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This wooden three-master of 744 tons, built in New Brunswick in 1849, was not of course a Byrne ship but the replacement for the Pallas, the vessel chartered by Henry Boast for his Yorkshire party and condemned as unseaworthy on the eve of sailing. This unsuspected setback threw a number of the poorer emigrants on Henry Boast's hands, since they had committed themselves by disposing of their homes etc. From April until July they waited in Hull until J. Rylands the shipowner supplied his new ship Haidee for the voyage to Natal. Boast was found liable by a magistrate's court for their maintenance and bravely faced this commitment from his own funds which, unfortunately, were soon exhausted. The vexation and worry caused his death in May from brain-fever before the Haidee sailed, but his wife Mary, a new widow with three little girls, bravely took over her husband's task and accompanied the party of 246 emigrants to Natal. Only eight or nine of the original party backed out. On 10 July 1850 the Haidee sailed, with a send-off from many Hull well-wishers. She arrived off the Bluff on 7 October 1850 after a pleasant voyage. The Haidee's end was a tragic but not unusual one for the ships of her day. On 19 April 1863 she was lost in mid-ocean.

This page is dedicated to the Haidee Settlers who came to Natal, South Africa in 1850 from the East and North Ridings of Yorkshire, England.

The largest body of men and women from Britain to come to Natal in the years 1849-51 left village and farm homesteads in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Many of them farmed on the wolds north-west of Hull, in Arthur Young's days little better than a rabbit warren but now cleared of furze and broken up into enclosed estates. Oats and barley were cultivated on the higher ground, but the greater part, its fertility restored by root crops, was devoted to sheep. In the neighbourhood of Driffield and Market Weighton, farms had a comfortable and prosperous look. Drainage had made it possible to grow turnips, and a light and serviceable wheel plough had been introduced. At Sledmere, Sir Tatton Sykes had enclosed his considerable estate, dividing it into large farms used mainly for sheep, Leicesters with later a Lincoln strain. Nevertheless, in the bad years at the close of the decade, there was much distress. The two-crop and fallow rotation still survived on the heavy clay soils. It was difficult to extend the area of land tilled, and discouraging even to make the attempt at a time when prices were falling. At Hull and Leeds, in January 1850, there was very little demand for wheat except at drastically cut prices. Farmers were obliged to sell stock to pay their rents whilst labourers could no longer afford a meat and flour diet for the family, and fell back on bran puddings for the children. Nor was there alternative employment easily procurable. The railway lines between Malton and Driffield, and between Market Weighton and Beverley, begun some years back, had not been completed and work on them was in 1849 abandoned. Coaches began to run again on the roads. In the villages there was less work for those with hand-looms, and less demand for the knitted stockings and woollen caps worked for the seamen. The country towns lived largely by the manufacture of agricultural requisites and corn mills, for which the demand showed a steep decline.

Such were the conditions in the East Riding when Henry Boast, conceived of his project of co-operative emigration to Natal. The son of a prosperous North Dalton farmer and a nephew of Mark Boast, the anti corn pamphleteer, he had been appointed by the Yorkshire agricultural society to carry out, with the secretary, a survey of the southern counties. The society was a most progressive body, with its own journal and a record of widespread improvements, stimulated by prizes. Boast himself had been something of a pioneer in the application of chemical manures, and when in 1843 he took a lease of Osgodby Hall, near Thirsk, he received pupils to study farm management. He was a warm advocate of the improved agricultural machinery which firms like that of William Crosskill of Beverley were now manufacturing. And as a Wesleyan local preacher, he had personal contacts which made him well-known outside the East Riding. The onset of hard times led to widespread discussion of emigration, and Boast heard of the various schemes, some of them under Methodist auspices, for the colonisation of Natal. Methley's book made a strong appeal. It was evenutally decided to form a committee to study the details of Byrne's agreement with the Colonial Office, and to frame a plan for a co-operative system of settlement. Boast's principal associates were William Lund of Sheriff Hutton, James Tutin of Brompton and Benjamin Lofthouse.

