The "Golden Sea" immigrant ship

Golden Sea

Quick Facts

1418 Tons
Surgeon Superintendent:
Dr Donaldson
Sailed London 29th January 1874 - arrived Wellington 1st May 1874
Passengers in our family tree:

The Golden Sea, a vesssel of 1418 tons, built at Quebec in 1864, made one passage to New Zealand. She brought out 368 immigrants and during the voyage there were eight deaths from scarlet fever, the ship then passed in quarantine on arrival. The Golden Sea was sent out by the Shaw Savill Co. White Wings - Sir Henry Brett

The complete passenger list can be found on the "Our Stuff" website.


"Wellington Independent", May 2, 1874:

The English ship, which was signalled on Thursday evening off the Heads, turned out to be the Golden Sea, from London, and not the Wennington as was generally supposed. At seven o'clock yesterday morning, the signalman was hard at work, and it was soon found that Pilot Holmes had taken the vessel into quarantine, bringing her up under Somes' Island. Her number having been made out, and her name deciphered from the code, the Health and Immigration Officers, Dr Johnson, Captain Holliday, and Mr Huntly Eliott, sailed down to the Island shortly after 10 o'clock, and were immediately afterwards followed by a boat-load of fresh provisions despatched for the use of the immigrants by the agents of the vessel, Messrs Levin and Co. From the accounts brought back by the Harbour Master's boat, the following summary is gleaned:--The ship Golden Sea, 1418 tons register, Captain Strachan, sailed from London with 368 immigrants in all, equal to 301 statute adults, on the 21st January last, and left Gravesend finally on the 28th. She had a fair run down the Channel, and generally speaking the voyage was signally uneventful. Moderate weather prevailed during the whole time, without either long calms or heavy gales of wind. About three weeks ago a brig-rigged steamer was sighted, supposed to be making for Melbourne or Sydney, but the two vessels did not approach sufficiently close to be able to speak to each other. The Golden Sea came round Stewart's Island, the southerly breezes which have prevailed along the coast during the last few days having materially aided her in her run up the coast. She was in sight of the signal station at 5 p.m. on Thursday, and took the pilot on board at 8 p.m., who brought her right in with the fair breeze, and dropped anchor inside Somes Island at 11.30 p.m. thus making the time occupied in the voyage from London to Wellington exactly 100 days. The Golden Sea is, as her tonnage indicates, a large vessel, being about the same register as the Douglass. She is, however, short comparatively, her length not much exceeding 200 feet; but she has considerable beam, and is altogether very well adapted for carrying immigrants. She is rather an old vessel, having been built at Quebec ten years ago for the Indian trade. She was afterwards sent to England, where she was chartered by Shaw, Savill, and Co. to bring out immigrants to New Zealand. Captain Strachan, who is in command of her, is not unknown to immigration officers, he having come out to Otago once or twice as chief officer or in charge of an emigrant ship. The surgeon superintendent, Dr Donaldson, is the only cabin passenger. The agents are Messrs Levin and Co. The voyage has not been without the now inevitable story of disease on board. Not very long after the ship was on the high seas, symptoms of some contagious disease began to show themselves among the children, which eventually proved to be moderately severe types of scarlatina and scarlet fever. Twelve of the children were in turn attacked by it, of whom eight succumbed before the arrival of the ship. One poor little child now lies in almost hopeless state, and the others are convalescent. Six other children were also attacked by natural ailments incidental to infancy; and of these four fell victims, and two are convalescent. The summary of the disease is therefore eighteen cases and twelve deaths, with one case almost hopeless, the rest convalescent. There were no cases amongst the adult portion, and Dr Donaldson had pretty well succeeded in stamping out the contagion before the arrival of the ship; there was quite sufficient sickness on board, however, to induce the pilot to take her straight to the quarantine station, and it is probable that some few days may elapse before she is released, and the immigrants brought over to the town. They express themselves generally satisfied with the voyage and the treatment they have received, and speak well of the doctor and captain. There will probably, however, be some little disputes which will have to be settled about things which have occurred on the voyage out; but no personal communication with those on board being allowable, it is impossible to say for certain until opportunity is afforded for mixing with and enquiring amongst the people themselves as to the voyage and its events.

