The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 76
Wanganui Old Settlers
Wanganui Old Settlers.
Alexander, James.—One of the very earliest settlers in Wanganui, arriving here in about 1840 or '41 quite a young man. Mr. Alexander struggled on hard under great difficulties, having to "rough it" in the true, old-fashioned style for many years. He reaped the reward of his industry and perseverance, however, in the long run, and became a large land-owner and a wealthy man. He took into partnership his nephew, Mr. David Peat, one of Wanganui's best known and most respected settlers at the present time. The firm's properties comprise farms at Kai Iwi and Kaikokopu (near the town), besides a large and valuable country property in the Upper Waitotara district. Mr. Alexander died in 1894 at a good old age, leaving a widow—his second wife—a son, and daughter. Their town residence situate in Ingestre St. and Victoria Avenue is one of the most substantial and beautiful in the town.
Allison, Dr. Jas.—This gentleman came from Edinburgh, N.B., in about 1849 or '50, took up land and bronght up a family near Wanganui, calling his place Lambhill. Dr. Allison did not practise his profession, preferring farming pursuits. His wife was one of the Gilfillan family, some of whom were murdered by the Maoris during the disturbances in 1847-’48. Indeed, it was the massacre of the Gilfillans that led to the Maori War in Wanganui and up the Wanganui River in the years named. Dr. Allison left New Zealand for the Old Country in the pioneer steamer of the Panama route, the "Kaikoura," but succumbed to yellow fever after leaving the West Indies on the voyage Home, and was buried at sea. Dr. Allison was a Justice of the Peace, and a Member of the Wellington Provincial Council. He was a most estimable man, and greatly respected by all who knew him. His death happened in about 1871 or '72.page 8
Blyth, James.—This gentleman was an early settler and resided at "Mary Bank" about four miles from the town on the No. 1 Line of road. Mr. Blyth was a Justice of the Peace and Member of the Provincial Council, and a staunch supporter of the late Dr. Featherston, Superintendent of the Wellington Province. He came to an untimely end, however, having been thrown from his horse whilst riding home after dark one evening, his body being picked up by the roadside afterwards by a search party. Mr. Blyth was much respected and his death deeply regretted.
Bell, David and Peter.—These two brothers came out from Scotland quite young men in 1851 or 1852. They both entered the employ of the late firm of Taylor and Watt—the elder brother, David, as master of their smart little schooner the "Tyne"; the younger, Peter, as an assistant in the firm's general store on Taupo Quay. Later on, the two brothers entered into partnership "on their own" and started business as general storekeepers in Victoria Avenue. They both married in Wanganui and brought up large families, who are well and favourably known in the town and surrounding districts. Mr. David Bell died some years ago, but his brother, the well-known, highly respected, and popular "Peter," is still alive and hearty. Mr. P. Bell, who retired from active business quite recently, has all along been a most useful, consistent, and prominent member and elder of St. Paul's Presbyterian Church here.
Broughton, James.—This gentleman came to New Zealand with his family in the ship "William Hyde" to Lyttelton in 1850. They did not stay there, however, but came on to Wellington and from thence to Wanganui shortly afterwards. Mr Broughton engaged in business here as an auctioneer and commission agent, his two eldest sons, Charles William, and Edward, going on to land near Wanganui to learn farming. Mr. Broughton, senr., was an officer in His Majesty's Navy in the capacity of paymaster in several ships in the early years of the last century. Mr Broughton, who could spin many a good sailor's "yarn," lived to a good old age and died here about 24 years ago. His eldest son, Charles, was taken on as a native interpreter by the military authorities during the hostilities with the natives page 9 on this Coast in 1863-’64. He was most useful to the General Commanding and others, and plucky to the back bone! But he came to an untimely end, meeting his death at the hands of the natives at one of the pahs up the Coast when on an errand from the General, bearing despatches and a proclamation by the late Sir G. Grey, at that time Governor of New Zealand. He was treacherously and brutally murdered by the natives of the pah, decapitated, and his naked, headless body thrown down the cliff of the pah into a little stream below, where it was found many weeks afterwards. This occurred in October, 1865. His brother, Mr. Edward Broughton, entered the service of Messrs. Taylor and Watt in the early fifties and remained with them as manager of their business (the old firm) until 1894, when he died suddenly from an apoplectic fit. Mr. Edward Broughton, who was familiarly known as "the Duke," was very popular and much liked on account of his amiable, kindly disposition, and gentlemanly bearing.
Cameron, Captain John.—One of the earliest settlers and in the employ for some time in the forties of the late New Zealand Company on their survey staff. Later on, Mr. Cameron, who belonged to one of the best and oldest Highland families in Scotland, bought land and settled down on his beautiful farm called Marangai about five miles from the town, skirting the great South Road to Wellington. Here Mr. Cameron resided many years and up to the time of his death in 1893, working hard on his farm and dispensing hospitality in true Highland fashion to all and sundry who had the pleasure of his acquaintance. Indeed, everyone loved and honored good, honest John Cameron of Marangai. During the disturbances in the sixties, Mr. Cameron organised, and was appointed Captain of, a cavalry corps styled the Wanganui Cavalry Volunteers, and right good and useful service they rendered under their plucky, respected Captain, John Cameron.
Campbell, Captain Moses.—Another of the oldest settlers, a Highlander of the good old school, and at one time a Captain in the 73rd Highlanders. Captain Campbell saw a lot of service in the early years of the last century, and later on, having sold out, came to New Zealand with his family and settled in Taranaki. But page 10 he did not remain there long, preferring Wanganui, and settling here in about 1846. His farm at Wiritoa, named after a lovely little lake about four miles from town on the south side of the River Wanganui, is one of the best and most favourably known homesteads in the district. Here Captain Campbell and his family lived many years, and here the genial, kindly, hospitable old Highland gehtleman died in 1861, aged 75 years—a Highland laird and gentleman of the old school, truly! Captain Campbell brought up a large family of sons and daughters, most of whom are "in the land of the living," some here, and some in other parts of the colony. His third son. Mr. Ewen Campbell, is in possession of Wiritoa farm; is Chairman of the Wanganui Meat Freezing Company, and a most useful, highly respected settler to "boot."
Churton, Henry.—One of the first settlers of Wanganui, a gentleman of considerable means at one time, but somewhat peculiar and eccentric in his ways and manners. He lived a secluded life to a great extent at his place at Mataongaonga, about four miles from town on the left bank of the river—a very pretty place. Mr. Churton had a fine orchard of the choicest fruit trees, and he was rather proud of it, taking great pains with his trees and grafting them with the very best kinds. His great "hobby," however, was the Maoris, by whom he was surrounded; indeed, they made his place quite a resort and "at home" whenever they chose to visit him, whether from Putiki opposite the town, from Aramoho opposite his home, or from up-river, far and wide! But they must have cost him large sums of money from time to time, for it is no joke to entertain, feed, house, and clothe a lot of the aboriginals of New Zealand. Strange to narrate, Mr. Churton could never see any fault in his Maori friends, and would always take their part against Europeans, no matter how much in the wrong his dusky neighbours and friends might be! Indeed, Mr. Churton's fondness for, and the interest he took in the Maoris here, amounted to an infatuation. He was a martyr to gout for many years, and this did not improve his temper. He died quite poor, I believe, although at one time he was reputed to be a wealthy man. He built and endowed a very fine school for Maori girls just opposite his own place, which must page 11 have cost him a very considerable sum. It passed out of his hands several years ago, and is now used as an Old Men's Home.
Durie, Major D. S. (R-M.)—This gentleman was one of the first settlers to Wellington in the early forties and was in business there for some time. Later on be and his family moved up to Waikanae on the West Coast, where he took up land from the N.Z. Company. When the disturbances broke out at the Hutt in ’47 and ’48, "Major" Durie was appointed a Police Magistrate and did good, useful service with his police. He was one of those instrumental in the capture of the celebrated fighting rebel chief, Rauparaha, who was seized by order of Sir George Grey and placed 011 board H.M.S. Herald or Hazard—I am not sure which. This was a masterstroke of policy and tended considerably towards the cessation of hostilities at the Hutt and on this Coast. Afterwards Major Durie was appointed Resident Magistrate here, which position he continued to hold until retired upon pension in '66 or '67. Major Durie's place, named "Glen Durie," just opposite the town, was a favourite resort for scores of Wanganui people in bye-gone days, civilian and military alike, and there Mrs. Durie, one of the kindest and best of ladies who ever left the Land o' Cakes for New Zealand, dispensed hospitality with a lavish hand, always with the kindest of smiles and cheerfully—a clear, much beloved lady! Major Durie in his young days served in the Peninsular War in the Spanish Legion against Don Carlos. He was wounded, and on that account and for his bravery was presented with a sword, medal, and clasp by the Spanish Government of the day. When hostilities against the natives broke out on this Coast in '63, '64 Major Durie was appointed to a command in the New Zealand Militia, but we did not "take the field" as his magisterial duties kept him in the town. He died in 1874, aged 70.
