Bartholomew O’Rourke’s obituary contains lots of valuable information about his life – so now it’s a matter of verifying it.  According to the “correspondent”, Bartholomew was 23 went he left Ireland, and arrived in Lyttleton in 1866 aboard the Blue Jacket.

The Blue Jacket sailed from London on 15 July 1866 under the command of Captain James White, and arrived in Lyttelton 14 October 1866.

The Press October 16th 1866

The fine vessel Blue Jacket, commanded by Captain White, arrived and anchored in harbour on Sunday about half-past five pm after a passage of ninety days. Dr Donald, health officer, went down at half-past seven and gave her a clean bill of health. The passengers speak most highly of the treatment they have received at the hands of the captain and his officers, and also of the doctor (Macdonald), to whom flattering testimonials were given. We are informed by Captain White that he has been near the coast since the 5th. The following is an account of her passage:- Left Gravesend on the 15th July at half-past three, weighed anchor and proceeded in tow of a steam tug. Sailed through the Downs same day at four pm; discharged pilot off the Isle of Wight. Passed Start Point same day. On the 18th signalled the ship Star of Tasmania from London to Otago, and another ship in company, supposed the be the Electra.On the 27th passed Madeira to the westward. On the 31st signalled the ship Anna Cecilia, from London to Melbourne. Crossed the Equator in long 24deg 50min W.; had good S E trades. On the 15th September passed the meridian of the Cape of Good Hope in lat 43deg 21min S. Passed north of the Crozet and Kerguelen Islands on the 22nd, in lat 48deg 48min, long 92deg 12min E., and encountered a heavy gale. Passed the meridian of Cape Lewin in lat 48deg 22min S.; saw a large iceberg about 500 feet high and from two and a-half to three miles in circumference. On the 30th passed the meridian of Port Philip. On October 6 passed Auckland Islands; ran down easting in 47 and 48deg, and since that time had light and baffling winds. Yesterday the Commissioners went down and inspected the emigrants and accommodation, and expressed themselves in terms of commendation as regarded accommodation. The emigrants brought out are certainly a superior lot, and we have no doubt but that the single young women will obtain immediate employment.1

Unfortunately, I can find no Blue Jacket passenger list with Bartholomew listed. There are several lists published online. Of the two I found on Rootsweb, one lists only the “assisted and free passengers”, and the other passenger list includes the cabin passengers. The former list notes that the cabin passengers are missing, and gives several possible names, but none of these are in the latter’s list of cabin passengers.

A list on New Zealand Yesteryears makes no distinction between passengers, and doesn’t list Bartholomew either. On this site I also checked the lists for arrival of the Blue Jacket on 13 Nov 1865, 30 August 1867, and 30 October 1868, to no avail.

It’s possible he was a paying cabin passenger and he was missed during transcription.  Perhaps he stole a ticket and travelled under another name?  Or maybe he came on another ship, and the “correspondent” was misinformed?

  1. “Arrival of the Blue Jacket”, transcript by Denise & Peter, at Rootsweb, ( : accessed 24 Jan 2011); citing original publication in The Press, 16 October 1866.

Note: “Land of the Long White Cloud” is the common English translation of Aotearoa, the Māori name for New Zealand.