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RESIDENT MAGISTRATE'S COURT

WELLINGTON, JULY 30, 1851

I, Charles Stewart, late an ordinary seaman of the barque Maria, do solemnly and sincerely declare that, on or about the 20th instant (last Sunday week), the barque Maria left Port Cooper, bouud for Port Nicholson, at about 10 o'clock in the morning. Wo had a fair wind when we left, but were becalmed outside

until the-following morning The Raven brig was in compmiy with us. Captain Plunk was muster oftho Maria ; I think his name was William Frederick, but I am not certain. We h;ul twonty-two hands on board, including the Captain and officers. There were also two cabin passengers, one steerage passenger who wus working kis passage, and three stockmen. On Monday night a light breeze sprung up from the northeast, which lasted until about 4 o'clock on Tuesday morning, when it shifted round to the south-cast: it remained from that quarter a steady breeze until night, when it came on to blow heavily from the same quarter we were steeriug'N N W. We shortened sail at 8 o'clock at night; wo were under two double-reefed topsails, aad a fore top-mast staysail during the night: the night was very thick and hazy. At 10 o'clock at night I was on the look-out, and I reported to the captain, who was then on deck, that I thought I saw land a-head : he replied he thought it could not be, for we could not have run across in the time. We then wore ship, and stood towards the shore of too Middle J Island : we made the land of the Middle Island about four-bells (2 o'clock, a. m.): we then wore ship again, and stood towards Port Nicholson. At about halfpast 4 o'clock I could see land on our leebow: I was at the wheel: we were an the starboard tack. The captain told me to j keep as close to the wind as I could : our course was at that time ESE, About an hour after this we crossed a reef, but we did not ground: we were sailing then along the line of shore. About five raiuutes after we crossed the reef we grounded; but the vessel still had way on her. The second mate then took the wheel from me and ordered me to call up all hands. I heard the captain ask the second mate if the vessel still had way on her; he replied he thought she had: this was after I had called all hands. The captain said he thought the vessel would be hard and fast directly : a few minutes afterwards we struck upon a rock, which appeared to me to go quite through the bottom of the vessel. The captain then gave orders to cut away the masts; before that could be done the foremast went over by the side, carrying with it the main-royal and main top-gal-lant mast; the main-mast went shortly afterwards: the vessel then broke right across the waist, and separated in two halves. All hands then gathered aft to cut away the quarterboat : they all got into the boat, with the exception of the second mate and myself: we remained to lower the boat; the captain was in her: before she could be lowered the davits gave way, and the boat fell upon the quarter, and smashed to pieces : all that were in her contrived to scramble upon deck again : after that the second mate was washed overboard by a sea. I then took off my oil-skins and boots, and jumped overboard: I swam to the shore: three of tho seamen also reached the shore on a part of the wreck ; but at that moment they were overturned on the wreck, and I saw no more of them. The captain was standing on the rail of the quarter-deck when I jumped overboard : I saw no more of him. I should think we were about half a mile from the shore when the vessel struck : it was just getting daylight. There' was a Malay who also reached the shore alive: all the others must have perished: the Malay still remains at Terawiti in the house of Mr. Macmanaman. There was another boat in the vessel, besides the quarterboat that broke away with the davits; but that boat was stoved in, and unseaworthy. There was no long-boat: the long-boat was sent from Cloudy Bay to Port Nicholson for provisions and fodder, when we were on our passage from Port Nicholson to Port Cooper. I came over in her to Port Nicholson, and returned to Cloudy Bay in a cutter with what we required, leaving the long-boat behind: the weather was too bad to allow us to take her back to Cloudy Bay: I do not think it would have made any difference had she been in the vessel when sho struck, for we should not have had time to clear her away before the vessel went pieces. The vessel broke across the waist about a quarter of an hour after sho had struck; I should think it was about three-quarters of an hour after she had struck that the stern part of the vessel broke to pieces, it broke in pieces before I reached the shore. As far as I can judge, I think I had to swim about half a mile. I do not know tho names of either of the cabin passengers : tho steerage passenger's name was Mitchael M'Kelly; he had come from California in the vessel with us. One stockman was named Robert Saul; another Henry Saul; and the third Lowe ; I do not know his Christian name The chief mates name was Price ; the second John Turner; tho carpenter Robert Williams, I think but am not certain : wo had no boatswain; the cook William Stock; the steward William Taylor, an apprentice Walker; I do not know his Christaiu name. The crew were, William Smith, Henry Walker, Thomas Brown, and a fourth whose name I do not remember, able seamen: Charles Price, George Hone Ncwsoii, and Alexander Hamilton ordinary seamen. I do not remember the names of the other seamen. There was another ablo seaman, but I cannot think

of his name. I remained in the neighbourhood of tho wreck until the following morning, before I saw any person : about 10 o'clock on that morning I saw Mr. Macmanaman's house from the hill which I had ascended, and I made for it accompanied by the Malay. I do not think any persons of the vessel, excepting the three men I have before spoken of, and the Malay, reached the shore alive. I way about the wreck the whole of tho Wednesday, looking out to give assistance where it might be needed. I think the body of the captain was found by a Maori: I did not know, until yesterday, that one of his fingers had been taken off": I never noticed that he wore a ring: he used to wear a gold watch : I do not i know if it was on his person when his body was picked up : I asked, when I heard tho body was found, if the gold watch was on his person when his body was picked up : I asked, when I heard the body was found, if the gold watch was on him: I understood it was not: it was sometime after the body was found that I saw it: I do not know when it was found; but I did not see it until Friday morning last. I did not observe any bodies washed on shore on Wednesday during the time I was near the wreck on the beach, It was blowing fresh from the south-east on Wednesday; it was not blowing very hard. We were to windward of the Raven when we last saw her: we lost sight of her on Tuesday night. Wo were off Capo Campbell on Tuesday night, when it began to blow fresh from the south-east.—And I mako this solemn declaration, conscientiously believing the same to be true ; and by virtue of an act of Parliament psssed in the oth and Gth years of the reign of William the Fourth, c G2, intituled, " An Act to repeal an Act of the present Session of Parliament, intituled, ' An Act for the more effectual abolition of catLs and affirmations taken and made in the various departments of the State, and to substitute declarations in lieu thereof, and . for the entire suppression of voluntary and . extra-judicial oaths and affidavits, and to ; make other provisions for the abolition of ■ unnecessary oaths."

C. W. D. Stewaht. Declared before me at Wellington, this 30th day of July, 185 U Hknky St. Hill, Resident Magistrate,

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/WI18510809.2.8

Bibliographic details

RESIDENT MAGISTRATE'S COURT, Wellington Independent, Volume VII, Issue 608, 9 August 1851

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RESIDENT MAGISTRATE'S COURT Wellington Independent, Volume VII, Issue 608, 9 August 1851

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