made it their first business to correct it. Thus they landed first at Pito-one; and at Pito-one, in the teeth of wind and weather and all possibilities of the extravagance of both, it was decided to form the settlement. Here, accordingly, Captain Smith and his assistants of the “Cuba” laid off the township. Here, too, that honourable corporation, the Union Bank of Australia, first opened its doors in New Zealand. But it was speedily, and for obvious reasons, decided that Pito-one was not the proper place of settlement, and a move was made over the harbour. With due solemnity the bank safe was floated over on a raft. Again those gallant pioneers went to work. They had strong faith in their fortunes and their own right arms, and they decided at once that Britannia was to be a town of import. Later the whole urban area of Wellington was carefully surveyed and plans were drawn.

The New Zealand Gazette (19/9/40) refers thus to the move to Thorndon:— “Our fellow colonists are now busily engaged in removing to ‘Britannia’ and building and enclosing land there, and we are convinced their labours will not prove unprofitable. We hope are long they will have some of their time at command, and we are sure they will not be slow to undertake the several measures of a public kind which ought to be brought into active operation. Among them we would mention the Library, School, Savings Bank and Temperance Society as entitled to their earliest attention.”

Trouble with Natives at Te Aro.

Since the arrival of the Government authorities the natives of the Te Aro and Pipitea Pas had become more and more suspicious and distant towards the colonists. It was on the 26th of August, 1840, that this feeling first produced any outbreak. Captain Edward Daniell, who had lived, up to the time of the selection, with his wife and family in a ragged but page 67
Fig. 27—Pipitea Pa 1841. Reference Numbers: 1. Native Chief's House; 2. British Flag (Proclamation read 4/6/1840); 3. N.Z. Coy's houses for Emigrants; 4. Bellsize (Pipitea) Point.

Fig. 27—Pipitea Pa 1841. Reference Numbers: 1. Native Chief's House; 2. British Flag (Proclamation read 4/6/1840); 3. N.Z. Coy's houses for Emigrants; 4. Bellsize (Pipitea) Point.

Fig. 28—Pipitea Point 1840.

Fig. 28—Pipitea Point 1840.

Fig. 29—Britannia (Thorndon), 1840. From a sketch by Captain Stanley, H.M.S. Britomart, in the writer's collection.

Fig. 29—Britannia (Thorndon), 1840. From a sketch by Captain Stanley, H.M.S. Britomart, in the writer's collection.

page 68 on the beach at Thorndon, had begun to erect a wooden house on one of the town acres which he had chosen. As this happened to be on a deserted garden of the Te Aro people, they had obstructed his proceedings in some way, and a quarrel had ensued. A report got about that Captain Daniell had been struck down by a blow from a tomahawk; and all who heard the report rushed to the spot with their arms in readiness for any emergency. The difference was amicably settled soon after the muster of the settlers. Their readiness to support in his supposed danger, a member of the community, who was known as well for his kindness of heart as for his courage, appeared to alarm the Colonial Secretary, for on the 27th a printed notice was circulated about the setlement, couched in these terms:—

“Whereas certain persons residing at Port Nicholson, N.Z., part of the dominions of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, did, on the evening of yesterday, assemble with arms at a native pah named Tarinaki.

“Now, therefore, I Willoughby Shortland, a Magistrate and Colonial Secretary of N.Z., do caution all persons from assembling under arms on any pretence whatever, without being duly authorised so to do, upon the allegiance they owe to Her Majesty Queen Victoria.

“Given under my hand, at Port Nicholson, this 27th day of August, 1840.

Willoughby Shortland,

Colon. Sec. and Chief Magistrate.”

This, as well as other matters, did not serve to increase the Colonial Secretary's popularity, and the following extract from a letter written to England by one of the leading men of the Port, shows that Lieut. Shortland had not spared the attempt to injure the settlement more seriously.

Wakefield writes: — “Mr Shortland, during the short time he has been here, has made himself universally disliked by a sort of quarter-deck assumption of authority, which does not go down with the class of people residing here; but he is still more disliked on account of many covert attempts to entice away the labourers of this place. Thanks to our exertions and those of the Colonel, he has been almost entirely unsuccessful, except in one solitary instance.”

Frequent Fines.

