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"Castle Eden"

New Zealand Bound

VOYAGE 1850 / 1851

The Canterbury Association was formed in 1843 to establish a Church of England settlement on the Canterbury Plains, on the South Island of New Zealand. 

The Canterbury Association chartered a number of ships. The initial four leaving from Plymouth being: RANDOLPH & CRESSY (sailed at midnight on 7 Sep 1850); CHARLOTTE JANE (sailed few hours later) & SIR GEORGE SEYMOUR (sailed at 10 am on 8 Sep 1850). The CHARLOTTE JANE; RANDOLPH & SIR GEORGE SEYMOUR all arrived in that order within 24 hours of each other on the 16 & 17 Dec 1850 although travelling different courses; the CRESSY arrived on 26 Dec 1850 slightly slowed by a sprung fore top mast rounding the Cape. The CASTLE EDEN was the fifth ship to reach New Zealand, with the ISABELLA HERCUS; TRAVANCORE and the DUKE OF BRONTE among other ships to follow. 

The ship CASTLE EDEN, a barque, built in Sunderland, England 1842, originally registered 760 tons, under new Lloyds calculations rated at 930 tons in 1848, belonging to Port of London and was used for London/Australia & New Zealand run, classed as A.1. Owners: J & F Somes; Master: Capt. Timothy Thornhill, Commander. The company flag which was hoisted at the main mast on grand occasions bore a big ‘S’, which the bluecoats called “S for starvation”. Previous voyages were from London to Hobart Town (Tasmania) arriving 25 October 1845 then onto Sydney arriving 24 November 1845 with Regiment Troops, returning via Calcutta; and departed from Plymouth on 15 June 1848 to Sydney arriving on 9 November 1948 with immigrants (116 days sailing). 

The representative of the Canterbury Association on board the CASTLE EDEN was the Surgeon-Superintendent Dr Thomas Busick Haylock.

It was Association policy that after departure from Plymouth, no immigrant ship unless compelled by accident or necessity, was allowed to touch any port or place until arrival at Canterbury, except on instructions of the Surgeon. He was to give written reasons for any deviation of course on arrival at Lyttelton, and if not satisfactory they would forfeit their gratuities.

The following is a summary of diary entries, and shipping papers giving an insight into the events of the voyage, from England to New Zealand, and eventually Sydney, Australia. 


August 1850


Tender for the hire of a ship to convey passengers and goods from London to the settlement of Canterbury, &c. in New Zealand.


September 1850


Passengers began boarding at Woolwich Dock on the River Thames.


James and Muriel Thurling were numbered 15 & 16 respectively in the embarkation order onto the ship. The application numbers on the register were 260 and 303 respectively, indicating James was first to register for emigration, with Muriel application delayed presumably pending parents consent. About half the passengers were recommended by Land-purchasers, but James and Muriel weren’t amongst them.


Ship heaved out of Woolwich Dock at 4 o’clock, moved down river to Gravesend arriving at 7 o’clock.


Memorandum of Agreement signed for hire of ship.


Set sail from Gravesend at 6 pm, but dropped anchor at 9 pm.


Weighed anchor at 4 am, but dropped anchor again at 9 am. Weighed anchor again at 12:30 pm. Dropped anchor off North Foreland at 4 pm.



October 1850


After days off Margate, all in the downs, it’s on for Plymouth.


Reached Plymouth at 4 pm after a shocking night.


Sailed from Plymouth at noon with a fine breeze, with wind still fair the next day.


Stormy night, shipped a lot of water. Storm continued the next couple of days in the Bay of Biscay. Men employed all night bailing water. The heavy weather compelled the ship to return to Plymouth Sound.


Doctor’s mustard jars broke (presume some of his medicines, Chloride of Lime and Zinc was in solution form), water between decks washed it about, nearly suffocating passengers.


Finally set sail from Plymouth Sound.


Rain and squally, ship taken back. Lost fore stern-sail boom.


St. Antonia sighted at 10:15 am, the western most part of the Cape Verdes


Off Cape de Verde Islands (Western North Africa) – symptoms of whooping cough appeared amongst the steerage passengers, which must have been caught from a child who came aboard with a party of visitors when the ship was lying in docks, and he was immediately turned out when his disorder was discovered by the Surgeon-Superintendent.

The heat in the Tropics was very great, with the number of sick increasing.


November 1850


A steerage passenger, Mrs Elizabeth Scarrott (nee Bassett), died at 8:30 pm after a fortnight’s illness, aged 23 and only 2 months married.


Funeral of Mrs Scarrott at 9 am


Mrs Eliza Bowley (Fore Cabin) gives birth to a male child.


Crossed the “Line” (Equator) with less vigorous observances of the rites of Neptune than are frequently permitted.


