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New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator December 11th 1841

Dec. 8, brig Antilla, 283 tons, Capt. Burnett, from the Cape of Good Hope. Passengers - Lady White, Mr. Spain, (Commissioner of Claims to Land,) Mrs. Spain and family, Mr. Ligar, (Surveyor-General,) Mrs. Ligar and family, Mr. and Mrs. Howard and family, Mr, and Mrs. O'Mealy, two Misses Burt, Messrs. Cass, Hewlings, Figg, Bailey, Yates, Scott, Malcott, and Baron.

New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator December 11th 1841

By the arrival of the Antilla, we have Cape papers to the 9th October, mentioning the loss of the long-expected Prince Rupert. The Captain of the Prince Rupert had addressed a letter to one of the papers there, of which the following is a copy :-

"To the Editor: Sir, - In consequence of the rumours current as to the loss of the above ship, I have requested a Court of Inquiry to be held as to the circumstances under which it took place.  - In the meantime I trust you will allow me to state through your columns, that the ship left Gravesend on the 16th April, and Plymouth on the 14th May last, under the command of her owner, Sir Henry E. Atkinson, Knight and Captain in the Royal Navy, having on board Her Majesty's Commissioner, and a staff of surveyors for New Zealand.

On the 8th July she put into Bahia [in Brazil] to fill up her water. Captain Atkinson had suffered much from ill health during the voyage, and became so much worse at Bahia, that his medical adviser thought it necessary that he should return to England. He therefore gave over the command to me, and at my request, and with the concurrence and aid of her Majesty's Commissioner and the British Consul at that port, engaged Mr. Thomas Beazley, who bore a high character for skill and ability, and had made several voyages to the eastward of the Cape, to act as chief officer from Bahia to New Zealand.

We left Bahia on the 23rd July, and proceeded on the voyage till, finding our provisions would run short, it was deemed necessary to bear up for the Cape for a further supply. On the 3rd inst we made the coast, Saldanha Bay, distant about 20 miles, and worked up towards Table Bay with light baffling winds, till about noon of the 4th, when we made Table Land. About 2 p.m. the wind became fair, and we stood on under all sail, until 6, when we took in the royals, and about 7 passed Robben Island and stood for the anchorage, keeping the lead going until the water shoaled to 6, fathoms; when, the night being dark, it was thought advisable to anchor for the night to avoid fouling the shipping, and the best bower was let go with 45 fathoms chain, and the hands sent aloft to furl the sails; and while this was doing, the ship swung head to wind, and then struck aft on the rocks; her head sails were then set, and the cables slipped, in the hope she would get off, but without effect. - Signed E Ramage

His Excellency the Governor of the Cape of Good Hope acceeded to the request contained in the above letter, appointed G M Pedder, Esq Acting Port Captain, G. Robb, and J. Smith, Esqrs Master Mariners, as Commissioners to take such evidence as might be brought before them, and to report the result of the inquiry into the causes which led to the wreck in question. - The said Commissioners examined Edward Ramage, the Master, Thomas Beazely, Chief Officer, H. Atkinson, second Officer, James Wells, Midshipman, John Winter, Boatswain, Joan Higgins, seaman, all belonging to the said vessel, and M Clayton, Signalman, and came to the following opinion on the subject :-  We, the undersigned, having been appointed by his Excellency the Governor as a Commission to enquire into the causes which led to the loss of the Prince Rupert, on the night of the 4th September 1841, after carefully examining the Officers and part of the crew of that vessel, and having maturely weighed the evidence adduced, are of opinion that had the Officer in charge of that vessel made more sail when the breeze sprung up, (and became steady) instead of reducing sail, that he would have approached near enough to the port to have ascertained his exact position before dark, and would have thereby avoided the danger which led to the loss of the Prince Rupert. We find by the Captain's chart (which was produced in court,) that there was no attention paid to the directions which are very clearly laid down. We also find that when the anchor was let go and 45 fathoms of chain veered, that the ship struck on her heel, but that no attempt was made to shorten in cable previous, to slipping, which, had it been done, we are fully of opinion the vessel would have been extricated from her dangerous position; had even an attempt been made to run out a stream anchor and cable, we think it would have been the means of serving her; or had a spring been clapt on the cable previous to slipping, it would have materially assisted in giving the vessel headway.

The whole of the proceedings from time of being abreast of Robben Island until the vessel was on shore at Green-point, we consider to be highly culpable, but we fully acquit Captain Ramage' and his Officers of intentionally losing the vessel. We avail ourselves of this opportunity of expressing our opinion, that had there been a good light on the Mouille Point, vessels might approach the anchorage in the night with perfect safety. Given under our hands, at Cape Town, this 24th day of September, 1841. G. M. Pedder, President and acting Port Captain.

G. Robb, Master Mariners and Commissioners.
J. Smith,

All the passengers, and indeed every living thing on board, were safely got out, but the cargo, including much valuable property belonging to the passengers, was all lost or almost irretrievably damaged. The morning after the wreck, two gentlemen, Mr. Froode, a passenger in the Rupert, and a son of Serjeant Mereweather of London, resident at the Cape, put off in a boat with (we believe) three sailors from the Bucephalus in order to save some property from the wreck, and the weather being extremely boisterous, were upset, and all drowned. Some of the property saved was sold at the Cape at a great sacrifice.

On board the Rupert were Mr. Spain, the Chief Land Commissioner, with his wife and family and Lady White, Mrs. Spain's mother; also Mr. Ligar, the Surveyor-General, with Mrs. Ligar and family, and five assistant surveyors. The Antilla brig was chartered to convey these gentlemen in the employ of Government, to New Zealand, for the enormous sum of 2,000 ; they, of course, felt it their paramount duty to reach New Zealand, at any cost, as soon as possible. The immigrants, about sixty in number, sent out by the New- Zealand Company, remain at the Cape, where high wages were offered them. Some passengers for this place will arrive by the first opportunity. Mr. Froode, the gentleman whose unhappy death was mentioned above, was married to a sister of Mrs. Ligar> The widow returned to England from the Cape.

The second mate, Mr. Atkinson, son of the Captain of the Rupert, exerted himself with much gallantry and coolness in recovering the passengers and property from the wreck, and he received a vote of thanks for his conduct on the occasion. We regret very much to add that, among the property lost or sadly damaged, are some most valuable drawings and books of reference executed by and belonging to Mr. Swainson. This is a public as well as private loss and is quite irreparable.