The Diary of Henry Herringshaw
Written on board the ship Strathnaver during a voyage from England to New Zealand
30th may 1874 to 31st August 1874
Henry Herringshaw and his wife Ann had been married in Saint Nicholas Parish, Warwickshire on Monday May 25th 1874 and had travelled to Gravesend where, on Saturday May 30th, they sailed for New Zealand.
Saturday 30 May 1874
Went on board ten o'clock. Stayed at Gravesend. Food and sleeping accommodation far better than on shore. Farewell to dry land for a long while. About 400 passengers of all breeds; English, Irish, Scotch, Welsh and Germans.
Sunday 31 May
One baby died last night. The children were all very cross, poor things. Service on deck in the morning. The girls were singing hymns all the evening. I was very sick after dinner. Dead baby taken on shore.
Monday June 1st
Still at Gravesend. Ship and passengers inspected. A gentleman came on board with books and tracts. Feel much better in myself but my wife rather poorly. Weather splendid
Tuesday June 2nd
Set sail at 2 o'clock, went on deck at 4, beautiful morning. Passed Dover at 9 o'clock. Anchored off Deal till next day. A concert in the evening. Everyone seemed intent on enjoying the voyage. Universal good temper amongst us all around.
Wednesday 3rd June
Weighed anchor and fairly off, very slow sailing up the channel. Saw Hastings and several places along the coast. The vessel rolled a little which caused some fun, several cases of sea sickness.
Thursday 4th June
Still very slow sailing. One of the sailors fell overboard, a lifebuoy was thrown to him and he was soon on board again. I am getting impatient at our slow rate, not reached Plymouth yet. A good deal of grumbling about the diet but we are not quite settled yet. Polly (Mary Ann) very poorly. Wishing herself back.
Friday 5th June
Still not wind. Some of the passengers very dirty in their habits. Passed the Isle of Wight. Nothing extraordinary occurred, our pilot still with us.
Saturday 6 June
Oatmeal porridge for breakfast with molasses. A general quarrel which I thought would have come to blows, but was stopped by the first mate coming on deck. We made some progress last night but are still again now. Pilot left us. We have seen the last of England now.
Sunday 7 June
Had a strong gale which is blowing now. The ship rolls fearfully, nearly everybody is sick. In the Bay of Biscay. My wife very ill. No services. Nothing to remind us it is Sunday. Was a little sick myself. Made a plum pudding.
Monday 8 June
Our ship careers along like a mad thing, the sea rolls over the side. A great many still sick. I am in good health, thank God, but my wife is still very poorly. She lies on the deck now with others.
Tuesday 9 June
The Captain now says we have come 247 miles in 24 hours. We overtook a vessel and passed her this morning. My wife still poorly. We made a nice buttercake for tea. We have a strong wind yet. It is laughable to see people stagger about when the ship rolls. We have to tie everything up or they would be all over the ship.
Wednesday 10 June
Thanks God my wife is much better. Strong wind. The girls are singing Home Sweet Home. The women are all busy washing and the men lying on their backs minding the babies
Wednesday 17 June
Met the mail steamer from the Cape early this morning. We all had our boxes up. Some of them were very much damaged but mine was alright. We saw a lot of young whales today.
Thursday 18 June
The weather very hot. We cannot bear anything on at night and scarcely and scarcely anything on during the day. We have been half starved today. We made a pudding of soaked biscuits and raisins. It was very good. One man lost his bed and we all had our berths searched.
Friday 19 June
It is very much cooler this morning and we are going faster than we have been yet. We have had no rain since we started.
Saturday 20 June
Three weeks today since we left London. There are a great many flying fish around this morning. We disturbed a shoal of porpoises and they came rolling after the ship like a lot of pigs.
Sunday 21 June
Weather very hot. Service on deck this morning. In the evening we sang hymns till nine o'clock. We had a tin of Australian meat, preserved potatoes and a plum cake for tea.
Monday 22 June
The heat is almost unbearable. We are getting near the Equator.
Tuesday 23 June
A child died last night belonging to the people who lost one at Gravesend. It was buried at half past 12. The Captain leading the funeral service.
Wednesday 24 June
Hotter than ever and sea very calm. In the evening a fully rigged ship bore down close to us and the Captains spoke to each other and then we gave a good cheer. Our musicians played Rule Britannia and "Should Auld Acquaintance be Forgot" and away she went. It would have been a nice sight but it was nearly dark.
Thursday 25 June
Very squally this morning, heavy showers and sunshine. Several cases of seasickness. There are a great many of us with a nasty rash all over our bodies. The doctor says it is harmless and calls it sea rash.
Friday 26 June
Fair wind. My wife very unwell consequently I had to make our pudding. I used gooseberries, raisins and butter. A welcome change I thought.