Before dark last night a considerable number of the immigrants had been safely landed, and to-morrow will probably see them all comfortably located in the barracks, which are perfectly ready to receive them, the immigration officer having been over at the island and set everything in complete order only the afternoon on which the ship was signalled. According to quarantine regulations, no direct communication can take place from the land with the ship until she is admitted to pratique; and therefore the wiseacres who have been sowing rumours about our new visitors, can have very little ground to go upon. Whether good or bad, it is only fair that they should be seen and examined, before all sorts of impossible judgments are passed on them. It is a pity to prejudice people beforehand against the servants and so on they may be expecting, and predispose minds to think ill of them. They will be alongside the wharf in a few days, when there will be plenty of opportunity for judging what they are. It is not unlikely that the Wennington will arrive before the Golden Sea is admitted to pratique, in which case there will be over 600 immigrants to choose from all at once.

On board the Golden Sea, when she sailed from London, were 368 souls, equal to 301 statute adults; the names, numbers, ages, sizes, and sexes of which are all given in full, with a few clerical errors, in the "European Mail" of February 10. Summarised, there are 60 married couples and families, comprising 242 souls; of these fourteen are without encumbrances, six have one encumbrance, eighteen have two encumbrances, eleven have three, three have four, three have five, two have seven, and one has nine encumbrances, the number of children under twelve years of age being about 110. There are only eight single women set down in the "Mail", but a number of those included in the list of families are also available as single women. There are about 100 single men, and to this class the same remark applies.

The following summary represents approximately the trades and occupations of the immigrants:--Married couples without children--3 laborers, 1 bricklayer, 1 carpenter, 1 engineman, 1 stonemason. Married couples with children--10 laborers, 4 farm laborers, 1 painter, 1 engine driver, 1 lighterman, 1 gardener, 1 bricklayer, 1 platelayer, 1 tailor, 3 bootmakers, 5 carpenters, 1 cabinet maker. Single men--30 laborers, 3 painters, 4 bakers, 4 carpenters, 1 dairyman, 1 brickmaker, 1 fitter, 1 gasfitter, 1 butcher, 2 bootmakers, 2 tailors, 3 engineers, 4 bricklayers, 3 coopers, 1 printer, 2 blacksmiths, 10 farm laborers, 3 plumbers, 2 gardeners, 5 ironworkers, 1 platelayer, 1 tinman, 1 wheelwright, 2 firemen. Single women--4 general servants, 2 nursemaids, 1 cook, 3 young girls. Applications to engage these immigrants should be made to Mr Redward, at the Immigration Depot, Wellington; and any of them who are engaged for the country districts of the Province will be forwarded by the Immigration Department.

"Wellington Independent" May 4, 1874

Captain Strachan, of the ship Golden Sea, furnishes the following report of his voyage: --Sailed from the river Thames on Saturday, 24th January; cleared the Channel on the 29th. In 38deg north, 20deg west, on the 5th and 6th February, experienced a strong gale from the southward. Passed Madeira 10th February; crossed the Equator on the 25th February. In crossing the region of the south-east trades, had light winds from east to north-east. On the 1st of April, passed between Prince Edward's Island and Marion Islands; on the 4th April, passed Possession Island, and ran our easting down in latitude 48.30 south; passed the Snares on the 26th April, Otago on the 27th. Experienced light southerly winds all up the coast, and anchored in Wellington on the 30th April at 11 p.m.

Wellington Independent” May 5, 1874:

Early yesterday morning the rather startling news of a supposed outbreak on board the ship Golden Sea, at anchor near Somes Island, and complete insubordination on the part of the crew was brought over by the assistant keeper of the lighthouse in the lighthouse boat. The report, of course, was soon magnified until it became a mass of absurd imaginations, and people were very soon impressed that there had been a mutiny such as that on board the Bligh, and that the desperate mutineers had taken possession of the Quarantine Station for a “Pitcairn’s Island,” but it eventually turned out to be a mild affair after all. The Government, however, having no information to go on but that supplied by the keeper, which was to the effect that he had heard the reports of firearms on board the ship, took prompt action, and at once sent orders to the Defence Authorities, to call out the Native Contingent of the Armed Constabulary at the Barracks, and to Captain Fairchild to get up steam on the Luna. The seriousness of the disaffection not being ascertainable, preparations were made for the possible worst, and about an hour after the order was given, some forty of the A.C. Force, under Captain Stack and Sub-Inspector Marshall, were marched under arms on board the Luna, which soon after left the wharft, having on board Colonel Mould (who was not on duty), Captain Halliday, Mr Elliott and others, steamed over to the island. About three hours afterwards, she returned with ten of the crew of the Golden Sea under arrest, and brought up alongside the wharf, where a considerable number of people were assembled. The captain of the ship also came over, in order to appear as prosecutor at the Court. The prisoners evidently thought the whole affiar a very good joke, and seemed to enjoy the sensation their march down the wharf with the A.C round them created. The prompt arrival of the Luna with her soldierly contingent caused a good deal of astonishment amongst the disaffected at the island; they didn’t at all expect this sort of vindication of the majesty of the law in the colonies.

