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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]



Eyreton is about five miles from Kaipaoi, and about eight from Rangiora. It is a good sheep farming district, and has a post office, and also a public school with a capital library. The district was first settled in 1863. It is in the Eyreton riding of the county of Ashley, and at the census of 1901 had a population of 195 persons.

The Eyreton Road District was established about 1867 by the Provincial Government of Canterbury. It is bounded on the north by the Mandeville and Rangiora district; on the west by the West Eyreton district; and on the south and east by the Waimakariri river and the borough of Kaiapoi. Its ratable value in 1892, was £439,259, on which a rate of 5/8d was levied. The district has about 100 miles of formed and metalled roads: and several large bridges, up to 300 feet long, are also maintained by the board. Members for 1902: Messrs J. Wright (chairman), R. Evans, T. Skevington, F. Kelly, F. Moore. Mr R. M. Wright is clerk and treasurer. The board possesses first-class offices, and a residence for the clerk in Ohoka township. The buildings, which were erected in 1880, are of wood, and contain the clerk's offices, a vestibule, and a storeroom. There is also a six-stall stable and a very comfortable two-storey dwellinghouse. The property cost about £1200.

Mr. Robert Marshall Wright, Clerk, Treasurer, and Surveyor of the Eyreton and West Eyreton Road Boards, and of the Mandeville and Rangiora River Board, was born at Addiscombe College, near Croydon, Surrey, England, in 1840. He landed in Lyttelton by the ship “Stag” in 1852, and after a few years settled at Kaiapoi, where he carried on his trade as a builder and contractor till 1873. In that year he was appointed to the position he has since held under the Eyreton Road Board. Ten years later, he received his appointment from the West Eyreton Board. As a volunteer Mr. Wright was enrolled in 1863, in the Kaiapoi Rifles, in which he became colour-sergeant, and served altogether eight years. He joined the Order of Oddfellows at the age of nineteen, has been true to the Order ever since, and has filled the office of Grand Master. Mr. Wright for the last thirty years has been agent in his district for the Standard Insurance Company. He was married, in 1859, to a daughter of the late Mr. J. Baker, an old settler who arrived page 444 in the ship “Cressy” in 1850, and has seven sons and one daughter surviving. The death of a daughter, who died in 1885, was due to an accident.

The Post Office, East Eyreton, was established about 1872. It is conducted at the residence of Mr. J. Moffat. Mails are received and despatched thrice a week.

Mr. John Moffat, who has been Postmaster at East Eyreton since 1882, was born in Dumfries, Scotland, in 1841. He was brought up as a blacksmith, and was employed in Scotland as such before coming to the Bluff in 1863, in the ship “Sir William Eyre.” For two years after his arrival in Southland, he was employed at bush work, and subsequently worked at his trade at Wallacetown, Blueskin, and Dunedin. Mr. Moffat then left for Christchurch, where he found employment at his trade. In 1866 he settled at East Eyreton, where he took a lease of the local smithy; in the following year he became the proprietor, and has ever since conducted the business. Mr. Moffat has thirty-two acres of land adjoining his residence and shop. In 1865 he married a daughter of the late Mr. C. McKay, of Sutherlandshire, Scotland, and has one daughter surviving.

Public School, Eyreton . This is one of the oldest public schools in North Canterbury. The timber for the original building is said to have been supplied by the settlers some forty years ago, and was carted from the Oxford bush; the local residents contributing fully one-half of the cost. The building, which has since been re-roofed and repaired, consists of two class rooms and two porches, and has accommodation for ninety children. There are fifty-one names on the roll, and the average attendance is forty-six. The headmistress in charge has a residence of seven rooms, and is aided by an infant mistress. A local library, with about 2,000 volumes and thirty subscribers, is conducted in a portion of the school premises. The library is well patronised, especially on Thursday evenings, during the winter months.

Miss Amy Jane Alley, Headmistress in charge of the Eyreton Public School, was born at Papanui, Christchurch, and was educated chiefly at the Papanui and West Christchurch schools. She served her pupil-teacher-ship at Belfast, and was afterwards in charge of the Belfast side school for two years and a half. Miss Alley was appointed to her present position in 1895.

The Wesleyan Church at East Eyreton was built in 1875, at a cost of £200. The building is constructed of wood and iron, and has seats for eighty persons. The Sunday school is held in the church, and is attended by thirty-five children, who are instructed by two teachers. There is half an acre of land attached to the church property.

Beal, Mark, Farmer, Grange Farm, East Eyreton. Mr. Beal was born in 1857 at Newcastle-on-Tyne, England, and, at the age of two years, he accompanied his parents to Lyttelton in the ship “Clontarf.” The family settled at Eyreton almost immediately, and have ever since farmed the original holding. Since 1892 Mr. Beal has owned and worked Grange Farm, which consists of 100 acres. He is also the proprietor of threshing machinery and traction engines, and undertakes work in the season throughout the district. Mr. Beal is a member of the Ohoka Lodge of Oddfellows. He was married, in 1889, to a daughter of the late Mr. F. Moore, of East Eyreton, and has one son and four daughters.

