Otago Daily Times March 6th 1874

(NB: This has been re-formated from the original for ease of reading)

The large ship that was sighted from Ocean Beach on Wednesday afternoon turned up at the Heads yesterday morning and was signalled as the Trevelyan. That, however, was a mistake - the ship proving to be the unexpected Scimitar - unexpected, because her time at sea fell several days short of the average passage of vessels from the old country to New Zealand. At the Heads she was met by the steamer Geelong, which had just towed out the ship Jessie Readman, and in turn took the Scimitar in tow, and fetched her to the Quarantine Ground by 8 o'clock. There she anchored, and very shortly afterwards was in communication with the Health Officer, Captain Thomson, Mr Monson, of the Customs, and Dr O'Donoghue, Medical Adviser to the Board of health, who proceeded alongside in the steamer Jane.

As we have all along anticipated would be the case, from the fact of the Scimitar shipping her immigrants at Plymouth from the same depot that supplied the Mongol, the ship comes here with disease on board - scarlatine, measles and bronchitis having broken out amongst her passengers and carried off 26 of them during the passage.The first case of scarlet fever appeared four days after the ship left Plymouth and the last case on the 25th of February. The fever ran its course through the vessel, the doctor's children, in the cabin being affected by it, but it is said not to have been the malignant type. Six cases of it and its sequences are still in the hospital. The following is the list of deaths and the dates of their occurrence:-
January 5th, Wm. Brown, aged 4 years and 3 months, scarlatina and measles;
January 7th W. H. Smith, aged 5 months, bronchitis;
January 10th, Prudence Bennett, 3 years and 6 months, scarlatina anginoza;
January 14th, Emily Tonks, 16 years and 6 months, measles and scarlatina;
January 15th M. C. Carey, 3 years 4 months, measles and diarrhoea;
January 17th, Lydia Jordan, 17 years and 6 months, measles and diarrhoea;
January 17th, James Carey, 5 years, measles and diarrhoea;
January 17th Unice Tombs, 8 months, measles and bronchitis;
January 21, Cicilea Castle, 1 year 6 months, measles and bronchitis;
January 24, Edith Elland, 10 months, measles and bronchitis;
January 24, Amy Townsend, 2 years 3 months, convulsions, measles and diarrhoea;
January 26th, John Carey, 7 years, measles and diarrhoea;
January 26th, Frank Townsend, 10 months, measles, scarlatina and diarrhoea;
January 28th, Eliza Wilby, 1 year 2 months, measles and scarlatina;
February 2nd, Edith Lynn, 1 year 1 month, scarlatina anginoza;
February 6th, Harriett Minison, 3 years 10 months, scarlatina anginoza;
February 6th, George Banghan, 1 year 2 months, hydrocephalus;
February 6th, John Wale, 3 years 6 months, measles and diarrhoea;
February 10th, Emily Styles, 7 months, dentition convulsions;
February 13th, Ruth Ashton, 7 months, dentition convulsions;
February 14th, William Denton, 1 year 1 month, measles and bronchitis;
February 15th, Mary Ann Martin, 3 years 6 months, scarlatina;
February 17th, Francis Newson, 5 years, scarlatina;
February 19th, Matilda Dewe, 2 years, scarlatina;
February 23rd, Jane Jeffrey, 3 years, measles;
February 23rd, William Gubbin, 10 months, scarlatina.