The circumstances leading up to this unusual sort of disturbance in Wellington appear to be of this kind. From the beginning or nearly so of the voyage the captain seems to have had no high opinion of the crew; the mate was no favorite; the other officers were moderately well received. More than once during the voyage the quarter-deck was walked with more than the usual watch. Things, however, did not come to a point during the voyage; and very luckily seeing the consequences that might have resulted to the immigrants. Since the quarantine order the crew have been discontented at their restriction to the limits of the ship for the time of their detention. As they evinced some designs of swimming or rowing ashore, the boat was locked up to the davits and the captain set his face firmly against any carrying out of the plan. Grumbling, of course, ensued, and some one of the crew proposed the broaching of the cargo; the idea was applauded by the rest, and the usual result followed. One fellow came aft to the captain, and was extremely insulting. Being forewarned, the captain was forearmed, and the butt end of his revolver came down hard on the head of the mutineer, knocking him over. The men were now gathered for’ard, and another movement being made, the captain drew his revolver again and levelled it towards them, only one barrel going off. This was all the rifle shooting and firearm reports which were so exaggerated. The men, already elevated, had now got hold of the spiritous and fermented liquors, and were fast becoming intoxicated, the disaffected ones compelling the others to do as they did to some extent. Soon afterwards the information reached the lighthouse keeper, and, suspecting something was wrong, and not caring to go round to the ship, he rowed across to Wellington and gave the alarm, which ended in the despatch of the Luna to the scene of action. The whole affair, now that it is known, appears to resolve itself into only a small matter, but the consequences which might ensue from such an occurrence on board an immigrant ship at sea, of which this outbreak in harbor discloses the possibility, call for considerably more attention. The Golden Sea carries forty hands for’ard, and though in this case only a few were directly implicated, it is sufficient to show the danger which exists. To what extent danger really existed, or how far those arrested wre implicated, will, of course, be elicited at the inquiry in the Resident Magistrates Court this forenoon. It should be distinctly understood that this disturbance is a matter wholly between the captain, officers, and crew. The immigrants had all been landed, and were at the quarantine barracks. Indeed, it seems that the fact of communication between them and the ship being completely cuf off was to some extent the cause of the outbreak. So that whatever else may be said of these immigrants by the Golden Sea, they should not be directly connected with this little excitement.

The names of the men implicated appear in our report of the proceedings of the Resident Magistrate’s Court. There is also one stowaway, a vagrant without even a name, or at least he declined to give one at the Court. Mr Haines, before whom they were brought up, adjourned the case without discussion till ten o’clock this morning.

…At a later hour of the day, before Mr Haines, J.P., William Woods, Frederick Wyatt, Francis Wilmot, Charles Coleson, John Munsen, William Street, George Kinness, John Marsh, John Williamson, and John Edwards, seamen of the ship Golden Sea, were charged with broaching cargo, and were remanded till this morning.

“Wellington Independent”, May 8, 1874

The Manawatu will proceed to Somes Island on Saturday and receive the Wanganui portion of the Golden Sea’s immigrants (some 100 people), sailing for Wanganui immediately afterwards.

At the Resident Magistrate’s Court yesterday, William Street, Thomas Bates, and John Williams, articled seaman of the ship Golden Sea, were charged with having, on March 10 last, on the high seas, embezzled ninety bottles of porter, a portion of the cargo of said ship. The same prisoners were also charged with having, on March 28, embezzled thirty-six bottles of ale and six bottles of porter, and also with having, on March 29, embezzled 150 bottles of porter, a portion of the stores of the ship. Prisoners pleaded “not guilty,” and on the application of Mr Travers were remanded for eight days, or until the ship should be released from quarantine. George Kinness, William Wood, Charles Colson, Frederick Wyatt, William Street, John Munsen, John Mars, John Williams, John Edwards, and Thomas Bates were charged with having, on May 3, at Wellington, embezzled two cases of beer, two cases of champagne, and four cases of tobacco, a portion of the stores of the ship Golden Sea. George Kinness and John Edwards pleaded “guilty,” and the other prisoners “not guilty,” and all of them were remanded for eight days. Francis Wilmott, a stowaway, was charged with having, on May 3, at Wellington, embezzled stores belonging to the ship Golden Sea, and pleaded “not guilty.” He was also remanded for eight days.