Deighton, Samuel.—This gentleman, one of the best known and most popular of the early settlers, was for a time Clerk and Interpreter to the R.M. Court presided over by Major Durie, R.M. Mr. Deighton did not, however, continue long in this position, preferring a free-and-easy, unrestrained sort of life amongst his friends page 12 the officers of the Garrison,—65th Regiment,—the late Major Trafford, more especially, and others. Mr. Deighton was a great authority on horse racing, horses, and sport generally, and was much in evidence amongst all the sporting men at that time, at race meetings, etc. He was also a great authority on the culinary art, and no "mess" dinner or private dinner party was considered complete without the genial, obliging, good-natured "Sam" Deighton, who generally took charge of the kitchen for the time being and saw that everything to be placed on the table was "cooked to a turn" and served up in the very best style. Indeed, no one dreamt of interfering with "Sam" on such occasions, and his opinion and authority on all questions of cookery were never disputed. When all was ready and placed on the table, then "Sam," after hastily preparing himself as regards his toilet, etc., would take his place behind the principal dish at the head of the table and carve in the most approved fashion, passing remarks upon the various dishes and "laying down the law" on all questions connected with the culinary art. It is not too much to say that, in matters of gastronomy, viands of various kinds, flavouring essences and sauces, etc., "Sam" was regarded by all competent to express an opinion as being second only to the celebrated Soyer himself, of Crimean War fame! "Sam" Deighton for many years "floated" about the country—at one time in Wanganui, at another in Rangitikei, staying generally with his great friend and patron, Captain (afterwards Major) W. Rawson Trafford, who lived at a place called Korero-mai-waho in the Upper Rangitikei River, and who rented a big "run" from the Maoris on the south side of the Rangitikei River, known by the euphonious name of Mingiroa (the name of a pretty flowering native shrub). Mr. Deighton was elected Captain of the first Rifle Volunteer Corps formed in Wanganui in 1860 and was very popular with his men, although he never shown at drill or on parade. It was quite out of poor "Sam's" line! Some years afterwards, Captain Deighton was appointed by the Government of the day Resident Magistrate at the Chatham Islands, where he remained a considerable time until retired by the present Government only two or three years ago. Captain Deighton died quite recently in Canterbury at the ripe age of 80 years, if I reeollect rightly. He was one of page 13 Nature's gentlemen, a favourite with everyone, and I don't think he had an enemy, not in these parts, at any rate. R.I.P.!
Field, Henry Claylands (architect and surveyor, etc.)—This gentleman came to Wanganui in 1850 or 1851 and settled at Aramoho, about two and a-half miles from the town of Wanganui, where he still resides—a hale, hearty old gentleman. Mr. Field, accompanied by his young wife and child, walked the whole distance from Wellington to Wanganui, there being very little and uncertain communication, either by land or sea, between the two towns in those days. Mr. and Mrs. Field did the journey in about a week, sometimes travelling along the sea-beach, and sometimes inland following the native tracks, there being no road proper whatever then. It is related of Mr. and Mrs. Field that they carried most of their worldly possessions on their backs at the time, Mr. Field a heavy "swag," and Mrs. Field her baby and a pet parrot. They reached Wanganui without mishap after crossing numerous streams and rivers, wading through swamps, climbing steep hills, and camping out on sandhills near the sea shore. Mr. Field for many years lived an active life, and did much useful work in his profession here, and being a well educated man (he learnt his profession in one of the best establishments in London) and a great reader, his companionship was at all times agreeable and instructive. Besides carrying on his work in his profession for many years in Wanganui, Mr. Field took a deep and active interest in Church matters, being a staunch, consistent, good churchman of what is known as the Broad School; and being a lay-reader it frequently fell to his lot in bye-gone days to read the service in the Parish Church and sometimes a sermon as well. As a writer to the Press, too, Mr. Field excelled, his "style" being of the Addisonian stamp, and he always took care to write on subjects that he understood. His letters on various subjects have all along been instructive and well written. Of late years, Mr. Field's eyesight has failed considerably, but he can still read fairly well, and get about without difficulty. He is father of the member for Otaki, Mr. W. H. Field.
Garner, John.—Mr Garner is called the "Father of Wanganui," it being generally allowed that he was page 14 the first, or if not the first, the second or third white man that set foot in this place. This was, I believe, in 1839. Mr. Garner was at first in the employ of the New Zealand Company, but his trade or calling was that of a butcher, and a first-class butcher and judge of kine of all kinds he was. For very many years Mr. Garner and two stalwart sons carried on the butchering business in Wanganui, doing their own slaughtering and supplying H.M. Commissariat for the troops stationed here. Old John Garner was well and favourably known by everyone in the place, from the Colonel Commanding down to the small boys and girls of the town. His cheery laugh, and sunny, happy disposition made him a favourite with all. He lived to a green old age, 80 I think, and lies at rest in the Wangauui Cemetery where many more of the old identities are buried.
Gibson, John, of Kaikokopu, near the town, another of our oldest settlers who came out to Wellington in the "William Hyde" in 1850, and later on shifted with his large family of sons and daughters to Wanganui, taking up land at the above-named place. Mr. Gibson also purchased land in Wellington and for a considerable time owned some of the very best town properties in the Empire City. Although of Scotch descent, Mr. Gibson came from Devonshire, and a typical Devonian he was—vigorous, hard-working, fearless, outspoken, and as true as steel. He took an active part in politics, and was a consistent, sturdy opponent for several years of Provincialism and the late Dr. I. E. Featherston, Superintendent of the Wellington Province. He it was who got up a petition to the Governor, Sir George Grey, to obtain separation for Wanganui and Waitotara from Wellington. But nothing came of it; Dr. Featherston and the Provincialists were too strong for Mr. Gibson and those acting with him in the matter. In subsequent years Mr. Gibson's health gave way owing to disappointments, monetary losses, and family bereavements. He left for Sydney for the benefit of his health in a sailing vessel from Wanganui, but died before reaching Sydney and was buried at sea. This was about the year 1869 or '70.
Gibson, Dr. G. H.—This gentleman, who arrived in Wanganui early in 1859 was, perhaps, the mostpage break page 15
widely known, popular, and sought after of all those re-siding in Wanganui for several years. Dr. Gibson, or as he was familiarly known amongst his more intimate friends "little Gib.," came to Wellington from England as medical officer in charge of a number of immigrants. Previous to this he had seen a lot of life on the gold fields of Victoria—Ballarat, Bendigo, and other "diggings"—in the early fifties, and many a good story he could tell of them. But I don't think he made a "pile" whilst there, or if he did, he must have parted with it, for when he came to Wanganui he was what is called somewhat "hard up." Luckily for him at this time he met Captain Trafford in Wellington, and that gentleman, having taken quite a fancy to "little Gib.," persuaded him to go to Wanganui and enter into practice, there being a good opening just then for a medical man, Dr. George Rees, of whom I shall have something to say further on, having recently died. Acting upon the advice proffered by Captain Trafford, the little medico accompanied that gentleman to Wanganui, travelling on horseback and taking up his quarters at first with the Captain and other officers of the 65th Regiment. He soon made headway in his profession and became a great favourite with all and sundry—the ladies especially—as he was of a most genial, "taking" disposition, could sing a capital song, and possessing a beautiful voice was much sought after in social circles. He was also a great "sport" and very soon took a leading position at the race meetings, etc., etc. Taken altogether, Dr. Gibson was what might be termed a "good all-round man," and he was always much in evidence in almost everything that went on in the place, saving politics, which he detested! He was not long in making the acquaintance of Dr. Featherston, Superintendent of the Province, which ripened into a close and warm friendship, and which remained unbroken to the end of his life. I might say much of Dr. Gibson and his career in Wanganui from 1859 to 1869, or thereabouts, but to do so would take, up altogether too much space. Suffice it to say that during the whole period, and until his health gave way, Dr. Gibson's kindness, goodness, liberality, and charity were boundless, and many a poor man and woman have had occasion to bless him for his kindness and large-hearted liberality. In 1868 Dr. Gibson took into partnership Dr. R. C. Earle, who is still here and in practice. page 16 Together, these two medical men secured a large and lucrative practice, but Dr. Gibson's health completely giving way later on, he went to England for advice and treatment, but he did not last long there. He died of consumption at Ramsgate in 1870, at the early age of 49,—Dr. Featherston, who was Agent-General for the colony at that time, looking after his old friend and frequently visiting him. Dr. Gibson was for many years Colonial, or Hospital, Surgeon for Wanganui, and was reckoned very skilful, having performed many difficult and critical operations at the hospital as well as in the course of his private practice. There is a handsome and very appropriate memorial stone of Dr. Gibson in the Wanganui Cemetery which for many years stood in front of the Old Hospital on the river bank (Taranaki Quay) but was removed to the cemetery four years ago. This memorial stone was subscribed for, and placed in its former and present position by Dr. Earle, Dr. Gibson's partner for several years, and a few of his more intimate and cherished friends. Dr. Gibson's name will long live in the memories of many in Wanganui and surrounding districts who benefitted by his professional services, participated in his boundless hospitality, and enjoyed his kindness, generosity, and intense good nature.
Gotty, John.—Another of the very early settlers of Wanganui, arriving here sometime in the forties, if I am not mistaken. What business or calling he followed before coming to Wanganui, I cannot exactly say, but he must have been a man of some means. He was a native of Germany and a "Count" in his own right, and took charge of the Rutland Hotel, the principal, if not the only, hotel in Wanganui. This must have been in 1850 or '51. He continued in the hotel business for several years and then sold out to Mr. James Speed. The Rutland, named after the English County in which the 65th Regiment of Foot was raised, was the favourite resort for everybody who was anybody at all, in those "good old days." Here used to assemble the officers of the Garrison and all the young "sparks" and "sports" of the day, and many a pleasant evening and rousing time were spent within the walls of the Rutland Hotel during the proprietorship of jolly John Gotty, and subsequently. Mr. Gotty page 17 never, for reasons of his own, assumed the title of "Count" or even allowed himself to be addressed as "Herr" John Gotty, preferring to be known as plain John G. It was said that he had been engaged in more than one "affair of honour" in the Fatherland; whether this be true or not, I cannot say, but I can vouch for bis courage, pluck, and determination, and I should be inclined to think he would have proved a dangerous customer to tackle! For energy, industry, and dogged pluck and perseverance it would have been hard to beat honest John Gotty. He married a native woman of rank belonging to a Rangitikei tribe, I believe, and by her had two sons who grew up to be very fine, tall, handsome young men. They were sent to England to be educated and afterwards returned to the colony and to Wanganui, but what has become of them now, I cannot say. Mr. Gotty died a year or two ago somewhere in the Rangitikei district, at a very advanced age.
