Abbreviated (Details of family sickness not added) Webber Passenger Ship's Dairy; transcribed by Marcia Donaldson


Friday August 6th 1875

We left Emigration Depot, Blackwall, London 1.30pm per Woolwich steamer arriving at Gravesend 3.20pm & slept on board Mataura for the first time.


August 7th

Still at Gravesend busy preparing for the voyage. Slept much better than at Depot.  Victuals. We have more than we can consume and equally as good as any we can get in England with the exception of meat which we are obliged to have salt instead of fresh, the butter is not very good but we have rice. Sugar, tea, milk (preserved), treacle, preserved soup, carrots, potatoes, coffee, pure (whole), pepper, salt, mustard, flour, raisins, suet.


August 8th

At 3.30am while all on board were asleep (sailors excepted) the pilot steamer, Charles Dickens, London came alongside and pulled the Mataura down the river many miles before any on board were aware they had left Gravesend. You might imagine their surprise when they came on deck & found themselves surrounded by water, land being scarcely discernable from only one side at 10am. Discharged pilot & dropped anchor opposite Ramsgate. 3pm held service & singing. Weather very nice. Several women sick, all others well. Weighed anchor at 6.30pm and proceeded slowly down Channel. Moon rising, beautiful evening 7.45pm. At 9.45pm pass Dover lights. All well. Go to bed at 10.


Monday 9th

Rather rough during night. Many sick all day. Fine weather. Single girls laying about on deck like a lot of sheep.


Tuesday 10th

Very rough towards morning. All sick again (no dinner), little tea.


Wednesday 11th

Calm this morning, rather misty. Breakfast in bed, little dinner, tea on deck. Red herring, toast & butter. Calm towards night, no sickness.


Thursday 12th

12 midnight 4 hours watch, rough night. Saw 2 ships at 4am before going off. Late breakfast, toast, eggs & tea. All feeling sickly all day.  


Friday 13th

Very rough night. Ship rolling fearfully. Many very much frightened wishing they had never come. 8am much calmer, 9am saw a number of porpoises, 3 came close to ship & went underneath. At 12 calmer still, ship going fine, only 2 sick. All well, rather misty damp on deck.


Saturday 14th

Damp morning. Continually damp. Fine day for sailing. First time distance sailed posted, 124 miles in 24 hours from 12pm to 12pm. Large German ship in sight going same direction as us. Soon overtook her & left her miles behind before sunset. We have 1 large & 1 small 6 lbs of bread every day. We make toast every morning or else we should not eat it all.


Sunday 15th

Had a fine night for sailing. Strong head wind, rather cold. Service at 1am. Distance sailed 181 miles distance from England 516 m. 5 pm a large wave met the ship. The ship cut through it & a huge quantity of water drenched all on deck - below at the time, rushed on deck to ascertain the cause of the stampede & commotion overhead. I really could not help laughing as did all the rest that were below when they saw them above looking like half drowned rats (as the saying is) being drenched to the skin.


Monday 16th

Very rough night, wind & rain, wet all day. Beautiful baked plum pudding. Very rough towards night.


Tuesday 17th

All awoke at 12.30am midnight by ship rolling fearfully. Almost every water cans, plates, dishes, sugar, treacles, chairs, stools, in fact every article of every description, large & small was swept from side to side of the ship as she rolled over first one side. All the things were stowed up in � or � of a minute every thing was the other side of the ship. Tea, coffee, mustard, pepper that was not tied down to the tables was sent adrift although it was such a fearfull night we could not help laughing to see the things rolling about without any one touching themFor a short time calmer at 8am. Child died at 10am, 6 months old, burial service was read at 4pm & the corpse was consigned to the deep through the port hole.


Wednesday 18th

Calmer this morning. 10am fine weather. Boxes taken up from the hold on deck for those that want anything. Distance sailed 157 miles. All well. All on deck laying & sitting about.


Thursday 19th

Calm night, beautiful morning, much warmer. Potatoe or currant cakes every day or preserved meat pasties one day with an onion (that I brought with me), pepper & salt. It is really nice beef. One day with pickles. Pork & pea soup & preserved meat with potatoes & soup.


