Category Archives: Immigration

The Arrival of my Ancestors ~ Waitangi Day

Today is Waitangi Day in New Zealand. It commemorates the date the Treaty of Waitangi was formally agreed between the Māori tribes of Aotearoa/New Zealand and the Queen of England way back in 1840. For all the Treaty’s faults, it helped pave the way for my ancestors to emigrate and settle in New Zealand. So, I thought I’d list when each of my immigrant family members arrived and their ships, where known.

Sketches on Board an Emigrant Ship ~ The Illustrated New Zealand Herald, 9 April, 1875

Sketches on Board an Emigrant Ship ~ The Illustrated New Zealand Herald, 9 April, 1875

Arrived 8 August 1857 ~ Dinapore

George Tunnecliff(e) from Staffordshire and Elizabeth Barber from Sussex, my 3 x great grandparents, travelled on the Dinapore which left London on 13 April 1857.1 Did they know each other before they sailed, or did they meet on the ship? Also on the ship were Elizabeth’s employers from London, the Yates family. Did they pay for her ticket, and was she expected to work for them on arrival in New Zealand? In any case, George and Elizabeth married in Auckland, three days after arriving.

Arrived 12 September 1859 ~ Cresswell

Michael Gaff(a)ney, my 2 x great grandfather born in Derbyshire of Irish parents, took advantage of the assisted immigration scheme and departed London aboard the Cresswell on 27 May 1859, arriving in Lyttleton on 12 September 1859.2

Arrived around 1861 ~ ship unknown

Michael McGonnell from Co Down arrived in New Zealand around 1861, according to his death certificate. It’s unclear how he travelled to New Zealand. He had joined the Royal Navy in 1858, and did a runner from HMS Foxhound in June 1861. He later married George and Elizabeth Tunnecliffe’s daughter, Louisa.

Arrived 16 December 1862 ~ Echunga

Margaret Brosnahan, my 2 x great grandmother, and her brother John, from Co Kerry, sailed from Gravesend on 10 September 1862 as full-paying passengers on the Echunga, and landed at Timaru on 16 December 1862.3 Apparently Margaret was the first girl down the gangplank, and Michael Gaffaney took one look at her and vowed to marry her. They married a year later.

Arrived 16 February 1864 ~ Mermaid

Martin Burke and his wife Ann (Philp), my 2 x great grandparents, sailed on the Mermaid from London as assisted immigrants along with their five month old daughter, Mary.4 Martin was born in Co Mayo and had emigrated to Perth, Scotland with his family around 1850. Ann was originally from Fife, Scotland.

Arrived 18 November 1864 ~ Alfred

Edward Horne and his wife Elizabeth (Rose), my 3 x great grandparents, left Cape Town, South Africa, on 27 September 1864 aboard the Alfred, along with their six month old daughter, Annie.5 Edward was originally from Warwickshire, while Elizabeth was born in Cape Town. They were assisted immigrants, taking advantage of the Waikato Immigration Scheme.

Arrived around 1866 ~ Blue Jacket?

My 2 x great grandfather, Bartholomew O’Rourke from Co Kerry, sailed on the Blue Jacket and arrived in the West Coast goldfields around 1866, according to his obituary, although I can find no corresponding passenger list to confirm this. He may have travelled via the Australian goldfields.

Arrived around 1867 ~ ship unknown

Bridget Power from Co Tipperary arrived on the West Coast goldfields sometime around 1867. In 1869 she married Bartholomew O’Rourke.

Arrived 21 Jan 1875 ~ Avalanche

Henry Florey from Kent, my 3 x great grandfather, sailed from Gravesend on 22 October 1874 aboard the Avalanche, along with his wife Elizabeth (Byford), their son Forrest, and Henry’s son from a previous relationship, Henry John Forrest.6 Henry junior married Annie Horne in 1885.

Arrived around 1876 ~ Fernglen?

John Burton and his wife Bridget (O’Mahoney) were from Co Tipperary and Co Limerick respectively. According to family lore, they sailed with their two young children aboard the Fernglen and arrived in New Zealand around 1876. Their names don’t appear on any passenger listings or newspaper reports found so far, though the listings for the 1876 sailing may be incomplete.7

Arrived after 27 June 1902 ~ Delphic

My great grandmother Elsie Nunns from West Yorkshire travelled with her parents Sam and Alice (Cockerham) aboard the Delphic, which departed London on 8 May 1902, arriving in Wellington on 27 June. They continued on to Dunedin, disembarking at Port Chalmers.8

Arrived around 1911-14 ~ ship unknown

My great grandfather Alexander Wright arrived in New Zealand sometime between 1911 (when he deserted from the British Army) and 1914 (when he volunteered for the New Zealand Expeditionary Force). Originally from south east London, he married Elsie Nunns in 1917 after being invalided back to New Zealand during World War I.

Do you know when your ancestors arrived?

