Tuesday 24 July 2018

9 April to 15 April, 1868

A surprise visit.

Thursday, 9 April
The new Governor of New Zealand, George Bowen, leaves Auckland for Coromandel and the Thames in the government steamer Sturt.  His Excellency is accompanied by Dr Hector -  the government geologist, the Hon Mr Stafford- colonial secretary, Donald McLean Esq- Superintendent of Napier, F Whitaker Esq, Captain Young ADE and others. After a rapid run of four hours the Sturt arrives at Coromandel.  At 10am the party embarks for the Thames.

The Sturt steams close along the shore to Shortland giving a view of many points on the coast where diggers are busy prospecting. The Governor’s arrival takes everybody by surprise. Being low water at Shortland it is impossible to proceed to the usual landing place, so His Excellency and suite are landed at the mouth of the Tararu Creek, near Tookey Town.  Warden Baillie is sitting in court when he hears of the arrival and he hurriedly adjourns the session and rushes to Waiotahi to meet the governor.  The township is thrown into a state of excitement and local luminaries race off to greet him. 

The party, accompanied by Mr Baillie, take a look at the town and visit the Kuranui claims including the famous Shotover.   After proceeding through town Sir George visits the old raupo courthouse and on leaving is met on the threshold by upwards of 300 miners who welcome him with deafening cheers.  To this welcome he responds with a few but most appropriate words. He says that a more happy and contented community he has never witnessed. He also expresses his satisfaction at the good feeling prevailing between the Maori and European, and at the good order kept on the Thames goldfield.   After three cheers at the courthouse he proceeds to the residence of Mr Baillie for luncheon.  The Sturt still being unable to reach the landing, Sir George visits the residences of Mr Mackay and Chief Taipari.  He expresses himself delighted with the view from the terrace upon which the chief’s house stands.  He meets with the chief’s wife and converses with her for some time, complimenting her upon the beauty of her homestead. 

The short time at his disposal prevents the governor from landing at Tapu, as a visit to the mines there would consume a whole afternoon.  Great dissatisfaction is expressed that the expected arrival of His Excellency was not publicly announced.  Rumour says word to that effect reached Warden Baillie last night. There are grumblings that had the announcement been made, there would have a “roll up” of at least two or three thousand men.  As it is Sir George Bowen will have a very inadequate idea of what his goldfield is. 

 Avon for Shortland with 24 barrels ale, 11 hhds ale, 1 ¼ cask brandy, 1 ¼  cask wine, 1 case Old Tom, 3 tons potatoes, 4 tons flour, 20 packages groceries, quantity luggage and furniture, 32,000 shingles, 1,000 ft sawn timber.  

Clyde for Tapu with  ½ ton luggage, 6 passengers.

 Spey for Tapu with 5,000 ft timber, 1,000 shingles, 1 box tobacco, 6 bags sugar, 2 cases gin, 3 cases spirits, 7 kegs butter, 2 boxes biscuit, 4 casks beer, 2 casks spirits, 1 keg rum, 2 bags potatoes, 6 bags flour, 3 cases luggage, 11 packages, 1 cask ale, 4 boxes candles, sundries.

Mr McGregor writes to the NZ Herald regarding the regatta planned for the arrival of Prince Alfred, who despite the assassination attempt, is still expected to visit New Zealand.  “ Sir – I have just returned from the Thames and should like to know if there will be  a regatta and when it will take place as I have a boat at the Thames that I will run against anything that Auckland can produce of her tonnage (5 tons), from £50 to £100; or any amount.  My boat is named Prince Alfred.  Mr R White is the builder.”  The Editor replies that it is not yet decided when the regatta will come off.

The tender of Mr Felix Mack is accepted for the building of a wharf at Grahamstown, subject to approval of Mr Mackay. This is in addition to the proposed wharf at Shortland. A roadway is to be constructed from the debris of reef and rubble, which will be protected by piles of sufficient strength and size to resist the force of the sea.  The quartz will form a good false bottom.

A belated  letter announcing the impending arrival of Sir George Bowen is received by Warden Baillie, although His Excellency is already at the Thames.

A stunning rumour sweeps through the Thames that Sir George Bowen is about to proceed up the Thames, the Sturt is getting up steam and the Upper Thames is about to be opened up for gold mining!