Friday 20th

Calm night, all well. Distance sailed 154 miles.


Saturday 21st

Very calm morning, sailed 200 miles. Concert came off this evening but several performances did not respond when called upon it being the first time they were rather shy.


Sunday 22nd

Very calm at night. Sailing very slow, really lovely on deck. Divine Service this morning at 11am. Sailed only 70 miles, scarcely moving afternoon and evening spent in singing hymns as late as 10pm. All well.


Monday 23rd

Calm. Continues getting warmer, splendid on deck. Women sitting down reading & sewing, men reading & conversing, small children to play, large ones at school. Sailed 110 miles. A small flying fish came on deck this morning.


Tuesday 24th

Another lovely morning, wind a little more in our favour. Sailed 134 miles.


Friday 27th

My paper keeps blowing up & the sway of the ship & standing at the bargains as there is no tables on deck. There is a tables below but it is dull below from what it is on deck. 2 sheep died tonight through having eaten some biscuits that were given them instead of hay. Calm & lovely day. Much warmer. Sailed 106 miles. Concert this evening.  


Saturday 28th

Fine morning, going faster. I got up at 4am, tea & wash at 6am. Breakfast, dinner & tea on deck.  Fine day, going much faster. Sailed 160 miles. 8pm going faster still.


Sunday 29th

Ship rolling a little calmer this morning. Fine for sailing at 6am sailed 243 miles, farthest distance since we left London.  Fine morning. An inspection or muster takes place every Sunday morning at 10am on the after part of the ship. We all attended Divine Service at 11am.


Monday 30th

Calm morning. Going fine. Dear Alby better & out of danger. Dear Jessie better today. Sailed 242 miles. Entering the Tropics today. We have lime juice served out to us today. It is very nice, just like lemonade, just as good. 


Tuesday 31st

Calm night. Lovely morning. Passed the Canary Islands at 1.30am. We have just to a large ship a little distance off. It is the St Leonard from London. She sailed a day before us so we have nearly overtaken her. She is bound for Wellington, New Zealand. A ship or sails in eight at 2pm. Lovely day.


September 1st Wednesday

Beautiful morning.  Sailed 112 miles.


Thursday September 2nd

Fine morning. Spoke with the British Consul today, a large ship bound for East Indies. Sailed 150 miles.


Friday September

Very calm, lovely morning. The St Leonard from London going to NZ that we spoke to last Tuesday again in sight this morning after recognition they put off in a small boat in the middle of the ocean & the 3rd mate came on board our ship. They had a number on board their ship as well as us but not so many. She is within one hundred yards off us. The clock is striking four. You would laugh to see the fun going on hurrahing & chaffing each other, throwing empty champagne & stout bottles at each other, holding up living fowls by the legs, ducks, dogs, sheep & to finish up they held a pig. You should have heard the poor pig cry just the same as of they were going to kill it. The roars of laughter which followed you can anticipate it being our weekly concert night. 2 boats full of ladies & gentlemen came over to our ship and remained for several hours. It became very rough & heavy rains but they reached their own ship in safety but got drenched with rain.


Saturday September 4th

Calm morning, all well. Raining at 12.30pm. Sailed 115 miles.


Sunday September 5th

Fine morning. All attended Divine Service at 1am. A ship crodded our bows endeavoured to come side by side with us again but she could not overtake us, waved pocket handkerchiefs at each other.  


Monday September 6th

Very calm morning, scarcely moving. ailed 63 miles. The sailors had a lark today. This day month they received a month's pay do today being pay day as a rule on board of every ship they keep it up. They make the figure of a horse & paint it accordingly. They collect a number of tin pots, pans etc & march around the ship with a man on the horse's back & the horse on the gun carriage. They make a nice monotonous noise, you may well suppose. After the promenade they halt at midships & hoist the horse with the man on its back on to the yard arm of the main sail which projects over the side of the ship (some 3 or 4 yards). They are both hoisted up by the pulley about 30 feet high & then they all sing a song & when nearly finished the man fastens himself to the spar, cuts the rope that suspended them & the horse drops into the sea with a loud splash & is seen no more. It caused some amount of laughter amongst the passengers and as it was dusk a great many thought the man went down with the horse as they could not all stand in front they could not well see the man above but he soon made his appearance & relieved them.


