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 nothing of interest on the microfiche   

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 definite burial 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!

The other thing I've noticed is that early on in 1863 etc the deaths were often not registered, especially if the death was a young baby.  From about 1870 the registration of deaths seems to have gotten better.  They were not registered by the Captain of the ship either, if they died in port, so some of these deaths have never been recorded anywhere except for the newspapers or in an Archive NZ document written by the Health Officer of the port.  Sometimes I have found excellent scribblings next to passenger names in the original passenger list, stating where they died, e.g. in port, and when.

Anyway, I have started my own list of people who were definitely and possibly buried at this cemetery, from records I have found in Archives New Zealand and Paperspast.  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 and going to the University of Canterbury for help. 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.  Family legends also gratefully received as often these have some ounce of truth and can lead to further possible names.  Please also correct me if there are mistakes. 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.  The list is long winded as I wanted to prove or disprove each person on the list.  Other people can repeat the process if they wish!

Definite Confirmed Burials at Camp Bay

Ann Austin  of the ship Captain Cook, died in about September 1863 leaving her children motherless, two of them having to go into an orphanage. This was soon after arriving on the ship Captain Cook and according to her daughter's obituary she was buried at Camp Bay.  A burial can't be found elsewhere.  There is no documented evidence of her death or burial, suggesting a death in quarantine or just before arrival, being quite likely.  For more information on the terrible experiences of the passengers of the Captain Cook click here.

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.  Death never registered at BDM.

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.  Death never registered at BDM.

Possibly two others from the Brother's Pride - Names unknown but mentioned four died in quarantine in the newspapers many years later.  Their deaths may never have been registered at BDM going by the above two deaths on the same ship. Statements given by former passengers of the ship seem to confirm the extra death although they are never mentioned by the Health Officer in his report.

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."

I have since found another article stating that Sarah Greig and Mathias P. Hansen were most definitely buried at Camp Bay.  Click here.  And another article stating that Catherine Prebensen and Rebecca Ferguson were also buried at Camp Bay. Click here.  The unusual thing about this ship is that all deaths at sea for the Punjaub were for some reason registered to Lyttelton, New Zealand as well as in the death at sea records which is very confusing.

B. Rasmussen, who was the last to have died onboard the Punjaub aged six months old on 19 September 1873.  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.”   The strange thing with this death is that it was also registered as a death at sea.  However the log states the emigration officer found a place of burial on land, highly likely Camp Bay.  This baby was not registered at a Lyttelton Cemetery.
Sarah Greig (22) of Bute died at Ripa Island on 23 September 1873 of Enteric Fever
Mathias P. Hansen (39) At Ripa Island on 23 September 1873 of Morbus Cordus
Harriet Horton (28) of Warwickshire died at Ripa Island on 23 September 1873 or 1 November 1873 of Acute Bronchitis
Catherine Prebensen (6 months) daughter of Anne at Ripa Island 25 September 1873 of Enteric Fever. She was buried at Camp Bay the same day in the evening.
Rebecca Ferguson (43) of Derry died at Ripa Island on 25 September 1873 of Enteric Fever.  She was buried at Camp Bay the same day in the evening.
Matilda Ferguson (17) of Derry died at Ripa Island on 26 September 1873 of Enteric Fever
Johannes or Johanna Petersen (5 1/2) died at Ripa Island on 26 September 1873 of Enteric Fever
Mary A. Cochrane (74) of Longford died at Ripa Island on 30 September 1873 of Enteric Fever
Ellen Hayes (15) of Devon
Eva Maria Christiansen (9 months) at Ripa Island on 2 November 1873 of Dentition

Beatrice Marshall, a young girl, aged 2, from the ship Rakaia died on 10 February 1875 at Ripa Island and was buried the same day at Camp Bay according to the newspapers.

Man from the White Rose  died of dysentery while on Ripa Island and was bured at Camp Bay Cemetery on 26 July 1875. (have looked at the passenger list.  Is NOT passenger W. J. Corner, aged 19 who died at sea on 13 July, so is one of the other passengers.  No BDM registrations seem to match the ship's passenger list).

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.  No name mentioned.

Ernest Gartery died age 4 of the Cardigan Castle on about 7 January 1877 in the harbour after arrival. (see Eliza Webster below for proof he was likely buried at Camp Bay).

Eliza Webster aged 19 of the Cardigan Castle died at Ripa Island on 10 January 1877 of pneumonia and low fever.  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."  It was commented in a diary that  "She was taken away on a boat and buried on another Island"  (presumably Camp Bay was mistaken as an Island, as no burials took place at this stage on Quail Island.  Highly unlikely to have been taken to Lyttelton).  Because of this diary I am moving both Cardigan Castle deaths to definite burials at Camp Bay.

Assistant Cook of the ship Marlborough died of consumption on 16 December 1878 and was buried at Camp Bay on 17 December 1878, name not mentioned.

Possible burials at Camp Bay, but no proof:

Please note:  From research done above, it appears that most people who died at Ripa Island were buried at Camp Bay.  So many of the people below are most likely in that cemetery.  These people are NOT buried in other Lyttelton and Christchurch cemeteries as I have done manual searches at the Christchurch Public Libraries under multiple name spellings and have not found them.  This doesn't mean they are definitely in Camp Bay however.

