Henry James UNDERWOOD did not survive the sinking of the SS PENGUIN in Cook Strait ,Wellington 1909
On the evening of 12th February 1909 the Union Company passenger steamer Penguin - a small, 749 ton ship built in 1864, but had been rebuilt - left Picton for Wellington.
The weather was fine. However, by the time it reached open waters at about 8pm, it was dark and the weather had deteriorated, with a strong southerly wind, blacking out every landmark.
Captain Naylor altered the course hoping to ride out the storm until morning. But then the ship struck rocks heavily tearing a hole in the hull.
The raging seas pulled the Penguin clear of the rocks but water poured in through the hole.
The Penguin began sinking in heavy seas off a rugged, isolated stretch of coast.
When the cold seawater flooded into the engine room they hit the hot boilers which resulted in a huge explosion, tearing the ship apart and sending the wreckage to the bottom of the sea.
Only two life boats had been launched but these were swamped. One lifeboat was tipped over by a wave, a woman and young boy were trapped underneath and able to breathe in the air pocket until they were washed ashore. She was the only woman to survive, along with 29 men who had used wooden rafts, drifting for hours.
However most of those using rafts were dashed across razor sharp rocks. Survivors walked kilometres for help. Only 30 of the 105 people who had boarded from Picton that night survived.
It is believed that the ship struck Thoms Rock off Cape Terawhiti after being carried off course by an exceptionally strong flood tide.
The inquiry blamed Captain Francis Edwin Naylor - who was the last to leave the ship, survived - they suspended his certificate for 12 months
One of the passengers who drowned was Henry James UNDERWOOD
Henry was born in 1849 (possibly not in New Zealand)
- he married Harriet Ellen HOUGHTON in New Zealand in 1879
- Harriett was a daughter of John Houghton and his 2nd wife Mary Ann HARRIS. Ironically, her father had also drowned in Wellington, in September 1879, at the age of 61
- Henry and Harriet had 2 children:
1880 - Sydney Houghton Houghton
- he married Louise Maude BATLEY in 1903
- Sydney died in Wellingon in 1922 aged 41
1884 - Sophia Ann Mary Ethel Houghton
- she married Lewis QUINLAN in 1911
- Sophia died in Wellington in 1968 aged 84