Hannibal Marks, IV

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Hannibal Marks, IV

Birthdate: (60)
Birthplace: Cawsand, Cornwall, England
Death: August 16, 1879 (60)
Tauranga Harbour, Tauranga, Bay of Plenty, North Island, New Zealand (drowned in boating accident)
Place of Burial: Tauranga, Bay of Plenty, North Island, New Zealand
Immediate Family:

Son of Hannibal Marks, III and Susannah Marks
Husband of Mary Jane Marks
Father of Hannibal Marks, V; Philip Henry Marks; John Marks; Elizabeth Marks; Pascoe Spriddle Marks and 6 others
Brother of William Henry Marks; Elizabeth Marks; Pascho Marks; Susanna Marks; Mary Marks and 3 others

Occupation: Tauranga harbourmaster and pilot
Managed by: Jason Scott Wills
Last Updated:

About Hannibal Marks, IV

At the Mission Cemetery in Tauranga lies Hannibal Marks, harbourmaster and pilot at Tauranga from 1874-1879 who drowned in Tauranga Harbour on 16 August 1879 along with his son, also named Hannibal. The BOP Times story is that Marks went to help two young men racing yachts singlehanded in foul weather. One yacht hit the pilot boat and damaged its rudder, resulting in losing control of the vessel. A sudden squall hitting the sail capsized it. Marks’ other son Pascoe and his brother-in-law survived.

It was the final tragedy in a life coloured with both triumphs and disappointments. Marks arrived in New Zealand in 1841 when the ship Regina was wrecked at New Plymouth. He married Mary Jane Vercoe. Not all their 12 children survived.

Marks honed his seafaring skills in coastal traders on the North Island’s west coast. At Manukau he was mate and coxswain on the Government cutter Maori, which provided a ferry service between Onehunga and Waiuku, but arguments over the vessel’s maintenance led to dismissal due to ‘insolence and insubordination.’ His time as first pilot in Manukau Harbour was cut short after a few months. The Provincial Government delayed deciding how much to spend on buoys and beacons and a pilot boat, and there were expectations a small boat could safely escort ships over Manukau bar.

However, Marks seamanship skills were recognised, and his career highlight was as commander of the gunboats Caroline and Sandfly. During the Maori war he delivered despatches between the British men o’ war ships and Governor Grey; embarked and disembarked troops and marines and enforced naval blockades in the Firth of Thames, then at Tauranga. He was highly praised by Sir George Grey and newspapers of the day, but just before the Battle of Gate Pa while transporting soldiers and marines to Tauranga Marks had a fatal accident on board the Sandfly. A William Todman rolled off his baggage and fell through the decklight on to the engine. He was buried on Mercury Island.

Marks’ gunboat career ended after the Australian explorer Francis Cadell, in charge of steam service on the Waikato River, asserted his authority over Mark’s crew and eventually dismissed Marks. A Commission of Inquiry later found Marks should not have lost his command, but by then the Government had sold the Sandfly.

There were 41 signatures of recommendation attached to Marks’ application to become harbourmaster and pilot at Tauranga. The Rowena was already operating between Auckland and Tauranga, and during Marks’ time the Staffa started a service to Opotiki. A steam service was started up to Katikati (some time after Vesey Stewarts’ first settlers arrived), and Union Steamship Company ships from down south began calling. With a large number of small vessels also using the port, Tauranga Wharf had to be extended and Victoria Wharf was built. After the Nellie hit Astrolabe Reef it was wrecked on Motiti Island. The Taranaki was wrecked on Karewa Island and the Taupo ran aground on Stoney Point Reef. There were several drownings in the harbour.

Marks was criticised several times by E.M. Edgcumbe, chairman of the Town Board and BOP Times editor, for laziness in staking the harbour and rivers. Edgcumbe challenged Marks’ competence in supplying Sir John Coode, who inspected the harbour, with data he required and there were issues over buoy placement after the Taupo ran aground. Following accusations of procrastination and persistent idleness, Marks’ son Pascoe physically assaulted Edgcumbe on Tauranga Wharf.

