William John Roydhouse 1868-1873

On the 27th June 1868 William, Mary and the five children boarded “Asterope” in London to New Zealand where William had been awarded a contract to set up the lines for telegraphs in the North Island .

WJR: Mr. Henley recommended me, and with my wife and family I arrived in New Zealand in the good ship ” Asterope”, Captain Stewart, in 1868.

The Wellington Independent October 8th 1868 recorded:

The good ship “Asterope “arrived in Wellington on Tuesday afternoon, after a quick passage of 97 days. She left Gravesend on the 27th June, passed the Lizard on July 1st, experienced light northerly winds to the Equator; crossed the line on July 31st, in 210 49′ W; passed the meridian of the Cape of Good Hope on September 1st; passed Tasmania on September 30th; sighted the Snares on the 3rd inst., and made Wellington Heads at 5 pm on the 6th. She brings 117 passengers, all in good health. There were three births on the passage.

The Asterope was a wooden sailing ship of 600 tons built in 1859 in Aberdeen. She was said to sail remarkably well under her Captain Adam Stuart. Her voyages always left London in the summer months, arriving at her various destinations by September or early October.She made 12 voyages to New Zealand, with Wellington her most frequent destination.

WJR: I was first in the Wellington office and next went to the Wairarapa for experience in the country. I was then directed to build a line from Napier to Auckland. Te Kooti was in rebellion at that time, and my party was armed with rifles. I was six months on that work, and was many times warned to go away, but I held on till it was reported that Te Kooti was coming my way with 400 warriors. My party only numbered 24, and they all left. I then left and went to Napier and then to the Wairarapa………….Possibly I should have stayed on by myself and taken the risk, but without defence, in a strange country, and with my family to consider, I did not think it wise to do so. Through leaving the work, quite justifiably I think, I lost my appointment….

Te Kooti was born about 1832 in the Gisborne region of the North Island of New Zealand.
He had a very troubled childhood, and was sent to a Mission School, but ended leaving and worked as a sailor. His work supplying guns against the white settlers in early Wars caused him to be exiled to the Chatham Islands in 1865, where he became a prophet of sorts to other Maori people. He led an escape with 168 other prisoners.

The New Zealand Wars had been a series of conflicts starting in 1844 through to 1872. Te Kooti gathered his followers and the group attacked a township near Gisborne on the 10th of November 1868, close to his birthplace. In a midnight raid 54 men, women and children were brutally slain.

The Wilson family-only their young son Edwin survived.

(N.B. Content covered over very graphic )

Makaraka Cemetery is located 2km from Gisborne and is now maintained as an historical site. The memorial records the names and ages of 33 European victims of the massacre, 28 of whom are buried nearby. More than 40 peaceful Maori people were also killed in this first attack.

Reginald Newton Biggs, 38; Emily 19; George  1
James Padbury 32
Jane Farrell  26
James Walsh 33;Emma  26;Nora  1
John McCullock 28;Jane  25; Emily  2
Mary McDonald  7
John Cadle  28
Richard Rathbone
Finlay Ferguson 26
William Wylie 14
Benjamin Mackay 14

James Wilson 32;Alice 30;Alice 6;Edwin 4;Jessie    1½
John Mann 29; Emma  23;Infant 1
Robert Newnham 60;Jane  45
John Moran 60
Maria Goldsmith 25;Albert  4
George Neville Dodd 40
Richard Peppard 25


Colonial and other Maori forces eventually caught and executed 130 followers, however Te Kooti continued on the war-path for a total of 4 years, gaining more followers as he moved around the North Island, involved in many skirmishes, and with many lives lost on both sides. Te Kooti had many narrow escapes, but he managed to stay ahead of his pursuers until mid August 1871 when the Colonial forces unexpectedly came upon his camp, which was taken after a brief skirmish. He escaped and went into sanctuary of the Maori King,Tawhiao. He continued to threaten war on settlers and sympathetic Maoris but eventually had to abandon his struggle. He died in 1892.

Author: gorcat28

writing up my ancestors one week at a time

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