New Zealand

Morris Clayson Cory (1829-1860)

Morris Clayson Cory was born in 1829 at Fosters Alley, Deal. He was the sixth child out of 10 children born to Richard Cory (1784-1871) and Ann Langley. Morris was named after a brother who died the previous year at the age of 6 years old. Richard and Ann married at St Leonard, Deal, in 1820. Richard was a victualler and kept the Noahs Ark Inn, Ark Lane, Deal. The Inn had stables and sheds and was quite a large property. The rateable value was £6 for the house, £1.10s.0d for the stables and sheds and the land was £4.15s.0d. Perhaps the rates were too much for him to pay, for by 1828 he had moved his business to Peter Street, Deal. See more on Corys in Kent

Morris got his Merchant Seaman’s ticket in 1846. The ticket below gives an excellent description of his appearance. He became a boatman on Deal beach and  married Elizabeth Thompson in 1848. They had four children by 1854; the third son, Henry died the same year he was born, and was replaced the following year by another Henry. Work on the beach was scarce and Morris decided to go to New Zealand.

He emigrated to Canterbury, New Zealand on 6 Dec 1858 with his wife and four children in the ship Mystery. The Mystery was a fine powerful ship of 1069 tons, sent out by the White Star Co.,which made three successful voyages to New Zealand with passengers and general cargo. On the first occasion she sailed into Lyttelton Harbour on 20 March 1859, with the yellow flag flying. Captain Matthews reported having sailed from London on 29 December 1858.

A case of small pox was discovered in the family of James Horniblow (47) a carpenter, just as the ship was about to sail the family was landed at Gravesend. The two elder children were allowed to proceed and the parents were to follow on the next ship. Soon after clearing land smallpox and scarlet fever broke out, so that before reaching Lyttelton fifteen of the 300 immigrants on board had died and been buried at sea. The ship made a good run of 83 days, land to land, or 91 port to port. On arrival the ship was placed in quarantine. It must have been awful to be unable to get off the ship. The passenger list included, Morris Cory, (29) of Deal, Mariner, and Elizabeth (29) Morris (10) Catherine (8) Ann (8) Henry (4) and also from Deal, Henry Clayson (22) Mariner, and Elizabeth Ann (20) and William (6 weeks).

The next we hear of Morris is from the book The Last of our Luggers. Page 131 refers to the death by drowning in Oct 1861 of Cory who went out to New Zealand yet dated 13 October 1860, The Lyttleton Times reports the tragedy as follows:

SEVER GALE AT TIMARU – LOSS OF LIFE At the close of last week the schooner Wellington, under the master, Elmsley, narrowly escaped being wrecked off Timaru. [The Wellingon was advertised as a fast sailing clipper schooner of 46 tons which sailed for Timaru fortnightly.] The vessel had discharged most of her cargo on Friday week, on which day, about noon, a furious gale set in from the south east, accompanied with snow. Both anchors were let go, and every precaution taken for the safety of the vessel by those on board. The sea was running in high and making a clean breach of the vessel, carrying away port stanchions and bulwarks, breaking up the boat and cook’s galley. Towards evening she parted her best anchor, though held by a cable much stronger than those usually carried by vessels of her size. It was found, on recovering theanchor that the chain had simply parted in two places, and 25 fathoms of it were lost. The hatches were battened down, and the men stood to all night, escaping to the rigging as the sea broke over them. All night too, the people on shore were on the look out with lights and a lifeboat ready to come to the rescue of the crew, in case of the second anchor parting. Fortunately, the anchor bore the test; on the following day the wind shifted to the southward and began to moderate, but the sea was still running high. Up to Sunday noon the weather gradually improved, when an attempt was made to come up to anchorage, but the sea was too high for the vessel to bring up, when she hauled on downwind and stood out to sea again. This movement was observed on the shore by the people on look out, and was by them construed, supposing the anchor had failed, and the vessel was in distress, the Deal boatmen manned the surfboat and came out bravely to the rescue; but the sea was too rough for them, and swamped the boat; of the crew (six in number), two were drowned, Messrs M. Corie and Boubins, both married men, and the former the father of five children. A third party named Bowles, was severely beaten on the beach, and only slight hopes were entertained of his recovery when the Wellington left, on Tuesday night.

From the Lyttleton Times, 31 Oct 1860: A most praiseworthy effort is being made to raise fund for the relief of the widows and orphans of the two boatmen who were drowned at Timaru, when humanely going to the rescue of the Wellington’s crew during the late gale. Lists are lying at the Inn, the merchant’s shop, at the bank, and at the office of this paper.

Morris Clayson Cory was buried at Timaru Cemetery on 5 October 1860. You can see from the gravestone below that she did not marry again. Elizabeth now had 5 children to bring up alone, so another child had been born in New Zealand. 

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