The Climo's of Taranaki, NZ - The Journey To New Zealand
The William Bryan was the first of the settlers’ships that left England,bound for the new British Colony of New Zealand. The ship was 312 tons and had aboard her 148 passengers,including 70 children,and Mr.James Climo and his wife,Jane.
The ship had previously been engaged in the West Indian trade. She was chartered by her owners, Domett & England of London, at the rate of 5 pounds, 2 /6 per ton, which equated to almost 1,600 pounds for the voyage. In addition,the owners allowed the British(NZ)Company,60 pounds a head for ‘supplying’ first cabin passengers; 40 pounds for intermediate or second cabin passengers and 18 pounds 15/- for steerage passengers. It was compulsory for there to be a surgeon on board and there was a crew ratio of five men and one boy to every 100 tons registered. It is interesting to know that the lower deck, where the Climos and fellow passengers lived, was only 105 feet,3 inches long and the height of the ceiling from the deck was just over 6 feet at the forward end; 5 feet, 11 inches at the main hatchway and 7 feet at the stern post. And that was all the room there was for 148 adults and 70 children!
James had made the decision to leave his native homeland and try for a new life in an unknown land – it seemed such a promising venture. He would take with him his new bride, Jane and her family: her recently widowed mother Ann Phillips and Jane's six younger siblings, Anne, Richard, Emma, Edward, John and Mary. The thought of starting again in a new country was exciting yet terrifying – but James must have suffered some pain at the thought of leaving his parents, his siblings and everyone he knew. But the ship would soon be arriving in Plymouth and the families had to make haste for departure so James, Jane and her family would have left in tolerable spirits.
When they arrived along with other emmigrants, in Plymouth, they were treated to a splendid luncheon at which the Earl of Devon was presiding. At this historic gathering, Mr. Gibbon Wakefield of the New Zealand Land Company, made the dramatic announcement that the previous day's London Gazette contained a proclomation that Captain William Hobson had taken possesion of New Zealand, in the name of the British Government. The New Zealand Company had begun its preparations for colonisation even before New Zealand was claimed as British soil.
On 19 November 1840, the William Bryan set sail from Plymouth. On that day, there was torrential rain and the ship's decks were ankle-deep in dirt. James and Jane arrived at the ship's side on a barge, carrying their everything they owned. Each emigrant family had on average about four children – Ann Phillips, Jane's mother, had with her five children as Jane's sister Ann was a young woman of eighteen years old, but travelled alongside her mother. There were seventy children aboard the William Bryan. James and Jane were among one-hundred and forty-eight steerage passengers and how they could be stowed away was to some, a problem. One could not imagine how such a large number of people – all of whom were strangers to one another – could squeeze themselves and their luggage into the ship's berths. Some were grumbling after a while and began to express a wish to return to land; sailors swore, pigs grunted and children cried. It was not ideal living quarters and the journey ahead in these conditions would almost certainly have made James question his decision. But travelling in this way would soon make him well acquainted with his strange bedfellows.
Two days after leaving Plymouth and being anchored in the sound, a tremendous gale blew up and lasted till early evening. There had been a dance up on deck the night before and some passengers were superstitious enough to believe that the fiddler had raised the wind! It made James and Jane seasick but fortunately did no damage to the William Bryan.
On 17 November, another gale struck up. Vessels passed the William Bryan, all in a very dilapidated state. A schooner lost her Captain and boy and a brig lost two seamen washed overboard. It was a sad sort of consolation for James, Jane and the other passengers to find some worse off than themselves. A few hours before, a dark murky cloud towered up in the direction of the wind with a ragged hole near its summit.
On 19 November, the William Bryan finally got under weigh at half-past twelve that afternoon. The ship passed the Eddystone as the weather became more rainy. James and Jane gradually lost sight of land in the mist; they saw the last of Old England in the Lizard light at six o'clock.
James and Jane had by now become acquainted with the intricacies of the William Bryan and were very puntual in their attendance of the serving out of provisions. In the cabin, they soon made themselves comfortable. The height between decks was not less than six feet and of course there were cabins for passengers under the poop. The berths were arranged as a double tier throughout, and each department completely separated by bulk-heads. For the proper performance of the various duties required and for the preservation of order, the following "corps" was established: firstly, there was a Surgeon's Assistant (not assistant surgeon) who was a general overseer or first lieutenant. Secondly there was a matron, whose position was something similar to that of the Surgeon's Assistant, but whose duties were confined to the females and invalids. There were also two cooks who were paid for their services. And finally there were two constables, one headman to each mess who were responsible for its cleanliness and order and finally a watch, which began at sunset and being relieved every four hours, ended at sunrise.
