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The Stranding and Loss of the Queen Bee
on Cape Farewell Sandspit 

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"My God, Ballie, what have you done?" exclaimed the captain. "You are all right, but I shall lose my certificate."

AJHR 1878 Section H12 page 26, Return of Wrecks
Barque "Queen Bee" 726 register tonnage, cargo general, 
Date of Casualty : On the night of 7 August 1877
Name of Master : John Sayes DAVIS
Age of Vessel : 18 years, A1 5 years
Number of Crew : 24
Number of Passengers : 30
Nature of Casualty : Stranded; total loss, on Farewell Spit
Number of Lives Lost : 1 [the carpenter lost his life]
Wind Force : Fresh breeze

Another death -
Thursday 28 Feb. 1895 Otago Witness page 19 Obituary 
Maunsell, - On the 21st February, at 88 Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London. in his fiftieth year.
Mr Henry Widenbam Maunsell formerly of Dunedin died in London. The doctor was born in Ireland, educated in Dublin and graduated in medicine in 1867 at Trinity College, Dublin, when he was 21 years of age. In the same year that he graduated he took the degree of M.R.C.S., England. He then left for Melbourne and was appointed house surgeon of the Melbourne Hospital, retaining the position for three years under Dr Fitzgerald. In 1870 he came to this colony, and took charge of the hospital at Hokitika, holding the position for two years. About this time he married Miss Fosbeery. In 1875 he visited England and took his M.D. degree. Set sail for New Zealand in the Queen Bee. The vessel was wrecked off Nelson, and Dr Maunsell and his wife were rescued in a boat containing 22 souls without a seaman on board. Those in the boat were exposed for 48 hours in very bad weather, often up to the waist in water; and one of the doctor's children died from the results of this exposure. ...

Extracts from the Nelson Evening Mail
Wednesday 8 August 1877
Wreck of the Queen Bee from London
The wreck of this fine ship on the Farewell Spit, occurred at midnight on Monday. When news was received by telegram the Lady Barkly, 30 tons, paddle steamer,  at once got up steam, and with Mr Cross (the pilot) on board, started at 11 o'clock for the scene, and about an hour later followed by the Lyttelton which was on the point of starting for Blenheim with a full cargo. This, as well as twenty tons of coal was taken out of her as quickly as willing hands and the steam winch could effect a clearance, and at midnight she left the harbour. 
The following telegram was received from Motueka.
"The vessel struck at 12 o'clock on Monday night, and the boat's crew left for assistance at 4 am. There was then ten feet of water in the hold, and it was still making when they left. The mate reports that there are about fifty saloon passengers, nearly all being women and children. The passengers were still on board when the boat left, as it was too dark to find a landing. There appeared to be no chance of saving the vessel as her back is broken and she was bumping heavily. The mate says that the ship struck six or eight miles south-west of the light. He attributes the accident to an error in the compasses."

The Queen Bee was a barque of 726 tons register, owed by Messrs Shaw, Savill and Co., of London. She was built at Sunderland in 1859, and classed as A1 for fourteen years. She was reclassed in 1874 for five years.  Her passenger list contains the names of two large families who intended making their home in Nelson. Their loss in personal effects will, we fear be very great.

The following is her manifest-
4 bales four bags, 10 cases Van Houteu cocoa, 30 bundles spades, 42 cases galvanised corrugated iron, 1 bale seaming twine, 150 cases Hennessy's brandy, 2 crates brownware, 3 cases china, 15 cases marmalade, 10 kegs split peas, 50 cases Tennenet's ale (quarts), 50 kegs patent wrought nails, 10,000 Countess slates, 9 cases glass, 10 qr-casks sherry, 60 camp ovens, 150 grindstones, 20 barrels tar and pitch....On board the Queen Bee were two or three cases for the Education Board, containing the supply of books, maps, &c., for the year.

Thursday 9th August

Three coasting vessels sailed last evening under "sealed orders." Their destination is probably the Sandspit, to try and pick up some of the Queen Bee's cargo.

The wreck of the steamer Yarra Yarra at Newcastle on the 14th ult., it would appear as if the ill-fated vessel had been laden so deeply that she had lost all buoyancy, and when struck by a third sea foundered, with the loss of the lives of the eighteen poor fellows on board.

Two boats full of Passengers and Crew missing
The Lady Barkly returned to Nelson. The Queen Bee was a complete wreck and that two boats containing a number of passengers and crew were missing. 

