New Zealand Pelvin Immigrants

Richard served in the West Kent Militia nearly four and a half out of five years and discussed with Elizabeth his decision to emigrate and attended a lecture on New Zealand which was given by a minister of the Gospel at a village called Pembury just outside Tunbridge Wells. Following this, Richard sought his advice - it was to go to Canterbury, New Zealand - he was told it was a better place to emigrate to than Nelson, where he had come from.

Richard went next to Charing Cross, London, to see a Mr Marshman, the agent for Canterbury, and was advised to apply for discharge from the Militia. Richard did on the 1st July, 1863, and, then followed the packing their belonging and farewells and the family went on board the Lancashire Witch and sailed from the East India Docks on the 2nd of July 1863.

Ships Listing: Richard Pelvin, Kent 42 Labourer; Elizabeth 34; Henry William 5; Richard Charles 4; Rose 2 (infant son Alfred b. 21 Apr 1861 is not listed)

Lyttelton Times, 26 August 1863: Immigration - The next ship with Canterbury immigrants is the Lancashire Witch, which would leave London about the end of June. It will call at Timaru and land a portion of her complement there. Being a vessel of large tonnage, she will probably bring at least 400 souls.

Nationality of our Immigrants.—From a table just published we learn that, of the 2488 immigrants arrived during the year ending 31st March last; 976 were English, 24 Welsh, 773 Scotch, 634 Irish, 2 from the Channel Islands, 56 Germans, and 6 other countries. Of these 503 were nominated in the colony and 1985 selected in England.

"Lancashire Witch"

Richard found the Canterbury Association Agent Mr Marshman very kind - he introduced him to the Doctor and together, throughout the voyage, they together "were about day and night, although the doctor could scarcely crawl, as he was ill himself."

(Years ago I located the 3 diaries of the 1863 Lancashire Witch voyage to Lyttelton at Wellington Archives and at the Canterbury Museum (1) Arthur Price; (2) Henry Shepherd; (3) David Carr - I already had the passenger contract ticket cutting from Timaru Herald. I gave copies of  each to the Timaru Museum and also put then on the South Canterbury Website. Winsome)

Richard Pelvin was appointed constable during the voyage and both he and Elizabeth were hospital attendants assisting Dr McLean during the voyage - the scarlet fever and whooping cough epidemic resulted in the deaths of 23 children and 3 adults. There were nine births. Our Pelvin family arrived safely at Timaru and landed on October 1863. In appreciation, the captain made Richard a present of £5 and the Government £5, and the Government also made Mrs Pelvin a present of £5 for their services.(Dr McLean ship's doctor, now on his 2nd voyage to NZ was 23 yrs of age - a responsibility inconceivable today...)

Christchurch Press, 14 October 1863: The ship Lancashire Witch, 96 days out, arrived off Camp Bay at 10 am where she still remains at anchor. The Immigration Commissioners left the jetty at a 11 am and after they passed the ship our reporter was admitted on board, where every attention and information was given by the medical officer in charge of the immigrants. from whom we are informed fever and whooping cough broke out at the commencement of the voyage during which 26 deaths had taken place, three of whom were adults. There were nine births.

The following testimonial was presented to Doctor McLean: "We the undersigned passengers on-board the Lancashire Witch, on our voyage from England to Canterbury, New Zealand, desire to express our sincere gratitude for the kindness and great attention received from you. Although we have lost a considerable number by death, yet we feel that it has not been for want of attention or medical skill. We trust you will receive the small present as a token of esteem, earnestly hoping the remainder of your life may be blessed with every success." [Signed by all the passengers.]

The Lancashire Witch left the East India Docks on the 5th of July, had light winds down the channel, crossed the line on the 5th August in longitude 25deg 14 W., and owing to the drugs and medical comforts running short, put into the Cape on the 30th August for a supply. Retained in quarantine at Simon's Bay 36 hours. During her stay, the Federal vessel Vanderbilt arrived in search for the Confederate vessels, and was just too late  for the Georgia which left the day before. Spoke to the ship Moonlight from Boston on the 28th July, had fine weather but contrary winds, and sighted Stewart's Island on Thursday last, took in a pilot at Otago Heads, and reached Timaru on Saturday where about 80 or so of the passengers were landed - left again on Monday at 10am, and arrived here as above. The ship being so well known needs no further description. She has a large distilling apparatus by Gravely capable of serving out 600 gallons of water daily, and a first-rate steam cooking apparatus.

The passengers landed by surf boat and on arrival, Mr Woolcombe (the Resident Magistrate at Timaru) put Richard Pelvin in charge of the emigrants until they could get employment. The family had accommodation at the emigration barracks for nearly six months before taking over 40 acres leased from the Provincial Government four miles from Timaru at Claremont and started his career as a colonial.

The Lyttelton Times. SATURDAY, OCTOBER 17, 1863.  The Newly Arrived Immigrants.—Considerable apathy appears to exist on the part of the authorities in dealing with the present large arrivals of immigrants. The Lancashire Witch came in on Tuesday last with 420 passengers, and the Victory with 250 more is now outside the heads. Yet not a soul has been landed from the former vessel at the time we write this. Report says that the immigrants were to be landed in Camp bay, but that the houses recently erected there were found to be unfit to receive them. We hear also that the immigration officer in Lyttelton is incapacitated from ill health, but these can hardly be considered sufficient reasons for keeping four hundred people confined to the limits of a ship one hour longer than is necessary. The indifference of the authorities amounts almost to cruelty, when it is remembered how ardent are the longings of every landsman to get on shore after a three months' voyage. Some explanation is certainly required to account for the detention of these immigrants, and we trust the Government will send some trustworthy person to inspect the Camp bay buildings, as we hear, on very good authority, that no man with a regard for his horse would think of using them for stables.