DSC 9 April, 1868

No vexed or vexing questions. 

Good Friday, 10 April
The Easter Holidays commence today, terminating on Tuesday morning untill which time all claims at the Thames are protected.

Two men named Pilinger and Manley are in the harbour near North Head, in a waterman’s boat, when a puff of wind suddenly capsizes her.  The two men cling to the boat for a considerable time before the steamer Midge, fortunately coming up from the Thames, spots them.  They are rescued by a boat’s crew from the Midge and are greatly exhausted when brought on board the steamer.

The steamers Tauranga, Enterprise as well as the Midge arrive at Auckland from the Thames at an early hour this morning, crowded with passengers, who come up to spend the Easter holidays there.

Despite the rumours last night the Sturt has actually only come up the Kauaeranga beyond the landing place.  On arriving at Shortland Sir George Bowen is told that Mr Mackay is absent at a Maori meeting.  It is now decided to proceed to Ohinemuri  to pay a friendly visit.  A messenger is sent ahead to Mr Mackay to inform him of the impending visit of Sir George Bowen.

On arriving at Ohinemuri Sir George Bowen is well received, both by the Hauhaus and the Queen Maoris.  He speaks a few words which are interpreted by Mr Mackay.  He introduces no vexed or vexing questions of land or gold.  His speech does not interfere with any arrangements Mackay has made with the Maori.  Altogether Mr MacKay’s visit has been a very successful one, several Hauhuas and Kingites shaking hands with him and talking quietly and privately to him. Mr Mackay is highly pleased with the reception  and anticipates good results although the immediate throwing open of the land for prospecting is not thought to be likely. About 1,000 people assembled, including the three or four hundred who went with Mr Mackay.  Small mountains of potatoes in kits, eight bullocks, and quantities of pork, sugar, biscuits, tobacco and dried fish are all consumed.

The Tauranga and Enterprise leave Auckland for the Thames goldfield taking down a number of excursionists.  Around the same time, at Ohinemuri ,Sir George Bowen, Mr Mackay, the chiefs and others board the Sturt. Sir George is heartily cheered by Maori and the few Europeans on the river.  A special cheer is given for Mr Mackay.  They start for Auckland via Shortland and immediately the large camp breaks up and a perfect fleet of small sailing boats, whaleboats and canoes follow in the steamer's wake but the tide has fallen considerably and on reaching the shallow immediately above the junction of the Puriri stream with the Thames the Sturt grounds.

Elizabeth Lane, a female servant who works for George Taylor at his boarding house near Smale’s Point, Auckland, is called by a little girl to help a man lying on a bank at the end of Albert Street.  Elizabeth gets him up and into the house to lie down. The man is Samuel Galbraith who came up early this morning on the Enterprise from Shortland Town where he has been mining.  He has previously worked in fitting out a schooner, in which he went as a mate to the south.  He returned to Auckland four months ago and after a few weeks at George Taylors’s boarding house, went down to the Thames where he joined one of the claims.  Since then he has occasionally come up to Auckland and stayed at the same boarding house.   This morning after landing he went to the Wharf Dining rooms, also owned by George Taylor, where he complained of being ill but did not wish a doctor to be sent for, saying he would get better shortly.  He ate a breakfast of bread, butter, beef sausages and tea but felt no better.  He talked to George Taylor about selling a claim.  George gave him a glass of stout after which Samuel sat on the vernadah until 2pm before making his way to the boarding house.  George Taylor arrives around 4pm and gives Samuel a dose of castor oil. Elizabeth fears the man is dying and hastens for medical assistance.  Dr Nicholson arrives at 25 to 5 but is too late and he pronounces life extinct. The sum of £136 19s 1d is found in Galbraith’s possession.  A master mason’s certificate is also found among his effects, issued from a lodge in Scotland in 1858.

6.15pm – 9.35pm
The steamer Sturt floats again and proceeds to Shortland. Here several people land, including Mr Mackay, who returns to the steamer after an hour and she gets under weigh for Auckland. In some quarters it is thought His Excellency’s visit to the Thames will produce good results.  It was most opportune, coming immediately after considerable concessions had been made by the Hauhaus to Mr Mackay.

