Monday, September 6, 2010

The 'Simlah' voyage to NZ 1851

The Simlah left Gravesend on the 23rd of April 1851 bound for New Zealand. The vessel replaced the 'Thames' which was to sail on the 15th of April. (The 'Thames' left on the 5th of May). On board were 30 cabin passengers and a 151 persons in steerage plus crew according to the Hobarton Guardian (Tasmania, Australia).

The ship put into Hobart to refresh on the 14th of August with a harrowing tale of insubordination of a group of the crew members who plundered the stores, got drunk and threatened the rest of the crew and passengers in the middle of July. Consequently, the passengers formed a watch for their own safety and helped run the ship. The Captain, Charles Robertson, doesn't appear to have had the situation under control until berthing in Hobart.

At Hobart, the crew members involved were arrested and sentenced to 3 months hard labour and 1 month forfeiture of wages. The ship then left Hobart on the 19th of August for Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

The passenger list.
A transcription of the passenger list from the "New Zealander" arriving in Auckland Saturday, 3th September, 1851 had 113 of the passengers listed on Ancestry.com.
Did 38 passengers decide to stay in Tasmania? The Daily Southern Cross newspaper thought about 120 passengers were on board and said this on the 2nd of September 1851 and by this date, hadn't read the newspapers from Hobart and didn't know that the vessel was to arrive the following day.
The "New Zealand" newspaper has 114 passengers listed and I know which one is missing from the above transcription, Isabella (Ferrier) Lockhart.

The Spicer's disembarked at Auckland.

On October the 1st, the 'Simlah' left Auckland for Otago via New Plymouth and Wellington. It sailed up the east coast of the North Island, called into Wangarei and went around the top and down to New Plymouth.

According to the online diary of the trip by John Blackett, the boat arrived at New Plymouth on the 11th of October. He notes a couple of births on board. There are letters by Hugh Ronald about the voyage at Puke Ariki, (New Plymouth District Council). This site says 45 passengers were for New Plymouth.  A letter by Henry Halse in Ngamotu to Sir Donald McLean at the Alexander Turnbull Library says "The passenger by "Simlah" are a desirable addition in every way but it is said some contemplate leaving owing to the difficulty of getting land." John and Mary Crisp may have got off at New Plymouth.

The ship arrived in Otago on the on the 23rd of November where 33 people disembarked. Robert Thomson wrote letters about the voyage, these are at National Library Australia.

Another discrepancy shows up. The previous passenger lists have 4 in the Todd family, but 5 disembarked at Otago. Same for the Aitken family. Perhaps they have not counted the very young children and babies?  So there does not appear to be an accurate account of the passengers on board and it points to never believing everything one reads on the Internet.

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