Search billions of records on


As described by Mr Josiah Flight






On Tuesday, February 23rd, 1842, the ship Timandra, the fourth of the Company's chartered vessels, arrived in the roadstead, New Plymouth, direct from Plymouth, England. Prior to the sailing of the ship, the following advertisement appeared in the London and Plymouth papers:

"New Plymouth, New Zealand. The Court of Directors of the New Zealand Company do hereby give notice that the new ship Timandra, AI., 430 tons burden, is chartered for the conveyance of cabin Passengers and free emigrants to the settlement of New Plymouth, to sail from London on the 10th, and from Plymouth on the 20th October. The settlement, to which about 500 persons have already emigrated from the West of England, has been located in the district of Taranaki, near the Sugar Loaf Islands.

Further sales of land in England are now restricted to actual settlers, who will receive liberal passage allowance, and the Timandra has been specially chartered on terms which will secure to families and others a passage to the settlement on liberal terms. By order of the Court of Directors - F. Dillon Bell, Secretary, New Zealand House (London), 16th September, 1841."

In the charter-party of the ship she is described as " The new (Little Hampton built) ship Timandra, of 382 registered tons by the old Act, now lying in London Dock, James Skinner, Commander; has a top-gallant forecastle, and unusual space on the main deck; height between decks, 6 feet 5 inches. We hereby offer the above ship, rated AI. at Lloyds, to convey passengers and stores from London to New Zealand at the rate of £3/19/5 per registered ton (or £1,517) for the voyage, subject to the terms and conditions, etc. Signed, John Nixon, owner." The ship's complement of officers and men was 22. The Timandra left Plymouth on November 2nd, 1841, the last pilot quitting the ship off Rams Head at 3 p.m.

A journal covering the voyage of the Timandra to New Zealand written by Mr. Josiah Flight (later Resident Magistrate for some years at New Plymouth) has been preserved and from this record, clearly written and in excellent condition, we now quote the essential entries made covering all matters of interest. The journal is a close daily entry, giving exact position of ship, from day to day, and much detail which may be omitted as being of only passing interest. It opens at Plymouth, thus:

Monday, November 1st, 1841. Embarked on board the Timandra, 432 tons, register, at 6 o'clock p.m. The free emigrants were embarked on the previous Saturday, 201 in number, men, women and children.

2nd. At 9 a.m. Captain Skinner went on shore to obtain his papers from the Custom House. At 2 p.m. weighed anchor. Wind S.-E. Course S.-W. Sent letters ashore to be posted by the Pilot. Breeze freshened about S. Captain debating whether he should proceed, or " bear up "; got out all well.

4th. Weather moderated. Spoke a Cornish brig. Desired her to report theTimandraa. Still sick.

6th. Began to write journal. Passengers all on deck. About 2 p.m. an increase was made in our number by the birth of a boy, the child of Mrs. Wm. Brooking.

7th. (Sunday). Divine service at half-past 1 p.m. Mr. Groube (Revd.) not feeling himself sufficiently recovered to preach, I was requested by Dr. Forbes to read a sermon. People very attentive. Beautiful fine day. Evening; sang hymns with the people on deck.

8th. Wind fresh. Two barks (?) in sight on the same course as ourselves; passed them both. Timandra a clipper, but not a comfortable ship; too "crank." 5 p.m., one of the emigrants confined with a boy (Mrs. Norman).

9th. Another of the emigrants confined with a child (stillborn). Gale increased in night, forced to shorten sail. Note -- Cabins should be put in good order before starting, as the weather will probably not allow you to do so for several days, probably week afterwards.

12th. (Latitude 32"6' N.). Spoke the Royal George, twelve days from London, bound to Sydney.

13th. Weather fine, sighted vessels in morning, all left astern, out of sight by noon. Opened cases of trees ; found them healthy; buds swelling. Cabin passengers hold a consultation on the conduct of the emigrants (language; coming on Poop deck) ; also as to starting school for the children. Agreed to form ourselves into a Committee for superintending school. Dr. Forbes to draw up a Proclamation covering behaviour, etc.

14th. (Sunday). Weather fine. Signalled the Himilaya. Four or five other vessels in sight; passed them all. Divine service at half-past 10 a.m. Many of the emigrants offended at not being allowed use of the Poop deck, would not attend. Awning spread over Poop deck.

15th. Engaged all morning examining the children and making other preparations for opening a school.

16th. Twelve or thirteen vessels in sight. A calm. The barque Valiant from Basque very near us all day. O'Neil, who had offered to assist us in the school, came to say that he was sorry he could not have anything to do with it, as it was contrary to the wish of those who were in his mess, and he did not feel himself at liberty to act contrary to their wishes. The emigrants did not like the interference of the cabin passengers, who only wished to have the credit of conducting the school whilst the others did all the working part, etc., etc. The school was opened at 11 a.m., eight of the emigrants assisting. (Many of the emigrants were of Yeomanry stock and had been well grounded in the schooling of their day.)