On Thursday last the Queen Bee first sighted the New Zealand coast, after which she experienced dirty weather. On Monday at 8 p.m. she was abreast of the Spit light. She proceeded on her course for some time, and changed it to S.S.E., and at midnight when the light was bearing north-west and showing red she struck. The helm was at once put hard up, when she swung off, but immediately came up again, and commenced to bump so violently that it was difficult for the men to keep their legs. Soundings were shortly taken, where there was found to be 4ft 6" of water. Guns were fired, rockets thrown up, and blue lights burned, as they obtained no response from shore, the second mate was ordered to proceed in the dingy with four men to seek assistance. After calling at Bark Bay, where every kindness was shown by them by Messrs Huffman and Hadfield, the boat proceeded to Motueka and telegraphed for assistance. Lady Barkly, Capt. J. Walker, was despatched to the wreck. Captain Cross on going aboard found the vessel abandoned, the only living things being four dogs and a cat, the former including some very valuable greyhounds, which were being imported by Mr Chatteris. These we believed all drowned. After the arrival of the Lyttelton, a survey was held by Captains Cross, Walker, and Scott, and Mr Ross, the engineer of the Lady Barkly, and the vessel, which was then submerged with the exception of a portion of the starboard quarter, and a small part of the forecastle, was condemned as a total wreck. Her hatches were burst open, and cargo was washing out and floating about in all directions. From the account given by the passengers, it appears that at six o'clock on Tuesday morning, the boats were all got out, and the passengers and crew stowed in them as follows:-
In lifeboat:
Mrs Gibbs and infant,
Misses Gibbs (2)
Mrs Pearce
Miss Snaders
Mrs Cheel and child
Misses Cheel (2)
with three A.B.s and one ordinary seaman.

In the cutter:
Dr and Mrs Maunsell and two children
Misses Fosberry (2)
Mr Richard Gibbs, a lad of 17 years of age
and four little boys and a little girl (children of Mrs Gibbs who arrived in the lifeboat)
[Frederick Gibbs, Sydney Gibbs, H. Gibbs, John Gibbs, Miss Gibbs]
Mr W.A. Whyte
Master Hartell [H. Hartle]
Mr and Master Cheel
Messrs Barnes, Charington  [Charrington] and Willis
seaman and a man named Furness, a stowaway

In the Captain's gig:
Captain J.S. Davies [Davis]
Mr Ballie, chief officer [Baillie]
Mr W.H. Mason, third officer
Craig, the boatswain
carpenter
Gardner steward
second steward
third steward
cook
W. Dinning, second cook
F. Gutterlist, the butcher
Davidson, one A.B. 
and Messrs Hilliard and Beckett, passengers.

No luggage or food was placed in any of the boats, nothing in fact but a little water, and in this condition they commenced to do battle with the heavy seas that were rolling in. The Captain's boat, it is supposed, made for Collinwood. The lifeboat and cutter kept together for several hours when a blanket was set as a sail in the former, and she steered for Awaroa leaving the cutter behind, which, when last seen, appeared to be drifting to leeward.

The lifeboat received some damage in being launched, and while the men were pulling the unhappy women were kept hard at work the whole time baling out the water which freely poured in at the sides. At Awaroa the occupants of this boat where kindly treated by Messrs Hadfield Brothers, and were shortly put on board the schooner Merlin, from which they were later transhipped to the s.s. Lady Barkly, 30 tons, and by her brought on to Nelson, together with the crew of the boat which had been sent to Motueka. After remaining two hours in Nelson the Lady Barkly went out again intending to visit the Croixelles, and from thence strike out across the Bay. 

Friday August 10th 1877 page 2

At Messrs Sharp and Pickering's office the auctioneer read the terms of the sale, Mr Acton Adams, on behalf of the agents, Messrs N. Edwards and Co. entered a protest against the sale on the ground that the vessel was not abandoned, until she was so Lloyd's agents had no right to interfere. Mr Haddow purchase the cargo of the Queen Bee for 385 and the hull for 335 at auction. Mr Haddow represents a company which was formed in Nelson for the purchase of the wreck.

