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'Thomasina M'Lellan'

New Zealand Bound

One of the finest vessels ever visited this Port, said His Worship, Mr. T.A. Mansford.

  The ship 'Thomasina M'Lellan', 1781 tons, chartered by Shaw Savill Co. From London (June 3) with 42 passengers.

Otago Daily Times 2 October 1876, Page 2
Otago Witness 7 October 1876, Page 11
Tuapeka Times, 2 August 1876, Page 4

Thomasina M'Lellan, ship, 1781 tons, John Gibb, from London June 3rd  August 12th. Lange and Thoneman, agents.
Passengers - Cabin:
A. Cockburn
Ernest P. King
James Oliver
N. St. John
Edward Latchford

2nd cabin
Barmaid (Thomas Burnard)
Edwin Herbert
Bar. Oxley
A. Carnegie
A.W. Coham (Cobam)
Crickett (H. Wickett)
Henry Hyde
John Robertson
Smail (J.S. Smaile) (T.J. Smaill)

Steerage (Third class -twenty seven)
Messrs Mitchell, Lynn, Hicks, Leaham, Riley, La Barte, Malcolmson, Glythe, Kane, M'Kenna, Green, Davy, Crawford, .
Mr and Mrs Moynhan and 5 children
Mr and Mrs Wholf and 3 children
Mr and Mrs Connor

The following is a transcript from the Otago Witness 7th October, 1876.

