Rev. Comber was interested in shipping. His passing means that others will benefit for years to come from his methodical records. Passenger names do not appear.
The Comber Index to Ships Arriving in New Zealand 1839-1889 in chronological order of sailing date (departure date) can be a useful tool if you don't know which vessel an assisted emigrant ancestor arrived on but have pinned down the arrival date within a few months and entry port. The index goes to 29 December 1889. Many immigrants settled near their disembarkation port. By the process of elimination you may discover which vessel your predecessor came over on. Allow approximately three months from departure date to arrival in New Zealand. Remember some of us will never be able to identify which vessel an immigrant ancestor was aboard. For the most part records of government-assisted rather than paying passengers survived. The dates between the Comber Index and the card index of immigration arrivals at Archives NZ varies between a day to a month or so which is correct could be ascertained by referencing newspapers of the day on the site. The number of days port to port also vary slightly.
The Comber Index comes in handy when trying to pin down a possible vessel an ancestor arrived on.
The Comber Index gives voyage dates, ship names, captains of ships from the UK and Europe (brief details, from newspaper shipping pages, of ship arrivals) (no passengers). It was the work of Reverend William Charles Comber M.A., a long time member of the New Zealand Ship & Marine Society, and served as the president for many years, along with a stint as editor of their journal New Zealand Marine News. He wrote regular articles on shipping for the Taranaki Herald for over twenty years. He was a Presbyterian minister and in an interview theorised that his maritime interests came from seeing a striking model of the Aroha in the Canterbury Museum as a boy. His interest developed in childhood as he cut out shipping reports from the newspapers. In his retirement years he resided at Eastbourne. He had great interest in and knowledge of shipping, and followed movements of ships in retirement on ship frequency radio. We believe the Bill Comber was still working on the Index at his death on 4 October 1972 in Wellington, aged 67. The funeral service was in St. David's Church, Petone, on 6th October.
Useful information as to which ports individual immigrant ships unloaded passengers.
Where to find the Comber Index:
Published by NZ Society Of Genealogists Inc.
PO Box 8795 Auckland 3 New Zealand
Copyright 1985 ISBN 0-9597555-3-5
Filmed by: Manawau Microfilm Services Ltd
69 Heretanuga Street
Palmerston North, NZ
|Year Shipping Line NAME OF
VESSEL Rigging [bark of ship]
Month Sailed: Port of Departure
Date Equator CMM comments
Moth Arrived:Arrival port underlined d [days port to port]
number cabin & steerage passengers
Dec 30 Ready for sea but short handed (over)[check back of card]
Example from a page of fiche. Eight cards listed per page.
1869 Sh S HALCIONE Sh 843
1869 Sh Sav ADVANCE Sh
1869 Sh S ASTEROPE Sh
601 Inglis (over)
1869 PH WILLIAM DAVIE Sh 841 Ross
1869 Sh. Sav. R.T. TURNBULL Bk 367 1869
VICTORIA Norwegian Bk 372
Willis VICTORY 579 M. Stephens
(Jan 21 Sld: Gsnd.
Lost anchor and chain put back
29 Sld: Gsnd
May 14 Arr: Lyttelton 104 days 198 pass.
Jun 17 Sld: Lyttelton for Batavia
CLADUCLUS Sh 711 Cass
Feb 3 Sld: Gsnd
May 19 Arr: Auckland 95 days 243 pass.
Jul 1 Sld: Auckland for Hong Kong
Aug 27 Arr: Hong Kong
1859 Willis MARGARETHA ROES?NER
1859 Sh. Sav. REULLURA Bk 279 M.M.
1859 Willis CAMEO
1859 Young MINERVA Bk 574 -.T. Merryman
1859 Sh. Sav. TRAVELLER Bk 462
page 2271874 Shaw Savill CARRICK CASTLE Ship 879 tons Master: Thyne April 19 Sailed from Liverpool April 23 At Queenstown, Ireland, to embark emigrants April 27 Sailed from Queenstown May 19 Spoke [to another ship] on Line 27 West May 21 Spoke [to another ship] 5 South 30 West July 13 Arrived at Bluff, 77 days, 220 immigrants September 1 Sailed from Bluff for Newcastle September 15 Arrived at Newcastle
Reverse side of card
879 tons, 197,5 length x 34.0 width x 19.6 depth in feet, Skinner & Co [owner]. Randolf [builder], Glasgow, October 1868.
