Thursday 2 August 2018

5 February to 11 February, 1868

 James Mackay addressing gold miners at Thames. "Proceed good people with your buildings and improvements; continue to behave yourselves, and at the end of seven years I will raise everybody's rent."
Alexander Turnball Library Ref: MNZ-0427-1/4-F

Wednesday, 5 February
The weather is still unsettled and stormy and so is the Whittingham marriage.   George continues his violence and orders Jane and the children out.  He strikes Jane twice and then drags her from the tent.   On knocking her down he says “You shall not have a chance of showing two black eyes.”  A friend of Jane’s comes and tries to make peace but he strikes Jane again.

A rumour has surfaced that arrangements are being made amongst the Maori to open the Upper Thames.  The rumour has now reached The NZ Herald correspondent from so many quarters, and on such varied authority, that he feels warranted in making it public

At the Resident Magistrates Court, Shortland, Edward Mooney and his brother Thomas Mooney are charged with having, on the night of 29 January, at Tapu,  stolen one bag of flour, value 2 shillings, the property of Lovat Thoroughgood.  Edward Mooney pleads guilty but Thomas Mooney is discharged, there being no evidence against him.   Edward Mooney is then charged with having stolen one pick, the property of John Law.  He says that he only borrowed it,  as he had been in the habit of doing.  He is sentenced to one month’s imprisonment on each charge. Detective Crick applies for a remand for this one man crime wave  as some of the witnesses in another case are unable to come up from Tapu Creek due to the state of the weather.  The case is remanded until next Saturday.

Mr Ellis’ quartz crushing machine makes a private trial today.  It is situated near the mouth of the Karaka Creek and is a copy of the one so long and successfully used by the Kapanga Gold Mining Company at Coromandel.   It is guaranteed to crush 70 tons of quartz a week. Messrs J R Clarke and Co, of Melbourne, have arranged with Mr Inglis of the Grand Junction claim to place on their ground 12 head of stampers.

Avon for the Thames with 1 ton potatoes, 2 tons biscuits, 6 cheeses, 1 ¼ cask brandy, 6 hhds beer, 4 kegs butter, 4 tons hay, 10 bags sugar, 12 packages groceries, 1 ton coal, 3 passengers.

Thursday, 6 February
At the Resident Magistrate’s Court before James Mackay, George Whittingham is charged with assaulting his wife and using threatening language so as to put her in bodily fear.  He is fined, himself in £25 and two sureties of £10 each, and bound over to keep the peace for six months. 

The Enterprise arrives at Auckland with 237 oz gold, the result of a crushing from 40 tons of quartz taken from the Long Drive Claim of Messrs Snowden, Newdick and others.  About 100 oz of gold from another claim is brought up in the hands of a passenger.

A prospecting claim has been applied for at a place called Puriri about 10 miles from Shortland and Commissioner Mackay goes there to look at the ground.  The prospects are not much as yet.

Stag for the Thames via Tamaki with 2,000 bricks and sundries.

NZH 6 February, 1868

Friday, 7 February
It is said a great number of claims are lying abandoned on the Thames although there only appears to be one.  Around twenty men are said to have tried and deserted this one claim, but there is no doubt gold in it.

Several men have brought in some blue stone (granitic quartz) from a claim about a mile beyond Mundic Reef, on the Waiotahi.  There is no sign of gold in the stone, but it is carefully roasted and tested, and the testing gives 20 oz to the ton.  Of this stone many thousands of tons have already been thrown away.

The reported opening of the Upper Thames country seems to have arisen from some misunderstanding and it remains closed to gold mining. 

NZH 7 February 1868

DSC 7 February, 1868

Saturday, 8 February
A number of men and the surveyors start this morning for the new country towards Hikutaia.

Tartar for the Thames with six bullocks, one wagon, ½ ton hay, 500 ft timber, sundries. 

Tay for the Thames with five tons stores    
At the Resident Magistrates Court  Edward and Thomas Mooney are charged that they did feloniously carry away one bag of biscuit and one bag of sugar, the property of William Bartley Montgomery.  Thomas Mooney is discharged due to insufficient evidence and Edward is imprisoned for two months with hard labour at Auckland. 

