Stranding of "The Sura"t in 1874

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 Stranding of The Surat
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Otago Witness 10 Jan 1874, Pg 14

Stranding of The Surat.
The French Republic war steamer Vire render what assistance she could to the ship Sirut stranded at Catlin's River. The intelligence of the catastrophe was telegraphed to Captain Thomson, the harbour master by about 10 o'clock and he at once place himself in communication with the Commander of the Vire, with the view of rendering efficient assistance to the Surat and her 270 passengers, all of whom, the telegram stated, were alive and safely landed. Captain Jaquemart met Captain Thomson's advances in the mont benevolent and liberal spirit - not only at once placing his ship at the disposal of the Provincial Government, but offering to carry out the service free of cost. This magnificent liberality was, however, declined by the Government, which, we understand, promised to defray all expenses, and at the same time be under a very sensible obligation to Captain Jaquemart for his kind action. Shortly after one o'clock Captain Thomson, Harbour Master, Mr G W Eliott agent for the New Zealand Shipping Company, by which the Surat was chartered, Mr Colin Allan, Immigration Agent, Mr G W Eliott, afront for the New Zealand Insurance Company, Mr Weldon, Commissioner of Police and a constable boarded the Vire The telegram received by Captain Thomson from the Harbour Master of Port Molyneux and Catlin's River gave no details of the wreck. It merely stated that the Surat was ashore and that the passengers were all landed safely. It concluded with the imperative order, "Send a steamer immediately." Shortly after the Vire left, our shipping reporter was informed that the steamers Wallabi and Wanganui, both of which happened to be at the Bluff, had received intimation of the catastrophe and were to call at Catlin's on their return from the Bluff and bring on the Surat's passengers.
The European Mail of October 3rd gives the following as a complete list of the immigrants by the Surat - Families:
Barraclough - Thomas 32, Ann 30, Mary 2, George 1
Booth - Daniel 32, Rosalie 30, William 7, Margaret 5, Joseph 1
Booth - George 60, Sarah 55
Briley - Thomas 36, Anne 34, Calvert 9, Alice 7, Annie 5, Isabella 3
Broadley - George 43, Martha 40, Charles 9Manser - George 25, Sarah, 22, George 1
Brooks - Alonzo 27, Sarah 28, Frances 4, Florence 1
Brown - Thomas 33, Elizabeth 27, Joseph 4. William 3
Bryan - Thomas 26, Annie 27, David 10, Thomas 3, John 1
Calverley - Benjamin 40, Fanny 35
Corbin - Walter 26, Ellen 20
Dewhurst - Edward 30, Mary 26, Ellen 6, Mary 4
Ellis - Ephraim 38, Christiana 35, Sarah Ann 10, Florence 8, Chares 6, Arthur 5
Evans - Joseph 21, Anne 22, Thomas 1
Evans - Thomas 40, Matilda 41
Fountain - James 38, Hannah 36
