Sunday, 25 February 2018

26 February to 4 March, 1868

Thames goldfields Long Drive claim
 Auckland Museum Ref PH ALB 86 D L Mundy 1867 - 1869 

Supplicating Australian capitalists. 

Wednesday, 26 February
Captain Butt is still confined to his bed,  his illness more than likely originating from the huge court case of a fortnight ago which today is finally settled when his share is sold  to George Quick. There is relief that this much litigated matter is on the way to an amicable settlement.   George Quick pays £600 cash; Butt originally paid £4 for the share.

Messrs Pratt, Clayton and Co’s patent recovery lever crushing machine is completed today at Auckland to the order of the shareholders in the Happy-Go-Lucky claim at the Thames and will be forwarded there by steamer tomorrow morning.  The machinery appears to offer great advantages over the others in being portable, the heaviest portion being at the base but which can easily be carried by two men.  It can be put together with ease in about a minute and pulled to pieces in less space of time.

Avon  for the Thames with 20,000 shingles, 17 hhds ale, 6 barrels ale, 1 ton bran, 1 ton flour, 2 ½ tons maize, ½ ton hay, 6 cheeses, 5 cases brandy, 1 tank, 1 kauri log, ½ ton potatoes.  

Spey for  Tapu Creek with  one keg butter, two packages tobacco, five cases ale and porter, three kegs rum, two parcels, six cheeses, two boxes candles, one box picks, one quarter cask brandy, 3,000 ft timber, six buckets, six shovels, two quarter casks ale, one box, five bags potatoes, sundries.

This evening at Auckland a new cutter,  the Sumter, is launched at Duthie and Ross’s ship building yard, made to the order of Lawrence Nathan and intended for the Thames trade.  A smart looking coaster, she was formerly known as the Pearl.  She is of a similar build to the fast sailing cutters Severn and Harriet – owned by the same gentlemen. 

The Midge arrives in Auckland this evening with 1,111 oz gold from the Shotover.  It is to be deposited at the Union Bank.  During the past few days a new leader of exceeding richness has been struck at the Shotover.   William Hunt shows the Daily Southern Cross  a handful of quartz pebbles which he estimates will yield at least 4 oz gold.

The Sydney Mail comments that while Emu Creek is calling out for machinery on their goldfield, the second great goldfield that wants machinery is the Thames in New Zealand.  “The quartz is said to be richer than anywhere else, but, though the particles of gold are visible to the naked eye, the diggers cannot extract them for want of proper appliances.  They are supplicating Australian capitalists to come to their assistance - and promising somewhat vaguely the most ample reward for doing so.  The want will be supplied in time, and the gold mining in the district will help to settle the native difficulty, and will repair the broken fortunes of Auckland. “

Heavy rain has been falling at the Thames  and there is a spice of it again tonight.

Thursday, 27 February
Above Tapu  a track has been cut at considerable expense to make way for McIssac's Berdan.  Half way up the hill the blows of a blacksmiths anvil ring out.  There is a small township of huts  on the brow of a very steep range – this is the Digger’s Rest claim belonging to Jamieson and party.  At McIssac’s claim he and his son’s are now busily engaged building houses, so as to make themselves comfortable for winter.

A portion of McIssac’s claim has been taken possession of on the grounds that it should be worked for alluvial gold, and not for a reef.  McIssac’s party have summoned the jumpers for trespassing. A gentleman from Shortland claims a share in this rich claim in consideration for a few shillings worth of goods advanced months previous to its discovery. This preposterous demand has been refused, and the consequence will be a law suit, which is to be decided at Shortland on the 10th of March.

Of the claims at Tapu, the Prospector’s, McIssac’s, No 1 South, No 2 and the Nova Scotia are doing well.  Several drives are being put on the banks of the creeks.  Many are working the alluvial creeks; some are doing well, and others are not so lucky.  Machinery is badly needed. 

At Parnell, Auckland, the Episcopalian Diocesan Synod meets in the Cathedral library.  Now that a Church of England building is being constructed at Shortland Town measures need to be taken to secure an Anglican clergyman for that district.  In the meantime steps should be taken for the regular performance of Divine Service until a clergyman can be appointed. The large population at the Thames requires some provision for its spiritual wants. The best plan is thought to be to close up one of the Auckland churches so as to provide an Anglican minister for the Thames.

At the Mechanic’s Institute, Auckland, a meeting held this evening notes the number of members has decreased considerably since the last annual meeting – partly owing to the general financial depression of the times but more especially to the fact that many members now reside at the Thames.

