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Captain Robert Johnson (1825? - 1894)


Captain Robert Johnson was born at Bangor, North Wales. In 1858, at 33 years of age, he came out to New Zealand as master of the S.S. Lord Worsley, belonging to Pearson, Coleman, & Co. For some time he commanded the ship on trips between New Zealand and Australia. Later he transferred to the ship Airdale. a

In 1861 Captain Johnson joined the Marine Department, and he remained in the Service up to the time of his death in 1894. a

In 1872, Captain Robert Johnson was appointed Examiners under the Merchant Ships Officers' Examination Act, 1870. d

In 1874, Nautical Advisor, Captain Johnson, surveyed the North Island for possible lighthouse sites aboard the government ship Luna. Unknown source

In 1878, the Government decided to separate the Marine Department from the Customs Department and Captain Johnson was appointed the Head of the Marine Department. Captain Johnson received an additional 100 to his present salary of 400, making it now 500 per annum. e  In 1878, Captain Johnson, was also appointed an Inspector and Surveyor, for the purposes of the Shipping and Seamen's Act, 1877. f

On August 19, 1894, Captain Johnson passed away in his home after suffering a internal ailment. He was 69 years old.  a b


OBITUARY. a. Evening Post, Volume XLVIII, Issue 43, 20 August 1894, Page 2

CAPTAIN JOHNSON, MARINE DEPARTMENT. We are very sorry to have to record the fact that the illness which has confined Captain Robert Johnson, of the Marine Department, to his residence on Guilford Terrace for such a long time past, has terminated fatally, death occurring yesterday morning. The decreased was born at Bangor, North Wales, nearly 69 years ago, and displayed at a very early age a taste for the sea. After finishing 1st his schooling he became an apprentice on board a ship, and soon proved himself in every way qualified for a seafaring life. When the Crimean War broke out he was, although only a young man, placed in charge of the ship Abundance, on board of which the bread required for the British soldiers at Balaclava was baked. In 1858, when he was 33 years of age, he came out to New Zealand as master of the s.s. Lord Worsley, belonging to Pearson, Coleman, & Co., and traded in her between this colony and Australia, for a time. He was then transferred to the Airdale, and a few days after he had assumed the command of the latter vessel the Worsley was wrecked on the coast of Taranaki. Mr. E.. S Ledger, of Wellington, was a passenger from London in her when she came out under Captain Johnson. In 1861 Captain Johnson became connected with the Marine Department, and he remained in the Service up to the time of his death. He was a Warden of the first Marine Board, and Mail Agent under a contract made by Messrs. Pearson, Coleman, & Co. with the Imperial Government for the conveyance of mails between New Zealand and Australia, and when subsequently the San Francisco service was started he became pilot of the steamers Nevada, Nebraska, and Dakota on their trips between Auckland and Dunedin. For many years before he died the deceased occupied the position of principal Examiner of Masters and Mates, and he was also Nautical Adviser to the Government, discharging his important duties with great zeal and ability. The late Captain Johnson enjoyed remarkably good health until recent years, when it was found that he was suffering from a painful internal ailment. An operation was performed by Dr. Grace, assisted by Drs. Ewart, Martin, and Fell, a few days ago, but the shock proved too much, and he gradually sank. He was married before he came out to New Zealand, his eldest child being born on board the Lord Worsley a week after leaving London. Mrs. Johnston is still living, and there is a family of three sons and seven daughters. The eldest son is occupying a responsible position under the firm of Birnbaum & Son, and another is in the service of the Australian Mutual Provident Society. One of the daughters is married to Dr. Johnson, of Fielding. The deceased was an affectionate husband and father, and a citizen of sterling worth, and his death will be generally regretted. The funeral takes place tomorrow morning. a


On May 22, 1911, Captain Johnson's widow Ellen passed away in London. j



Additional Sources:

a. Evening Post, Volume XLVIII, Issue 43, 20 August 1894, Page 2

b. Marlborough Express, Volume XXX, Issue 194, 20 August 1894, Page 2


dOtago Daily Times , Issue 3112, 27 January 1872, Page 2

eEvening Post, Volume XVI, Issue 99, 9 April 1878, Page 2

fEvening Post, Volume XVI, Issue 277, 22 November 1878, Page 2




jFielding Star, Volume V, Issue 1505, 30 May 1911, Page 2



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Text and photographs. Copyright 1999-2013  Mark Phillips. All rights reserved.

If anyone has any information on these people please contact me.

Last Updated: September 4, 2013