The committee assisting Henry Boast consisted of Samuel Cordukes, Robert Smith (1804-1881), Richard Brough, Joseph Smith, William Lund, and James Tutin. The latter two preceded the main party on the Herald in order to find suitable land. The emigrants deposited two thousand pounds with the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners and chartered a ship, the Pallas, from a Hull shipowner, Joseph Rylands. Arrangements for sailing were complete and passengers were converging on Hull when the official emigration-officer at the seaport condemned the Pallas as unseaworthy. Accommodation and food were need for the 240 stranded emigrants until Rylands could get a substitute ship, the Haidee, ready. A court case established the fact that Henry Boast, not Rylands, was responsible in law for these allowances and he used up most, if not all, of his own money in maintaining his fellow-emigrants until the second ship was ready. The intense anxiety caused brain-fever and he died at a friend's house in Hull before the Haidee sailed.

His wife, Mary Boast, daughter of Joseph Smith, took over the scheme and was joined by her father and another relative, Dr. Charles Bird Boast, sailed as the ship's doctor. The Haidee left Hull on 10 July 1850 and arrived at Port Natal on 7 October 1850. Jane and Amy Plummer (sisters) and their brother, George, were passengers on the Haidee and the first night that Jane and Amy Plummer spent on board the Haidee was 14 May 1850. From what is reputed to be Jane Plummer's Diary, we learn about the delay in Hull and the Settlers' arrival at Port Natal on 7 October 1850.

11 June 1850 - This day the members of the Wesleyan Society on our ship have been divided into classes and we are to meet at the vestry of Waltham Street Chapel to receive tickets. Mr. Prest, Mr. Jackson and Mr. Lewelyen were present. Mr. Prest gave an exhortation in which he exhorted us to cleave to God whether prosperity or adversity should be our portion and set an example worthy of imitation in the Country which we have adopted as our future home.

27 June 1850 - Mr. Stockhill, Mr. Lund, Mr. Foggitt, Brother, Miss E. Coulson, Sister Jane and I had a delightful sail across the Humber in a boat to a place called Paul. We walked about in the green fields an hour or two and then sailed back to Hull. In the afternoon we attended a Tea Meeting in the Sailor's Institute which was provided by the Mayor and others for the emigrants on board the Haidee. Several ladies and gentlemen were present who are not of our company. After the tea, speeches were delivered by several gentlemen, with, I. Henwood Esqr. in the chair. The Lieutenant said he hoped we should sail either on Saturday or Sunday.

10 July 1850 At half past 7 o'clock we weighed anchor and reached Grimsby Roads at half past ten, but the time of our final departure is still uncertain as we have left two young men at Hull considered to be beginning the Smallpox. One of them is G. Leckonby the man we had engaged to go with us, the other a stonemason of the name of Preston.

On the 13th July 1850 we read that the passengers awoke at 6 o'clock, most of us very sick. Some of us with great difficulty dressed ourselves and crawled on deck, where we found ourselves somewhat relieved. Most of the passengers were more or less affected with seasickness, although the sea was unusually calm. We have passed Margate, Ramsgate and Deal, and we have seen by the aid of a telescope, the Duke of Wellington's Seat and now distinctly see the beautiful White Cliffs of Dover.

Monday 7 October 1850 - Soon this morning we were told that land was visible. About 7 o'clock we looked through our windows and again beheld the green mountains. We were soon on deck and discovered what the Captain thought would be the Bluff which forms the one side of the Bay of Natal. This proved to be as expected for the lighthouse and flag staff on the top of which we soon saw waving in the breeze the colours which meant 'What ship is that and whither bound?' We answered 'The Haidee from Hull'. Others were then hoisted signifying they had sent to report us at D'Urban. We sailed delightfully until opposite the bay and then dropped anchor at half past ten o'clock am. The harbour master came on board bring with him a letter from Mr. Lund to Mr. Boast, Smith (Robert) and others. Messrs Tutin and Lund are in the neighbourhood and in good health. Two surfboats were sent from the port to land the passengers as the ship is much too large to cross the bar. They were filled with goods and passengers and proceeded to the landing place which is about three miles distant.

Tuesday 8 October 1850 - Left the ship Haidee at twelve o'clock after living on board five months and four days. We have made a good passage for the season. We have been twelve weeks and one day while others have been seventeen weeks and sailed from London. We had a rather tedious sail in the boats, the wind being against us - it rained nearly all the way which made it very unpleasant as we were rather crowded. We were about 70 passengers with a great deal of luggage and beds.