19th. (Latitude 20"36' N.). Hailed the barque Christina, twenty-seven days from Liverpool, bound to Bahia.

20th. Weather fine. Apple trees in leaf, one nearly in blossom; asparagus shooting. Sighted the island of St. Antonio, twenty miles to eastward.

21st (Sunday). Weather fine. Divine service taken by Mr. Groube (Revd.). Four vessels in sight ahead in morning. At noon came up with them, passed close to a French barque from Cette. Had conversation by flag signals with the barque Enterprise, twenty-three days out from Liverpool bound for Calcutta. A dead body seen floating by.

23rd. Letters were taken by our mate to the barque Sampson, of Irvin, Captain Brown, eighty-three days out from Calcutta, bound for London.

25th. Weather squally with rain. Whilst at tea the weather changed from a calm to such a stiff breeze suddenly, that the Captain jumped up from the table and in a few minutes got the ship under stormsail under which we drove for the night. The rain came down in torrents.

28th. (Sunday). Breeze fresh, occasional rain squalls. Groube preached but few attended. One of the emigrant's children died (Norman's of Bridport, Dorset) .

29th. We crossed the Line about 4 o'clock a.m. The Captain would not permit any of the practical jokes sailors are accustomed to play in crossing the Line, on this voyage. Opened boxes, trees looking well.

December 6th. A child of Vercoe (James, son of Mr. and Mrs. Bryant Vercoe) died to-day; about 1 p.m.

8th. One of the sheep - ewe - taken ill; was bled, and given a dose of salts with gruel; gradually recovered. About 4 p.m. discovered that the two-tooth ram was ill. It was bled, and salts with gruel given to it. The blood was very much inflamed and very little flowed. It died later. Opened the sheep and discovered that it had died of violent inflammation of the lungs. Bled the remaining sheep. (Messrs. Devenish and Flight had shipped on the Timandra a small flock of Dorset-bred sheep -- ten ewes and two rams -- for breeding purposes at New Plymouth Settlement, the first to be brought to that part of New Zealand. Maori dogs and kumara pits caused sad havoc, however, with this small flock of well-bred sheep.

10th. Child of Groves died. (James, son of Philip and Mary Groves.)

11th. Petition from emigrants demanding spirits.

13th. Child of Parsons died after few days illness (Jane, daughter of John and Grace Parsons). Dr. Forbes consulted me on the matter of death of Parson's child. The instruction from the Company to him were that he should make a post-mortem examination in all cases such as that of Parson's child. To this the parents would not give their consent, in which they were supported by the majority of the steerage passengers. I suggested that Dr. Forbes, accompanied by the Captain should again interview the parents and should they continue obstinate, the post-mortem to be omitted. Refusing permission the examination was abandoned and the child committed to the deep. Dr. Forbes was unable to certify to the cause of death.

15th. About 3 p.m., Norman's wife (Mary Ann, wife of Peter Norman, aged 18 years, from Bridport) died. Dr. Forbes wished to make a post-mortem examination; Norman objected. The Captain and the Doctor then informed him that the instructions given to the Doctor being pre-emptory, he was under the necessity of attending to them in this case. The emigrants then came aft in a body and in a violent manner stated their determination to prevent its being done. The Captain stating to the Doctor that he had not sufficient power (force) to enable the Doctor to proceed successfully with the opening of the body, the latter was obliged to succumb to the excitement of the emigrants. About 7 p.m. the body was brought on deck. John Prout at the request of some of the emigrants read the burial service over it when it was cast into the sea.

16th. A great deal of sickness prevails through the ship, and a great deal of discontent.

18th. Weather variable. Two children died. (The two children who died were Andrew, infant son of John and Sarah Allan, and Ann, infant daughter of James and Mary Northcott.) Groves's daughter dangerously ill.

19th. (Sunday). The decks being wet in the morning, Rev. Mr. Groube preached at 5 o'clock in the evening. John Prout conducted a religious service on the forecastle at noon and again on the main deck at 7 p.m.

25th. Weather fine. Saw land about 12 noon. Came to anchor in Table Bay about midnight, thus making the voyage in 53 days from Plymouth. The Sir John Fleming came in to-day 60 days from Plymouth.

26th. (Sunday). Weather fine. Several boats off from Cape Town. The shore a very bold one. Hill rises precipitously from shore. Sent off clothes to be washed.

27th. Weather fine. Went on shore at Cape Town, 1/- each way. Bought some oranges and lemon trees and one hundred vines off Valett & Son, Long Street and Green Point. Many of the emigrants returned to the ship ....? (Wine cheap at Cape Town.)

