Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Minerva arrival at Natal 1850: passenger list and shipwreck

ARRIVAL OF THE MINERVA Natal Witness July 12 1850

At over 900 tons the largest of the Byrne settler ships, Minerva is probably also the most famous due to the dramatic shipwreck which she suffered at the foot of the Bluff on the night of 4 July 1850. Her voyage had been a rapid one, 67 days from London, under Captain James MOIR. She arrived at Natal to find the Conquering Hero already waiting in the roadstead, and the Henrietta anchored shortly after MinervaSome passengers had been landed prior to the wreck, but the valuable cargo was still aboard when the Minerva cast her main anchor in a sudden gale and went aground on the rocks. It was largely due to the fact that she was carrying a new surf boat destined for the port, that the remaining passengers were rescued. The only casualty was a seaman of the Henrietta, who tried to render assistance and was drowned. All the belongings of the passengers were lost and the ship quickly broke up.

Despite this appalling start to their colonial adventure, many of the Minerva passengers went on to carve successful careers in Natal. 67 of them were Wesleyans, including William COWEY and family. Frederick MOOR, later to father a prime minister of Natal, RATSEY, the RALFE family, the WATSONS  George MCLEOD (his wife's letters form the basis of the book 'Dear Louisa'), FINNEMORE, Henry COOKE, STAFFORD and George RUSSELL, who had persuaded his parents to travel by the Minerva instead of their original choice of vessel - with fateful consequences.
An enquiry was held into the shipwreck, and the contributions to this by crew members and others appeared in the Natal Witness of 30 August 1850, providing a valuable record of the circumstances which led to the disaster. It also gives insight into the hazards to which all ships were exposed on arrival at Port Natal at this date.

The positive fact to emerge was that the colonists were incredibly supportive, helping their distressed countrymen in every possible way. The diary of John BAXTER, passenger on the Henrietta, gives his view of the aftermath of Minerva's wreck:

'July 6th 1850
I have here to relate the sad fate of the Minerva that fine ship is now a total wreck, and short time after arriving dragged anchor and drifted ashore through it is said carelessness. The passengers all landed safe, but the loss of Property to may is almost ruinous, some were divest of every particle of rainment (sic) save what they had on - their goods nearly all lost. I went to look at the wreck on the following Sunday, she had so broken up that little remained to be seen except broken pieces. Which strew the beach for about two or three miles along the coast. What the tide had left fortunately many valuables were found, but the greater part that came ashore were broken and torn to pieces cloths, blankets, beds, casks, boxes etc etc. A most astonishing and distressing sight. The most strenuous efforts were made by the inhabitants of D'Urban to alleviate the sufferings of their distressed countrymen in two or three days something like 100 pounds were realised by the Wesleyans alone, for the purchase of clothing and bedding, and immediately distributed. The churchmen and the Public generally have also been very liberal, and the Government has undertaken to locate them as soon as possible on their land and supply seeds and implements for immediate use.'

Hannah and Gem
The Conquering Hero, Henrietta, and Douglas
From London
Toronto, Highland Maid, and Sandwich
The Minerva, as she lies on the beach, was sold for £283 cash - on Tuesday last. Mr Charles McDonald was the purchaser.
The cargo, or such as might be washed up, fetched £100.
Per Douglas, from Mauritius, July 7, to this port, passenger, Mr Gibson
GC Cato, Agent
Cargo -
100 bgs Sugar, 200 bgs Lime, 303 bgs Flour, 200 bgs Rice
J Henderson and W Smerdon
4 csks Rum, 14 css Liqueurs, 3 brls Lemonade, 3 bxs Cigars, 1 cs Fishing Net
A Corman
2 css Straw Hats, 5 bgs Dates
Middleton and Wirsing
25 bgs Flour, 10 bgs Rice, 11 bgs Sugar, 4 css Castor Oil, 1 cs Straw Hats, 25 cls Rope
GC Cato
50 bgs Sugar,
Knight and King
19 pckgs Tea, 18 bgs Sugar, 1,000 Tiles
- Gibson.