From the 'Kit Bird Collection' of Papers at the Pietermaritzburg Archives in Natal, we have the recollections of William Smith, son of Robert Smith (1804-1881) about the time spent in Durban. We stayed in Durban for a little more than a month and thus lost no time in getting to our allotments at York. My father, not knowing whether or not he would be able to procure a wagon in the Colony, brought out one of his best farm wagons. Thirteen of us travelled by that wagon to York. Twelve left but thirteen arrived at York, there having been a birth on the way, so you see we lost no time adding to the population of the Colony.

We started to work on our arrival by putting up huts and temporary houses for shelter. We also commenced to plough the land for the following season. Our first crops were chiefly mealies and forage.

All the immigrants brought out a little money with them and as cattle were cheap in those days, all those with few exceptions who took up allotments at York, succeeded fairly well. Of course, we had our reverses and loss, having to gain our experiences but I do not find that a single one of them was dissatisfied at coming out.

In a booklet on The Church of St John the Evangelist, York, Natal, 1877-1977 by Ethel Norma Paterson, we read that York Township was laid out on the farm Mieliehoogte which was bought for Mr. Boast by Mr. Lund. There were no roads, very little equipment, labour was scarce and so were oxen for ploughing. But those pioneers were brave and determined: they made bricks and built houses, and a branch road was made from the Pietermaritzburg - Mooi River road which then ran through Otto's Bluff through Mr. P.A.R. Otto's farm. They soon became fine farmers and the Yorkshire immigrants became the chief grain producers in Natal. Wagons loaded with grain, salted butter, hides, bacon and timber sawn in the local natural bush were driven to the market in Maritzburg for sale. Originally their houses and churches were sod or wattle-and-daub and thatched, but as they began building better houses using yellow-wood sawn in the Karkloof for the flooring, ceilings, doors and furniture, so they built better churches. St. John's Church of England, later known as Anglican, was opened in 1877.

From documents held at the Registrar of Deeds in Pietermaritzburg, we learn that Robert Smith (1804-1881) bought Lots 3,39 and 72 from William Lund and subsequently transferred these to William Palframan on 31 March 1853 who, in turn, transferred these lots to Samuel Cordukes on 22 April 1864. Samuel Cordukes transferred Lot 3 to the Church of England on 5 December 1876.

That the Haidee Settlers were committed to the task of making a success in their new home is borne out by the following compliment paid to them by John Moreland, on a visit to the settlers at York two years after their arrival "Your party was the only one that as a body could be looked upon as really useful emigrants. You have not only been accustomed throughout your lives to agricultural pursuits in England but have been engaged now nearly two years in following the same occupation in Natal."

  1. The British Settlement of Natal. A Study in Imperial Migration by Alan F. Hattersley, M.A. published by The Syndics of the Cambridge University Press, 1950. London Office: Bentley House N.W.1. American Branch: New York. Agents for Canada, India, and Pakistan: Macmillan. Printed in Great Britain at the University Press, Cambridge (Brooke Crutchley, University Printer) pp.152-154
  2. G.E. Fussell: Farming Systems in the N. and E. Ridings of Yorkshire, 1946, pp.22-3
  3. The New Colony of Port Natal republished by H. Walker, Leeds.
  4. British Settlers in Natal, 1824-1857, Vol. 2. A Biographical Register by Shelagh O'Byrne Spencer published in 1983 by University of Natal, P.O. Box 375, Pietermaritzburg. 3200. Natal, South Africa. ISBN 0 86980 266 6, p.xix
  5. Natal Settler-Agent. The Career of John Moreland agent for the Byrne emigration-scheme of 1849-51 by Dr. John Clark published by A.A. Balkema/Cape Town/1972 ISBN 0 86961 019 8, p.161
  6. Plummer, Jane: Diary, 1850. Typescript. (J.B. Geldart, Corquidale, Elandskop)
  7. Bird, Christopher (Kit): Pietermaritzburg, Natal Archives.
  8. Natal Settler Agent: the career of John Moreland, agent for the Byrne emigration scheme of 1849-1851 by Dr. John Clark published by A.A. Balkema/Cape Town, 1972 ISBN 0 86961 019 8, p. 259