After the drowning, Marks’ funeral was held in the Tauranga Hotel. The BOP Times reported the cortege as very large, including nearly all the town’s residents. Pallbearers wore full Masonic regalia and Marks’ Masonic apron draped his coffin. Marks’ son Hannibal’s body was recovered two weeks later.

Source: Hannibal Marks by Vivien Edwards (Tauranga Historical Society) http://taurangahistorical.blogspot.co.nz/2014/07/june-meeting-hannibal-marks-by-vivien.html

Hannibal Marks (son of Hannibal Marks and Susannah Spriddell) was born 20 Mar 1819 in Cawsand, Cornwall, and died Aug 1879 in Tauranga, New Zealand. He married Mary Jane Vercoe on 22 Feb 1845 in New Plymouth, daughter of Phillip Vercoe and Catherine Collins.

Includes NotesNotes for Hannibal Marks:

Hannibal Marks was the second harbourmaster for Tauranga Harbour. A grandson, Samuel Marks, presented to the Tauranga Historical Village a letter written by Sir George Grey expressing pleasure in Captain Marks' appointment as pilot and harbourmaster. He also gave the Bay of Plenty Harbour Board Hannibal's copy of the New Zealand Pilot dated 1856, and a picture of Captain Marks. The original pilot's residence, built for Captain T.S. Carmichael (the first harbourmaster) was rebuilt for Hannibal Marks, and the Marks family moved there in 1874. He and his son, Hannibal, drowned in Tauranga Harbout on the same day in August 1879.

Excerpt from a book on Tauranga's history, chapter on The Port of Tauranga. Six applications (for the position of pilot in Tauranga Port) were received from Messrs Carmichael, Marks, Austen, Breton, Ellis and Loverock were received. It is interesting that Carmichael reapplied for the position he had previously held. The successful applicant however , was a Captain Hannibal Marks, who at the time of his appointment was in command of Governor Fergusson's private yacht Blanche. Hannibal Marks was the son of a master in the Royal Navy and had arrived in New Zealand from Cornwall in 1841. He followed his father's calling as a seaman and served on small craft mainly on the West Coast of the North Island. He was appinted pilot at Waiuku Harbour in September, 1853 and served in the cutter, Caroline. During the New Zealand wars his duties were extended to include important despatches. He was later transferred to the Waitemata Harbour and he often took visitors to Kawau Island and officials to the Coromandel ports and to Tauranga. In October, 1863, he was given command of the gunboat Sandfly. He paid numerous visits to Tauranga and was involved in the Naval blockade of 1864. He carried despatches and troops for the Tauranga campaign and it was during these years that he gained a reputation as a specialist in the Bay of Plenty waters. He applied for the position of pilot at Tauranga in December 1873 and sent over 40 signatures from prominent men in the colony in support of his application. It appears that he had the backing of Sir George Grey, then living in retirement on Kawau Island. A very interesting letter has been found among the Marks' family papers, written to Hannibal Marks from Sir George Grey. Sir George informed Marks that it would give him great pleasure to hear that Marks had been appointed pilot at Tauranga. The Times reveals that there was some feeling in Tauranga that the appointment may have been 'rigged'. However, in spite of the speculations surrounding the appointment, Captain Marks was eminently qualified for the position. The poorly built pilot house on Maunganui had been vacant since Carmichael left and was in a very sorry state. Numerous visitors to Maunganui had removed the chimney bricks and used the timber for lighting fires. In 1874 only the studs remained. It was presumed locally that the pilot house would be repaired for occupation by Captain Marks. Tenders were called in August, 1874 for the erection of a cottage at the pilot station. Captain Marks arrived in Tauranga aboard the Southern Cross, and a new pilot boat came on the same steamer. Hannibal Junior and Pascoe Marks, 2 of Captain Marks' sons, were to be his boatmen and it is presumed that they camped in the boatshed until the new pilot cottage was completed. The new cottage was made from kauri logs and was an almost square four roomed building with a steeply gabled roof forming 2 small attic rooms. Captain Marks' tenure of office at Tauranga Harbour was a colourful one. The most spectacular incident involving the Marks family occurred in late 1878. The Times editorial accused Captain Marks of neglecting his duties. The Katikati and Te Puna Channels needed staking out so that a steam launch service could commence and Captain Marks had apparently ignored this. The Times referred to Marks' persistent idleness and procrastination: "It is useless to think of screening him any longer for the idleness is the theme of general gossip. The orders for this work were given in September and any man anxious to do his duty would have attended to it immediately. Unfortunately, Captain Marks does not appear to understand the meaning of the word 'work'. Sailing about the harbour or strolling along the Strand is more in his line." Marks was also referred to by the Times as a heavily salaried government servant totally unfitted for his position. Pascoe Marks rushed to defend his father by attacking the proprietor of the newspaper as he was about to board the steamer for Auckland. He was taken to court over the incident, fined and dismissed from the pilot service. However, the whole affair evidently arose out of a misunderstanding since Captain Marks had not at that time received sufficient authority from the government to enable him to start working on the channels. The Times publicly acknowledged the apparent mistake. Captain Marks and his eldest son, Hannibal, were tragically drowned in the Tauranga Harbour in August 1879 when their pilot boat capsized. Captain Marks was buried in the Mission Cemetery at Te Papa. In September, 1879, Captain George Best, previously harbourmaster and pilot at Thames, succeeded Captain Marks at Tauranga.