Handley, John.—One of Wanganui's best and most esteemed early settlers. Mr. Handley and his fine family of four sons and three daughters lived for many years at their beautiful farm, "Southern Grove," near Westmere, about six miles from town on the Taranaki or north side of Wanganui. Mr. Handley was a typical English farmer, and brought the knowledge and experience gained in the Old Country into play on his New Zealand property. "Southern Grove" was a model farm and a favourite resort of the officers of the Garrison and many more besides, where all were heartily welcomed and hospitably entertained. Mr. Handley was a member of the Provincial Council for his part of the district, and was all along a staunch and consistent supporter of the late Dr. Isaac Earl Featherston and provincialism in the fifties and sixties. He was also a Justice of the Peace and, as already stated, a man held in high esteem and of the kindliest nature—in a word, as fine a specimen of a thorough good English farmer as ever left the shores of the Old Country to settle in New Zealand. Mr. Handley met with an untimely death in 1867 when, riding home one evening from town, his horse fell and rolled over him, crushing his chest. He was found in this condition by the roadside unconscious, and taken home, but he lingered for a few days only in great pain and then passed away at the page 18 comparatively early age of 56. Mr. Handley's sons are all, I believe, still in the district, one, Mr. John Handley, living on his property at Okehu, near Kai-iwi. The beautiful family home, "Southern Grove," passed into other hands after Mr. Handley's death.
Harrison, Henry Shafto.—A Yorkshire gentleman of means, Mr. Harrison came to Wellington sometime in the forties and afterwards to Wanganui where he bought land and settled down with his wife and family—at first on St. John's Hill where he was burnt out just as his house was about finished, and afterwards at "Warrengate," a splendid property of considerable acreage about seven miles from town on the No. 2 Line of road, south side of the Wanganui River. Here Mr. Harrison and his family of one son, Mr. H. Nevin Harrison, and three daughters, lived many years. The first Mrs. Harrison died shortly after coming to New Zealand, and Mr. Harrison's second wife was a Miss Fletcher of Wellington by whom he had a son and daughter. The latter married Mr. R. K. Chamberlain, who is a first cousin of the Rt. Hon. Joseph Chamberlain, Secretary of State for the Colonies. Mr. and Mrs. Chamberlain and their family live on the Estate, "Warrengate," and have done so for some time past. But to return to Mr. H. Shafto Harrison. He was M.H.R. for this district for several years and was a well known figure in the "House," remarkable for his courteous, gentlemanly bearing, and ready wit. Indeed, during all the time that he was a Member he was considered the wit of the House, and many queer sayings and funny anecdotes used to be related of him. Later on, Mr. Harrison gave way to Mr., afterwards, Hon. John Bryce. Mr. Harrison was also a Member of the Provincial Council and Executive, and a great political and personal friend of Dr. Featherston. Mr. Harrison, in addition to this and much more, was a most liberal man and spent much money in the place and upon improving his fine property. He was also a great patron and supporter of the turf, and for many years was President of the Wanganui Jockey Club. The "Harrison Memorial Stakes" still finds a place on the programme of the Wanganui Jockey Club. One good story illustrative of Mr Harrison's ready wit I must relate. It is too good to be overlooked in any account or "sketch" of the genial, kindly old gentleman. Coming page 19 into town one day from Warrengate, and jogging along the Quay, he happened to meet an old identity whom he had not seen for years, but who did not bear a very good reputation. This person stopped to speak to Mr. H. and accosted him thus—"Why, Mr. H., don't you remember me?" "No," said Mr. H., "I don't know you; who are you?" "Why," said the other, "I am——, don't you remember me?" "Oh, yes, yes, of course," replied Mr. H., "I remember you, but I thought you were hanged long ago. You ought to have been; good day!" Mr. Harrison, after lingering for some time on a sick bed, died at his town residence in 1891, aged 84.
Harper, Thomas.—This gentleman with his wife and son arrived in Wanganui in 1863 or ’54 from England and took up land at Wai-ora near West mere about five miles from town—a very beautiful spot. Before going on to their land, the Harpers stayed in town until about ’57 whilst the house was being built and the place improved. Here they remained until hostilities with the Maoris broke out in ’63, ’64, and onwards. In about ’67 they had to abandon their beautiful farm and come into town, seeking protection and safety under the very guns almost of the Garrison stationed in the old Rutland Stockade on the sand-hill of that name in the centre of the town. In 1868 Mr. and Mrs. Harper went to England principally for the benefit of Mr. H.'s health and surgical treatment, leaving their son in charge of Wai-ora and returning in 1869 or 1870. Hostilities having ceased with the natives after the capture of the Wereroa Pah by the Militia, Volunteers, and friendly natives (Kupapas) under the native chief, Major Kemp—Te Keepa Tanguru, or Rangihiwhinui—and General Chute's celebrated expedition through the country at the back of Mt. Egmont to New Plymouth, the Harpers, in common with many other settlers, returned to their country property and settled down again. Mr. Harper's health, however, again broke down, and be eventually succumbed to the insidious disease that had clung to him for several years. He died in 1872 aged 73 years. Mr. Harper, junr., died also not long after, after lingering and suffering almost unspeakable torture for about two years from some spinal complaint Mr. Harper, senr., was at one time Sheriff for this district and for page 20 many years a Justice of the Peace—a genial, kindly English gentleman of the old school. It ought to be mentioned that in early life Mr. Harper was a "middy" on board H.M.S. "Northumberland," the ship in which the great, but conquered Napoleon Buonaparte was conveyed a prisoner to St. Helena. Afterwards he was in the Legacy Office at Somerset House for many years before coming to New Zealand. The beautiful Waiora Estate was, subsequent to the decease of the Harpers, sold. Several of Mr. and Mrs. Harper's grandchildren are now residing in Wanganui and other parts of the country.
Hewett, Jas. Duff.—This well-known figure of Wanganui's early days, related on his mother's side to the Duff (Duke of Fife) family, came to the district in about 1854, and took up land near Kai-iwi, his property being named "Toe" farm. Mr. Hewett's father, the late Lt.-Col. Hewett, was an old Waterloo officer and saw a lot of service under the "Iron Duke." He retired from the Army many years ago, of course, and lived chiefly at Folkestone where he spent his declining years and where he died. He was a gentleman of means and kept his son "going" for several years and, I fancy, up to the time of his tragic death. Of this terrible affair I must give some account. Mr. Hewett's farm was dangerously situated on the outskirts of the settled district of Kai-Iwi, and he was almost surrounded by Maoris with whom he was (apparently) on friendly terms. Being a gentleman by birth and education, the natives looked upon him as a rangatira and thought much of him, calling him "Tiemi" (James) and their "pakeha." Unfortunately for Mr. Hewett, he trusted these natives too much, employing them to shear for him, etc., and letting them have the "free run," so to speak, of his place. This was absolute folly on his part as was afterwards proved; nor would poor Hewett listen to the warnings and entreaties of his numerous friends in town, many of whom knew the treacherous nature of the Maoris in time of war. Instead of leaving his farm—at night at any rate-and seeking safety in one of the blockhouses in the district, he persisted in remaining at his place, saying that he did not fear his Maori "friends," and that they would not injure or molest him. Of course, during the disturbances of page 21 1863, ’64, ’65, Mr. Hewett in common with many other settlers sent his wife and family into town for safety but remained at "Toe" farm himself, saying to those who expostulated with him, and warned him of his danger—"What's the good of a man without sheep?" The thing feared followed, for one day in February, 1865, the whole community was horrified and thrown into a great state of excitement by the news brought into town that James Duff Hewett had been treacherously murdered by some of the very natives whom he had employed as shearers. This occurred early one morning before the break of day. His almost naked and headless body was afterwards found by a party from the stockade lying in the middle of the dray road leading to town. Poor Hewett's head was taken away by his bloodthirsty, treacherous murderers and afterwards carried about the country on a pole by the fanatical Hauhaus; and thus tragically ended at a comparatively early age the career of James Duff Hewett—a brave, kindly, good-natured, though somewhat headstrong, gentleman. Mr. Hewett's widow resides at Marton, I believe, and her brother, Mr. J. W. Baker, at Brook-dale farm near Wanganui—a gentleman well known in the district, a good settler, and greatly respected.
