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The White Rose 
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Richard Bennett and Josephine Treloar with their baby Sabina chose to come to New Zealand from Cornwall. They travelled on the White Rose, which was built in Quebec in 1874, and which was on her maiden voyage. She was a ship of 1557 tons, owned by Messrs. Ellis and sons, London, and chartered by the Shaw, Saville Co.

February 14th 1875 ship sailed from London

February 16th ship arrived in Plymouth sound. It was at Plymouth that she took on her passengers.

February 21st set sail for New Zealand with 166 Government immigrants.

March 1st The Island of Madeira was sited.

March 19th Crossed the Equator.

April 6th Little Sabina died from diarrhoea. She was only 8 months old.

April 23rd Josephine gave birth to a son who lived for one hour.

According to the ships log nothing worthy of note occurred until:

April 14th The Captain, T.G.Thorpe, was found dead in his berth, having died suddenly from apoplexy. Mr. C.W.Best, chief officer, took charge.

May 1st So far the ship had experienced moderate winds and conditions.

May 3rd The vessel encountered a succession of gales, with very heavy high seas, the ship rolling violently at times.

May 4th It was discovered that some of the railway plant stowed in the main hold had got adrift, and as it consisted mainly of carriage wheels, it was rolling about considerably. The crew managed to secure the cargo as best they could under the circumstances.

May 9th The Passengers wrote the following letter to the captain: -



We, the passengers, beg you not to delay to throw the iron wheels overboard. All that has been done or can be done to make them fast cannot fail to prevent them from knocking a hole in the side of a ship. Our lives are in great danger, and we pray that you will at once sanction our request, - and remain yours obediently, G.J. Kimber, and fifty other passengers."

May 10th Another heavy gale was encountered, and the vessel shipped large quantities of water, the sea literally sweeping the decks A heavy squall struck the ship carrying away the fore upper topsail yard.

May 11th The main topmast broke in the middle and as a natural consequence it settled down. This was secured as far as circumstances would allow. The wheel portion of the railway plant was still adrift, and constantly rolling about, proving utterly impossible to secure it properly. Captain Best deemed it advisable to bear up for the nearest port in order to save lives, property and cargo. Damages might be repaired at this time and the cargo re-stowed. Port Louis, Mauritius being the nearest port of call the captain set the vessel’s course for the island

May 13th The crew broached some of the ship’s cargo of brandy.

May 22nd Arrived at Port Louis. The necessary repairs undertaken.

June 10th The vessel proceeded on her voyage leaving Port Louis.

June 21st After passing St Paul's Island and Amsterdam Island further heavy gales were encountered, with most boisterous weather.

June 23rd Whilst travelling under a heavy north-east gale, the vessel shipped a big sea which washed her fore and aft, besides doing considerable damage to the sails and running gear.

July 9th A fire broke out in the lower foremost hold amongst the cargo, but owing to prompt and strenuous efforts of both crew and passengers it was speedily got under control, the cause and extent of the damage being unknown.

July 11th - The following testimonial by the immigrants was presented to Mr. C.W.Best: -


Dear Sir,

We, the passengers from England to New Zealand, beg to tender you our united respect and sincere thanks for the able manner in which you have discharged your duty as commander of the White Rose. We cannot be unmindful of the lamented death of your predecessor, a sad event in the midst of the mighty ocean, which suddenly imposed upon you the arduous duties of commander of our ill-fated ship. When the hour of danger was nigh, we found that you anticipated our fear; we saw with satisfaction that we were in safe keeping, and we saw with admiration that you humanely jeopardised your future position for ours by seeking shelter and repairs in Mauritius. We should indeed be unworthy of the name Englishmen, were we not to tender you our gratitude for our safe deliverance from a watery grave, which, but for your anxious care, wise decision, and humanity, would eventually have been our fate through the shifting of the cargo. We are assured that you have discharged your duty as commander in a manner that demands the best consideration of the owners, merchants and others concerned in the safety of the ship, and congratulate them in the appointment of one so thoroughly worthy.

Signed on behalf of the Committee – G.J. Kimber, Chairman; Richard Murdoch, Secretary"

July 21st 1875 The ship signalled off Lyttleton at nine o’clock in the morning. She had been so long expected but as she was a new ship, when her number was run up her name was not on the list of ships and so all on shore were in doubt. The wind blew strong from the S.W during the day and the ship was only able to come to anchorage some two miles outside the heads.

The voyage had taken 157 days from the Thames or 150 from Plymouth. During the passage six births took place (two being stillborn), one adult and two children had died. When the vessel left Mauritius tropical fever and ague existed, and during the voyage one man had died from fever and plague. At 4pm the SS Gazelle, with the Health Officers and Commissioners proceeded to the ship. On going alongside the surgeon-superintendent stated there was no further sickness on board. The commissioners decided to land the immigrants at Ripa Island for two reasons; – One, that the immigrants having come from a port where tropical fever and ague exists, they considered it would be advisable to ascertain if such existed; – and two, to allow them time after such a long voyage to clean their clothes, and have a weeks recreation prior to entering on their labours.


July 22nd The immigrants were landed, the single girls on Ripa Island and the married couples and single men on Quail Island. The detention was very slight and the ship was not placed in quarantine.

An inquiry was held on board the White Rose respecting the conduct of the third mate. The Commissioners, after hearing the evidence, fully exonerated that officer from all blame.

July 23rd The ship got under way and with the assistance of the tug Mullogh came up to an anchorage off Stoddart point.

Mr. Best requested the Christchurch Star to insert the memorial dated May 9th (above), in order to show the cause why he put into Mauritius on his passage from London to Canterbury.

July 28th The immigrants were landed and were open for engagement. Message to Immigration Officer:- Two passengers wish to go to Invercargill. The Contract was to go only to Lyttleton but the reply was "Let them go". Thus RB and Josephine were allowed to travel on to Bluff where they settled in Invercargill.

There was also a John James with assisted passage on board. His age was given as 21yrs. This may have been Josephine's brother but the age is incorrect. However it was common in those to either up their ages for one reason or another or simply not know their age (I was born in the year of the great flood, etc).

To read about the conditions expected on a trip to New Zealand click here ship6.gif (10566 bytes)

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Last modified: November 30, 2008