A public meeting is held in front of the Shortland court house.  It is an adjourned meeting of the committee appointed to draw up a code of mining rules and regulations in December. A large number of diggers are present, and after a few preliminary observations are made, Mr Mackay proceeds to read the rules, one hundred and one in number.  The reading occupies quite some time and is not concluded without considerable interruption and discussion on the part of the assembled miners.

After the reading it is proposed the rules should be printed and brought into operation, but objection is at once made, and a large amount of discussion follows. Ultimately Mr Rowe proposes an amendment to the effect that the meeting be adjourned for a fortnight and in the meantime four or five copies be posted in various parts of the township and on the flats and one or two on the ranges.  Any of the miners can make suggestions or additions in writing to be left at Mr Mackay’s house and brought before the public at the next meeting, 

A long discussion now takes place as to the formation of a Mining Board for the Thames district.  It is moved and carried that a committee be formed to draw up a petition to the Superintendent of Auckland for the formation of a board. Mr James Boyd, on behalf of the miners, then asks Mr Mackay about the Upper Thames.  Mr Mackay says he now has great pleasure in informing them that he has succeeded, after great difficulty, in getting some 10 to 12 miles of ground thrown open further south.  The boundary lines will be cut on Monday next, after which the miners will be allowed to go in with pick and shovel and try their luck.  Probably by the end of the week all the land between the Thames and Omahu, near Hikutaia, will be thrown open.  This is met with cheers.

Another miner asks if the Ohinemuri will be thrown open.  Mr Mackay replies that he was sorry to say that Te Hira is as far off opening his land as ever but it all lies with the miners themselves.  As a general rule, their conduct on the goldfields has been more orderly, but there are one or two instances which have come to his attention, which have been very strongly disapproved of by the Maori.  For instance the burial ground at Tapu Creek has been invaded, and fires made over the bones of some 200 warriors who were calmly sleeping beneath. This kind of thing was not right and would do more to keep the land closed up than anything else. How, asks Mackay, would the miners like to have the graves of their friends and relations lying in the Auckland cemetery treated in such a manner? There is little chance of Ohinemuri being opened for some time. A vote of thanks is passed to the chairman with three hearty cheers, and the meeting disperses.

There are a great number of people in Shortland – the appearance of Pollen Street this evening is something akin to the throngs of people in Queen Street, Auckland.

Mr J H Clifford, the well known and favourite Auckland actor, makes his first appearance at the American Theatre tonight and is received with the thunder of applause. There is a crowded house as an entirely new change of performance has been promised. Mr Clifford makes his debut on the diggings in ‘The Day after the Fair’, as well as a new burlesque written for the occasion by Mr Monkhouse and entitled ‘Oh-tell-her’.

Grey River Argus 8 February, 1868

NZH 8 February, 1868

A clique in the claim.

Sunday, 9 February
The Roman Catholic Chapel at Willoughby Street, Shortland is opened today and is attended by a large congregation. The Very Reverend Father Dominick, assisted by the Rev Father Boibieux, and Father Nivard, the priest of the diggings, consecrate the church. The church is overcrowded even before the ceremony commences. The ceremony starts with a prayer sung on the porch, then the asperges* are intoned and the 50th psalm recited while the officiating priest sprinkles the walls of the outside with holy water.The procession enters the church as the litany of saints is sung. Other psalms are sung as the inside of the building is sprinkled with holy water. The imposing ceremony is concluded by a prayer for God to shower his grace not only on the material building, but especially on the people coming up to worship Him. High mass follows and then Miss Donovan, Miss Sheehan and Mr Hesketh sing very beautifully. The church is attractively decorated with flowers and evergreens.  The altar has a very striking appearance and to the whole of the service the most devout attention is paid. The patron saint given to the church is St Francis of Assisium, the founder of the Franciscan order in the 13th century. 

This evening Rev F Boibieux preaches a sermon on the meaning of the ceremonies performed this morning.  The sermon is followed with the benediction of the blessed sacrament.  A collection amounts to £11 17s 2d.

Monday, 10 February
The barque Dominga, Captain Wing, arrives in Auckland Harbour from San Francisco early this morning after a good passage of 53 days.  She brings a small miscellaneous cargo and 45 passengers for the Thames diggings. Captain Wing reports that the American schooner Alice, recently stated as also having passengers for the diggings, has been taken off berth for this port.