Wahapu  for the Thames with 6,000 bricks, 1,000 bushels lime, one ton chaff.

Rosina for the Thames with  5,500 bricks.

This evening a number of miners return to the West Coast by the Murray from the Thames diggings, all of whom proclaim the Auckland goldfield a “regular duffer’. 

DSC 27 February, 1868

Hawkes Bay Times 27 February, 1868

Friday, 28 February
Graham’s 12 horsepower crushing machine on the Waiotahi is tried and found to work without a hitch. It is known as King’s patent and has been used in California with satisfaction.

The claims at the top of the Moanataiari Creek are doing well.  Speculators are coming forward freely. Sweeney’s claim, better known as Mulligan’s No 2, is yielding stone of astonishing richness.  This claim has been worked for five months without success.

Justice Moore  holds a sitting in banco in his chambers at Auckland.  James Mackay, Resident Magistrate, is called upon by William Rowe, realtor, to show by what authority he had to act as a judge in the Warden’s court at the Thames goldfield in the case of Butt v Rowe heard on 12 February.  The case is of considerable importance and, should the rule be obtained, it will affect cases which have been decided by Mr Mackay in the Warden’s Court at the Thames Goldfield since the proclamation of the district.  Justice Moore says he will endeavour to give judgement at 9.30 on Monday morning, before the commencement of the criminal sessions.

 Avon for Shortland with 12 head cattle and sundries.

The Tauranga and Midge arrive in Auckland  – the Tauranga with 178 oz gold from McIssac’s claim at Tapu Creek.  This parcel is lodged with the Union Bank of Australia.  The Midge brings 300 ozs from the Bank of New Zealand at Shortland, which had been lodged there in small quantities from various claims. 

A public meeting to establish a Digger’s Hospital at the Thames is held in Butt’s American Theatre, convened by Alan Baillie. Charles Mitchell says that no community of men require medical aid more than the diggers.  Accidents might happen which  necessitate the amputation of a limb to save a life.  An estimated five thousand people are now on the ground, and it is time that a hospital or some place should be built, where a doctor could be in attendance.  At present the doctors are called out at all hours, and in many cases are not remunerated. Mitchell had made a call for a hospital some four months ago, but at that time it was thought there was no immediate need for such an institution, that whenever such need should arise it would be more convenient, and better for the patient, that they should be removed to the Provincial Hospital at Auckland. Unfortunately it has since been found that there were cases where the patients could not be removed, and there were one or two notorious cases where human life might probably have been saved had there been a proper place and proper medical attendance. A site for a hospital needs to be secured - some two or three acres near the beach and handy to the most densely populated portion of the field.   Doctors ought to be paid as well as a butcher or baker.  The government should grant a subsidy, and when the necessary funds were raised, a certain annual sum should be provided for a doctor.

Bursts of quartz.

Saturday, 29 February
As the Daily Southern Cross correspondent travels through the bush towards Puriri he is quite taken with the area.   He comes across large deposits of petrified kauri gum which at first he thinks are bursts of quartz.  Between the main creek and Hikutaia he comes to a mineral spring, the taste of which he finds quite equal to the best soda water.  The bush abounds in pigeon, kaka and wild pig, while the streams yield eels of very fine flavour.  With a gun and dog and fish hooks no man need complain, he decides. This abundance would certainly not supply wives or families at a distance, but with tea, flour and sugar, a mining bush life is not to be despised by single men. Boats leave Shortland for the Puriri every tide, for which passengers have to pay 5s each, which is considered excessive.  The road between the two places is level, and with the exception of the Kauaeranga stream, all the creeks can be crossed dry shod.

 Maori also take out miner’s rights and go on the ranges in parties of six to eight men and open drives on the advice of European’s.  Joseph Cooke’s party have been so far successful at finding the colour in the stone.  Another Maori party have set to work on the adjoining spur.  Further south, John White, of the Shotover, has a party of Maori prospecting in a gully containing large quantities of quartz.  The Europeans, numbering about 60, are prospecting with energy and some have penetrated into the main dividing range.

At Tapu Mr Sceat’s hotel opens today. Messrs Duncan, Stewart and Hector Mackenzie discover one of the richest leaders on the field in the Panama Route Claim, and organise machinery for working it.  Several other claims are turning out better than anticipated. 

