Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Emails from Anthony Flude

I've had two emails from Anthony Flude, author of Henderson's Mill, referring to this post, which concluded with:
"Lisa, take some advice from an 80yr old author. You need to verify your facts if you are going to make comments about another author's text,. You are at liberty, of course to put forward your own version ... Please be very careful with your comments in future unless you have POSITIVE PROOF of what you write.

"Lecture over, just watch things and you will have a very interesting publication."
I don't mind criticism, and the input of my peers with regard to local history. I pull information together on this blog from research, available materials, and yes, I do make assessments of others' work from time to time. But, given a fact, I check it against other sources. With local and family histories, I've found that to be a necessity.

One weakness I will say about Henderson's Mill (that is, the 1977 version. I hope that his updated version corrects this) is a lack of source noting. This makes it difficult to use the book as a reference. It is, however, one of the three main references for West Auckland general history (the others are Dick Scott's Fire on the Clay, and J. T. Diamond's Once the Wilderness.) Another is indexing, but not many histories at the time were as fully indexed as would today be expected for historical and genealogical research. I've indexed books myself, including the 2nd edition to Once the Wilderness and the Swanson history Rugged Determination, both done because I was frustrated due to the lack of indexing. It is a time-consuming and detailed process. There is, at least, a simplified but not all-encompassing index to Henderson's Mill.

I'll go through his points.

The John Bull and Thomas Henderson

"You mention that you can find no connection to the JOHN BULL owned by Henderson & Macfarlane.

The vessel was owned by Henderson & Macfarlane in 1854 and funds from a shipment of flour used to purchase land by Thomas Henderson.

The Mill upgrade funds were gained as the result of the sale of the ship and cargo of kauri timber on the Brigantine SPENCER 1849, published later in the NZ Herald at the time of his death."
My source for Flude's inclusion of the John Bull in the story was page 21 of his book, with no mention there of the Spencer. There he discusses Thomas Henderson and "Long" John McLeod, inspecting the area purchased by Henderson covered by the timber diocese in 1848, choosing the land to build the sawmill, gangs of carpenters making their way to the site, and
"a mill was built with the proceeds of a deal that successfully recouped one of the partners' few apparent errors of judgement. They had bought the 72-ton schooner "John Bull" for the Auckland-Sydney run, but were just a few years ahead of their time. There was not enough trade in the fledgling colony to pay the ship's way. John McFarlane sold the "John Bull" in Hobart, accepting flour as payment. The flour sold well in Auckland and the money was put into building the mill."
Perhaps Mr. Flude found additional information since publishing his book first time round that pointed to the John Bull as not being associated with finance for building the mill c.1848-1849, as his earlier chapter did imply. I checked Papers Past and the Australian newspapers online at the time I prepared my original post for reference to John Bull and Henderson, and said, truthfully, I couldn't find the association. That is not saying it didn't exist, only that I couldn't find it at that time. I'll look more closely now.

In Papers Past: In January 1848, the 71 ton schooner John Bull had a Mr. Clinch as master, and W. Coombes as agent. In April, Robinson was master, and D. Nathan was agent. (Some advertisements list her as a brigantine). Then nothing (but OCR isn't 100% reliable, the ship's reference may have been there in intervening years, but just not picked up) until June 1855, when Thomson is master, and Carnegie the agent.

In the Australian papers: I did find a reference, 10 June 1853, in the Argus, where the 71-ton brigantine John Bull was up for sale: "Family matters are the sole cause of the owners parting with her," and the buyers to to approach the owner on board or James Dowdall. December 1854, Ewart and Ginn in Australia owned her.

I won't look any further. Back at my original post I wanted to see, out of interest, if John Bull had any part to play in the story of the building of the sawmill at Henderson in 1848-1849, because of what was written in Henderson's Mill. I couldn't find anything, and said so. I'm glad Mr. Flude has confirmed that (by his email, he's confirmed I wasn't in error), and provided the additional information that the ship may have been part of the story in 1854. I say might, because I still haven't seen the evidence.

At the moment, I can't see anything for a sale of the Spencer in 1849 in the contemporary papers online. All we have to go by, I suppose, is what Mr. Flude says the obituary had included, but in writing about maritime ship ownership and disposals, I find it's best to have a contemporary source.

Lucy Dann, Lucy Dunn and Lucidan

Mr. Flude writes:
"The comments you made on the schooner owned by Thomas Henderson need to be qualified correctly so your readers can understand why the schooner has two names mentioned in the books, Henderson's Mill [2 editions] and Dick Scotts books also.

"If you refer to the documentation at the back of my book, Henderson's Mill, you will see that Thomas Henderson himself referred incorrectly to the schooners name as 'Lucy Dann' in his High Court statement to the land Claim Commissioners, which was then repeated in other Government papers, including his final settlement, whereas the correct name of the schooner was 'LUCIDAN' as we know for sure.

"So this was not an incorrect statement to make mention of both names, the reason explained in the text and the correct name used thereafter through the authors books.

"Your comments on the plight of the ship after it was beached in Thames is interesting also.....conjecture perhaps but a likely outcome if correct."
Some notes in the text of Henderson's Mill might have been helpful here in the first place (see my comment above), but -- on page 104 he reproduced a copy of the 21 December 1857 land claim document made out by Thomas Henderson. "We had a Schooner called the Lucy Dunn which the Natives had repeatedly asked to give them in exchange for land." It looks like "Dunn" to me, not "Dann". Thanks though, Mr. Flude. I had wondered how such a broad error could have crept into your work.

Nothing on Papers Past for either Lucy Dunn or Lucy Dann. You've opened up another mystery, though -- why would Thomas Henderson himself have recalled the ship's name incorrectly? We'll probably never know.

Oh, and I think the Thames beaching came after the incident on the North Shore, not before (no date was provided in Henderson's Mill, p. 17) especially as the term "stripped" was used -- but if Mr. Flude has more information on that, perhaps where he got the information from, that would be helpful.

With source notes to his research work, and perhaps with someone to help index his work more fully as well, Anthony Flude's books will be a useful research tool in time. At the moment, there's a bit of wading through to do in using them. I might quietly index my copies of his work some time, just to make them easier to use.

Update: 29 May 2009

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