The Canterbury Association was formed in 1848 in England by members of parliament, peers, and Anglican church leaders, to establish a colony in New Zealand. The settlement was to be called Canterbury, with its capital to be known as Christchurch. Organised emigration started in 1850 and the colony was established in the South Island, with the First Four Ships bringing out settlers steeped in the region's history. The Association was not a financial success for the founding members and the organisation was wound up in 1855.
Formation of the Association
The Association, founded in London on 27 March 1848, was incorporated by Royal Charter on 13 November 1849. The prime movers were Edward Gibbon Wakefield and John Robert Godley. Wakefield was heavily involved in the New Zealand Company, which by that time had already established four other colonies in New Zealand (Wellington, Nelson, Petre and Otago). Wakefield approached Godley to help him establish a colony sponsored by the Church of England. John Sumner (the Archbishop of Canterbury) served as the President of the Association's Committee of Management, and the Committee itself included several other bishops and clergy, as well as members of the peerage and Members of Parliament. At its first meeting the Association decided upon names. The settlement was to be called "Canterbury" (presumably after the Archbishop of Canterbury), the seat of the settlement "Christchurch" (after the Oxford college Christ Church, at which Godley had studied).
Establishment of the colony
The Association re-targeted its planned settlement from the Wairarapa to the Banks Peninsula hinterland, where it arranged to buy land from the New Zealand Company for 10 shillings per acre (4000 m2). The Association then sold the land to its colonists for £3 per acre, reserving the rest, the additional £2 10s, for use in "public objects such as emigration, roads, and Church and school endowments" (20 shillings = £1). The provision of funds for emigration allowed the Association to offer assisted passages to members of the working classes with desirable skills for the new colony. A poster advertising the assisted passages specifically mentions "Gardeners, Shep[herd]s, Farm Servants, Labourers and Country Mechanics". The religious nature of the colony shows in the same poster's requirement that the clergyman of their parish should vouch for applicants, and in the specific earmarking of some of the proceeds from land sales for church endowments.
Godley (with his family) went out to New Zealand in early 1850 to oversee the preparations for the settlement (surveying, roads, accommodation, etc.) already undertaken by a large team of men under the direction of Captain Joseph Thomas. These preparations were advanced, but incomplete when the first ships of settlers arrived on 16 December 1850 – Godley halted them shortly after his arrival in April due to the mounting debts of the Association. Lord Lyttelton, Sir John Simeon, 3rd Baronet, Edward Gibbon Wakefield, and Lord Richard Cavendish guaranteed £15,000 to the Association, which saved it from financial collapse.
In 1852, the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852, which amongst other things established provincial councils. The Constitution contained specific provisions for the Canterbury Association; the first being that the new General Assembly (New Zealand Parliament) could not amend the legislation establishing the Canterbury Association, the second being that the Canterbury Association could hand its powers to a newly established provincial government (the Canterbury Province).
As a result, affairs of the Canterbury Association were wound up in 1855 and outstanding settlement lands handed over to the Canterbury Province.
Charlotte Jane and Randolph arrived in Lyttelton Harbour on 16 December 1850, Sir George Seymour the following day, and Cressy on 27 December, having set sail from England in September 1850. The British press dubbed the settlers on these first four ships "Canterbury Pilgrims." A further 24 shiploads of Canterbury Association settlers, making a total of approximately 3,500, arrived over the next two-and-a-half years.
Sources vary about the exact number of emigrant ships that the Canterbury Association sent to New Zealand. Some ships stopped at intermediate ports, either for repairs or because they had passengers for those ports. Ports such as Nelson or Wellington were also Ports of Entry, so immigrants might be recorded as arriving at that port before trans-shipping to Lyttelton (known as Port Victoria) and Canterbury. Shipping intelligence reported in the local newspapers of the time reported the ship's arrival but did not usually identify the commissioning organisation, only the port of origin or intended destination, the ship's master or captain, tonnage, and the date of arrival or departure. Cargo might also be reported. This means the ships on a particular list may depend on the inclusion criteria. Overall, these 28 ships listed below appear to be emigrant ships of the Canterbury Association. (In order of arrival.)
