Empress

A beautiful ship of 1313 tons, an American barque owned by Houlder Bros.

Her first sailing to New Zealand was from Woolwich on Nov 3 1863, arriving Auckland Feb 20 1864 under Captain Ellis.

She sailed up Rangitoto channel with a fresh NE wind on a dark night and came to anchor off the Queen St wharf without a pilot.

She bought on this occasion, 305 non-commissioned officers and men of the Fourth Battalion Military Train for active service in the colony. The Empress also landed 105 tons of powder and 500 tons of military stores. The passage occupied 109 days.

On her second sailing, the Empress quit Gravesend on the Feb 3 1865 in command of Captain Ellis, and arrived Auckland May 14 1865 with 270 passengers and a large cargo of general merchandise. She was 98 days on her passage, having made the run from land to land in 83 days. She crossed the equator on the March 3, in 23' West and was becalmed 12 days in from 15' to 20' South. On the April 2 she passed the meridan of the Cape in 46' 28 South and Desolation Island on the April 11. At this time the vessel encountered strong gales and heavy confused seas which caused the ship to roll and labour for some days. When in longitude 163', the vessel experienced heavy northerly gales and was compelled to resort to the southern route. The vessel made the Snares on May 1st. She experienced variable winds off the coast and was becalmed 2 days off the East Cape, after which she encountered a heavy north-westerly gale and arrived in Auckland 10.30pm. All well on board apart from 3 deaths of children under twelve months of age. Letters of appreciation were given to Captain Ellis and Chief Officer Drew from the passengers, congratulating them on their nautical abilities and courtesies rendered.

Basil Lubbock also mentions that in his research he found she had also been used as a sheep carrier bringing sheep to New Zealand from Australia with the "Sunda".

Her third voyage to Auckland was under Captain Cooper when she sailed on 3rd Dec 1867 and arrived 11th March 1868.

(Empress of the Seas was 1243 tons and built by Hilyard ship builders, New Brunswick, USA in 1865).

Notes supplied by Mr Dean Stanway.

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