Referring to cases of misdemeanour, Jerningham Wakefield, in his Adventure in N.Z., p. 264, writes in his amusing fashion:—

“The Bench of Magistrates had been particularly remarkable for its summary infliction of large fines in almost every case brought before them.

Five or ten pounds were very often required in cases of common assault, and from three to five pounds for drunkenness and breach of the peace.

Complaints of the arbitrary nature of the proceedings were often made; but then, no one knew how to get them investigated, and money was plentiful in those early days.

One man, a drunken, foul-mouthed bullock driver from a neighbouring Colony, was a frequent contributor to the public revenues. He was an excellent hand at his profession (a flourishing one then) and made good money, which he spent in drinking large doses of ardent spirits.

His predilection was interfered with by the magistrates and constables; he paid his fines regularly, but the manner of inflicting them seemed to offend him, page 69 and he took his own means of revenging himself. His team of bullocks were soon christened “Shortland,” “Smart,” “Best” and “Cole;” and he used to apply the coarsest epithets to them as he flogged them along. One day the Colonial Secretary, stately and pompous as usual, happened to pass the dray which they were dragging over the beach (Lambton Quay). Brutal threats to “cut Shortland's tail off if he didn't move on;” or to “whip his skin off” startled him in his promenade; and on turning suddenly round he beheld old “Sam” “whacking” his team.

To the surprise of the spectators, the Chief Magistrate asked the bullock driver whether “he applied those expressions to him?”

Sam answered with an innocent grin, “I wasn't a speakin' to you; I'm a driving my bullocks; that's my business;” and the Colonial Secretary retreated from the scene, amid a loud repetition of the most frightful imprecations, threats and mockery of the bullocks by their driver. A crowd of the lower classes roared with laughter during the whole scene.

He changed the names of his bullocks according to those of the magistrates who fined him. “Colonel,” “Murphy,” “Halswell,” etc., were subsequently substituted for the first offenders, as fresh magistrates sat on the bench.” (“Wakefield's Adventures in N.Z.,” p. 264.)

Te Aro Pa Agreement.

An agreement with the natives of the Pa Taranaki (Te Aro) was completed at this time, to assign over, and yield up to the Colonial Secretary all rights, titles and interest in certain lands situated in the bay, in the harbour of Port Nicholson, on which the town had been laid out by the New Zealand Company.

The “N.Z. Gazette,” 29/8/1840, gives the names of the principal signatories:—“Ngaponga, Teawitu, Parai Paipe, Ponike, Rarauke, Tewata, Pukahu, Tangihaera, Terangaianho, Ohiro, Taku Tekuwau, Tetapi, Tuware. Signed: Willoughby Shortland, Colonial Secretary; Thos. Paton, witness; H. D. Smart, J.P.; Henry Cole, Chief Constable, and Richard Barrett, Interpreter.”


The newspapers now published various restrictions, which were being enforced in the settlement, for the colonists were warned, by an announcement appearing in the Gazette of the 5th September, 1840, that firing guns about the beach (Lambton Quay) was prohibited, the penalty for doing so being a fine of £5 imposed on the offenders.

Another notice was issued on the 19th September, 1840, ordering keepers of licensed public houses to erect signs and lamp-posts upon, and in front, of them.

Reference was also made to the inconvenience caused to persons settling in various parts of the town, by the fact that the streets were not being permanently named.

Wakefield Club.

A club named the Wakefield Club, in honour of Colonel Wakefield, was formed. The original members were about twenty in number; a small house to meet in was bought from a settler who had squatted in a nook among the hills overlooking the town soon after erecting it on his town section close to the water's edge. The entrance fee was £25 and the yearly subscription £5.

Early Schools.

Miss Tilke, who arrived by the “Adelaide” under the care of Mrs. Evans, wife of Dr. Evans, has the honour of being the first to open and conduct a regular page 70 school in the Port Nicholson settlement. This was held in a long clay-built house with thatched roof, a little to the west of the corner of Mulgrave and Pipitea Streets. Her pupils were the young children of the early Thorndon settlers.

Within 6 weeks of his arrival from Sydney, Mr. Charles Grace, who arrived by the “Lady Lilford,” March 16th, 1840, and who was the first male teacher of the Port Nicholson Settlement, advertised in the N.Z. Gazette his intention of opening a school. This school was opened on Monday, October 5th, in one of the wooden buildings belonging to the N.Z. Company on Thorndon Flat.