Tuesday September 7th

Calm day. Male child born. Sailed 80 miles.


Wednesday September 8th

All well. Calm morning. Sailed 110 miles.


Thursday September 9th

Fine morning.  Sailed 98 miles. Whooping cough is very bad on board.


Friday September 10th

Fine morning. Sailed 98 miles again.


Saturday September 11

Another calm day.  Sailed 173 miles.


Sunday September 12th

Beautiful morning, rather warmer. Sailed 98 miles, 119 miles from the Line (Equator).


Monday September 13th

Another fine morning. Sailed 113 miles.


Tuesday September 14th

Crossed the Line at 8am in the centre of the world. Sailed 143 miles. Child died at 7pm, 7 months old.


Wednesday September 15th

Fine morning. Child buried at 7am. Sailed 144 miles.


Thursday September 16th

Fine morning.  Sailed 173 miles.




Friday September 17th

Sailed 185 miles.


Saturday September 18th

Fine morning. Sailed 195 miles. 


Sunday September 19th

Fine morning.  Sailed 181 miles.


Monday September 20th

Sailed 161 miles. Very pleasant on deck.


Tuesday September 21st

Sailed 165 miles.


Wednesday September 22nd

Sailed 142 miles.


Thursday September 23rd

Fine day. Sailed 162 miles.


Friday September 24th

Fine day. Sailed 160 miles.


Saturday September 25th

Sailed 141 miles.


Sunday September 26th

Sailed 142 miles. Mr Eastwell's child died this morning, 14 months old. Very wet & rough towards evening.


Monday September 27th

Eastwell's child buried at 8am. Very rough. Sailed 116 miles. Fearfully wet & rough towards evening.


Tuesday September 28th

Most fearfully rough night, the worst we have experienced as yet. Sea mountains high, hundreds of ships would have gone to pieces in such weather. The sailors never knew such a rough night. Many tons of water came on deck over the sides of the ship. Mr Eastwell fell (or he was washed from one side of the ship to the other) & broke his leg. No one is able to walk on deck without holding by the sides of the ship. Another child died this morning 4am, aged 2 years.


Wednesday September 29th (Michaelmas Day)

A little calmer today & sailed 168 miles. A flying fish came on deck, 26 inches.


Thursday September 30th

Very calm today. Sailed 100 miles. A beautiful Cape Pigeon was caught today. Mataura was written on & secured to the bird's neck & set free again. Anderson's child died this morning at 7pm, aged 4 years.


Friday October 1st

Sailed 121 miles. Anderson's child buried at 7am. Nice breeze springing up, going faster.


Saturday October 2nd

Rough night, also morning. Fine for sailing. Sailed 325 miles, the greatest distance in one day since we left London.


Sunday October 3rd

Sailed 171 miles. We have all had a splendid dinner today, hot preserved mutton, potatoes & onions (preserved) and as good a plum pudding baked as ever we had in London.


Monday October 4th

Fine day. Sailed 128 miles.


Tuesday October 5th

Wet & cold. Mrs Scott the schoolmaster's wife died this morning at 4am, aged 55 years. Buried at 4pm. Sailed 161 miles.


Wednesday October 6th

Sailed 207 miles.


Thursday October 7th

Sailed 217 miles. Very wet.


Friday October 8th

Fine day. All others well. Sailed 208 miles.


Saturday October 9th

Fine day. Sun bright, wind rather cold. Sailed 239 miles.


Sunday October 10th

Rough cold morning, hailing & snowing. Mustered on the poop but obliged to relinquish it before all the names were called. We all had a good dinner again today. A beautiful plum pudding we get every Sunday after dinner. Sailed 223 miles. Fine weather.


Monday October 11th

Rough cold morning, hailing & snowing. All hands throwing snow balls. Sailed 261 miles.


Tuesday October 12th

Very cold & sea rough. Sailed 258 miles.


