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Passengers on the "Blue Jacket"
July 18, 1866 - October 14 1866

The below information is courtesy of Russell Swinden. Russ's Great grandmother, Annie, and her two siblings, William and Mary, journeyed to New Zealand aboard the Blue Jacket in 1866. There are descendants of William Melhuish still living in New Zealand whilst Annie's descendants are all in Australia (above and below the ground).


Ann Melhuish aged 18

Mary, William & Ann Melhuish

Russell's Great Grandmother, Anne (Annie) Melhuish was born at Poughill, Devon, England on April 13, 1849, the fifth child of William Melhuish and Christian (Passmore) Melhuish.

According to the 1851 British Census, William Passmore, a 49 year old farmer with a holding of 10 acres was residing at 63 North Down, Poughill, Devon, England. Living with William was his widowed mother, Mary, as well as William's brother in law, William Melhuish, and his wife Christian and their five children aged between 2 and 11 years. In succeeding years William and Christian had four more children.

Considering the size of the Passmore farm it is difficult see how they made ends meet (a small handwritten note indicates that, in later years, Annie sent money back to her parents "we received the letter with the � in it & the newspaper allright [sic] we tell you of it again for fear the last letter might be missed with thanks we remain your ever loving parents W. C Melhuish good bye god bless you all". The last six words appear to have been written in a different hand - perhaps the sentiments of Annie's mother Christian). William Melhuish was an agricultural labourer, it is not known if he worked solely with his brother in law or obtained work at other farms in the district. This situation obviously reached a stage where disharmony set in and in 1866 Mary, now aged 26, accompanied by her brother, William (22) and Ann (17) set out to start a new life in New Zealand. At around this time their brother, John, also left home and went to America.

Mary, William and Annie Melhuish left England, aboard the sailing ship "Blue Jacket", arriving at Lyttelton, on October 14th 1866. The conditions on the voyage are best described by the anonymous handwritten poem which was found amongst my Great Grandmother Ann's papers.

It is with pleasure
I have composed a line or two
To let you know the danger
That we have battled through

We were at the very point of death
The billows round us roared
We never thought that at the time
We should have reached the shore

But still the Lord is generous
An brought us safely through
And now it is with pleasure
I send the news to you

It was in the English Channel
It was a awful sight
The waters came in to our cabins
Which was a dreadful sight

The screams and crys were awful
We thought we should be lost
It is with a brave crew of Commanders
That over the Ocean we crossed

But for so many souls to sink
It was against His will
It was to us thus so in times gone by
He bade the waves be still

When still amidst the danger
We thought of you behind
We thought upon our loving friends
Who to us had been so kind

We thought how dreadful it would be
If you the news should hear
The good ship Blue Jacket had gone down
With friends you love so dear

But still the Lord is generous
It was his blessed will
That we should arrive so safe to land
So He bade the waves be still

Yes the Lord is merciful
And very good to us
To save us from a watery grave
Where so many lives were lost

We were tossed about at such a rate
When we were quite near
We could see the forms of houses
And water brooks quite clear

One night whilst we were sleeping
We were very nearly wrecked
A person saw a light
Whilst walking on the deck

He called out for Captain White
Our Captain and chief mate
Then woke him from his slumbers
To know our dangerous state

He called upon his sailors
And turned the ship around
And still the Lord was with us
And saved us from being drowned

So the Lord has been with us
All the journey through
And now it is with pleasure
I send the news to you

Though we have had to weather
The tempest and the storm
The Lord has been with us
And kept us from harm

And still amidst the danger
The Saviour was our Guide

After landing at Lyttelton on October 14th 1866, William walked over the Port Hills to Christchurch.  He then went to Kaikoura in 1867 and it was here that he married, on May 31, 1875, Sarah Ann Kempthorne. William and Sarah had five children. William continued farming until 1903.

Rebe Mason lives in Hamilton, NZ. She says of her Great Grandfather "He was quite a business man. He worked on farms in both the South and North Islands, and was known to be a good and shrewd business man. He died in Woodville, Hawkes Bay, having been living with my grandmother Annie (Annie Elizabeth {Melhuish} Lovell)". His last address was Kumeroa, Woodville. William was also an Auctioneer and in 1906 was a member of the committee of the Kaikoura Agricultural & Pastoral Association.

Annie and Mary worked as domestic servants whilst William farmed at Hawkes Bay.

On September 22nd, 1868 Ann married Johannes Rumpf in Auckland, New Zealand. Johannes was a German farmer from Frankfurt on Main. Their first child, John William Hansen Rumpf, was born in New Zealand on February 27, 1870. It is not known what prompted the move to Australia but Johannes probably arrived in Sydney late in 1871 to be joined later by Annie and young John.


Ann & Johannes Rumpf

In 1869 Mary Melhuish married Parker Greaves in Auckland. Mary died at her residence in Bidwell St., Wellington. Her Death Certificate indicates that she had one female child aged 34 at the time of Mary's death. Rebe Mason has "searched for their daughter but have not found her".

Copyright �2003. Russell D M Swinden, December 2003. Permission is granted for researchers to make use of this material provided that the source is acknowledged in the usual and accepted form.

Russell Swinden. PO Box 4225, East Gosford, NSW 2250 Australia. ph. 02 43252598. Researching:  Swinden, Melhuish, Legge, Ferris, Courtney, Handebo, McPhee and associated families. I am currently trying to ascertain the movement of my wife's great grandfather, Thomas Courtney, to New Zealand.  Family history has it that aged about 16 he left Ireland around 1860 and travelled in the company of members of the Cardwell family.