The ‘Cressy’ arrives in Lyttelton 27 December 1850

Stepping ashore at Lyttelton


Today I stood on the exact spot where, on this day 167 years ago, my great-great-great-grandmother Mrs Martha King and her four children, Hannah, Jane, Sarah and Charles, came ashore after disembarking from the barque ‘Cressy’ which arrived in Lyttelton after a 110 day journey from England.



The ‘Cressy’ was one of the first four ships to carry emigrants from England to the new colony of Canterbury in New Zealand. Departing Gravesend, England on 4th September 1850, she was the last to arrive, dropping anchor in Lyttelton Harbour just before noon on the 27 December 1850.

Lyttelton was also known as Port Victoria or Erskine Bay

The ship landed 155 emigrants; more than 90 children had embarked in her, but two who were brought aboard in a most ‘sickly state’ did not survive the journey. One child was born as the ship entered the Pacific.

Two circumstances may have contributed to preserve the general health on board the ‘Cressy.’ The ship was not becalmed in the tropics, and in the hottest part of the world the foul breeze which delayed her was too strong to allow any great heat to be felt on board.

Notable passengers
Harry Allwright (1836/1837 – 1892), Member of Parliament for the Lyttelton electorate 1879–1887
Arthur Dudley Dobson (1841–1934), pioneer surveyor and engineer, son of Edward Dobson
Edward Dobson (1816–1908), Provincial Engineer
Michael Hart (1814? – 1878), Mayor of Christchurch 1874–1875
Mary Townsend (1822–1869), artist

Cressy in Lyttelton

Share this page

1 Comment

  1. Les Johnston

    My great great great uncle James Johnston arrived in Wellington aboard “Rebecca” on 25th. December 1849 and arrived in Lyttelton on the 7th. January 1850 with his wife Janet and 8 children. James had been engaged by Captain Thomas of the Canterbury Land Company to build the barracks for the immigrants arriving in the first 4 ships.
    I believe the “Rebecca” is the same ship that took John Batman from Tasmania to Port Phillip in 1835 when he founded the village of Melbourne.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *