The Shrimpton Diary

New Zealand Bound
"Royal Stuart" 1854 -1855 to Lyttelton, N.Z.

Copy of a document written by one Samual Shrimpton who does not appear on the passenger lists but most likely travelled as a steerage passenger. He was 22 years of age on the voyage.  The account is in chronological order and are rather humorous.  Any errors or omissions in translation give it a sense of individuality, its own individual patina.  The same diary was published in Origins, journal of the Buck's Family Hist. Society, UK June 1991, and Oxfordshire Family Historian 5 July 1991. The passenger list of the Royal Stuart. (opens in another window)

Who was Samual Shrimpton?
Samual Shrimpton was born 4th December 1832. Prior to embarking on the Royal Stuart 1854, Samual was selling needles in London as a young man (the family have a long history of needle making in Long Crendon i.e. Notes on a Decayed Needle Land, Reddich indicator 1897). He married at Kaiapoi, Canterbury, New Zealand in 1856 to Charlotte Caroline Sampson born 1831, St Mary's, Kent.  They settled in Coromandel when the town was booming after the discovery of gold (Sept. 2, 1867). It appears from related documents that Samual worked in the Bush, on the roads and very often in the mines. He died 9th September 1906, his occupation is described as sawyer and Charlotte died 3rd July 1906. Both are buried Buffalo Cemetary, Coromandel.


Back row: George Shrimpton & son George, Fred Shrimpton, Sam Higginson, Jack Chapman, Jack Shrimpton, Charlie Davis.
Front row: Mary, Louisa Ann Davis, Grandad Shrimpton and his wife, Charlotte (nee Sampson), Aunt Kate, Aunt Sis, & baby unidentified.


Log of the Royal Stuart by Samuel Shrimpton.
An extract of the Log kept by me on board the Royal Stuart on her voyage from Plymouth to Lyttelton, New Zealand.

On Monday, October 9th, 1854, at 6 o'clock in the evening we sailed from Plymouth and in a few hours we were out of sight of the land.

18th. We sighted Madeira at five o'clock in afternoon. It is very mountainous land. Made some teacases for the first time. Christened them the coast of Madeira cakes on account of them rising so high.

19th. One of the boys ran up the rigging and enticed some of the cuddy passengers up. Then there was a general rush with the sailors who would of made spread of them had they not paid their fine mid'st general laughter.

25th. One of the cooks hurt his foot, then myself and chum did the cooks duty for several days and we acquitted ourselves in first rate style.

26th. Spoke a ship and wished to be reported. At dusk we noticed a beautiful phosphorescent appearance in the sea. Lowered a fish hook and hauled some up, turned out to be some fish spawn that looked like a map of fire.

27th. A daily paper stared called the Flying Fish Gazette, its information very amusing.

28th. Passenger gave his wife a wacking for looking at the third mate.

29th. A ship in sight captain said he would heave to and send letters. Great bustle in letter writing. I wrote one and forwarded. Also our Editor sent one of his papers to The Times Office in London.

November 2nd. The crew went aft to the captain and complained of the arrangement of their duty and requested him to allow them watch, and watch the captain refused them the men returned to their duty very sullenly.

3rd. Hear the ling all the crew busy making great preparations for King Neptune's arrival at 8 p.m. Neptune's secretary arrived bringing despactches for the Captain. His arrival was hailed with trumpets and other synbols of fog while the secretary was aft with the captain his lights were abserved going astern.

4th. On the line.
Neptune came on board at 10 o'clock a sail was spread and then filled with water then the procession commenced. Neptune, his wife and daughter was drawn on a carriage by his policeman attended by the barbers with their tar and their brushes and the doctor with his bottles, the corks which were studded with needle points, when he halted they sent the policeman after the sailor that had never been on the line before to be shaved the sailors are then put on a bench blindfolded and
?latored with tar. He is then shaved with No. 1-2 or 3 razor the smallest about the size of a ____  with teeth to boot and if the doctor fancies him faint now jabs the bottle with needles into his nose, he is then thrown into the sail with the water and then well dosed with the two beare? after all the sailors have been shaved all the games commenced with the passengers each one having a pail and throwing over all we could. We all went at it and kept it up for 3 hours and then we looked more like drowned rats than anything else then changed our clothes had dinner and commenced with music, dancing, single sticks, jumping, and hurdle racing and kept it up until we found ourselves very merry and had quite enough sport for that day. 

5th. Being drove to Leward we sighted the Island Ferando Noronno.

6th Sighted the Brazilian Coast Off South America.

9th Gone more to leeward saw the Brazilian Coast and three Catamarans fisherman on board very plain had to tack about to keep the ship clear of the coast.