Early Taverns.

Inn keepers were doing a thriving trade at this period, for there were no less than five situated at Britannia (Thorndon) and the same number at Pito-one, to assuage the intense thirst of some of the inhabitants.

This list of licensed hotels appeared in the “N.Z. Gazette” and “Britannia Spectator” 10th October, 1840:—

Those at Britannia (Thorndon) were:

  • “Barrett's Hotel” (Hotel Cecil site), Britannia.

  • “Durham Arms.”

  • “George Inn.”

  • “Thistle Inn.”

  • “Queen's Head.”

  • “New Zealander” (R. Jenkins).

  • “Lambton Tavern.”

  • Those situated at Pito-one were:—

  • “Britannia Hotel.”

  • “Caledonian Tavern.”

  • “Plough Inn.”

  • “Australian Inn.”

  • “Port Nicholson Hotel and Tavern.”

Timber Destruction.

On the 12th October Mr. Murphy issued a prohibition against the cutting of wood by sawyers without the permission of the owner of the land. This partial recognition of the title of the settlers, so necessary to prevent the great devastation which was now progressing in all the timbered lands within a few miles from the town, had been steadily refused by the Colonial Secretary, who used to tell the applicants “that they were all squatters—that they had no more right to the timber than the sawyers, until the Crown had granted a title to the land, and that he expected shortly to receive orders to eject them from the Crown lands.”

During the building of the town, so great had been the demand for sawn timber, and so high the price paid in consequence, that the sawyers, paying nothing for their logs, used to earn enough in two days to remain idle and drunk the other five. Reckless in their destruction of the forest, they cut down only the best trees, and often left a log untouched after it was felled, in order to take some other which would fall in a more convenient position. They lived a wild life on the outskirts of the settlement, and their forest huts afforded shelter to the sailors who deserted their ships and to many worse characters.

Opening of Barrett's Hotel.

The New Zealand Gazette and Britannia Spectator, dated 24th October, 1840, gives a detailed account of a great event, i.e., the opening of Barrett's Hotel (Hotel Cecil site). The following persons were present:—Mr. George Hunter, chairman; Messrs. J. Wade and D. Riddiford, croupiers; Captain Hodges, Major Hornbrook, Dr. Johnston, Dr. Taylor, Captain Williams, Messrs. Guyton, Smith, J. and G. Wade, Lyon, Wadeson, Hair and page 71 others. Many were the speeches made, and following is the toast list:—


Queen Victoria, Mr. George Hunter.


Prince Albert, Mr. John Wade.


Her Majesty's Ministers, Mr. S. Revans.


Army and Navy, Mr. Hunter (Air: “Rule Britanina). Lieut. Governor and prosperity to N.Z. (Song: “Home, Sweet Home”).


Health to Col. Wakefield and success to the New Zealand Company (drunk 3 times 3 and “one cheer more.” (Song: “Merry Month of May”), John Wade.


The Land of our Fathers, Mr. Guyton (loud cheers and “Auld Lang Syne” with harp accompaniment).


Dr. Taylor proposed the health of Mr. George Hunter (Musical honours and loud applause, and song (“The fine old English Gentleman”).


Sir Geo. Gipps and Australia, Mr. Revans (Cheers).


Michael Murphy, prop. by Captain Hodges (cheers, followed by song “Safely Follow Him.”)


Commercial and Agricultural Interests of N. Z., Mr. Guyton (3 times 3 loud cheers).


Richard Barrett and Family (Loud cheers). Dr. Taylor, at the request of Mr. Barrett, returned thanks. Song, “Rory O'More,” Cap. le Grand.


Pretty Maids, Merry Wives and Buxom Widows of Port Nicholson, Mr. Geo. Hunter, followed by a glee “Here's a health to all good lassies.”


Whaling and Marine Interests of N.Z. Song: “Light of other Days,” Captain le Grand.


Press of Port Nicholson, Mr. D. Riddiford (cheers). Mr. Revans returned thanks and proposed the compositors. Mr. Yates acknowledged.


The Croupiers, Mr. Bethune.


Dr. Evans and E. G. Wakefield (Loud cheers).


Te Puni and Chiefs, Mr. Geo. Hunter.