Higgie, Thomas, the elder, one of the widest known names in the whole district, as well as in Rangitikei etc.—Mr. Higgie arrived in Wellington in 1841 or '42 in the "Olympus," the same ship of the New Zealand Company in which the late Dr. Isaac Earl Featherston, so frequently referred to in these "sketches," came to the colony. Dr. F. was in medical charge of the ship and, as a matter of course, was well acquainted with the Higgie family at that time and in after years both in Wellington and Wanganui. Shortly after arrival in Port Nicholson, Mr. Higgie went to the Hutt with Mr. Milne, late of Marton (deceased), cleared some land, and "chipped" the wheat into the soil with adzes—a primitive way of sowing wheat! After this they heard that the Maoris—hostile Maoris—were coming, so they went from Wellington in a boat to the Hutt. threshed all night, and then returned to Wellington taking the wheat with them. The Maoris came down after they left and destroyed everything they could page 22 lay their hands upon! After all this (dates not ascertained) Mr. Higgie built the Wellington blockhouse for the safety and security of the settlers against native attacks. Subsequently he went up to Manawatu with Mr. Kebble, a well-known Wellington settler and miller, and built a mill for that gentleman. While they were away a big fire broke out in Wellington. This was in 1844 or ’45. Mrs. Higgie and their two young children had a narrow escape of being burnt to death; their little hut was burnt to the ground, and Mrs. H. and her children sought shelter all night under a boat. Mrs. Featherston came down next day to assist the family. In 1846 or ’47 Mr. Higgie, who was a carpenter and shipwright by trade, built the Porirua blockhouse, a stone structure. The Maoris were fighting the Europeans in the Horokiwi Valley at this time. In 1848 the great earthquake took place, which knocked the village to pieces, and the Porirua blockhouse was so injured that it was condemned and abandoned. The Higgie family came to Wanganui in about 1849, and Mr. Higgie brought cattle up the Coast for the late Captain W. B. Rhodes. He afterwards bought land in the township of Wanganui where the New Zealand Clothing Factory now stands, right opposite the Rutland Hotel in Ridgway Street and Victoria Avenue. For this now most valuable section, upon which then stood a clay hut, Mr. Higgie paid £30. He built two houses on the section, and in after years sold it to the late Mr. J. A. Burnett for £1000! Mr Higgie built a mill also about this time for the Maoris at Putiki, where the family then resided. Later on Mr. H. built a house for the late Major Durie, R.M., at Glen Durie, right opposite the town. He also built the hospital and the barracks for the troops on the Rutland Hill; and formed the road under Shakespeare's Clift, so that it will be seen that Mr. Higgie did a great deal of useful work in Wanganui in those days. A brig of 400 tons named the "Tyra" that was stranded on Petone beach Wellington (date not ascertained) was purchased by Mr. Higgie for a trifle, launched, loaded with cattle, and taken to Lyttelton and Port Chalmers—a good "spec." In 1807 Mr. Higgie bought 3600 acres of land on the No. 2 Line of road, Wanganui, a very valuable property which he farmed succesfully. Subsequent to his death in 1884, this property was cut up and parcelled out amongst hispage break page 23
six sons. Messrs. Thomas, junr., Alexander, and James Higgie are still in occupation of their farms; the other three sons parted with their portions. In 1864 a steamer named the "Prince Alfred" was stranded on the south beach near the entrance to the Wanganui River. Mr. Higgie purchased the abandoned vessel, launched her successfully seaward, got her safely into the river, repaired and refitted her, loaded her with cattle for the troops in Auckland at that time, and sold them to H.M. Commissariat. Afterwards he sold the vessel herself to the Commissariat as a transport for £4000—not a bad bargain! At another time (date not known) Mr. Higgie launched a stranded vessel named the "Yarra" from the South "Spit," Wanganui Heads, and sold her to Messrs. Taylor and Watt. [I recollect this circumstance, also the stranding and launching of the "Prince Alfred" (p.s.), well.] From all this it will be seen that the late Mr. Higgie was a most energetic, useful, and enterprising settler. Indeed he was never idle, but a tremendous worker and a man in "dead earnest." I knew him well, and can testify to his industry, enterprise, honesty, and integrity. He was a typical Scot of sterling qualities and the right sort. Born at Cupar, Fife, N.B., in 1817; died at his place, Okoia, near Wanganui, in 1884, aged 67. Mr. Higgie left a large and fine family of "stalwarts" behind him, the best known of them, probably, being Mr. Alexander ("Alec.") Higgie, a prominent member of the Wanganui Jockey Club, Judge at the race meetings, a good all-round "sport," a jolly good fellow, and a general favourite! Mr. "Alec." has quite recently returned from a trip to the Old Country and the Continent of Europe.
Hogg, Revd. David.—The first Presbyterian minister to Wanganui also arrived here from Scotland in the early fifties—about '53 or '54. Mr. Hogg continued in the discharge of his sacred vocation until about 1870, when his health failing he retired and lived with his family in Wanganui for some years. He was succeeded by the Revd. J.—now Dr.—Elmslie. Later on Mr. Hogg's health completely broke down and he was sent to Wellington for medical treatment where he died in 1880, aged 69. Mr. Hogg was, I suppose, personally known to every Scotsman,—Presbyterian, Free page 24 Kirk, or what not, in the district. He was greatly respected, and as scholar, theologian, and preacher, I fancy there were few in New Zealand in his time who could surpass him. He left a large family of sons and daughters, several of whom are resident in this town and neighbourhood. One, Mr. John Hogg, joined the First Contingent to South Africa, returned from thence for a short time, and quite recently went back to the seat of war.
Imlay, Peter.—This Scotch gentleman came to Taranaki in the forties from Twofold Bay, New South Wales. He did not remain in Taranaki very long, however, and after making several overland journeys to Wanganui, often staying here several weeks at a time, finally removed with his family to this place and settled down on his fine property—Balgownie, originally named Bellhaven, close to the town and skirting the sea-coast, and extending nearly as far as Kai-iwi. This was in 1857. Here Mr. Imlay remained with his family until his death in 1881, cultivating a part of the estate, but not taking any active part in public affairs. Mr. Imlay, who was an excellent judge of stock, imported a number of blood horses and brood mares from Twofold Bay, and I should be inclined to say that there are numbers of first-class animals in the district to-day whose progenitors came from there. Mr. Imlay was a man of retiring habits and disposition, and only visited the town when business compelled him, preferring the quiet and serenity of his comfortable home at Balgownie to the bustle of a town and the hum of the "madding crowd." Since Mr. and Mrs. Imlay's death, the estate has been partially cut up and sold, and at the time of writing there is quite a pretty little township named "Gonville" standing on a portion of Balgownie, which originally must have comprised about 10,000 acres of land of various kinds and qualities. The late Mr. Imlay was a Justice of the Peace, but he rarely sat on the Bench, preferring the seclusion of his home. He attained to the extreme old age of 94.
Jones, Henry Ireson.—This much esteemed, highly-respected, warm-hearted English gentleman, the son of a Colonel in the British Army, came to the district in 1853, after residing a few months in Wellington. Mr. Jones came to the colony from Victoria, where he saw page 25 and experienced some of the ups and downs of life on the goldfields of Ballarat, Bendigo, etc., in 1850-51. Whilst on the goldfields, Mr. Jones tell in with Lord Robert Cecil, now the Marquis of Salisbury, Premier of England. They "chummed up," to use a digger's phrase, and voyaged together in a sailing vessel from Adelaide to Port Philip (Melbourne), and a warm friendship sprang up between them as a result of their experiences together on the "diggings" in the early days of Victoria. On arriving in Wanganui, Mr. Jones at once embarked in farming pursuits, taking up some land having a river frontage about eight miles from the, then, little village of Wanganui, right bank of the river. Here Mr. Jones, with his young wife and family, remained for several years, working hard on his land and improving his farm. But it was an up-hill struggle; times were bad, the price of produce low, and there was no market to speak of. At length Mr. Jones "sold out," abandoned the farm at Papaiti, and came to live in town, taking up a small holding near the present racecourse. This he farmed, working hard from "early morn to dewy eve," whilst his estimable, thrifty wife helped to keep things going for their rising family by starting a girl's school—an excellent school, truly, at which many now grown-up women and matrons were well taught and rendered fit for the battle of life and in their turn to become heads of families. Later on, Mr. Jones was advised by friends to start in business as a bookseller and stationer, there being no such thing as a stationer's shop in Wanganui in those days—1859-’60. Mr. Jones followed the advice proffered him, and opened a small shop on Taupo Quay next door to the Post Office and Customhoue. It turned out quite a success; and as the place increased in size and importance, so did Mr. Jones's business. Later on, Mr. Jones shifted into the Avenue and considerably enlarged his business, taking into partnership his second son, Mr. Leonard H. Jones, who succumbed to enteric fever in 1887, leaving a widow and child to mourn their loss. This was a great grief to Mr. Jones. He retired from an active participation in the business of H. I. Jones and Son some years ago, and has since been living in retirement at his pretty country place on No. 2 Line, about three miles from town. The business, started in a small way in 1860, has grown into quite a large "concern"—one of the largest and best-managed in the page 26 colony probably. Mr. Jones's eldest son, Lloyd, and his third son, Frederick Ireson, carry on the business assisted by a large staft of employees. Quite recently, the premises have been re-built in brick, and enlarged; and the building is now one of the most up-to-date, imposing business edifices in the town, as the representation of same in the special edition of the "Weekly Press" devoted to "Wanganui, Pretty, Prosperous and Progressive," recently published testifies. Mr. and Mrs. Jones celebrated their golden-wedding at their country home in November, 1898, when a large number of relatives from far and near assembled to congratulate the worth)', much-beloved couple on that occasion. Mr. Jones is now in his 79th year, and, I am happy to add, hale and hearty.
Lett, James.—This gentleman came to Wanganui in the early forties, but the exact year I cannot state. He was the first Postmaster of Wanganui, then called "Petre," after Lord Petre, a prominent Catholic nobleman of those days, and who, if I mistake not, was in some way connected with the Colonial Office and perhaps, the New Zealand Company. The business of the Post Office was then carried on in a small room off the verandah of Mr. and Mrs. Garner's house facing the Avenue, where Messrs. H. I. Jones's shop and other business premises now stand. Mr. Lett was a gentleman of the old school, a man of culture, and a great "sport." He had much to do with establishing horse-racing in Wanganui, and I think I am right in saying, "sported silk" himself on more than one occasion as a gentleman rider. If so, he was in good company in those days, for such gentlemen as the late Sir W. Fox, Sir E. W. Stafford, and others did the same. Mr. Lett died in 1854, at the early age of 37. He was succeeded as Postmaster by Mr. Charles C. Des Vœux—an aristocrat of the "first water," and at one time an officer in the Austrian Army. Mr. Lett left a widow and two sons, one of whom, Mr. James Lett, resides in Wanganui.