Sceptics, though,  note that it was not anticipated when His Excellency left from Auckland for the Thames that he would proceed upriver as far as Ohinemuri.  The decision to do so was because Mr Mackay was there holding a meeting with the Maori.  His Excellency probably expected to do more than pay a friendly visit and create a favourable impression by his assurances of a wish for peace.  Of course he was welcomed by the loyal Maori, but nothing beyond the merest formality was uttered by any of them.  The real representatives of the Kingites in theThames district did not show themselves.  Some people doubt any impression was made by the meeting held by Mr Mackay or the hasty visit of the governor.

Sixty three year old John Nolan, a widower, and the proprietor of the Orpheus Hotel, Queen Street, Auckland, leaves for the Thames on the steamer Enterprise, somewhat the worse for liquor.  During the passage some of his friend’s keep an eye on him. He drinks two glasses of brandy during the journey. Robert Leikis, steward, notices Nolan about 4pm not quite sober.  On the arrival of the Enterprise at Shortland Town, Nolan goes ashore. Sometime between 6 and 7pm Detective Patrick O’Hara picks an inebriated Nolan up and places him on the beach alongside some timber.   Nolan will not tell him what he is going to do or where he is going to sleep. At 8.30pm Robert Leikis notices Nolan lying down asleep on one of the hatches.  After the last of the passengers have been landed and the stage taken on board, Robert Leikis goes to bed about 9.  He assumes that Nolan has gone ashore and there is no-one else is on board but himself.

NZH 10 April, 1868

A body in the mangroves.

Holy Saturday, 11 April
Charlie Sykes, boatman on the cutter Annie, finds a body floating in the mangroves opposite the landing place at Shortland.  He tows it to the shore and remains with it until the police take charge.  The body is identified as John Nolan who arrived drunk at the Thames last night. It is presumed that the unfortunate man must have fallen overboard from the steamer during the night.

The initial issue of the first Thames newspaper, the Thames Advertiser and Miner’s News, is published at Shortland Town today, despite some mechanical difficulties.The paper is very presentable and contains much useful information concerning a number of claims.  Under the heading of ‘Mining Matters’ it is intended to give reliable intelligence about each claim, and a start is made in this issue with the claims about Murphy’s Hill.  The opening article rousingly says  “The Thames goldfield is only in its earliest stage as yet.  It remains to be fully developed by the energy and enterprise of those who are on the field, and of the thousands who are yet to come.  What was the state of the district 12 months ago?  It was purely a native district, strictly shut against the Europeans . . . there are now 4,778 miner's rights issued.  The population . . . now numbers about 7,000, many of whom are woman and children.  A large and populous town has been formed and homesteads dispersed everywhere throughout the district open to prosperity . . . When it is remembered that with very imperfect appliances, the Thames Goldfield has produced over 15,000 ozs of gold, worth more than £35,000 in the last six months, it may be readily imagined what the yield would be if adequate machinery were in the district.” 

The proprietors, William Wilkinson and Claude Corlett, will publish the paper at Shortland three times a week and it will be devoted to promoting the mining and commercial interests of the Thames district – a great acquisition to the mining community of the Thames.

A stung Warden Baillie issues a circular inviting inhabitants of the Thames to hear an explanation he wants to make in consequence of complaints that timely notice had not been given to the miners and others of the arrival of the Governor.  Mr Baillie reads out a private letter from Dr Pollen which states that the Governor may visit Shortland on the evening of the 8th.  An official letter is then read confirming that the Govenor would leave Auckland on the night of the 8th, and after a short stay at Coromandel, would probably be in Shortland about noon on the 9th.  The Warden says this dispatch was not received in Shortland until 4.40pm on that day.  As it is not too late to publicly address his Excellency,  Charles Mitchell suggests that a committee  be appointed to draw up an address to the governor. A  public meeting  will be held  the old courthouse, Shortland, on Wednesday next at 4pm to do this.  “Of course, in such a case, no blame whatever rests with Mr Baillie; he could not make public what he did not know,” concedes the NZ Herald correspondent. 

