The cutter Rectus owned by Christopher Christmas BERRY last recorded in Auckland, New Zealand, 1842

I am seeking assistance with obtaining information on the cutter Rectus last recorded, as far as I can find, in The Australian (Sydney, NSW), Monday 11 July 1842, at Port of Auckland, 21 June 1842.

The Rectus, an eight metre long, 10 ton, one-masted cutter with a crew of 3 was registered in Melbourne (Port Phillip), Australia, in February 1839 as being owned and skippered by Christopher Christmas BERRY.

Anne Bromell in her book “Tracing Family History in New Zealand” states that “Christopher, Harriet and the three daughters of Harriet’s first marriage arrived in the Bay of Islands in 1839 on the ship the Rectus”. This, apart from the shipping intelligence from The Australian 11 July 1842, is the only record I have been able to find of its arrival and history in New Zealand waters. Please see further comment about these circumstances at .


Information I have obtained from available records in an endeavour to pinpoint date of arrival includes:
1. Roll of Pioneer Settlers who arrived in New Zealand prior to 1843 (provided by Bernice Blackmore and compiled by J J Craig and published in the New Zealand Herald on 10 and 11 October 1892. “LANDERS Mrs John BERRY 63 45 Rectus Bay of Islands 1839”.
2. Roll of Early Settlers & Descendents in the Auckland Province prior to the end of 1852 (Auckland Library: “Lander, Mrs. J., nee Rebecca Ann Berry, 1829 -1906 – Rectus, Kororareka . . . 1839”. Note: The Library appears to have verified this entry against that above in 1.
3. 8 May 1839; Port Phillip Gazette, Shipping Intelligence: “Cleared at the Customs…. The cutter Victoria, Berry, for Launceston, in ballast.”
4. 17 May 1839; Shipping Arrivals & Departures Tas Vol 2 1834-1842 Ian Hawkins Nicholson: “BERRY/BURY, C? Victoria (M) 17.5.1839″
5. 24 May 1839; Port Phillip Gazette, Shipping Intelligence: “…from Launceston, the cutter Victoria, Bury, with general cargo”. Note: Port Phillip Gazette, 12 September 1839 advertises “The Cutter Victoria” For Sale.
6. 25 January 1840; Port Phillip Gazette, Shipping Intelligence, Cleared at the Customs: “On Wednesday last, for the Western Port, the cutter Rectus, Berry, in ballast.”
7. 16 March 1840 “BERRY, Christopher Rectus (M & O 16.3.40.”
8. 16 March 1840; Shipping Arrivals & Departures Tas Vol 2 1834-1842 Ian Hawkins Nicholson: “Rectus, new cutter of Melbourne, 10t,3 men L, 16.3.1840”
9. 21 March 1840; The Hobart Town Courier and Van Diemen’s Land Gazette (Tas. : 1839-1840) Friday 27 March 1840, page 3, Shipping Intelligence. PORT OF LAUNCESTON. ARRIVALS. None. DEPARTURES. March 20—the bark Lord Goderich, 460 tons, Kay, for Port Phillip, Henty & Co., agents —forty-four passengers. 21—the cutter Rectus, Berry, for sealing ground, G. Fisher, agent, with sundries (This entry suggests that Christopher Christmas Berry’s arrival to take up permanent residence in New Zealand was dated after 21 March 1840. In fact “for sealing ground” could very well have been New Zealand.

Relating these shipping movements by Christopher BERRY (BURY) to other information we find some conflicts and possibly clues as to his and his extended family’s arrival in New Zealand.

A key date in all of this is that for the birth of Christopher David BERRY, the first child of the partnership of Christopher Christmas BERRY and Elisa FERGUSON/FELSTED, at Wahapu, 31 January 1841 suggesting an arrival late 1840/January 1841. Wahapu is approximately 4 kilometres south of Russell, known in those days as Kororareka. This could explain the difficulty in finding a record of arrival of the Rectus at Kororareka.

The cutter Rectus does not appear on the record until January 1840, with Christopher BERRY being engaged with Victoria prior to then. There is a window of opportunity then for the Rectus to have made a return trip to Kororareka between May 1839 and January 1840 – see 5. and 6. above. The only shipping intelligence I can find related for Kororareka is contained in the New Zealand Advertiser but as it was only published from June to December 1840 it is not a viable source.

Life of the Rectus in New Zealand:

The Southern Cross edition of Tuesday, 21 February 1854 carries an editorial criticising the unavailability of land in Auckland for the “numerous and increasing body of purchasers eager to buy and anxious to cultivate, – and when?”. In turn reference is made to “a pregnant example of the oppressive workings of the existing land system enforced against the natives” and cites a case tried the preceding week in the Resident Magistrate’s Court related to the purchase on 16 November 1850 by Ruinga of Waiheki, “a chief of great influence and note” of a small vessel at a stipulated price of £250. The £180 claimed had been commuted to £100 to bring the amount within the jurisdiction of the Court. This is the case full details of which and consequential high level controversy may be found at There is the possibility that the vessel referred to was the “Rectus”.

Study of the Shipping Intelligence of the time reveals that “Ruinga” was captaining a vessel called the Morning Star working between Auckland and Wangaroa, and another, the “Industry”, which had connections with Mahurangi. Of course this might not have been the “Ruinga” the subject of my investigation as his area of interest primarily was Waiheke and Thames.

I would be extremely grateful of assistance with my mission to more fully chronicle the life of Christopher Christmas BERRY in New Zealand, either by way of factual material or possible avenues and means of further research. Thank you.

Replies and comment most welcome

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