Letters to P.E.I. - Paper written by Margaret Bagnall regarding the Bagnalls resettling to New Zealand in 1864


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Transcribed by Anne Brooks, anbrooks@nbnet.nb.ca


The following is a portion of a paper written by Margaret Bagnall regarding the Bagnalls resettling to New Zealand in 1864. It is not a letter, per say, but I have included it in this section as it relates to two of the letters already here.

Pages 5 & 6: Bagnall, Margaret. Memories, 1936. Auckland War Memorial Museum Library. MS 855.

See also:

A compiled passenger list of those on the voyage is available on the Island Register at: http://www.islandregister.com/pakeha.html

See also related letters:

Lemuel Bagnall en route to New Zealand to John C. Clarke, Cavendish, March 19th, 1864

Sarah BAGNALL, nee WALLACE Pakeha off, Cape Town to Mrs. Donald CRAWFORD, New Glasgow, March 18, 1864

Paper Regarding Islanders Resettling to New Zealand in 1858

….Miss Sarah WALLACE came visiting her sister and Lemuel and she grew so fond of each other, that the thought of parting was not to be borne. Lemuel was nineteen on December 19th, 1863, and the brig, in which the family was to sail, was timed to leave Charlottetown early in December. What was to be done? Miss Wallace’s father would not allow her to go with the family unless she was married to Lemuel and Lemuel declared his intention of staying behind if Sarah were not going. Of course, he had nothing but what his Father gave him and she had not much money so that they must come with the family if they were to live in any comfort. Of course Father and Mother gave in and the two were married in October and sailed with the rest on the Pakeha, a brig of 173 tons, built at Rustico, Prince Edward Island, to take the party which consisted of my parents and their seven sons and two daughters and their daughter-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. John DARRACH and fours sons and two daughters, Mr. and Mrs. David ROSE and three boys and one girl, several single men and Captain Alexander CAMPBELL, Mr. ROBINSON first officer, Mr. Roderick McLEOD second officer, and a competent crew. I leave to your imagination the feelings of all leaving for ever all their loved and loving relatives and friends. The boat sailed on December 9th from Charlottetown, but we were all on board on the 7th. This was the wedding day of my parents and Uncle George and Aunt Mary STEVENSON. They had been married on the same day, December 7th, 1841, and lived together in my Father’s house for two years. Then Grandfather STEVENSON found himself and wife without any of their family and a large house and farm to run, and asked his son George to come home, and look after them and inherit the property, all the others being married and provided for. Uncle George and Aunt Mary had always had dinner with my parents on the wedding day anniversaries either at our house or theirs and this was the last time it would be possible so they came on board and celebrated the day. A sad one for all.

As winter was advancing and Charlottetown harbour would soon be frozen over, the boat was taken out to what is known as "Three Rivers", and all the last stages of taking on cargo and stores completed there. The boat did not sail finally until the 23rd December and that night my Mother sat watching the land gradually fade as the evening closed in. She was saying as tears streamed down her cheeks – "Shades of evening close not over us, Leave our lonely barque awhile, Morn also shall not restore us yonder dim and distant Isle". Ah brave sad heart ! How hard must have been to tear herself from those six brothers and five sisters and also from Father’s sisters and brothers and hundreds of friends. Little did we children think of the sadness of our elders. I can remember the snow on the wharf as we stood on deck that morning of December 9th. Other memories of the old home are clear but not important. I also remember going into Capetown and having Table Mountain pointed out. Nelson, who was two years older than I, has told me that it was just at dinner time that we arrived and the steward had served pea soup of which Nelson had only had a few spoonfuls when the cry from the deck "Come and see Table Mountain", caused him to leave his plate of soup and run to look at the sight. When he returned to his dinner, a few minutes later, the steward had removed his plate and he never finished that plate of pea soup and he assured me he had always regretted losing that lovely plate of soup. Childish memories!

My parents told me we had a very uneventful voyage in that tiny brig, until we got to Capetown in March, 1864. There were several tons of potatoes which had been brought by the owners of the boat hoping to make some money on them at Capetown where they were scarce; but the potatoes had gone bad and no sooner were they unloaded, then the health authorities came down and insisted upon them being reloaded and taken out and dumped into the sea. This was done; and the boat was lying out in the Bay ready to sail; the Captain being ashore getting his clearances and most of the men passengers and some of the women also ashore getting articles of food to augment the ship’s scanty fare. While my Mother and we young ones were on board awaiting their return, a large barque broke away from her anchorage and was blown by a strong wind towards our tiny brig. My Mother was watching her and became alarmed by the course she seemed to be taking, which was right on us. Mother went to Mr. McLEOD, who was the Officer in Charge in the Captain’s absence, and said "That boat is coming right down on us". "Oh no, she’ll pass us, Mrs. BAGNALL"! But my Mother was unsatisfied and again she pleaded with him to do something. He only laughed, but when he looked again, he saw that she was drifting out of control, dragging her anchor, and was indeed coming straight on the Pakeha. He had only time to snatch an axe and chop the bow anchor hawser when the barque was on us. The Pakeha, being free at the bow, gave to the impact and the monster tore away the bowsprit and part of the stem, but did no further damage. Had Mother not called his attention and insisted, the barque would have struck us down and sunk us. Mother said our ship seemed like a mouse compared to an elephant, so small was she and so large the barque. The damage took three weeks to repair, but of course the barque had to pay for it. This three weeks’ delay prevented our arriving in April as was anticipated, and we met our first bad weather just off the coast of Australia. I can remember my Father taking me on deck to see the mountainous waves after the storm was over. I was very alarmed and was sure we would be buried each time the waves came, but the boat rose over them every time. She must have been a wonderfully seaworthy little brig, for the storm was a very bad one. Our *Captain was a fine navigator too. He was the father of **Mrs. J. J. CRAIG of Auckland, and for years he sailed J. J. Craig’s vessels.

