The OCEAN MAIL departed London on 15 August, 1874 and arrived in Nelson on 9 November, 1874, with Captain Watson in command.



Transcribed from the Colonist, Thursday, 19 November, 1874.




The usual interest excited by the arrival of an emigrant ship was manifested in Nelson on the morning of Saturday, Nov. 7, on receipt of intelligence that the ship Ocean Mail, with 332 emigrants, was in the bay and would shortly come to an anchor. Early in the afternoon she was moored in the offing, and, on the return of the officials who had boarded her, it was ascertained that the ship showed a per­fectly clean bill of health, no sickness of any kind existing on board, which happy state of matters had ruled almost continuously throughout the voyage, except in the case of three infants who had died on the passage. Against these had to be placed the births of two girls—the mothers being respectively the wives of Mr. A. Barson, groom, and Mr. D. Hawker, stonemason. Surgeon-Superintendent Jas. N. Frood, was unremitting in his attention to what­ever patients required his assistance, and his strict enforcement of the sanitary rules of the 'tween decks doubtless, under Providence, contributed in no small degree to the pleasing result above stated. Dr Frood, by his kindly yet firm demeanour, soon won for himself the respect and esteem of all under his charge, and if all surgeons of emigrant ships behave towards passengers as he has done the complaint book will soon drop from the list of furniture in the Immigration Office. The passengers also speak well of Captain James Watson, who has won golden opinions from all on board by his suavity of manner and kind-heartedness. He is well known, to boot, as one of the ablest masters in the Southern trade, and it is a noteworthy fact that his last voyage from London to Wellington was accomplished in 77 days —just one day less than his present voyage from the former port to Nelson. Captain Watson is supported by an efficient staff of officers in Mr. John Watson (his brother), chief mate; Mr. Lesman, second mate; Mr. Orgar, storekeeper; and Mr. Carter, fourth mate. The Ocean Mail is a fine vessel of 1039 tons regis­ter, and is a comparatively new ship. She was built by Mr. Robert Thompson, jun., of Sunderland, and her behaviour, both as regards her sailing powers and as a sea boat, is beyond all praise. On the present passage she lifted anchor off Gravesend on the 18th August, was towed down Channel, and, under her own sail, lost sight of land on the 20th. Up to the Line, the winds she encountered, though favourable, were extremely light, and certainly anything tut prophetic of such a fast passage as she has been able to accom­plish. While in the smaller figures of southern lati­tude, Captain Watson had to contend, now with a bead breeze, now with an almost dead calm, and was forced so far out of the track of New Zealand-bound ships that his passengers were able to say, what possibly many of them will never be able to say again, that they ran down and clearly saw at a short distance the coast of the Brazils. It was only when the Ocean Mail reached the "Roaring Forties" south that she beganto show her mettle, and for a clear fortnight she ran through the water on a straight course at an average speed of ten or eleven knots an hour, or more. Throughout, the voyage was as plea­sant and comfortable as a yachting trip.

The following are the names of the passengers (numbering 240 in all) who are booked for Nelson, most of whom have obtained employment in the town and neighbourhood, or have been reserved for the new settlement at the Karamea; while the re­mainder of the company have been sent to Marl­borough and Westland, having been fixed at Home for these places. The Marlborough and Westland contingent numbers 92 :—


Andrew Todd, MA.


J. MacLean Dunn (school­master of the vessel) and wife;

John Kerr and wife;

W. G. Williams, wife, child, and young brother;

Joseph Garrick, wife, 5 children, and Wm. Gear, brother-in-law;

John Georgeson, wife, child, and Agnes Jamieson, sister-in-law;

Peter Henry, wife, 2 children, Robert, brother, and Jessie and Mary, sisters;

Laurence Laurenceson, wife, and 4 children;

John Sinclair, wife, and 3 children;

James Moffat, wife, and 5 children;

Edward Radcliffe, wife, and 2 children;

E. T. Charles, wife, 4 children;

Robert Cook, wife, 3 children;

Robert Cheyne and wife;

Alfred Barson, wife, and child born on the voyage;

Richard A. Ward, wife, 4 children;

T. E. Kelly, wife, 4 children;

Radcliffe Cowley, wife, 7 children — one, Eva, died on the voyage—and Margt. Cowin, sister-in-law;

Thomas Corlett, wife, 4 of a family;

James Mylroie, wife, 3 children;

George Ward and wife;

John Skerton, wife, and 4 children;

Peter Eddy, wife, and child;

William Solomon, wife, 4 children—the youngest, Lilly, having died on the way out;

Daniel Hawker, wife, 2 children, and one born on the way;

Stephen Stanton, wife, 6 children —the youngest of whom, Emily, died at sea;

William Hutchinson, wife, 2 children, Alfred Hurcumb, wife, 5 children;

Robert Johnson, wife and 8 of a family;

Alfred Williams, wife, 2 children;

James Strange, wife, 3 children;

William and Frank Greenslade, with their wives;

Michael Enright, wife and child;

John Macdonald, wife and child;

Thomas Stephens and wife; and Benjamin Coutts, 79 years of age, his wife Barbara, 70, and a grown up family of one son and three daughters;

Thomas Jamieson, 72 years, his wife Margaret, 51, four grown up sons, and two daughters;

James and John Counts, with their four sisters;

Engo Sinclair, with 4 relatives grown up;

and Mrs. Emma Kenney, with 5 of a family.



James Lawrence

William Melville

John Willcocks

Robert Williamson

John Doull

Percy Sheppard

Pierre Ozouf

Thomas Coombs

Jno. Somers

Thomas Kelly

William Cannan

Alfred Burton

William Watson

Peter Murphy

Guy and John Boyd

Sam. K. Butler

Hugh Chisholm

John Leitch

Julian Hayman

Pat. Sullivan

John Wrenn

George Stephens

David Smart

Alex. Leslie



Catherine Somers

Barbara Fraser

Ellen Doull

Agnes Jamieson

Christina Macfarlane

Kate Clucas

Joan E. Smith

Harriet White

Doutte and Johanne Muller

Louisa Parsons

Mary Twatt

Mrs. Mary Butt, matron.

A very large number of the above are from Orkney and Shetland, on the north of Scotland. They doubtless feel the genial climate of Nelson an agreeable change from the surly atmosphere of their dreary, storm-furrowed islands, where, as a wit amongst them put it, summer consists of three months of dirty weather. Let us hope too, that the teeming soil of New Zealand will prove a more kindly mother to these hardy island men than the niggardly mould of their own bare rooks. In their adventure to the Britain of the South we bid our Northern brethren, as we bid all who barelanded from Captain Watson's noble vessel, a hearty God-speed.


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Copyright – Gavin W Petrie - 2012