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THE

The Lyttelton Times


Vol. 1.     No.1.      SATURDAY, JANUARY 11, 1851.      PRICE SIXPENCE.


VOYAGES OF THE FIRST FOUR SHIPS.
We have been favoured with the following accounts of the first ships, by passengers on board:-

"SIR GEORGE SEYMOUR"

The "Sir George Seymour," weighed anchor at Plymouth, about 11 o'clock, A.M., on Sunday, Sep. 8 1850.  She was the last, by several hours, to leave the shores of Old England.  Her companions were all out of sight, and two out of three were not seen again, till she net them in this harbour.  Like the rest, she made an excellent run out of the channel, and by the 13th was almost at Cape Finisterre.  On Sunday, the 15th, the passengers assembled, for the first time, for the Divine worship, which was celebrated on the poop. "All hands aft to rig the church," was a new sound to landsmen, but what church could be grander than that which had the sky for the roof, the ocean for its floor, and God Himself for its Architect. Great was the thankfulness of most, who, after a week of sickness and discomfort, were thus assembled together for the first time, to adore and praise Him. Who "sitteh above the waterfloods."  From that day forward, the morning and evening services of the Church were celebrated, with few occasional exceptions, throughout the voyage, and the Holy Communion was thrice administered, first, on Sunday 22nd, again, on Sunday, Oct. 20th, and lastly on Advent Sunday. 

The weather, during the first part of the voyage was very delightful.  On Wednesday ,  the 18th, we had a beautiful view of Porto Santo, one of the Madeira group, Madeira itself being afterwards seen more dimly in the distance. On the same morning we were startled by an alarm of fire in the afterhold, which, though it was speedily extinguished, was sufficient to cause a thrill of horror in the minds of most, succeeded by a feeling of thankfulness for being delivered from so great a peril.  It was broad daylight, land was in sight, though at a distance; but, even if the lives of all had been spared, which could hardly been expected, to have lost all, and landed on a foreign soil, had been a sad disaster.  On Friday following, we had a clear view, though at a very great distance, (as much as 90 miles,) of the far famed peaks of Teneriffe.   Plama, with its bold and rugged outline, and its many smoke-wreaths, the signs of industry and commerce, divided with the lofty and majestic Peak, which stands as it were the mother of the group amongst her graceful offsprings, the interest of that lovely morning.  Ferro, the southernmost of the Canaries, was in sight in the following day.   On the 26th we passed St. Antonio, the westernmost of the Cape Verds, and from that time, we saw no land for eleven weeks; that which we next saw being part of the beautiful coast of this our southern Britain.  On the 4th of October, an incident occurred, which we must not pass over.  A sail came in sight, which proved to be the "Randolph."  Nothing could have happened more fortunately, since it gave the opportunity to our friend Mr. Davy, to pass the rest of the voyage in his own ship.  He had narrowly escaped missing his passage altogether, having arrived at Plymouth too late to embark on board the "Randolph," and was with difficulty permitted to take his passage with us.   An opportunity was now affordered, most unexpectedly, of putting him on possession of his own cabin and his outfit.  The expectation was realized; a boat was lowered from the "Randolph," and the chief officer, the two clergyman, and some passengers, came on board to visit us, and after a short stay, returned in company with our friend, who has thus succeeded in accomplishing a feat, more often talked of than performed, namely, that of sailing in two ships, an honour supposed to be reserved only for the most distinguished personages.  We sailed with our friends of the "Randolph," for the two following days, and did not finally part with them till the Thursday following, Oct. 10.

On Saturday, Oct. 12, at about 10 P.M., we crossed the line, within five weeks of the day on which we left England.  On the day following, the bodies of two infants, who had died the night before, were committed to the deep; and here we must not omit to express our thankfulness that no death of any adult; and so little of anything like serious illness or accident occurred throughout the voyage.

From the line to the Cape, we made a splendid run.  On the 23rd, in about the latitude of Rio Janeiro, we reached the westernmost point of our course, about 33 west longitude, and then first began to turn our faces in the direction of our new home.  On Nov. 1st, we crossed the meridian of Greenwich, by the 5th we were abreast of the cape.  Though we experienced some rough weather about this time, and occasionally afterwards, yet all, we believe, whose first voyage this was, are agreeably disappointed in having escaped, in this respect, so much better than they had anticipated, and it must be a cold heart indeed, which would not feel thankful for the speedy and favourable voyage, which was granted to us.  But little remains to be told.  We granted to us. We passed about halfway between St. Paul's and desolation Island on the 20th of November, making gradually southward, till on the 7th of December, we were nearly in the parallel of 49.

On Wednesday, the 11th, about 4 o'clock in the morning, we sighted Stewart's Island, earlier, it appears, than the "Charlotte Jane" or the "Randolph" though on the same day with them, and 94 days from the time of leaving Plymouth.  We are surely not presumptuous in viewing it as a signal proof of the Divine blessing upon our undertaking, that three ships, starting at the same time, but not intentionally keeping together, and running indeed in very different tracks, and passing over so immense a space of ocean, and not coming in sight of one another (with the exception of the time above mentioned, when a special object was answered by the meeting) for the space of three months, should, at the end of that time, come in sight of the Promised Land on the same day.  So nearly did three out of four vessels which composed the ever-to-be-remembered First Canterbury Fleet arrive together, that the one of three which came into the harbour last was the first one to see the land:  Few will ever forget the joyous excitement and flow of spirits which prevailed on that beautiful day when we first beheld the noble-harbours and magnificent mountains-peaks of the Southern Island of New Zealand; and on the following day when we ran so close, and almost longed to land on the lovely sea beach backed by low cliffs; and again on the Sunday following, when the snowy peaks of our own mountain range first became  visible, and afterwards shone so gradually in glorious sunset of tat evening.  Monday and Tuesday were brilliant days, and it is impossible to describe the pleasure derived as we passed Bank's Peninsula, descrying continually fresh beauties, recongnizing spots known before by name, and comparing the veritable land itself with the maps with which we had so long familiar.  And when at length Godley Head came in sight, and the harbour of Port Victoria opened before us, into the bosom of its encircling hills, who was there that did not feel at the time that he could have gone through the fatigues of the whole voyage if it were only to enjoy the keen and pure gratification, and the life-long memories of those few last days.  The "Sir George Seymour" came to anchor about 10 o'clock on Tuesday, Dec. 17, being 100 days almost to the very hour from the time she left Plymouth. 


Lloyd's Register
SIR GEORGE SEYMOUR (1849-50-51)
Master:  Captain T. Millman
Rigging:  Ship; sheathed in felt and yellow metal in 1850
Tonnage:  724 tons
Construction: 1844 in Sunderland
Owners:  Somes Bros.
Port of registry:  London
Port of survey:  London
Voyage:  sailed for Port Philip (1849); Sydney (1851)


Passenger lists of Canterbury Association Ships. 1900.
The Christchurch Museum Archives has the Canterbury Association Shipping Papers.
John C. Watts-Russell passenger

New Zealand Bound