 Amongst the passengers by the Dominga are a number of people who took their passage in the unfortunate brig Flying Cloud which was involved in a protracted legal wrangle that saw them stranded on the ship, waiting to go to San Francisco and in danger of becoming destitute. They have been attracted back by the success of the Thames goldfields

The diggers are now beginning to feel the need of roads to their claims.  A meeting of miners, representing over 350 on and in the neighbourhood of the Moanataiari Creek is held at the mouth of the creek where it is unanimously agreed that the present part of the finished road should be completed to the head of the creek. There will be little beyond the Point in View and the Star of the South claims.  Four men are appointed as gangers and overseers.  Mr Smart, of Cruickshank, Smart and Co, is present at the meeting.  He intends to erect a crushing machine of 24 stampers on the field.

Although several Maori have returned from the great meeting at Tokangamutu (Te Kuiti)  on  25 January, no information can be gleaned on the vexed question as to whether the goldfields boundary is to be extended. 

Rob Roy for the Thames with 20,000 ft timber, five cases brandy. 

Otahuhu for the Thames with  6,000 ft timber, sundries. 

Avon for the Thames with a quantity of luggage, ten head cattle, sundries.

A passenger on the Midge, named Roach, brings to Auckland a specimen of platinum struck in a claim on the Waiotahi Creek.

At Gibbon’s Battery their new machine has started work, as has Scanlan’s and Ellis' new machine after a private trial.

The number of miner’s rights issued at Shortland Town is now 3,764.

DSC 10 February, 1868

NZH 10 February, 1868

Tuesday, 11 February
Three Maori, one a chief, arrive in Shortland Town and inform some friends that they have discovered what they know to be a new gold reef, 12 miles up the river. The Maoris with their European friends immediately start for the new field. 

Catherine for the Thames with stores, 5 passengers

The Warden’s Court at Shortland sits for a marathon 14 ½ hours today. The place is crowded.  The great case of the day is the suit of Captain John Butt against  William Rowe, manager of the mining operations in Barry’s Claim, Kuranui Reef. It is tried before Commissioner James Mackay, Warden Allan Baillie and four assessors. Mr Joy and Mr Dodd appear for Captain Butt, and Mr MacDonald for William Rowe.

Mr Joy says John Butt is one of the oldest settlers on the goldfields and one who has done much to encourage and foster the interests of the district.  His claim is for £180 dividends of gold taken from the claim by Rowe. Butt is an original shareholder of one twelfth share of Barry’s claim. Formerly,  a man named Sullivan had been manager and during that time three dividends had been declared.  All this had now changed and a clique had got into the claim led by a Mr Whitaker.  He represents money, announces Mr Joy dramatically, and strides like a giant anxious to devour all who come to impede his progress.

A company had been established which had attempted to thrust in the face of Captain Butt and Matthew Barry a sum of £40 as their share of the proceeds of the claim.  Ever since the formation of this company there had been something like collusion throughout.  Machinery had been purchased at more than half as much again as it ought to have cost.  Other things were being done every day to damage the interest of Captain Butt.  Quartz specimens had been taken from the claim and no account rendered. 

After several hours of evidence, with one break of an hour at 8pm, the court is cleared of all but the assessors, Mr Mackay and Warden Baillie.  During the whole of this day and night the place is crowded and towards midnight densely so, the windows and outside the building being crammed at every point where the proceedings can be overheard.

The court is re-opened after an interval of about half an hour. The verdict is read – Captain Butt is entitled to a one twelfth share of the sum of £1665 less expenses of carting, crushing and blacksmith’s work. Mr Joy asks the assessors to assess the amount of damages.  After very considerable opposition from Mr MacDonald it is decided the £138 6s 8d is also due to Captain Butt by William Rowe.

The court fee which is required from Captain Butt and which was supposed to have been paid into the court cannot be found.  Counsel is indignant, they haven’t got the money, it has been paid over to the clerk.  The clerk denies this,  when Captain Butt enters the court and being asked about it, replies with the greatest innocence imaginable “I believe, sir, I’ve got it in my pocket.”  Such a roar of laughter follows which has never before been heard at the Thames.

Court rises at 12.40am after an interminable and draining day.

DSC 11 February, 1868


*Asperges is a name given to the rite of sprinkling a congregation with holy water.

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© 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.

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