Standish and Preece, photo Mr. and Mrs M. Beal.

Standish and Preece, photo
Mr. and Mrs M. Beal.

Tolputt and Clarke, photo. Mr. and Mrs W. Beal.

Tolputt and Clarke, photo.
Mr. and Mrs W. Beal.

Beal William, Farmer, East Eyreton. Mr. Beal was born at York, England, in 1854, and accompanied his father, the late Mr. Henry Beal, to Lyttelton in the ship “Clontarf” in 1859. After two years at Kaiapoi the family settled at East Eyreton. Mr. Beal commenced farming in 1884 in company with his brothers. Ten years later he acquired his present property of fifty acres by inheritance, and has since farmed on his own account. Mr. Beal has served as a member of the Eyreton school committee. He was married, in 1894, to a daughter of Mr J. Lilly, of Ashley Bauk, and has one son and one daughter.

Burgess, Thomas, Farmer, Willow Farm, East Eyreton; Postal address, Clarkville. Mr. Burgess was born on the 12th of March, 1837, at Macclesfield, England, and was brought up to country life. He came out to Lyttelton in the ship “Lady Nugent” in 1851, and found employment as a shearer and in bush work till 1863. In that year he settled in East Eyreton district, where he had previously purchased 107 acres of land, which was then in its natural condition, and contained a good deal of boggy ground. Mr. Burgess has brought it into a good state of cultivation, and has increased his holding to 370 acres. He is a member of the Kaiapoi Lodge of Druids. Mr. Burgess was married in 1862 to a daughter of Mr S. Kember, of Green-park, one of the very early settlers, who landed in Lyttelton from the ship “Castle Eden” in 1851, and has seven sons and four daughters.

Giles, Lot Farmer, East Eyreton. Mr. Giles, who farms eighty acres of land, was born in Somersetshire, England, in 1840. He arrived in Lytteiton by the ship “Oriental” in 1856, and settled at East Eyreton. After finding employment for about five years in country life, he bought land, which he has since farmed on his own account. Mr. Giles served for six years as a member of the Eyreton Road Board, and as a member of the local school committee. In the Order of Druids he is attached to Lodge Trafalgar, Kaiapoi. His first wife, a daughter of the late Mr. D. Marshall, of Wellington, died in 1882, leaving
Mr. L. Giles.

Mr. L. Giles.

page 445 three sons and five daughters; and in 1884 he contracted a second marriage with the widow of Mr. E. Clothier, of Kaiapoi Island.

Murphy, Richard, Farmer, East Eyreton. Mr. Murphy was born in the district in 1868, and has always been engaged in country pursuits. He has been for seven years a member of the East Eyreton school committee. As an Oddfellow he was a member of the Ohoka Lodge for six years. Mr. Murphy was married, in 1889, to a daughter of the late Mr. J. Gray, of East Eyreton, and has four daughters and one son.

Murphy, William, Farmer, “Eyrebridge,” East Eyreton. Mr. Murphy was born in 1872 in the district in which he resides, and was brought up to a country life by his farther, after whom he was named, and who died in 1875. He gained experience in farming work at an early age, and has worked the farm on which he resides since 1890. The property consists of eighty acres of freehold, and 140 acres of leasehold land. Mr. Murphy is a member of the Order of Oddfellows, and is attached to the Ohoka Lodge. He was married in 1896, to a daughter of Mr. R. Rice, of Kaiapoi Island.

Scott, Alexander, Farmer, “Wai-iti,” East Eyreton. Mr. Scott was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1849, and brought up to country life. He was farming for some time on his own account in his native place. In 1877 he came to Port Chalmers by the ship “Norval,” and settled for about three years on Kaiapoi Island. About 1880 Mr. Scott removed to the Eyreton district, with which he has been since identified. His farm is 396 acres in extent, and he also owns nintey-three acres at Drain Road, Southbrook. For some years Mr. Scott served as a member of the Eyreton school committee. He was married, in 1871, to a daughter of the late Mr. J. Scott, of Aberdeenshire, Scotland. This lady died in 1901, leaving two daughters and one son. After his bereavement Mr. Scott paid a visit to his native land.

Tolputt and Clarke, photo. Mr. A. Scott.

Tolputt and Clarke, photo.
Mr. A. Scott.

