Monday, 17 February 2014

Camp Bay Cemetery Records, Banks Peninsula

For those of you who don't know, Camp Bay is near Purau Bay in Lyttelton Harbour and was used as a quarantine camp for ships for many years starting from about mid 1863.  I have currently been hunting for the cemetery records.  My first port of call was the Christchurch City Libraries, but they don't have them.  They put me onto the Christchurch City Council but they didn't have them.  CCC put me on to the Department of Conservation as they run the reserve which contains the cemetery at Camp Bay but they don't seem to have them.  I then finally found a record of a microfisch held by the NZ Society of Genealogists but apparently they have never transcribed a list of burials so not sure what is on the microfisch?  Since reading Mary Staplyton-Smith's amazing book on Camp Bay, "The Other End of the Harbour," the mystery has been solved for me.  In this book she states that she too tried to find records but none could be found.  She made her own small list of people but it was far from the 73 to 74 burials that a local man could remember being in the cemetery.  How this man knew this fact is unknown.

Ashdogg who has been helping me with this list stated "I also found a bit about Camp Bay in a book called; “Cradle of Canterbury” by Gordon Ogilvie (1990 2nd edition) – it gave a estimate of roughly 60 people being buried at Camp Bay Cemetery with 8 in quarantine from the Barque Punjaub. But as I say, reading it, it sounds like the author is not sure of the complete number. So in my calculation 11 were buried there rather than the 8 he suggests."

Apparently the burials in Camp Bay Cemetery took place between 1863 and 1877 according to Mary, but I have found one from the ship Malborough in December 1878.  There is apparently more information about the Cemetery in a Press article from about 27 February 1963, about 100 years after it opened, including a photo of one of the gravestones.  I haven't seen this article as yet.

Some onboard deaths may have been recorded in the ship's logs if the person died a day or two off the coast and  if close enough to Lyttelton were possibly buried at Camp Bay.  The following information from Ashdogg, who has been helping me on this page, confirms this:

“For obvious reasons, in most cases the deceased passenger was buried at sea unless the ship had, some type of refrigeration which was not frequent on passenger type ships.  If the ship was expected at a port within a very short time, within a day or two, of the event they might wrap the body and wait until they docked so it may be worth checking for a burial in the port.  An old sailor's last request may be to have a burial at sea, in the land of the Mermaids!” For the source click here.

These types of burials will never be able to be traced at Camp Bay Cemetery though as no records exist.  So they can only be guessed at!

Anyway, I have started my own list of people who were definitely and possibly buried at this cemetery, from other records I have found in Archives New Zealand and Paperspast, for example.  Mary Stapleton-Smith never would have had access to these records while writing her book and instead would have spent many hours looking through old newspapers. She was researching before the Internet! And did an amazing job!

If anyone else has found a document recording a definite or possible burial at Camp Bay and wishes to add their ancestors to the list, please let me know.  Hopefully, with some help we can build up a reasonable list.  Please note this is a work in progress. If the source of the information is online, I have linked the name to the source, so you can hover over the name and click on it to get further information.

Definite Confirmed Burials at Camp Bay

Hathaway - a 2 month old infant, son of David and Milborough Hathaway.  Born on the ship Brother's Pride on 3 October 1863,  died 16 December 1863 at Camp Bay Quarantine station. Archives NZ Chch Office R22193437

Trigg - a six week old infant, son of Absalom and Hannah (Anna) Trigg.  Born on the ship Brother's Pride on 11 November 1863 (one of boy twins), died 23 December 1863 at Camp Bay Quarantine Station.  Archives NZ Chch Office R22193437

Possibly two others from the Brother's Pride - Names unknown but mentioned four died in quarantine in the newspapers many years later.  Statements given by former passengers of the ship.

Assistant Cook of the ship Marlborough died of consumption on 16 December 1878 and was buried at Camp Bay on 17 December 1878.

Man from the White Rose  died of dysentery while on Ripa Island and was bured at Camp Bay Cemetery on 26 July 1875.

Infant from the ship White Rose was born on Ripa Island and died on the island 36 hours after birth.  Was buried at Camp bay on 26 July 1875.

An amazing article from the Star dated 16 September 1933 provided by Ashdogg (see comment at bottom of blog) states that immigrants from the Punjaub that died in quarantine were buried at Camp Bay.  "Forty passengers were lost at sea with the fever and ten died at Ripa Island.  Their bodies were taken around in a small boat to Camp Bay, the cemetery being on a small jutting headland."

