1851 Woodcutting Licences

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The Lyttelton Times

Vol. 1.     No.1.    SATURDAY, JANUARY 11, 1851.   PRICE SIXPENCE.


NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN, that all persons found cutting or damaging any of the Timber or Underwood on lands within the Canterbury Settlement without license granted from the Land-Agent of the Canterbury Association, will be prosecuted as the law directs.
    By order of the Agent of the Canterbury Association,


Land Office, Lyttelton, Jan. 8, 1851

The landing of goods and passengers immediately commenced, and has rapidly proceeded.  The "Charlotte Jane" discharged and sailed for Sydney in three weeks,  The "Randolph" in two more days. The harbour has been found excellent as regards safety for shipping.

Above 500 of the emigrants and some of the cabin-passengers found good accommodation in the barracks, and a weeks rations were served out to the former.  Houses rapidly began to spring up, every kind of habitation reared its head, from the iron-store to the turf cabin, or even blanket tent.  With a population of eleven hundred souls, the town is as quiet at night as an English village.  The weather has been perfect, -a brilliant sun which neither scorches nor oppresses:   Lyttelton itself , however, is too hot and too dusty for a pleasant abode.   And of all those who have been to the plains, not one has come back, who does not say that that is the place to live in.  Some were discontented with Lyttelton; all are in raptures with the plains.  The anxiety to go to the plains became great, and though for some days the strong sea breezes made the bar impassable, boats are now passing and repassing with ease. The freight to Christchurch has been rather high, 30s a ton, but the arrival of boats and boatmen from other settlements will probably lower it.  Of the road we shall have to speak hereafter, but when that is finished, most heavy goods will be sent by water.

Labour has been scare, and wages very high.  Carpenters get as much as a shilling an hour; but this is partly owning to the fact, that all the labour brought out in the ships is not yet in the market, the people being occupied in making their own houses.

Provisions are, for a new colony, very cheap.  The slight rise, on the increase of population in a day from 300 to 1100, has been very remarkable; meat is only 5d. per lb., bread 7d the 2lb loaf.

Water is scare above ground, but wells always give an abundant supply.  During half the year mountain streams will supply the town.

The immediate choosing of the town acre sections has been most important and useful measure.  The quarter acre chosen for the college, which was No. 1, has let for 100 a year already, and land along Norwich Quay is letting for 15s. a foot, frontage. An excellent family hotel is to be built immediately opposite the jetty.

Of the five cows landed from the ships, three have died, Mr. Brittan's by falling over the cliff, Mr. Fitzgerald's and Mr. Phillip's by eating tutu.   All these are a great loss to the colony, especially the two former, which were pure bred Durham cows,  Mr. Fitzgerald's was from Mr. Bland's farm in Surrey, and had won prizes both as a calf and as a cow.

It is impossible to take too much care in landing cattle at this place.  To beasts just out of a ship, the tutu, of which there is an abundance here, is certainly fatal

When the settlers first arrived in Canterbury, New Zealand the first thing they had to do was build accommodation so they had to apply for a licence to cut the bush for timber, at a cost of 10 shillings. Patsy McMillan transcribed the following letter as Archives New Zealand in Christchurch does not allow anything pre-1900 to be photocopied.

Found in Christchurch Archives New Zealand "Letters to Administration" was the following:

August 4th 1851

To W. G. Brittan Esq.


In accordance with your instructions I beg to forward the Waurterly Account of all woodcutting licences issued by me and the amounts received. I have occasion to come to Christchurch early next week when I will pay the sum into your office or should you desire it I will pay it into the Bank here.

One man named Thomas Cox licence 210 June 18th was appointed to the Police Force the day after he obtained it and is now anxious to have his money refunded - will you please direct me.

With great respect
I am Sir
Your Obedient Servant
James Hare

1851 Woodcutting Licences Issued

April 24

John Turnbull 1 Issued from your office & paid to me

May 1

William Gee 135 - 10
5 Richard Packer 136 - 10
13 Thomas Cox 137 - 10
Richard Bligh 138 - 10
George Field 139 - 10
14 Frederick Bechey 140 - 10
John Bannister 141 - 10
George Witney 142 - 10
15 Crawford Taylor 143 - 10
19 Horace Neave 144 - 10
20 Robert Evans 146 - 10
June 3 Robert Hamlett 200 - 10
J.E. Fitzgerald 201 - 10
4 John Free 202 - 10
10 Richard Packer 203 - 10
18 Thomas Cox 210 - 10
George Field 211 - 10
July 22 William Barnes 204 - 10
23 Charles Silvay 205 - 10
26 Frederick Beechey 206 - 10

The displacement of the numbers was a consequence of some of the licences being mislaid

Patsy is researching the Hamlet family line and has a New Zealand genealogy help page.  
Doug Wood is researching the Whitney family line. 
Both passengers were on the "Castle Eden" which arrived in Lyttelton, the port for Christchurch, February 14, 1851, seven weeks after the first emigrant vessels "Charlotte Jane" and "Randolph" arrived.

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