Carisbrooke Castle

CARISBROOKE CASTLE was built in 1868 by Barclay, Currie & Co. at Glasgow as a three masted ship with a tonnage of 1490grt, a length of 230ft 4in, and a beam of 37ft 8in.

Delivered in September 1868 for the London to Calcutta run she became the fifth Currie ship to be sold to Charles Barrie of Dundee in 1889 and was renamed Errol.

When she was sold with the Cluny Castle sail ownership came to an end. In 1900 she was acquired by A. P. Ulriksen of Mandal, retaining her name which she kept when she was sold again to Walker, Howard & Co. of London in 1904.

On 18th June 1909 she was wrecked on Middleton Reef in the South Pacific 300 miles East of Brisbane

 This painting of the "Carisbrooke Castle" by James Tait of Leith in 1872 is owned by

and the copyright by, Ms. Sue Halcrow of Sydney, Australia.

The Carisbrooke Castle, 1451 tons, ship, arrived Lyttelton, 3 September 1874 after a 93 day voyage. Michael Cook, a steerage passenger, sent his diary of the voyage back to England to his friends and it was printed in a local newspaper. 23% of the children who came down with measles on the voyage died. The Cook family lost two of their children out of five to measles. In a Lincolnshire local newspaper in March 1875 a letter from Michael was published frankly admitted that "his Ellen wished they had never come, on account of their losing their two little children on the voyage, but having since been confined with a son, she had been overwhelmed with the kindness of folk for miles around...."  The family settled in the Geraldine district, South Canterbury, New Zealand.

The Ship's Papers can be found at Archives New Zealand Wellington. On the microfiche listing it say’s there is 5 pages, but in fact there is 25 pages. The passenger list held in at Archives New Zealand, Christchurch Branch.



We left Gravesend on May 30th. While lying at anchor at Gravesend a case of measles occurred. The child was at once sent on shore and it's bedding also. The berth in which it slept I caused to be well worked with a solution of Condy's fluid. However the disease reappeared on June 11th and has gone through 87 of the children out of which 20 died from the disease measles (orits). I had 5 other deaths of children from other causes**. I did not lose one adult.- The deceased were all under 5 years of age. My last case occurred today (September 3rd) while in port. We had a sad accident - happened to one of the crew who fell from aloft and sustained five fractures besides other injuries. He died on the same evening. Among the adults I had no serious illness except one case of pneumonia and one of scurvy. A great number of the women suffered from exhaustion requesting a liberal supply of stimulants. I had five births during the voyage. One still born and one case of twins which makes the number the same.

I will now make my suggestions as ordered.

** Three from tuberculosis, one from severe scald and one five months from exhaustion.

1/ The flaps of the Emigrants hatchways should be secured in a more certain way than they are, I mean when open. These heavy covers are measly made fast by a piece of larking, which the smallest child in the ship can cast adrift and let it come down by the rein.

On several occasions during the voyage this has occurred. The children do it. I have no doubt out of annoyance. One women suffered from more or less severe concussion of the brain from the after hatch cover coming on her head, it is very well that her skull was not fractured.

Another reason why I think my suggestion should be adopted is this, that when I am going around of an evening I generally find all the hatchways and ventilators closed down. I at once have these opened, but no sooner is my back turned than someone (I could never find out who) comes up and closes them down again. Now this one affair that should not be left in the power of a passenger to do. The proper account of ventilation is such a very important thing towards keeping the ship healthy that I think it should be entirely left to the Surgeon to decide whether a ventilator should be kept opened or shut. The constables and watchmen are passengers themselves and of course would be influenced by their wives, supposing the latter should think it a little cold below. To obviate these two objections to the present system I would suggest that each hatch and ventilator cover be fitted with a chain with rather open links, so that a link would fit over a staple on the hatch frame and be secured by a padlock having two keys, one to be kept by the surgeon and one to be in the possession of the officer on the poop, so that in case of a change of weather they could be shut down at a minutes notice. The ventilation would then be really under the Surgeon's control, whereas it is now only in theory.