Saturday August 11th 1877 page 2

Wreck of the Queen Bee
Both Boats found. One man drowned. Two missing. Women and children safe.
There was intense excitement in town last night, between ten and eleven o'clock, the information was brought up from the Port that the Lyttelton was in sight, as it was generally known that her instructions were, if necessary, to remain out until Sunday. It was, therefore, argued that she must have fallen in with one or both of the missing boats. Crowds of people at once flocked to the Port, but disappointment seemed to be in store for them, for it soon became known that it was not the s.s. Lyttelton but the Manawatu, and the general impression was that she was more likely to have run down for the purpose of making enquiries than of bringing information. The pilot boat went out, and was a long time away, the state of the tide was not allowing the steamer to enter the harbour, and the excitement and suspense of those who were eagerly waiting for news became almost intolerable. At last about 12 o'clock, the sound of oars was heard at the entrance, and there was a rush of people down the road to hail her, and very soon word was passed up from one knot of eager waiters to another, "One boat has been found.: Then was asked the question, "Which?" and back came the reply, "The Captains." It was a great relief to learn that so many lives had been saved, but then came the thought, "What has become of the poor women and children?" and there were many sad hearts among the excited crowd who thronged the pilot station to learn the full particulars. The crew had been picked up near Port Hardy, that one man, the carpenter, had been drowned in beaching the boat, and that two were missing, having left the party to transverse the hills in search of assistance. 

The Captain's Story.
We left London on the 21st of April, the ship being well equipped in every way, and finally got clear of the Downs on the 24th. ... On the 2nd of August we first sighted New Zealand, being then a little to the northward of Milford Sound. We had to beat all the way up until making Cape Farewell on Monday afternoon. At 8.3-pm sighted the light, the weather being favorable, and about 10 o'clock rounded the Spit light and sailed along until it bore West by South, distance about seven miles. I then shaped the course, and told them to steer S.S.E. to E. for a certain distance. Almost immediately afterwards, at about 11 o'clock, we struck on the inside edge of the bank.... About eight o'clock I put the passengers in the lifeboat and cutter. I slung a chair and put every lady into it myself. There was no rush to the boast or confusion of any kind. I saw that there were three sailors in each boat, and my strict orders were that they were to keep in smooth water under the lee of the ship. I afterwards ordered to remove the Gibbs' family from the cutter, and put them into the lifeboat with their mother. I repeatedly told them this, and over and over again repeated my orders that they were not to leave the ship. I had a good stock of provisions got out on the poop all ready to be placed in the boats, and it was my intention to go myself in the lifeboat, and place the chief officer in charge of the cutter. This being my idea I gave no sailing orders whatever. Notwithstanding my orders they cut themselves adrift and started. I could see them for six or seven hours heading up the Bay, one a little ahead of the other. I understood that both boats were well supplied with oars having been told so by the officers. Fifteen of us were now left on board, and I was in hourly hopes of seeing the second mate returning with assistance. We set to work and constructed a raft. About 4 pm such a sea was rolling un that we could not get anything into the boat but a bottle of water, a tin of biscuits, and two tins of meat, the latter of which was washed overboard in beaching the boat. Eventually we contrived to scramble onto her and the raft, nine getting into the boat and six on to the raft, which we towed after us. It was blowing hard. It was impossible for the men to remain on the raft. We got under her lee and took them in. At daylight we saw Steven's and D'Urville's Islands some 6 or 7 miles distant, and as we got closer we saw several little bays as they appeared to be, and these I tried to make for but could not on account of the currents. All this time the boat was badly leaking, and we had all we could do to keep the water down by baling her out, and finding that she must sink if we remained at sea, I determined to beach her. At five o'clock I saw a small indentation in the coast line where the mountains were very precipitous and the base of them only about forty feet from low water mark. There was a fearful surf on, but there was nothing for but to make the attempt, so we ran in; a tremendous sea caught and lifted the boat right on end, bow downwards. We were thrown ashore, and the boat turned right over keel uppermost, and in two minutes she was smashed to atoms. On mustering our numbers we found that the carpenter was missing, and he must have drowned. Shortly afterwards one of the men started off of his own accord over the hills, and was followed by Mr Helliard, who in climbing the hill fell down the side of the cliff and hurt his feet very severely. We made for the suggest quarters we could find, and tried to obtain some rest by lying down on the stones, but the tide came over us at high water, and we had to get as far back as we could, but even then could scarcely get out of reach of the water. We passed a miserable night, no sleep, nothing to eat,, and nothing to drink. The next morning the steward produced a box of matches which he had saved, but they were saturated with water. However, the mate fortunately had a burning glass with him, and by its aid we ignited one of the matches, and lighted a fire with some drift wood that was lying about, and dried the rest of the matches. We spent the whole day on this little patch of land, which was certainly not 100 yards in length. We were fortunate enough to find water. We could see vessels in the distance, but none noticed out smoke. During the day Mr Mason, the third mate, who is now missing, went over the hills, and we saw no more of him. Thursday night was a repetition of the previous one, an d a wretched time it was, but there was this in our favor that the weather was fine. On Friday morning it came on to blow and rain. We saw one or two vessels, and a little later a steamer (the Lyttelton), which was dodging about some distance from the land. By her movements we felt sure that she was looking for us, and in desperation we set fire to the bushes and everything we could find about to create a smoke to attract her attention, but all in vain. Just then (about 2 pm), to our intense delight, we saw the s.s. Manawatu rounding the point about a mile away. She saw our smoke, and to our great joy we saw her hoist the ensign in response. On coming near, I heard a voice that I knew calling me by name, and this proved to be the first officer, who had sailed with me before as second mate, and the first words I heard were his: - "Captain Davies, am I here to save you?"
In attempting to tell us of the kindness he and his crew received on board the Manawatu, Captain Davies fairly broke down. "I must leave that to you" said he, "perhaps you can find words to express what I mean. I can't." Is it necessary that we should do so?