After what had been heard respecting this ship, excusible surprise was manifested on Saturday when her approach was announced by signal from the Heads. "A large ship with double topgallant yards," was the wording of the first telegram, and as the Thomasina M'Lellan was the only vessel with that special feature of rig expected here, it was at once assumed that the stranger was her, and that the mishap which drove her into Rio Janiero [sic] did not prove so serious as the brief account conveyed by telegram of it led up to suppositions here. And such we are glad to say is the case, for although the ship was in great peril through fire, it fortunately happened that the coal in which the fire originated was stowed in the forehold with very little general cargo about it, and as decisive measures were adopted to avert more serious and sudden calamity, both ship, passengers, and cargo were happily preserved. It was well for all concerned that Captain Gibb, the commander of the ship, was equal to the emergency, and we are sure that when the facts we publish below are perused, it will be on all hands admitted that he acted with promptitude, skill, and for the best under the untoward circumstances which so suddenly beset him. This, the fifth voyage of the Thomasina M'Lellan, commenced on June 3rd, when she left London, and dropped down the river to Gravesend there shipped 800 barrels of powder, and put to sea, passing through the Downs on the 8th. Light northerly and variable winds attended her down Channel, and across the Atlantic to the trade wind region. The trade was run into on June 23rd in latitude 2S 6N; blew a light breeze throughout, and left the ship in latitude 9 north on June 30th. Then southerly and S E. winds muzzled her, and gradually merged into all the S.E. trade that fell to her share. There was very little of it, for the breeze was light and baffling— so much so that she did not cross the Equator until July 7th, and was far west at 31 degrees longitude. Baffling, unsteady southerly and S S.E winds, with squally, unsettled weather, prevailed with her across the Trade Belt of the South Atlantic, and the wind having so much southing she was set away to the westward of Fernando De Noronha, and, had to tack again and again to keep clear of the Brazilian Coast. Whilst still contending with these winds and weather, the captain's attention was directed to the heated condition of the coal in the lower forehold, some 500 tons, more or less, were stowed there, with, as it fortunately happened, a great deal of general cargo. The powder was, however, stowed in a magazine in the 'tween decks, contiguous to the coal, and there were also cases of matches and other combustibles in the vicinity. The heated state of the coal was discovered on July 17th, the ship being then in about 18 south latitude. To test the condition of the coal underneath it was probed with iron rods, and when the latter were withdrawn their ends were found to be nearly red hot. Careful watch was kept, and on the 19th the heat increased, and was attended by a strong sulphurous smell, and great fears were entertained that spontaneous combustion had taken place. At first the hatches were kept closed, and all sources of ventilation stopped, with the view of excluding the air, in the hopes that the combustion which had evidently broken out would be thereby checked but no good effect was produced thereby. Water was not used as an extinguisher, as Captain Gibb avers that it would have done more harm than good experience having demonstrated that nothing short of absolute flooding produces any effect upon a mass of coal on fire in a ship's hold. All that could be done was to wait and watch, and prepare to, if possible, avert the worst consequences. As the powder was stowed so near the coal, preparations were made to throw it overboard. A weary, anxious watch was kept throughout the 20th and 21st the heat, meanwhile, steadily increasing, and the fumes of sulphur pervading every part of the ship. On the 21st the ship being then about four days' sail from Rio Janiero, the Captain decided to bear up for that port and she was accordingly tacked and headed for it. The breeze fortunately was in her favour and she made good progress. On the 23rd, smoke in dense volumes issued from the burning fuel, and then all hands turned to and jettysoned the powder, and that source of fearful peril thus closed, immense relief was experienced by those on board. Next morning the land was made about Rio, and the ship reached the harbour in the course of the day. The Captain at once communicated with the British Consul, duly noted a protest, and the Consul ordered an immediate survey. Captain Jopp, master of the ship Annie Flemming, and Captain Smithen of the brig Idalette held the survey, and reported that the coal was on fire all through, and recommended that it should be immediately discharged. This was done, the coal being found to be charred and damaged throughout. Three hundred tons of ballast were then shipped, and the cargo trimmed from the after hold forwards and on August 12th the ship weighed anchor and left Rio in tow of a tug. Her troubles were, however, not yet over, for when at the narrows at the entrance of the harbour she met a heavy southerly swell, and the tow-line parted. Happily there was a light breeze off the land, and to it she made sail and cleared the port. Whilst sail was being made she rolled fearfully in the swell, and some of the cargo in the after hold shifted. A light N.E. breeze took her off the land, and with variable but, on the whole leading winds, made good headway until the 18th, when the westerlies found her, lat. 31.46, long. 25 W. Thence she made steady running, crossed the meridian of Greenwich August 25th, and the meridian of the Cape on the 27th, lat. 39.35 ran her longitude down on a mean latitude of 42, the highest parallel reached being 46 had strong breezes from N.W. to S.W. passed the meridian of the Leuwin on September 18th, and Tasmania September 24th. Steady breezes stuck to her until the night of the 28th, when a tremendous gale came on from W.N.W. She ran through it, but both her foretopsails and lower maintopsail were split. The gale held for eighteen hours, and was accompanied by thunder, lightning, and hail. It blew tremendously, and sent up a big sea. The barometer kept moderately high for such weather, the lowest register being 29 20. The night of the 28th found her abreast of the Snares, but as it was very thick, land was not sighted, her first land-fall being made next day at the Nuggets. Thence she ran along with a S. W. breeze to Cape Saunders, from which calms and variables, were, experienced. Although the ship did not distinguish herself by particularly fast days' runs, she made fair running across from Rio, averaging 210 miles per day. No ice was sighted, and no land. As soon as the signal of a ship in sight was made at the Heads, the tug Geelong went down, picked her up some five miles from the land, and towed her into port by one o'clock. The Thomasina M'Lellan is a comparatively new ship, this being her fifth voyage. Three of the others were made to India, and one to Melbourne. She is a grand vessel, was built at Dumbarton by Messrs. McMillan and Sons, and her dimensions are — length,, 262 ft beam, 41ft.; depth of hold, 24ft. She is of iron throughout, with iron lower masts, bowsprit, and lower topsail yards. Her appointments are admirable, and include an Emerson and Walker's patent steam windlass, and two steam winches, one at the fore hatch and one at the main. She is very spacious and comparatively unencumbered on deck, was built with a topgallant forecastle and half poop, the latter containing superb accommodation for a limited number of passengers. A snug smoking-room forms part of the cabin companion on the poop. The ship is owned by Messrs Thomson and Gray, of Glasgow, was chartered at London by Messrs Shaw, Savill, and Co., and comes here consigned to Messrs Lange und Thoneman. She has brought about 2000 tons of cargo' weight and measurement chiefly latter. We hear she is to discharge at the Railway Pier.  

