Lord Wosley 1862

Lord Wosley 1862

LORD WORSLEY, steamer: The wreck of the steamer in Namu Bay, 11 miles south of Cape Egmont, at 1.30 a.m. on September 1, 1862, claimed particular attention owing to the fact that her complement was in imminent danger of massacre by the hostile Taranaki Maoris.

The Lord Worsley left Nelson on August 31, with a fresh breeze from the south-west. All sail was set, and a course shaped which should have taken the vessel 10 miles clear of Cape Egmont. The master, in a subsequent statement, said he cautioned both the helmsman and the officer of the watch to take particular care not to let the ship go to leeward of her course. When the officer called the master at midnight he informed him that the vessel had been kept to windward of her course all the time. Going on deck at midnight, the master kept a sharp lookout, but could see nothing of the land until 1.30 a.m. A heavy passing shower obscured his vision, and when the squall had passed he suddenly saw the land ahead and close to the ship. The helm was ordered hard-a-starboard, and the engines were reversed to full speed astern. A heavy sea struck the Lord Worsley on the port bow, she fell off, and then struck. The engines were kept going full astern until the propeller broke. The steamer then grounded fore and aft on a rocky bottom, and immediately commenced to fill. The master ordered the boats to be prepared and rafts to be constructed in order to land the passengers and crew at daylight.

The steamer was travelling at a high speed when she struck. As the vessel had several holes in her

The Lord Worsley, No. 18,884 was a screw steamer of 550 tons gross and 290 tons net register, built at Hull in 1858 for Messrs. Pearson and Coleman, proprietors of the Intercolonial Royal Mail Packet Company. Her engines were 80 h.p. nominal and 250 h.p. indicated. She was a sister ship of the steamer Lord Ashley. The wreck of the Lord Worsley was purchasd by the Government for £235, and the cargo for £19. She was commanded by Captain James Bowden.

hull and her screw broken, the topsails were again set, in order to force the ship as far up on the beach as possible. Half an hour after the Lord Worsley had struck the fore-hold had filled to the ‘tween decks, and the ship had settled firmly on the rocks fore and aft. By 3 a.m. water had made its way into the engine-room, extinguishing the fires. In the meantime the passengers had dressed themselves and sat quietly and anxiously awaiting daylight. By 10 a.m. the crew, passengers, and part of the light luggage had been safely landed. When morning broke it was seen that the Lord Worsley had run in among the rocks by a narrow channel for nearly two miles, and was lying within 50 yards of the shore, with seven feet of water at her stern and five feet at her bows.

News of the disaster reached New Plymouth on the night following the wreck, but only the barest details were given by the Maori messenger-that 60 persons from a three-masted steamer were saved, and that a Maori named Kingi Matakatea had applied to the Maoris of other settlements to assist him in protecting them. Individual attempts by New Plymouth residents to reach the scene of the wreck by offering to pay any toll at the barrier set up by the Maoris were unsuccessful, and although a force from the Britsh regiment then engaged in the Taranaki War was held ready to march south, there were grave objections to this step, as it was feared that a show of force might imperil the lives of those the expedition intended to relieve. On the following morning a boat was sighted from the Omata stockade, and during the afternoon the master of the Lord Worsley landed at the New Plymouth anchorage. About the same time a messenger from the Warea Maoris arrived in town and stated that the intention of his tribe was to bring in the passengers and take charge of the wreck. This promise, though vague and far from satisfactory, suspended further action on the part of the inhabitants for several days. On the evening of September 6, to the inexpressible relief of the people of New Plymouth, the passengers and crew reached the Taranaki town in safety. They came on horses, in carts and drays, and in the two large boats despatched by the superintendent of the province. These boats had taken off most of the women and children on the Tataraimaka Beach, after a fatiguing day’s journey.

Considering all the circumstances of the case, wrecked as they were upon what may be properly termed an enemy’s coast, the Maoris behaved very well to the unfortunate shipwrecked people. All private property was respected, and the passengers were permitted to remove their luggage. Horses

scroll to top