George Lewis, aged 18, 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, (from the passenger list, I'm sure this is Albert Lucas aged 2) died on 3 September 1863 after arriving on the Captain Cook, of long-continued diarrhoea. (His brother William Henry Lucas, listed as Henry on the passenger list, survived quarantine and died a few years later in 1876 aged 19 and is buried in Barbadoes St Cemetery, Christchurch, with his parents).

Jason Berry (registered at BDM as Janson Berry) aged 33, was listed on the original Northampton passenger list as "died at Ripa 13/6/74."  (he was incorrectly named in the newspapers as James Berry who died on Diarrhoea on 13 June 1874).  He left behind a large family.  Goodness knows what happened to them all.  A very sad situation.

Ernest Napier aged 2, son of William Napier of Devon, arrived on the Northampton and died on 30 June 1874 at Ripa Island.  This is confirmed in the original passenger list.  Is very likely to be buried at Camp Bay.

Alice Pretty Aitkins her death was registered in Lyttelton Harbour in Oct-Nov-Dec 1874, Folio no. 1107.  I then found a James and Ellen Atkins on the Northampton which arrived in 1874.  In the original passenger list it says "Infant born at Ripa and died there."  There is also a "James Pretty" from the same county on this ship - an uncle perhaps?  I then found a marriage dated 6 November 1872 between a James Atkins and Ellen Pretty, in Buriton, Hampshire, England, the same county as listed on the passenger list.  This all ties together!

Elizabeth J. Harvey, aged 1 3/4, is listed on the passenger list for the Northampton as "died at Ripa July 1874."  Her death was never registered with BDM for some reason.

Thomas Biggs, aged 28, immigrant from the Northampton who fell down a 30 ft cliff at Camp Bay and died of head injuries on 9 August 1874.  Inquest was held at Lyttelton, so he is likely buried there, instead of at Camp Bay.  Not buried at Lyttelton.

John Wills (John Willis on the passenger list), a young boy aged 8, on board the City of Glasgow, drowned at Ripa Island in April 1874.  The inquest was held at the Canterbury Hotel, Lyttelton, so it is likely he is buried in Lyttelton, not Camp Bay.  Can't find BDM registration.  Not buried at Lyttelton.

John Kerr, aged 2, from the ship Jessie Osborne died of consumption on Ripa Island on 3 February 1876.  Is very likely to be buried at Camp Bay.  I figured out details from the passenger list and from the newspaper report.  Can't find BDM registration.

Hannah Langford, 18 months old, of the Opawa.  Died on 6 January 1879 of whooping cough and diarrhoea.  Her death was after the supposed last burial date at Camp Bay.  Registered at BDM under Hannah Longford.

John Warren an infant from the Northern Monarch died on 2 February 1879 on Ripa Island.  This is after the supposed last burial date at Camp Bay.  Can't find registration at BDM.

Kate Magrath, 7 years old from the Northern Monarch died on 3 February 1879 on Ripa Island.  This is after the supposed last burial date at Camp Bay. Can't find registration at BDM.

Infant Child of Mr Buchanan from the Northern Monarch died on 9 February 1879 on Ripa Island.  This is after the supposed last burial date at Camp Bay.  This is probably George Buchanan, infant, on the passenger list. A "George Brodie Buchanan" was registered in Christchurch at BDM in 1879.

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). Death not registered at BDM.

William Hosking, laborer, employed at Ripa Island fortifications, died last night 17 October 1886 from injuries received tlirough a fall of earth on Thursday last."  Was he buried at Camp Bay or was the cemetery closed by then and was he buried at Lyttelton?  Death registered in Christchurch with BDM.

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. 

K.B.A. 1873 - There is a newspaper article about a stone in Camp Bay that existed in 1934 with this inscription.  Who it belongs to is unknown but likely someone from the Punjaub.  Whether a memorial stone for someone who died at sea or someone who died at Ripa Island, the initials still don't match with anyone who died!

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.

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.  Maybe it is someone from the Punjaub, seeing so many people died that year, 1873, from that ship.  They may already be listed above, but the abbreviation doesn't seem to fit any of the Punjaub passengers.  Another option is that it is a memorial stone to someone who died at sea.  For a complete list of deaths on the Punjaub at sea and in quarantine check out the following list by clicking here.

People thought to be in Camp Bay but are not!

James Jansen was listed as a burial at Camp Bay in "The Other End of the Harbour."  I have since found a death record for a Jens Jenson in 1873.  He was a 9 month old passenger on the Punjaub that died at sea on about 3 July 1873 and was definitely buried at sea, but like his fellow passengers was registered for some reason at Lyttelton, adding confusion to the whole thing.  Another spelling variation of his name is Yens Jensen, causing further confusion.

Amy Fergusson, aged 24, dead of Enteric fever. (found by Mary Stapleton-Smith from the Births, Deaths and Marriages in Chch many years ago).  The only person of this name that can be found is in 1873, but I haven't ordered the death certificate for financial reasons. Her death was registered in Christchurch and after checking the Christchurch Burial records found she died aged 24 on 3 March 1873 and was buried in Addington Cemetery, Christchurch a day later.  So she is NOT a Camp Bay burial.

Further Accidents and Deaths At Camp Bay

Gunner John Hazleton fell down the cliff at Camp Bay while collecting mushrooms and died in 1902.


  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!