Search billions of records on Ancestry.com
   

FROM THE NEW ZEALAND SCRAPBOOK

    CONVICTS ON THE 'VENUS'. 1806

"Like her namesake, who was the subject of some ribald verse, the brig 'Venus' , taken over forcibly by convicts and brought to New Zealand in 1806, was certainly the scene of rough behaviour.

Captain CHACE had been obliged to take on several convicts in Australia, due to a shortage of crew, and before long he was regretting it. The ship was anchored in Twofold Bay when he first began to sense the mutinous intentions of his crew. An argument arose with KELLY, the mate - a small man who was described as being "pock-marked, thin visage, auburn whiskers and says he's an American", over a cache of whiskey which the Captain accused him of breaching.

KELLY had taken as a mistress during the voyage, a convict, Catherine HAGERTY who, on the way to Port Dalrymple threw overboard - for some unstated reason - a small deal box containing papers of Captain KEMPs. Catherine was "middle sized, with light hair, a fresh complexion, much inclined to smile and a horse voice".  One wonders if her sense of humour was shared by Captain KEMP.

While the brig was in Port Dalrymple, the cheeky mutinous mood of her crew continued to alarm Mr. CHACE. He was aware they were robbing and plundering the ship, and was beginning to fear for his life.

After going ashore to deliver some Government Dispatches, he was returning to the ship when he was surprised to see her already underway. Five loyal members of his crew, who had been set adrift in a boat, told him what had happened. The mate, KELLY, armed with a musket, had put himself in charge of the vessel, aided by the Pilot, David EVANS, and Richard THOMPSON, a Soldier, who had taken the helm.

When the Venus sailed from Port Dalrymple she had a rough collection on board, including a man called EDWARDS - who had "a very remarkable scar" on his cheek - and LANCASHIRE, a convict, who was sallow and "of an emaciated appearance". There was a Malay cook and a mulatto seaman - "stout made, wears his hair tied and with holes in his ears, being accustomed to wear large ear-rings". In all, 12 people were aboard.

The pirates sailed off with supplies of grain, flour and salt pork, originally intended for Australian Settlements.

The ship made for the Bay of Islands, NZ. where the pirates hoped to escape from justice. KELLY and Catherine HAGERTY, along with two other convicts, LANCASHIRE and "a corpulant woman" Charlotte EDGAR, who had a small child, were put ashore at the Bay of Islands with a supply of stores. KELLY and LANCASHIRE set about building two huts, which, however, they were not to occupy for long. Catherine HAGERTY, of the ready smile, died shortly after her arrival on the New Zealand shore.    KELLY and LANCASHIRE were quickly overtaken and arrested. Only Charlotte EDGAR and her child  stayed on, one of the first white women to settle in New Zealand.

When the Venus sailed out of from the  Bay of Islands the mulatto seaman, Joseph REDMONDS, was at the helm. He was an inexperienced navigator and the ship was obviously in difficulties. But she sailed on from port to port, and in each one was a most unwelcome visitor. At Bream Head, in Whangarei, the convicts captured a niece of TE MORENGA. Whether they tired of her or needed money is uncertain, but she was sold to another Chief at Mercury Bay and probably eaten. This incident led to a war between the two tribes. Careless of the trouble they were stirring up, the convicts continued to steal and kidnap women in every port and sell them in other parts of the Island.

What became of the Venus is not certain. The Maoris themselves claim to have captured her, killed and eaten the crew of 12 and burned the ship for the nails and metal in her hull. Only the mulattos seaman, Joseph REDMONDS, was spared. He settled at Mercer on the Waikato River, where he left descendants.

The Venus was the first of a number of vessels to be seized by convicts on the Australian Coast and brought to New Zealand in this way."