The Blenheim People

The Blenheim, under the command of Captain John Grey, left Greenock in Scotland on 25 August 1840, and arrived in Port Nicholson, New Zealand, on 27 December 1840.  Aboard were Scottish emigrants to the new colony, seeking opportunities for a new life on the other side of the world.

This page provides the record of those who travelled on the Blenheim and links to more information about each of them – where they came from and what happened to them after they reached New Zealand.

The linked pages for each family or individual are limited to them and their immediate family, based only on readily available information; they are works in progress, and may be incomplete or inaccurate.  You are invited to add comments or observations, stories or pictures, either in the comments section for each posting or by emailing blenheim175@gmail.com.

A detailed passenger list and a discussion of the sources consulted is at Blenheim Passenger List.

A summary of Sources used in compiling this information is also provided.

Cabin Passengers

Steerage Passengers

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One thought on “The Blenheim People”

  1. I am the gr gr grand-daughter of Mary Cameron, born 1826, Portree, Isle of Skye who came out on the “Blenheim” with her widowed mother and siblings:

    Angus Cameron, 21, labourer
    Catherine Cameron (widow), 45
    Mary Cameron, 15, housemaid
    Archibald McQueen, 21, labourer
    Catherine Cameron, 17, housemaid

    It would seem that Clan Cameron or this websirte are not aware of the following published article

    From Records of the Gore and Surrounding Districts Early Settlers’ Association, Vol II, February 1933, page 5-6 (McNab Room, Dunedin City Library):

    A PIONEER STORY
    By Mr D.L. POPPELWELL

    ……. In 1842 my father married Catherine Robertson McLachlan, formerly of Port William, Inverness, Scotland who also arrived in New Zealand in 1840 by the “Blenheim,” one of the ships which brought the highland pioneers to Wellington. My mother was a girl of about 16 when she arrived, and used to tell of the queer experiences the pioneers often went through. She was the only one on board the “Blenheim” who could speak English fluently, and had on many occasions to act as interpreter for those who at that time had only “the Gaelic.” The “Blenheim” had the misfortune to be attacked by smallpox during the voyage, and great difficulties were incurred in isolating the patients. Severe discipline had to be imposed, but the attack was kept in check. In those days Highland pioneer families all brought their “providin’” in the shape of family beds, bedding, clothing, linen etc. These were packed in large wooden boxes. On arrival, all the women folk on the “Blenheim” took their clothes etc., ashore to the Kaiwara Steam for a real good scrubbing and airing, and with a view to killing any smallpox infection which they might possess…. I have heard my mother tell of the fear of the newly-arrived immigrants of the Maoris, who at that date were almost in their original state of cannibalistic savagery. The passengers by a former pioneer ship who knew the “Blenheim” was to arrive soon had built a long rough shed for the new arrivals to occupy until they could build houses for themselves. The different Highland families on the “Blenheim” divided up the building by making temporary divisions with their family boxes piled one on top of the other. The Maoris who could not for some time make out the new arrivals, who all spoke Gaelic among themselves. They had heard French and English, but the new lingo puzzled them. In order to better observe the ways of the new people, they, the Maoris, climbed up on the box partitions in the building and sat there all night smoking and watching, to the terror of the new arrivals. With more knowledge of the race, however, the objectionable visitors were told to “vamoose,” and so some sleep could be obtained by the weary voyagers………..

    From “Blenheim”, by Donald D. Cameron, 1990, an article in the Hocken Library

    Landing at Kaiwharawhara

    Landing them all at Kaiwharawhara was purposely done by the New Zealand Company because most of the Scottish emigrants were labourers who had been engaged originally to put the road along the foreshore from Wellington to Petone. Kaiwharawhara therefore was most suitable as a site to land them, as it was literally right on the job, where the work was to begin.
    The actual date of disembarkation is doubtful as some references indicate that the barracks were not complete and it was not until February 1841 that they finally settled on dry land.
    Kaiwharawhara, so named after the wharawhara or Kupe, a native lily (Astelea Banksii) was inhabited by Ngati-tama tribe distinct from the Ngatiawa and presided over by Chief Taringa-Kuri or Dog’s Ear, whose pa was situated right opposite where the ‘Blenheim’ dropped anchor.
    This Chief, who was at all times hostile to the inroads of the white settler and much opposed to the sale of any Maori land, watched these settlers come ashore. Landing in long boats the men and women waded through the water to the rocky shore, while some of the children were carried up the beach by the sailors, helped by some fierce looking Maori warriors.

    At Kaiwharawhara

    On the easier land on the north of the Kaiwharawhara stream opposite the Maori pa the immigration barracks, a large raupo whare (built by the Maori for the New Zealand Company) with bunks along the side and a wide fireplace at the end, welcomed barefoot migrants with bagpipe and the galere (from the ‘Blenheim’). These barracks were the temporary home for the emigrant families until they were able to move to more permanent places.
    Although the barracks may seen crude and primitive to us today, the new settlers were very likely much better off and more comfortable than they were in their draughty mean cottages back in Scotland.
    Labourers, ploughmen, dairymaids, sempstresses and shepherds dined by the light of whale oil lamps on the local native birds, wild pork and puha.

    Chief Taringa-Kuri or Dog’s Ear, must have been curious about these pakehas. They were not like the immigrants that had already come ashore at Wellington in previous months. The men wore no tall hats, or smart suits. There were no fancy bonnets or crinoline skirts on the ladies, or pretty satin shoes. These emigrants were different. The men carried blankets over their left shoulders and wore coarse homespun clothes and some had wide blue bonnets on their heads, while the women had strange shawls wrapped around their shoulders and some, like the Maori Wahine (women) went barefoot.

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