“Wind Lulled From Evening Till Morning…” ~ The Last Month Aboard The Charlotte Jane

“On board the Charlotte Jane…I try to recollect the events of the past five days, which from confusion, sickness and disagreeables of every kind could not be recorded at the time…”Edward Ward – 12th September 1850.The Charlotte Jane had sailed out of Plymouth on the 7th September 1850. Edward starts his journal off on the 12th as seen above and records down his daily thoughts and activities aboard this historic ship.We now join him on the 16th November 1850 as he begins his last month of this journey. Pictured here is his actual journal, situated along side a model of the Charlotte Jane, blotting pad included.

What makes this story so special is that Edward drowned in Lyttelton Harbour on the 23rd June 1851. The Ward Brothers had chosen to farm on Quail Island and sealed their fate.

But for now, lets begin…16th November 1850 – Saturday”Lat. 46.27, Long. 64.57 E. 167 miles run – an 1/2 E. course has taken us out of the way of Desolation Island. Everyone looks restless with the cold. No Cockroach [the ship’s newspaper – started by James Edward Fitzgerald] today – we having agreed that it was better to discontinue it than serve it up feebly.”

17th November – Sunday”Latitude 47.0, Longitude 69.9 – 177 miles run in S.E. 1/2 S. and S.E. by E. course. Every day’s weather proves to the Captain, and is evidence to me, that this very southward course, though it shortens the degrees of longitude, brings us most uncertain weather, besides being bitterly cold. Service today in full, with a long sermon, though there has been perhaps more motion and discomfort than any Sunday since we left Plymouth.”
18th November – Monday”Latitude 47.18, Longitude 72.43 E. 150 miles run. Ten days will bring us probably abreast of Australia and into warmer weather. A curious accident occurred to me this afternoon. One does not imagine themselves liable on board a ship to be tossed by a cow, but nevertheless such was the nature of my accident. I had gone into the cow’s house and remained coaxing and petting her on the most affectionate terms – she licking me and pretending to be the best friend possible. But when I climbed upon the partition to get in front of her, while kneeling thereupon with my rear exposed to her face, she, as if sensible of the extreme indignity, ripped up my right leg with everything upon it, including skin, for about a foot in length…great laughing at me for the accident by the cuddy [cabin passengers]folk to whom even this absurd accident is a godsend”.
19th November – Tuesday”Latitude 47.52, Longitude 74.29 E. The battledore and shuttlecock [battledore and shuttlecock was an earlier form of Badminton] weather continues, during the night and this morning it had been blowing a gale, harder than we have ever yet exerienced, and a foul wind too…The cold today is terrible”.
20th November – Wednesday”No observation today, but we are supposed to have made four degrees easting and to be about in Longitude 79 or thereabouts…Passengers chiefly in their own cabins. Engaged all morning in trying to to fill up crevices through which the water poured last night on my head, so that I had to put up an umbrella towards morning. The cabin is in a leaky condition – everything is getting spoiled by wet and no means of drying them. Henry [Edward’s younger brother] in bed all day with shivering symptoms…”
21st November – Thursday -Longitude 83.39. Distance 203 miles. A fall of snow occurred at different times today, but for the most part fine. Mrs [Hannah] Derry [aged 28] was safely delivered this morning, of a son and heir [John], and is doing well. Henry doing better, but stayed in bed all day eating slops. Half of my bed is unsleepably damp, and the ship rolling sends me uncomfortably squash into it every other minute.”
22nd November – Friday”Latitude 48.26 S. Longitude 89.12. We made today a slashing run of 230 miles. The same weather squalls of snow and rain, yet not so very cold. We got a charcoal stove into the cabin today, which has given it a more wholesome feel.”
23rd November – Saturday”Latitude 48.34, Longitude 93.12 E. 195 miles S.E. by E. We decided today on the plan for our house, and Andy and Hamilton [the latter being Edward’s youngest brother] have set to make a model of it. Everything made snug in consequence of the threatening of the barometers, which are at hurricane levels”.
24th November – Sunday”Latitude at noon 48.39 S., Longitude 99.10 E. Distance run 208 miles S.E. by E. Our fears of unquiet night were not realized – we had a tolerably easy voyage during it. Calculations are being made closer and closer every day. Some sanguine arithmeticians give us only fifthteen days more, and if our fortnight’s run presents the average of this week, we shall at any rate, be near Stewart Island”.