The Cutter Found
Shortly after eleven this morning the following welcome news was wired to us from Cable Bay by Lieut. Simpson, of the Naval Brigade:
Wakapuaka, 10.34.am.
"The Aurora has found the boat and passengers of the Queen Bee at the French Pass, all safe and well. She will arrive at Nelson at three p.m."

Cable Bay, 12.45 p.m. Saturday.
"Left the Queen Bee on Tuesday morning at 7 a.m., with 21 passengers in all. The boat had only three oars, which were almost useless, no sails, rudder, or mast, and no water, excepting one bottle, which a passenger happened to have, and three tins of preserved meat. We tired to keep on to the vessel, to get rid of some of the passengers, as the boat was over loaded, but, could not, wind and sea being very high from the west. ... At eight o'clock we sighted Savage Point above the French Pass, and the wind shifted to the west and blew us to the mouth of Puna Harbor, where we held on to our oars all night, but had hard work to keep off the shore. At daybreak we rowed into Puna Harbor and landed on a beach, where we made fires, boiled some water, while some of the crew went over the hill to look for inhabitation, and fell in with a Maori settlement, where they were treated with great hospitality. We remained at Punga Harbor till the following day, when we rowed into Elmslie's place where we were picked up by the Aurora. Ten of us come on in the Aurora and the remaining eleven in a Maori boat."
"Those on board the Aurora are:

Dr Maunsell and family
two Misses Fosberry
and four of the crew.

Arrival of the Aurora
Shortly before four o'clock the Aurora was off Haul-Ashore Island, but as the tide was running out with considerable force she was unable to enter for nearly half an hour. Then the sweeps were got to work, and, accompanied by a number of boats that had gone out to meet her, she rounded the point of the Bank. By this time there were several thousands of people congregated, who thronged the road and beach from the Pilot station to the entrance. As the Aurora entered the harbor, ringing cheers went up from the crowd of people who were assembled on The Rocks, and were taken by one little knot after another the whole way up the harbor, the Artillery Band, which was stationed at the Boat Shed, striking up the peculiarly appropriate air of "Home Sweet Home" as she neared her destination. At this time the cheering was incessant, until the boat reached the landing, when it ceased for a while as preparations were made to land the passengers. The first to come ashore was a little child some three or four years of age, who was handed out the boat by Lieut. Gully, then came an infant not ten days old, followed immediately afterwards by Mrs Maunsell, its mother, and her two sisters, the Misses Fosberry. Then again cheers that seemed louder and heartier than ever rent the air, and as the ladies reached the shed where their sisters, residents in Nelson, were in waiting for them, the Band at the request of the Bishop of Nelson and other clergy who were present, struck up the well known doxology, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow," which was warmly joined in by the enthusiastic crowd. The sailors of the Queen Bee who arrived met with a hearty welcome from fellow seaman and others who held out the hand of friendship to them on their arrival. The carriages with the passengers then drove up to town, and the crowd dispersed, after one of the most enthusiastic ovations it was ever out lot to witness. 

Population of Nelson as of last month. 5554

Monday August 13 1877

The Lady Barkly returned to-day from the wreck of the Queen Bee. She is broken in two, the after part being firmly embedded in the mud and immoveable, while the foremost portion is rocked about by the waves. All the contents that may be recovered will have to be taken out by divers.

