Sir Edward Paget

Sir Edward Paget

"The Sir Edward Paget, (481 tons) at one time a fast sailer, was an elaborately fitted up ship, and one of the first of Green's Line of passenger ships to New Zealand. She had a reputation of making some remarkable passages for her size in her early days. She made three voyages to New Zealand after she had done about twenty-five years' service. She first came to Auckland as far back as 1850, under the command of Captain Barclay, arriving on December 18 after a lengthy passage of 135 days. She arrived in Auckland again on May 25, 1853, under Captain Chapman. She sailed from Gravesend on December 9 and the Downs on the 18th. Her passage doen Channel proved an exceedingly boisterous one, and the ship was severely damaged. She experienced a succession of heavy westerly gales, which drove her into Cowes, where she was detained for some six weeks repairing damages. More severe gales were experienced when rounding the southern part of Van Diemen's Land, heavy seas doing considerable damage. She arrived at Auckland eventually after a lengthy and tedious passage of 170 days from London, or 120 days from Cowes.

The next voyage was to Lyttleton. She sailed form London on February 21, and arrived on July 2, 1856, under Captain Wycherly - 131 days from the docks. After discharging cargo and landing some passengers she proceeded to Dunedin, where on August 15 she landed 60 passengers and loaded for home."

Among those disembarking at Dunedin were Peter and Catherine Bayne, 4 sons, and 2 daughters. They were accompanied by Catherine's brother, George Anderson. On the voyage there had been 4 deaths of children, 1 adult death, and 4 births. Each assisted passenger paid £20/10/- for their passage.

Captain Wycherley faced charges in the Resident Magistrate's Court in dunedin on 26 August 1856. The Immigration Officer alleged that the Captain had breached sections 25, 26, 35 and 61 of the Passenger Act. The evidence given by witnesses in the case gives us some idea of the conditions endured by migrants on this journey.

There was water running backwards and forwards in front of some berths - it was said to have some from the women's water-closets, and although no soil was washed through, the water was very smelly, and passengers had to walk on board to keep their feet dry. There were 4 water-closets on deck and two below, for 226 adult passengers - about 60 women - and 60 children. There was no pipe to bring water to carry away the soil from the water-closets, and they could only be kept clean by throwing water on the seats. Two water-closets allocated to the males were taken down several weeks before they reached Canterbury, and one of the women's water-closets was boarded up but the women broke it open again. The passengers were told that it was their duty to clean the water-closets.

There was almost constant impediment to the use of one hatchway, as provisions were served out there from 7 or 8 o'clock in the morning until 6 at night, and then the third mate sold beer and wine from the same spot until 8 or 9 o'clock at night. For those using this hatchway, there was no way out other than to push through the throng. The ladder was sometimes removed for hours at a time. The provisions were served out raw, and the passengers then had to give them to the cook. When served for eating, the food was badly cooked and usually cold. The cook left the ship at Canterbury, and was not replaced so the passengers had to do their own cooking. They were not given any oatmeal or butter for some considerable time, and sometimes were given three days' rations to last four days. They were not given lime juice as prescribed.

One passenger who had complained to the ship's doctor about the wet condition and small size of his berth (5ft 2in by 3ft 1in - a double berth!), was told that the doctor was in a worse position himself.


The court, after deliberation, gave judgement to the following effect:

For breach of the 25th section - in so far as the water-closets were not maintained in a serviceable and cleanly condition throughtout the voyage - fined £15

For breach of the 26th section, in so far as the passengers had not free and unimpeded use of the whole of each hatchway suituated over the space appropriated to their use - fined £25

For breach of section 35 in so far as certain provisions specified in the dietary scale were not issued to the passengers during the voyage - fined £50

For breach of section 36 in so far as the provisions were not issued in a properly cooked state - fined £30

For breach of section 61 in so far as the abstract of the Passengers Act was not kept posted during the voyage in at least two conspicuous places between decks - fined in the mitigated penalty of 1s per diem for every said day section was infringed. 140 days amounting to £7

Further judgement that the costs, £2 1s 6d should be paid by the defendant.

The fines and costs amounting in all to £129 1s 6d.*"

References: "White Wings" Vol I - Sir Henry Brett; Otago Early Settlers Museum - "Lyttleton Times" 25 October 1856 & "Otago Witness" 30 August 1856 *

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