Captain Danvers* reports that up to the time of this catastrophe he had experienced very fine weather and was making a good passage. The passenger who was drowned - Edward Earl - got up early on the morning of the 27th saying, as the men had had a heavy night and cook had as much as he could do, he would get them some coffee ready. Some of his fellow passengers tried to dissuade him, but he persisted and he went on deck and was shortly afterward swept overboard at the same time as the other men. Another of the men was asleep in his bunk in the deckhouse when it was swept over with all it contained. Such was the force of the water that the house fastenings - strong iron bolts secured under the deck - were forcibly pulled right out, thus leaving holes though the deck allowing more water to rush into the hold. It was some time before this was discovered, but immediately on the discovery being made, the pumps were set to work, but were hardly able to keep the vessel afloat till the damage could be repaired.
THE BARQUE COUNTESS OF SEAFIELD, from London bound to Canterbury, New Zealand, arrived at Hobart town on the first of June 1864 in a most deplorable condition, having had ten men washed overboard, and lost her deckhouse, galley, bulwarks, companion hatch, wheel, binnacle, etc., in a heavy gale on the 27th of April while in latitude 47 deg. 12 sec. South and longitude 78 deg. East.
We give the following extracts from the log referring to the sad occurrences:
Thursday April 27 - Lat 47 deg. 12 sec. S. Long. 78 deg. E. Wind W. to SW.; bar. 28 deg. 88 sec.; blowing a heavy gale with furious squalls; a high cross sea; ship constantly filling the decks with water; compelled to cut away the bulwarks to free the vessel.
9 p.m. - Barometer rising.
10 p.m. - Blowing furiously. Kept the ship dead before the wind and sea.
11.45 p.m. - A terrific hurricane raging. Pooped by a sea which carried away the wheel, binnacle, companion hatch, stove in the skylight and half-deck house and disabled the chief officer. We furled the mainsail and foretopsail and brought the ship to the wind on the starboard tack under close reefed maintopsail.
Midnight - Barometer still rising. Hurricane raging furiously.
Since the gale, Captain Danvers reported that he experienced very fine weather. The Countess of Seafield has on board a quantity of ironwork for the railway in Canterbury and is otherwise heavily laden; and to this fact we think a good deal of the loss of life and damage to the vessel may be ascribed. It is intended to place the vessel on one of the slips and have her repaired, after which she will continue on her voyage to Canterbury.
Friday April 28 5.30 a.m. Swept by a sea which carried away the house on deck and manrail. M. Squire (2nd Officer), Mr. McLean (Midshipman), H. Farrow (Cook), Edward Freeman, Jason Firby, R. Sheriff, Thomas Burgess, William Braud (Able Seaman), Hugh Mandeville (Apprentice) and Edward Earl (passenger), were swept overboard and drowned. The new close-reefed maintopsail blew to ribbons; the foresail, foretopsail, maintrysail, misen and foretopmast stays blew away. We cut the ribbons away from the yards etc. Passengers working both pumps, but unable to keep the ship free of water, six feet of water in the hold. Everything on deck blown overboard.
Further advices from Hobart Town state that the passengers had made a claim for salvage of the vessel and that affidavits have been forwarded to Lloyds stating that since the disaster on the 28th April, the vessel had been worked by the passengers.  A considerable portion of her cargo has been discharged to enable the necessary repairs to be made, on completion of which she would proceed on her voyage to this port (Lyttelton).
THE BARQUE CRISHNA left Hobartown on the 12th June, had a continuance of calms and light westerly winds until making the Snares on the night of the 26th, arrived at Lyttelton on the Lyttelton on the 30th June. Captain Thompson brings a large and valuable cargo of fruit and timber: also a number of passengers by the Countess of Seafield, with others from Hobartown.
Saturday April 29 - Continuing heavy gale; pumps constantly being worked by passengers; Captain, Chief Officer, carpenter and crew caulking round the stanchions etc. to endeavor to lessen the leak. Keep the ship to the north in the hopes of falling in with a vessel to render us assistance. Ship taking so much water, no hope but to abandon her.
* Captain Herbert Ellis Danvers.
Monday May 1 - Worked the pumps, ship still taking water. Stood to eastward to make a port for repairs
Article transcribed from THE LYTTELTON TIMES - 14 July 1864
Canterbury Public Library micro-film by Gary Danvers 12 June 1989.
CoS History
Painting of the event.