|No.||Name||Arrival||Notes and references|
|1||Charlotte Jane||16 December 1850 am|||
|2||Randolph||16 December 1850 pm|||
|3||Sir George Seymour||17 December 1850|||
|4||Cressy||27 December 1850|||
|5||Castle Eden||17 February 1851|||
|6||Isabella Hercus' '||1 March 1851|||
|7||Travancore||31 March 1851|||
|8||Duke of Bronte||6 June 1851|||
|9||Steadfast||9 June 1851|||
|10||Labuan||14 August 1851|||
|11||Dominion||18 August 1851|||
|12||Bangalore||21 August 1851|||
|13||Duke of Portland||26 September 1851||first voyageOther sources might disagree on date of arrival.|
|14||Lady Nugent||18 September 1851|||
|15||Midlothian||8 October 1851|||
|16||Canterbury||21 October 1851|||
|17||Sir George Pollock||10 November 1851|||
|18||Cornwall||8 December 1851|||
|19||Fatima||27 December 1851|||
|20||Columbus||19 January 1852||via Nelson and WellingtonOther sources might disagree on date of arrival.|
|21||William Hyde||5 February 1852|||
|22||Stag||17 May 1852|||
|23||Samarang||31 July 1852|||
|24||Persia||21 September 1852||via Nelson and Wellington|
|25 (13)||Duke of Portland||21 October 1852||second voyageOther sources might disagree on date of arrival.|
|26||Minerva||2 February 1853|||
|27||Tasmania||16 March 1853|||
|28||Hampshire||6 May 1853|||
- Whitehouse, Olwen (1998–2020). "Canterbury Association Passenger Manifests". New Zealand Bound. freepages.rootsweb.com. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
Harrop, A. J. (1961). "The Companies and British Sovereignty, 1825–1850". In Dodwell, Henry Herbert; Rose, John Holland (eds.). The Cambridge History of the British Empire. Vol. 2. CUP Archive. p. 89. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
[...] Lord Grey consented to instruct the Governor to procure for the Association about a million acres, at or near the Wairarapa Plains if possible. Meanwhile the Governor had acquired the land between Nelson and Otago for £2000, and it was in part of this district that the Canterbury settlement was eventually formed.
- Hearn, Terry (25 March 2015). "Canterbury Association advertisement". Teara, the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Government of New Zealand. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
- Blain, Rev. Michael (2007). The Canterbury Association (1848–1852): A Study of Its Members' Connections (PDF). Christchurch: Project Canterbury. pp. 18–19. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
- Constitution Act 1852, Section 75.
- Constitution Act 1852, Section 76.
- "Canterbury Association's Ordinance 1855". New Zealand Legal Information Institute. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
- "The Canterbury Association Ships". Heritage 2000 – Canterbury 150th Anniversary. Christchurch City Council. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
- "Shipping news". Lyttelton Times. Vol. I, no. 38. 27 September 1851. p. 5. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
Arrived. ... September 26, ship Duke of Portland, 533 tons, Cubitt, from London 11th, and Portsmouth 18th June, with 13 Chief Cabin, 16 Intermediate, and 122 Steerage passengers. ... Imports ... In the Duke of Portland: 50 tons coals, 150 cases Geneva, 24 hhds beer, 5 brls oatmeal, 75 do. flour, 1 hhd refined sugar, 5 bags coffee, 24 barrels raisins, 5 barrels currants, 1 case tea, 1 bag coffee, 1 case currants, 2 qr casks brandy, 8 boxes soap, 1 case candles, 6 hhds 6 half do vinegar, order; and a number of cases of merchandise, &c.
- "Shipping news". Lyttelton Times. Vol. II, no. 55. 24 January 1852. p. 4.
Arrived. ... Jan. 19, barque Columbus, 468 tons, Holton, from London, via Nelson and Wellington. Passengers, Mr. and Mrs. Hornbrook and children, and 15 in the steerage. ...
- "Shipping news". Lyttelton Times. Vol. II, no. 90. 25 September 1852. p. 6. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
Arrived. September 21, ship Persia, 669 tons, Broadfoot, from London, via Nelson and Wellington. Passengers, Hon. J. Stuart Wortley, Major and Mrs. O'Connell and family, Messrs. V."b. Rhodes Hutchinson, J. King, Sanders, Walker and Flyger. ... Imports. In the Persia, —part of original cargo from London.
- "Shipping news". Lyttelton Times. Vol. II, no. 94. 23 October 1852. p. 6. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
October 21 ... Same day, ship Duke of Portland, 533 tons, Alexander, from London. Passengers, Mr. and Mrs. Croft, Captain and Mrs. Harvey, Rev. C. and Mrs. Mackie, Miss Ann Mackie, Miss Eliza Mackie, Mr. Charles N. Mackie, Master Mackie, Mr. and Mrs. Marsac, Miss Lister, Misses Hunter (2), Miss Stanton, Messrs. Whish, Fendall, Hooper, Quin, Abbott, and Stutfield. In the Second Cabin,—Mr. and Mrs. Swinbourne, Mr. and Mrs. Snelling, Mr. and Mrs. Fremlin and 2 children, Miss A. Roworth, Miss E. Smith, Miss Moss, Messrs. Bridger, E. Harman and Beechey, and 70 in the Steerage. ... Imports ... In the Duke of Portland,— 13 casks brandy, 70 hhds. 10 barrels beer, 25 boxes soap, 78 packages; 45 casks, 89 cases, 3 carts, and 3 pair wheels, and sundries, Order.
- "New Zealand Constitution Act 1852". Victoria University of Wellington – New Zealand Electronic Text Collection. 30 June 1852. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
- Terry Hearn. 'English', Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 11 July 2005.
- Philip Temple. 'A sort of conscience: the Wakefields' Auckland University Press (2002). ISBN 1-86940-276-6
- Hensley, Gerald. "Godley, John Robert 1814–1861". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 3 April 2011.