“Wellington Independent” May 16, 1874

Considerably more than half of the immigrants who arrived at Wanganui by the Manawatu on Sunday have been engaged, and the remainder are going off rapidly. The “Herald” of Wednesday says:--The remarks which we made on Monday about their being a very superior lot, have been fully borne out by their conduct during the time they have been in barracks. They have been orderly, well-conducted, and temperature, the officer in charge not having had to find any fault with any fo them. Should future arrivals equal these, Wanganui at least will not have to find fault with the selections made by the Agent-General.

RESIDENT MAGISTRATE’S COURT, Friday, May 15. (Before J.C. Crawford, Esq., R.M.)

a stowaway

Francis Wilmott, a stowaway on board the Golden Sea, was sentenced to a month’s imprisonment.

embezzling cargo

The charge of broaching cargo, preferred against a number of seamen belonging to the Golden Sea, was proceeded with. George Kinness and John Edwards were sentenced to ten weeks, and Charles Colson, Frederick Wyatt, John Monsen, and John Mars to twelve weeks’ imprisonment, with hard labor.

“Wellington Independent” May 20, 1874

News of the location of the immigrants by the Golden Sea at Wanganui, Foxton and Feilding is encouraging. The demand existing was sufficient to absorb all the supply at wages considerably above rates ruling at home. The immigrants express themselves as very favorably impressed with the districts in which they have been settled, where the natural resources of the country lie in plenitude at their feet, and where they see many of their predecessors in other ships either comfortably installed in farmsteads of their own, or as dependents, earning wages sufficient to supply them with every necessity. There are now only a few Golden Sea people left unengaged.

Wanganui Chronicle, 11 May 1874

the immigrants – The p.s. ‘Manawatu’ arrived between 6 and 7 o’clock last night, with the immigrants by the ‘Golden Sea.’ They were not quite so numerous as was expected, the list showing but 73 ½ statute adults. There are only two single women amongst the number. There are two carpenters, three shoemakers, two painters, one gardener, one cooper, two bricklayers, one butcher, one fitter, one blacksmith, one hammerman, one ironworker, one wheelwright, one broker, one dairyman, nine farm labourers, fifteen labourers, and one “navvy.” The employment of a few of the immigrants is undescribed. They were all taken on board the p.s. ‘Manawatu’ at Somes’s Island, where the ‘Golden Sea’ has been lying in quarantine, and were at first under the impression that they were to be landed at Wellington. It was not until the ‘Manawatu’ cleared the Heads that they became aware that her destination was Wanganui, and some amusement was caused in consequence. Our new friends will find no reason to regret the change. Mr Orbell notifies by advertisement that engagements may be made with these people at 11 o’clock this morning at the Immigration Office, Taupo Quay, and also that fresh applications will be received for immigrants expected to arrive per “La Hogue.”

Wanganui Chronicle, 12 May 1874

immigration – Twenty-nine of the ‘Golden Sea’ immigrants, of various occupations, were engaged yesterday, although the weather was bad enough to deter anybody from going to the barracks or elsewhere out of doors unless compelled by necessity. The Immigration Officer expects that the remainder will speedily obtain employment. The behaviour of these immigrants, since their landing, has been of the most praiseworthy character; and altogether they seem to be a superior class of people, and a decided acquisition to the place.

Wanganui Chronicle, 15 May 1874

IMMIGRANTS. – The whole of the immigrants, with the exception of two married couples and two single men, have found employment in their various occupations at the following scale of wages:-- Farm labourers, per week and found £1 to £1 5s; lads 8s to 14s; married couples, for hotels, &c., £1 10s; waiters, £1; painters, £2 2s; dairymen, £1; navvies and labourers, not found 6s to 8s per day; carpenters, 9s; bricklayers, 10s; wheelwrights, 11s; tailors, from £3 to £4 per week. Mr Orbell is expecting a large number more to arrive per ‘La Hogue’ and ‘Wennington,’ both now due in Wellington. Great disappointment is felt at the non-arrival of sufficient female general servants, who are in great demand here at present. Mr Orbell has informed us that the immigrants per ‘Golden Sea’ are giving every satisfaction.