25th November – Monday”Latitude 48.52, Longitude 104.22. 208 miles run. Fresh breeze with some good pitching, causing to some of the ladies a return of seasickness. Got up from the hold (where they had fallen through a airhole) a book and a prayer book of Hamilton’s”.
26th November – Tuesday”Latitude today 49.6 S., Longitude 108.29. 160 miles nant. Almost calm this morning, continuing with a light wind occasionally during the day. Lately round the stove in the middle of the cabin there have been religious discussions, in which Mr Kingdon and others but especially Mr K are, at any rate, neither of low church nor church principles”.
27th November – Wednesday” Latitude 49.38 S., Longitude 110.39 E. 95 miles run in our true course. Found this morning that the wind had chopped around to N.E. and E., dead against us. All day we drove south with but half a point of easting. Towards evening it came on to blow a whole gale, with snow and intensely, unendurable cold – regular Cape Horn weather.”
28th November – Thursday”The easterly gale blowing as hard and as cold as ever – lying to the whole day and drifting to the N.W. No observation but our course has been S.W. – what there had been of it.”
29th November – Friday”Wind fell light this morning and, gradually coming round to the N.W. fell calm…a goodly assembly of passengers on the poop while the sun was out. Our distance was hushed up, but it appears we have made three degrees in the last three days.”
30th November – Saturday”Latitude 50.58 S., Longitude 114 E., very nearly abreast of Cape Leuwin, the first of the great Australian land. A cold and cheerless day, rendered more uncomfortable by our feelings that we are not upon our course. It is utter misery – what between the cold windy deck, the smoke of the stove in the cuddy [cabin], and the darkness of our little cabin, we have positively no place to go to”.
1st December – Sunday”Latitude 51.50, Longitude 115.20. At first the usual fog and cold, with but little wind from E.S.E. After Service the fog cleared away, the sun came out over the calm sea and we had a breath of Spring weather. During the Service a penguin was seen swimming near the ship, which excited the Doctor [maybe Dr. A.C. Barker] prodigiously and made us imagine ourselves either near land or ice”.
2nd December – MondayLatitude 51.38., Longitude 117.27. Wind from N.E. barely enabling us to hold our East course, nevertheless we did so all day at from five to seven knots. One of the three remaining partridges died today, leaving only two, one of which is in a precarious state;two of the pheasants are moved to the long boat for a change of air”.
3rd December – Tuesday”Longitude 51.30, Longitude 122. Fine breeze in the morning keeping us barely on our E. course. At dinner the joyful sound of ‘square the yards’ was heard – the wind having come abeam, at which point (N) it continued increasing till evening. We are, therefore, steering our course easily at nine and a half knots. Everyone rejoicing and lively”.
4th December – Wednesday”Latitude 52.28, Longitude 128.27. A rumpus arose today among the emigrants who refused to clean, for divers reasons, which they alleged in divers long stories – the real reason being a jealousy of Allen, one of the constables. Things had nearly got very bad – the Captain had to threaten with irons and putting out the gallery fire, but afterwards, when the state of the case was better understood by the Captain, a misdemeanour was brought home to Allen and he was dismissed from the particular office in which he had given offence. The emigrants then returned to their duty”.
5th December – Thursday”Latitude 52.36, Longitude 133.26E. The smoke in the cuddy began a headache, which ended in a bilious sickness, from which I retired to bed after dinner and slept till evening when I was very sick”.
6th December – Friday”Latitude 51.30, Longitude 138.50, distance run of 200 miles. Stayed in bed (having dosed myself) till after breakfast and when I got up. Hamilton [Edward’s youngest brother] turned in with the same symptoms – headache and immediate sickness. Everyone is great spirits, as a week of this wind will almost take us to our land”.
7th December – Saturday”Latitude 50.45, Longitude 144.26. Last night was the most tempestuous – almost the hardest gale we have yet experienced. All hands up all night reefing topsails. Cape pigeons have left us entirely, and albatrosses and mollyhawks are our only bird companions. Today we are ninety one days out – three months exactly, having left September 7th”.
8th December – Sunday”Latitude 49.45, Longitude 149.49 E. 222 miles run. A fine morning. Mrs Hughes, one of the emigrants appeared on deck covered with boils – many believe that she has the scurvy. Two or three cases of sickness forward”.
