Lord Rodney

The following is the newspaper report about the Brig, the Lord Rodney and its unplanned trips to Rēkohu in 1835.

The Lord Rodney had a very exciting experience before she reached Sydney. Her captain, Harewood, reported it to the “Sydney Herald” of 28th January, 1838, as follows:—

“We arrived at Entry Island, Cook’s Straits, New Zealand, on the 16th of October, after a passage of seventeen days from Sydney, sailed from Entry Island on the 19th and reached Cloudy Bay on the 21st; started from the latter place on the 25th, and arrived at Port Nicholson on the 26th at noon.

The Caroline, Cherry, of Sydney, was the only vessel in the port.

When the Rodney brought up, the Natives appeared to be remarkably friendly, and anxious to barter for potatoes, hogs, etc. I purchased what I wanted from them, and hearing there was a quantity of whalebone to be purchased about 25 miles from Port Nicholson, on the 30th, sailed for that place.

Mr. Dawson, my trading master, having advised me, I took the Head Chief of Port Nicholson, and four other Natives to facilitate the purchase of the whalebone.

On reaching the destination, the Natives would not part with the bone, unless I would consent to take them to Chatham Island; there appeared to be a muster of about 300 Natives at this place.

Having been unsuccessful in my trip, I ran back to Port Nicholson, the Chief on board (“A-Murry”), saying he would compensate me for the loss of time, by a present of some hogs, &c.

The next day after reaching Port Nicholson, “A-Murry” the Chief, sent a number of canoes away, and they shortly returned filled with hogs, etc., also two spars, as a present; there was also a quantity of hogs and potatoes on shore, which the Chief requested me to look at; for this purpose, I left the brig, taking with me a good boat’s crew.

A short time after landing, I discovered that some of the Natives had taken the boat from my men; I immediately called out for the boat to be brought back, but they refused; one of the Chiefs also told me that the ship was taken, and I should very soon know it.

At 11 a.m., Mr. Davis, one of my passengers, was sent on shore by the Natives, to inform me that the ship was in the possession of the New Zealanders, and that there were about 300 of them on board.

Mr. Davis also informed me, that they had rushed upon the crew, and tied their hands behind them, saying, they did not want to hurt any one on board, or plunder the ship, but would have the vessel to convey them to Chatham Island, as a tribe of Natives had declared war against those of Port Nicholson, and would massacre the whole of them if they remained.

I at once saw that any opposition on my part would perhaps be the means of losing the vessel entirely, or that the affair would end in bloodshed. I therefore resolved to accede to their demands, and wait an opportunity of recapturing the brig.

The Natives were unwilling that I should go off to the vessel at once; I therefore sent a verbal message to the Chief Officer, to run the vessel under the lee side of the Island; this order, however, was not attended to.

Shortly afterwards, “A-Murry” came ashore with one of my crew, and requested me to go off to the ship, which I did, the Natives keeping some of my crew ashore until I brought the brig within gun-shot of the place.

A brig, similar to the Lord Rodney

At 4 p.m., there were about 400 Natives on board, with about 50 canoes alongside the vessel. At dusk, all the natives, except 20 Chiefs, left for the shore. Amongst those on board I discovered “A-Murry” and another Chief, who appeared extremely suspicious whenever I spoke to the crew.

On the morning of the 6th November, they brought about 70 tons of seed potatoes on board of their own, making me a present of about 20 hogs; they said they would give me all their powder, muskets, potatoes, hogs, etc., after I had safely landed them on Chatham Island.

On the 7th, they employed themselves watering the ship. I remarked that my bowsprit was too bad to proceed to sea with; about 40 of them immediately went in search of a new one, which was brought to the ship next day.

The crew, during this time, was employed killing and salting pork the Natives had brought on board. They frequently asked me if the Governor of Port Jackson would be offended at what they had done, not having taken any lives or plundered the vessel; that they were not like the Taranaka tribe, who killed the people belonging to the Harriet, Captain Hall.

They seemed to be much afraid of a man-of-war coming after them.

The wind being contrary, nothing particular occurred up to the 14th, when we had a fair wind for Chatham Island, for which place we weighed anchor at 10 minutes past 5 a.m., with about 300 on board; at 30 minutes past 5, about 600 mustered on the vessel, with about 40 canoes alongside. The whole of them appeared anxious to go (although the crew could not move about the vessel to work the ship, the Natives were so thick)

I ran as far as the Heads and brought up again. About one hundred of them left the ship in the canoes, taking with them as a hostage my second officer, who they promised to retain until I returned for the remainder of them.

The wind being favourable, I weighed anchor and proceeded with about five hundred New Zealanders, principally women and children, with only about three tons of water on board. I had previously told them they must do without water for three days, after putting to sea, which they consented to, or any other privation, if they could but get away from Port Nicholson.

On the 15th and 16th most of the Natives were sea-sick, and on the 17th the women that had young children were calling out violently for water, when I ordered them to be supplied; the strongest of the men, however, only got water, leaving the women and children without.

At 1.30 p.m. saw Chatham Island, when the Natives gave a terrible shout, and the women cried for joy, as is the custom in New Zealand.