Captains of the vessels in Port, Mr. Hair.

Other toasts followed, and the party broke up, highly delighted with the unanimity of feeling which had been manifested. The dinner was laid out with great taste by Mr. Barrett's deputy, Thos. Elvidge.

The inhabitants of the settlement received a shock about a month after the jollification at Barrett's, when it was discovered that one of the passengers of an incoming emigrant ship was ill with smallpox. A quarantine-tent was erected on the East side of the harbour (Oriental Bay), the necessary precautions were taken, the sick one was cured by the Company's surgeon, and the disease spread no further.

Naming of Wellington.

The Directors of the Company signified to their principal agent their earnest wish that the town founded on the shores of Lambton Harbour might be named after the Duke of Wellington, in order to commemorate the important support which His Grace had lent to the cause of colonization in general… and by his strenuous and successful defence against its enemies of the measure for colonizing South Australia. The settlers took up the view of the Directors with great cordiality, and the new name was at once adopted.

The newspaper now took the final title of the “New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator.” With reference to the page 72
Fig. 30—Plan of the Town of Wellington in 1840. Surveyed by Capt. W. Mein-Smith, N.Z., 1st Surveyor-general to the N.Z. Company, and drawn by William Bannister, Surveyor. The figures above the section numbers denote the order of choice at the Ballot in England in 1839.

Fig. 30—Plan of the Town of Wellington in 1840. Surveyed by Capt. W. Mein-Smith, N.Z., 1st Surveyor-general to the N.Z. Company, and drawn by William Bannister, Surveyor. The figures above the section numbers denote the order of choice at the Ballot in England in 1839.

page 73 change of the name of “Britannia” to Wellington, the following leader appeared in the above named paper, dated 28th November, 1840:—

“We appear for the second time written a few months under a modified title, but we trust our friends will not consider it typical of our character. When we first issued our journal, the name and the site of the town were alike uncertain, we therefore abstained from using a special designation. The time arrived when the site of the town was surveyed and its name declared, and we adopted the one and rescinded the other at our earliest convenience.”

The First Scotch Thistle.

The anniversary of St. Andrew's Day was commemorated by a picnic held at Glenlyon, Mr. William Lyon's farm, Pito-one, on the 30th of November, 1840, During the day a Scotch thistle seed was sown on the property, and in the evening a celebration was held at Barrett's Hotel, when Mr. George Hunter presided.

Arrival of the Ship “London.”

On the 12th December, 1840, the ship “London” arrived from England with 200 passengers. Among the latter was Mr. Frederick Alonzo Carrington, who held the appointment of Chief Surveyor to the Plymouth Company.

The ship “London,” 700 tons, commanded by Captain H. Shuttleworth, sailed from Gravesend on the 13th August, 1840, and arrived in January, 1841, with 119 adults, 68 children under fourteen, and 10 under the age of one.

Six births and four deaths occurred on board.