Pelvin Clock - Timaru Museum

Daily Southern Cross,  9 Nov 1863:  More immigrants have arrived since my last report. They are speedily absorbed on arrival. The "Lancashire Witch" has just arrived with 320, chiefly of the laboring class. 150 of the able-bodied are at work on the West Coast" road at 5s. per day - they began work about 20 miles from Christchurch, working on towards the coast. Dr. Hector has discovered a good road through an easy pass in the mountain chain, connecting the East and West Coasts, and uniting the provinces of Otago and Canterbury

Timaru Herald,  27 September 1871: Death of Dr McLean. It is with deep regret we have to record the demise of this gentleman, which took place at his residence, Timaru, on September 11. The deceased gentleman has resided in Timaru since the year 1863. He had, previous to that date, paid a flying visit to the Colony in the ship Echunga, of which he was surgeon in l862. The Echunga then landed immigrants in Timaru, and Dr McLean went back to England in her, returning in 1863 in the Lancashire Witch, in which vessel he was also in official charge as doctor. This vessel also landed immigrants at Timaru. On board the Lancashire Witch there were, all told, nearly 500 souls, and, on getting into the tropics, scarlet fever, in a most virulent. form broke out. Thirty-three (there were 26) deaths occurred, and at one time there were 250 cases of sickness on board. It was then that the sterling qualities of the good doctor shone forth, for he was the only physician on board, and besides having to combat with a dread disease, his means for doing so were sadly crippled, the stock of medicines running short, and the vessel having to put into Simon's Bay, Cape of Good Hope, for a fresh supply. As a passenger by that unfortunate vessel tells us "By day and by night Dr McLean was unremitting in his attention, and doing all one man could possibly do to stem the fatal tide of decease which was sweeping over the vessel. To the children especially he was most kind, and many a young life was saved by his thoughtful and persevering care. Frequently he supplied them with delicacies out of private means, which otherwise were not procurable, and even his own meals he has been known to give away to nourish some sick child." Constant watchfulness, causing so great a mental and physical a strain, could not do ought but tell on the Doctor, and at one time it was feared that he too would have succumbed. Such noble conduct had its reward by endearing Dr McLean to every soul on board, and the gratitude then felt a to our own knowledge still fresh in the minds of those who were his fellow passengers. Since the deceased gentleman settled in Timaru, he has been known by the same good qualities which distinguished him on ship board— always thoughtful,- kind, and ready, and— one of the best qualities for a medical man wonderfully patient It would be but supererogatory for us to state that Timaru has sustained a loss.. When a good man dies the community at large suffers. Both personal friends, and those with whom the late Doctor was brought professionally into contact, must feel the truth of this - the former have lost a kind good friend, the latter a faithful and zealous physician. His death is a sadly early one, he being only thirty-one years of age. A wife and a family of four young children are left to mourn his loss. The funeral of this gentleman took place on the 14th September. As a mark of respect, all the business places in the town were closed just before the hour appointed for the funeral. At a little before four o'clock the members of the Foresters Society and of the Ancient Independent Order of Odd Fellows (of whom Dr McLean was a member) marched in procession to the residence of deceased, and were there joined by numerous friends who came to pay their last tribute of respect. In all there could not have been less than a hundred and fifty who followed the hearse to the grave.           (Photo below: Timaru in 1860's)

Timaru 1860's

CELEBRATION AT TIMARU.  Thursday 14th January 1909.

The 50th Anniversary jubilee of the settlement in 1859 of South Canterbury  celebrated pioneers who arrived by the first four ships to Timaru which had a population of 16. The
Strathallan arrived on Jan 14, 1859 with 110 passengers  (6.89 MB PDF), Echunga on  Dec 12 1862 with 112 passengers (book), Lancashire Witch on Oct 10 1863 with 125, and the
Victory arrival on Oct 13 1863 - these vessels all made a number of trips between the years 1856 and 1865.

The jubilee was an opportunity to unite all with true local patriotism and an opportunity to revive before too late, renew friendships and share memories of the days when the area's first immigrants were landed on the beach at  the tiny township. A committee organised a monster procession, a dinner at the Drill Hall for early pioneers - passengers on the first four ships accompanied by short speeches delivered by the Mayor, the Premier, and Messrs F. W. Stubbs, Arthur Rhodes, James Blyth, and Arthur H. Turnbull, who are pioneers and all were presented with a Jubilee Certificate recording their Early Settler status. Sports were held on the bay, and there was a fireworks display by the Harbour Board at night. The weather was beautifully fine, and the procession of military, trades, friendly and local bodies was deemed a great success. The over-all keynote was the satisfaction at the progress of South Canterbury during the past 50 years and spirited enthusiasm shown by the public.

The photos on this page were taken at the Timaru Museum where Richard Pelvin's clock is housed.


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