Frapwell - Harrold 34, Barbara 32, Harriet 9, Helena 7, Mary 4, Henry 2, Louisa 1
Hargreaves -William 42, Hannah 40, Hannah 5, Ada 4
Horne - William 46, Amelia 45, Clara 11, Laura 9, Annie 7, Charles 5, Annie 1
Jones - William 23, Mary 21, John 1
Lawrence - George 23, Emily 22, Mary Anne 1
Le Gal - Julian 26, Maria 31, Maria 6, Julian 3
Le Gros - Victor 23, Marie 23
Morris - William 30, Mary 24, William 1
Mullinger - Elijah 39, Martha 33, James 9, Mary 8, Emily 4, Elijah 3, Molina 1
Nicholson - William 36, Dorothy 40, Sarah 5, Elizabeth 1
Outred - John 37, Emily 36, Alice 10, Edith 6
Page - Charles 36, Elizabeth 42
Paine - Henry 30, Mary Ann 29, Emma 10, Mary 9, Van 7, Bessey 4, William 1, Maggie 1
Puddick - Mark 23, Elizabeth 23
Roberts - Peter 28, Guinifred 30, David 1
Roberts - John 27, Selina, 27, John 3, Florence 1
Robertson - James 24, Eliza 24
Robinson - John 26, Jane 26, Jessie 2
Russell - Richard aged 31, Mary 22
Sandford - Edward 28, Lucy 26, William 8, Annie 1
Sayers - Henry 43, Sarah 41
Slater - Benjamin 33, Maria 35, Thomas 11, Annie 5, Bertha 6, Emily 4
Smith - Charles 29, Elizabeth 28, Elizabeth 8
Stokes - George 29, Florence 21, Alfred 5
Underwood - Frederick 47, Martha 47, Herbert 10, Robert 6
Verchere - Remy 37, Pauline 29
Whitmore - Edward 31, Frances 31, Emma 9, Florence 6, John 3, Elizabeth 1
Woodcock - Thomas 42, Hannah 43

Single Men:
Ashby 		Andrew 24
Bilbie 		Charles 21
Boosh 		George 24
Broadley 	Thomas 22, Walter 10, James 17, Alfred 13
Broadley 	Thomas 24
Buckland 	George 21
Calverley 	William 17
Davie 		Evan 34
Davis 		Charles 28
Ebbitt 		George I8
Farrell 	William 23
Franklin 	Michael 22
Freeland 	James 23
Gilby 		James 27
Hetherington 	John 26
Higgs 		David 16
Horne 		Fredk 14
Jones 		Charles 23
McGrath 	Patrick 23
Maguire 	Thomas 28
Newton 		James 32
O'Sullivan 	John 33
Parkes 		George 18
Prior 		Henry 62
Mullingham 	James 25
Richines 	Henry 29
Rickard 	Thomas 36, Michael 33
Rowen 		John 19
Samford 	William 26
Savill 		Ephraim 30
Sayres 		Henry 21 
Skatill 	Martin 27
Taugney 	David 21
Taylor 		Martin 23
Tudor 		James 25
Underwood 	Arthur 14, Walter 12
Weller 		John 26
Williams 	Thomas 20
Woodcock 	Joseph 13
Woodnut 	David 39

Single Women:
Booth 		Sarah 22
Broadley 	Sarah 15
Calverley 	Martha 18
Caydrgien 	Elizabeth 26
Horne 		Amelia 23, Alice 21, Emma 16
McGrath 	Annie 25
Mountain 	Mary 24
Mulligan 	Margaret 22
Mullins 	Elizabeth 15
Murphy 		Johanna 21
Nicholson 	Mary 15
Power 		Sarah 27
Pyle 		Sarah 32
Richards 	Rachel 28
Sayers 		Emily 15, Mary Ann 14
Stevens 	Henrietta 30
Andrews 	Louisa 21
Boland 		Bridget 19
Bourke 		Ellen 17
Carr 		Bridget 20
Cleary 		Bridget 18
Collins 	Mary Ann 20
Connor 		Catherine 27
Cowhey 		Anne 22
Cummings 	Catherine 17
Dalton 		Mary 19
Donlan 		Catherine 25
Dooley 		Honoria 35, Mary 4
Etherington 	Margaret 21
Framly 		Mary 25
Gleeson 	Margaret 21
Houlihan 	Bridget 49, Eliza 6. 
