How do I research the New Zealand shipwreck my grandfather survived?
QWhen he was 12, my grandfather, Arthur Fryer, was a cabin boy aboard a ship that left London and later sank off the New Zealand coast in 1881. He was born in Aldgate in London on 25 June 1869.
I am interested in finding out the ship’s name and any other details. Arthur ran away to sea – we think he may have been living in a workhouse.
In New Zealand, he was taken in by a family of sheep farmers and spent many years with them before eventually returning to England. Irene Beryl Bispham (nee Fryer), by email
APeople who survived shipwrecks are often harder to trace than those who died. I would start by looking through New Zealand newspapers to see what you can find. Fortunately, they are available free online paperspast.natlib.govt.nz.
My quick search yielded only one wreck that fits the bill – the sailing barque
England’s Glory (Captain William Knight), which sailed from London and sank near Invercargill on 7 November 1881. Is this the area of New Zealand where Arthur stayed with a family? There’s an eyewitness account of
England’s Glory’s last voyage ( nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-Bre01Whit-t1body-d187.html) and there was an official inquiry into the wreck as well ( www. plimsoll.org/WrecksAndAccidents/wreckreports). All the inquiries into British shipwrecks that took place in 1881 are listed here, so you could look through them individually to see if any others took place off New Zealand.
The crew list describing everyone on board England’s Glory is available online www.mun.ca/mha/1881/onview.php?Record_ID=171383&pagev=1. Unfortunately, there was no Fryer listed on board. The only junior crewman recorded was William Trice, shown as ship’s apprentice, who joined the vessel in London at the last minute on 25 April 1881 (see page 4). However, boys who ran away to sea sometimes gave false names or were stowaways who worked their passage, and in these situations their names do not appear in official records. Arthur is also missing from a database of crewmen serving on British ships in 1881 at www.mun.ca/mha/1881/
crews1881.php, but this list is incomplete. Shipwreck survivors would attract the attention of the British Governor’s Office so you could look through the colonial office papers and correspondence for New Zealand at The National Archives (series CO 209/240). The National Library of New Zealand has a comprehensive list of family history resources, and you could also contact the archivists there for advice ( natlib.govt. nz/researchers/guides/family-history). Simon Wills