Shortly after entering the south-east trades, the Surgeon-Superintendent came to the conclusion that in consequence of the general state of the health of the passengers, and the condition of the provisions, it would be advisable to touch at the Cape of Good Hope or at some port in South America. The whooping cough became prevalent, several cases of fever occurred, and the medicine cabinet required replenishing.


Altered course for Rio at 7:30 pm, steered until 12 pm when found the Association had no account open there, where they altered course for the Cape. (George Wright’s diary)


Steady breeze. A seaman, named Mailey, was late for 8 pm watch, ordered off, a scuffle ensued almost causing a riot. The Captain determined to shoot the ringleaders, but the Rev’d Jackson intervened and quietened the mutinous crew.


It is stated in a letter by the Captain that the Surgeon’s sons had given spirits from the medical stores to the crew, by which some of them became intoxicated, and as such the outbreak ensued.


Course altered for Cape Town. (Jessie Radford notes)


December 1850


2:30 pm, anchored off Cape Town, South Africa. The reasons given were that the crew mutinied, the provisions went bad, and disease broke out among the children. Three main troublemakers were taken ashore where they appeared before a magistrate for disobedience of orders and were sentenced to imprisonment with 2 months hard labour.


Letter by Surgeon-Superintendent Dr Haylock to the Canterbury Association pointing out they had been deceived in the quality of the provisions for all classes of passengers, and the some deficiencies of the ship, such as:


·                  Stowage of stores preventing access to rations required immediately, i.e. preserved milk for 8 sick children not being able to get to for 8 days, and then turned out to be very bad.

·                  The water closets (that’s toilets – and women complain about men leaving the seat up etc.!) used by immigrants (female and children) who neither understand them, nor take the trouble to used them properly, being placed next to the Hospital & Dispensary have caused so much offensive impurity of air there constantly, that it is disgusting for anyone to enter it, and rendered it quite unfit for the reception of the sick.

·                  Steerage passengers suffered greatly from the confined accommodation of their berths, and also during wet weather either from the heat occasioned by closing hatchways, or from a flood of rain. During heavy rains they endured 6 inches of water between decks rather than suffer suffocation.

·                  Crew being ill behaved and indeed being disposed to mutiny.


Still in Table Bay. Nearly all the able seamen and the Second Mate strike in support of their shipmates and were sentenced to thirty days imprisonment and hard labour.

A brig came into the harbour with emigrants from London, one hundred and twenty days on the passage, and four without provisions and water. (George Wright’s diary)


Tuesday - Provisions and medicines ready for taking on board, sailors refused to work


Wednesday - Intended departure; New hands appointed – from seamen previously imprisoned at the Cape from other passing ships!


Thursday – Provisions on board, except fresh meat. Some old hands throw the windlass handle overboard, delaying ship until a replacement handle is procured.


Saturday - Departs Cape Town in afternoon. 2 passengers left behind (Henry Beechey Jnr. & George Beechey)


January 1851


Wednesday, New Year’s Day


Still blowing a gale. A child died at 10 pm.


Another child died at 4 pm.

Miss Muriel Thurling and Mr William Rumsby married at 11am by Rev’d Thomas Jackson, witnesses by James Thurling and Elizabeth Suggett.

The two children buried at 4 pm, one aged 9 years and the other 13 months.


Mr Thomas Davison and Miss Ellen Godfrey are married


350 miles from New Holland (Australia)


Mrs Hannah Johnson (Steerage) gives birth to a female child at 7 pm.


Another couple get married (no names stated)


Mrs Elizabeth Wheeler (Steerage) gives birth to a male child, which makes it 3 births, 3 deaths and 3 marriages.


February 1851


Wind fair and light, 450 miles from Port Cooper, with tolerably favourable run round the southward of Stewart Island, NZ


The high land of Banks Peninsula sighted, wind drives ship back.


Light breeze, dropped anchor near Pigeon Bay.


Weighed anchor at 6 am; a gale came up forcing the ship to put to sea, as the ship was nearly caught on a lee shore. Took all the following day to re-sight land.


Wind blowing strong from north-east, arrived at Port Cooper (now Lyttelton) dropping anchor at 1 pm, 2 miles down, 134 days from London.


A large number of the crew went on strike and would not man the boats to take passengers and their belongings ashore, so it was several days before many got ashore. Again the Captain brought the miscreants before the local magistrate where they were sentenced to 14 days imprisonment aboard the ship.


Mrs Martha Mumford (Steerage) gives birth to a male child at 1 am in harbour. Mr Henry Leslie (Steerage) died at 8 pm after 6 weeks illness, leaving wife and 2 children.


Some ‘Cabin’ passengers start to disembark.


A good many emigrants came ashore.


Most passengers get ashore.