Saturday 27 June
Very calm. Saw a great many dolphins. First mate caught one. We also saw a fine shark. Very close in the hold. Remained on deck until 12 o'clock. Another baby dying.
Sunday 28 June
Strong wind but not fair. Baby dead. He was buried at 12 o'clock today. Buried when he had been dead but six hours.
Monday 29 June
We had a very rough night, heavy rain but a fair wind this morning. We crossed the Equator at about 10 o'clock this morning at an unknown hour. At the start of the voyage we had 110 children.
Tuesday 30 June
Very fair wind, saw another shoal of porpoises. Buried two babies. They sew them up in a piece of canvas, tie a piece of old iron to their feet and sink them. 5 children all under 2 years have died since we came on board.
Wednesday 1 July
Wind favourable. We had fireworks last night. The Captain fired off rockets while we were crossing the line. It's a grand sight to see the moon rise here.
Thursday 2 July
I have been occupied in hanging up the clothes in the rigging, it being washday.
Friday 3 July
Our Captain is going to hang out a board each day to tell us what distance we have come in 24 hours. It is 122 miles today which is rather slow sailing. It is splendid to witness the sunset in the tropics and also to watch the moon rise.
Saturday 4 July
We have no twilight now. As soon as the sun sets it is dark, that is about seven o'clock. We have a very nice breeze today. The board will show a high figure tomorrow. It is 127 miles today.
Sunday 5 July
We had rough weather last night but it is very calm now. Strong breeze towards night. I have brought my concertina on deck and a large party of us sang hymns until bedtime. We had no service today. 184 miles in 24 hours.
Monday 6 July
Another child died this morning. The only child of very respectable people. 18 months old 12 o'clock. Since 12 o'clock yesterday we have run 246 miles. The ship rolls very much and the wind almost carries on off ones legs. It makes plenty of fun though.
Tuesday 7 July
We have an American vessel running along side of us in full sail. It is a beautiful sight. We shall leave her far behind. We are having our boxes up again for the Winter clothing. We find it is getting cooler every day. Distance 230 miles in 24 hours.
Wednesday 8 July
157 miles. We shall leave the tropics today. We made a beautiful pie with some Australian mutton and I begged a bottle of stout off the Doctor. So we are doing well today. The salt pork is very good, but I don't like the beef. Many a pound of it is thrown overboard.
Thursday 9 July
The Doctor gave my wife a bottle of ale and a tin of chicken broth. We had flour currants and suet served out to us which we have three times a week. The weather is getting cooler every day.
Friday 10 July
Distance 141 miles. The single girls are parted from us by a boarded partition and they make such a noise going to be that some of the married people made complaints and the Captain said he is disgusted with what he hears. Some of them are very respectable.
Saturday 11 July
6 weeks today since we came on board. The captain and some of the sailors say they have never had such a voyage in their lives. Such fine weather, but I should like it a little rougher if it would help us along faster. Some of these Irish or Scotch brought some very unwelcome companions and we are more or less lousy. A sheet was brought on deck smothered in lice. Another 5 or 6 weeks and I hope we will land in Wellington. Evening 191 miles in 24 hours.
The roughest day we have had yet. Pots and pans flying in all directions. Plum cake and mustard, suet and sugar, all on the floor together. A man carrying a pale of hot water spilt some over a child and scalded it badly. Sleep is out of the question. We have seen some pretty birds today. 210 miles.
Monday 13 July
Very we this morning. Obliged to stop at home. A birth on board this morning. My wife is very unwell. She has stout and preserved soup. 138 miles
Tuesday 14 July
We have had the best run we have had yet. 251 miles and we hope to go faster yet. The ship rolls very much. Another little one died this evening.
Wednesday 15 July
Fine morning but the sea runs very high. We had a scene this morning down below. The ship rolled on one side and then the other and down went benches and tins. Women screaming, children tumbling, puddings and cake flying about. A baby lies dead and close by a group of men are playing cards. 242 miles. The seventh child buried today.
Thursday 16 July
251 miles. We have passed the Cape of Good Hope and we are in a direct course for new Zealand. It is bitter cold and we have lots of birds flying around us, some of them 4 feet across from the tips of their wings. One was caught and brought below the deck to show the passengers.
Friday 17 July
We have a large vessel sailing by us today but I expect we shall get before it tonight. It is bound for Calcutta. Very cold winds so no one cares to remain on deck long. We have always had perfect liberty to go on deck at any hour. A week ago we were grumbling about the heat and now the women are wrapping blankets around them when they go on deck. 281 miles. We passed a ship last night which left London 10 days before us.
Saturday 18 July
167 miles. 7 weeks today we came on board. Not seen land yet. I write this at 6 o'clock in the evening. It is about 2 o'clock in the morning in England. The weather is very cold.
