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Historical Records of New Zealand

The Deposition of Henry Gordon

The Deposition of Henry Gordon.

I, Henry Gordon, state that I was introduced to Captain Riggs of the then American brig General Gates by Philip Maclan, steward of the Greyhound, both vessels then lying in Sidney page 529 Cove, about the latter end of June, 1819, to engage myself as his steward. He did not engage me then, but he, Captain Riggs, desired me to meet him in the market place of Sidney on the following morning. I went there, according to his request, with the steward of the Greyhound, and Captain Riggs sent his steward with me and the steward of the Greyhound. We went off to the brig General Gates in Captain Riggs’ boat. Captain Riggs came on board about half an hour after, and told me the Governor would not allow him to take away any European from the colony. He then said if I would engage to go with him. as steward he would give me five dollars p. month, and half a skin out of every hundred. I then engaged myself to go with him. He then said if I had determined to go he would stow me away on board the brig, and desired me to come on board on the following day. I told him I could not. He then asked me to come on the Sunday following to wait dinner, as he was going to have a party on board. I went on board on the Sunday morning, and remained there until about ten o’clock that night, and officiated as steward. I was frequently on board the brig after this, and met Captain Riggs on shore several times, when he told me he should be off to sea the first opportunity. This was prior to the Revd. Mr. Marsden having taken up the vessel to convey missionaries to the Bay of Islands (New Zealand). When he knew the missionaries were going he offered to defray my expences on shore, when I told him (Captain Riggs) I did not require it, as my board was paid for for three months. On Friday night I saw him (Captain Riggs) by appointment, at Mr. McQuieron’s, and went with him from there to Mr. Storeis, blacksmith [publican]. On my arrival at Mr. Storeis we went into the blacksmith’s shop, when he left me, and went into Mr. Storeis’ dwelling-house, and walked into a room on the right-hand side coming from the blacksmith’s shop, and desired me to follow him. I went into the room soon after, and there found Captain Riggs, Mr. Storeis, Nathl. Ewer, Fras. Ewer, Thomas Lewe, a blacksmith named Smith, and a man named McDaniel. Captain Riggs, then asked all of us if we were willing to ship with him that he would behave to us the same that he would to his own ship’s company. We then all agreed to go with him, and he told us to meet him again at Mr. Storeis’ house on the following night, when he would take us all away. He told me personally to meet him the same night (Saturday) at Mr. Quiern’s, where I met him, and we both went down to Mr. Storeis’. I remained outside while he went into Mr. Storeis’ dwelling - house, and walked up and down near the house for about half an hour, when I again saw Captain Riggs. He then asked me if I had seen any of the men that were going. I replied I had not. He told me to go down to the page 530 wharf, but not the same way as he did. Captn. Riggs overtook me before I got to the wharf, but had no conversation. On his arrival at the wharf he hailed the General Gates several times, for a boat to be sent on shore. His boat did not come, but the steward of the Greyhound being there, he told Capt. Riggs he would hail the Greyhound for a boat, and take me on board the General Gates with the steward of the Greyhound. The Captain did not go, but said he was going to see for the other men, and came on board about half an hour afterwards, and told the chief mate not to allow any of the passengers to come on deck after ten o’clock, and to have all the lights put out between decks. He then went on shore again, and returned about an hour afterwards, and told the chief mate to get some pork, bread, and water ready, and put into his boat, and desired me to go into the boat. He took me to Campbell’s Wharf, where we met Nathl. Ewer, Frans. Ewer, Thos. Lewe, McDaniel, and Smith. The oars were muffled, and he conveyed us to the North Shore, close to the heads of Sidney, where he landed us with the provisions, tinder-box, flints, &c., and told us not to be decoyed by any other boat, as he would shew a light in his boat when he came to take us off; and if he would not take us off in the harbour, he would lower his colours going past us, and return that night with his boat to take us off. We remained on the North Shore until the Tuesday following, when he came in his boat and shewed a light in a lanthorn. He afterwards called us by name, when we went down to the boat. He then came on shore, and told us the constables had been on board the ship with smoking-pans, but did not smoke the ship, and that they had all gone on shore, but that two Government vessels were to convoy him out of the harbour; that he would take us on board, and stow us where we could not be found. We then all went into his boat, and arrived on board about two o’clock that morning, when he took us between decks forwards, where we found the carpenter and second mate of the ship removing casks and cutting a hole in the bulkhead. When the hole was made, he desired us to go in, which we did, and the piece was again put in; where we remained until the Thursday following, when he came forward and told the carpenter, as an excuse (Mr. Marsden and several missionaries being on board), to take the steward out of irons, meaning me. I then came out, and he desired me to go down into the cabin and do my duty, which I did. When the others came out I do not know, but saw them on deck during the day doing duty in the ship, when she was past the Heads. I did not sign any articles of the agreement until the night previous to our sailing from the Bay of Islands, in consequence of the missionaries being on board.

Dated on board H.M.S.S. Dromedary, Bay of Islands, New Zealand, this 14 day of April, 1820.

Henry Gordon.