Perrin, Charles Thomas

Male 1838 -

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  • Name Perrin, Charles Thomas 
    Born 1838  Sydenham Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 

    • Charles Perrin was a Kent-born, London-based jeweller in 1874, when he decided to take his wife and seven children to a new life in New Zealand.
      At the time the New Zealand Government was looking for agricultural labourers to work the lands being opened up, and was providing assisted passage for such migrants. Perrin duly described himself as a “farm labourer from Kent” and the New Zealand Government cheerfully paid £94 5s for the Perrin family’s passage.
      The Perrins were booked to come to New Zealand on the Cospatrick and their luggage and furniture were stowed on the ship, along with their piano. But a bereavement meant the family were delayed by one week, and missed sailing on the Cospatrick. The Cospatrick was burnt at sea off South America, with the loss of all but three of the 473 passengers on board.
      The family embarked on the Berar on October 15, 1874, no doubt glad to finally leave the Blackwall Depot behind them.The barracks-style accommodation of the depot was renowned as a hotbed of disease, and it seems likely that one disease from the depot was to play a dread part in the Berar’s journey,
      Charles Perrin opened his account of the journey on the first day as the ship left the London docks, recording that they had moved down river to Greenhithe, where most of the Perrin children had been born. The next few days were spent beating into bad weather, with Perrin’s cheerful disposition immediately obvious in his journal entries.
      “Beautiful weather. Much fun made by sea-sickness.”
      Once out into the open seas though Perrin’s gift for description really came into its own.
      “Thursday Oct. 21 - Turned out 4am. Found the crew reefing sail. Strong gale - ship shipping much water and laying much on her side, to the great alarm of the ladies and confusion of tins and pans - raps all shift off tables at breakfast - and rolling side to side all day. Large case shifted by the weather, and fresh lashed. Much sickness and fright and few left bunks.
      “Was knocked down by coil of hose from off the sheep pen and washed from mid-deck into the gutter and well-drenched with water. Narrow escape from going overboard. Truly those who go down to the sea in ships see the works of the Lord and His wonders in the deep. The ship rolls to and fro, and reels as a drunken man. The ladies must tell of the horrors of this day. “It certainly is awfully Grand. Every few minutes the ship one side or the other under water. “Once she lay for some minutes on her side with her bulwarks some feet under water and the water half up her deck. I thought she could not right herself as I saw her yardarm dip in the sea - and then and then only did I begin to quake, but thinking of my motto, I thought ‘My heart must not fail me. I know in Whom I have trusted.’
      “Scarce anything eaten by anyone all day. Bread spoiled again for the third time by the baker and the Cook not able to stand at his fire. Engineer thrown from his bunk and struck his head cutting it open. Shipped a tremendous sea as I was crawling along the bulwark and took a bath free of expense.
      8pm put up a sort of side sail to steady the ship and keep her from rolling so much.
      “Child with scarlet fever better. Pigs sick. Turned into bunk 9pm.”
      The reference to the child with scarlet fever was to return to haunt Perrin’s journal. Although the first child was to recover from the fever there was to be a steady run of funerals on the ship, and Perrin seemed to grow almost blasé about the deaths.
      The first deaths occurred on November 1 and Perrin recorded in some detail the process whereby the children were sewn into bags made by the sailmaker, then stones were added to the bags to ensure the bags sunk quickly. He records that the ship’s captain read a service and then the carpenter dropped the bodies through a porthole.
      Later in the month he recorded another day with two deaths.
      “Another child died this morning, about 4 months old. Not of fever but consumption. Another child died this afternoon of fever, about 3 years old. Both thrown over this evening, with singing, dancing and music going on.”
      On November 23 the first adult died of fever, a Mr White who was bound for a small farm near Feilding. His death affected the passengers more than that of the children, and Perrin records that the ship’s company was like one large family in mourning. There were some mourning for other deaths and others were nursing the sick.
      He said the men moving around the ship with long faces and downcast looks were thinking of petitioning the captain to return to their home port.
      Perrin’s native good spirits soon returned and he was even able to find amusement in rough sailing conditions. On November 29 he recorded that the ship was pitching and rolling in fine style, with the passengers falling and floundering as if they were drunk.
      Even the process of getting dinner was fraught with difficulty, as the passengers making their way to dine would find themselves, and their meals, being drenched with sea water as the deck, instead of being horizontal, was standing up perpendicular.
      The rough weather passed before the ship reached the Cape, and Perrin recorded his satisfaction with the trip and with their supplies. He says they mixed up the old beef from dinner with some crushed biscuits, then added an onion, baked it and found themselves a great breakfast.

      N.Z. Times, Feb. 9th 1917
      Yesterday Mr. and Mrs. C.T. Perrin of Riddiford St, Newtown, celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary with a gathering held in the Oddfellows' Hall, Lambton Quay. Mr Charles Thomas Perrin was born in Sydenham, Kent, and Mrs Perrin, whose maiden name was Bollen, was born in Weymouth, England. They were married on February 8th, 1857, at St. Giles Church, Camberwell, by the Rev. N.S. Edgell, and lived for some time in London. They left England with their family in October 1874, in the 'Berar' for New Zealand, arriving in Wellington on January 22nd, 1875. Their passages had been taken by the 'Cospatrick' but owing to an accident they were unable to come in her. During the voyage they actually saw the latter ship burning. She was completely destroyed, and Mr. and Mrs. Perrin's household goods which had been shipped by her were lost. There are six sons and three daughters of their family living, and their descendants numbered 31 grandchildren and four great grandchildren.A family tea was held last night at which there were present: Mr. C.W. Perrin of Masterton and his wife; Mr. Alfred Perrin and three sons; Mrs. Huffam (daughter) and four children; Mr. N.C. Perrin (Blenheim) and his wife and daughter; Mrs. Horace Chisholm (daughter) with her husband and two children; Mr. George Frew (son-in-law) and his daughter and two grandchildren.
      After tea had been partaken of the old people were presented with a purse of sovereigns from members of their family, and many felicitous speeches were made congratulating them on having attained such an auspicious occasion. The hope was expressed that they would celebrate many other wedding anniversaries.
      A large number of congratulatory telegrams were received from all over the country- Christchurch, Hastings, Auckland, Masterton, Blenheim, as well as Wellington.
      Later in the evening friends came to add their congratulations in person, and a very pleasant evening was spent with dancing and musical items. A feature of the occasion was the presentation to Mrs. Perrin of a bridal bouquet by her eldest grandchild, Royden Garnham.
      During the evening Miss M. Perrin gave a pianoforte solo. Songs were given by Mrs. Garnham, a violin solo by Mr. G. Frew, recitations by Miss May Huffam, the Rev. Mr. Archer and by Mr. Perrin Senior whose recital took twenty-five minutes, quite a wonderful feat of memory. Misses Usher and Cometti gave a duet.
    Person ID I17312  Hougham
    Last Modified 11 Mar 2005 

    Family Living 
     1. Living
    +2. Perrin, Charles William
              b. 20 Sep 1861, Greenhithe Find all individuals with events at this location
    +3. Living
     4. Living
    +5. Perrin, Sophia
              b. 23 Aug 1869
              d. Nov 1946  (Age 77 years)
     6. Living
     7. Living
     8. Living
     9. Living
    Family ID F6365  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

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