In 1848 one of the most unusual commercial ventures of all time was formed in London. It was called the Canterbury Association and it was based on the ideas of Edward Gibbon Wakefield. His ideas were to take a slice of rural England and use it to produce ordered, civilized and self-supporting colonies. The Canterbury Association called for people willing to buy land in the new colony and venture forth to start afresh. In practice, it proved impossible in 1850 to find 15,000 Anglicans sufficiently adventurous or discontented with their lot, to face the perils of the long sea voyage; or enough colonists among them prepared to pay a high price for land in the remotest islands on the globe .
The conditions which normally governed the emigrant selection were rigorous. The intending immigrant was to be under forty years old, and he was required to produce a medical certificate and a certificate from the minister of the local parish.
Preference was given to farm servants, shepherds, domestic servants and mechanics. Four ships were sent from England in 1850 to carry the new emigrants to Lyttleton, New Zealand. They were the Sir George Seymour, the Cressy, the Charlotte Jane and the Randolph.
There were 438 paid and assisted adults on board the four ships. Of these there were 263 males and 175 females, showing that there was quite a difference between the genders which would have influenced the end colony (see Gender Ratio graph). Of the emigrants there were 167 single people, 133 married couples, two widows, two widowers and one minor. The range of ages onboard varied from 11 to 62 with 80 unknown ages (the data do not show the age of the children). The majority of people were in the 20-40 age brackets with 266...