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From the Diary of Henry Marsh on the voyage to New Zealand, on board the sailing ship "Ida Zeigler"

Our thanks to Lyn Johnston, the Great Grand Daughter of Henry Marsh. Lyn quotes one comment by Henry Marsh which certainly indicates the benefit of migrating in those days "...if I'd stayed in England I'd have only had the length & the breadth of me'. 

June 22

Slept for the first time on board very well.

June 23

Ditto - not so well.

June 24

Ditto - 6 o’clock - landed on board 1 milck cow, I dead sheep, half a cow. 4 deer for Sir George Grey Governor - 10 o’clock hauls out of dock into the basin. Roast beef for dinner.

June 25

6 o’clock - steam tug took us down to Gravesend. Had biscuits serve out to us - roast beef for dinner - Government inspectors has inspected us passengers and crew. Started again to the Downs. Made captain over our lot three lot. Steam tug took us down the Nore. Cast anchor for the night. All right yet.

June 27

A good night sleep, eat a good breakfast. 10 o’clock and the wind gone very cold and rough. The passengers are nearly all very sick. I begin to feel very poorly. Can’t eat no dinner nore more meat today. The wind blow right against us, we get on very slow.

June 28

Sunday - it is calm today, the wind is against us poorly all day very slow passing the French coast and the Isle of White.

June 29

A good night rest, nearly well again. Passing Portland. There is about 110 passengers.

June 30

A good rest and a good breakfast. Pass Start Point, 6 o’clock reach Plymouth. All right again.

July 1

Put on board 12 sheep, 12 pigs, 36 ducks and 8 fowls. Wrote letter home, and to Mr Salter. Received a letter from home.

July 2

Stopping at Plymouth all day.

July 3

Started at last. The steam tug took us out of Plymouth Harbour about 4 o’clock this morning, 8 o’clock steam tug come along side of us with a policeman for Mr Rowe for appropriating 100 for his own and belonging to is master. He is a bank clerk. He has made it up with paying his rate (Lyn's note: I think the word is 'rate' but it is on the edge of the paper and extremely faded and hard to read.)

Beutiful day. Seen some bottle headed porpoises. 9 o’clock bid adiew to England, the last we saw of England was two lights.

July 4

For the Atlantic, butifull day - first rate, eat anaything, past three ships.

July 5

Sunday - butifull day passing the Bay of Biscay. Morning prayers at 10 o’clock. Signal a ship. 7 o’clock a dead calm for 2 hours. 9 o’clock started going again. We have been going right south-west.

July 6

The wind is against us. See a ship and some porpoises. 6 o’clock very rough for 2 hours.

July 7

Passing a ship. The Captain ask her where she going and all about her by signall. Going to Calcutta from Liverpool, ‘Tanasram’. The wind favourable.

July 8

Fine morning. Very slow. ‘Tanasram; gaining on us. We have seen five or six wales, one shark, about a score of porpoises, some little fish about one or two pounds weight. Dark soon after 8 o’clock. My watch has gain above an hour. We sees some birds called Mother Carrey chickins the size of a swallow.

July 9

Fine morning - 9 o’clock see 7 ships at once. One ship come within 20 yards of us the ‘Lizzie Annie’ of London. Our Captain spoke to theres and ask him to report him to the Agents. All Well. We have beat the ‘Tanasram’ - lost her in night. The temperature is 68 degrees - we are quite well again.

July 10

Beutifull day - ship is steady as a house.

July 11

Very warm - going along very slowly.

July 12

Sunday - fine day - morning prayers - singing hymns at night. Going at 20 miles a day.

July 13

Very warm and fine and nearly standing still. Wrote home - passing a Spanish vessel name the ‘Packeta’ sent out a boat to it with our letters. Bound from Havanna to Marseilles.

July 14

Fine day - fair wind. Going along first rate - very warm.

July 15

Fine day - fair wind - we see 4 vessells - Trades winds.

July 16

The same as yesterday. We’ve got in the Trades.

July 17

Ditto - past a Dutch ship, signal to her.

July 18 & 19

Sunday nearly a calm. Layerd a boat and catch a turtle about sixty pounds weight.

July 20

Going a little faster. In the tropics yesterday

July 21

Going first rate - 3 flying fish dropt on deck.

July 22

Very slow - 23 - Very slow - the Dutch has overtook us again.