Jenkins 	Jane 20
Lamler 		Catherine 19
McMahon 	Mary 22
Masson 		Margaret 26
Middlemiss 	Jane 31
Mullinger 	Martha 13
Mulquern 	Mary 
O'Brien 	Ellen 18
O'Farrell 	Annie 17
Pratt 		Anna 21, Amelia 19
Prior 		Elizabeth 24
Rickard 	Catherine 26, Bridget 22
Simpson 	Mary 20
Sullivan 	Mary 19
Tangney 	Margaret 22, Mary 18
Underwood 	Clara 20, Florence 18, Frances 16


Otago Witness 10 Jan 1874, Pg 5
The Wreck of The Surat
The intelligence received in Dunedin on Friday morning of the stranding of the ship Surat near Catlin's River, naturally caused a great deal of excitement, although the telegrams received at that time stated that the passengers had all been safely landed. As we before stated, Captain Thomson, the Harbour Master at Port Chalmers, was put in possession of the news at about 10 o'clock on Friday morning, and with the concurrence of His Honour the Superintendent, he at once placed himself in communication with Capt. Jacquemart of the French man-of-war Vire, to endeavour to arrange for that vessel to proceed at once to the scene of the disaster to render all possible assistance. The Commander of the Vire at once placed his ship at the disposal of the Provincial Government, offering to carry out the service asked of him free of cost. The local Government, however, promised to pay all attendant expenses, and the Vire, which was in dock at the time, Was speedily hauled out, and steam got up with as little delay as possible. The vire started from the Port for Catlin's River at about one o'clock on Friday afternoon, with the following gentlemen on board: - Captain Thomson, Harbour Master, Mr G. F. Reid, agent for the New Zealand Shipping Company, by which the Surat were chartered, Mr Colin Allan, Immigration Agent, Mr G. W. Eliott, agent for the New Zealand Insurance Company, with which policies of insurance had been effected over a quantity of goods on board the Surat, and Mr Weldon, Commissioner of Police. The Vire cleared the Heads at about two o'clock on Friday afternoon, and proceeded on her journey under half steam, in order to arrive at the entrance to Catlin's River at about daylight on the following morning. The ship arrived at the scene of the wreck at about half-past three o'clock on Saturday morning, and found the Surat on the beach stem on, with all her masts standing, and some of her sails flying loosely in the wind. Approaching from the southward were the steamers Wanganui and Wallabi. The last mentioned boat soon after crossed the bar at the entrance to the river at high water. Owing to the surf it would have taken quite a couple of days to have transferred the passengers from the shore to the Vire by the use of boats, -and Captain Thomson, the Harbour Master, suggested that the work could be done much quicker by having the passengers first taken by boats to the Wallabi, and then transferred by her to the Vire. This appeared to be the best course that could be adopted, and it was decided to act upon Captain Thomson's suggestion. At about four o'clock in the morning, or about half-an-hour after the arrival of the man-of-war, one of her boats was sent off to the shore, with Captain Thomson, Mr Allan, Mr Reid, and Mr Eliott. The bar at the mouth of Catlin's River was crossed in safety, although not without the apprehension of danger on the part of some of the passengers, who were somewhat alarmed at the surf, which broke with considerable force about them. Lieutenant Brushet, of the Vire, had charge of the boat, and soon after the passengers were landed at the Pilot Station. After getting some information with reference to the disaster here, those who had come from the Vire then went on board the Wallabi, which was lying in the River. There they had breakfast, and at about halfpast 9 o'clock the Wallabi steamed up towards Messrs Guthrie and Larnach's mill, where the larger portion of the Surat's passengers were under shelter. From this place Captain Thomson and Mr G. F. Reid proceeded to the Owake saw mills, owned by the last named gentleman, and situated in a branch of Catlin's River. There they found about fifty of the shipwrecked immigrants. The whole of the passengers spoke in terms of gratitude of the treatment they had received at the hands of those at the mills and the other residents in the locality, who in a most generous manner had given up many of their cottages and huts, for the sole use of the unfortunates. The Surat's and other boats available were at once used to convey the Surat's passengers, numbering three hundred and seven souls, to the Wallabi, by which they were taken to the Vire. All the immigrants appeared to be in good health, with the exception of one poor woman, who had been confined on Christmas Day. She was in a weak state when first the Surat struck, and the fatigue and exposure she had undergone in getting ashore, and then to the mill where she found shelter, had had the effect of completely prostrating her. Another woman was suffering from a rather severe sprain of the ankle, which she received in getting into one of the boats from the Surat. Mr Tighe, the Surgeon-Superintendent of the Surat, thought it would be dangerous to move the first-mentioned woman, who has accordingly been left at one of the mills, where she will