2/ The only defect in the cooking arrangements during the voyage was that the facility with which persons could take from the galley articles of food which did not belong to them. These offences were of daily occurrence. The cook is not to blame. It would be perfectly impossible for him to remember each face and to know whom each pudding* belongs. A man will come and say such a dish belongs to him and the cook could not say that it did not. Now the remedy to this serious evil would be this. To put on board a number of duplicate checks so that when a person would bring to the cook a dish, the cook should see that the number is attached to it and then when it is cooked deliver it to no person whomever except the holder of this corresponding number. These checks should be properly stamped, not made out of a piece of preserved meat tin and the number marked on it by a hammer and nail (the way they are now) because anyone seeing a nice pudding (*2) go into the galley might mark the number and immediately manufacture one of his own.

3/ A large supply of sand and holystones should be placed on board, also of the Carbolate of Lime disinfecting powder. These three articles fell short when we were a month out and yet no extravagance was committed. In case of a slop being made between decks (a frequent occurrence) there is nothing so quick in its work and as easy of access as nice new saw dust. I would suggest that several sacks of it be placed on board each ship. All the steamers running between Liverpool and New York with Emigrants use it largely.

4/ I would suggest that about 12 sheep be placed on board as Medical comforts to be used at the Surgeon's discretion. A smaller quantity of measured medical comforts would then be sufficient. There is no doubt that if it had not been for Captain Freebody in giving some of the very sick ones a mutton chop occasionally, I should have lost some of my adults. When a sick women is low and exhausted the very smell of preserved food makes her worse, this I have myself witnessed on more than one occasion. The way I would arrange it would be as follows. When I had any person very ill and requiring some fresh meat-, I would kill a sheep and take half of it and give the other half to the cabin. Then again when the Captain killed one of his sheep he would give me half of his for the very sick ones. By this arrangement there would be no waste.

5/ I think that less meat and more favourite food would be more conducive to the health of the passengers in general. Bread is the article of food which is most required especially for the children. On Fridays the complaints were always numerous as on that day there is no flour allowed. I would suggest that bread be allowed every day and the quantity of biscuit and salt meat reduced and I am confident that the health of the ships would be better and the passengers more satisfied. A quantity of meat and a short allowance of vegetable diet is certain to produce diarrhea on board. I say this from experience.

Signed: William M. Overden

Surgeon Superintendent




    June  27th  Harriet & ? Kling  Male Still Born

    July  24th  Sarah & Henry Cummings  Male

    August  7th  Ellen & John Rowe  Female

    August  20th  Ann & Thomas ?   Female

    August  22nd  Mary & George Meadows  Female Twins


    June    16th    Emma Cardy   2yrs  Pneumonia

     23rd  Charles Dewar   11mths  Measles

     27th  Thomas Hooper   9mths  Measles

    July  1st  John Cudwallden  15mths  Measles

     3rd  Patrick ?   5 yrs  Tabes Mesenterica

     7th  Ann Curtis   15mths  Measles

     15th  Catherine ?   5mths  Bronchitis

     19th  Sarah Cook   10mths  Tabes Mesenterica

     19th  Alfred Jennings  21mths  Measles

     23rd  Ann Rowe   10mths  Measles

     24th  Fanny Parks   10mths  Measles

     25th  Anne Alderton   2yrs  Measles

     31st  Emma Cook   2yrs  Measles

    Aug  2nd  Sylvia Parks   10mths  Measles

     4th  Osbourne Bridget  10mths  Hydro?

     4th  James Graham   12mths  Measles

     5th  Ann Cudwallden   4yrs  Tabes Mesenterica

     8th  Ann Windsor   17mths  Measles

     11th  Clara ?   2yrs  Measles

     12th  Ann Batchelor   2yrs  Measles

     14th  Roland ?   20mths  Severe scald

     16th  Joseph Mc?   2yrs  Measles

     18th  Juliet Cox   8mths  Measles

     19th  Ellen ?   2yrs  Tabes Mesenterica

     21st  John Dines   22mths  Measles

    Sept  4th  Walter ?   1yr  Measles Died in Port

Tabes Mesenterica - Tuberculosis of the mesenteric and retroperitoneal lymph nodes. A wasting disease of childhood characterized by chronic inflammation of the lymphatic glands of the mesentery, attended with caseous degeneration.

Measles - A respiratory disease caused by a virus transmitted is usually from sneezing, coughing or direct contact with items touched by a person with the disease. Susceptible to many disinfectants. Incubation period is usually 10 days form exposure to onset of fever; 14 days until rash appears; Extremely communicable from slightly before the prodromal period to 4 days after appearance of rash; minimal after second day of rash. Symptoms last about a week. Rash, high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. Complications can include diarrhoea, ear infections, pneumonia, encephalitis, seizures, and death.

 The Star, September 3rd,1874 pg2

Voyage Account

This fine Glasgow iron clipper-built ship, commanded by Captain Freebody, was signaled yesterday morning, and entered the Heads at noon. She was brought up to an anchorage off Rhodes Bay at 1p.m. At 2.15 pm the deputy Health Officer, Dr J. T. Rouse, accompanied by Mr. March, commissioner, went down to the ship in the s.s. Mullogh and on arriving alongside found that, although twenty -five deaths had occurred during the voyage (all of which were young children, under five years and mostly from measles), and there being no sickness on board at the present time, she was cleared. Owing to the Health Officer being unavoidably detained, the usual inspection was deferred till the next morning.

The ship is a splendid model of an iron clipper-built ship. She was built by Messrs Barclay and Curle, of Glasgow, in 1868, and has been employed in the East India trade until last year, when she made a rapid passage to Sydney. Her saloon is bulkheaded at present, and little could be seen of her accommodation. When the large ventilator is removed, she will present a very different appearance. The vessel has a splendid main deck, and from a glance below, her 'tween decks appear very lofty, well lighted, and ventilated. After the normal official inspection is made, a fuller report of the vessel will be given. Of the immigrants, we can speck in terms of high praise. A great number of the single men and married people are agricultural labourers, many of them hail from Ireland, indeed, throughout the ship the shamrock is prevalent. The single girls come out under the matronship of Mrs. Anderson; they are certainly a very creditable and respectable lot of girls, and will no doubt find speedy employment. Dr Overton is the surgeon superintendent of the ship, and his duties, which have been arduous during the voyage, have elicited from one and all the highest praise, and he well deserves it. During the voyage, measles have been prevalent throughout the ship, 25 deaths have occurred, and there were 5 births. A short inspection of the ship was made. She is well fitted throughout, has an excellent galley and condenser, both of which have acted well during the voyage.

The following is the captain's report:-

The ship Carisbrooke Castle left the Lizard on June 4, and experienced fine weather, with light winds, to the Equator, which was crossed on June 30, and obtained the south-east trade winds soon after, which were carried steadily to lat 28deg south (moderate); thence to the cape fresh breezes from N.W. to S.W.; passed meridian of the Cape on July 23, and ran the easting down in latitude 45deg south. On Aug 10, when at lat.43deg 49min S., long 101deg 16min E., experienced a heavy gale, which lasted 36 hours, with hard squalls, commanding at N.E and ending at S.W., barometer down to 28.10, from thence had very unsettled weather, Aug 27, passed longitude of Snares; thence to Port Lyttelton had light baffling winds, chiefly from N.W to N.E. and E, with thick weather. Sighted Banks Peninsula on Aug. 30 at 5.30 a.m., and Port Lyttelton light at 6.45 p.m. on Sept 1, arriving as above. On Aug.5 Geo. Frank, A.B., fell from the upper fore-topsail yard, and received severe injuries, which caused death on the following day. Spoke the following ships:

- June 6, Cherokee, lat 46deg 22 min N., long 9 deg 56 min W.

- June 13, Highflyer, London to Melbourne, lat 28deg 23min N, 29deg 5 min W.;

- July 11, Lady Blessington, bound north, lat 28deg 11min S., long 27deg 16min. W.

The captain and surgeon superintendent were presented with testimonials on arrival.






7 Westminster Chambers

Victoria Street



I have the honor to advise the sailing of the Ship "Carisbrooke Castle" from London for Canterbury on the twenty ninth day of May, with Five hundred Emigrants, equal to Three hundred and ninety nine Statute Adults.

Herewith I beg to forward, a copy of the Ships Book, the originals of the Promissory Notes and the Certified List

The gratuities payable on the recommendation of the Impending officers in the Colony are the following,

To the Surgeon Superintendent Dr. Overden, Fifty pounds, and ten shillings per adult on the number of Emigrants landed.

To Captain Freebody, seventy - five pounds.

To the Chief Officer, ten pounds

To the Officer who serves out the provisions, five pounds.

To the Matron, Miss Anderson, five pounds

To the Constables; - ordinary two pounds each, for water Closets, five pounds.

I have appointed Mr. Morris to act as Schoolmaster. He receives a second class passage in return for his services.

I have the honour to be Sir

Yours obedient servant

Agent General.