Sir George Bowen receives letters from Sydney stating that the Duke of Edinburgh has been unanimously advised by the medical men attending him that his health will not permit him to encounter the fatigues of a visit to New Zealand and that he should go straight back to England.  HRH writes that he long resisited this advice and wishes it to be known that he deeply regrets being obliged to abandon his visit to New Zealand.  He looked forward with deep interest to visiting the Maoris as well as Europeans and fully intended to have carried out the programme that had been submitted to him which included visits to all the principal places in both the North and Middle Islands, including the Thames goldfield.   The letter is dated 21 March but only reached Auckland yesterday.

The inquest on the body of John Nolan is held in the large room of the Duke of Edinburgh Hotel at Shortland.  Dr Hooper, who knew Nolan for some years at Papakura, is satisfied no violence had been committed on him before his death and  although he had a skull fracture, it looks purely accidental.

Robert Leikis, the steward on the Enterprise, recounts the movements of Nolan the night before.  He says he doesn't recollect Nolan going on shore and heard no cry of man overboard. From the position Nolan was in when he last saw him he could not have rolled overboard. Detective O’Hara testifies that sometime between 6 and 7pm he placed a drunken Nolan on the beach.  He also says Nolan was capable of going back on the steamer unassisted. It appears that Nolan, sometime after disembarking, had re-boarded the steamer and then somehow fallen off. The jury reaches a verdict “that the deceased John Nolan was found floating in the Wai-Whakaurunga, Kauaeranga Creek, on the morning of 11 April with certain marks indicating fracture of the base of the skull, but how he came by such fracture there is no evidence before the jury to show.”

Looking west from Point Britomart,  Auckland, showing Customs Street (left foreshore), Thames Hotel and Waitemata Hotel.
 Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-572

At the Waitemata Hotel, Auckland,  an inquest is held on Samuel Galbraith who died yesterday afternoon after coming up from the Thames and being discovered quite exhausted.  The verdict is reached that death resulted from natural causes, Galbraith having a diseased heart and liver.   Samuel Galbraith was a seaman but had been employed as a miner at the Thames, he came from Dundee and it was not thought he had relatives in the colony.  Samuel was noted as a sober, steady man, careful with his money.

Alacrity for the Thames with ½ ton quicksilver, a quantity of stores.

DSC 11 April, 1868
Tea and biscuit. 

Easter Day,  Sunday 12 April
At Auckland the popular Cremorne Gardens are largely patronised during the day, despite the inclemency of the weather, by a large number of visitors from the Thames. The pavilion is well filled with dancers tonight. Entrance to the dancing pavilion, the largest room in the Province, is the only charge made apart from refreshments. 

At the Thames, in the way of entertainment, the American Theatre has been crowded during the Easter holidays.

Constable Lipsey apprehends John Holland after Holland steals £7 from a tent at the back of Rose’s Thames Hotel, the property of Charles Peterson.

The body of the unfortunate John Nolan is brought up to Auckland in the steamer Clyde this evening.

Easter Monday, 13 April
In the darkness at Tapu a prospector quietly pegs off a claim.  Intrigued by the small waterfall behind Sceat’s  British Hotel where natural shower baths are had during the summer, the man wondered if there might be gold in the bush. After washing a dishful of rubble several specks were obtained and further in a leader was struck showing gold in the stone.

Later this morning, when it is known in the township that a prospecting claim has been marked, every miner turns out and pegs off the ground. During working hours today the town is deserted.  Every man who can handle a pick and shovel is on his claim and this too on Easter Monday, a holiday, when all claims are protected by the Warden.

Thomas Quinn and Mr Cashell hold their place in the front rank at Tapu.  The gold in their claim is abundant and likely to be permanent. Thomas Quinn is the holder of miner’s right No 3, issued by Mr Mackay in early August last.  After six months labour he proceeded to Tapu Creek, where he met with success. Other men who lived on tea and biscuit for months have been ultimately rewarded, whilst others are lucky enough to discover gold on the first day they go out.  The want of machinery is still the general complaint at Tapu as it is at Shortland. 

McIssac’s and Cashell’s are the only two claims that have a Berdan.  This hand engine is very valuable for testing small parcels of quartz and extracting gold, but large quantities must be crushed by steam power.  Quantities of quartz lie on the ground at present.  The shareholders in the Bluenose Claim freighted a boat with two tons of quartz to Shortland and crushed it at Scanlan’s battery producing 7 ozs in all.  This would be a satisfactory return if the stone was crushed on the ground at Tapu,  but when the cost of carriage, transport and crushing has to be accounted for it does not pay.  Auckland speculators are needed to place money in machinery.