A sounding-rod was put down and was drawn up red hot.

Otago Daily Times 14 November 1876, Page 3 Presentation
At the Chamber of Commerce yesterday -afternoon, about 39 gentlemen interested in the shipping trade assembled for the purpose of presenting Captain John Gibb with an address and a purse containing 100 sovereigns, in acknowledgment of his skill in bringing the ship Thomasina M'Lellan into port under circumstances of danger. We know that every Britisher who does his duty is well rewarded in his own eyes, and that is generally a sufficient reward.

Otago Daily Times 6 October 1876, Page 3
PORT CHALMERS. (Before T. A. Mansford, Esq., R.M,)
Embezzling Cargo.— Valentine Menlie and Edward Cotter, seamen belonging to the ship Thomasina M'Lellan, were charged with having, on or about the end of June last, embezzled a portion of the ship's cargo, to wit, 12 pairs of trousers, valued at L 6. Mr Bathgate prosecuted, and Mr Joyce appeared for the defendants, and pleaded guilty on behalf of the defendant, Cotter, and not guilty for Menlie. A great deal of evidence was taken. His Worship said that the case was clear enough against the prisoners. It was a very serious charge, grave results having so often ensued upon sailors plundering in the holds of vessels. He should sentence each of the prisoners to 12 weeks' imprisonment, with hard labour. Charge against a Shipmaster. Captain Gibb, of the ship Thomasina M'Lellan, was charged by Edward Cotter with having unlawfully assaulted him on the 25th, 26th, and 27th days of July, by putting him in irons.

Otago Witness 14 October 1876, Page 5
Friday, 6th October. (Before T. A. Mansford, Esq., R.M.)
Breach of Merchant Act.— A. Kerr, R. Rice, W. Smith, E. Hunt, W. Price, and W. Murray were charged, on the information of John Gibb, master of the ship Thomasina M'Lellan, with having, on the 30th June, whilst on a voyage from London to Otago, been guilty of continued wilful disobedience of orders. Mr Joyce, for the defendants, pleaded Not Guilty. Wm. Murray was further charged with embezzlement of ship's cargo. Mr Joyce advised the Bench that the defendants had been called as witnesses in the case to be heard against the captain.

Crew List - Seamen unless noted

C. Anderson, apprentice
Edward Cotter (the man Cotter was one of the few saved when the unfortunate ship Cospatrick was burnt at sea in 1875, he was a youth of 18 at that time.)
John Cowie, carpenter
William Donald, second officer
C. Hansen, a quarter-master
E. Hunt A.B.
A. Kerr
John Innes, quarter-master
W. Innes, quarter-master (probably should be John)
Valentine Menlie (Sam Mailley - very troublesome, ring leader) (Maillie)
Wm. Murray
W. Price
John Rennie, the apprentice
 R. Rice  A.B.
F. Skipper, apprentice
Wm. Smith

Wanganui Herald, 18 October 1876, Page 2
Many of the passengers who arrived here some 12 years ago iv the four-masted ship Thomasina M'Lellan will be pleased to hear that Mr Mooney, who was her chief officer at that time, has arrived here from Mauritius in the barque Thurso.

Otago Daily Times 16 January 1877, Page 2
INTERCOLONIAL SHIPPING. We compile from the Argus The ship Thomasina M'Lellan, hence via Newcastle, and bound to Bombay, coal laden, passed Wilson's Promontory on the 5th inst.

In 1878 the fine ship Loch Ard became a total wreck on King's Island. The Captain was Captain Gibb, brother to John Gibb, master of the 'Thomasina M'Lellan'.