be well cared for until she gets stronger. When the Wallabi had her load of passengers on board, she had to anchor for some time to wait for high water in order to get over the bar, and during the delay, Captain Thomson, Captain Johnson of the Surat, Mr G. W. Eliott, Mr G. F. Reid, and some others, landed at a place called the Sandspit, so as to get as near to the Surat as possible and examine her. The position of the Surat was quite even, and she was apparently slightly imbedded in the sand, lying about two cables lengths from the shore. The masts and rigging appeared to be uninjured. Her lower topsails were set, and her foresail was also set, her main-topgallant-sail and jibs flying loose in the wind. It would have been impossible to get near the Surat in a boat on account of the heavy surf. The vessel was to all appearance but little injured, and the sea was only breaking over her slightly, although the waves were running rather high at the time. The following is the report of the official survey made at the time - "Survey held this third day of January, 1874, at the request of Captain Thomson, on the ship Surat as she now lies beached in Catlin's Bay, by the undersigned. We report as follows - that the vessel is waterlogged and the seas breaking over her. That the Captain reports having struck upon a reef on the coast, and finding his vessel in a sinking condition, beached her to save the lives of the passengers and crew. As the vessel now lies on an exposed part of the coast and is liable to break up at any moment, we recommend that she be abandoned and sold for the benefit of whom it may concern. - (Signed) G. F. Reid, master mariner ; Wm Thomson, Harbour Master; James Leys, s.s. Wallabi; Robert Mills, shipwright." We may add that there is some difference of opinion with reference to the probable breaking-up of the Surat. At the time the party inspected her from the Sandspit, the wind was blowing moderately from the westward, and should this wind continue, the vessel is likely to hold together for a considerable time. Some of those who inspected her position are of opinion that with a tug and proper appliances, the stranded ship might be got off, after she has been lightened by the removal of her cargo, which is rather a heavy one. She had on board five hundred tons of railway iron, valued at 15 per ton, and insured up to the full value, making the total of the insurance upon it 7500. This portion of the loss will fall upon London offices. She also had on board the plant and machinery for the establishment of a woollen manufactory by Mr Booth, one of the cabin passengers, who had also a number of men on board engaged as skilled workmen for the manufactory. We were given to understand that the machinery was insured, but for what amount we could not ascertain. The loading of the vessel was made up with a valuable general cargo, including a large consignment of drapery for Messrs Ross and Glendining, which was insured for 7890 in the New Zealand Insurance Company. The Surat was a comparatively new iron ship, close upon 1000 tons register, and was chartered by the New Zealand Shipping Company from her owners, Messrs Shalcross and Higham, of No. 5, New Quay, Liverpool, and was the second vessel despatched to this Colony by the Company. We have not been able to ascertain whether the vessel was insured or not. Captain Johnson is reported to have stated, in answer to questions put to him, that she was not insured, but considering her value this seems highly improbable. The vessel has been valued at about 25,000, and it is rumoured that an insurance had been effected over her for 15,000 before she left London, but in what office or offices we could not hear. It is also stated by some of the passengers that the New Zealand Shipping Company were in treaty with the owners for the purchase of the Surat, but that the negotiations fell through. From Captain Thomson, the Harbour Master, we obtained the following statement of Captain Johnson, of the Surat: - "On Wednesday night at about 10 o'clock, the ship Surat Btruck the rocks, by Chasland's Mistake, and after a severe bumping, got off. She was very leaky after this, and was hove-to all night, all hands being kept at the pumps. On Thursday morning the vessel was anchored in a little bay near Catlin's River, and some of the passengers were landed. Soon after it was found that the vessel was sinking, and the cables were slipped, and the ship run ashore in Catlin's Bay. This was at about 10 or 11 o'clock on Thursday morning. The remainder of the passengers were landed, and all the crew, with the exception of the first mate and two men, also went ashore. Nothing was saved except a little bedding. On Friday morning, the mate and the two men who had been left on the vessel made signals of distress, and were taken off by a boat sent by the Port Molyneux and Catlin's River Harbour Master. The Harbour Master and Captain Johnson of the Surat went to the place where most of the passengers had been landed, and brought a number of women round to Catlin's River by boat. About a hundred of the passengers were landed first from the Surat, and among them were six or seven women, who were weak and not able to travel. These were brought round