Business has been brisk at Tapu during the past few days.  Two promises of erecting powerful machinery have emanated from a party of gentlemen visiting there.  Claims have enhanced in value considerably.  The Thistle, Shamrock, Hit and Miss and Perseverance have excellent prospects.  In the Lord Nelson no less than 6 oz to the dish have been obtained.  Edward Sellars and party have struck excellent gold.   Share buying is the order of the day and there is an influx of visitors for that purpose. A government officer is wanted at Tapu Creek  if only to issue miner's rights.  Complaints are expressed that the distance between Tapu and Shortland, where the Warden’s Court is held, is too far for miners to carry their disputes to.  Trades people working on credit are the only other grumblers at Tapu.

There is an impression that there will be 24 hours protection of claims from 8 tomorrow morning.  This is a mistake.  There will be no such grace; the protection runs out at working hour tomorrow morning and those who wish to avoid being jumped must look out.

A portion of the machinery for the Break O’ Day claim is hoisted into its place on the claim today with the assistance of a number of willing hands from the surrounding claims.

One rickety old dinghy.

The steamers Enterprise and Tauranga leave for the Thames crowded with passengers – mostly diggers returning to Shortland after enjoying their Easter Holidays in Auckland. The scene is chaotic with the Enterprise in particular being overcrowded. The Customs Officer, trying to restore order, is abused and treated with the greatest disrespect and contempt.  The steamer is licensed to carry about 122 passengers but as she leaves the wharf it is obvious she is loaded with more than double this number.  There is a recklessness about the whole proceedings and the crowd of diggers, instead of being grateful for any care exercised on their behalf and for their own safety, vociferously applaud the jam packing of passengers. One bystander thinks the consequences of such a fearful overcrowding of a river steamer on the sea are easily foretold.  One roll too many and over goes the whole crowd to a watery death.  In the event of any accident while crossing the Thames there is one rickety old dinghy to save lives.  

The new Thames newspaper, the Thames Advertiser and Miner’s News, is received favourably by the competing Daily Southern Cross and NZ Herald.   The Cross says “there is no doubt that a population of this size is ample for the support of a paper . . . we therefore wish them every success.  The Herald notes “It is very creditable to the enterprise of the proprietors Messrs Corlett and Wilkinson.  The news is carefully and judiciously selected, and when the difficulty necessarily attendant upon the issue of a first number under great difficulties is considered, the appearance of the sheet is very attractive and readable.  All mechanical difficulties will doubtless soon disappear under the experienced management of the proprietors.”

Avon for Shortland with 22 tons coal, 4 hhds beer, 1 ½ tons flour, 10 bags sugar, 12 kegs butter, 20 packages groceries.

   Spey for Tapu Creek with 5,000 ft timber, 2 tons flour, 1 ton potatoes, 7 packages sundries,  5 packages luggage, 3 hhds beer.

The steamers Enterprise and Tauranga arrive at the Thames and return to Auckland without delay to bring back more miners who could not get an earlier passage, so they may be on their claims from 8am tomorrow. 

Tuesday, 14 April
Preliminary steps have been taken to build a wharf at the new township of Grahamstown. The storekeepers and others in the neighbourhood are contributing towards the cost and the steam boat proprietors have signified their intention of assisting the work.  Plans have been prepared for Mr Felix Mack and the levels taken, pegs having been driven in at a height of 4 ft 6 inches.  It is intended to extend the jetty 450 ft with a width of 15 ft.  The piles are to be 3 ft apart.  The centre will be filled with timber and stone, the latter taken from Mulligan’s claim the Waiotahi, so that the obstacle of solidity to the erection of a wooden wharf will be overcome.  Two plans were prepared, the one not approved of being for a wharf 300 ft by 21 ft.

 Wahapu for the Thames with 3,000 ft timber, 1 bag rice, 31 pieces galvanised iron, one box.

John Holland who stole £7 from a tent at the back of Rose’s Thames Hotel is brought up before the court house today, but Constable Lipsey has to ask for a remand until tomorrow on the grounds that the prosecutor is lying drunk at this time. The prisoner is consequently remanded.