Composite. Bottom wood and coppered. Frames and topsides iron. Owner Thomas Skinner, Glasgow.
In 1884 the Ruapehu made two voyages to New Zealand: 27 July1884 Arrived Auckland 8 March 1884 Arrived Wellington 13 March 1884 Arrived Port Charmers 25 March 1884 Arrived Lyttelton Departed from Plymouth 31.05.1884 14 July 1884 Arrived Wellington 21 July 1884 Arrived Lyttelton Departed from London 25 September 1884 - arrived when?
... the back of the cards certainly seem to give a bit more of the colour to the voyages that are recorded.
Some examples, all 1859:
Willis: Clontarf, Captain Barclay...
`...rough in Bay of Bisscay long passage bad weather throughout and incessant rain, 5 adults died, 28 children almost all from measles and hooping cough...'
Shaw Savill: Jura, Captain Chalmers/Chambers...
`...Jura a fine roomy vessel credibly clean...
...of larks, blackbirds, linnets and other birds shipped by Mr. Stafford, one cock partridge is sole survivor, hand raised birds. - N Zer 18 1 60'
Willis: Roman Emperor, Captain Dewar...
`...Samuel Butler a passenger...Good account of voyage in Butler's `First Days' year in Canty. settlement. Started Oct 1 1859 anchored off Ramsgate and again of Deal...We have a good ship, a good captain and victuals sufficient in quantity. Everyone but myself abuses the owners like pickpockets...'
White Star, Shooting Star. Captain E. J. Allen...
`Mainmast sprung on passage out, repairs at Auckland see N Zer 11 4 60'
J. Lidgett & Son, Snaresbrook, Captain John Straker...
Arr: Wgtn* Sep 8
Sld: Wgtn Oct 15 Capt Geo. Mundle.
Arr: Napier Oct 19
Arr: Auck Nov 1
*Master and mate arrested see NZ Adv. Dec. 7
brothers on trial for murder...
A full obituary and comprehensive tribute to the Rev. W. C. Comber, a long-time and highly respected member of the Society, was published in the New Zealand Marine News: Vol. 24, No. 2, Spring 1972. Pages 34-36. Editorial. (Journal of the New Zealand Ship & Marine Society). First Church of Otago Genealogy Database
Served as Dominion President from 1958 to 1965, since when he has been a Dominion Vice-President, and for some years was the Honorary Editor of `New Zealand. Marine News.' In early 1971 he as appointed as the Society's first Research Officer, a task he pursued with characteristic thoroughness until his recent illness. ...Long remembered, must be added some appreciation of his scholarly contribution and skill as a historian. This was in part due to his training and natural aptitude, but just as much to the discipline of accurate recording and methodical filing. The weekly articles to the `Taranaki Herald' over twenty years were not pieces of slick journalism, but significant and well-rounded essays on the subjects selected. His interest in shipping led him to undertake an incredible amount of research and the results are impressive in their scope and accuracy. Any enthusiast in need of research help was always given it generously, and if such service meant a sacrifice of time that could have been used for his own urgent work, he never appeared grudging or impatient.
Rev. Comber b. 29 January 1905; w. Annie White (Nancy) b. 7.9.1902 m. 3.11.1931 d. 28.5.1976. He was educated at Christchurch BHS. Worked in a bank during his studies of Arts at the Canterbury University Bank;�obtained a MA at Otago University. Ordained at Lumsden, his first parish, 1931. His pastorates: Stirling 1936, Island Bay, Wellington 1943, Stratford 1948, Petone 1956, and while at Petone, a Turnbull Trust preacher at Scots Church, Melbourne for six months, and retired 28 February 1970. Beyond his own discipline of theology he was keenly interested in history, particularly New Zealand history. He had an orderly, well-stored mind, from which information and wisdom flowed almost without effort.
The tributes paid by his colleagues in the work of the Church he served so well made clear that through all the discipline of scholarship and the responsibilities of a pastor and preacher, he never lost the human touch. To many of us who knew him well it seemed that through all the stages of his development he had firmly retained and nourished a youthful enthusiasm. Bill Comber loved ships. He derived real pleasure from looking at them, or from talking to people who worked with them. He even found it relaxing at night, when there were none to be seen and no-one to talk to, to listen on the appropriate frequencies to the radio exchanges from ship to ship, and ship to shore.
When he had to expound the revelation that in eternity there would be no more sea he must have cherished the hope that somewhere, somehow, there must be a haven where its mystical essence continues.
The index can be helpful to date ship photographs.