Lewis, Edward.—A man well known in business circles, both in Wellington and Wanganui. In the early fifties Mr. Lewis was in the employ of Mr. Thomas Waters, of whom more anon, but returned to Wellingon, where he remained till 1861, when he joined thepage break page 27
old established firm of Taylor and Watt as junior partner here in Wanganui. As with many more partnerships, matters did not run quite smoothly, and eventually the partnership was dissolved, and Mr. Lewis embarked in business as a general merchant, importer, and auctioneer on his own account. Mr. Lewis did a large and, for a time, lucrative business, especially in partnership with the late Mr. Warwick Weston, brother of Mr Thomas S. Weston, barrister, etc. Together, these two gentlemen had very large contracts with H.M. Commissariat during the war on this Coast (1863-’65), and they must have made money then. After the war, a re-action set in, and things did not look very "rosy" for Wanganui. Mr. Lewis about this time speculated heavily in wool and lost as heavily. In the end, he had to succumb, disposed of his business, and went to Auckland. This was about 1870 or ’71. For several years past, Mr. Lewis and some of his family have been residing in Melbourne. Any "sketch" of Mr. Lewis's career in Wanganui would be incomplete without some reference to his unbounded hospitality and kindness to all and sundry during his sojourn in this town and whilst "Fortune smiled upon him." He kept open house, so to speak, and everybody who was anyone at all, was welcome at Mr. Lewis's comfortable home in Victoria Avenue, just opposite St. Paul's Presbyterian Church. This house has disappeared now; a vacant section marks the place where it once stood; shops of one kind and another have been erected close by; and I suppose that ere long the ground will be built upon where once stood the hospitable abode of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Lewis.—(Since writing this a fine building in brick has been erected on the section. It is owned by Dr. R. C. Earle). Many a pleasant evening have I and dozens besides spent there, and many fond memories cling to the spot where mirth, feast, and song caused the night hours to pass unheeded away, and when the first rays of the rising sun warned those assembled that dawn was breaking and that it was time to depart to their several abodes. We hear and read of all-night "sittings" of the House during the session of Parliament when wordy warfare too frequently prevails; but our all-night sittings were characterised by mirth, jollity, friendship and, I am pleased to add, courteous behaviour towards each other.page 28
Lockett, Jonas.—One of the very first settlers who came to Wanganui in 1840 or ’41. He was at that time in the employ of the late Mr. Henry Churton as a sort of "general useful," or something of the kind. Later on, Mr. Lockett was employed (on Sundays) as verger at the Anglican Church, and still later on in 1853, ’54, as tide-waiter, locker, and messenger in H.M. Customs under Mr. C. C. Des Vœux, the late Captain Charles Sharp. Collector of Customs (1859), and myself, 1863 to 1878. Mr. Lockett was a staunch Churchman, and did yeoman's service for the Church in his various capacities of verger, vestryman, and churchwarden. Indeed, I firmly believe that Mr. Lockett never missed going to Church, wet or dry, summer or winter, unless he was seriously indisposed. He was a true staunch Churchman of the broad school; honest in his beliefs, consistent in his "daily walk and conversation," and living a blameless, exemplary life. Would to God there were more like simple, honest, Jonas Lockett in the Anglican Church as we know it now-a-days with its Ritualism, formalism, sacerdotalism, and Romanism. Mr. Lockett was "pensioned off" by the Government in 1879, and passed the rest of his days in Wanganui in peace and retirement. He died in 1884, leaving a widow and a grown-up son and daughter by his first wife. Mr. Lockett was a bit of a "character" in his way, and before closing this "sketch" I must narrate one very amusing anecdote of him. It was in the fifties, about 1853, let me say, and a well-known gentleman in business here as an auctioneer, etc.—the late Mr. Thomas Powell—requiring some repairs to his business premises on Taupo Quay at that time, was recommended to Mr. Lockett as the "handy man" of Wanganui. Accordingly, Mr. Lockett was sent for and put in an appearance. Thus Mr. Powell—"Ah! well, Mr. L., I hear that you can turn your hand to almost anything; I want this door looked to; it does not open and shut properly. Can you make it all right?" "Certainly, sir," replied Mr. Lockett. "In point of fact, since I came to this colony I have to do all sorts of things. Indeed, sir," he added, "put me down in the middle of the Great Sahara Desert, sir, and I would make a living where another would starve!" "Oh! very well," replied Mr. Powell, "you are just the man I want." And he was engaged for the job on the spot!page 29
McGregor, Captain John, born at Perth, N.B., in 1813, was one of the very first Europeans who came to this part of New Zealand. He arrived in Wanganui in 1839 or 1840, and remained here, off and on, until his death in 1882. He had been a seafaring man in his early years, and was styled "Captain" McGregor, having been in command of vessels at various times, but he was familiarly known all over this district as plain "Jock" McGregor in contradistinction to the other Mc-Gregors, whose name was, and is, "legion" in and around Wanganui. Captain McGregor took up land on No. 3 Line, Wanganui, south side of the river,—a beautiful place of considerable acreage, which he named "Cherry Bank"; a very appropriate name, for McGregor's orchard was for many years famed for its fruit, and more especially cherries of the finest and choicest kinds. It need hardly be added here that, during the fruit season, "Captain" McGregor was favoured with many visitors from town and round about, who were always hospitably and generously entertained by the genial "skipper." During the disturbances in 1847-48-49, Captain McGregor stuck to Wanganui and did his share of fighting the Maoris in common with other settlers here in those stirring times. Some thrilling stories, still extant, used to be told of Captain McGregor's prowess; one in particular relates that he was chased by a number of bloodthirsty savages close to the river bank right opposite the town near the summit of Shakespeare's Cliff—an eminence about 150ft. high—and that in order to escape from his pursuers, the intrepid Captain literally took a "leap for life" right over the precipitous, frowning cliff, rolling over and over through the scrub and landing on his feet, very much shaken but not seriously injured! His dusky pursuers, no doubt considering "discretion the better part of valour," gave up pursuit of the intrepid Captain, who afterwards swam across the river to town and into safety under cover of a 10-pounder and musketry fire ("Brown Bess's" in those days) from the garrison on the Rutland Stockade—the hero of the day. "Captain" Mc-Gregor, who was a man of great energy and industry, worked on at his nice farm for many years and, I imagine, must have done very well, for he was frugal, sparing, and careful of his means. In about 1855 or ’56 he re-visited his native country, Scotland, returning to page 30 New Zealand in 1857 in his own vessel, the "Ariel," a very handsome, smart topsail-schooner of about 90 tons register, which he safely navigated himself all the way from Glasgow to Wanganui. I recollect distinctly seeing the pretty schooner sailing up the river one beautiful summer evening and anchoring opposite the Rutland Stockade right under the shadow of Shakespeare's Cliff—the spot where a few years before he had taken his "leap for life." Perhaps he selected this particular part of the river where to anchor his vessel in order that he might calmly, and perhaps fondly, view from his vessel's deck the scene of his thrilling adventure and hairbreadth escape in 1848 or ’49. The beautiful "Cherry Bank" farm, after the death of the Captain in 1882, passed into the possession of his son-in-law, also a John McGregor, who still resides there with his family.