A few of Thames’ inhabitants meet this evening at Captain Butt’s hotel with the intention of eliciting public feeling concerning the attempted assassination of Prince Alfred.  A desultory conversation passes between several gentlemen, the subject of which is quite irrelevant to the object of the meeting.  Some personalities are indulged in.  The diggers are busy on their claims and are not represented. The meeting expresses indignation at the dastardly attempt made on HRH’s life.  The only motion brought is that those present should assemble in the same place on Tuesday next, when the speakers will have an opportunity of expressing their sympathy and indignation. The bulk of the population on the Thames goldfield is Irish, most who feel they should defend their loyalty to the Queen.  Every newspaper teems with the denunciation of Fenianism.  In every settlement of the colony meetings have been held to express sympathy to the Prince and the unswerving loyalty of the colonist to the British throne, but it is thought by many present at the Thames meeting that the matter is getting rather stale.

NZH 14 April, 1868

Wednesday, 15 April
Overnight, cooking utensils and other effects, valued at £4, disappear from outside a tent in the paddock at the back of the Duke of Edinburgh Hotel, Grey Street.  The articles are the property of Charles Mitchell and were left in their usual place outside his tent last evening. This morning the articles are missed and information lodged with the police.

Some ground on Cashell’s range has purportedly yielded as much as 8 oz of gold to the dish.  Old miners view this with some doubt.  Gold bearing claims are being opened up on the Upper Moanataiari and there are hopes that from Tookey’s claim at the mouth of the creek to three miles up the country are auriferous.

At the  Auckland Police Court  Hugh McVey, a strong able bodied looking man, is brought up and charged with a breach of the Destitute Person’s Relief Ordnance, by having unlawfully and without reasonable cause for doing so, deserted his wife and six children, leaving them without means of support. Information was laid some days ago by Hannah McVey, who stated that for a long time past she and her children had been left without support.  McVey, who had been apprehended on a warrant at the Thames by Constable McGinn, pleads guilty, but says the children are not his.  His Worship barks “Here you are a young man married to this woman and what means she had – you spent, then deserted her.  Now, sir,  see what a disgraceful position you place yourself in.  It is a most horrible case and I wonder how many men could do such things . . . Go, sir, to your home and see what you can do for your wife and family – go.”  McVey leaves the court.

The date of the long talked of regatta for 1868 has been definitely fixed,  At a meeting today of the Royal reception committee,  Superintendent Williamson invites the inhabitants of the Province of Auckland to observe the 29th  April as  a day of public rejoicing for the recovery of HRH the Duke of Edinburgh.

The Warden’s Court at the Thames sits from 11am to 6.15pm on the usual matters of encroachment and illegal occupation – these are such an everyday occurrence now as to be commonplace.

A man named McSwaine, a passenger on the Midge from the Thames, has a very narrow escape from drowning as the vessel comes alongside the Auckland wharf.  The night being very dark, McSwaine misjudges his way and walks into the harbour. Fortunately a large number of people are near and a boat belonging to the schooner Eugenie, manned by a crew from the Midge, is promptly on the scene, and McSwaine, who is clinging to the wharf, is saved.

DSC 15 April, 1868

Prince Alfred soon recovered from his injury and was able to resume command of his ship and return to Engalnd in early April 1868 without visiting New Zealand. (He was to be however the first member of the Royal Family to visit New Zealand, arriving in 1869.)

Sir George Ferguson Bowen was a British author and colonial administrator whose appointments included postings to the Ionian Islands, Queensland and  New Zealand.

William Wilkinson, born in Derbyshire, England, arrived in Auckland on the Nimroud in 1863. He joined the Southern Cross newspaper, acting as a ‘war correspondent’ during the New Zealand Wars, notably at the battle of Gate Pa, Tauranga, in late April 1864.  For more on William Wilkinson - http://partofpastnzhistory.blogspot.co.nz/2016/02/wilkinson-shipping-yachting-and.html

Claude Corlett, from Manchester in England, a compositor by training, also worked at the Southern Cross.

The term Fenianism was sometimes used by the British political establishment in the 1860s for any form of mobilisation among the lower classes or those who expressed any Irish nationalist sentiments. 

Papers Past

© 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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