We reached Auckland on May 24th, but owing to adverse winds, had to wait till the 26th to come into the harbour. The owners of the boat were not very considerate of the passengers and they were forced to land on the 27th in spite of there being no houses to be had. Owing to the Waikato War being on, everyone in the Waikato who possibly could have brought their women and children into Auckland. Food and rent were very dear, and though our men folk searched all day they could find no house into which they could get their goods and selves, except a new "barracks" which had just been completed for the accommodation of immigrants. This was gall and wormwood to our people, who were not classed as immigrants, having paid their own passages. Still there was nothing else offering and in they had to go. I’m not sure how many days they stayed there, but I know it didn’t worry us little ones; we were happy in our new experiences. I remember going up a very muddy street – Shortland Street – holding my brother George’s hand. I was wearing rubbers (galoshes) over my little shoes, and I lost one of the rubbers in the mud. George went back to look for it, but the mud had it for keeps. Such a tiny thing, in such a sea of mud, was gone forever. Mother was very brave, but when they got to the barracks and saw everything and everybody strange, she said to my Father, "Oh, George, if I could only see Tom McGUIGAN, I would feel more at home". (Tom McGuigan was the boy who fed the pigs and did the odd jobs about the house at home.) Mr. OWEN and the other Prince Edward Islanders were trying to find a house for us and at last one Sunday night after Church Mr. and Mrs. OWEN came to tell Father there was a house in Wellesley Street. It has since been moved to the top, next door to "The Lions". Needless to say, Father was there betimes and the house was taken. Mr. and Mrs. DARRACH and their family, being unable to get one for themselves, they shared "Wellesley House" with us until they mover to Matakana where Mr. Darrach and my Father leased land from Mr. James BUCHANAN on the shore and started to build ships. The land given by Government was near Matakohe and so far from any school or settlement that it was quite out of the question to settle there. Lemuel got a position in a bank and the rest of the older boys went to Matakana with Father, and built a home for Mr. DARRACH and then one for us. The Darrach’s moved away to theirs about August I think, but our house was not ready till nearly Christmas. I don’t remember moving down to Matakana though, although I had passed my firth birthday in July. Evidently the small cutter Glance which took us and our goods to Matakana did not impress me, after the big (?) ship Pakeha in which I had traveled. Ahem !

Father and Mr. DARRACH were busy with the help of their sons, building the Black Hawk which was the first ship Father had ever helped to build. Mr. DARRACH was a master of the trade. The boat, I can’t say her tonnage, was sold and another put on the stocks called White Swan, but after launching was called Excelsior.

Another daughter was born to my parents and also one to the Darrachs and Lemuel and Sarah who were still in Auckland left the Bank and started business in a small grocery store. Here their first child was born, May Evaline. Thus my Mother was a Grandmother at 41. The store didn’t prosper, so they had to give it up, and came to join the rest of the family at Matakana, where a small house was built near ours. Those two houses were elastic surely? Ours contained four rooms; it was a storey and a half and all upstairs was one room where all the boys slept; the lower storey was divided into three – the large one was the kitchen, diningroom and parlour all in one and the others our parents’ bedroom and Bessie’s and mine, both bedrooms opened into the large room. There was a stove which must have been a large one for on it Mother cooked meals for a large family.

When men were hired to help in the shipyard, there was no place for them to sleep and eat, but in our house, and often there were eighteen to cook for every day. It was almost impossible to get servant-maids to come so far from town, and with the exception of two maids – one of whom stayed three weeks and the other only two – all the work was done by Mother with what help Bessie and Wellington, who helped with the heavier work of the house – such as washing and scrubbing – and I helped with dish washing. When Lemuel and Sarah came to live with us while their house was being built, we must have been a tight fit in that house. Lemuel’s was one room on the lower floor and one on the upper and there we all lived happily together. No children and four of Darrachs had to have schooling [sic] and this was provided by the daughter of Mr. DAY who managed the hotel at the Landing. Mr. and Mrs. DAY were very nice English people and quite unused to hotelkeeping, but did it, and kept a small store in connection with it………

* handwritten notation: Captain Campbell.
** handwritten notation: Jesse Campbell.


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