Acton Adams, Esq., this morning forwarded to the members of the Naval Brigade a cheque for 5 5s towards defraying the expenses of their expedition, accompanied a complimentary letter.

Ten Maoris who brought in the wrecked passengers on Saturday night are to be entertained by the Bishop of Nelson this afternoon at Bishopdale, whither they will proceed by the 4.30 train.

On Thursday last Lloyd's agents in this town sent a telegram to London announcing the total loss of the Queen Bee, and on Saturday night Messrs N. Edwards and Co., the agents of Messrs Shaw and Savill, the owners, received in reply a message, stating that the vessel was not insured.

The Third Mate Saved
About seven o'clock on Saturday evening the Maori boat with the remainder of the Queen Bee's passengers in harbour, and although there was not a crowd to receive them, as was the case on the arrival of the Aurora in the afternoon, a most hearty welcome was given to them by all who were present. A little later the Lady Barkly came in with the butcher, F. Gutherlest, who was one of the two who were missing on Durville's Island.

Cruise of the Aurora
The Aurora left the boat shed shortly after midnight on Thursday to search for the missing boats of the Queen Bee with Lieuts. Gully and Simpson, and twenty of the Naval Brigade. There were also on board Mr Arthur Earnslaw as pilot, and Mr Going, second officer of the ill-fated vessel. There was but little wind blowing at the time, and the oars were kept going until three o'clock on Friday morning, when a light air springing up from the westward, all sail was set. The port watch was sent below, and the starboard one being on duty. The wind suddenly increased to a fresh breeze, and two reefs were put in the mainsail. The sky was then of a deep leaden hue. At four o'clock the breeze suddenly increased to a gale, with a high cross sea. The mainsail was here taken in and replaced by the mizensail, and the Aurora's head was put out to sea. The Aurora was labouring heavily and shipping any quantity of spray. All hands were soon drenched to the skin, and as the night was bitterly cold, they were in anything but a comfortable position. Rain set in shortly afterwards. In the morning the oars had to be resorted to, but it was a difficult job to pull the boat, so heavy was the sea. The boat was then abreast of the Croixelles, where the crew determined to land to light a fire and dry themselves.  A light air from the S.W. having sprung up, they abandoned the intention of going ashore, and stood on for the French Pass. The bow chaser of the Aurora was fired at intervals along the coast, but beyond stirring up a few birds it produced no effect. The Aurora  arrived off the Maori settlement on Durvill'e Island, about four miles from the entrance to the Pass at half-past nine, and no sooner was she in sight than the whole of the Maoris were seen on the beach dancing and jumping about in great glee. The boat had scarcely touched the ground before she was full of Maoris, eager to impart the information that the missing cutter had been found, and that the passengers and crew were all safe and well at Mr A. Elmslie's at the French Pass. Three hearty cheers were given by the crew of the  Aurora, and as they were by this time greatly fatigued after the rough night they had gone through, they were put on shore, with the exception of the officers and the men, who were pulled by a dozen sturdy Maoris through the French Pass. Immediately on rounding the Heads the ensign was run up, and a gun fired. A little boy was seen on the beach, and immediately on seeing the boat coming he rushed into the house to impart the welcome news. The beach was soon crowded with the surviving passengers, and there was a glorious meeting, as seldom falls to one's lot to witness. After the greeting was over, the medical comforts were got on shore, which were greatly relished by the survivors, especially by the crew. As it was impossible to make a start for Nelson just then, on account of the tide at the Pass, various amusements were got up by the Maoris, such as foot racing, vaulting with the pole, throwing the hammer etc. At three o'clock the whole of the passengers embarked in the Aurora, and after giving three hearty cheers for Mr Elmslie and Mr Webber, the boat started for the Maori settlement to pick up the crew of the Aurora. On arrival at the settlement there was such a sea running that it was found impossible to proceed any further that night, and accordingly every preparation was made for remaining at the settlement. Tea was served up by the Maoris at half past four, and after everyone was satisfied, an adjournment was made outside, where an al fresco concert and ball was held by the members of the Naval Brigade, which was greatly enjoyed by the Maoris. At seven o'clock supper was announced, consisting of potatoes, fish, and damper, and at 8.30 the order was given "All hands pipe below." The mainsail of the Aurora had been rigged up as a tent, and under this the crew of her turned in. It was a matter of impossibility to get much sleep, as the Maori women, whom the chief had kept up all night cooking, in their eagerness for the comfort of everyone, would come in about every ten minutes with a candle and poke it in the faces of the recumbent figures just by way of admiring them. Shortly after mid night all hands were turned out and piped to breakfast, after which every preparation was made for starting. After a consultation between the officers of the Aurora and the second officer of the Queen Bee it was decided to take half the passengers in the Aurora, and put the remainder in the Maori boat, as the natives were very anxious to bring some of the passengers on, though the Aurora could easily have carried them all. At three o'clock everybody was safe on board, and the Aurora was soon ploughing the water under the influence of sixteen oars against a light head-wind and sea. Cable Bay was reached shortly before eleven, and telegrams forwarded to Nelson. Every kindness was shown to the passengers by Mr Sahpley, the manager, who sent refreshments down to the boat, including grog, tobacco and matches for the crew. After giving three cheers the Aurora left for Nelson at 12.30 pm, the wind blowing light from the sea. At 1 pm the booming of the Naval Brigade in the distance were heard, and in response the bow chaser of the Aurora was fired and her bunting run up. As the Lighthouse was approached several boats containing refreshments were met, and after partaking of these the oars were once more got out, and the boat made good progress, arriving at the harbor at 4 p.m., and after pulling through a strong tide, arrived at the Pilot Station at 4 30 pm, all the crew and passengers in the very best of spirits. 