Heap, Charles R, agriculturalist
Brown, Hugh, agriculturalist
Moor, Frederick W, passenger
Richards, Henry, wife and four children
Richards, Edward, farmer and five children
Williams, Charles, farmer, wife and infant
Pellow, John, farmer
Dunstan, Elizabeth
Jefferies, William, carpenter, wife and five children
Kingston, William, labourer
Webb, Henry, carpenter
Medley, John, shipwright
Medley, Eliza
Randle, James, iron and tin plate worker
Watson, William, passenger
Watson, Susannah, passenger
Watson, John, gardener
Watson, George, carpenter
Watson, Mary
Watson, Hannah
Watson, William, butcher
Watson, Joseph
Watson, Thomas
Wood, Charlotte
Mannington, James, carpenter
Mead, John, farmer
Saunders, William, farmer
Dobson, Thomas, farmer
Finnemore, Isaac, farmer, wife and three children
Pearson, Thomas, blacksmith
Potterill, John, bricklayer, wife and four children
Henderson, Samuel, millwright, wife and three children
Ford, William, agricultural labourer
Ford, Susannah
Hodgson, Thomas, shepherd
Brundell, Richard, farmer
Gobbitt, James, jun., farmer
Tanning, James, agricultural labourer, and wife
Brickwell, John, farmer
Brickwell, Sarah
Henderson, William, passenger
McLeod, George, brewer, wife and four children
Hern, George, field labourer
Dring, William, dairy farm labourer
Bond, Thomas, tailor, wife and four children
Alder, John, bricklayer
Alder, Sarah
Bartholomew, William, gardener
Eaynor, Stephen, blacksmith, wife and child
Moore, William, agricultural labourer
Ratsey, Robert, farmer
Webber, Frederick, farmer
Nickson, Abraham, miller
Hall, George, carpenter
Mallet, Charles, carpenter
Stafford, Edward, nurseyman
Jones, William, labourer
Timaeus, GW, labourer
Umbers, William, farmer
Umbers, Eliza
Gregory, GT, labourer
Gregory, Charles, surveyor
Tuck, William, gardener, wife and child
Skinner, William, farm labourer
Gain, George, farmer
Hammond, Thomas, farmer
Grant, Samuel, farmer
Bowen, John W, farmer
Young, Sydney S, carpenter
Burchmore, Thomas, carpenter, wife and three children
Sharphouse, John, corn miller, wife and four children
Bailey, Thomas, agricultural labourer, wife and four children
Hudson, John Thomas, agriculturist
Spencer, Charles, baker
Russell, George, miller, wife and five children
Hall, AJ, farmer
Smith, William M, labourer
Tucker, William, carpenter
Dreyer, AC, cooper
Rolfe, James, agriculturalist
Rolfe, Hannah
Homewood, Alfred, agriculturalist
Bertram Dixon, farmer
Whipp, John, tanner
Whipp, Elizabeth, servant
Anderson, John, millwright
Anderson, Mary
Branwhite, HB, agriculturalist
Ryley, RR, Passenger
Ryley, Mrs, passenger
Woolley, Mary, passenger
Thompson, Jonathan, passenger, wife and five children
Thompson, William A, house-painter
Thompson, Mary
Thompson, Emma
Thompson, George
Baguley, Edward, agriculturalist
Palmer, Francis, agriculturalist
Palmer, Catherine
Bridge, Alfred, turner
Lawrance, F, carpenter
Ralfe, Robert, agriculturist, wife and family
Ralfe, James, wife and three children
Woodcock, John, farmer
Stanley, CR, carpenter
Holmes, J, agriculturalist
McCombie, Joseph, market gardener, wife and family
Quested, William, farmer, wife and family
Quested, George, farmer
Quested, Harriet, milliner
Quested, Caroline, dressmaker
Deane, WR, labourer
Irvine, Augustus, passenger
Harrington, B, smith
Johnston, Mr, passenger
Walton, Rev. Mr, passenger, wife and family
Williams, Samuel, saddler
Channell, George, farm labourer
Mackenzie, John, blacksmith, wife and child
Read, James, farmer
Read, Susannah
Hutton, Adam, blacksmith
Butler, Ellen
Cooke, HW, wife and family
Heap, Walter

Wade, John, carpenter, wife and family
Marriott, Thomas OF, bricklayer, wife and family
Hunt, Elizabeth
Williamson, David, Joiner
Harris, John R, smith, wife and family
Vincent, James, farm labourer, wife and child
Day, John, farmer, wife and family
Newton, Louisa
Brown, Mary
Brown, Eliza
Rose, James, brazier
Beard, Joseph J, baker
Prince, John, smith and farrier
Prince, Ann
Austin, Mary, brace maker
Cowey, William, carpenter, wife and family
Goulden, Charlotte, brace maker
Goulden, Alfred, boot maker
Goulden, Mary
Crown, John, passenger
Stamforth, Martha, needlewoman
Metcalfe, George, farmer
Parsons, James, agricultural labourer
Wilson, Eliza
Draper, George, smith
Quick WR, carpenter
Ward, Robert, farmer, wife and child
Ward, Francis, baker
Stanton, James, blacksmith, wife and family
Dowbiggin, John, labourer, wife and child

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