Sunday 19 July
Very cold and wet. 200 miles. I made several attempts to catch one of those beautiful birds but no use.
Monday 20 July
Still raining and it is very miserable to have to stay below deck for it is so dark one cannot read. Distance 220 miles.
Tuesday 21 July
160 miles. Kept to my berth with a violent cold.
Wednesday 22 July
165 miles. Very squally. 44 degrees South of the Equator. Clear away from the Cape.
Thursday 23 July
While we were all at tea the ship gave a lurch and over went cups and basins. The seat where my wife and I sat ran away with us and one woman rolled under the table. We had a good run of 272 miles in 24 hours.
Friday 24 July
Distance 190 miles. Scarcely and wind today. There are a great many birds with us yet. A few have been caught.
Saturday 25 July
146 miles. We all had to muster on the poop for inspection. We are all tired of this life, longing for land and fresh provisions.
Sunday 26 July
244 miles nearer Wellington. This is our ninth Sunday on board. No service on deck. It is very cold.
Monday 27 July
225 miles. We have an Irish family in our mess and a family from Hastings and we get out provisions served for the one table but it is a very bad arrangement.
Tuesday 28 July
223 miles. Very rough weather. We are tossed about from one side of the ship to the other. The butcher killed a sheep today but I am afraid none of it will fall in our share.
Wednesday 29 July
We are all in a state of great excitement today on account of the appearance of land. 3 large islands.They are all covered in snow and look very grand, about ten or fifteen miles off. Another little boy bornm this morning. 225 miles.
Thursday 30 July
227 miles. Very cold, snow falling. We have had no sleep for two nights. The weather is so rough. 46 degrees South of the equator. We are pitched from pillar to post. Everybody is falling out with erverbody else. Some have lost pudding tins, some a brush and some a dustpan. It is a wretched life here.
The last day and men are snowballing on deck and snow still falling. The girls snowballed the Doctor and he fell and kicked his heels up in the air. We have run 287 miles. We have seen no kind of fish for about a fortnight.
Thankk God. We have been spared two whole months on the water. We hope to land in about 20 days. Salt beef and suet pudding for dinner. 176 miles.
Sunday 2nd August
Very cold and windy. We are going at a very fast rate. A baby has just been christened by the Captain. We passed an island last night, saw a comet but not very distinct. Polly has not been able to get her box so she has been obliged to make a dress out of a blanket. They are of a dark material so it answers very well.
Monday August 3
A great deal of snow is falling. My wife is unwell. She got a little port wine and some arrowroot. A child is stillborn.
Tuesday August 4
190 miles. Scarecly any wind until evening about 6 o'clock then we had a very heavy gale. I have never seen the sea look so angry. It lasted about 3 hours. Some of the ships tackle broke.
Wednesday 5 August
Wind dead against us. Only 10 miles in 24 hours. Pumping water for about an hour and a half. A large bird caught measuring about 10 feet across from the tips of its wings.
Thursday 6 August
100 miles. Dead calm at 8 am but some of the passengers not very calm, quarrelling. Somebody threw the Carpenter's bench overboard and a door that he had been repairing. Wind freshened up at 4 o'clock. 12 miles an hour.
Friday 7 August
Very rough night. Shipped a good deal of sea. Our bed got quite wet. 240 miles. The first mate and the Captain fell out. Captain drunk and burnt his bed.
Saturday 8 August
160 miles. A good deal of dissatisfaction among the sailors. They are not a good crew at all.
Sunday 9 August
Hail storm at 7.30 am. Baking day for the married people. No service. Distance 232 miles.
Monday 10 August
203 miles. A strong wind blowing from the South East. A man was trying to light a charcoal fire. His heel tripped up and the fire flew about. No breakfast until nine.
Tuesday 11 August
We had a storm last night which carried away two of our sails. The ship looks like a ruin this morning. It has continued to blow all day dead against us. 97 miles. A piece of coal thrown at the mate.
Wednesday 12 August
Wind still unfavourable. It is a great loss to us. Only 67 miles. The last sheep killed.
Thursday 13 August
They are getting sails up now. Wind right behind us. We hope to sight land in 10 or 11 days. 240 miles. The deck covered in snow.
Friday 13 August
Very bright and clear morning. Wind fair. 200 miles. We are running 10 to 12 miles.
Saturday 15 August
11 weeks today on board. A ship in sight at 8.30am. The ship "Canterbury" with emigrants for New Zealand. 69 days out and beating us by one day. 228 miles.
Sunday 16 August
Strong head wind from 4 am till towards evening. Dead body seen floating by us today. Saw a whale. 202 miles.
The last pages of the diary are missing but the "Strathnaver" arrived in Wellington Harbour on 31 August 1874,
after narrowly missing going on to Barretts Reef.