Visit of John Betts to Nagle Cove, 1844

Visit of John Betts to Nagles Cove Autumn, 1844.


My dearest Mary,

            On the 5th March I sent a letter from Mr. Brown’s to be put in the Auckland post office, containing most of my movements up to that day, but I forget if I mentioned our course for the few previous days; but if I did not I will just state that we left Mr. Bruce’s and made Coromandel Harbour next day, anchored in another bay the next night not far from a Mr. Houston’s, formerly a store keeper in old Mr. Campbell’s wharf, now a settler in N.Z. There was also a Mr. Henderson there who, between eleven and twelve, took me into his garden to show me his tobacco plants and pumpkins by light of the moon. It was a cold night and I did not think the wet ground, etc, very romantic. Mr. Houston did not appear to like much his life in N.Z. and this I find to be almost an universal feeling amongst the isolated settlers. We went from thence to the “Great Barrier Island” where the Abercrombies, at whose place we had dined the previous day, live*, and had given us an introduction to Captain Nagle, a Roman Catholic gentleman on that island. Captain N paid us every attention, and a good breakfast, and after putting a mule Mr. P. [Peter Abercrombie] had bought onboard the boat, we left:  In two hours we were driven back by a strong contrary gale, and dined and slept at Captain N.’s he gave us a capital dinner of boiled N.S.W. beef and roast ducks** the latter so fat you could scarcely find any lean upon them. The following morning we left at sunrise and made for Mercury Bay where Mr. P. wished to land himself and mule which by this time was much bruised from her kicking about. We anchored in the bay and went the next morning to Mr. Webster’s, and one of the early settlers, an American. We were…”  

Source- Alexander Turnbull Library Betts, John, fl 1844 MS-Papers-7092



Note: John Betts first acquired land near Bathhurst in NSW in 1828. In 1830 he married Mary Marsden, the  daughter of the Rev. Samuel Marsden.  

*Betts’ mention that the Abercrombies live at Nagles Cove is interesting.

** I wonder what species of ducks they were?