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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]



Rolleston is named after the late Hon. William Rolleston, the last Superintendent of Canterbury. It was originally part of Messrs Fitzgerald and Cox's sheep run, and was cut up for settlement in the early sixties. Among the first colonists at Rolleston were Messrs Levi Lowe, senior, Henry Trott, John McIlroy, Robert McIlroy, John Kelly, John Crowe, Michael Lysaght, W. P. H. Benny, R. Golloway, and Isaac Walker. Rolleston is situated on the main south railway line, fourteen miles south-west from Christchurch, and is the junction of the Springfield and Whitecliffs branch lines. The main south road, over which there is considerable traffic, runs through the district. There is a hotel opposite the railway station, a public school, and a blacksmith's shop; public saleyards and homesteads are scattered over the plains. All the land, which is of a somewhat light nature, has been put under crop, and returns an average yield of between thirty and forty bushels of oats to the acre, and from twenty to thirty bushels of wheat. Large clumps and plantations of trees have done much to modify the violence of the nor'-west gales, which were formerly very destructive. Rolleston is partly in the Courtenay road board district, and partly in the Springs road board district.

The Rolleston Public School was erected in June, 1893, and is a substantial wooden building, well-lighted and lofty. It stands in a spacious playground, in one corner of which is the schoolmaster's residence. There are forty-six scholars on the roll. The school committee consists of Messrs John Ellis (chairman), N. Newton, W. Payne, J. W. Halliday, J. Kelly, T. Harris, and D. Marshall.

Mr. Bernard O'Shaughnessy, Headmaster of the Rolleston school, is a son of an old resident of Springfield. He served as a pupil-teacher at the Kowai Pass school, and was afterwards at the Normal School, Christchurch, for two years. After acting as relieving master for some time, he was appointed master of the Rolleston school, at its opening. Mr. O'Shaughnessy holds a D certificate.


Benny, Henry, Farmer, Rolleston. Mr. Benny was born in the parish of Colan, St. Columb, Cornwall, England, in 1851, and is the youngest son of the late Mr. William page 727 Benny, farmer, of the same place. He went first to the country school, and afterwards finished his education at the Boys' High school, at St. Columb Major, where he was apprenticed for three years to the drapery business. At the end of that time he went to London, where he spent about five years in some of the largest soft goods warehouses. Owing to the bad management of the trustees, the family's whole estate was put into the High Court of Chancery for ten years. In 1874 he with his brother William Benny took second saloon passages in the ship “May Queen,” bound for New Zealand, and landed at Lyttelton in November of the same year. Shortly after his arrival Mr. Benny obtained employment as a draper in Christchurch, at Cashel House, which stood in the position now occupied by the D.I.C. The business was at that time directed by Mr. Stringer, father of the present Crown Prosecutor of Christchurch. Mr. Benny remained there only six months, at the end of which he accepted an appointment with the firm of Messrs Strange and Co. Not long afterwards Mr. Benny's health gave way, and he was forced to retire from business life in the city, never to reenter it. He determined to become a farmer, and with that end in view he accepted the position of ploughman for Mr. William Boag, with whom he remained twelve months. He then entered into partnership with his brother, and they farmed at Whitecliffs and afterwards at Rolleston. His brother died in 1891, and Mr. Benny carried on the farm on his own account. In March, 1902, he acquired his present property of 104 acres, about two miles from Rolleston railway station. Mr. Benny keeps sheep and cattle and grows crops on his land, but he spends most of his time at contract work upon the various estates in the neighbourhood, and is one of the most efficient and popular ploughmen in the district. He was married, in 1877, to Miss Jane Deans Boyd, only surviving child of Mr. Robert Boyd, farmer, of Broadfield. Mrs Benny was born at Riccarton, in 1860, and was educated at Broadfield and Lincoln schools. After her education she lived with her parents on the farm at Broadfield, and she and her husband have a family of five sons and five daughters.

Standish and Preece, photo.Mr. and Mrs H. Benny.

Standish and Preece, photo.
Mr. and Mrs H. Benny.

