The three week stop of the ship St
Pauli at Bahia, Brazil
Written by Don Allan
Among those aboard were my mother's lineal ancestral family - that of Cordt Heinrich Bensemman. My research into this line suggests your note sources are only partly right. There was an outbreak of Smallpox about three weeks after leaving Hamburg, the ship having cleared the Elbe only on 4 January 1843 because of weather. Reportedly Dr Göders brought the outbreak under control speedily. The main reason for the Bahia port call (St Pauli arrived 4 March) was conflict with the shipboard agent for the NZ Company and German Colonising Company, the "Deutsche Colonisations Gesellschaft". The dictatorial agent, Johann Nicholas Beit, had imposed short rations and harsh punishments for infringement of "regulations" and also attempted to dictate to Capt Schacht. The observant and uncowed Schacht, sympathetic to the valid frustration with Beit, took his ship into Bahia where formal complaints were laid at the Britsh and German consulates. Beit was removed as agent, in favour of his son, but his influence continued - only resolved by threat of court proceedings at Nelson and public disclosure of his conduct. And, yes, Schacht did replenish his water supply and take aboard fresh stores.
To the St Pauli
Written and kindly provided by Don Allan
(Information comes from a variety of sources)
Reportedly a fairly new ship at the time of her charter on behalf of the New Zealand Company. She had apparently been launched (at Bremen or Hamburg?) in 1841. One source indicates she may have actually been built by, but more probably for the merchant company of JC Godeffroy and Sons. In the earliest 1840s Godeffroys, with other German commercial interests had established the "Deutsche Colonisations Gesellschaft" (German Colonising Company). It was this organisation which negotiated with the NZ Company to charter a vessel and provide an emigrant party. In the middle of these dealing was the devious, self important "agent" Johann Nicholas Beit. Somewhere in Beit's association with the DCG was a plan to colonise what became the Chatham Islands. This was to have been the original destination for the St Pauli party. It was only stopped when the British Colonial Secretary learned of the plans. (Another interesting story.) As a consequence the destination was changed to Nelson.
The St Pauli is described as being of 380 tons and of "frigate class", equating to a three-masted barque. She had some 1680 sq ft of passenger-deck space and under Britain's Passenger Acts could carry 112 adults. However ventilation for those who travelled steerage was poor as the owners did not allow installation of additional scuttles. On the voyage some 123 people were to be accommodated in the 'tween decks area. Steep companionways/ladders were at each end of the steerage accommodation, bunks stood out end-on to the hull, while in the centre were fixed benches and tables. All around would have been clothing, baggage and other immediate possessions. Cooking was done in a galley on the main deck by "cooks" representing the various messes (groups of people). The ship's captain was a Peter Schacht who, on the charter voyage, was accompanied by his wife and young son. Also aboard was Dr Jacob Friedrich Göders - surgeon/superintendent of the passengers and emigrants. He was "aided'' by two wardens and a nurse.
26 December 1842: The St Pauli took aboard the last of her passengers at anchor in the Elbe at Hamburg. Reportedly before weighing anchor the two Lutheran pastors aboard conducted the marriage of three couples in steerage - watched by officialdom and other curious onlookers. Two other couples would be married later. (I haven't found any of these identified.)
28 December 1842: St Pauli weighed anchor but conditions forced Schacht to anchor down stream that night and the following day. Here they remained until 4 Jan 1843. 4 Jan the St Pauli cleared the Elbe but was forced by a severe storm towards the Scandinavian coast. This cruel introduction to the voyage lasted four weeks when Schacht finally managed to break out into the North Sea and head down through the English Channel. Through the murk one of those who braved the deck reported sighting beacons flaring above the ports of Dover and Calais. (Here, also, those fit enough drank the health of Queen Victoria - uniting the crowns of Hannover and England.) Already agent Beit had begun imposing his authority, including attempting to dictate the ship's operation to Capt Schacht. Reportedly Schacht retaliated by threatening to replace the English charter flag with a German ensign. Amid all this Dr Göders faced and successfully contained a smallpox outbreak.
4th March 1843: Capt Schacht took the St Pauli into Bahia, Brazil, where complaints against Beit were brought before the British and German consular staff. German records identify the hearings of 14 and 16 March. Beit was relieved of his appointment but continued to influence his successor - his son. Three weeks after arriving at Bahia the St Pauli sailed again.
14 June 1843: The St Pauli arrived off Nelson where she landed the passengers and emigrants on 16 June (the day before the nearby Wairau Massacre). Ashore Beit's continued attempts to exercise an imagined authority over the Germans resulted in threats by and against him, letter exchanges in the local paper and the issue of legal proceedings. Beit, with his English wife and large family left New Zealand about a year later. The rest of the St Pauli party struggled for several years to overcome the effects of Beits influence, the language barrier, and making a start in a new country.
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