Wednesday October 13th

Calmer this morning. Several large icebergs seen during the night. Again this morning at 12.30pm a huge iceberg came near us within half a mile much larger than Westminster Abbey, a great deal higher. It was the exact shape of a lion crouched down. Splendid imitation of its head & mane. At 1pm about 1 third parted from the remainder so it became two and floated along separately. It was a splendid sight, white as milk. Sailed 213 miles.


Thursday October 14th

Very cold & rough, hailing & snowing. Sailed 199 miles. Mrs Pepperel prematurely confined of a daughter which died shortly afterwards.


Friday October 15th

Very rough & cold, hail & snow. Sailed 143 miles.


Saturday October 16th

Rough night. Mrs Pepperel that was prematurely confined died at midnight. She has left two children behind her under 2 years of age. The youngest is only 10 months old so her husband has a handful. Another pretty child, John Carter died at 4am, aged 2 years. Sailed 273 miles.


Sunday October 17th

Very rough & cold, hail & snow falling. Sailed 261 miles.


Monday October 18th

Children not able to go on deck. Sea breaking over the sides of the ship frequently, whilst at tea the heaviest quantity came over the ship. It left hundreds of gallons of water on deck. Children on deck were washed off their legs & as the ship rocked from one side to the other they were washed from one side to the other as there was about 3 feet of water deep before it escaped through the portholes. The adults climbed the sides of the ship & the rigging to escape being up to their knees in water. Our hatches were fastened down with ropes but the force of the water forced it open as if it had been small cord. Gallons came down the hatching. It fortunately came in the right side but the two families on  beside the hatchway had their beds drenched as many gallons of water came down. The single girls had a good drenching also. Sailed 250. No serious damage was done only a drenching to the skin.


Tuesday October 19th

Fine morning, Sailed 259 miles. Mrs Cudd at 6.30 was confined, child died an hour after. Mother doing well.


Wednesday October 20th

Hail & snow falling very cold. Sailed 212 miles.


Thursday October 21st

Remains very cold. Sailed 280 miles.


Friday October 22nd

Fine morning. Sailed 253 miles. Brown's child died this morning, aged 14 months.


Saturday October 23rd

Still very rough & cold. We shall sail towards the Equator again now having passed the Cape of Good Hope by 20 degrees so we shall be going towards the warm weather again. Sailed 221 miles. Very rough towards night.


Sunday October 24th

We have had a frightful rough night the sea running mountains high, the roughest we have experienced since leaving London. Obliged to reef all the sails and let the ship go at the mercy of the wind & waves. Tins of water came over the sides of the ship. Obliged to close the hatchways. A little calmer at 11am. Sun shining. Unable to muster on the poop.


Monday October 25th

Another confinement this morning. Calm but rather cold. Mother & child doing well. Sailed 154 miles. There are hundreds of beautiful birds following us every day, 10 or 12 different kinds & sizes from the martin to the albatross, a huge kind of goose whose wings from tip to tip is longer than a man's arms when extended from his body level from his shoulders.


Tuesday October 26th

Up at 5.30 this morning. Lovely morning, sun quite warm on deck. A strong wind blowing. Sailed 173 miles. Sailing fast at 6pm. Faster still at 9pm.


Wednesday October 27th

Fine morning. Sailing fast, strong wind blowing. Sailed 278 miles. Mrs Truman's child that was born Sunday died this morning.  


Thursday October 28th

Fine morning. Up at 4 at break of day.  The sun is warm. Sailing fine. Rice pudding & meat pie for tea. Obliged to eat or it would be spoiled as we shall have more tomorrow.  270 miles.


Friday October 29th

Fine morning. Ship rather unsteady on account of sailing so fast with contrary wind. Sailed 249 miles. 


Saturday October 30th

Very calm again this morning. Fine day. Sailed 152 miles.


Sunday October 31st

Beautiful morning. The Captain said we should walk in New Zealand in a fortnight so we are getting near our destination. Had a splendid dinner, preserved meat & potatoes & onions, currie sauce & as good a plum pudding baked as ever we had in our lives.


