Duke of Roxburgh

Duke of Roxburgh

This was the third of the New Zealand Company ships (the First Fleet) to arrive in New Zealand, and the first to be carrying " settlers" - the first two ships, Tory and Cuba, being the trailblazers. She was a vessel of 417 tons, and left Gravesend late in 1839 under Captain James Thomson, with 167 emigrants on board - 80 males and 87 females. She called at Plymouth, leaving there on 5 October, and on arriving in New Zealand headed for Port Hardy, D'Urville Island, for instructions, as had been arranged before Tory had left England. 7 February 1840, a journey of 125 days form Plymouth.

Off Stephen's Island "there was a strong gale from the south-east when she arrived off the port, and during a squall the vessel made an extra heavy lurch, which threw Captain Thomson into the sea. Every effort was made to rescue him, but there was too much sea on for a boat to live".

On 7 February 1840, Colonel Wakefield went out to the heads in the Cubaand brought the Duke of Roxburghinto the harbour at Port Nicholson - a journey of 125 days from Plymouth. At about that time a whale and calf happened to come into Wellington Harbour, and "went gambolling about between Somes Island and the eastern side of the harbour". This was probably not an isolated incident as whales were common in the Cook Strait area, and there were many whaling stations in the region, and up along the western (Kapiti) coast.

On the Sunday after the vessel got into port, some people left on board wished to go to church. They set off in the life boats, but the tide was out, and "between them and the jetty at Petone beach was a stretch of very shoal water. Dressed in their Sunday best, the new chums did not know what to do, but the good-natured natives came to the rescue. Taking the pakehas on their backs, they carried them ashore clean and dry, but as the brown men had thrown off their mats and other garments before entering the water the ladies of the party were more than a little confused".

Mary Jane Hebden was one of these first settlers.

References:  "White Wings" Vol.II, - Sir Henry Brett;  "Early Wellington" - Louis E. Ward.  

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