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DEATH OF DR. ANDREW SINCLAIR.

Among all the records of accidental death which have darkened the columns of this journal almost without intermission since the foundation of the settlement, none can be found so lamentable as that which it is our painful duty now to register.^ News has reached town that Dr.-Andrew Sinclair, who

passed through Christchurch and Lyttelton but a few weeks ago to assist Mr. Julius Haast in his exploration of the interior of this islar-d, perished by drowning in the upper waters of the fatal Rangitata river on Monday the 25th of March. An authentic account which we have received states

that on the day mentioned the exploring party were

about to proceed to the sources of the eastern and middle branches of the Rangitata, having finished

the survey of the western branch, when an accident rendered necessary the return of a man and horse

to Mr. Butler's station (Mesopotamia}; Dr. Sm'

clair determined to return with them, his object being to collate the large quantity of valuable specimens of botany he had collected, to complete various drawings, and to recruit his health which had suffered from the hardships to which he had been exposed. Having one horse between them, Dr. Sinclair and the man who accompanied him, named Eichard Stringer, adopted the plan, where the river crossings were bad, of letting the horse take over one of them at a time and sending him back for the other. At one spot where the river divided, leaving an island in the middle, Dr. I Sinclair went over first, selecting a not very favorable crossing. On reaching the island, he endeavoured to send the horse back, but the animal refused to return and set off by himself to cross the next stream towards Mr. Butler's station. Dr. Sinclair followed the horse into the second stream, which was fleet and broadband Stringer, after watching him for some time, went down the bank a little to find a better crossing for himself. On reaching an elevated spot which commanded a complete view of that part of the river, Stringer turned round, and to his surprise failed to catch sight of his teliow traveller. He at first paid little attention to the circumstance, thinking that Dr. bmclair, having crossed, was resting, or gone in search of the horse; but after watching for some time longer the painful reality began to force itself upon him, and he returned to the camp—not two miles distant—and related his sad story. Mr. Haast hurried to the spot, where on the following day he was joined by Mr. Butler and the rest of the Party. About sundown on this day, the body of the unfortunate gentleman was discovered, about *W yards below the place where he had crossed, in a position which gave every indication that he bad leit the water alive. The body was some yards Irom toe stream and the head was resting on the f?M oJ lm, ewas lost in conveying the remains ™ J\u , 'where ' a coffin having been prepared, the solemn ceremony of interment took place n a spot carefully selected and fenced round. A 3"5 c?-? a! PrePared and attested by those preS i g the circumstances of the: death, in EST TFt^' in case le Sal investigation (which ™«W not be had on the spot) were not required. SP( .m.f rnlu oT ver ' that stePß ™" be taken for «avuin g the observance of the desirable forms of

thS ; /T ? mclair > whose untimely end we have thus r C or de d has left a name and a character be-. doin,H mt°wmchwere Sretthafcwe must fail to had I !!'a -._M a ?. vrgeon the Royal Navy, and coTn nf l Wth C[? dit afloafc ' visiting almost every S-W the„Y°. rld in the c°™e of his duty. His as a hnf a -? d uhlSßcieiltific especially manvt v St ' bl'°ught him into communication with wK ? g pm _l m the world of science at home, with several of whora he fomed _ lagfcing MeM{ [ abilitiii . g _c, -regular service his Professional cans Sa S red 'T cm Ployra»t on several ocin^ con„; , Urgf° n ? uPeri»tendent of ships brin?peffoZn V° J¥ Australian colonies, in the 5,2! of wh; ci raoßt difficu,fc duty h« *» *Z° J?TT h\> and raost co in «'c most 1843 s} ° ' the char Se of femal3 convicts. In ni/il l T meJ mn t0 New Zealand on a botacountrv an r4 J 8 "^ wMch he made to thi° Capt■ p; t "p ha PPened to be a fellow traveller with the dnrio. c°J then comin St 0 Auckland to assume AuekS Go7 er„ or of the colony. He landed at «me w£ ? n ? e 23rd December in that year, at a task wm-ol°w part? Bpirit raa hi 8h'and a difflcult safety W efof? the new Governor to steer with y betweeu the contending political factions.

It happened that, on the resignation of Mr. Willoughby Shortland, the tusk of appointing a Colonial Secretary devolved upon the Governor; and he, believing it to he utterly futile to name one of

the local leaders of party, offered the appointment to Dr. Sinclair, who long refused it, though repeatedly pressed upon him. Alleging a consciousness of want of qualification lor the post, ho for some time resisted the Governor's entreaties, and at last only accepted office to relieve the govern- . meht of the colony from embarrassment. As *an official Dr. Sinclair worked hard and attended regularly to his duties; and though he has not left the reputation of ability as a Secretarj, there is no doubt that he rendered as valuable service as the system of government, which left the Governor all powerful and his highest subordinates but clerks, permitted any official to render. He held his office until the introduction of Responsible Government within these last five years released him, with a pension, from serving the colony in one way to benefit it in another way no less important. . Dr. Sinclair was the first collector of specimens of New Zealand natural history, in botany, conchology, and entomology; he sent home such a variety of plants, shells, and insects, as to induce Dr. Grey of the British Museum to commence the first scientifically arranged catalogue, which may be found appended to Dieffenbach's work on New Zealand. He was of late years again- closely occupied by his botanical researches, and spent a large portion of his time in the investigation of the natural productions of this country. It was ih the prosecution of his favorite pursuit that he fell a victim to the perils which beset the explorers of nature among our inhospitable Southern Alps. But the passion for science by no means closed the heart of Dr. Sinclair to human sympathies. If he earned a reputation at a distance as a natural historian, he was better known in his immediate neighbourhood as a true philanthropist. In 1843,1844, and 1845, the population of Auckland underwent severe privations and distress, such as the settlers of this part of the colony have never known. Many an industrious and honest man received then at Dr. Sinclair's bands that assistance which he wanted to tide him over the crisis ; and not a few prosperous men of the present day have reason, in recalling that tima, to name him as the man who caused them to be what they are. Having no family of his-own, his generosity also gathered round him relations not a few in number to share in the prosperity which he had earned and late in life enjoyed in the neighbourhood of Auckland. In private life Dr. Sinclair was a true Christian gentleman, liberal in the expression of opinions, pleasant and courteous in manner; as an official he was honest, upright, scrupulous and laborious; as a man of science he was ardent but painstaking. The loss of one of his attainments and character, with the means and leisure which he possessed, is a public calamity; for there are few among us with his advantages, and fewer still who can use them as he did. His age we do not know ; but, though far from a young man, he had much of

t|# vigour of youth still remaining, and might in all probability have enjoyed many years of life agreeably to himself and usefully to his fellow colonists, had not the melancholy accident which it has been our duty to narrate carried him off from the midst of his labours.

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Permanent link to this item

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Bibliographic details

DEATH OF DR. ANDREW SINCLAIR., Lyttelton Times, Volume XV, Issue 876, 3 April 1861

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DEATH OF DR. ANDREW SINCLAIR. Lyttelton Times, Volume XV, Issue 876, 3 April 1861

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