Finding the Third Mate
About 11 o'clock last night the H.M.S. Sappho arrived at the outer anchorage, and it soon became known that she had Mr Mason, the last of the missing men on board. The Sappho arrived at Astrolabe on Saturday, where she met the Manawatu, and then crossed over to D'Urville's Island where the Lyttelton was found. Five of the latter's crew and 20 of the Sappho's were landed, and after travelling about in all directions they were about giving up the search when they heard a faint cry some distance above them. They at once ran up and found the poor fellow thoroughly exhausted, and carried him down, placed him in the boat and brought him on board, where he was placed under the doctor's hands. ..
    NEM Tuesday 14th page 2.  A cry was heard "They have got him," and to our intense surprise and delight was saw the missing man in the Sappho's boat. The poor fellow hatless, almost clothesless, and wretched looking indeed, but still alive...

Mr T.R. Taylor and Mr H. Walmsley, were most untiring in their efforts to find the missing man. They anchored in Port Hardy on Saturday morning, and leaving their boat went over the ridge, camped out that night, and the whole of yesterday were searching on the summit of the cliff without success. They then returned to their boat and joined the Lyttelton at Bottle Point, and were on board the steamer when the man was found.

Captain Noel F.S. Digby, corvette, of H.M. Sappho, 894 tons, having been invited to allow his men to come ashore to join in the Volunteer Parade, he willingly consented, and about 80 of the sailors and marines, headed by the Artillery Band, marched up from the ship to Trafalgar Square where it was decided that the ceremony of offering the thanks of the community to those who had taken part in the search should take place. In the streets at least 2000 people must have been assembled...

We record with satisfaction that one of the crew of the s.s. Lyttelton, 86 tons,, commanded by Captain Whitwell, named James Michael Nilan, exhibited great courage in going to the rescue of the last but one, and brought him safely through the surf. [The Lyttelton brought him to Nelson. See page 2 Aug. 14th]

Rene Hoihoi, and Maoris of Rangitoto Island -It gives us liveliest pleasure to see you amongst us to thank you for your disinterestedness and Christian kindness to the shipwrecked party. You have entertained them most kindly; it was your voice that they heard after the perils of the deep;... said His Lordship, the Bishop.

Tuesday 14th August 1877

The inquiry into the wreck of the Queen Bee will commence at ten o'clock on Thursday morning in the Provincial Hall, before Lowther Broad, Esq., and Captain R. Johnston, Nautical Assessor.
The following have been subpoenaed:-
Captain John Sayes Davis
Messrs Matthew Ballie, John Earnest Going and William Henry Mason, first, second and third officers.
Mr James Smith Cross, Harbormaster 
Mrs Mary Elizabeth Gibbs, a saloon passenger
Dr Maunsell
Messrs W.A. Whyte, H.H. Hilliard, Charles Gibbs Beckett, Richard Gibbs, and Cheel, passengers
Messrs Oscar Frank, John Price, Williams, John Willis and Harnly, seaman