Catherine Prebensen (6 months) daughter of Anne at Ripa Island 25 September 1873 of Enteric Fever
Johannes or Johanna Petersen (5 1/2) died at Ripa Island on 26 September 1873 of Enteric Fever
Harriet Horton (28) of Warwickshire died at Ripa Island on 23 September 1873 or 1 November 1873 of Acute Bronchitis
Mary A. Cochrane (74) of Longford died at Ripa Island on 30 September 1873 of Enteric Fever
Rebecca Ferguson (43) of Derry died at Ripa Island on 25 September 1873 of Enteric Fever
Matilda Ferguson (17) of Derry died at Ripa Island on 26 September 1873 of Enteric Fever
Sarah Greig (22) of Bute died at Ripa Island on 23 September 1873 of Enteric Fever
Ellen Hayes (15) of Devon
Mathias P. Hansen (39) At Ripa Island on 23 September 1873 of Morbus Cordus
Eva Maria Christiansen (9 months) at Ripa Island on 2 November 1873 of Dentition

B. Rasmussen, who was the last to have died onboard the Punjaub.  The ships log reads something like “Sent? the body of B. Rasmussen to those to be buried to a place of appointed by the Emmigration Officer.”  This was likely Camp Bay.  Need to double check the Christchurch Library card files to confirm he wasn't buried in Lyttelton.

Possible burials at Camp Bay, but no proof:

Ann Austin died in about September 1863 possibly after arriving on the ship Captain Cook and was likely buried at Camp Bay but this is unproven and there is no documented evidence.  For more information on the terrible experiences of the passengers of the Captain Cook click here.

George Lewis, died on 3 September 1863 after arriving on the Captain Cook, of compression of the brain and disease of the bladder. He was probably still on the ship, anchored in the harbour when he died.

Child named Lucas, (either Henry aged 7, or Albert aged 2) died on 3 September 1863 after arriving on the Captain Cook, of long-continued diarrhoea.

Molley, an immigrant, died in quarantine today (25 March 1880 - quite a time after the supposed last burial in 1877)

Christchurch, October 17. William Hosking, laborer, employed at Ripa Island fortifications, died last night from injuries received tlirough a fall of earth on Thursday last."  Was he buried at Camp Bay?

Thomas Biggs, aged 28, immigrant from the Northampton who fell down a 30 ft cliff at Camp Bay and died of head injuries on.  Inquest was held at Lyttelton, so he is likely buried there, instead of at Camp Bay.

Ernest Napier aged 2, son of William Napier of Devon, arrived on the Northampton and died on 30 June 1874 at Ripa Island.

Lily Payne, aged 5 years old, who arrived by the Westland, died at Ripa Island of measles on 24 February 1880.  (she died after 1877 though, the supposed final date for burials at Camp Bay)

James Berry aged ?? of the Northampton who died on 13 June 1874 at Ripa Island of diarrheoa.

Ernest Gartery died age 4 of the Cardigan Castle on about 7 January 1877 in the harbour after arrival.

Eliza Webster aged 19 of the Cardigan Castle died at Ripa Island on 10 January 1877.  Note what happened on Ripa Island when someone died:
The Star Thursday January 11 1877
Yesterday morning the flag at the Quarantine Station, Ripa Island, was hoisted, denoting that a death had taken place. Dr Donald and Mr March visited the stations in the morning, and the report shows that one of the single girls named Eliza Webster, aged 19 years, had succumbed to pneumonia and low fever.  Her illness commenced with diphtheria. She had been very low, and never rallied after Tuesday morning.

Trumper headstones - I was contacted by a lady named Fay who told me there is a family legend that James and Samuel Trumper (aged four months and three years respectively) who died on the Huntress in 1864 were buried at Camp Bay and that two headstones existed there.  They were sighted in 1980 by a relation and were "like large river shingle stones with the name carved into them."  One Trumper boy died a month before reaching New Zealand and would have most definitely been buried at sea.  The other died two weeks before reaching New Zealand, in the Southern Ocean and again was most likely buried at sea.  The only thought I have on this, is that the parents of these children carved and erected headstones in their sons memories whilst in quarantine.  This could have been possible as there was no minister overseeing the place (hence why there are no burial records or records of services conducted for the people who had died).  This adds a whole new dimension to the cemetery.  Were half the headstones memorials, not actual burial places?  I guess we will never know. 

Remaining people from Mary Staplyton-Smith's list from her book "The Other End of the Harbour."  She had a list of 20 people, the others are now either proven or above with more details.

James Jansen

Alice Pretty Atkins

Amy Fergusson, aged 24, dead of Enteric fever. (found by Mary from Births, Deaths and marriages in Chch).  The only person of this name that can be found is in 1873, but I haven't ordered the death certificate for financial reasons.  It may have more information stating where she died and was buried.