Excerpt from the Evening Star August 18th, 1879; Tauranga this day: Drowning of Captain Marks. The township was excited on Saturday inst. by an accident which resulted in the drowning of Captain Marks, for some years Harbourmaster of this port, and his son Hannibal Marks. Captain Marks, with his sons, Hannibal and Pack Marks, and Mr Vercoe were out in a boat on the harbour, and were capsized by a sudden squall. Captain Marks assisted Mr Vercoe, but sank from exhaustion. Mr Pack Marks also endeavoured to support his brother, but was obliged to relinquish his hold and the latter sank at once. The accident was observed by Mr A.P. Warbrick, who rendered prompt assistance, picking up Mr Pack Marks and Mr Vercoe, who was restored with difficulty to consciousness. Both Captain Marks and his son, Hannibal, have widows and families. Further particulars: Captain Marks went out in the pilot boat, being apprehensive of accident, as boats were sailing single-handed. While rounding the fairway buoy the pilot boat was struck by one of the competing boats, and a squall striking her simultaneously she sank. Mr Warbrick, the occupant of the second competing boat, which was ahead, came to his assistance and rescued Capt. Marks, his friend, and his son Pascoe, but the other sank and has not been found. Capt. Marks was dead when rescued. At the Coroner's request, the jury returned a verdict of accidental death, adding that Mr Warbrick deserved credit for his humane exertion, and that sailing single-handed was dangerous.

Pilot and Harbour Master in Tauranga. Buried with his son Hannibal (who died at the same time) at Mission Point, Tauranga. His tombstone is at the Tauranga Historical Village. Survived by 4 sons and 3 daughters.

In August 1858, Captain Marks lived in Victoria St, Auckland (Source: Southern Cross 3/8/58 - occasion: death of a son)


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Hannibal Marks, IV's Timeline

March 20, 1819
Cawsand, Cornwall, England
August 22, 1845
Age 26
North Island, New Zealand
July 21, 1849
Age 30
August 5, 1851
Age 32
September 21, 1853
Age 34
August 27, 1855
Age 36
Auckland, New Zealand
July 22, 1857
Age 38
November 9, 1859
Age 40
September 5, 1861
Age 42