The crew numbered 23. Other crew: 
Edward Williamson, seaman
Cottem, seaman
Martin Wardrope, seaman
Alexander Gardner, chief steward
George McGregor, cook
Charles McConochy, the lookout

The Cruise of the Lyttelton
We left the wharf, Nelson, at 9.30 on Thursday morning, Captain Whitwell being in charge, under orders not to return without news of the missing boats as long as our coals lasted, and on the understanding that the Lady Barkly intended on searching the East Coast of the Bay including Durville's Island, shaped our course for Sandy Bay. On nearing Kaiteri, seeing a sudden smoke, drew close to the beach, but seeing no further sign we went through Astrolabe towards Awaroa, following the coastline and carefully watching each bay, and also to seaward. Whilst taking a hasty dinner we were startled by the statement of the man at the wheel that we had passed close to the dead body of a man floating on the water; the boat was rounded to, and we dodged about some time, but could see nothing more of it, though the tick drops of sweat on the helmsman's face and his earnest and circumstantial story left no doubt as to what his impressions at least had been. Shortly after we spoke to Westrapp, who reported that he had seen a four-oar boat making down the bay toward Awaroa. At this place, as at Totaranui, nothing could be learned, and we kept close to the coast past the Tatas to Waitapu, where we landed with some difficulty in the dark, and where they had not even heard that there had been a wreck. After an anxious consultation it was agreed to start before daybreak, go to the wreck, and then shape a course for Port Hardy, along the line which, from the general direction the wind had prevailed. At three next morning (Friday) it was blowing and raining hard. The wreck looked dismal enough - the sea breaking clean over the hull, the masts all standing, but most of the sails flapping in shreds; no signs of cargo about. After speaking the Uno, 28, Kirk, which was anchored close to the wreck, we bore away for Port Hardy.... We were within a few miles south of the head when we saw the Manawatu lying in a small indentation of the beach about about a mile south of the head. she told us of having taken off twelve of the crew of the captain's boat, and that two were still on the island. It being then just dark and seeing the Lady Barkly making for Greville Harbor, we bore up for the same place, and anchored for the night. After a long consultation together, it was agreed that we should next morning make a thorough search of the northern half of the island, and the Lady Barkly of the south to the rendezvous at Catherine's Cove on the east side. The crew of the Barkly made great fires and fired rockets, and we fired guns to let anyone know our presence, and which afterwards found had been both seen and heard. Ar daybreak on Saturday we were off again and sighting the Sappho a long way off, crawled along close to the cliffs as we dared, everyone scanning each rock and piece of drift wood. The ears, had the best of it, for all at once heard a faint by unmistakable "cooey." The steamer instantly stopped, and a boat lowered, and we gazed more earnestly, but could see nothing but frightful precipices with the everlasting surf beating at their feet, yet the cries sounded louder and louder, and their tone can never be forgotten by any of those who heard them for the first time a man screaming for his life. The boat could not land, but the man turned out to be the ship's butcher, and who had not tasted food nor drink since the Sunday before, crawled down a precipice which would have appalled most athletes in good condition. One of the boat's crew took him a line, and he was soon on board. He seem very much dazed, though strong. We made for Port Hardy, and Taylor's cutter, which we had appointed to meet us there, and giving him plenty of provisions, of which they had none, left him with his three plucky companions to land and make on foot a search which was hopeless from the sea. Suddenly the Barkly hove in sight, and soon we heard the welcome news that all were safe. We went back to notify Taylor of the conclusion and took Taylor's cutter in tow back to Nelson.

Thursday 16th, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23 August 1877 page 2
Wreck Enquiry 

Captain Davis surrendered his certificate, but the first and second mate stated that they had lost theirs in the wreck. There was 150 tons iron on board.

Friday 17th August page 2
Some Collingwood men who have just returned from Farewell Spit that there is a quantity of wreckage lying there, which appears to have been torn from the bows of a vessel. It consists of a piece of rail 20ft long, 12 inches wide, and 4 inches thick, of bright hard wood, either mahogany or teak, with planking attached outside, cut into which are the letters ANTOFAGASTA [maybe the ship was probably from that port]; also a female figure heard 5ft high, painted white with a wreath of roses round the head.

By Mr Pitt: I have held a master's certificate for seventeen years, and it has never been suspended or cancelled. This is the first time I ever got ashore. I was in the Dallam Towers when she was dismasted over 3000 miles from Melbourne. I had no salvage to pay on her. I have been four years in Shaw and Savill's employ, and they sent for me this time. I did not seek employment. I had six compasses on board all together.