A puzzled digger writes to the NZ Herald“Sir – Can you or any chemist answer the question, namely, does the oil which is now used on the stampers at the Thames goldfield interfere with the amalgamating process of the quicksilver, as a certain amount must of necessity get into the boxes, and if so, how can we remedy this evil? “

The editor replies - Let a digger put a certain quantity of gold in a saucer, pour a little oil on it and then add the quicksilver, and test the result of oil coming into contact with the two. That there is a very general loss of gold in its extraction from the quartz at the Thames is a matter admitted by everyone.  Machinery which, under ordinary circumstances would scarcely be likely to lose any except a very small portion of the precious metal, fails to save it on this particular goldfield.

Claimholders send to the machines quartz in which gold is more or less visible and which to all appearance should give a very handsome return but the result is far from satisfactory.  The crushing machine, the amalgamators, the quicksilver itself are all in turn blamed.  Perhaps after all, the real cause of loss may be traced to the presence of pyrites in the quartz -  this same evil is constantly occurring in California, Victoria and other quartz reefing countries.  Fortunately in Australia, science has stepped in to rescue the miner, and a succession of costly experiments has, after some years of trial, resulted in a successful solution.   Miners at the Thames could  form an association to raise the funds necessary to send one or more reliable men  to Victoria to thoroughly acquaint themselves with the process and apparatus needed. 

Lachlan McCaskill is willing to throw open his land at Hikutaia to Europeans but until Mr Mackay proclaims it to be available for mining it would be unwise to take advantage of the offer.  The McCaskills have occupied a farm near Hikutaia since 1839 when they and a partner, Dr Martin, purchased blocks along the Waihou River.  The purchase was witnessed by some 500 Maori, 300  who came from Coromandel to place Lachlan McCaskill on the land.  The land has been stocked and improved but had to be abandoned during the war in the early 1860s.  Lachlan McCaskill returned to the station of around 5,000 acres two years ago, in 1866.

Helen for the Thames with 30 tons coal, from the Bay of Islands.

Otahuhu for the Thames with 7,000 ft timber, 20 pkgs fittings, 10 cases glass, 4 passengers.

The Shotover claim specially charters the Midge to send up to Auckland another 1,000 odd ounces of gold so that it makes it in time for the Sydney steamer, the Claude Hamilton. They are successful and the the Claude Hamilton leaves with outward mail for England, via Suez, bound for Sydney.  She takes about 3,000 oz Thames gold. 

Sunday 1 March, 1868

Butt – at her residence, Hape Creek, Shortland, the wife of Captain J Butt, of a daughter.

Mr Mason has been sent to the Thames by the British and Foreign Bible Society.  Bringing with him a good supply of books, he has spent the past ten days visiting settlements, claims and tents.  He is everywhere well received.  His sales are satisfactory, considering the financial circumstances of the population, which waits for an increase of crushing machinery.  Today, his work accomplished, he packs up to leave. The British and Foreign Bible Society has extended its operations, which include the great spread of the gospel in modern times, not only in the British Empire but throughout heathendom, all over the world.

A bombshell.

Monday, 2 March
The Kuranui Hotel and the Waiotahi Hotel both open today – they supply a want long felt in the quarters in which they are situated.

At Auckland's Supreme Court Justice Moore enters the court room to deliver the judgement in the case of Rowe v Mackay in which Mackay allegedly illegally exercised the office of a judge of the Warden’s court.  Justice Moore drops a bombshell – there is no legally constituted Warden’s court at the Thames. All miners’ rights issued by James Mackay are now illegal.  This news has yet to filter down to the goldfield.  

Those at the Thames are suffering very considerable inconvenience owing to the absence of Mr Mackay while he is at court in Auckland.  A case of stealing from the person occurred on Friday in one of the hotels.  One offender escaped, but one of his accomplices was arrested, and must be kept in custody, as Warden Baillie has to attend to his duties and sit in court every day of the week.  The principal offender has since been apprehended, so that two men will now possibly have to remain in custody until the return of the Resident Magistrate, Mr Mackay.  There is no JP at the Thames, save Mr Baillie,  and as it takes two JP’s to manufacture into one Resident Magistrate, the Thames is a trifle in a fix.

Bull’s machine on the Karaka starts today and works smoothly and well.  The appliances appear to be better calculated to save fine gold than any other machine on the ground, but as the capacity of the machine is only equal to one ton in the 24 hours, the difference to the gross yield of the field is not of great importance.  Shalder’s machine at the Hape Creek is under close lock and key as Mr Shalder is about to patent a portion of the machinery.  A claim known as the Union Jack has been abandoned by four different parties.  The stone which these four different parties had been pitching away down the creek most industriously was tested by three different people, the third being Mr Shalder, and it was found to yield 2 ozs, 2 ¾ oz and 3 ozs to the ton.  Numbers of machines are being talked about, but they are all more or less toys in comparison to what is wanted at the Thames.  In Robert Scott’s claim, in the Karaka Creek, some stone usually thrown away  is said by an on looker to be gold bearing, and the claim holders advised to have it tested.  This is done and it is found to yield some 2 ozs to the ton.  Since then this claim has yielded stone where there is no mistake about the gold. 

