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The Passage of the Mary

The Mary, 533 tons, sailed from London on 2 November 1848 and arrived at Port Chalmers on 4 April 1849. Captain, Thomas Grant; Surgeon, Dr Edward L Humphries.

"On 19 February, land was sighted, being 'the South West points of the Southern Island , New Zealand'. The Captain intended to go to New Plynouth first, but a strong North wind came and they went to Nelson first, casting anchor in Tasman Bay on February 24th, 1849."

On March 5th "the ship again headed for New Plymouth 'a place well dreaded as there is not the slightest shelter for ships'. After several days of head winds, and lack of progress, the Captain 'made up his mind to go on to Wellington and not be heaving about any longer'; however the ship had no sooner put about when the wind shifted and they again set sail for New Plymouth, seeing Mount Egmont on March 9, and they finally anchored 2 miles from the shore."

The ship departed New Plymouth on March 10 and "on Wednesday 14 March they reached Port Nicholson after attempting to enter the heads the previous day without success, and spending a very uncomfortable night in Cook Straight, 'very dark and blowing a hurricane with head sea'."

Some time earlier Wellington had been rocked by a series of earthquakes lasting for some ten days where all the brick houses were completely destroyed and three lives lost. "The effects of the earthquake were evident everywhere, not a brick building standing and the large Government prison built with good red brick, totally thrown down with the exception of two walls, and of the new chapel, only the foundations remained level with the ground."

Frederick Daniel Basire, "complains about the wind in Wellington. 'The wind in the bay and the Town is fearful, the dust in dry weather blinding, no one can imagine such winds to keep continually blowing.' And again, 'anyone unless they were here cannot imagine the force of the wind it blows in too strong to let the waves rise very high, they just break and the wind carries the spray like fine dust .... and as to the main road along the beach it is quite painful to walk and face the wind for it is not only dust but large stones that come rattling against one's face - I could not live here on any account solely for that great nuisance'." He also states in his letter, 'I believe we will start from this windy hole tonight, it blows too hard to walk the poop or if you do are obliged to hold on by the eyelids.' [Quotations from, A H Basire, Brisbane 1987, "The New Zealand Basire Family"]

Frederick Daniel Basire, had sailed to New Zealand following his doctor's advice, who thought the voyage would improve his health. It must have improved his outlook if not his health as within the year (on 14 March 1850) he married Susannah Sarah Tayler, who had also come to New Zealand on the Mary with her parents, Thomas and Sarah Tayler. Frederick had commenced, but not completed medical training in England before setting forth, but, it appears was not the ships surgeon as presumed by some. He did however practice medicine on his arrival in Port Chalmers.

Thomas and Sarah evidently brought with them their portraits in oil, which today hang in the living room of Ian & Allison Basire. The likeness of Thomas & Sarah in the "ancesters gallery" are photographs of these paintings.

Frederick and Susannah were not the only 'shipboard romances' to result in marriage. Thomas Knewstubb married Susannah's younger sister, Sarah Sophia on 9 August 1854!

For more information on passengers on the Mary visit this link to the Ngaio Press, which has details from a passenger list originally compiled by Dr Hocken in 1898 which has been expanded and corrected by Elaenor Leckie and the Otago Settlers' Museum.