The Voyage of the "Stag" from London to Lyttelton, New Zealand|
4th January 1852 to 17 May 1852
This illustration was painted by Mr. John Drurey to commemorate George and Sarah Bartrum's voyage to New Zealand.
The vessel, "Stag" was built in Sunderland, Scotland in 1842 and on some New Zealand internet web sites has been confused with another sailing vessel (a barque also called Stag, which was built in Halifax).
The sail configuration of the vessel as built was that of a fully rigged ship, however, sometime in the early to mid 1850’s the vessel was re-rigged as a barque, and as such she sailed to Australia as a convict vessel in 1855. As far as can be ascertained the Stag only made one voyage to New Zealand and that was when she was under charter to the Canterbury Association. The sail configuration the Stag used on her 1852 voyage, seems likely to have been ship rigged.
The Stag’s dimensions as listed in the tender: Height between decks – seven feet. Length of lower decks – one hundred and twenty six feet. Beam – 28 feet. She was 545 tons (old measurement)
The Stag was scheduled to clear out of London on December 17th 1851, but did not leave until 4th January 1852 which is just as well because George and Sarah were not married until 29 December 1851!
Summary of Passenger Numbers (Children under 12 were counted as ½) Chief Cabin 32 souls = 27 ½ Adults
Second Cabin 16 Souls = 16 Adults
Steerage (Paying 11; Assisted 43)
54 Souls = 40 Adults
Total Souls 102 Souls = 83 ½ Adults.
George and Sarah Bartrum travelled 2nd Cabin on the voyage to New Zealand
Little was recorded about the voyage and the required journal was not kept by the Surgeon Superintendent, J H Martin. He suffered ill health and constructed his report while in Lyttelton from notes kept on the voyage by his wife. The Chaplain, Revd Nichols served also as School Master and kept an attendance record as well as data in connection with Services held on board and recorded some sketchy notes.
If the “First Four Ships” were sometimes known as the “Summer Ships” then the "Stag" could easily have been called a “Winter Ship”. She left in early January and didn’t arrive in Lyttelton until May 17 - a very long passage of 133 days and a whole month longer than many of the early immigrant vessels.
The Revd Nichols has this to say about the first week of the voyage.
“No service could be performed during the first week in consequence of the boisterous state of the weather and almost universal sickness of the passengers together with the unspeakable confusion on board.”
Dr Martin recorded the first three weeks:
“For the first three weeks we encountered very severe weather which caused considerable discomfort and much sea sickness. In the second and third weeks we lost several sheep and many pigs from the severity of the weather and the neglect of the person appointed to take care of them. On the 13th Jany [January] the cow was injured from the cow-house giving way and throwing her out upon the deck. She died upon the 7 February.”
During the voyage there were six on board deaths among the young children. These occurred on or about 16th March, 22nd March, 27th March, 11th April, 26th April and the 8th May.
Another quote by Dr Martin:
“On the night of the 5th April I was called up to one of the Second Cabin passengers who had frightful cramps in the stomach and limbs which has prevailed in the ship more or less up to the present time, and from which I have severely suffered twice myself, as also has several other Chief Cabin passengers, amongst whom I include Mrs. Martin. I attribute this to the very leaky state of the ship’s decks, topsides, and scuttles which are in such a state that a great number of the berths have scarcely been dry during the voyage and especially since we have been in the stormy and variable weather of the Southern Seas in Autumn. Much of the bedding has been rotted.”
Dr. Martin goes on to say:
“There was but a few days supply of charcoal from which we suffered much discomfort (and in the steerage) hardship during the cold weather. The Ladies (particularly those in delicate health) were obliged o remain in their cabins from there being no stove in the cuddy which was therefore exceedingly cold. In the more serious cases of Mr FitzMaurice and Mary Daley, I have to state that their cabins were under two of the water closets on deck, through which the ‘drip’ was very offensive.”
With regard to the provisions Dr Martin adds this:
“The provisions on board have been of the best description and there has been no complaint either as to quality or quantity. Some of the biscuit has been injured by the damp and 35 cans of preserved meat have been surveyed and thrown overboard on the 3rd of March; the preserved milk kept pretty well for the first three months, since then nine tenths of the cases have proved unfit for use. Some of the passengers had private stores of Moore’s Milk which has proved excellent.”
A further indication of the conditions on board may be gained from the following extract from a letter (June 15th 1852) from the surgeon to J. R. Godley:
“The steerage was regularly scrubbed, scraped and cleaned and the bedding brought on deck, according to the regulations when the weather did not interfere, but the main deck was generally so dirty, as to render it difficult to keep any part of the ship clean; and when it was impossible to place the bedding, the only other available spot being the sides of the longboat whence it invariably got covered with soot from the cooking places. . . “
Life on board.
The voyage, like many was not without incident and the Lyttelton Times records that one member of the crew was up before the local magistrate as the result of an on board incident.
In his report Dr Martin records:
“With respect to some of the officers of this ship against whose conduct I have complaints to make, I may be permitted to state that the evil has arisen from a violation of the rules laid down by the Association with a view to the entire separation and distinction between the ship’s company and the passengers; as confirmation of this I have to remark that the first officer has removed from the cabin appointed to him in the cuddy, to one between decks and that the second and third mates messed with two of the single women (second class passengers) during the early part of the voyage contrary to my instructions.”
Dr Martin records another incident which gives an indication of the atmosphere on board at times.