Provisions arranged for the passage to Nelson (3 weeks of rations allowed), listing passengers provided for, including William Rumsby in Steerage; Muriel Rumsby and James Thurling listed as doubtful at this stage, pending meeting with Immigration Agent – probably to allow them to continue on from Lyttelton to Nelson, Muriel with her husband and with James to accompanying them.


Instructions given to ready ship for sea tomorrow evening.


March 1851


Sailed from dock, but dropped anchor about half way down harbour. Reported that there are now no less than 5 ‘three masters’ in port, Castle Eden, Isabella Hercus, Jane Dixon, Camilla & Salacia, besides 3 or 4 brigs & schooners & a cloud of small craft.


Detained in port by adverse winds, finally favourable weather allowed sailing north.

Following Days

Near the entrance of Cook’s Strait ran into severe weather encountering south west to westerly gales’ which continued with little intermission till 22nd often reducing ship to a close reefed main-top-sail, and on one occasion were obliged to take that in.

The crew, almost wholly composed of inexperienced landsmen were, with difficulty, induced to make and shorten sail, with many knocked up from fatigue and wet, making the ship impossible to work.


Provisions for passengers exhausted, had to supplement for ship’s stores.


Unable to make Nelson, decision made to bear up to Sydney. (Mr Buxton objected to going to Sydney as he didn’t consider Sydney to be a fit place for his daughters!)


April 1851


Arrived Port Jackson, Sydney, Australia:


“Colonial Secretary: Reports on Vessels Arriving” records the following passengers:

Chief Cabin – Mr Freestone; Mr Haylock & Mr A.Haylock

Fore Cabin – Mr E.Buxton family (8)

Steerage – Mr Rumsby & Mr Sprintall

 - all were paying passengers (not mentioned are Chief Cabin passengers, Surgeon-Superintendent Dr Haylock and a Mr Skinner; nor Steerage assisted immigrants, Muriel (nee Thurling) Rumsby and James Thurling)


The Surgeon-Superintendent Dr Haylock and his 2 sons; and Mr Buxton, with wife and daughters, by arrangement, took passage to Nelson on board the brigantine WILLIAM ALFRED to complete their journey, arriving in Nelson on 29 May 1851.

The others relinquished the voyage and voluntarily quit the CASTLE EDEN at this port.

William & Muriel Rumsby’s with James Thurling in company had obviously had enough of sea travel, with firm earth under foot they travelled north and initially settled at Paterson in the Hunter Valley district.

 In Sydney, the crew again went on strike, and they were indicted for conspiracy, with the Captain and officers bound over to appear against them at the next criminal sitting of the Supreme Court early in June, 1851. 


The “Colonial Secretary: Reports on Vessels Arriving” at Port Jackson records the WILLIAM ALFRED arriving in Sydney on 15 April 1851 from Wellington where it had departed on 30 March 1851, with passengers Most Rev’d Dr Jackson, Lady and 2 sons on board.

The ship had sailed from Lyttelton, with the Rev’d Thomas Jackson and his family, who commenced their return journey to England, on or about 23 March 1851. One of the sons remarked the voyage on the little brigantine of 150 tons was pretty uncomfortable.

From website of the National Register of Archives and Manuscripts, New Zealand, with the indexing of newspaper clippings of his report to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the following summary on the Rev. Thomas Jackson is given:


“Rev. Thomas Jackson was principal of the Battersea Training College and lifelong friend of Bishop Blomfield, Bishop of London, who offered him at the age of 38 the post of bishop of the new Canterbury colony in 1850. As the first bishop-designate of Canterbury, Bishop Jackson and his family sailed on the 'Castle Eden' from London for Lyttelton a month after the first three (error - actually 4) emigrant ships sailed, arriving on 7 February 1851. He was not a wise choice to lead the new see in the colony and after organising the placing of clergy in the Canterbury area returned to England after six weeks and was prevailed upon to resign his claims by the Archbishop of Canterbury.” 

Prepared by Russell Thurling - [Great Grandson of James Thurling]
                    8 Yandina Ave. / P.O. Box 4061

                    WINMALEE NSW 2777 Australia.

The above information was gleamed by Russell from copies of the shipping papers, Jessie Radford notes and George Wright's diary from the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch. There are quiet a few variations from and between the lists.

Russell's references are the Shipping Papers:
Item 66 - Surgeon's List of Passenger landed in NZ
Item 67 - Complete passenger list (Steerage)
Item 68 - List of fore cabin passengers
Item 69 - List of paying steerage passengers
Item 69A - List of free and assisted passengers
Item 70 - List of chief cabin passengers
Item 89 - Passenger list showing which emigrants were recommended by named land purchasers
Item 79 - List of emigrants remaining on board (Lyttelton) and rations allotted
Item 107 - Rations for passengers to Nelson