McWilliam, Thomas (senr.), Peter, and Thomas (junr.)—This sturdy Scotch family came to Wanganui in 1852, the elder McWilliam with his wife and younger children having lived in Wellington (Wade's Town) a short time before coming up to Wanganui, where they were joined later on (1852) by their two eldest sons, Peter and Thomas, from Victoria. The family took up land in the Matarawa Valley, near Wanganui, and established themselves there in farming pursuits, and naming their place "New Seat," a name it still retains. Thomas McWilliam, the elder, a grand specimen of the sturdy, honest, God-fearing Scotchman, died here in 1879 at the advanced age of 79, leaving behind him a large number of descendants and an honoured name. Mr. Thomas McWilliam left Wanganui some years ago and went to live at Winton, Otago, where he has done well, whilst Mr. Peter McWilliam is still here and living at his place, "Mars Hill," on the No. 2 Line of road. A younger son of Mr. Thomas McWilliam, senr., Mr. James McWilliam, joined the Anglican Church, was ordained as a missionary to the Maoris by the Bishop of Wellington, the Right Revd. Octavius Hadfield, and entered upon missionary work amongst the natives at Otaki and neighbouring settlements on the West Coast between Rangitikei and Wellington. The Revd. James McWilliam is still living at Otaki and carrying on his work amongst the natives, and Europeans also.page break page 31
Morgan, John.—One of the oldest and best known settlers, probably, that Wanganui can boast of, and still "in the land of the living," I am pleased to add—was born in the village of Gillingham, Dorsetshire, in 1829, and came out to New Zealand, in company with a younger brother, Mr. William Morgan, in the ship "Berkshire" to Taranaki (New Plymouth) in 1850. The two brothers took up land from the New Zealand Company at Tatarai-maka, about 15 miles south of the town of New Plymouth, but did not remain there long, leaving Taranaki and coming down to Wanganui in 1853. Mr. John Morgan afterwards went back to New Plymouth, married, and returned to Wanganui in 1854, joining and working for the late Mr. John Treweek on his farm at Kai-iwi, about nine miles north of Wanganui town and skirting the sea-coast. Mrs. Morgan, it is interesting to state, came out to New Plymouth in 1841—then a young girl—in the ship "William Bryant," amongst the first batch of emigrants from the Old Country (Devonshire and Cornwall) to Taranaki. Later on, Mr. Morgan leased some land from, the late Mr. Peter Imlay—a portion of the fine Balgownie estate, previously known as "Seafield," and farmed it. Afterwards, in 1857, he leased some land from the late Dr. George Rees adjoining the Race-course close to the town, which he also successfully farmed, and in 1861 purchased the beautiful "Newtonlees" estate of about 700 acres, just four miles from town on the south side of the Wanganui River, and close to the pretty little Wiritoa and other lakes. Here Mr. Morgan brought up his large family of six sons and four daughters, working on, and improving his beautiful farm almost continuously until 1901, when he leased it to Mr. W. M. Ashton and came into town to reside, and where he still resides—in Mathieson Street. Mr. Morgan, during all these years, gained for himself the reputation of being a first-class, practical English farmer of the right stamp; and it is, perhaps, interesting to mention "right here"—to use an Americanism—that he was the first to introduce into New Zealand and use on his farm at "Newtonlees" a "Samuelson" mowing machine. Through Mr. Morgan's influence and interesting himself in this behalf, Mr. John Duthie, the well-known and much respected iron merchant of Wellington, was appointed agent for Samuelson's mowing-machines in this part of the colony.page 32
(Mr Duthie at that time—about 1869—was in business in Wanganui where Thain and Co.'s fine shop now is). It should not be omitted to mention, also, that Mr. Morgan was the first farmer in this district to introduce the Hampshire Down breed of sheep. During his many years residence in Wanganui, Mr. Morgan until recently took an active and lively interest in politics, local, provincial, and colonial, and he was always a consistent and staunch supporter of the (so-called) Conservative Party under such leaders as Sir John Hall, the late Sir Harry Atkinson, the Hon. John Bryce, Captain Russell, and others. Mr. Morgan was member for Wangaehu in the Provincial Council at Wellington from 1868 to 1876 continuously, in which latter year the provinces were abolished by Act of Parliament and the county system substituted. This great, fundamental change in our system of government was brought about mainly through the instrumentality of the late Sir Julius Vogel, Premier and Colonial Treasurer at that time. The late Sir William Fitzherbert was Superintendent of the Province of Wellington when the change took place. Mr. Morgan was also a member of the first Harbour Board in Wanganui. This was in 1876, if I recollect rightly, and he did the port and district good and valuable service about this time in connection with a serious breach in the sand-ridge, or "dunes," between the Landguard Bluff and the mouth of the river, caused by the inroads of the sea which at high water washed across the ridge through the channel it cut into the river. This would have proved a serious matter for the navigation of the river and port, no doubt, had it not been checked. Mr. Morgan advised the placing of bags filled with sand, also fascines, in the breach so as to close it up and keep out the sea. This was successfully accomplished, although Mr. Morgan's scheme met with some opposition. Afterwards, when the late Sir John Coode, the eminent marine engineer, visited Wanganui with a view to inspecting and reporting upon the river and entrance to same, etc., he thoroughly approved of Mr. Morgan's plan, and warmly complimented him upon same, adding that the best, most experienced engineer could not have devised and carried out a better scheme! This was great praise, certainly, coming from such a high authority. I may just say in this connection that the work done was a complete success, and I fancy I am page 33 right in stating that the breach made by the sea above referred to has not given any trouble since it was closed up in 1877. Mr. Morgan was also instrumental, in conjunction with Mr. D. G. Poison, Mangawhero, farmer, in getting the tolls on the Wanganui Bridge abolished—a great boon to the town and district generally. This was in 1882. For several years past Mr. Morgan has lived in comparative retirement owing to failing health and having been for a considerable time a martyr, so to speak, to acute rheumatism and sciatica. Although he obtained temporary relief after visiting and using the sulphur springs at Te Aroha, he is now almost a cripple and gets about with difficulty with the aid of a crutch and stick. Mr. and Mrs. Morgan are spending the evening of their days together unaccompanied by any members of their large family, who are all grown up, settled in life, and scattered about the district in one place and another. That the worthy old couple's declining years may be peaceful, calm, and unclouded, is, I feel sure, the heartfelt wish of their numerous friends in this part of the colony as well as in Taranaki, where they also have many family connections and friends. Before taking leave, of Mr. John Morgan in these "sketches," I ought not to omit to mention the sad, untimely end that overtook his brother William, referred to above. This distressing (under the circumstanses) event occurred in 1857 at Woodleigh, William Morgan's farm on the Brunswick Line near Wanganui Whilst engaged in ploughing one warm day in August of the year named, and feeling thirsty, he drank copiously from a pool of stagnant water close by. Shortly afterwards he was seized with violent spasms, internal inflammation set in, and four clays afterwards he expired, after enduring the greatest agony. Medical aid was, of course, obtained, but all that could be done for the poor fellow proved to be of no avail. William Morgan was a very fine, powerful, handsome young man of 26 years only, and a typical English farmer like his brother. He left a widow and three children to mourn their loss. Three or four years after this sad event, Mrs. Morgan married the late Mr. John Ivo Gerse, a native of Belgium, and the well-known veterinary surgeon in this town and district for many years. Mr. Gerse died about three years ago, so that Mrs. Gerse was left a widow for the second time.page 34
Nathan, Henry.—Another of the very early settlers, who came to Wanganui in 1841 and settled here, bringing up a large family of sons and daughters, most of whom are residing in or near this town. Mr. Nathan during his long career in Wanganui occupied various positions at one time and another, e.g.—on the first Town Board and later on in the Borough Council. He was also Mayor for one term, and took an active interest in all matters appertaining to the development and improvement of the town and suburbs. Mr. Nathan was born in London in 1816, and died in Wanganui, November 1893, aged 77. He acquired a considerable amount of landed property in and near Wanganui, and left his widow and family in easy circumstances.
Nixon, John.—One of the very first settlers of Wanganui, was born in Nottingham, England, June, 1817, arrived in Wanganui February, 1841, and died at his beautiful suburban residence, "Sedgebrook," Wanganui. May, 1884, aged 67 years. Mr. Nixon, who was a gentleman of a good English family, and one of the first Justices of the Peace for the colony, took up a large piece of land with a river frontage, almost opposite the town at that time, but immediately opposite now, the town having spread and grown considerably of late years in an up-river direction. "Sedgebrook" was the name given to the fine estate of about 900 acres, stretching back some distance from the river side and comprising land of various descriptions—flat, hilly, bush, swamp, etc., with one or two nice perennial streams running through it and joining the Wanganui River. Here Mr. Nixon and his family lived several years; but during the war in 1847-’48—he felt compelled to leave his place and the district and went to reside in Nelson, where he made many valued friends, e.g.—the late Sir, then Mr. E. W. Stafford; Sir, then Mr. Wm. Fox; Sir David Munro, Sir Charles Clifford, Mr. Duppa, the Redwoods, Charles and J. Elliott—proprietors of that splendid, ably-edited paper, the "Nelson Examiner"—, Mr. Henry Adams, Barrister, etc., Sir John Richardson, and many others—men distinguished in literature, politics, art, and sport, especially the turf. Mr. Nixon returned to Wanganui in the early fifties, and after staying in town for 2 or 3 years, living in his town house on Taupo Quay just about where Foster's splendid hotel now stands, resumedpage break page 35
occupation of "Sedgbrook" in about 1856 or 1857. Here he remained with a portion of his family for the rest of his life, several of his daughters having married and scattered to various places—one to Calcutta, the wife of a barrister there; another to England the wife of an Army Surgeon, Dr. James Davis, whom she married here; and a third to Wellington, the wife of the late Major Butts, H.M. 57th Regiment. Mrs. Nixon, who survived her husband several years, died on the voyage Home in 1892. Mr. Nixon was for many years Provincial sub-Treasurer for this district in the days of Provincialism under the late Dr. Featherston, Superintendent of Wellington Province, and the late Mr. Jonas Woodward, Provincial Treasurer. Mr. Nixon discharged his duties in the above capacity until the abolition of the provinces in 1876, and he was, I am safe in saying, all along on the most cordial, friendly terms with the late Dr. Featherston and his Executive, giving every satisfaction to them and the public generally. Mr. Nixon was also a captain (afterwards Major) in the New Zealand Militia—a rank conferred upon him by his old friend and fellow colonist, the Hon. E. W. Stafford, for many years Premier of the Colony. But "Major" Nixon did not, if I recollect rightly, ever take active service in the field here during the disturbances in 1863-’64 and onwards, as his duties as Provincial sub-Treasurer kept him at home and at his office in this town. In closing my "sketch" of John Nixon. I must not omit to add that he was a gentleman of the highest honour and integrity: a man whose word in all matters was "as good as his bond"; strict in the observance of etiquette and the rules and amenities of polite society, and withal a man of great kindness of heart and generosity of mind. Mr. Nixon left behind him three sons, the eldest, Mr. H. J. Nixon, at the present time manager of the local branch of the Bank of New Zealand, well-known in racing circles on this coast, and in possession and occupation of the family homestead, "Sedgbrook"; Mr. Charles Stafford Nixon, an officer of many years' standing in H.M. Customs Department, in Dunedin just now; and Mr. Arthur E. T. Nixon, in business here as a land and commission agent. It is, perhaps, interesting to state that, tinder the will of the late Mrs. Nixon, "Sedgbrook" estate was cut up about 4 years ago into sections of various acreages and sold page 36 under the hammer by Messrs. F. R. Jackson and Co., the well-known auctioneers and cattle salesmen. High prices were realised for portions of the fine estate, and already several substantial residences erected thereon may be viewed from the town standing out in bold relief on commanding positions on the hills near the river.