Inspection of Ship

Highly satisfactory, Class of immigrants very good - Carisbrooke Castle at the Heads. Please ? me with £50 for Constable graduates for her

Signed J.E. March

To the Immigration Department

Inspection of Carisbrooke Castle, satisfactory- I will select 250 from this ship for Timaru district and ship Phoebe tomorrow.

Signed J.E. March

Under Secretary Immigration, Wellington

Carisbrooke Castle cleared by deputy health officer. Condition of ship. Passengers very satisfactory. Official inspection tomorrow, five births, twenty five deaths mostly from measles brought on board at Gravesend.

Signed J.E. March

Immigration Office, Wellington, Sept 7 1874

The Under Secretary directs me to beg you to be particular in seeing that the ships fittings, and the water tanks by the "Carisbrooke Castle" be delivered up to you, and that the Agents recover from the Captain the account of the Officers Mess.

J.F. Ballard

Accountant Immigration

In Reply to Accountant

In reply to No.589

I beg to state that I will be very particular in seeing the ship's fittings, water tanks, stores etc. re "Carisbrooke Castle" are delivered up to the Government.

Full information respecting these shall be forwarded in due course.

J.E. March

Immigration Officer, 10th Sept. 1874

Under Secretary, Immigration

Re: "Carisbrooke Castle" is surgeon entitled to head money on the seven full paying passengers. I think he should be as the family were berthed with & treated as immigrants.

J. E. March

Hon. Minister of Immigration, Wellington

Recommend that twenty tanks ex "Carisbrooke Castle", & fittings be landed at Quail Island, when these will useful. Then the ? to be brought on shore, port at Lyttelton, if possible also surplus stores except such as will be useful in ? tea, sugar etc. be put by auction in Christchurch.

Immigration Officer

We have nothing to do with full paying passengers and cannot pay the surgeon for them.

Port Lyttelton

September 19th 1874

To J. E. March Esq.

Chief Immigration Officer


I take liberty of writing to you concerning my payment upon the paying passengers (equal to which came by the Carisbrooke Castle of which ship I am Surgeon Superintendent. I will only state facts.

When the ship was offered to me I was told that she would carry over 400 adults and that I was to be paid on each adult landed alive. When my passenger list was handed to me at Gravesend I found 406 emigrants to be the correct number embarked. I now shall quote from my passenger list. "We hereby certify that the under mentioned Emigrants 510 souls equal to 406 statute adults have finally sailed per ship Carisbrooke Castle for Canterbury N.Z."

This is signed by Captain Smith, Dispatching officer for Agent General and by others for this 406 adults are included three who paid their passage, in fact they are all called emigrants. This can be ascertained by any person who reckoned up the passengers list. I will quote from my letter of appointment. "You will also receive a ? of ten shillings a head on each Emigrant. This plainly shows what the intention of the London Officials is a service thing to induce Surgeons to leave home with the idea that they are to be paid on a certain number, and this to be informed here, that out of this amount a certain number cannot be counted. Why not let them know before leaving that although 406 sail yet only 399 are to be paid for.

Surgeon Superintendent

Wm. Overton

Ship Carisbrooke Castle


The Commissioner's report the arrival of this ship on the 2nd instant after a passage of 94 days from Gravesend.

Shortly after leaving measles broke out on board and the Surgeon is convinced that it was bought on board from the depot. The Commissioner's requested a full report from him.

During the passage there had been 5 births and 25 deaths, of these 8 were infants, 15 were children of 2 years and under, 1 a child aged 4 and 1 child aged 5 years.

This ship was specially chartered by the Agent general - the arrangements of the various compartments were excellent and the light and ventilations all that could be desired.

The provisions had been good, served out regularly and no complaints of any were made.

The distilling apparatus had worked very satisfactory.

The Immigrants spoke highly of the kindness they had received from the Captain, Surgeon Superintendent, and Officers of the Ship.

The Commissioner's recommend payment of full gratuities and the further employment of the Surgeon Superintendent should he deserve it.

As Charles Barrie’s Errol

Surgeon’s Report on Arrival in New Zealand - 1874

Life After Currie’s Castles





Carisbrooke Castle


1889 Sold to Charles Barrie


Official Number

Ship Builder

Sailing Rig


Barclay Curle


3 Masted Ship





W Pole






Castle Line Home Page
Home Page   Email the Site     The Group Register   Previous Page Next Page Castle Line Home Page