By Judy Waters
According to family papers, a Pulham arrived in England with William the Conqueror and, as a loyal follower, was given land on which the town of Pulham, Dorset was built. Generations later, in 1830, Henry Pulham, an early Mahurangi settler, was born near Yeovil Somerset. He was the only son of Captain William Pulham, a veteran skipper with the East India Trading Company.
In 1837, Captain Pulham’s diary records details of the purchase of the brigantine Union and the comment, “Hope her coppers will stand a voyage.” His plan was to move his family to Tasmania. They arrived in the new country on Christmas Day 1840. Their eldest daughter Frances had an admirer named William C. Daldy who followed them in his boat Shamrock and the couple were married in 1841.
The Union was sold to buy land but even with the use of convict labour, the developed farm was disappointing. By 1846, the Pulhams and Daldys had moved to Auckland, New Zealand. The Pulham residence was near the Waitemata Harbour and Captain Pulham recorded the weather every day, and noted ship movements arriving and departing.
The first Mahurangi land sales took place in 1853 with Henry Pulham and his brothers-in-law all purchasers. Since Henry had been at sea since he was 10 years old, it was not surprising that he was soon the owner of a small cutter, which he named Frances. As more settlers arrived, he transported them up the Mahurangi River to Southgate’s hotel, which was located below what became the cement works. He then helped them move their goods and chattels as close to their land as possible with his bullock team.
In 1854, Henry married Nicholas Darroch, daughter of ship builder George Darroch, and as theirs was the first wedding to take place at Mahurangi, the location was called Marriage Bay, near what is today called Scotts Landing. They had nine children. Henry farmed 400 acres at Warkworth and Hoteo, and his home was near the road that still bears his name.
As time went on, he was revered by later settlers as one of the ‘fathers’ of the settlement and he loved to relate stories of his adventurous youth. A favourite concerned a voyage from Sydney to the goldfields in California on the Vulcan in 1849. After the death of the navigator, the ship was lost in the Pacific and food and water were running low. A passing whaler helped them get a bearing and they made a stop at Guam to replenish supplies. When they finally reached their destination, they found the place in an uproar. The Captain went ashore and came to a grisly end when a card game went wrong. Wild times indeed! It was a relief for young Henry to find passage on another boat and leave the mayhem behind.