New Zealand Connections – Augustus Philip Samson's Story

Augustus Philip Samson – from Jersey to New Zealand The story of a Jersey sea captain’s emigration to New Zealand in 1875.

Augustus Philip Samson, born on 16 December 1842 in Jersey and was the eldest son of Auguste Constant Samson and Jane Elizabeth Du Feu.  In 1875 Augustus and Mary emigrated to New Zealand on the Countess of Kintore, leaving London on 18 March and arriving at Napier, Hawke’s Bay on 8 June. He kept a log of the voyage. The log is an excellent contemporary description of the nature of the rather hazardous journey that emigrants made in the 1870s.

Excerpts from Samson's sea log with thanks to Mark Boleat for allowing us to use this paper.

Good Friday, March 26th: At 1.00 a.m. Sarah Harris died, age 4 years, disease inflammation with dropsy. At 6.00 p.m. tolled the bell for the funeral. The boatswain, carpenter and some of the sailors went in the hospital to bring up the corpse, laid it on the planks, and brought it on the poop to read the service. The Captain, suspecting the body very large for a child, examined it and said it was yet warm and very bulky, and opened one end and saw some clothing. He asked the doctor if he ordered the child's clothes to be buried with it. While the Captain was gone for the father of the child, who with his wife kept below, I went round to see the bundle, which was under the Union Jack. To my surprise it was our large clothes-bag full of linen weighing over 100 lbs. Everybody was amazed at it. The boatswain took it down and brought up the child, which was quite different. You may suppose the ship was not stopped, going at the rate of 7 knots 

Saturday, April 17th: Winds easterly. Pleasant breeze and fine. The doctor asked Mary of she wanted anything to eat, as she could not eat the ship's food; so he ordered her eggs and broth. At 10 a.m. a court of enquiry on Mr and Mrs Green for obscene language. Mr Green discharged of his office of constable, and threatened him and wife one month's imprisonment if they don't behave better in the future. Mr Goodgame appointed in Green's place. No medical comforts served out today on account of the steward being drunk. Complaints made of him to Captain and doctor, and severely reprimanded. Mr Bolt also threatened with punishment for striking his wife. Last night one of the men very sick. Ship's position today – Lat. 24°44″ S., long. 24°52' W. Distance to Napier 9,434 miles.

Wednesday, June 9th: Winds variable. Through this day fine. At 4 a.m. everybody was rousted up to light the fire and get breakfast, so as to pack up for landing. At 7 a.m. the steamer came alongside, and a great fuss there was. The steamer took best part of the luggage in the hold, then they took the women and children and put them in the hold with the boxes, then all the men. In going alongside the steamer took a small schooner in tow, then passed over the bar, and went along side of the quay – they call in “the Spit”. Most of the business houses and shipping offices are there. When we landed they engaged two carts to take the luggage up to the barracks – they are really barracks. The soldiers used to live there. However, it’s more comfortable than the ship. Each party has a separate place. When we got there it was about noon. They gave us plenty of good bread, butter, sugar, tea, salt, cabbages, potatoes and plenty of beef and mutton – as much as we wanted. We had to cook with a wood fire. We took our luggage in our place. In the afternoon we went in the town. It looked rather small, and quite different from Jersey. All wood houses – we saw but one house built of stone. The wood houses look very well – you could not tell the difference from a distance. Most all the houses are one storey high. It’s about 1½ miles from the barracks to town and such hilly work that one soon gets tired. In coming back we saw a shoemaker’s shop with the name Fuzard, so we went in and had a long chat with them. They came out about 18 months ago. There are Jersey people opposite them – the Ridgeways. We went back and had our tea, and went in the single women’s place. It was quite a concert, singing and dancing. While we were there Mr Moignan, Langlais and Miss Le Conte and some others came up to see if there were any Jersey people. At 9 p.m. the place shuts up, so we went to bed.

Read the Full Log here