The news from Puriri is not of much account.  There are only 45 men left out of the exodus to that part of the field.

The Maori near Kopu are very busy catching fish with nets and getting their potato crops in.  They are all anxiously waiting for Te Hira to return from the Tokangamutu meeting held in January to hear what he has to say regarding the opening of the goldfields to Europeans. The diggers think the sooner this is done, the better so that at least two months of the best season of the year may be available to prospect in and they can get into the beds of the creeks to test them while the water is low, which they cannot do in the wet season.

The Enterprise resumes her trade to the Thames today after receiving a thorough overhaul.  She presents a neat appearance as she steams to the Auckland wharf in order to take on board a full complement of passengers and sundry cargo for the diggings.

The Daily Southern Cross comments on the latest commercial report noting that little business has been done during the month, but there are unmistakable indications that trade is assuming a more healthy tone than has existed for months past.  It cannot, as yet, be said that there has been any great benefit from the opening of the Thames goldfields due to rich claims being in the hands of a few individuals and in the majority of cases the cost of procuring and crushing the quartz swallows up the greater portion of the yield.

The news reaches the Thames that when James Mackay acted as Warden he had not been duly appointed as one and that miners rights issued by him are in jeopardy.

 Spey for Tapu Creek with 400 ft timber, five kegs butter, one ton potatoes, three cases sundries, two parcels, two hhds ale, six casks, two tons sundry stores, two wheelbarrows, two packages tools.   

Willie Winkie for the Thames with 5,000 ft timber, 4,000 shingles, four packages sashes and doors, three hhds ale, 10 cases ginger wine, six cases whiskey, one quarter cask whiskey, 14 packages sundries, one passenger.

Rob Roy for the Thames with 15,000 ft timber, three head cattle, one ton bran, one ton groceries.

Tuesday, 3 March
The inhabitants of the Thames wake to the news that as there was never any Warden’s court proclaimed for the district all miners’ rights issued by Mr Mackay as warden are now illegal and no law is recognised. As soon as this is known chaos ensues - claim's held under a miner’s right signed by Mr Mackay are jumped.  William Hunt’s share in the Shotover, the ground of one and a half men, is jumped and the police are called out to put the jumper in possession of the ground, threats having been used and force promised to put the jumper off the claim.  William Cobely’s share in the same claim is jumped and Pincher (Piniha) is seen taking possession on his own behalf. The claim jumping causes immense excitement at the Thames and reporters scramble to get details.  They note some of the people who jump the most valuable claims on the goldfield – 
C F Mitchell and W S  Styak attempt to jump Cobley’s share.
McCarthy and Williamson – Hunt’s share.
Mulligan – Barry’s share.
W S Styak – Mulligan's share.
John Brown – Kelley’s share
Paddy Bonfield and the Ballarat claim  – Tookey’s share
Chief Taipari – Samuel Hamilton’s share
Mulligan’s own claim being  jumped, to indemnify himself against the loss, he jumps Barry’s.

One of the claim jumpers comes to considerable grief.  Walter Williamson, while coming down the narrow track on the side of the Waiotahi range, returning from Mulligan’s claim, loses his footing and falls down a sheer descent of some 30 ft.  When picked up he is insensible, and his right eye and nose are badly bruised.  His teeth are all loosened by the shock of the fall, and one of his eye teeth is knocked out. He is taken to the new Waiotahi Hotel.  Dr Lethbridge finds no bones are broken and prescribes a week’s quiet to complete his recovery.

The NZ Herald correspondent, scribbling a report, admits to “being deeply engrossed in the fashionable amusement of jumping” rendering him unable to send any further correspondence to the newspaper.  He does manage to note  however that Warden Baillie refuses to issue any miners rights and refuses  to endorse any of those issued by Mr Mackay, and that no Warden’s Court is being be held. 

The Daily Southern Cross snaps “It is pretty evident that the authorities have been to blame for the loose way in which they made provision for the administration of the Auckland goldfields.  At first sight, it appears to us that a great deal of litigation will spring from this proceeding . . . Luckily the miners at the Thames form an orderly community, and we rely upon their good sense and forbearance in this crisis.”

