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The Taranaki Herald January 24th 1855

We have delayed our publication till to day (Thursday) hoping for the return of the 'Nelson' with the 'William Denny's' mail, but the state of the weather rendering it probable that she may be detained at Manukau a day or two longer, the interests of our advertising friends compel us to publish without further delay.

Early this morning (25th instant) a three masted vessel was sighted, and shortly came to anchor; she proves to be the 'Josephine Willis', from England direct, 94 days out, having left Plymouth on the 23rd of October. She brings a few passengers and 300 packages of goods. Nothing of importance had transpired in Europe in the interval between our last advices and the date of her sailing. Captain Canney informs us that at about past 9 on Tuesday night last, being upwards of 150 miles from land, he experienced a shock from an earthquake - no doubt the same was felt here. A list of the passengers and other information will be found in our Shipping Intelligence.

The New Zealander February 7th 1855

The Josephine Willis from London in 114 days. Some of the ships company showed the greatest insubordination early in the trip and five who mutinied were handed over to civil authorities. Very superior cabin accommodation. She brings a considerable addition to our population, amongst them another portion of emigrants whose passages have been assisted by the pre-payment of their friends. There were two births and 1 death during the voyage.

White Wings - Sir Henry Brett

[Following her trip to New Zealand in 1855] The Josephine Willis made a smart passage home, and was again put on the berth for Auckland, sailing from the St Katherine docks, London, on February 3rd, 1856, but she never got further than off Folkstone, where during the night she was run into by a powerful iron steamer called the Mangerton, bound for the Thames from Limerick, The Josephine Willis, which was still in command of Captain Canney, who had brought her out to New Zealand the previous year, carried a valuable cargo, and there were on board upwards of of a hundred souls, including seventy passengers. The ship was doing about six knots on the port tack at the time, and both vessels saw one another before the accident happened, but there was apparently some mistake as to the courses, and before the steamer could reverse her engines she had run into and cut the ship to the waters edge.

A terrible scene followed, and out of 105 people on board only 35 were saved. Unfortunately the steamer backed away from the sinking ship, or more would have been saved. As it was, a few of the ship's people managed to clamber on to the steamer. When the collision occurred, Captain Canney was below, marking off the course, and most of the passengers were below, suffering from seasickness. It was soon seen that there was no possible hope for the ship, and Captain Canney ordered every hencoop and anything else that would float to be thrown over in order to give a chance of escape to anyone that might pick them up when the ship went down. There seems to have been a good deal of confusion, as the ship's boats, that could easily have held everyone, left the ship half-empty. The scene on the ship was heartrending, as it was at once obvious that nothing short of a miracle could save the doomed souls on board. Captain Canney acted heroically, and did all he could to pacify the terrified creatures. The ship was doomed, and very soon she heeled over, with the ends of her yards in the water; and soon she sank, only the tops of her masts appearing above the water.

The Mangerton does not seem to have made any attempt to search the locality, but she picked up a boat with several people in it. The steamer had her bows crushed by the impact, and she made for Ramsgate, where she landed about twenty nine of the Joesphine Willis' people. Another of the ship's boats reached Folkstone the night of the collision, and the following morning seven people were found clinging to a floating spar, one of whom was the late Mr W H Ripley, who went back to London, and came out on the Lord Burleigh in 1856 to Auckland, where he died in 1923.

The following are among those saved from the wreck: Henry G Ray and Mrs Ray, Misses May, Walter, Wright, William Ripley, George Horner, W W Wallis, W Ford, J S Scott, G Sutton, C Fleming, George Andrews, David Garside, and eight of the ship's company.

The following list is printed as a dedication to those who lost their lives in this tragic accident.
May their souls rest in eternal peace.

Among the missing were: Captain Canney, Frederick Golding, Stanhope Vickers, Herbert G Ray, Miss Emma J Logan, Master Andrew H Logan, Mr and Mrs John Hamilton and two children, Samuel Hamilton (schoolmaster), Mrs Hamilton and four children, Miss Susan Nicholls, Mr and Mrs Charles Stuart, Mr Sidney William Beck, Henry and Anna David and family (3), Sarah Lambe, Elizabeth Lambe, William Lloyd, Margaret Egan, Arthur lawler, Catherine Gibbons, Catherine Burke, Sarah Walters, Margaret sharp, Caroline Gore, John O'Neil, Jane O'Neil, Ann O'Neil, James and harriet Sutton and three children, Elizabeth Austin, John George Austin, Henry and Margaret Gutterson, Mary de Kruger and family of five. Bodies found included those of Mrs Harriet Sutton, Miss M Parkhouse, Miss Agnes Davis, and Master Asher Davis.