to the river in the boat, the others being strong enough to go across the bush. The passengers were then distributed amongst the sawmills, and some of them were lodged at the Harbour Master's quarters. On Thursday morning, before the anchor was let go, the captain sent a boat to the steamer Wanganui, which was in sight, but the persons on the steamer did not appear to see the boat." This completes the Captain's statement of the circumstances attending the stranding of the vessel. The accounts of how the Surat struck, how she came to be so close in shore, and the subsequent events on board, are most conflicting. It is said that the wind was moderate at the time, and blowing off the land, and that only half an hour before the vessel bumped on the rocks, the captain and one of the cabin passengers - Mr Booth - had ascertained what was supposed to be the ship's exact position, and marked it off on the chart. At noon on the 3lst ins. the ship was in lat 47.34 south, lon 167.27 east. Dog Island was sighted at 2 pm; at 8 pm the course steered by standard compass was NE by E half E, Dog Island bearing W by N 20 miles. The ship was under plain sail and the yards checked about a point and a-half or two points. At 9.15 the ship struck on the Brothers, and got off. The pumps were sounded, and it was found that the vessel had only made four inches of water for the first hour. At 11.30 it was found that the water had suddenly increased to 20 inches; at midnight there was four feet of water in the hold, and the ship was run for Bloody Jack's Island. The starboard anchor was let go in seven fathoms; but it was observed that the ship was settling down, and nothing was left to be done but to land the passengers. From what we have been able to learn, and from the appearance of some of the women especially, the passengers appear to have suffered a great deal of hardship. Very few of them managed to get ashore with more than the clothes they had on, and the majority of them were in bed when the vessel struck, and when the confusion began, a few had barely clothes to cover them. In landing, some of them ran a great risk of losing their lives, and most of them reached the shore cold, wet, and miserable. Of course, when the Surat first struck, there was the most intense excitement on board ; and with reference to what afterwards occurred, it is impossible to get two statements that do not differ in a good many material points. One of the passengers says that when the vessel bumped on the rocks a considerable shock was felt, and as the ship went over the rock a noise was heard resembling the rumbling of a lot of iron tanks being moved about. Some of the passengers state that the pumps were never sounded, in order to ascertain whether the ship was making any water or not, until long after she passed over the rocks. The little bay in which the vessel anchored on the following morning is called Bloody Jack's Bay. Nearly all the passengers' statements are to the effect that, after the Surat struck, and before she was beached, there was considerable confusion and disorder on board. Attempts on the part of the passengers to signal the passing steamer Wanganui were stopped, revolvers were produced, and violence threatened. The water gained, notwithstanding the working of the pumps incessantly by the crew and passengers, including the married women and girls, all of whom took their turn at the work. When it was determined to beach the vessel, and the boats were lowered, the men behaved most creditably, according to the accounts we have heard. The women and children and the old men were all put in the boats before the other men followed, and except in the case of one woman, mentioned above, there were no accidents. Pilot Heyward, who is also Harbour Master at Port Molyneux and Catlin's River, was of great assistance in pointing out the best place to beach the ship, and in landing the passengers and getting them together. The passengers also speak well of the carpenter, whose name is Lodge, the sailmaker, familiarly known as "Old Sails," but whose proper name we did not hear, and a seaman named Donovan. Dr Tighe also made himself most useful, both on board, during the time when great confusion and excitement prevailed, and after the passengers were landed. At one time some of the women are said to have been almost frantic with excitement, waving their shawls and handkerchiefs, and making all the efforts in their power to attract the attention of those on board the Wanganui; and a few of the male passengers had a great deal of trouble to endeavour to calm them and get them below. The excitement did not last long, and when it was over all the passengers are reported to have become remarkably calm. There was no moonlight, and rain was falling nearly all the time. At the time the vessel struck the second mate, whose name is Hasaltine, was in charge of the deck, and the captain was below with a few other passengers. We have avoided giving any of the passengers' statements of what occurred on board the Surat after she struck the rocks, as they are contradictory, and as the true version of the whole matter will shortly be laid before the public, when an official inquiry into the loss of the vessel is held.