The above appears on the ships way bill which goes on to say "Am short of beds and bedding, having repeatedly thrown overboard beds &c. of those dying of scarlatina. The rest has been repeatedly washed and disinfected. Isolation, as far as practicable, has been practised, and a free use made of chloride of lime and Burnet's solution of carbolic acid, with towing overboard and repeated washing." We presume that the last sentence refers to the clothes and bedding of the infected people &c. not their persons. The above is the sanitary report and it is almost useless to say that the ship has been quarantined with the yellow flag at her main. Whilst the steamer was alongside of the ship, one reporter improved the opportunity of eliciting a little information from Dr Hosking, the Surgeon Superintendent of the ship. He says that the scarlet fever prevailed amongst the emigrants of the Plymouth depot of which he was in charge for some time before joining the Scimitar. Two families were rejected as being tainted on the day before the ship sailed. They came from Jersey and, as it subsequently transpired, had been afflicted by the fever five weeks before they left their homes. It is said that they were bent on emigrating at all hazards and studiously kept their condition a secret, swearing, in fact, that they were healthy. They lived for a fortnight among the emigrants at the depot, and no doubt infected many of them. The name of these two families were Wilfrey and Smith. Another family named Tanner was also rejected. In reply to a pointed question put by our reporter, Dr Hosking's stated in plain terms that the selection of emigrants in England was conducted on a rotten system. There was absolutely no supervision exercised. The emigrants themselves were also most careless about consequences and appeared to think nothing of scarlatina. "Oh it's only a little fever, doctor" or "it's only a rash" were the oft-repeated rejoinders made to his remarks. Their only object appeared to get away from the country. Both the Doctor and Captain spoke in high terms of the emigrants that were on board. "A very well-behaved lot indeed," said the Captain "scarcely a complaint made to me."

The appearance of the emigrants, especially that of the single women was also in their favour. The women looked healthy and comely, and a few of the men were stalwart, whilst the majority seemed wanting in physique - at least of those who lined the ship's bulwark - the majority were under sized and wore the expression of life in large towns. Dr Hosking's eulogised the Scimitar and her commander, and narrated how, in the midst of death and suffering, the picture of the passengers was not without its pleasant side. Four births had taken place - Mrs Guischlay of a daughter and Mesdames Batchel, Carey and West of a son each. Hymen's torch was also kindled on a memorable sabbath, when a strapping young Norwegian named Michael Olsen was spliced by Captain Fox in a sailor-like manner to Matthia Christenson, also of Norwegian birth. Much pleasant hilarity was occasioned by the circumstance.

The worthy Captain also performed the the ceremony of baptism in the case of one or two of the new arrivals and, as he observed, "what between reading divine service every Sunday, and the marriage, and the baptisms, and burying so many, there was enough work on the passage to have kept a Parson employed. Concerning the ship and the run-out, we have to report that the Scimitar is a remarkably handsome vessel of over 1200 tons register, and was purchased at the beginning of last December by the New Zealand Shipping Company, She was subsequently put into dry dock and received a thorough overhaul, and nearly a re-rig from deck to truck. The most of her spars are new. That she is a clipper is evident by the remarkable passage she has made from Plymouth, the quickest on record - the time being 67 days from land to land, and 70 days from the time the anchor was tripped in Plymouth harbour to yesterday morning, when the ship moored in this harbour. She left Plymouth on the 24th December and for the first week encountered westerly weather, then meeting with a favourable slant which took her to the N. E. trades. These were met with very far north and held good to lat. 5 N., whilst the S. E. trade was picked up in lat. 1deg. 30min.north, and was not lost until lat 28 south had been gained. The line was crossed on the 20th day out . Splendid westerlies were met with in the Southern Ocean, and bowled the ship along at the rate of 1800 miles a week. The New Zealand coast was sighted at the Snares on the 3rd inst., thick rainy weather and a strong S. W. gale and heavy seas prevailing at the time.The Heads were reached early yesterday morning. The Scimitar brings 1100 tons of cargo, of which 550 tons consists of railway plant. We omitted to mention that Gravely's condensing apparatus was used on board, and answered admirably, condensing at the rate of 800 gallons per diem.

Otago Witness March 21st 1874

We have much pleasure in announcing the release of the Scimitar from quarantine. On Wednesday the yellow flag was hauled down by order of the Board of Health, and so terminated the long and vexatious detention of this fine vessel. In arrordance with the pre-arrangement, the Scimitar is to discharge her cargo at the Railway Pier, and will take up a berth there as soon as there is one vacant.