Donaughey, John, Farmer, Goodland Farm, Rolleston. Mr. Donaughey was born in County Derry, Ireland, in 1831, and educated at Dungiven. He then removed to Scotland, and came to New Zealand in 1863 in the ship “Brother's Pride,” which arrived at Lyttelton after a passage of 146 days, and was then quarantined for a further period of six weeks. This ship is noted for having had the record number of births and deaths during her long passage, and her captain was fined £100 for insubordination. After a short time spent in harvesting Mr. Donaughey took to station life in Gebbie's Valley, but caught the gold fever, and went in 1865 to Westland, whence he returned in the following year and settled near Christchurch. In 1871 he went to Rolleston, where he purchased his first sixty acres of land, all in its native state. He gradually increased his area to 188 acres, the capital value of which is £2400. Mr. Donaughey has had crops which have yielded as much as forty bushels of wheat and seventy bushels of oats in good seasons. He goes in extensively for fattening pigs, and prefers crossbred to purebred animals. Mr. Donaughey was married, in 1866, to Miss Ross, of Rossshire, Scotland, who came out to the Colony in the ship “Mersey.” Three sons and five daughters have been born of the marriage.

Mr. J. Donaughey's Family and Residence.

Mr. J. Donaughey's Family and Residence.

Ellis, John, Farmer, Rolleston. Mr. Ellis was born in Cornwall, England, in 1855. He was brought up to a miner's life, and worked in the tin mines of Pendeen and St. Just. In 1874 he came to New Zealand, in the ship “Isles of the South,” and landed at Lyttelton. He went to Springston, where he followed threshing and farming pursuits for a few years, and then removed to Rolleston, where he took up his present farm of 110 acres. The land has all been cultivated, and returns good crops. Mr. Ellis has served on the Rolleston school committee for five years, and is, at the present time (1903) its chairman. He married a daughter of the late Mr. William Hosking, of Springston, and has a surviving family of three sons and two daughters.

Lowe, Levi, Farmer, Rolleston. Mr. Lowe is a son of the late Mr. Levi Lowe, and was born at St. Albans, Christchurch, in 1861. He was brought up to agricultural work on his father's farm, at Rolleston, and page 728 afterwards accompanied him to Southland, where he managed his property. When his father returned, he accompanied him to Rolleston, and has since resided in the district. Mr. Lowe farms two properties of an aggregate area of 192 acres. For several years he has been connected with the Wesleyan church at Weedons, and has been secretary of the Sunday school, librarian, and organist of the church. Mr. Lowe married a daughter of the late Mr. James Carpenter, of Southland, who arrived at Lyttelton in 1874, by the ship “Dunedin,” and has four sons and one daughter.

Standish and Preece, photo.Mr. and Mrs L. Lowe.

Standish and Preece, photo.
Mr. and Mrs L. Lowe.

Whyte, Adam, Farmer, Rolleston. Mr. Whyte was born in Perthshire, Scotland, in 1859. He came to New Zealand with his parents in the ship “Sebastopol,” and arrived at Lyttelton in 1863. The family settled at Yaldhurst for a year, and then removed to Halkett, where they took up land, which had been broken up by Mr. Charles James, an early settler. Mr. Whyte, senior, remained there until his death, which took place on the 31st of October, 1893, when he was seventy-five years of age. Prior to that date Mr. Adam Whyte had taken over the property, and successfully worked it. In 1902 he sold out, and bought his present farm at Rolleston. This property, comprising 1810 acres, was formerly part of the Aylesbury estate, and it yields from twenty-five to thirty bushels of oats to the acre. At Halkett Mr. Whyte served on the school committee for about four years. He has taken an active part in ploughing matches, and has successfully bred draught horses, which have won prizes at the local shows. Mr. Whyte married a daughter of Mr. A. E. Davis, an old settler of Halkett, and has one son and two daughters.

Standish and Preece, photo.Mr. and Mrs A. Whyte and Family.

Standish and Preece, photo.
Mr. and Mrs A. Whyte and Family.

Mr. Levi Lowe, sometime of Rolleston, and one of the early settlers of the district, was born at Dudley, Staffordshire, England, in 1820, and worked for about eighteen years on the Earl of Dudley's estate. On St. Patrick's Day (the 17th of March), 1859, he arrived at Lyttelton, by the ship “Clontarf.” After working for Dr. Willis, at Opawa, for a year, he had a short experience on the West Coast diggings. On returning to Canterbury, he worked for two years on the station of Mr. Fitzgerald, the first Superintendent of the province. He then purchased a small farm at Lincoln, where he remained for about two years. About 1864 he took up 100 acres at Rolleston, and afterwards increased his holding to 350 acres, besides purchasing other property in the district, and also at Oxford. After selling some of his land, he removed to Southland, but six years later returned to Rolleston, where he resided up to the time of his death, in 1897. Mr. Lowe owned the first threshing plant in the Rolleston district, and he took an active interest in church and educational affairs.

The late Mr. L. Lowe.

The late Mr. L. Lowe.