The passenger list is as follows:—

Name No. of Children
Attenbury, Martha
Baird, James
Barber, Thomas and Susannah 3
Berry, Fred T. and E. Jane
Birrell, John
Blyth, James and Isabella
Brown, Frances
Burt, Fenny W. and Ann 2
Chetham, Wm. and Sarah
Collett, Henry and Eliza
Cummerfield, J. and Mary 4
Curtis, Geo. and Priscilla 5
Dean, William
Dolan, Margaret
Downing, Ellen
Duffy, John
Emery, Wm. and Martha 1
Fell, Wm. and Elizabeth 4
Fox, Matthew
Giddings, Richard and Jane 2
Gilberd, Wm. Foale and J. 3
Gough, Timothy and Mary
Gough, Margaret
Grettan, Thomas H. 2
Hales, John
Hay, Wm. and Eliza
Henderson, Thos. and Cath.
* Howe, Mary 1
Howell, Sim and Elizabeth
Jarvis, Henry
Kelt, James and Elizabeth
King, John and Katherine 1
Levet, Gardener
Light, John H. and Mary 1
Lowrie, Joseph
Marks, Catherine
McFarlane, Henry
McFarlane, Mary
McIntosh, J. and Mary
McIntosh, Alex and Marg. 7
Miller, Chas and Ann
Minnihan, Jeremy and M. Ann
Morris, Cornelius and Mary
Morris, Ellen, 16; and Anne, 14
Nairne, Chas. Joseph
Neil, Wm. and Bridget
Neil, Ellen, 14; *Edward
Nunn, Ann
Overend, Hen. and Elizabeth
Parker, Wm. and Harriet
Parks, Ann, 25
Perrin, Rhoda, 26
Pilkington, Michael and Ann
Pringle, Alex, 17
Ryan, Michael and M. Ann
Scott, Wm. and Margaret
Seymour, John, 28
*Seymour, James and Frances 2
Signall, Wm. and Deborah 3
Sindles, Stephen, 17
Stanton, Margaret 1
Symons, John and Mary 4
Tomlinson, Richard. 18
Turner, Mary page 74
Wakefield, Eliza
Wakefield, Susan and Isabella
Ward, James, 27
Welch, Henry and Mary
Welch, Edward, 18; and Francis, 15
Welch, Elizabeth Delahey (widow) 3
Williams, Susannah, 18
Youlton, James, 14; J., 27
  To Mrs. Welch, 2nd October.
  To Mrs. Geddings, 22nd October.
  To Mrs. Howell, 28th October.
  To Mrs. Emery, 1st. November.
  To Mrs. Parker, 19th November.
  To Mrs. Overend, 28th November.
  Henderson, 20th September.
  Hay, 24th September.
  Fell, 29th September.
  Howe, 1st. November.

Year's End Festivities.

Christmas Day, 1840, was celebrated in the good old English style. Fat bullocks were slaughtered and dressed with evergreens, and festivities were held.

Monseigneur Pompalier, the Roman Catholic Bishop of New Zealand, visited Wellington and performed Mass.

On Thursday, 31st December, a public meeting was held at the Queen's Hotel to establish a Working Men's Association for the purpose of acquiring useful knowledge by the means of a library, discussions, and lectures. The members of the committee were Messrs. Rowland Davis, W. Annear, Kentish, Baltrass, Canning, R. Barry, Stafford, Swallow, Walker and Heywood. Mr. Jonas Woodward was appointed secretary.

Shipping Arrivals.

During the year a number of ships carrying passengers and cargo arrived in the harbour.

The names of some of these were obtained from various sources, such as the newspapers and almanacs of the day, Brett's Early N.Z., Cyclopedia of N.Z., Vol. 1, and from autobiographical notes. In some cases the information is incomplete, so the writer does not vouch for its full authenticity.

“David” (Capt. Robinson), Messrs. Daniell, Archdeacon Stock, Jas. Smith, M. Couper.

“Delhi” (Capt. Herbert). Capt. Simpson, Messrs. Lett, Whittaker, Middlecroft, Jameson, Moore, Mr. and Mrs. Hall, Mr. Dalzell, Monsieur Pettit, Misses Wilson (2), Mr. Walpole, Mrs. Strauneas, Mr. Faunt, Mr. and Mrs. Crow, Mrs. Mahew, Mr. Fitzgerald, Mr. and Mrs. Miles, Mr. and Mrs. Howe, Mr. Hart, Mr. and Mrs. Swainson, Mrs. Earlgrave, Mrs. Townsend.

“Hannah” (90 tons). Mr. Machattie.

“Helena” (Capt. W. B. Rhodes). G. H. Coglan.

“Lady Lilford.” Dr. Campbell, Mrs. Smith, Mr. Mclnnes, Messrs. Grace and James Watt.

“Hope.” Mr. C. R. Bidwill. The “Hope” went aground off Ward Island.

“Integrity” (220 tons). Messrs. Brown, G. and J. Wade, and Mrs. McLiver.

“Middlesex” (564 tons). Messrs. Hair, Rawson, Riley, Thompson, Dr. Shaw, and two stockmen.

“Navarino” (Capt. Naylor). Messrs. Symonds, White, Brown and ten steerage passengers.

“Nimrod.” Capt. Hay and lady, Messrs. Heather and family, McDonnell, Roberts, Roskell and Wilson.

“Royal Merchant.” Messrs. A. Duncan senr. and junr., and W. McDowall.

The passengers arriving by the “Brougham” in 1840 were Messrs. S. M. Scroggs, R. Shepherd, F. Shepherd, E. Norman, A. Wylie and A. Wills.

* Did not embark.