We have already stated what took place after the arrival of the French man-of-war at the scene of the wreck. The Vire and the Wallabi both left Catlin's River at about the same time - 4 p.m. - on Saturday. The Vire came up under half steam, and the Wallabi arrived at the Port some time before her with a few of the more delicate of the passengers on board, and brought them right up to Dunedin. The Vire anchored at the Port at about four o'clock on Sunday morning, and was immediately boarded by Captain Paterson of the Golden Age, with whom arrangements were made to land the Surat's passengers, who were to be conveyed to town by train. The scene on board was a curious one. The decks were crowded with men, women, and children, who all bore some evidences of the hardships they had lately gone through. The women and children were dressed in anything that could keep them warm, and most of the youngsters had pieces of grey blanket wrapped about them. Some of the girls had no covering for their heads, and a few of the men appeared to be wearing nothing but oilskins. On the passage up every attention was shown to the passengers by the officers and men of the Vire. The women and children were all accommodated below, but the men had to remain on deck during the night. They were all well fed with ship's biscuit, mutton, and soup, and were regaled with claret, the ordinary drink on board. The passengers did not appear so downhearted as one might have expected, although not one of them had saved anything of value. The children all looked well and jolly, and were intensely amused with the antics of "Roberte" the pet of the sailors and officers. "Roberte" is a fine sheep, who was originally taken on board for the purpose of being duly converted into mutton. He showed himself so intelligent, however, that he escaped the butcher's knife, and is now an established favourite. He drinks brandy and curacoa before breakfast, and smacks his lips over it, and is fast learning to chew tobacco. The sailors were very kind to the children, and attentive to all the passengers, who speak in the highest terms of their kindness. The Vire was not expected in so early in the morning, and no provision had been made for a train before eight o'clock. Before seven, however, the Surat's passengers had been transferred from the Vire to the Golden Age, and landed at the wharf. As they left the man-of-war they gave three hearty cheers for the officers and crew, who waved their hats in return. Arrived at the railway station there was still an hour to wait, and as the morning was damp and cold, and the passengers mostly ill clothed, this was rather hard upon them. They all appeared to make the best of it, however, and it was pleasant to see the many little acts of kindness done by some of the residents of the Port. Some brought fruit and others biscuits for the children, a few of the women were taken to houses, where hot tea and coffee were given them, whilst most of the men received friendly invitations to "have a drink." When the train arrived it waa soon filled, and started almost immediately for Dunedin.
Amongst those who came by the Wallabi was a Mrs Mancie, who was in a very weak state, and near confinement, and a subscription was at once raised on her behalf at the railway station, towards which 2 was subscribed in a few minutes. She was carried to the Hospital on a stretcher, but before night was so far recovered as to be able to walk about the ward. The immigrants and crew of the Surat proceeded to the Immigration Barracks by the Clutha line, where they were at once provided with breakfast. His Honour the Superintendent afterwards visited the Barracks, and expressed himself as satisfied with the preparatory arrangements, and gave instructions for all of them to be provided with clothing. The following articles were forwarded to the Institution by the orders of the Superintendent, on Saturday: - 50 pairs blankets, 2 dozen bed-covers, 4 pieces calico, 3 do. linen, 3 do. flannel, 12 dozen socks, 12 doz. shirts, 10 dozen hose, and 1 parcel haberdashery. There were a few Shetland families in the Barracks, who assisted in cooking, and the single girls by the Surat, of whom there are about forty, made up the clothing. Ample supplies of provisions were got in, 3001bs of meat being sent besides what was in, and 75 loaves of bread were delivered yesterday. The immigrants express themselves generally as well pleased with the treatment they received since their arrival.
His Excellency the Governor paid an official visit to Captain Jacquemart of the Vire yesterday afternoon, to thank him for the assistance he had rendered to the passengers and crew of the Surat.
An advertisement in another column announces that this day, at 2 pm., Messrs M'Landress, Hepburn, and Co. will sell the ship Surat and her cargo, for the benefit of whom it may concern. [We have received from a correspondent a very interesting account of the doings of the Wallabi, and of what took place on board the Surat, but we are unable to find room for it in our present issue.]

Otago Witness 17 Jan 1874
The official enquiry re the Wreck of the Surat Pages 7 & 8 and also the next papers 24 Jan and 31st.