9th December – Monday”Latitude 48.54 S, Longitude 155.27 E. The chart accordingly gave us 230 miles! The deck crowded with happy faces – everyone looking cheerful at the near prospect of even SEEING land. The Captain confidently expects to do so on or about Wednesday at noon, and that we may do it in ninety-eight days, which will expire by Sunday noon”.
10th December – Tuesday”Latitude 48.14 S., Longitude 160.20 E. We ran 185 miles only in consequence of delay caused by both topsails (main and fore) having been carried away slightly yesterday, necessitating a shift of fore topsail and some repairing on the main. The Captain is beginning to be nervous about approaching the ‘Snares’, some rocks laying to the southward of the ‘Traps’ [12 small rocks south of Stewarts Island]. However, tomorrow afternoon we confidently hope to see Stewart’s Island”.
11th December – Wednesday”Latitude 47.27, Longitude 165.30. All eyes on the lookout for land. The Doctor, [ Dr. A.C. Barker] on coming out on deck, declared he smelt the shore and seaweed. Wortley [The Hon. James Sturat Wortley] added ‘and bathing boxes’. Bet the Captain a bottle of wine we should see land before midnight…at length, at five o’clock, I was looking out more forward than anyone else, and as the vessel canted a little to one side, I called out to the Captain that THERE was land, right beyond the bowsprit. Every one was soon in the mizzen rigging trying to get a peep…the appearance was that of a clump of high hills, divided at half their extent by a deep gap…matching well my anticipations of Stewart’s Island”.
12th December – Thursday”At daybreak I was on the deck and as the sun rose that land looked lovely. No signs of human habitations. Sun and air delicious quality. We stood in for Foveaux’s Straits till two o’clock, keeping close to the land on the south side. We recognised by the map as we passed them successively – S.E. Cape, Port Adventure and Port Somes”.
13th December – Friday”Land is out of sight and the dreary monotony of sea and sky is again felt, causing now aggravated despair from the short glimpse we had yesterday. No one now imagines that we shall be in port before Sunday evening”.
14th December – Saturday”The headland, we discovered by latitude observations, to be Cape Saunders in the Otago Settlement, which discovery, as we had imagined ourselves to be at least 100 miles further south, was the greatest relief. We looked at the Otago coast with great interest. Smoke from fires here and there on the shore and more inland were the earliest evidences of civilization which our glimpses of New Zealand had yet afforded us”.
15th December – Sunday”When I went on deck there was no sign of land but about ten o’clock the high lands of Banks’ Peninsula were discerned in the haze ahead…eight o’clock we stood on Akaroa Harbour with the wind N. One or two farm houses we could see nestling near such groves in delightful and picturesque situations. At dinner we had champagne which I and the Captain lost to [Hon. James Sturat] Wortly and [Edward James] Fitzgerald – the ninety-eight days, in favour of which we bet, having expired today at noon”.
16th December – Monday”I got up early and went on deck to find that having weathered everything in the night we were gradually approaching OUR side of Banks’ Peninsula and in fact standing direct for Port Cooper [Lyttelton Harbour]. The land we passed was most beautifully situated – high and wooded, with glades of grass running up through the forest here and there. We passed successively Okain’s Bay, Pigeon Bay [the Hay family and Thomas White were working the land and celebrated as they watched the Charlotte Jane sail pass], Port Levy and soon entered Port Cooper. All our eyes strained to see if any ships were lying there – we at last saw two, and dire was the consternation, for we imagined we must be third – beaten by two. A mile more proved to us that one was a ship-of-war, and the other a vessel too small to be one of ours [these two ships were the ‘Barbara Gordon’ who had brought John Robert Godley and family down from Wellington and the other was the ‘Fly’ who had brought the surveyors to Canterbury]. And so it came to pass. As we rounded to, we shot past a little point of land, and the town on Lyttelton burst upon our view – like a little village…we went ashore with [Charles] Torlesse [who was a old school mate of Edward Ward and a Canterbury surveyor] and walked up a hill, examining with curiosity every plant, stone and insect. Our hands, and soon our arms, soon became full of specimens. After dinner a ship was discovered coming in, and lo! it was the Randolph. We gave three and received three cheers has she came up alongside”.

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