11th. 12 o'clock at night I ran up and found several sailors drunk and very mutinous declaring that if one of them gave a whistle all the men would rush aft and take possession of the ship. The Captain was struck several times, the chief mate received a severe blow in the eye, three of the were put in irons. The Captain told the passengers to arm themselves which they did with rifles, revolvers and various guns. He then ordered a line to be drawn with chalk on the quarter deck for the men were up and then asked them if they had a mutinous crew, the men answered no, they were ordered forward and as were going forward some of them appeared very disagreeable. Very few of the passengers went to bed that night. Several of the passengers advised the Captain to fire on the crew, and I am very happy to think he would not listen to that as the consequence might have been most fearful.

12th. The Captain ordered all the men aft and asked them if they would do their duty, they answered yes. He then gave then a severe lecture and ordered them forward he likewise told one of the prisoners he could have his irons off and go to work if he liked but he would not accept the liberty unless he would forgive the other two. The Captain objected to that and ordered the Carpenter to erect three prisons. The prisoners were then lodged in the apprentices berth, they then broke their irons after which they remained very quite.

14th. Had some preserved fish which made me very sick.

15th. Feel first rate again no more sick.

17th. A stud sail boom broke in two.

20th. The men were put in their new prisons and immediately pulled partitions and doors off, in fact they altered it to suit their own convenience.

29th. The galvanished iron stay or wire jib stay carried away.

December 1st. At 6 o'clcok in the morning saw an iceberg 112ft high and a quarter of a mile long and several small ones all the day long and my cap blown away in the bargain. The second mate carried to his bed drunk.

2nd. The second mate disrated the three prisoners being nearly drunk. Sent the chief mate to the captain to tell him they wanted him. When he came out, they asked him if he intended to let them go to work, and after a great deal more of the most extraordinary conversation (If in fact such language as could not be tolerated on shore.) He told the they might go t work and if they behaved themselves like men he would forgive them when he reached Harbor. The foresail torn to pieces and bet on another.

4th. saw an iceberg not so large as the former one I saw when I lost my cap.

5th. They had an auction on board. My chum sold several things of no value to him. The new third mate disrated for leaving the hatchway unlocked. A stud sail broken in two.

18th. The chief mate called 6 of us up in the morning to help and assisted (for we were precious handy) considering there were 11 sailors ill. We could not object when asked again in the evening to assist shortening sail which we did most willingly. it was blowing very hard the sea breaking over us every minute. We got her in nice and smug for the night and we got plenty of grog for we were always doing something for loitering about did not suit us sort.

23rd. We had an extra allowance of flower, raisins, suet served out for Christmas and we had fresh mutton served on board yet and I hope (and trust you all enjoyed yourselves as well as we did) and we schemed it first rate. We had plenty of tarts, cakes, puddings and sweet meats, and we had a great bowl of Punch afterwards. I was up early in the morning baking, for me and my chum could do as as we chose in either of the cooks galleys. Afternoon a general spree commenced. The Captain, the Sailors, and greatest part of the passengers were jolly well drunk. The captain was hard put it that he kicked the door off a certain married lady's cabin in the presence of her husband, who seemed to be rather proud of the Captain paying his address to his wife, and if all goes well I think she will to present a yound Captn. to her husband bye and bye.

27th. Everybody seemed to be alright after the sports.

28th Out grog being stopped we struck work and turned gentlemen for the rest of the voyage.

January 1st. Several reports of land in sight. could not see any myself.

2nd. Sighed Cape Saunders, Otago, New Zealand at one o'clock in the day to the great delight of the passengers. When in 4 miles of land we attempted to tack but she missed stays, tried again and we went round about and whe tried again to bout ship but whe missed stays twice over and then, wore ship.

3rd. Slight winds Sailing along the coast all day and high mountainous sceneries beautiful in the extreme South Island being very mountainous all along the coast.

"4th. Was called up early mostly to view the scenery about 4 o'clock the sun rose. More delightful than ever (I saw it) before 12 o'clock the ship entered Port Cooper, Canterbury Settlements, to the great delight to all on board. We then had to beat miles up the bay and dropped anchor at 10 minutes to 4 in the afternoon at Port Lyttleton after 12 weeks and 3 days (87 days from anchor to anchor) and the weather was beautiful for the first three weeks and then it got perfectly miserable. We had foggy rains, sleet and snow until within a few days of reaching N.Z. The Captain was a first rate navigator but rather foppish and much disliked by the crew but I think many of them are bad fellows getting into the hold and stealing the drink every day. Some of them them were drunk every day. The only death we had on board was the Doctor. He was ill for a few days and died as he was entering the port. Consequently he would be buried ashore".

Copied the 16th day of November 1939. 
Posted January 2006. Photo and diary courtesy of John Hancock , a descendant.

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