Pioneers in a new Colony - New Zealand

Copyright 1993   Anthony G. Flude.

NZ Map

In the year 1840, the London and Provincial newspapers carried large advertisements for tradesmen and women to emigrate and settle the new fledgeling colony of the British Empire called New Zealand.

Thomas Maxwell Henderson, a blacksmith by trade, met his future wife and brother-in-laws, Henry and John Macfarlane in Perth. He was married to Catherine Macfarlane in 1834 and had a son, born in July,1839.

After a family conference, Thomas and Catherine, John and Henry Macfarlane and their sister Ann Taylor and her husband, were to join the Brigatine LONDON at London dockyards on the 10th August, 1840, for the long and arduous voyage of 121 days to the other side of the world. The journey was to take until the 12th December to reach Port Nicholson, Wellington. Sickness on board during the voyage was unavoidable in the cramped conditions and salty basic diet. A bad bout of dysentry spread through the passengers.

Catherine's 15 month old child became sick and the ships surgeon, Ralph Johnson, was unable to save him. He died on the 20th September and was buried at sea. This was a bitter blow to the family beginning their new adventure. The Henderson and Macfarlane families headed north for Auckland, arriving just two months before the land sales of 1841. Both families were fortunate to have capital which they had brought with them.

The township was to be split into one acre lots, selling for £595 each.
Early in 1842, Thomas and Henry formed a partnership and bought a block of land from Dudley Sinclair. On this they built the Commercial Hotel at a cost of £2000, a very large sum of money in those days. The hotel was a good investment, catering for the numbers of immigrants coming into the colony to settle and begin a new life.
The partners also began selling merchandise, ships chandlery and provisions. In 1843 they offered bricks for sale at £1/17/- a thousand and firewood at 4/- a ton. Catherine and Thomas had another son in 1841 called George and a second son in 1843 named Henry William. Thomas Henderson became a driving force in the company of Henderson & Macfarlane and decided to buy a schooner he had seen advertised in Auckland harbour named the LUCIDAN. She became a regular trader to the Bay of Islands in the north of New Zealand.
The local maori chiefs, Te Hira and Rawhiti, approached Mr. Henderson with a proposition to barter land in exchange for the schooner. Thomas at first refused to deal with them, aware that moves were afoot in government to prohibit the sale and barter of maori land.
The chiefs again approached Mr.Henderson saying they had spoken to the Governor and he had agreed to the exchange. With these assurances the exchange of 17,784 acres of land, containing large stands of timber, was swapped for the ship. Just three months later, the government passed the new Bill, making such arrangements illegal. Mr.Henderson was called to the Governors office to explain his actions. The attorney general was furious with what had occurred, but Governor Fitzroy was more understanding and granted Mr. Henderson half the ammount of land swapped with the maori chiefs.

Auckland 1844



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