28th. Weather fine; on shore. Took letters for posting to England. Visited Baron Lodovic's garden. Very well kept, but not equal to English gardens. Roads must be very bad, saw twenty oxen harnessed to one wagon with three pipes of wine. The Revd. Mr. Smythe and Dr. Adamson, Mathematical and Classical Tutor at Cape College, called on us at the Inn. The latter said he had obtained Mr. Swainson's library which was on board the Prince Rupert wrecked at Green Point. It would be sent to his order on the payment of expenses. He had written to Mr. Swainson, who was he believed gone to Hokianga (New Zealand) twice on the subject. Prout and S..... reported under the influence, with others.

30th. Went on shore in Captain's gig. Returned on board at 1 p.m. Weighed anchor and sailed at 2 p.m. Light winds, unable to clear the land until Friday night.

January 7th, 1842. Came up and spoke to the barque Hope, eighty days from Glasgow bound to Bombay.

12th. This day made 230 miles; the ship for four hours going eleven knots Per hour.

23rd. (Sunday). The ship rolled so much Mr. Groube unable to preach. Very cold. During the twenty-four hours we ran 236 miles by the log.

24th. Came on to blow hard in afternoon. Carried away fore-topmast studding-sail boom. Vessel rolling heavily.

25th. Blowing hard, running under reef'd top-sails; heavy sea running; gale favourable direction.

29th. Gale continued until Friday, when fore and mizzen-royal masts were lowered. About 7 p.m. two children were born. (Daughter to James and Maria Marsh and ? to Bryant and Elizabeth Vercoe.)

31st. About 2 p.m. two of the seamen were discovered in the storeroom drawing off spirits with a lighted candle. Providential escape from fire ! Dan Bishop's wife confined with a boy.

Feb. 11 th. (Lat. 44"40' S., long. 143"26' E.). One of the regulations of the Zealand Company, is that chloride of lime should be sprinkled about in the emigrants' berths. Some of them complained that it burnt their clothes; it was, however, considered necessary for the preservation of health that this regulation should be enforced. Whilst Dr. Forbes was below seeing that the cleaning, etc. between decks was going on in a proper manner, about 11 a.m., J., one of the emigrants endeavoured to prevent the constable from sprinkling the chloride in his berth. The chief mate - Mr. Thompson -took the bucket containing the liquid and commenced sprinkling it about J's berth, when J. took hold of the bucket and tried to prevent the mate from throwing any about there; in the scuffle the bucket was overturned and its contents spilt; J. threatened to knock Thompson down if he persisted. Thompson sent for another bucketful and J. again tried to prevent it being used, when Thompson threw some over him. J. then struck down Thompson, the latter went off for the hand-bolts, but as J. got away that time they were not used. Soon after noon the crew were mustered on the poop and the emigrants summoned aft, when Dr. Forbes read the Regulations respecting punishment, and the use of the lime. Captain Skinner then said that his determination was to put J. in irons unless he acknowledged he had done wrong in assaulting his chief officer. J. said "he would die first." On the Captain ordering his men to bring J. upon the poop and put the hand bolts on, which they did after some show of resistance on the part of the emigrants. In the evening J. acknowledged his fault and was released.

12th. About 6 p.m. sighted the S.W. Cape of Van Diemen's Land. Continued in sight on Sunday; distance about twenty miles. Cape wine drawn for use.

22nd. About 1 a.m. the wind blowing fresh and approaching land, the ship was laid-to under double reefed topsail 'till 7, when the wind moderating we again made sail and came in sight of land near the Sugar Loaf Islands at 8. The wind again freshened and about 10 it blew a very heavy gale; we were again obliged to lay-to, drifting a good deal to the south. In the afternoon Mt. Egmont was visible. Showers.

23rd. Weather fine, wind fresh. At 6 a.m. steered for the north, and again came in sight of land about 8. At noon we had a good sight of Mt. Egmont with its lightly tinged snowy summit. At 1 p.m. sighted the Sugar Loaves. At 4 p.m. ran into the roadstead at New Plymouth, which is an open one, and at 5 p.m. came to an anchor in seven fathoms of water. Mr. Wallace, Mr. Watson (beach master) came off, also Mr. Barrett.

24th. Company's large whale-boat came off for emigrants; also Mr. Cutfield (Deputy for the Governor, Captain Liardet who is incapacitated by an accident from attending to his duties), and Mr. Weekes, Company's medical man, in a small boat. Messrs. Ibotison and Leuthwaite came off in a punt of their own. Went on shore with Smith, Groube, Taylor, Gillingham and Devenish. Before going presented our land -orders to Mr. Cutfield. On shore saw Captain King, Mr. Wallace and Mr. F. Carrington. The people on shore were living in tents, huts formed of reeds or mud, and a few in one-storied houses. Put up tent. Left Clare and Gallop in it. Slept at the Governor's House. Strong breeze from south-east.

