Voyage of the "Thomas Sparkes" 1843 
Immigration to New Zealand on the "Thomas Sparks"

The 497 ton "Thomas Sparkes" tied up at St Katherine Docks 20th June 1842 to take Thomas Newsham and its other passengers on board. A stern cabin cost 350 Pounds and Intermediate cabins which were deemed to be very uncomfortable even though they saved 100 Pound, could "lose you caste on arriving at Wellington" said Thomas Newsham's cousins who were also on board, Charles and John Hursthouse, John's wife Helen and their children.

On the 26th the "Thomas Sparkes" proceeded to Portsmouth and sailed from Gravesend on the 27th July. It did not arrive at Wellington (via Nelson) until 29 February 1843.

Robert Sharp, the captain was subject to violent rages " a bullying ill-tempered man, occasionally getting tipsy and when so, almost mad." He took malicious delight in terrorising the passengers by carrying too much sail. It was hinted thatit did not help passenger's confort but Sharp refused to reduce sail until a squall split the jib, carried away the forgallant sheet and casued the ship to dip dangerously. The ship encountered severe gales about 2 days off the Cape and was several miles off course. Undeterred, the captain despite not knowing the port, decided to sail into Capetown at night. The wind prevented them from taking the safest channel and the ship struck a rock at Table Bay at 9 pm and water poured in and they were in great danger. There was scenes of utter confusion, the Captain became helpless and a steerage passenger, Captain Fearon emerged as a calming influence and restored order. The pumps were manned all night and in the morning the badly damaged vessel came off the rock and crept into Cape Town for repairs. Two months were spent at the Cape of Good Hope undergoing repairs. Five immigrants deserted but three more were taken on.

John kept a diary of the voyage (it does not mention Thomas Newsham by name which makes it likely Thomas travelled steerage and was below notice of those in first class.) However, from this diary, a list of those passengers mentioned in it, was made as the full list was lost.
The "Thomas Sparks" eventually arrived at Wellington on the 26th February but even here came more bad luck - a brig "Margaret which was accompanying the ship up the harbour fouled her, and the "Thomas Sparkes" had a portion of her bulworks stove in.

At Wellington most of the cabin passengersand 34 immigrants landed.

A copy of the diary is held at Auckland Library and makes fascinating reading - here are some excerpts from it.