Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Captain John Grono - voyages and places - Ebenezer and Milford Sound

Mitre Peak, Milford Sound New Zealand - photo JM Stewart 1987

Reading about the Grono family reunion being held in the Ebenezer Church Grounds, Coromandel Road, NSW Australia on 3rd May 2015 got me thinking about the links of this family to New Zealand.

Back on 3  May 1799 - 216 years ago - Captain John Grono and Elizabeth Grono ( nee Bristow) arrived on Australian shores  at Port Jackson , Sydney  aboard the naval store ship HMS Buffalo. With the Grono parents were two of their daughters - Elizabeth and Jane ( born aboard ship at Cape Town ). They shared the journey with 68 cattle loaded aboard at Cape Town , South Africa on the way by Captain William Raven, Captain Grono crewed on this journey  as boatswain.

Coromandel Road at Ebenezer was named for the ship Coromandel which bought eight families of free immigrants to Port Jackson in June 1802 . These families -  Davison, Hall, Howes, Johnston, Johnstone, Meins, Stubbs and Turnbull settled together at Portland Head, Ebenezer. They were joined by seven other families –  Arndell ( of First Fleeter Dr. Thomas Arndell) ; Grono ( of Captain John Grono who came in 1799 with his wife Elizabeth aboard the ship Buffalo); Bushell, Cavanough, Jacklin, Suddis and Jones.
Circular Quay in Port Jackson, Sydney - photo CRB 2013

Both ships which bought those early Ebenezer Setters, carried  the same names as  two of the ships significant to early European History on the Coromandel Peninsula of New Zealand. HMS Coromandel in 1820 - for which namesake the town of Coromandel takes its name; HMS Buffalo which was shipwrecked in 1840 at Whitianga. The early ships His Majesty's Coromandel and His Majesty's store ship Buffalo were not the same ships as came to Coromandel Peninsula.

However Captain John Grono and several family members did spend considerable time on seal fisheries of the Fiordland coasts, South Island, New Zealand.
Seals Halls Arm Doubtful Sounds - Photo JM Stewart early 1980's

Seal and Whale  Fisheries New Zealand

The early days of " hard graft"  in the Royal British navy for Welsh born Captain John Grono, fitted him for the Seal Fisheries  in the early 1800's. Out of Port of Sydney and up and down the coasts of  Fiordland, New Zealand - into the many Sounds on this coastline. Conditions in the open seas of this area were harsh, rugged terrain ,  the weather cold and wet, with snow in  Winter months.  Many were the shipwrecks and loss of lives.  It was nothing for the men to be away for anything up to eighteen months, sometimes even as long as three years. As in the instance of the ten  men of the brigantine sealer  Active left marooned on  Secretary Island  lying between Doubtful and Thompson Sounds.
Left with a  whaleboat, an adze, an axe, and  drawing knife the men's diet was reduced to seal meat, fern roots, fish and shellfish - these  eked out  dry provisions, salted meat and rum they were left with. The Active  gone to get supplies from Sydney  never returned, the whaleboat sprang a leak when the men attempted to leave Secretary Island . There they stayed until  arrival of Captain Grono in the sealing schooner Governor Bligh.

Halls Arm Doubtful Sound - Photo JM Stewart early 1980's

Two of the men from the Active - Alexander Books and Robert McKenzie  after rescue in 1813 later became son--in-laws of Captain Grono . Along with Captain Wiseman another son--in-law  all three  were involved with the sea and ships.
Captain Wiseman's marriage to Maria Grono in 1829 was short lived. Industry was shipwrecked in February 1831 at Codfish Island, Easy Harbour, Stewart Island  , with the loss of Captain Wiseman, ten men and six Maori woman . Only Chaseland, his wife and George Moss survived.
Stewart Island Fisheries Limited, Stewart Island ( Rakiura) Photo CRB 2012
In the early 1800s Grono was recorded as Master of the 18 ton  sloop Speedwell owned by Andrew Thompson; in 1805, the schooner Governor Bligh in 1807; Unity in 1809; Governor Bligh in 1811 ; Branch 
Towards the 1820's Grono added to his sealer's expertise that of ship builder.  Four of the ships that came out of  Grono's Hawkesbury shipyard are the brig  Elizabeth (84 tons), 1821; Industry (87 tons), 1826; the barque Bennelong -her name changed shortly after to  Australian (279 tons), 1829; and the schooner Governor Bourke (250 tons), 1833.  
Working the seal fisheries and whaling in the Southern Oceans and New Zealand Coasts led to exploration of the various bays, islands and Sounds. Often while the men were sealing, the Master would take the ship looking for more seals. Captain John Grono was attributed with naming the following during his travels:
Milford Haven - though to be named in 1812 by Captain John Grono, who was born near Milford Haven in Wales . The name was later changed in 1851 to Milford Sounds by John Lort Stokes Captain of the government Survey ship HMS Acheron.

Mitre Peak, Milford Track, Milford Sound - photo JM Stewart early 1980's

Thompson Sound - said to be named for the owner of the vessel Governor Bligh which Grono was Master of firstly in 1807. Governor Bligh being the vessel  from which Grono found the Active in 1813. Thompson managed Governor Bligh's farm which was next to Grono's - on the Hawkesbury River.
Elizabeth Island -   in Doubtful Sound, Named Captain John Grono(who had a sealing station in Doubtful  sound) after his  Wife Elizabeth Bristow. There is also a bay in Doubtful called Grono Bay named for the Captain who was said to have had a sealing station there. Also a mountain - Mt. Grono.
Crooked Arm, Doubtful Sound - Photo JM Stewart early 1980's
Track ,Crooked Arm, Doubtful Sound - Photo JM Stewart early 1980's

Hall Arm - in Doubtful Sound - said to be named for another of Grono's sons - in - law. George Smith Hall who married the second daughter of John and Elizabeth Grono - Frances.

