Rifleman, six crew lost at sea in 1871

Rifleman

LETTER

It was with great interest that I read your articles of the 150-year commemorations at the Rangiwaho Marae of the return of Te Kooti and 300 followers to this district in 1868 from the Chatham Islands aboard the schooner Rifleman, after being exiled there.

The Rifleman was owned by my great, great-grandfather Captain Thomas MacClatchie.

MacClatchie was born at Irvine Ayshire in Scotland and went to sea as a lad in the East India trade.

He came to New Zealand as third officer of the ship Isabella Hercus in 1851, and was employed for many years in coastal trade.

The Rifleman was built in Aberdeen in 1860. She was a three-masted, 82-tonne schooner and her career in New Zealand waters began in August 1862 after being purchased by Canterbury merchants J.C. Aikman and Captain MacClatchie.

The Rifleman was operated out of the Port of Lyttelton and Captain MacClatchie commanded her.

She was in Taranaki in 1863 at the time of the massacre at the Sugar Loaves and afterwards carried dispatches for Sir George Grey to Wellington. At the time of Gate Pa Assault she was in Tauranga harbour discharging a cargo of commissariat stores from Auckland.

Captain MacClatchie settled in Lyttelton in the first wooden house built there and combined business as a stevedore. He married Mary, daughter of Mr A.J. Playsted, and had two sons and two daughters.

Captain John Christian took the Rifleman to the Chathams on a regular basis for MacClatchie. He was onshore when Te Kooti boarded the Rifleman in July 1868 and coerced the mate W.A. Payne to sail her and his people back to this district.

According to a five-page manuscript on the schooner known now for its association with Te Kooti, written by C.F. Amodeo (who also did this sketch, from one by Arthur Messenger), the Rifleman was lost off Cape Campbell, Marlborough in October 1871 with six crew onboard, captained by P. Toomey. A search three weeks later concluded that the Rifleman must have capsized. The official inquiry presumed she “foundered at sea” and made no mention of the missing crew — many of whom were married — or of the blow to the McClatchie business enterprise.

Mary Harris

It was with great interest that I read your articles of the 150-year commemorations at the Rangiwaho Marae of the return of Te Kooti and 300 followers to this district in 1868 from the Chatham Islands aboard the schooner Rifleman, after being exiled there.

The Rifleman was owned by my great, great-grandfather Captain Thomas MacClatchie.

MacClatchie was born at Irvine Ayshire in Scotland and went to sea as a lad in the East India trade.

He came to New Zealand as third officer of the ship Isabella Hercus in 1851, and was employed for many years in coastal trade.

The Rifleman was built in Aberdeen in 1860. She was a three-masted, 82-tonne schooner and her career in New Zealand waters began in August 1862 after being purchased by Canterbury merchants J.C. Aikman and Captain MacClatchie.

The Rifleman was operated out of the Port of Lyttelton and Captain MacClatchie commanded her.

She was in Taranaki in 1863 at the time of the massacre at the Sugar Loaves and afterwards carried dispatches for Sir George Grey to Wellington. At the time of Gate Pa Assault she was in Tauranga harbour discharging a cargo of commissariat stores from Auckland.

Captain MacClatchie settled in Lyttelton in the first wooden house built there and combined business as a stevedore. He married Mary, daughter of Mr A.J. Playsted, and had two sons and two daughters.

Captain John Christian took the Rifleman to the Chathams on a regular basis for MacClatchie. He was onshore when Te Kooti boarded the Rifleman in July 1868 and coerced the mate W.A. Payne to sail her and his people back to this district.

According to a five-page manuscript on the schooner known now for its association with Te Kooti, written by C.F. Amodeo (who also did this sketch, from one by Arthur Messenger), the Rifleman was lost off Cape Campbell, Marlborough in October 1871 with six crew onboard, captained by P. Toomey. A search three weeks later concluded that the Rifleman must have capsized. The official inquiry presumed she “foundered at sea” and made no mention of the missing crew — many of whom were married — or of the blow to the McClatchie business enterprise.

Mary Harris

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