  1. “Dinapore”, transcription; YesterYears Passenger Lists, ( : accessed 5 Feb 2015); transcribed by 0032006 from The New Zealander, 4 Jul 1857 and The New Zealander, 8 Aug 1857.
  2. “New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Passenger Lists, 1839-1973,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 5 February 2015), Michl Gaffeney, 12 Sep 1859; citing Cresswell, Ship, Arrival Port Lyttelton, National Archives, Wellington; FHL microfilm 004411505.
  3. “The ‘Echunga’ Arrives”, transcription; South Canterbury NZ GenWeb ( : accessed 5 Feb 2015); transcribe from the “Lyttelton Times” December 24, 1862.
  4. “New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Passenger Lists, 1839-1973,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 6 February 2015), Martin Burke, 16 Feb 1864; citing Mermaid, Ship, Arrival Port Canterbury, National Archives, Wellington; FHL microfilm 004411751.
  5. “Alfred”, transcription; Our Stuff ( : accessed 5 Feb 2015); transcribed by Denise & Peter, citing Archives New Zealand Micro 5019.
  6. “New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Passenger Lists, 1839-1973,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 5 February 2015), Henry R Florey, 21 Jan 1875; citing Avalanche, Ship, Arrival Port Taranaki, National Archives, Wellington; FHL microfilm 004412892.
  7. “Fernglen”, New Zealand Bound ( : accessed 5 Feb 2015).
  8. “The Delphic’s Passengers”, digital image; Papers Past ( : accessed 5 Feb 2015); citing The Press, volume LIX, issue 11299, 14 Jun 1902, p9.

Montage of sketches depicting life on board an emigrant ship. Making New Zealand :Negatives and prints from the Making New Zealand Centennial collection. Ref: MNZ-0661-1/4-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

From the Emerald Isle to the Land of the Long White Cloud

Bartholomew O’Rourke’s obituary contains lots of valuable information about his life – so now it’s a matter of verifying it.  According to the “correspondent”, Bartholomew was 23 went he left Ireland, and arrived in Lyttleton in 1866 aboard the Blue Jacket.

The Blue Jacket sailed from London on 15 July 1866 under the command of Captain James White, and arrived in Lyttelton 14 October 1866.

The Press October 16th 1866

The fine vessel Blue Jacket, commanded by Captain White, arrived and anchored in harbour on Sunday about half-past five pm after a passage of ninety days. Dr Donald, health officer, went down at half-past seven and gave her a clean bill of health. The passengers speak most highly of the treatment they have received at the hands of the captain and his officers, and also of the doctor (Macdonald), to whom flattering testimonials were given. We are informed by Captain White that he has been near the coast since the 5th. The following is an account of her passage:- Left Gravesend on the 15th July at half-past three, weighed anchor and proceeded in tow of a steam tug. Sailed through the Downs same day at four pm; discharged pilot off the Isle of Wight. Passed Start Point same day. On the 18th signalled the ship Star of Tasmania from London to Otago, and another ship in company, supposed the be the Electra.On the 27th passed Madeira to the westward. On the 31st signalled the ship Anna Cecilia, from London to Melbourne. Crossed the Equator in long 24deg 50min W.; had good S E trades. On the 15th September passed the meridian of the Cape of Good Hope in lat 43deg 21min S. Passed north of the Crozet and Kerguelen Islands on the 22nd, in lat 48deg 48min, long 92deg 12min E., and encountered a heavy gale. Passed the meridian of Cape Lewin in lat 48deg 22min S.; saw a large iceberg about 500 feet high and from two and a-half to three miles in circumference. On the 30th passed the meridian of Port Philip. On October 6 passed Auckland Islands; ran down easting in 47 and 48deg, and since that time had light and baffling winds. Yesterday the Commissioners went down and inspected the emigrants and accommodation, and expressed themselves in terms of commendation as regarded accommodation. The emigrants brought out are certainly a superior lot, and we have no doubt but that the single young women will obtain immediate employment.1

Unfortunately, I can find no Blue Jacket passenger list with Bartholomew listed. There are several lists published online. Of the two I found on Rootsweb, one lists only the “assisted and free passengers”, and the other passenger list includes the cabin passengers. The former list notes that the cabin passengers are missing, and gives several possible names, but none of these are in the latter’s list of cabin passengers.

A list on New Zealand Yesteryears makes no distinction between passengers, and doesn’t list Bartholomew either. On this site I also checked the lists for arrival of the Blue Jacket on 13 Nov 1865, 30 August 1867, and 30 October 1868, to no avail.

It’s possible he was a paying cabin passenger and he was missed during transcription.  Perhaps he stole a ticket and travelled under another name?  Or maybe he came on another ship, and the “correspondent” was misinformed?

  1. “Arrival of the Blue Jacket”, transcript by Denise & Peter, at Rootsweb, ( : accessed 24 Jan 2011); citing original publication in The Press, 16 October 1866.

Note: “Land of the Long White Cloud” is the common English translation of Aotearoa, the Māori name for New Zealand.