Monday, June 15, 2009

Mary (Pottinger) and George Bee

Taken from the Bee Family Reunion book 1986


Chapter Ten

Mary (Pottinger) and George Bee

"I'll see you in New Zealand!" shouted young George Bee to his brother Francis and his wife and family as they left the docks at Gravesend, London, bound for a long slow journey to a new life far from their homeland.

George, who was only fifteen years of age, was keen to be sailing with his brother, but was told that he had to stay behind in Nottingham and finish his carpentry apprenticeship.

George, true to his word, sailed from London with his wife and family on the sailing ship "Rangoon' on the 4th December 1863, bound for the 'Land of the Long White Cloud', twenty one years after Francis had departed.

The Rangoon had not gone far before it struck trouble, colliding with the barque 'Lord Maidstone' and had her bows staved in, besides other damage. She was eventually towed to Ramsgate for repairs and sailed again on January 13th 1864. After rounding the Cape of Good Hope very rough weather was encountered and after battling fierce storms for days the 'Rangoon' put into Syndey for repairs. Rough weather hampered the voyage once more and the journey was one of the longest yet for immigrant ships. On the 10th July 1864 the 'Rangoon' sighted the Three Kings Islands as she battled her way down the East Coast of New Zealand. The roughest weather was experienced off the East Cape when the 'Rangoon' was struck on the port beam by a freak wave which smashed life boats and washed everything moveable overboard.

Eventually Hawke's Bay was reached and the two brothers, George and Francis together with their families were reunited, after twenty two years.

The 'Rangoon' was the first sailing ship to sail direct from London to Napier.

George was born in Nottingham (England) in 1827 and married Mary Pottinger who was also born in Nottingham in 1830. They had eight children.

They settled in Havelock North. George, being a builder, was kept busy. Several houses that he built are still standing in Havelock North today. He also took a contract to build the Church of England (St. Luke’s Church) in Havelock North. Much of his fine craftsmanship can be seen in this magnificent building. He took an active part in the affairs of Havelock North, being a member of St. Luke’s vestry and the Mechanics Institute.

Both George and Mary are buried at the Havelock North cemetery. Many of their descendants still live in Havelock North and the surrounding district.

One day, as George was getting older he met the Anglican minister who said "I haven't seen you at church lately, Mr Bee". George replied "It takes me all my time to reach the pub these days Vicar", forgetting that the hotel was beyond the church and further to go!

George Bee

Greenmeadows (Hawke's Bay)

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