The distance from where the vessel struck to Separation Point is about twelve miles. The doctor was on the articles at a shilling a month. My pay was 15 a month, and 5s  on the nett earnings of the ship. 

Finding of Court of Inquiry
1. That there had been want of proper navigation between the time of sighting the Spit Light and of the ship striking
2. That there was culpable neglect in not using the lead
3. That a bad look out was kept.
The Nautical Assessor fully concurs in the foregoing decision.
Decided the ship was lost through the default of the master, John Sayes Davis, [of grave default in not using lead and other means of ascertaining his position when so near the shore and on a strange coast] I decide to suspend his certificate for three years, and I am further of the opinion that there was default contributing to the loss on the part of the second mate, John Ernest Going, [as he was the officer of the watch at the time of the stranding, and did not use proper precautions to keep the vessel off the shore] I decide to suspend his certificate for six months. The chief mate was in grave error [ to the navigation of the ship] as the captain was not responsible, and I have therefore no power to punish him [being acting under the master's orders]


The Lady Barkly was a paddle steamer built in Melbourne in 1861 and bought by Captain James Smith Cross in 1868, altered to a screw in 1883, re-named the Hina in 1911and broken up on Haulashore Island by 1934. Cross was a Deal boatman, a coxwain who became Pilot and Harbourmaster for Nelson, a position he held for nearly forty years. He was pilot from 1842-1847 and harbourmaster from 1850-1882. Cross was there when Captain Frederick George Moore influenced Capt. Arthur Wakefield  in selecting Nelson Haven as the next New Zealand Company settlement. Cross died 19 Jan. 1882.  Captain Moore, master mariner, died in Wellington on 14 Nov. 1892, at the age of 77 years.

Nelson Evening Mail 20 Jan. 1882 
Death of Mr Pilot Cross
Yesterday afternoon there passed over to the great majority a man who was well known not only in Nelson but throughout New Zealand. James Smith Cross  was at the same time a grand specimen of the brave British sailor, and of energetic enterprising colonists, and it will be long ere he, the only, chief pilot in Nelson will be forgotten either by his fellow settlers in the place or by the officers and seaman in the ships visiting this port. He was born at Deal on the 14 December, 1817, and had therefore just completed his 64th year. When he was yet quite a youngster he ran away from school and entered the Royal Navy as an apprentice. At 24 years of age he joined the expedition, consisting of two ships, the Whitby and the Will Watch, which was despatched under the superintendence of Captain Arthur Wakefield (for whom the subject of this brief memoir always entertained a respect almost to veneration) and on the 3rd November, 1841, after a passage of between six and seven months, they dropped anchor in the Astrolabe roads. The instructions under which they were to found the settlement of Nelson somewhere in Blind Bay, the most fitting spot for the town being left to their selection. On arriving, their first idea to lay out the township on the flat land at Kaiteriteri, but before coming to a decision a boat was despatched in charge of Mr Cross to take a look round, and see if a more suitable spot was to be found. Soon he discovered the Nelson Haven, with which he destined to be so intimately associated for forty years, and having returned to the ship and reported what he had found they sailed across, and landed the first settlers on the shores of what was known to the Maoris as Whakatu, signifying an island cliff, a name given to the district on account of what is known to us as a Arrow Rock. A few months afterwards his wife arrived, and many a tale we heard the early settlers tell of the kindness and hospitality displayed by Mr and Mrs Cross. In the course of time he was duly appointed pilot and harbour master, and how well he performed the often times difficult duties pertaining to the office is too well known to need any mention from us. In 1880 he lost his wife...

Reference online: Papers Past Images online. NZ National Library.

Evening Post, 11 May 1901, Page 3

A SKETCH.

A builder's yard, a ship upon the ways,
The groan of straining planks, the Snap of stays,
The cheering of a crowd : "She moves !" "She's off!"
And with a sudden rush and splash the great ship leaves the wharf.

A storm-swept, foam-tossed sea, a howling gale,
A ship half lost in foam, a rag of sail,
The tolling of a toll, bow lost, now clear
"The , shore"! the shore !" she strikes in crashing waves
To disappear.

A summer's eve, a calm and wailing tide,
A dismal stretch of sand that tries to hide .
The bones of some great vessel prow on high,
Outlined against the sunset's last faint glow
Athwart the sky.

Julian Hinckley in Outlook.