The ship Woodlark sailed London December 12th 1873 and the first case of illness occurred on the 16th when a child came down with scarlet fever. Before her arrival in Wellington March 24th 1874 eighteen would die onboard, at least seven from fever or its complications. Three of her passengers were buried on Soames’ Island, two of which were children who died the day before the ship reached Wellington. One year old William Palmer died of Phthisis (pulmonary tuberculosis) and four year old Annie Smith died of scarlet fever. Shortly after the ships arrival 59-year old Mary Ann Tonkin died, cause not known.
The next ship to bring death to the Soames’ Island Quarantine Station was the Golden Sea which sailed from London on the 29th January 1874 and arrived at Wellington 1st May 1874. She brought out 368 immigrants and during the voyage there were eight deaths from scarlet fever. On 3 May five year old Marion Taft died of scarlet fever, and near the same time her seven-month old sister Eleanor also succumbed. Marion and Eleanor were the daughters of Yorkshire immigrants William James and Elizabeth H. Taft. Their parents went on to settle in New Plymouth where William James died in 1914 and Elizabeth in 1934.
The ship Cartvale sailed from London on 25th June 1874 and arrived Wellington 11th October 1874. Within a few weeks seven of her passengers, none older than eighteen months, would join the other unfortunate souls buried on Soames Island.
This entry, from the diary of passenger George Smith, was made on Sunday, October 11th 1874: “Ah tis the yellow flag that’s a sign we are to be quarantined but not quite so bad as you may think for there is a little island in the bay with a depot on purpose for emigrants. So that we may get a thorough cleansing before going into the town which is very necessary as we are all more or less lousy, beside having had measles and whooping cough on board.” On 12 October his writes “I am sorry to say we lost another child this evening about 12 months old, making in all 20 deaths since we came on board in 111 days.” His entry from 16 October states “Two children died this morning buried on the island.” His final entry about the deaths of passengers was made 17 Oct “another child died this morning 3 ½ years old (3 deaths on the island).”
The names of the seven children from the ship Cartvale buried in Soames Island in October 1874 are: Clara Cumberland, aged 18 months, daughter of William and Fanny; Elizabeth Butler, 7 months, daughter of Ramus and Mary; Clara Lee, 12 days old, daughter of Richard and Elizabeth; Annie (3 years) and Arhur Nash (17 months), children of Henry and Mary; Marion Douglas Pope, 3 months, not listed on manifest; and Winfred Lucy Moore, 1 month, daughter of Ambrose and Eliza Moore.
On 22 October 1874 the ship Douglas arrived at Wellington and was sent to Soames Island. Thirty one deaths, chiefly of infants and children under four years of age, occurred on the voyage, and she arrived with twenty cases of illness still under treatment. One year old David Barr would die and be buried on the island in early November.
Under charter to the Shaw Savill Company, the ship Berar, 902 tons, made three trips to New Zealand, two to Wellington and one to Auckland. The third trip of the Berar was to Wellington. She left London on October 18, 1874, and made Wellington on January 22, 1875, a passage of 96 days. On this occasion there were twenty-one deaths from scarlet fever. Following this voyage a Royal Commission of Enquiry was convened into the outbreak of disease & subsequent deaths on board.
The Evening Post on Monday January 25th 1875: The following is a list of the Berar passengers now in hospital on Somes Island: Fanny Nash, aged 17; Emma Lord, 16; Sophia Carman, 18; Anthony Alderson, 50; Mary Alderson, 15; Sarah Alderson, 18; James Alderson, 5; Phoebe Alderson, 11; William Strand, 7; Jane Blake, 12; Eliza Fielding, 2; Edith Webb, 4; Agnes Carroll, 17; George Shoebridge, 11; Elise Maul, 2; John Thomas, 31. One child, Anne Laughton, aged 14 months died on Somes Island.
Burials recorded at the Soames Island Cemetery for passengers of the Berar are Anthony James Alderson (listed as James on the ship manifest, age four, son of Anthony and Cicely and Lawrence Wright, who was not listed on the ship manifest, and is probably a miss-transcription of Florence Wright, daughter of Helier and Joan Wright.
Next in the list of ships to be quarantined was the Collingwood, which sailed from Gravesend on April 18, 1875. This ship was listed to sail from London and land 286 passengers at New Plymouth, but fever broke out on the voyage, and the Captain put into Wellington, arriving on July 10th. As there were 50 cases of scarlet fever under treatment on board, the vessel was ordered into quarantine.
Passengers from the Collingwood buried on Soames Island are: George Barker, age 7, son of Charles and Eliza; Ann E. Tomlinson, age 1, daughter of Charles and Elizabeth; George Skeel(e)s, the 3 year old son of Phillip and Isabella; and 35 year old Timothy Harker, single man, a miner from Yorkshire who died of typhoid fever & pneumonia.
The last burial for 1875 was one-year old Timothy Troy, son of Timothy and Mary from Limerick, who died in September after having arrived on the ship Rodney.