July 24

Very slow. 8 ships in sight. Rain 2 hours. Spoke to 3 ships, one is the ‘Asterope’. They come 2 men 2 women from the ‘Asterope’, our Captain invited them to come and dine with him. They did come the Captain, Doctor, Second Mate, two ladies, two passengers and 4 sailors, they stopt till after 9 o’clock, jolly spree. The sailors drawd the dead horse round the deck 3 or 4 times and then drawd him up to the yardarm and then dropt him in the sea. Fired 5 rockets, burned some blue lights.

July 25

Our Captain return the compliment with ‘Asterope’ - calm all day.

July 26

Going first rate, left the ‘Asterope’ behind.

July 27

Fine day - going first rate, past 3 ships, signall to one. Two where close to our ship, the Captain shouted to them.

July 28

The wind is against us, showery, roast mutton for dinner.

July 29

Wind against us - 30/31 - 1 August - tack about yet, cooler.

August 2

Sunday, gets cooler - 12 hours sun - dark at half past six.

August 3

Monday, Neptune comes on board at 7 o’clock, leave us eight, promise to come again tomorrow with his family. Good South-East Trades.

August 4

Tuesday, crossing the line - Neptune brings his family on board at eleven 0’clock with the Doctor and Barbar to shave Ashwood, Jack and Martin Wilson and the Doctor Mr Chips, jolly spree at night.

August 5

Going first rate.

August 6


August 7,8,9

Sunday, 15 degrees, going first rate

August 10,11

Tuesday, we see an Island, Trindada

August 12, 13, 14

Nearly calm

August 15

Very strong breeze against us.

August 16

Sunday, they catch two Cape Pigeons, very slow.

August 17

Going 300 miles some days this week.

August 22

Greenwich Time.

August 23

Sunday, sun sets at 5 and rises at 7 o’clock

August 24

Tea at 5 o’clock, lamp lighted.

August 25

Foggy day.

August 27

Going at the rate of 17 miles an hour. Passing the Cape of Good Hope.

Sept 1

Very rough night and all day. No danger

Sept 6

Sunday - rough night.

Sept 13


Sept 20

Sunday - passing Tasmania

Sept 23

See land.

Sept 24

See Wales/

Sept 27, 28, 29

Head winds.

Sept 30

Misty at times.

October 1

Passing within 2 miles of the Three Kings at 2 o’clock this morning. We see the land of Auckland all day, a butifull warm day, cloudless sky.

October 2

The wind is right against us, a dull foggy day. 4 o’clock passing some rocks call the Poor Knight.

October 3

Butifull day, light wind favourable, sailing between rocks, Islelands and land all day.

October 4

Sunday arrived in Auckland after sailing one hundred and one days from London. Went on shore and saw Mr T Masefield and stopt in Auckland all day. Slept on land.

Lyn’s note: I have copied this narrative verbatim from Henry Marsh’s handwritten diary and the spelling and grammar are his. The only liberties I have taken have been to type ‘ditto’ in full, whereas it is written ‘Do’ in the Diary and to add the occasional hyphen, comma, and full-stop. I have done this to make the reading of this fascinating family document easier, but have been very careful not to alter the context and meaning of Henry’s writing.

The Diary carries on in Auckland

October 5

Wrote home met…..James Salter……..

October 7

William began to work began board and lodgings

October ?

William received 28 shillings 4 days work.

October 11

Sunday - went to a Baptist Chapel.

October 12

Ganges arrived

October 15

Went to work in the morning rained (all?) afternoon.

October 17

I’ve received 9 shillings 1 day . William 2.25 this week.

October 18

Sunday - went to Church

October 20

October 22

Went to Otahuhu

October 24

I received 22s 6d, Will 7s 6d I’ve….. Bought a horse and drove Vernon….. for 3 days

October 25

Went to Otahuhu


Wrote home to sister.

October 31

Saturday rec’d of Williams ?? Owes Vernon…

Nov 7

Saturday, ditto

Nov 12

Parker 1.8.0.

Nov 14

Ditto Maiden? 1 days 11 Vernon 3 days Wayte 6.0d (both names ruled through?)

Nov 21

Rec’d Vernon 3, Wayte 1.4.0

Nov 28

Weather butifull - received for moving (morning?)3.3.0.

Nov 29

Wrote to Thomas Marsh and J Dicken and sent 2 papers, one to Father one to George sent Father 2 papers before and one to Mr Marsh Crasmere. Received no letters nore papers.

Dec 7

Received of P Grace 3.5.0.

Dec 12

Received of J Wayte 3.3.0. Mack (7s 2d?)

Dec 20

Ditto Robinson 10. Hicks 15s.

Dec 26

Ditto 1.6.0. Mail come in, no letters.

