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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.




In the years after Cook's visits, ships from abroad came in increasing numbers to the New Zealand coasts exploring, whaling, sealing, and trading, but the next ship of note was not engaged in any of these activities. She was the Tory, known for her part in bringing the advance party of men engaged in the organised settlement of New Zealand. When the New Zealand Company advanced its plans for promoting settlement in New Zealand, it was necessary to send men to buy land and survey it ready for the settlers. Preliminary plans dragged to such an extent that even by April 1839 no ship had been selected. In November 1838 the Company had agreed to purchase the Tory, probably for use as an emigrant ship, and for this reason she remained idle for some months. After considering another ship, the Company on 5 April 1839 selected the Tory for the preliminary expedition. It was hoped she would be able to sail on 25 April, but it was not until Sunday, 12 May, that she left Plymouth. The Tory was a three-masted barque (square rigged fore and main, fore and aft on mizen) a little bigger than Endeavour. In fact she was 381 84/94 tons burden, and 111 ft 4 in. long, with a beam of 27 ft 7 in. Her two decks were 6 ft 3 in. apart. She had a standing bowsprit, was square sterned with sham quarter galleries and, in keeping with the part she was to play in history, had a figurehead of the Duke of Wellington. Her draught was 15 ½ ft and, like many merchantmen of the time, she carried eight guns. Frederick Preston of South Town, Suffolk, built her in 1834 for Joseph Soames, the noted ship owner, who registered her on 7 May of that year. Little is known of her early voyaging, though she seems to have made a trip to the Cape in 1838. She was hurriedly fitted out and provisioned during April, and was due to sail under the command of Lieutenant Robson, RN. He, however, resigned during the last week in April and Edward Main Chaffers became Master on 4 May just before she left London. With 35 aboard including the head of the expedition, Col. Wakefield, and Edward Jerningham Wakefield, Dieffenbach, and Heaphy, she made a very fast passage of 96 days. Indeed, the time was never bettered by any of the Company's ships and it was some years before others began to make faster times. The Tory was a good sailer and her best day's run was 234 miles, or almost 10 knots for every hour of the 24. She arrived in Queen Charlotte Sound on 17 September 1839 and entered Port Nicholson three days later.

For some months the Tory sailed around New Zealand on Company business. She struck a sandbank at the entrance to Kaipara Harbour, making a hole in her hull which had to be repaired by her crew. Chaffers became harbourmaster at Port Nicholson and on 19 April 1840 she left there for Sydney with Richard Lowry as Master. She refitted there at a cost of £3,515 8s. 6d. but, failing to get a cargo, sailed for Surabaya in the hope of one. She failed again at Batavia and went on to Singapore where she took on cargo for Macao. Lowry died in Singapore and his brother Nicholas, the mate, took command. This was not to Soames's liking and on hearing of it he took immediate steps to have him removed. It was too late, for the Tory had been wrecked in the Palawan Passage on 23 January 1841. The New Zealand Company received £9,220 9s. 5d. insurance.

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