The storm was over by 22 November but a heavy swell remained and James, Jane and most of the other passengers were once again sea-sick. The ship lost a lot of poultry – sixteen were found dead that day. Gruel and brandy were quickly ordered for the women, some of whom had not eaten since leaving England. There were many birds about - gulls, storm-petrels, and a diving duck, brown with a white rump.
The morning of 25 November 1840 dawned a beautiful day. The sea was a rich blue, much darker than the sky. The ship travelled 160 miles that day and was now off Cape Finisterre where the air was much milder. The 'Rebecca' of Bremen passed with emigrants. There were many foreigners aboard and they gave the passengers of the William Bryan a great cheer and tossed about their dirty red caps; the William Bryan passengers did their best to echo those cheers, but it was more dismal as some of the older women aboard had to strain their voices. However, the William Bryan's passengers had the advantage in clean faces. The first mate, meanwhile readied his harpoon as the porpoises were growing in numbers.
On Sunday 29 November, Henry Weekes, the ship's surgeon read the morning prayers and a sermon. His assistant acted as a clerk (he had a great nasal twang), and all the passengers and many of the sailors attended. Morning service was performed weekly, apart from one or two interruptions from the weather. There was always a pleasing solemnity about the sermons – the old church psalms were always sung in a very creditable manner – many of the younger passengers had previously belonged to a country choir. James and Jane were now thousands of miles from their native country, in the middle of a great ocean, offering up the same prayers and hymns that they had been accustomed to from their infancy - the association was in itself delightful.
December came and the emigrants were getting musical. A sort of glee club had been started up among the young men and soon "Old King Cole" would often be heard coming from the fore-hatchway. The weather was beautiful, but on the night of 04 December there was a small storm that produced sheet lightening. Soon the North-East trade winds would come about and carry the ship closer to its destination.
A school was started among the emigrants' children – Jane's youngest siblings all attended and the other cabin passengers kindly assisted the appointed schoolmasters. The boys sat along the deck with their books and slates and the girls sat in a circle with their needlework and if the weather was favourable the children were able to sit up on the outside decks. However, there was still much sickness, mostly among the children – many suffering from dysentry and emaciation.
There were many complaints in regards to the crowded state between decks. But most of all there was a dissatisfaction of promises made to James and the other emigrants by the Plymouth Company's agents – only made for the purpose of getting the emigrants on board without trouble. James and the others knew well that those promises may now never be fulfilled. Scarcely a day went by without someone complaining that they were promised this and that before they sailed from Old England. Unfortunately the blame for the breach of faith fell on the superintendant on board – instead of on those whose meaness and want of integrity was the sole cause of everyone's disappointment.
The nights grew brighter than James could ever recollect. One night an unknown ship crossed the William Bryan's bow in the night. Some flying fish got caught in the chains – James caught sight of a whole shoal of them. They were bluish white when flying and could easily be mistaken for birds at first sight. They flew in straight lines and kept within a few feet of the water, occaisionally touching the surface of the sea to moisten their fins. The passengers danced on the deck during the fine evenings to the sounds of a fiddle, flute and copper kettle.
On 10 December, the William Bryan came into sight of the Island of Brava (one of the C. de Verds). The Messrs. Aubley and Weekes had a bath that morning; in order to have a bath a screen was hung across the poop and a rope was fastened around their waists, the opposite end being attended to by a party on deck. They then jumped off the mizen chains into the sea and after plunging and swimming to their satisfaction (they could not keep up with the ship) were hauled up. This latter process was the most disagreeable part of the affair to everyone; for from the rolling of the ship Dr. Weekes was swung under the stern, bruising his shoulder and lost the skin from his hands.
Lime juice was now served on deck – it was mixed with suger and water in a large tub. James and Jane would go for their share – it was a very wholesome and agreeable drink. There was now very little wind and the weather was mild. James and Jane could now sleep with only a sheet to cover them. No rain had fallen for a long time and they ate their meals up on deck with the other passengers.
On Sunday 13 December 1840, there was a cry of alarm among the single women in their sleeping quarters – some thought it was a cry of fire, but it proved to be one young girl in a violent fit caused by the closeness of the air between decks. There was every precaution taken to prevent fire – the only lights that James and Jane were allowed were locked lamps suspended in certain places and attended to by the watch. But the crew were quite careless – it would have been a disaster had a fire broken out with nearly two-hundred men, women and children on board with no means of escape. The main chance of avoiding immediate danger was (or should have been) the capabilities of the ship's long-boat, but it was in such a state that on the William Bryan's arrival in New Zealand, it soon filled with water when hoisted over the side, even after the carpenter had spent the fortnight previously patching, caulking and tarring her.
As December wore on, there were calmer winds. There was some thunder and heavy rain during the month and James and the other passengers amused themselves with catching portugese-men-of-war in a basket. They also caught some beautiful pilot fish and a white shark or two evaded the nets. As Christmas day approached, the passengers began to expect a little something extra for their dinner!