Dec 25

Christmas Day - went to Wood Isleland.

Dec 31

Sent 4 papers home, letters to T Salter, J? Lister

Jan 1 & 2

Went to the races and got 2.6.9d? each. (Amount not clear, but I think it’s right!)

Jan 5

Sent a paper to Brother Thomas.

Jan 6

Received our first letter, sent home a paper (Petlmamaa……???)

Jan 16

Bought a two year old colt for forty pounds.

Jan 30

Bought a five year old horse for thirty-two pounds.

Feb 1

Sent sister a letter, father a paper Griffe and George

Feb 5

Will got a letter from E and 3 papers.

Feb 8

Sent John Brian a paper.

Feb 14

Dry hot weather this last fortnight.

Feb 20

Bought a horse, seventy-seven pounds.

Feb 26

Received a letter from sister. The weather is colder.

Feb 28

Received 2 more letters and 4 papers in answer to our first.

Feb 28

Sent sister a letter, father and George a paper.

March 5

Sent a letter to Tom and Richard a paper. Received 2 letters.

March 31

Sent Eliza a letter, George a letter, Father a paper, John a paper.

April 4

Sent George a paper.

April 6

Sent George a monthly sumnerly (summary?) paper latest war news. We have not had a heavy shower since Christmas. Weather butifull, grass is getting green again.

April 25

Received 2 letters from home, 3 papers one Shrewsbury, one Newport and one Wellington paper.

April 31

Sent home 1 paper Griffith, 1 Father, 1 George, one.

May 1

Been raining all night. Miserable wet Sunday.

May 3

Received 2 more papers from home.

May 7

Poor Robert Died. It has been a fine week.

May 7

Sent John Brian a weekly newspaper dated 6th.

May 8

Sunday - showery, burying Robert at 4 o’clock.

May 13

Friday 9 o’clock at night start from Queen St Wharf to go to Mangawia, (Mangawhai?) arrived Saturday at 3 in the afternoon.

May 15

Sunday - went as far as…….Slept all night. Arrived at Armitages.

May 16 - Monday to

May 19 Thursday

Sent sister a letter and Will one. Fetch my things from the town, Ship got them swamped in the night, Dried them the next day. Showery week.

Sunday 22

Walk as far as Ora Brooks in the morning, Ben and (me?) went to Eddy Brooks and had some oysters, Sowed some peas, onions and cabbage. Frosty night.

Monday 23

Began to put up a hut or stable.


Went with Ben to work for Wilcoxon.


Began to fence the Peach Grove in a few frosty nights. A lot showery in the week.

Sunday 29

Miserable wet day.


Went to market order the wood for house building. Received a letter from sister, J Dicken & Will and a paper.


Finished fencing the Peach Grove.


Began to clear land for house & garden. Frosty night or two, butifull sunny days rather cold at nights.

June 5

Sunday. Butifull day. Went to Chaple to Marcroft, about 30 there.

June 6th?

Cleared some land, sowed some hay seed.

June 9, 10


June 11

Help Yates, P Armitage to build there house.

June 15, 16

Cleared, burned the bush, rough windy cold weather with hail & rain.

June 17

Rough cold wet days.

June 18

Sent sister a letter and Father a paper. Planted 33 Early Kidneys potatoes and beans & seeds.

June 19

Sunday. Went to Chapel to Cocks.

June 20

Went a pig hunting. Very frosty catch a pig about 100 lbs in one hour and half. Stot & Co had there house warming.

June 21

Getting posts & carving them.

June 22, 23

(?) wet.

June 24

Wet day.

June 25

Made a ladder (14 rung????)

June 26

Sunday. The first night in the new house.

June 30

Stop & slept at Woodcocks. Went to the Maoris’ Feast. Sowing grass seed & clearing all week. A showery week with warm days, cold nights.

July 3

Sunday. Fine day.

July 4

Received 3 papers.

July 6

Bought a cow for 18.7.0

July 7

Very wet and windy all day & night. Showery week with warm days & cold nights.

July 10

Sunday. Warm showery day.

July 11

Monday. Fetch the cows, very warm days, 2 frosty nights. Clearing & sowing grass seeds. Dry week. Sent of Dickin & Brother large papers.

July 17

Sunday. Went to Chapel Cocks, met with Mr P Mrs Wilcoxon from Auckland.

July 18

Monday. My foot is gone bad.

July 19

Tuesday. Received 3 letters one from Eliza. Ditto Mrs Brian, Ditto Will and had my last English letter returned for deficient postage. Wrote another