At 6.30, brought the brig up in the best place I could find, not having any chart of the Island. The Natives immediately commenced landing, and about two hundred of them went ashore. Some Europeans came alongside in a whaleboat, and informed me that the best harbour was about two miles higher up, to which place we made all sail, and at sunset all the Natives, except eight, went on shore.

I consulted about making an attempt to get away, and it was agreed to, and at 7.30 p.m. made sail and proceeded to sea; Mr. Ferguson and Mr. Davis being engaged loading muskets the Natives on board overheard them, and made a great noise so that those on shore should hear them; I told them the wind was driving into the harbour, and that I should return to Chatham Island in the morning; they appeared dissatisfied with this statement, and I allowed them to go on shore.

The wind blowing fresh from the southward, I had my doubts whether I could work out of the Bay, having to beat to windward against a short cross-head sea for about fifteen miles. After the Natives had left the brig about five minutes, Murry the Chief and a crew came alongside in the European’s boat, and observing they were not armed I allowed the Chief to come on board.

I told him I should return in the morning, but he would not believe me. He gave orders for the other Natives to go ashore, and he remained in the vessel.

The weather was very squally during the night, and the Chief seemed to be nearly heartbroken. The vessel tacked about the Bay (which is fifteen miles wide) every two hours, until we carried away the square mainsail, main trysail and the jib-boom. With every prospect of the continuance of bad weather, having progressed but six miles during the night, I resolved to run back immediately, and at 7 a.m. brought up again in the harbour.

Some of the Natives said they thought I had run away with all their seed potatoes, etc., they said they had been crying during the whole of the night, doubting my return to the Island. They immediately commenced taking out their potatoes which they completed about 4 p.m.

Several of the New Zealanders expressed themselves much dissatisfied with my going away in the night, and Murry the Chief said that if I had not split my sails, etc. I should not have returned.

The 21st and 22nd, it still continued to blow fresh from the southward. On the 23rd the wind being from the N.W. weighed anchor, when several of the Chiefs came on board, and wished to proceed back to Port Nicholson.

When outside I asked Mr. Dawson, my trading master, whether he thought any thing would happen to the mate at Port Nicholson, if we ran direct for Port Jackson. Mr. Dawson having had sixteen years in the New Zealand trade said, that he would certainly be killed if we did not return.

I made sail for Port Nicholson, and reached that place on the 20th (?) at 10 p.m. On the next day my second officer came on board, and informed me that the Jolly Rambler had been in the harbour during my absence, which the Natives would have taken but she was too small for their purpose.

The New Zealanders had also killed several dogs, and hung them up in different directions, for the purpose as they said of driving the ship back to them. The savages also killed a young girl of about twelve years of age, cut her to pieces, and hung her flesh up to posts in the same manner as the dogs, saying that she was the cause of our detention.

It took the Natives all the 27th to talk over what they had seen at Chatham Island, after which they gave me in payment 2½ tons of pork, 41 old muskets, about 360lbs. of powder, one cannonade, a nine-pounder, two fowling-pieces, and about 7 tons of potatoes.

On the 30th of November, took in 7 canoes from 35 to 60 feet in length, about four hundred Natives, and proceeded on my second trip to Chatham Island. Having a fair wind all the way, I arrived at 30 minutes past 7, a.m., in the harbour.

The Natives immediately disembarked, and took all they had from the brig. I was doubtful whether the New Zealanders would not, at the wind up of the proceedings, plunder the ship, but in this I was agreeably disappointed; although they had certainly made free with many things in the vessel, which I attributed to the negligence of the seamen.

On the 5th December, having completed my forced expedition, I made sail, being accompanied to the Heads with ‘the two Chiefs,’ who craved tobacco of me; having given them about 20lbs. of the same, they left the brig, since which I have not heard anything of them or their tribe.”


Further information about these events and the attempts of other Māori to ‘take’ another ship, the Active from Wairarapa Bay in January 1836 can be found here >>>>

Whatever happened to the Lord Rodney?

The Lord Rodney was a two-masted brig whaler, built in 1807 in Bermuda. The vessel weighed in at 165 tons, was 76 ft 7 inches in length and had a beam of 26ft, 6 inches. The Lord Rodney drew 5ft, 10 inches of water.

The Lord Rodney was wrecked on 15 April 1836 at West Head, Whangaroa.

The vessel had left the Bay of Islands on 14 April and ran into a gale. Master John Barker Harewood feared he would be caught on a lee shore, so bore up for Whangaroa.

The next morning he brought up in the narrows of the entrance and went in search of a pilot, but failing to find one, returned to his vessel to find it was nearly flood tide.

When in the most dangerous part of the entrance, the Lord Rodney became unmanageable in the buffeting winds.

The anchor was dropped, but in coming round in the narrow channel a sudden puff of wind caught the vessel and sent her against the rocks.

A quarter boat was lowered with two hands, clearing just as the vessel struck and bilged, carrying away her sternpost and rudder. The crew jumped into the boat, while the Lord Rodney struck again so hard that a rock came through her stern, forcing up the cabin deck, and capsizing her.
On 27 May, Captain Harewood, and one of the crew, arrived in Sydney on the Mediterranean Packet. The remainder of the crew shipped on board different whalers and went back to sea. (Sydney Gazette, 28 May; SH 30 May 1836.)