The third ship, the Sir George Seymour, an 867 ton barque under Captain Thomas W. Millman, with Major John Gray, officer in charge of the Fourth Detachment left Gravesend on 12th August 1847. The Fencibles and their families, and Major Gray's family and servants embarked on 9 and 10 August. When they left port there were 14 on the sick list, which increased to 21 persons after five days at sea – mainly sea sickness and colds.

They followed the classical immigrant route. For 25 days they averaged six knots, slowed by the doldrums near Madeira and Canary Islands but rounded the Cape of Good Hope and picked up the drift and winds of the ‘roaring twenties’. They did not go below 43 degrees south (for the comfort of the passengers). They rounded Tasmania to Three Kings Islands and down the New Zealand Coast after a ‘fine run of 103 days’. The ship did however give assistance to the Royal William in the Tasman Sea, which was given a hundred weight of bread, bag of coal, cask of water and 24 lbs of beef, and tool no payment. The voyage included mustering on deck daily to air bedding, clean berths, ventilate the lower deck and clean the swing stoves. The lower decks were scrubbed weekly and fumigated, and they were allowed access to their boxes for clean clothing. All the passengers had regular exercise and cleanliness inspections. [Dr Goldney was the surgeon.] Particular attention was given to the food. There was daily school for the children and Sunday Church service taken by the Captain.

Of the 14 deaths, nine were children under five years, four were adult women and one pensioner, mainly from dysentery and consumption. Joseph Bridgford, 4 months, died on 16 September. . . .

On the day of arriving in New Zealand, 27 November 1847, Major Gray, his wife and their servants, Mrs Parsons and [her daughter] Ellen Parsons disembarked. Only Rebecca Massey, aged eleven years, was allowed ashore to the hospital, otherwise the first eleven passengers were not allowed off until 1 December, which included those on the sick list. Fresh beef, soft bread and vegetables were issued to the pensioners daily – and were a most welcome treat.

On Monday 13 December the Government brig Victoria hauled alongside and took on board 54 adults, 44 children from one to fourteen years of age. On 16 December the remaining pensioners and their families disembarked for Howick Beach.

The Sir George Seymour then returned to England and left on 8 September 1850 with the other first three ships bringing the first settlers to Christchurch [New Zealand].


[from The Royal New Zealand Fencibles, 1847–1852]