Nicholls, Rev. C. H. S.—Mr. Nicholls, who came from Leeds, arrived in Wanganui about 1852, and took charge of the Industrial School Estate situate in Victoria Avenue, and for several years past known as the Wanganui Collegiate School, one of the best and most flourishing educational establishments in the colony. At the time of the Rev. Mr. Nicholls's advent, the greater part of this fine estate—250 acres fronting Victoria Avenue, and within ten minutes' walk of the Post Office—was a wilderness of swamp, sandhills, scrub, fern, "foe-toe," and flax. It is now for the most part cultivated, divided into small holdings and paddocks upon which a number of residences, small and large, have been erected, the rentals of which must amount to a considerable sum. The property was made over by Crown grant by the late Sir George Grey when Governor of New Zealand in 1846, or thereabouts, to the late Bishop Selwyn, and his successors for ever. It was intended as a training school and educational establishment for the poor and indigent natives and half-castes of both races in New Zealand and the islands adjacent thereto, and at the time when Mr Nicholls took charge there might have been a dozen native lads (Maoris) and one or two half-castes. A few years afterwards this number dwindled down to one Maori lad—"Hamiora," Anglice Samuel—and a handful, so to speak, of European boys. At the present time it is a large school comprising several fine buildings, including a chapel, and attended by about 200 boys, all Europeans, from various parts of the colony, the sons, chiefly, of well-to-do and wealthy people. I don't suppose there is a single Maori, or even half-caste, amongst the lot. However, no one complains now about the way the original intention of the Trust has been set aside or ignored; indeed the people of Wanganui generally and surrounding districts are very proud of the Collegiate School. It is a splendid school, splendidly managed and governed by Mr. W. Empson, the head-master, and a large staff of masters under him. page 37 Mr Nicholls, who was Chaplain to the Garrison here in those days, and who also conducted services for the Anglicans as well, remained at the school until his dwelling-house was burnt down. I forget the year when this unfortunate event took place, but he lost nearly everything and was much crippled in consequence, more especially as he had a large family to support. Shifting his abode to another part of the town, he severed his connection with the school, and devoted himself to the discharge of his clerical duties as Chaplain to the troops and Incumbent of Christ Church, Wanganui, depending upon the voluntary contributions of the parishioners for his stipend, which was never at any time of vast dimensions. Indeed, poor Mr Nicholls, who was not blest with the best of tempers and suffered a good deal from a troublesome complaint (asthma), had not a very happy time of it in Wanganui, and to make matters worse for himself he got into terribly hot water with almost everyone in the place for refusing on one occasion to bury a female parishioner on a Sunday. She died on a Friday, under exceptionally distressing circumstances, but Mr Nicholls said that he made it a rule not to conduct burials on Sundays, and he was inexorable. A storm of indignation followed; the Bishop of the diocese was appealed to, with the result that poor Mr Nicholls was removed from Wanganui and provided with a "cure" at the Upper Hutt. In justice to him, it must be said that he was not generously treated by his parishioners; his stipend was always in arrears, and he was allowed to leave Wanganui with a considerable portion of it unpaid. Notwithstanding all that I have narrated, Mr Nicholls was a man of considerable ability, a splendid English, if not classical, scholar; a very good preacher when he chose, and one of the finest elocutionists that ever left England and came to New Zealand. Indeed, he was considered the finest reader and elocutionist in Leeds, and was a great favourite of the celebrated Dr. Farquhar Hook, Vicar of Leeds, who made Mr. Nicholls one of his curates. It was quite a treat to hear Mr. Nicholls give a reading from Dickens or Thackerey, of both whom he was a great admirer. Mr. Nicholls suffered many hard and bitter bereavements in his family, several of his children pining away and dying after growing up to manhood and womanhood, whilst he himself was a great martyr to asthma, sciatica, and page 38 rheumatic gout for several years before his death, which took place in Wellington about 12 or 14 years ago. It is said somewhere in Holy Writ—"Whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth."—If this be true, then the Lord must have loved poor, unfortunate, suffering, afflicted C. H. S. Nicholls!
Owen, William Thomas—Came to Wanganui in 1858 from Wellington or the Hutt, I am not quite sure which, and started in business as a chemist and druggist in a small shop at the upper end of Taupo Quay, near the corner of Bell street and just about where the Railway Hotel now stands. Here Mr. Owen carried on his business for a year or two until the death of his wife when he went back to Wellington for a short time, returning again to Wanganui and starting afresh in business in larger premises lower down the Quay close to the wharf, and a door or two from where the "Pier Hotel" now stands. Here Mr. Owen did a large and, I believe, profitable business, adding that of General Importer, Wine and Spirit Merchant, etc., to that of Chemist and Druggist. During the disturbances on this Coast—1864 to '68—Mr. Owen was elected or appointed to a lieutenancy in the Wanganui Cavalry, and good service he rendered, being an excellent horseman, most assiduous in attending to his drill and military duties generally, and as intrepid, fearless a man, perhaps, as ever bestrode a horse, wielded a sword, or handled a rifle. Besides all this, Mr. Owen was a keen sportsman and a "dead shot," so that he was admirably fitted for the position of an officer in a cavalry corps of any kind. Mr. Owen's business increased very largely during the war, and being in constant touch, and a great favourite with many of the Imperial Officers, as well as the Militia and Volunteers, he did a brisk business by supplying Regimental "messes" as well as individual officers and others with all sorts of goods and requisites. Mr. Owen kept a sort of "open house" all this time; it was a favourite resort for a great many officers and civilians, and his hospitality and kindness were unbounded. After the war in 1869 or '70 Mr. Owen sold out his chemist and druggist business to the late Mr. Joseph Willcox, retired from mercantile life altogether, and joined Mr. George Yates Lethbridge as a farmer, stock breeder, and runholder at Turakina and Wangaehu. The firmpage break page 39
about this time leased from the Maoris the large Ruatangata run of about 10,000 acres situated between the two streams, Wangaehu and Turakina, a few miles south of Wanganui. Here Mr. Owen remained for some years, working very hard and embarking in the somewhat risky enterprise of importing blood stock of one kind and another, from England more especially. In this venture he must have embarked many thousands of pounds (one prize pedigree bull that he imported cost him 400 guineas), but I fancy that in the end he must have lost considerably. It will thus be seen that Mr. W. T. Owen was a most enterprising settler; he has done a lot of good for the district, and has been in many ways associated with pretty nearly everything calculated to advance its interests as a sheep farmer and stock breeder, also horse racing, and other field sports. The partnership between Messrs Owen and Lethbridge was dissolved some years ago, and Mr. Owen has for a good while now been living on, and cultivating, his property about ten miles up the Wanganui River, left bank, a part of what used to be known as the Featherstone Estate. Mr. Owen, who is a widower twice over, visits the town once a week as a rule, attending the cattle sales and transacting business. He also is a regular visitor at the Wanganui Club, Victoria Avenue, where his genial, kindly face, and breezy manner render him a general favourite. Mr. Owen, although now getting up in years is, I am pleased to add, hale and hearty, and my sincere wish is that he may live many more years in the enjoyment of good health, prosperity and happiness.
Parkes, Frederick.—This well-known and greatly respected old settler, came out from England with his parents and brothers to Wellington in the barque "Aurora," amongst the first batch of emigrants under the New Zealand Company, and landed on Petone beach on 22nd January, 1840, a day well remembered by all Wellington old settlers, and the anniversary of the Colony. Auckland people, however, have all along disputed this Anniversary Day, maintaining that the true and correct Anniversary of the foundation of the Colony as a dependency of the British Crown is January 30th, because the first Governor, Captain William Hobson, R.N., hoisted the "Union Jack" at the Bay of Islands, and proclaimed the Queen's Sovereignty page 40 over the whole Colony, January 30th, 1840. [The famous Treaty of Waitangi, Bay of Islands, was signed by the Governor and Native Chiefs in the north on the 5th February, 1840. In connection with this very important event, I find the following entry in my late father's journals under date 12th February, 1840:—"A large assembly of natives from all parts of Hokianga gathered together to-day on the Mission Station (Mangungu) to meet the Governor to sign the Treaty ceding this country to the Queen of England, and much discussion ensued. The chiefs in general appeared willing to place themselves under the care of the British Queen, although there was a little opposition to the measure." This is a digression, but I deem it of sufficient interest to insert here what I have written about the Anniversary of the Colony, whether it should have been observed on the 22nd, or on the 30th January in each year subsequent to 1840.] To return to Mr. F. Parkes—He was at this time, January, 1840, nine years of age, and stayed in Wellington with the rest of the family eighteen months, i.e., until June, 1841, when he walked up to Wanganui with his brothers and a Mr. Bell (not the late Sir F. Dillon Bell, however) and his sons, who farmed "Bell Flat," nearly opposite the town of Wanganui, afterwards and now named "Sedge-brook." Mr. Parkes remained in Wanganui until 1847 when he returned to Wellington, remaining there fifteen months, and then came back to Wanganui, where he has remained continuously ever since—a period of fifty-three years! Mr. Parkes joined the first company of rifle volunteers formed in Wanganui in 1860 or 1861, of which he was captain, and to which he belonged seventeen years. He took a great interest in volunteering all this time, and was considered a very smart officer, well up in his drill, a strict disciplinarian, and securing the confidence and respect of those under his command. I have but little to add to this brief "sketch" of Captain Fred. Parkes. He married when comparatively young, and has brought up a family, residing on St. John's Hill on the outskirts of the town all these years, where his parents also lived many years, and where they died. Mr. Parkes, who has always been of a quiet, retiring disposition, never pushed himself forward, or took an active part in politics or other matters saving volunteering, as above mentioned. But he has for many years been, and page 41 still is, a prominent member of the Presbyterian Church in Wanganui, of which he is an elder; zealous, consistent, and most exemplary in his "daily walk and conversation," and held in high esteem by all those associated with him in church work and much respected by his fellow citizens generally.