Barnes brothers (from a gravestone inscription that was remembered)
Miss Tullock (from relatives who say she is buried at Camp Bay)

Kt. Pen. S. 1873 = the inscription on a stone found by Mary and her family.  Who this stone actually belonged to is unknown.


  1. This is a really important list Bel. Great work!
    Australian newspapers may also be a source for names.
    I used "camp bay" and "new zealand" as search terms and there were 83 hits, some giving graphic accounts of the suffering at Camp Bay.

    1. Thanks Jenny, this is a great help to me. I never thought of looking on Trove. I didn't think that the Australian newspapers would have anything about Camp Bay, so this is great. I'll add to this post as I find things in Trove. Thanks again. Bel.

  2. Hi Bel,
    I am related to Catherine Prebensen and have been recently doing research on my family tree. Catherine and her family came out to New Zealand on the "Barque Punjaub" (also known as just the "Punjaub") in 1873. According to an article I found on the website Paperspast, the Danish people spent time in quaratine at Camp Bay (I am not sure if they were transferred from Ripa Island or straight from the "Punjaub" itself).

    I have known for awhile that Catherine Prebensen is definitely buried at the Campbay Cemetery. I went to my local library last week and used their online burial locator database. I found it referred to Catherine's burial location as "Lyttelton" so I take it it is referring to "Lyttelton Habour" rather than the township.

    Catherine's Mother Anne Prebensen and sister Ane Marie Prebensen (also known as Marie/Maria Prebensen) died within 2 days of reaching New Zealand. The burial locator also had them as buried in "Lyttelton" and I double checked with the Christchurch Council Cemetery Database and there is no record of them in Lyttelton's cemeteries. So I am confident (without being able to see a cemetery record of Camp Bay Cemetery) that the mother Anne Prebensen and her daughters; Ane marie Prebensen and Catherine Prebensen were all buried at Campbay Cemetery.

    I have also sent away to D.I.A. for death certificates.

    According to a Christchurch Star newspaper article published on the 16th September, 1933 edition, all those who died in quaratine from being aboard the "Punjaub" were all buried at Campbay.

    1. Thanks Ashdogg, that is great information! Please let me know what is written on the death certificates. Sometimes they had cemeteries listed, but often not. Cross fingers that the cemetery is mentioned on them. I will add your other ancestors onto my list and if you do manage to confirm conclusively where they were buried I will add that next to their names - i.e. (confirmed by death certificate).

    2. Oh and if you can find the article from the Star 1933, I would be interested to see it. This may be all the proof we need to confirm the burials once and for all!

    3. Not a problem Bel, I have E-mailed the newspaper article on to you.

    4. Update on this:

      Anne Prebensen and daughter Ane Marie Prebensen who died just before the Punjaub arrived in Lyttelton:

      (previous notes from Ashdogg, "Ane Marie Prebensen actually died at 11pm on the 17th September, 1873 – but her death on the Punjaub was recorded as the next day, being on the 18th September, 1873. The death of Ane’s mother Anne Prebensen was recorded on the 19th September, 1873. The Punjaub arrived into Lyttelton Harbour the next day, on the 20th September, 1873 where it flew a yellow jack flag letting it known deadly disease was onboard and anchored itself. It sounds to me, reading that newspaper article, that a health officer didn’t come until the morning of the following day (21st September, 1873), so I’d say that those aboard the Punjaub were put into quarantine later that day.")

      From documents received from Ashdogg we now know that Ane Marie Prebensen and her Mother Ane Prebensen were definitely buried at sea. The record from Canterbury Museum states “Committed the body of A. Prebensen to the deep.” – so they can both be deleted as possibilities for Camp Bay Cemetery .

  3. Hi there it seems like the Camp Bay settlement was established on the arrival of the "Captain Cook" in Sep 1863 with a number of passengers who showed symptoms of fever (thought to possibly have been Typhoid). Two relatives of mine died on the ship a few days off the coast of New Zealand. There is a bit on Papers Past about the Capt. Cook and its connection with Camp Bay

    1. Thanks very much daffyscrapper. There are vast documents in Archives NZ about the establishment of this first quarantine ground. I think it was first suggested at the beginning of 1863 from memory by some officials. So Captain Cook arrived about the time when it was ready for sickly ships. I'll have a look further into the Captain Cook. There were some deaths from that ship but no definite proof they are buried in the cemetery. If you have any documents on the Captain Cook that can help me, I'd love to see them. Thanks!