On 22 December, the crew sent signals to a distant ship and managed to keep up an interesting 'conversation' for awhile. The crew showed the William Bryan's bloody ensign and gave the ship's name by hoisting four flags. The other ship returned the compliment by showing hers, but the crew of the William Bryan had trouble understanding from such a distance. They asked the other ship where it was coming from, to which the other crew replied, “Newcastle.”
“Where bound?” asked the William Bryan.
“How many days out?”
The other ship repeated the same questions and “hoped everyone on board was well,” to which the William Bryan replied, “All's well.” before taking her leave. An American ship also sailing in the area was not able to talk but showed the William Bryan it's starry ensign.
That night, the sailors broke open a bulk-head which separated then from the mens' hospital where spirits were kept for the sick. A muster was quickly put together and the sailors were reprimanded and one sailor, Mr. Hayes, who had had too much to drink ended up in irons on the poop. He was twice caught trying to jump overboard and had to be tied to the mast.
Christmas Day was the warmest Christmas that James and Jane had ever experienced. There was an additional quantity of raisins and flour, preserved meat and grog, so they spent a very pleasant day enjoying the Christmas feast: mock turtle soup, salmon, roast goose, boiled fowls and beef. Dessert consisted of plum pudding, bread, cheese, almonds, raisins and nuts, topped off with wine. They spent the day dining like royalty.
On 27 December 1840, the William Bryan crossed the equator about 6.30pm. The sailors had intended to have a little fun that evening but the late Sunday service was not over till late and no one had the heart to interrupt him. The ship was travelling at five knots and close to the wind. There was a strong current now which carried the William Bryan westward. The current set round the Cape of Good Hope to the Gulf of Florida, the northward towards Europe. The temperature was most agreeable, but not as warm as previous weeks. The next morning the screams of men and women filled the ship – the sailors were determined not to cross the equator quietly. Whoever went up on deck ended up being completely soaked with bucketfuls of salt water – those who did not take it quietly were half drowned. Many ladies were most displeased with having that day's dress spoilt.
On New Year's Eve 1840, the William Bryan communicated with the American whaling ship Phoenix, from New London. One of her crew came on board the William Bryan and her crew sent back letters to England with the Phoenix. The Phoenix had been cruising off the Sandwich Islands and had on board 1900 barrels of sperm whale oil and 700 barrels of seal oil and had been at sea for almost three years. The William Bryan gifted the Phoenix with a few potatoes and newpapers which was acknowledge by the lowering of her main royal as she departed the William Bryan.
On 04 January there was a great alarm and a rush for Dr. Weekes as a child ended up in convulsions. Lack of good drinking water was to blame – the water was either quite sulphureous, with a bluish tinge and smelt strongly of sulpherated hydrogen or it was dark-coloured, no smell and tasted strongly of the cask. This was the better drinking water of the two as it was exposed to the air and boiled daily. Some casks were opened and the water was as thick as oil. Whenever the water became tainted, there was more sickness aboard the ship. Good water was so important during such a long voyage that it was expected that greater attention would be paid to the casks – an emigrant ship should never sail without a tank containing clean water for the sick.
By 08 January, the ship had passed under the sun – it travelled north whilst the William Bryan travelled south – the ship would soon be out of the tropics. James noticed that the night sky had gradually changed; the northern constellations sank one after the other below the northern horizon, whilst new ones appeared in the south. He had lost sight of the Great Bear which connected him to the hemispere he had just left and whatever he had heard of the Southern Cross, he and a few others, were disappointed with its appearance. On being told it was visible, it was some time before he could make it out, being more like a diamond than a cross.
James and Jane had thought the heat would have been great but the thermometer had not exceeded 30'C (86'F) inside the cabin making sailing conditions quite agreeable.
On 11 January 1841 a young man by the name of John James applied to Dr. Weekes to marry him to Ann Phillips – Jane's sister – which Dr. Weekes promised to do that Thursday. And so on 14 January 1841, Ann Phillips was married to John James. The ceremony was performed in the cabin and everything went smoothly. The passengers stood on one side whilst the bride, bridegroom, bridesmaid and stand-in father stood opposite. The ring had to be borrowed from Jane as the groom could not give Ann one himself and it was a tight fit on Ann's smaller fingers. The bridegroom could not fit it on her finger so Dr. Weekes had to step in and slip the ring on for him. Later, Ann was to have said that she could claim Dr. Weekes as her husband as it was he who had pushed the ring over her finger! As soon as the ceremony was over, someone up on deck struck up with a box of bells and the fiddler soon joined in. A number of flags streamed over head and the wedding feast was eaten al fresco. The ship's steward prepared a very lovely wedding cake for the occaision. As there were no double rooms available, John and Ann were allowed one of the empty hospital rooms for their honeymoon.
MARRIAGE SOLEMNIZED ON BOARD THE "WM. BRYAN" BOUND FOR NEW ZEALAND.
No - When Married - Name - Age - Condition - Profession -
1 Jan. 14Th, 1841 John James 27 Bachelor Blacksmith
Ann Phillips 18 Spinster Servant
The above were married according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Church of England by me[Signed] Henry Weekes, Surgeon-Superintendent. This marriage was solemnized between us - [The mark of A. Phillips].
Time passed very pleasantly and the weather stayed fine. The ship was steady and James and Jane could easily forget sometimes that they were at sea. One one particular day, the sea was so calm that one of the the William Bryan's boats were lowered to allow passengers to row around the ship. During the calm passengers were surprised by the number and beauty of insects which floated by in the water.
By 23 January 1841 the wind had turned south-west and was strong. The air grew colder now and James and Jane donned their warmer clothing. 'Saturday Night At Sea' was now a weekly event on board – a bowl of punch was produced at nine in the evening and every passenger had to sing a new song every week. Most passengers did not have singing voices and because they would attempt some of the more difficult songs, it proved very entertaining indeed!
On 26 January 1841 the crew caught a porpoise which provided a fresh breakfast for the sailors. It was a very fat creature and a gallon of excellent oil was obtained from the blubber. Albatrosses and molehawks were numerous in numbers, gracefully skimming over the swell of the sea.
On 03 February, the William Bryan crossed the meridian of the Cape of Good Hope. A heavy swell rose as a very strange appearance came about in the ocean – streaks of a muddy yellow colour which extended for miles. Dr. Weekes had a bucketful drawn on deck for further examination. The water was full of little creatures, with a transparent body with a row of yellow spots around the head. They had long tentacles and moved rapidly through the water backwards, which was effected by ejecting water from two openings at the base of the tentacles. These creatures were known as 'spawn' by sailors – being the spawn of fish and the food of whales.
A few days later a sudden squall took the passengers aback and frightened the women. The wind blew strongly from the north-east until it suddenly fell to a perfect calm. Everyone watched as came up again from the south, taking the tops of the waves in a furious manner before the deluges of rain came. The passengers were by now prepared and suffered little. By the time the crew got up the mainsail, the ferocious weather had died down again. The compass was not stable at this point of the voyage and it made steering the ship difficult. It was thought that it may have been caused by the magnetic current being weaker in that part of the world.
The ship ran 200 miles on 15 January 1841. The crew and passengers were busy catching albatrosses with hooks and lines. One escaped with thirty yards of line and the hook in his mouth but it was a successful day as one or two were caught, one of which measured ten feet from wing to wing and six feet, four inches from tip to beak! Their skins were preserved and the crew made pies from their meat.
The weather grew wet again and water found its way below deck. The sea was heavy and conditions were damp. Now that the weather had grown cooler, the lower decks were busy with people walking back and forth trying to keep themselves warm. The children played their old Devonshire games with great enthusiasm whilst the boys played 'tack' and scampered about in every possible direction.
Sunday 25 February 1841 dawned and it was deemed to cold for service on deck. Mr. Aubrey Jnr had drunk a little too much punch during the Saturday night festivities and felt quite unable to eat that morning. The passengers were keeping up their Saturday nights with great enthusiasm. They still had at least three rounds of songs as well as a general chorus of 'Green Grow The Rushes O' or 'Rule Britannia'. The captain still made very good punch and the party seldom broke up before midnight. The Aurora Australis or Southern Lights were playing beautifully in the night sky by now. It was cloudy to start with and then the lights would appear like moonlight, and as soon as it cleared up passengers could see the broad sheets of electricity flickering up from the south with a pale yellow light. During the day, the sea was a beautifully luminous, with streaks of phosphorescence being left in the ships wake. The William Bryan was now off Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) but she was too far south for anyone to see any part of it.
By mid-March 1841, everyone was anxiously awaiting on the first sight of land. Some could smell a peaty odour and one little terrier on board was caught capering about and sniffing in the breeze from over the ship's side with great delight. The passengers were looking for a change – for all their stories, riddles and puns were now exhausted, and the new ones were generally quite bad indeed; however they perhaps raised the loudest laughts. Everyone had all attempted to study something useful – Mr. King and Dr. Weekes learnt some Spanish grammar and some geometry – but it was impossible to learn much in a rolling ship as everyone's minds were now as unsettled as their bodies.
on 2010-05-07 03:51:39
I have been researching my family tree for over a year now & have a lot of information regarding the Climo's. So I am hoping to connect with any descendants of James and Jane as well as descendants of my 3rd-great-grandfather's family, the Popes. His name was George Whiting Pope. And lastly, I am trying to find information on my 2nd-great-grandmother's family, the Cotton's, who lived in Nelson. I have found some information which I am happy to share here and am ever hopeful that I may connect with descendants of this family also.