“On the evening of 17th of March some ladies and gentlemen from the cuddy assembled in the steerage for the purpose of promoting a little social entertainment among the poorer class of passengers, and for the purpose of hearing a lecture which a gentleman who had resided in the colony, proposed to deliver to the emigrants on their future prospects and condition[s]. The latter part of the design was entirely frustrated by the presence of some of the crew who positioned themselves by the lattices at the end of the steerage, and during two hours vociferated for drink in language so indecent and blasphemous that it would be impossible to commit to paper. As this occurred in the presence of ladies, as well as respectable women in the steerage, and was a gross violation of the order in council, I caused the fact to be communicated to the officer of the ship but no effectual interference took place, and the meeting was broken up prematurely in a very disorderly manner. The scene below was followed by one on the quarterdeck and in the cuddy of a very unseemly and violent character, in which the 1st mate, in offering to defend himself from neglecting his duty, indulged in abusive and threatening language against one of the cabin passengers.
From this period it was obvious that parties and factions prevailed in the ship, the graver and more thoughtful endeavouring to support me in he exercise of my authority, the younger siding with the officers in various methods of vexatious annoyance, all tending to produce insubordination on board the ship.
One gentleman rendered himself peculiarly obnoxious to the party upon the occasion of some trifling misunderstanding, was challenged to fight the third mate, which of course was declined, but the animosity was continued to the end of the voyage.”
Extracts from the Chaplain’s / School Master’s Notes.
Sun Jan 11th to Sat 17th 1852: The ship still in the most wretched state of confusion & the weather stormy & wet. No regular visitations could be exercised. I made myself acquainted with most of the passengers who were able to leave their berths.
Sat Feb 7th: Confusion all over the ship. Cow died.
Mon Feb 16th: Preparation for crossing the line.
Tues Feb 17th: Crossed the line.
Fri 20th Feb: Heavy rain. All wet and in confusion.
Mon 1st March – Sat 6th March: I was unable to give proper attention to the school this week as I was completely prostrated by the hot weather.
Sun 14th March: Service on deck for the last time.
Wed 17th March: Heavy rain. Prayers prevented by drinking and singing in the steerage. The steerage too noisy in the morning for any school.
Thurs 18th March: The state of the weather prevented anything being done.
Week ended Sun 20th March: I have attended the school regularly, but the state of the steerage has been such that I could not give instruction for five minutes without interruption. There has been no attempt to keep order. I have been repeatedly obliged to leave the steerage without doing anything.
Mon 22nd & Tues 23rd March: Weather wet & rough, hatches down..
Thurs 25th March: Rain. Hatches down in the morning.
Fri 2nd April: Rough & squally.
Mon 5th, Tues 6th and Wed 7th April: Weather wet and rough. Hatches down.
Thurs 15th April: Too rough for school. Children set to learn poetry.
Wed 21st and Thurs 22nd April. Some children kept in their cabins because of the cold.
Fri 23rd April: Icebergs seen.
Sat 24th April. Very rough. Hatches down. Nearly all the children in bed the whole day.
Wed 28th April: Extremely cold – the children hardly able to sit.
Sat 1st May: Very wet. Hatches down.
Mon 3rd May: Told by the surgeon that no more school could be kept as the steerage must be cleaned.
Sun 16th May: Ship tacking every ¼ of an hour. All on deck.
On arriving at the Lyttelton Heads, the Stag met, as did most early immigrant vessels, with some bad weather outside. This kept her for anchored one night outside the Heads.
The Lyttelton Times of May 22nd 1852 reports the following cargo imported into Canterbury in the Stag:-[Spelling and punctuation as in the original]
102 cases and 12 qr casks wine, 4 hhds. Spirits, 30 hhds. Beer, 61 cases 1 cask oilman’s stores, 40 boxes soap, 15 do candles, 17 bundles 1 bag galvanized iron, 3 crates 2 casks 37 cases merchandise, 1 boat, Cookson, Bowler and Co; 2 cases merchandize, 11 barrels Flour, 30 packages oilman’s stores, 10 barrels ale, 5 kegs nails, 1 chest books, 3 bundles spades and forks, 6 grindstones, 1 cask hardware, 2 casks seeds, E. C. Latter; 4 casks nails, 1 cask books and coins, C. W Bishop; 14 qr casks sherry, G. H. Tribe; 100 bags salt, 1 case merchandize, Joseph Dickson; 33 bundles iron and steel, S. Hughs; 10 hhds. 100 cases beer, 1 case merchandise, Order; 3 cases 3 tins merchandise; Tippetts and Co; 26 packages merchandize 6 bundles hoop iron, George Thomas; 5 octaves wine, Longden and Le Cren; 9 packages merchandize, H. and L. Kenuaway; 24 barrels flour and seeds, J. F. Denton; 50 barrels flour, R. P. Flemming; 6 packages merchandize, W. G. Brittan; 2 bales do, J. Shrimpton; 88 packages do., 2 wheels, F. B. Hollingshead; 6 packages do., John Shand; 6 kegs nails, 1 cask 17 packages merchandize, 16 tons coal, 50 barrels flour, 2 cases papers &c., J. R. Godley; 22 packages merchandize, Rev. C. Nicholls; 6 kilderkins ale, 3 cases merchandize, G. Phillips; 1 cart, 4 wheels, 5 kegs nails, 15 packages merchandize, J. H. Martin, 23 packages do. G. L. Lee; 11 do., 2 boat’s masts and various packages, J. C. Perceval. (There was other cargo which was to be unloaded in Wellington).
The ship cleared out of Lyttelton bound for Wellington on June 15 with 19 or 20 passengers.
References used: “Rootsweb” entry on the Internet; The Photocopied records of the Canterbury Association records held at the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch, New Zealand; "Log of Logs" by I. H. Nicholson, 1999; "Letters from Early New Zealand" by Charlotte Godley 1850 – 1853 (Whitcomb & Tombs Ltd. 1951) and various editions of the Lyttelton Times Newspaper.
This information re the voyage of the "Stag" has been documented and researched by Brian Bartrum If you can add to this, he would be delighted to hear from you.
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