25th. Went on board ship. Returned to land. Landing goods on sandy beach. Went to Carrington and saw map where our town sections were to be... Walked to the north (along beach) as far as the boundary of the intended town, which in that direction is terminated by a str·eam of water called E'nui. The trees and shrubs on its banks are beautiful. All parties speak favourably of the land about the Waitara River. Ironsand, containing it is supposed 95 per cent, of iron, lies in immense beds on the coast from here to beyond the Waitara.

26th. Weather beautifully fine. Eight boatloads of goods landed. Slept in tent. Rather rough. Fleas and sandflies abound. Rats innumerable. Landed sheep.

27th. (Sunday). Mr. Thompson (mate) ashore. Reported to the Magistrate that six men had left the ship during the night. Attended service at the Wesleyan Chapel. (This chapel, a rush building, stood about the junction of Brougham and Powderham Streets.) Mr. Skevington preached.

March 3rd. The brig Caroline, which arrived from Wellington on Monday, sailed for Sydney taking as passengers Captain Liardet, R.N., late Resident Agent of the New Zealand Company at New Plymouth, Dr. Weekes, Surgeon of the Willian Bryant, Captain Browse, late of the Regina, wrecked at New Plymouth in November and Mr. Palmer, attendant on Captain Liardet. All these were en route for England. Captain King, R.N., was also a passenger to Sydney for the purpose of purchasing stock-cattle and sheep for the New Plymouth Settlement.

1lth. Drew up an address to Captain Skinner to present to him, with a silver snuff-box to await his arrival in London. Sum subscribed, 5 pounds. The inscription to be engraved on snuff-box was: " To Captain James Skinner, Timandra, from his cabin passengers, from England to New Zealand, 1lth March, 1842." In the evening presented letter and address signed by all the cabin passengers covering the above, and expressing our warmest appreciations for uniform kindness and attention shown us on the long voyage by the commander. Took leave of ship's officers.

12th. At 8 a.m. the Timandra got under weigh, and left the roadstead in good style for Sydney and the East Indies. Captain shipped a Maori. In acknowledging the letter and presentation Captain Skinner in replying said "..... I tender my sincere thanks....while you will allow me on my part to make mention of the pleasure I have experienced in vour society, during the longest voyage I have yet undertaken, of my regard and esteem for your kindly friendship, and my heartfelt wishes for your prosperity. Whatever seas between us roll, believe me ladies and gentlemen, yours very gratefully and sincerely, James Skinner. To the cabin passengers, Timandra."

Weather fine. Thatching shed. Raised tent. Rats swarming. (Note re rats. At this time the settlement was invaded by an extraordinary host of migrating rats, passing southward along the sea-shore. To give some idea of their numbers, Mr. Flight notes in his journal how many were caught in traps, or killed outright, each night, and from March 12th to May 17th, there were destroyed in his tent alone, 500 of these vermin. This will give some notion of the plague that was suffered in those two months. They destroyed everything eatable, and much other material left unprotected in their path as they passed along the sea-coast in this unaccountable migration. In the morning on the sands of the sea-shore was to be seen a fresh and indescribable mass of footprints of these migrants, all pointing the one way - southward.)

The Surgeon-Superintendent, Dr. Forbes, in a report states that there had been six deaths, five children and one adult--a young wife in child-birth--and five births. Mr. Stephen Gillingham, a passenger, in a letter to his father says: "As there is a brig leaving this day (2nd March) I take the opportunity of writing to inform you of our safe arrival, after one of the most pleasant voyages ever made. We came to an anchor on February 23rd, about three miles from the shore, at 4 o'clock p.m. hoisted the English colours, and fired a salute of two six-pounders, which was answered in a few minutes from the shore.....The next morning the boats came off, and during the day all the passengers and their luggage were landed. Every one of the emigrants got employment immediately on their landing at 5/- per day, carpenters 7/6. They have taken houses at 5/- to 15/- per week. I would advise all persons coming hither to marry first, as the bachelors seem to be in want of housekeepers. The town is situated between two small rivers, both of which abound with mountain trout and eels, and their waters are as good as any I have ever tasted. It is a beautiful country, abundantly supplied with water and wood, etc."

The manifest of the Timandra has been preserved in excellent condition together with other papers--(original and official)--connected with the ship, viz., her passengers' list, charter-party, surgeon's and matron's instructions, list of medical comforts and hospital stores, return of births and deaths, etc. The list of medical comforts for the voyage is here given:

Oatmeal, 134 lbs.; pressed beef, 70 lbs.; sugar, 480 lbs.; Port wine, 145 bottles; Sherry wine, 14 1/2 bottles; brandy, 12 gallons; arrowroot, 12 lbs.; lime juice, 60 gallons, Scotch barley, 72 lbs.; stout, 360 gallons, rum, 48 gallons.

[Sgd.] New Zealand House, Plymouth, 31st October, 1841.