Topic: Albert Laidley (1847-1872)
Albert Laidley was involved in an accident on Tauranga harbour in 1872 when the yacht 'Sappho' overturned and he was drowned.
Albert Laidley was born in Richmond, New Zealand on 28 April 1847. His parents were James and Elizabeth Laidley (nee Brown) who married in the Wesleyan Chapel in Nelson, New Zealand on 21 November 1844.
Albert was part of the Armed Constabulary stationed in Tauranga.
On 13 September 1872, Albert was on the yacht 'Sappho' in the Tauranga harbour when the yacht overturned. He was quickly rescued and brought to shore, but unable to be saved (reg. 1872/9252).
The Bay of Plenty Times reported on the accident:
FATAL YACHT ACCIDENT AT TAURANGA. Another sudden calamity has shed a gloom in our midst in the death by drowning of a fine young man belonging to the Armed Constabulary named Albert Laidley. The accident took place in the middle of the Harbor, and right in view of the inhabitants on the Beach Road. About 1o'clock on Friday afternoon three members of the Armed Constabulary, named Richard Keeffe, Albert Laidley, and Edward Carter, put off from the shore in the yacht ‘Sappho,’ recently purchased by the Constabulary from Mr. McDonald. There was a fresh breeze from the westward at the time, and the 'Sappho' had a reef in her mainsail, the only canvas carried. She was observed from shore to be sensitive to puffs of wind, and to lie over to one side in a more than usual manner. It was casually remarked by a spectator that she was not a boat to be played with, and the words had scarcely been spoken when she was observed to go over and turn bottom up. Almost at the same moment three heads were seen to emerge from the water. In less time than it has taken to relate this, four boats were pulling hard for the spot, and picked up the men. Poor Laidley was insensible when landed on the wharf. Dr. Armitage speedily arrived, but all his efforts to restore animation were in vain. It would appear that Carter was sitting in the stern sheets steering at the time of the Accident. The yacht was lying close-hauled; a sudden puff of wind coming on, she was allowed to fall off before the wind, and the sheet being fast she went over, the mast and sail disappearing under water. There were 8 small bags of sand ballast on board at the time (14 September 1872, p. 3).
Albert was buried in Mission Cemetery (Otamataha Pā). He does not have a headstone.
The Bay of Plenty Times reported on his funeral:
Constable A. Laidley, the unfortunate young man who was drowned on Friday last by the upsetting of the Sappho, was buried on Saturday in the Te Papa cemetery. The body was attended to the place of interment by a detachment of the Armed Constabulary under Captain Gundry, and all the non-commissioned officers of the force stationed in Tauranga. The Tauranga Rifle Volunteers, under Captain Norris and their officers, also paraded in uniform, and lent their assistance in bearing the coffin. The funeral obsequies were solemnised by the Ven. Archdeacon Brown, and a firing party of the Armed Constabulary discharged a farewell salute over their departed comrade, falling in immediately afterwards, and marching to barracks with fixed bayonets. The New Zealand ensign had been flying at half-mast during the day, but after the melancholy rites were concluded, was again raised to the mast-head (Bay of Plenty Times. 18 September 1872, p. 3).
Bay of Plenty Times (14 September 1872). Fatal Yacht Accident at Tauranga.
Bay of Plenty Times (18 September 1872). Funeral.