Monday November 1st

Very rough all night but calm this morning. Fine day. Sailed 180 miles near Australia. I have cut the last of our ham up for breakfast. We have six small rounds to fry. There is no one on board who has any such thing left for sometime past.


Tuesday November 2nd

Fine morning. Calm. Sailed 170 miles. Very calm all day.


Wednesday November 3rd

Rather showery today. Ship unsteady. Sailed 187 miles. The sailors has wound up the cable this morning, the large chain that lets down the anchor so by that they are preparing for the end of the voyage.


Thursday November 4th

Fine morning, lovely day. Sailed 217 miles. 


Friday November 5th

Fine morning. Had all the boxes (required) on deck for the last time. Expect to reach New Zealand on Wednesday. Sailed same distance as yesterday 217 miles.


Saturday November 6th

Rather rough today Sailed 149 miles.


Sunday November 7th  
Wet morning, rather rough head winds. Not making much progress. Sailed only 130 miles. Last Sunday we expect to see on board the Mataura.
Monday November 8th
Rough contrary winds, obliged to keep out to sea as soon as it became dark. Expect to see land tomorrow. Sailed 98 miles.
Tuesday November 9th
Fine morning. Sailed 116 miles. Land in sight was cried at 12.30pm. My glass passed through many hands on that day. We could soon distinguish the hills covered with green trees. Commenced packing & cleaning.

    Wednesday November 10th

    Fine morning, land in sight (Nelson). Dropped anchor at 1pm. Are all getting ready (the New Plymouthians) to start per steamer en route for Taranaki, 2 thirds remaining on board are bound for Nelson & Marlborough. At 6.30pm the steamer came alongside & the New Plymouthians left the Matuara in the Bay of Nelson & (strangers that met at Blackwall became friendly on board) you would never forget the cheering we received as the steamer slowly left the ship Matuara in Nelson Bay.


    Thursday November 11th

    Beautiful morning at sea again on board the Taranaki steamer. We were up early in the morning. For breakfast (free of expense) we had large dishes of splendid soup composed chiefly of meat & then large dishes again of beef steak & boiled potatoes, plates of butter & plenty bread & tea. The best breakfast I might say that I ever had. There a lot of soup & several pounds of splendid beef steaks I never had better beef all the time I was in London. All that was left was thrown overboard. We passed the remark what would we have given for such a breakfast a week ago?  Mount Egmont's snowy top in sight at 9am shortly after breakfast. In 3 hours we expect to put our feet once more on land (terra firma). The Sugar Loaves (small mountains) I can discern through the glass also I can see a number of farm houses along the coast for miles. We are all on deck having  a look at our future intended permanent earthly home & were I hope to prepare for our Heavenly home also. Dear Jessie is as lively as ever.  There were 14 deaths out of 21 families & 2 more children were not expected to live a week longer. 12 children & 2 adults. The dear children died of whooping cough & diarrhoea.  Sighted the town of New Plymouth at 10am. Dropped anchor at 11am. All safely landed by small boats at 11.30. Arrived at the Depot at 12.30.

  • From Blackwall Depot to New Plymouth Depot, throughout the whole voyage we have met with nothing but kindness from all we come in contact with. The Depot is a fine large building on the top of the hill overlooking the town & the sea. It was formerly called the Barracks. There is every convenience imaginable especially for cooking & washing. We have 3 large bags of dirty linens besides bedding. It is a lovely day, rather warm. Splendid view all around us.



    By: William  Webber (1843-1903?- Creator) ; Marsha Donaldson (Contributor)

  • When: 20 Aug 1875, 2001
  • Format: 1 Electronic document(s).; Text file - Microsoft Word.; Manuscript.
  • Description: Brief account mentioning the health of family members during the voyage. Letter consists of daily entries covering the period 6 Aug-11 Nov 1875. The letter is unsigned
  • Subjects: Webber family (Subject) ; Mataura (Ship. 1874-1900) (Subject) ; Voyages and travels ; Taranaki Region (N.Z.) - Emigration and immigration ; Passenger quarters ; Nelson-Marlborough Region (N.Z.) - Emigration and immigration ; 1875 ; General records Shipboard accounts ; Personal records Diaries ; General records Transcripts