Mr. Thomas Cherry, sometime of East Eyreton, was born in Bedfordshire, England, in 1826, and was engaged in outdoor life from his early years He arrived in Lyttelton by the ship “Mystery” in 1862, and became one of the early settlers in the East Eyreton district, where he bought land, and built a sod where, which served as his homestead for a good many years, and the ruins of which are still standing. Mr. Cherry was married, in 1861, and at his death, in 1902, left eight sons and six daughters. The farm, which consists of fifty acres of fine land, is worked by two of the sons, Messrs W. and J. Cherry.

Mr. Marmaduke Dixon, sometime of “Eyrewell,” Eyreton, was one of Canterbury's earliest colonists. He was born at Caistor, in Lincolnshire, in 1828, and was descended from an old Lincolnshire family. His grandfather, Mr. Thomas Dixon, of Holton Park, who owned one of the largest estates in that part of the county, took a prominent part in draining the fens of Lincoln. When fourteen years of age, Mr. Dixon was entered as an apprentice to seamanship on board the ship “Senator,” one of the merchant fleet of Mr. Robert Brooks, the principal founder of the Union Bank of Australia, who carried on a large shipping business with the colonies. The “Senator” was wrecked on the coast of South America, and part of the crew went back to England in the ship “Swordfish.” Mr. Dixon was in Port Philip soon after the discovery of gold, at a time when there were in the harbour nearly 400 ships, which had been deserted by their crews; but he, by sheer tact, kept his men together, and soon got loaded and away to the high seas. After several voyages he decided to give up the sea; and though he was at that time offered the command of the “Southern Cross,” Bishop Selwyn's yacht, he refused, as he had made up his mind to settle in New Zealand, to which he came out with Sir John Hall and his two brothers in 1852. Mr. Dixon took up a large run on the banks of the Waimakariri, and settled in the centre of the run for five years. In 1859 he went Home and married Miss Wood, daughter of the Rev. Dr. Wood, of Woodhall Park, Wensleydale, Yorkshire. On returning to the Colony in 1860, he began to take an active part in public affairs. He was elected a member of the Provincial Council, and continued to sit in that body till the provinces were abolished in 1876. While in the Council, Mr. Dixon supported the construction of the Lyttelton tunnel and the West Coast road. He was at one time chairman of three road boards, when most of the main roads and drains in the Ashley county were laid off and made. Mr. Dixon was one of the promoters and founders of the present system of education, and took an extremely active part in organising the Northern Agricultural and Pastoral Association, of which he was one of the first vice-presidents. In 1860 Mr. Dixon imported some choice animals from his father's English herd of purebred Shorthorns. He was the first to introduce into Canterbury straw elevators, three-furrow ploughs, earth-scoops, and the slip-gate for drafting sheep. He also inaugurated a large experimental system of irrigation on the north bank of the Waimakariri in 1893. From 1891 to 1894, Mr. Dixon took a very active part in connection with the introduction of the Ashley-Waimakariri water supply scheme. He died in 1895.

Mr. Charles Fairweather, sometime of East Eyreton, was born in Glasgow, in 1839, and accompanied his parents to Port Nicholson in 1841. At the age of sixteen he commenced carting and working with horses in Wellington, and about 1859 he and Mr. W. Belcher brought horses to Canterbury. For some years he was a member of the firm of Belcher and Fairweather, who had waggons
The late Mr. C. Fairweather, Mrs Fairweather, and Children.

The late Mr. C. Fairweather, Mrs Fairweather, and Children.

page 446 on the Canterbury roads, and took Government contracts for telegraphic construction. Mr. Fairweather's partner was drowned, but Mr. Richard Belcher joined the firm and the partnership continued for a good many years. The firm entered into the grain trade at Kaiapoi, and built a large store, in connection with which they carried on a large coal, timber, and grain business, and also owned vessels. The partnership terminated about 1876, and Mr. Fairweather then settled in East Eyreton and began farming. He took up a considerable area of rough land, which has all been brought into a good state of cultivation. The farm, known as “Silverstream,” consists of 320 acres of freehold, and about 300 acres of leasehold land. Mr. Fairweather served for some time as a member of the local school committee. He was married to a daughter of the late Mr. J. A'Court, of Sandon, an old settler, who landed in the colony about 1541. Mr. and Mrs Fairweather had ten sons and four daughters, of whom one son and one daughter died. Mr Fairweather died in July, 1901, but Mrs Fairweather still (1902) survives.

Mr. James Gray, sometime of East Eyreton, was born in 1826 near Skipton, Yorkshire, England. He was brought up as a farmer, and worked, as such for a number of years, before coming to Lyttelton, by the ship “Cashmere,” about 1864. He settled almost immediately in the East Eyreton district, and about two years afterwards purchased his first section of fifty acres of land, which he subsequently increased to seventy acres. Mr. Gray was married, in 1855, to a daughter of the late Mr. H. Laytham, of York. He died in 1890, leaving three daughters. Mrs Gray still survives her husband.