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20 August 1839 — Father Louis-Maxime Petit to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Bay of Islands

Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, April 2013

M. l’abbé Colin (junior)
Puylata House
4 St Barthelémy Rise, Lyons, Rhone

New Zealand, Bay of Islands, 20 August 1839
Father Petit

Jesus Mary Joseph

To Father Colin, Superior-General of the Society of Mary

Very Reverend Father
The Bishop has given me the responsibility of informing you that on 15 August 1839 he entrusted to M Baxter, captain of the Orion, a whaling ship from Nantes, a packet of letters addressed to you. Apart from that, His Lordship is going to have another packet sent to M Groborne de Boughem, ship’s doctor on the Pallas, which is going to set sail at the first opportunity. The present letter, having been entrusted to the captain of the same ship, the Pallas, its reception will be, for you, an undeniable proof of the arrival at Le Havre of the packet which contains the Bishop’s letters; but as they are addressed to you through M Franque [Note from Father Petit in the margin: or of M le Normand, shipbuilder].[1]
Our dear confrères Fathers Baty and Epalle, being in the Hokianga, have not been able to take these opportunities to write to you, but it is very probable that other French whaling ships will soon give them that advantage. It can even be presumed that among that number will be some who having loaded themselves to capacity will sail directly to France, where they could arrive before the Orion and the Pallas which still have to go on whaling.
I am delighted to have this opportunity to offer you my most humble homage and to commend to your good prayers and remembrance in the Mass, him who has the honour to be,
Very Reverend Father,
Your most humble and obedient servant in Jesus Christ,
Maxime Petit, missionary apostolic
Bay of Islands 20 August 1839
PS It is to M Their[2] captain of the Pallas and not to the ship’s doctor that the Bishop has entrusted his letters.


  1. Petit gives the name from memory; it is no doubt Jacques-Augustin Normand: the Chantiers Augustin Normand built many ships from 1816 until 1962 (cf Legoy and Vagner, nº 13-53)
  2. ‘Their’ to be read as Thayer. French whaling ships regularly called at the Bay of Islands, particularly between 1836 and 1843, so their crews could have some rest and to renew supplies (cf Doc 34 [1] f/n 1 for the Orion and its captain, Modeste Baxter). The Pallas, captain Henry Thayer, experienced very many desertions when it called at the Bay from 17 July to 24 August 1839 and from the 6 to 16 May 1840. It got back to Le Havre 28 September 1840 (information from Peter Tremewan 28 June 2008)

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