Hall Arm, Doubtful Sound - Photo JM Stewart early 1980's

Halls Arm, Doubtful Sounds - Photo JM Stewart early 1980's
 Grono was attributed with also naming Caswell, Nancy, George and Bligh Sounds - also on the South West Coasts of  Fiordland, South Island.
Map courtesy McLintock, A.H. , A Descriptive Atlas of New Zealand, Wellington, New Zealand: R.E. Owen, Government Printer, 1960

Foveaux Strait - Until 1809 it is likely the Strait was known but it was not until Grono gave the designation Foveaux to a stretch of waterway that was before unnamed.
"SHIP NEWS. Yesterday arrived from the Southward the Governor Bligh colonial vessel, Mr. Grono, master, with upwards of 10,000 fur seal skins. The 31st of January she fell in with the brig Fox at sea, with about the same complement. The Fox had lost her anchors and cables, and was very short of water, which latter want Mr. Grono relieved as far as was in his power. In a new discovered Strait which cuts off the South Cape of New Zealand from the main land, fell in about the middle of   February with the Pegasus, Captain Bunker, who had been pretty successful ; and learned from  him, that he had spoke the Antipode schooner 9   or 10 weeks before, she being then very short of provisions and upon the return to the Seal-islands to take her gangs off. In the Strait above-mentioned, which is called Foveaux Strait, the Pegasus struck on a rock but received little damage ; and   he Governor Bligh met a like accident, tho' with no material injury. The above Strait Mr. Grono describes as being from about 36 to 40 miles in width, and a very dangerous navigation from the numerous rocks,shoals, and little islands, with what it is crowded." ( The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser  12 /03/1809 P 2)
From Stewart Island looking toward the Mainland ( South Island ) NZ across Foveaux Strait - Photo CRB 2012

The barque Australian was the largest vessel built by Grono.  At the time of her launching, on 21 March 1829,  it was recorded that she was the largest ship built in the colony of New South Wales, then and  that she was owned by Messrs. Cooper, Levy and Grono. Australian was intended for the whaling trade.
In 1836 Captain Rhodes entered an agreement with Australian's owners on a whaling expedition  to New Zealand and adjacent waters. The voyages of two years was recorded in a journal by Captain William Rhodes 1836 - 1838. The voyages pursuing  the whales were extensive :
 " first of all to Banks Peninsula on the east coast of New Zealand, and then to Tonga; thence to the Kermadecs and by way of the Three Kings to Lord Howe Island and back to northern New Zealand; from the Bay of Islands to New Caledonia, and, after sighting the Australian mainland, eastward again to Tonga; south from Tonga to the waters west of the Chatham Islands, and finally up the New Zealand coast, with a call for supplies near East Cape, and back to the northward before returning to Sydney.( Rhodes, W B)
There is a map of the voyage of the Australian in Rhodes Journal.
Whariwharangi Bay Abel Tasman Park top of South Island - near Cook Straits - Photo JM Stewart late 1970's
Captain John Grono died in 1847 and is buried in the Ebenezer Churchyard. His footsteps 216 years ago from arrival in Australia in 1799 took Grono to many places - some still not easily accessible today. A relevant part of the past both Australian and New Zealand history.

Links with Ebenezer, New South Wales, Australia  from NZ

The names -   Grono ,Mobbs and Arndell are familiar in my mother's family tree.

Maria Grono third daughter of Captain John Grono and Elizabeth Grono ( nee Bristow ) married William Mobbs son of William Mobbs and Ann Mobbs ( nee Grover ) ;Ann Tomlinson married brother of William Mobbs - Isaac Mobbs; Phoebe Tomlinson married youngest brother John Mobbs. William Mobbs snr. and Ann Mobbs started an orchard on 30 acres at Carlingford.

Esther Arndell married John Tunks in 1815 at Castlereagh, New South Wales, Australia. Esther died in 1828.

Port Jackson Entrance, Sydney, Australia - Grono would have retuned home here from voyages Photo CRB 2013 
Reference Source
  • Hall-Jones, Gerard, Ed., Handbook to the Fiordland National Park, Fiordland National Park Board, reprinted 1971
  • Hall-Jones, John. Doubtfull Harbour, Craig Printing Co. Ltd., Invercargill, 1984
  • Ingram Chas W.N. & Wheatley, P Owen, Shipwrecks New Zealand Disasters 1795 – 1936
  •  Dunedin Book Publishing Association 1936  - Active and Industry
  • McLintock, A.H. , A Descriptive Atlas of New Zealand, Wellington, New Zealand: R.E. Owen, Government Printer, 1960 .
  • McNab, Robert. 1909. Murihiku: A History of the South Island of New Zealand and the Islands Adjacent and Lying to the South, from 1642 to 1835. Wellington: Whitcombe and Tombs Limited. http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/name-101200.html accessed 02/05/2015
  • Rhodes, W.B. n.d. The Whaling Journal of Captain W. B. Rhodes Barque Australian of Sydney 1836-1838. Christchurch: Whitcombe and Tombs Limited.
          http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-RhoWhal.html accessed 02/05/2015
           Trove Newspapers
  •  The Pioneers, The Voice of the North, Thursday 10 March 1932, page 7
  • Captain John Grono,  Windsor and Richmond Gazette , Friday 26 April 1940, page
  • SHIP NEWS. The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser Sunday 12 March 1809 Page  2
  •  The Sydney Herald , Monday 18 April 1931 Page 4