The naming of Taylor’s Mistake has and will continue to baffle Cantab’s historians. Unbelievably, three persons by the name Taylor passed through Vincent’s Bay (as it was called during the early 1850’s) in the small space of 9 years.
The name of Vincent’s Bay came from Captain John Vincent who wrecked his schooner there sometime before the arrival of the First Four Ships or thereabouts.
As the name Taylor’s Mistake first appeared in 1853, it makes sense to go along with the story of First Commander Taylor and a barge named ‘Gwalior’.
This sheep-filled ship (from New South Wales) was destined for Lyttelton but dropped anchor in Vincent’s Bay – or so speculated – in April 1853. With it came the tale of Gwalior’s previous Captain, a man known as Davidson.
Suffering from Delirium Tremens (due to sudden alcohol withdrawal), he had been locked in chains for 17 days solid due to his frightful behavior. When sober, Captain Davidson was reported as being a fine seaman but when drunk, a terror. A Lady passenger who attended to the Captain in his quieter moments spoke of his sweat smelling like rum.
Not sure how he got out from his irons, but just a few miles from Auckland, the crazed Captain threw himself overboard. No trace of him was ever found.
Chief Officer Taylor took charge and brought the passengers and hoof-stock safely to Lyttelton. Any ties of him with Taylor’s Mistake is guess work but the year and name matches.
Next, was the American Captain Taylor, aboard the ‘Volga’ in 1858. He mistook Taylor’s Mistake for either Sumner or Lyttelton. He managed to actually beach the ‘Volga’ before realising his mistake.
In 1864, along came another Captain Taylor on a schooner named ‘Catherine’ who made the same error.
The Maori called this bay ‘Te One-Poto’ which meant short or little beach. No proof of a settlement was found but with the number of caves, it was no doubt used for temporary shelter – just as the early Europeans used it.
The first Europeans to settle in Taylor’s Mistake were in the year 1897. Tom Archbold was first, building his home inside one of the caves. A.P Osborne followed suit and the two men set up a telephone system between their homes using lemonade bottles!
Certainly a bay of much character, it helped when names like Smuggler’s Cove, Giant’s Nose and Rotten Row were used for certain areas!
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