The Thames goldfield, however, has not been left without law.  The same law that always existed still exists under the Goldfields Act 1866 – the district court has the same jurisdiction as the Warden’s Court, therefore, although no Warden’s Court exists at the Thames, the District Court supplies its place.  All disputes that would have been taken into the Warden’s Court, will now be settled in the District Court, until the former is legally constituted. There will not be an absence of law and authority at the goldfield.  Special constables are to be sworn in. There will, however, for a short time be considerable inconvenience to the miners and other residents at the Thames. 

Avon for the Thames with 3 tons flour, ½ ton sugar, 1 crushing machine (Chilean), 6hhds ale, 6 barrel’s ale, 1 horse, 5 pigs, 12 pkgs groceries, 5 passengers.

The Provincial Government are being urged by European and Maori alike to pay over the £5000 promised on the discovery of a goldfield in the province.  Piniha Marutuahu of Hauraki  writes to the Daily Southern Cross -  “To the government and to all men - O friends, it is not well that the money arranged to be given by the Superintendent for the gold should be given out heedlessly, but that it be investigated carefully – be adjudged – by the government, that it may be known who discovered it.”

This evening the tender of Eric Craig for building a place of worship is accepted by the committee of the Church of England.  The plan has been drawn up by Mr Beere and the church, when finished, will be a very neat structure.

DSC 3 March, 1868

Wednesday, 4 March
The Superintendent of Auckland, John Williamson, receives a letter from Mr Mackay requesting him to appoint special constables for the Thames goldfields.  The superintendent at once sends for  Police Commissioner Naughton and instructs him to proceed as soon as possible to the Thames and to take whatever steps he may deem prudent for preserving the peace of the district in the event of any disturbance taking place.

At the Resident Magistrates court, Shortland, this morning before the business of the court commences, Mr Mackay states that, in consequence of the recent decision given in the Supreme Court of Auckland, there appears to be some misunderstanding with regard to miner’s rights signed by himself. There is nothing in the Goldfields Act to render illegal any miners rights issued from the Thames. He was some time back appointed Warden in another part of the colony, and such appointment has never been cancelled.  On these grounds he warns all persons who have jumped shares in claims under the supposition that they were not the holders of miner’s rights at once to give up possession to the proper owners, or otherwise they will be prosecuted and punished with the utmost rigour of the law.  Applause ripples through the court, but is suppressed. James Mackay, as Resident Magistrate  of the Thames district, was legally acting as Warden when he issued miner’s rights.

Captain Butt is today feeling much better.

Te Hira and party, accompanied by some Taranaki’s arrive at Ohinemuri bringing a proclamation from Te Kuiti (the new name for Tokangamutu) dated 29th January, in which Tawhiao, the Maori King, orders that the sword be sheathed, all selling of land, all leasing of gold, all surveys, all boundaries, all roads, all schools on European principles, and all magistrates are to be put a stop to. All Hauhaus, who believe in their faith, are not to go to the European settlements.   This proclamation was printed in Auckland.  A large meeting of Maori from the East Coast and Hauraki Gulf is shortly to be held.  As soon as this meeting is over, then all those Maori interested or willing to open their lands to diggers will hold a meeting at Waihi, West Coast, and if they agree they will pronounce their lands to be open to diggers.

Wahapu for the Thames with  5,000 bricks, 21 bushels lime, one crushing machine, 60,000 shingles, three tons furniture, two tons flour.

A report on the granting of relief is published.  The increased expenditure between October and December is attributable to a number of rations being advanced to 10 or 12 people, to enable them to proceed to the flax fields at Waiuku, and to temporary aid being given to many families of women whose husbands have left them for the Thames goldfields.  This left many families unprovided for.   By instructions from the government a week’s relief was granted to each of these destitute families.  How they have supported themselves since is not known.

DSC 5 March, 1868

The birth of Captain Butt's daughter may have been the first birth on the Thames goldfield, but it is quite likely there were others previously which were not notified in the newspapers.

The claim jumping excitement may have been too much for the NZ Herald correspondent - Mr Baillie did not refuse to issue miner’s rights on Tuesday, he only assured the men who applied that Mr Mackay’s rights were quite sufficient to hold the claims. 

The Joseph Cooke mentioned at Puriri may be Joseph Cook the first documented discoverer of Thames gold in 1857. 

Papers Past
This is my place – Hauraki contested - Paul Monin

© Meghan Hawkes / First year on the Thames Goldfield 2017 - 2018

Please credit Meghan Hawkes/ First year on the Thames Goldfield 2017 - 2018 when re-using information from this blog.