Peake, John William, and Henry Lacey.—These two brothers, sons of a barrister of Worcester, England, arrived in Wanganui in 1853, after some experiences on the goldfields in Victoria in 1851-’52. They took up land near the Kai-Iwi stream about 9 miles from Wanganui and embarked in farming pursuits, working hard and "roughing it" for many years in true colonial fashion until the war in 1863-’64 and onwards compelled them to abandon, if not altogether, at any rate partially, their place and come into town along with many others at that time. Mr. J. W. Peake, the elder of the two brothers, married the only daughter of Mr. John Garner, the "Father of Wanganui" as he was styled, and of whom a "sketch" is given ante. From this union there sprang a large family of sons and daughters, most of whom are resident in or near Wanganui at the present time. Mr. H. L. Peake went home to England after working on his farm for a good many years, married an English lady, and returned to Wanganui and settled on his property once more. Of late years, however, Mr. Peake has resided in town, leaving his country place in charge of a manager, whilst his brother, Mr. John Peake, has seen many ups and downs—parting at one time with a property, and buying another, building houses in town and letting them, etc., etc. I have little more to add respecting these two most estimable, highly-respected gentlemen. Both being of a modest, retiring disposition, neither of them, to my knowledge, ever took an active part in public affairs—politics, colonial or local, municipal matters, etc., etc.—but living a quiet, domestic sort of life and dispensing hospitality in true English fashion on occasions at their own homes. Mrs. J. W. Peake died here about 3 years ago after a lingering and painful illness, whilst Mr. and Mrs. H. L. Peake are both residing at their town house, and, I am pleased to add, well and hearty.
Powell, Thomas.—Mr. Powell came to New Zealand and Wanganui from Calcutta in 1853, accompanied page 42 by a son and daughter, his wife, who belonged to the Eardley Wilmot family of Yorkshire, having succumbed to that deadly disease, cholera, a short time before the family left India for Victoria and New Zealand. Mr. Powell, who had been a merchant in Calcutta and was a man of some means, bought property in Wanganui and embarked in business as a general merchant and auctioneer. For a year or two he carried on business in a small building on Taupo Quay, close to where Foster's fine hotel now stands, but later on he leased or purchased premises in Victoria Avenue next to Mr. A. D. Willis's fine shop and factory, and still known as Powell's buildings. Here, the firm of Powell, Son and Co. carried on business for many years as auctioneers, shipping and commission agents, general merchants, etc. Mr. Powell's health failing, the business was carried on by his son, Mr. Wilmot Powell—a gentleman well and favourably known in Wanganui in social circles, of literary and artistic tastes, and the originator of the Wanganui Club. Mr. Powell, senr., who was a Justice of the Peace and for some years deputy Sheriff for Wanganui, died in 1876, aged 69 years. He married a second time in Wanganui and left a large grown-up family behind him, most of whom are resident in this district. He was a remarkably handsome man, of commanding presence, very tall, and dignified in his bearing. He was for many years the recognised chairman at all public meetings in Wanganui, political or otherwise, and he generally succeeded in maintaining order and "ruling" firmly even when party feeling ran high, or rowdily-disposed ones were inclined to break away and create a disturbance. Mr. Powell originally came from Leeds, where he was well known and respected, and where he presided at public meetings on many occasions, so that he was no novice in his capacity of chairman at our public meetings. Like Lord Wolseley, who for some years was regarded as being England's "only general," so the late Mr. Thomas Powell was recognised as being for many years and until his health failed, Wanganui's only chairman at public meetings, etc.
Pawson, John.—This well-known citizen came to the place from Doncaster, in 1858. He was then quite a young married man and a butcher by trade. Bringing with him excellent letters of recommendation, he soonpage break page 43
got employment and worked away at his trade, early and late, for several years, his jolly face, cheery laugh, and open-handed generosity rapidly gaining him many friends, more especially amongst the officers, non-commissioned officers and men of H.M. 65th Regiment of Foot stationed here at that time. Mr. Pawson did well in business, and in due course opened a butcher's shop on his own account in Victoria Avenue next door to where the Bank of New South Wales now stands. Later on, and during the disturbances on this coast in 1863-’64, and up to 1868 when a large number of Imperial troops were encamped in and near this town, Mr. Pawson had contracts with H.M. Commissariat for the supply of meat, hay, and other commodities for the troops, and he must have done remarkably well in those stirring times when the Commissariat expenditure at one period rose to the enormous sum of £100,000 per month, and when large fortunes were made by army contractors and others in this district as well as in Taranaki and Auckland. As time rolled on, however, and the war came to a close and the troops were withdrawn (this was in 1869-’70), a re-action set in and a great "change came o'er the spirit of the dream" here and elsewhere. Mr. Pawson, in common with others, suffered in consequence and he had to succumb. Outside his business as stated above, Mr. Pawson was well and favourably known throughout the district as an amateur actor and enthusiastic admirer of the drama, and for many years he took an active and leading part in amateur theatricals, and frequently played his part creditably with professionals on the boards of the old Princess's Theatre and the Oddfellows' Hall. Amongst other plays in which he took part I may mention "The Loan of a Lover," "The Green Bushes," "The Corsican Brothers," "The Lady of Lyons" (as Claude Melnotte), "The Lancashire Lass," "Struck Oil"—and many more. Nor did our local actor confine himself to melodrama or comedy, but aspired to tragedy, taking the difficult character of Iago in "Othello." In all entertainments, plays and concerts, etc., got up for a deserving object, John Pawson was ever to the fore. And it must be added here that if there is anything in the doctrine of "heredity" as laid down by the great Charles Darwin, then it has been prominently exemplified in the Pawson family, for Mr. Pawson's son William, and charming youngest daughter page 44 Mary, have both proved themselves on many occasions to be worthy of their father on the boards of the theatre and in the concert hall. Miss, or as she is familiarly named "Toodey" Pawson would hold her own with many professionals, and in light opera and comic operas such as "Pinafore," "The Pirates of Penzance," "Iolanthe," "Princess Ida," "The Mikado," "Les Cloches de Cornville," "Rip Van Winkle," and others of the same class, she has "scored heavily," to use a sporting phrase, and delighted all who have listened to her singing and seen her acting in such parts, for example, as "Yum-Yum" in the "Mikado," which was produced by our local amateurs at the Opera-house here last July. Indeed, her acting and singing on that occasion would have done credit to most professionals, and fairly captivated those who had the pleasure of seeing and hearing her. Mr. William Pawson as "Rip" in "Rip Van Winkle" about 5 years ago quite surpassed all former efforts, and in this most difficult, trying character, surprised and delighted everybody who saw him. Mr. Pawson, senr., has been living in retirement for some years past with his unmarried son and daughter named above, and although no longer in the flower and bloom of youth or strength of vigorous manhood, is yet hale and hearty and dearly loves on occasions to recount the glories of the stage in Wanganui in the fifties, the sixties, and the seventies of the century just past.
Rees, Dr. George.—Came to Wanganui in about 1851 or '52, and commenced the practice of his profession here, receiving the appointment of Colonial Surgeon from the Government of the day. This position carried with it that of medical officer for the natives as well as Hospital Surgeon. Dr. Rees, who was a gentleman of the strictest integrity and the very "pink of honour" in all his doings, was most painstaking and reliable during the whole course of his career. He acquired considerable landed property and accumulated a handsome for-tune, for those days. He never left Wanganui for any length of time that I can call to mind, but stuck to his post as a Government official, and pursued his private practice right up to the day of his death. This took place on September 20th, 1858, suddenly one Sunday evening whilst he was sitting at dinner, heart disease being the cause. He lived in a comfortable house page 45 facing Bell Street, close to where Mr. C. H. Borlase now resides—at that time quite a suburban retreat, surrounded by native trees and brushwood. He was called the "little doctor" to distinguish him from his elder brother Joseph, the "big doctor." The date of his death is firmly fixed in my memory from the circumstance that he died just two days before my own father, whom he had been attending up to the very day of his (Dr. Rees's) death. My father died two days later from the same malady, but not so suddenly. Dr. Rees's name will be remembered in Wanganui for all time, so to speak, from the fact of the Rees Bequest of about £5000 for the establishment and endowment of good schools in this town. The money was vested in trustees, and although the validity of the Bequest was disputed by a relative of the "little doctor" and taken into the Supreme Court, it was not upset in any way but remained operative. Of course, the amount left by Dr. Rees accumulated as years went by and at the present time two or more of our educational establishments owe their existence to the doctor's handsome gift. These are the Girls' College in Campbell and Liverpool Streets—a magnificent property—and the Technical School, adjoining St. Paul's Church, Victoria Avenue.
Richards, J. M.—I cannot say precisely when this well-known and somewhat eccentric "early settler" came to Wanganui, but it must have been during the forties. Mr. Richards lived in almost absolute seclusion during all the years that he resided in Wanganui, occupying a small sort of clay whare on Taupo Quay, where he carried on business as a soap and candle maker. But scarcely anyone, I fancy, was admitted inside it, or more especially a kind of "sanctum" attached thereto where Mr. Richards lived, ate, drank, smoked, and slept. But Mr. Richards, notwithstanding his peculiarities and eccentricities (he was in addition very hard of hearing) was a man of great intelligence and extensive knowledge, and if one could only get at him and "draw him out," much useful information and pleasant chat might result. What Mr. Richards was before he came to New Zealand I cannot say, but I think he came from London and must have been possessed of considerable means. In any event, he accumulated a large sum and died wealthy, leaving his four sons well off. One anecdote of page 46 Mr. Richards is so good that I must give it, although by so doing I shall considerably lengthen my "sketch" of this well-known Wanganui old identity. It was in 1856, and there was an election for the Provincial Council then sitting in Wellington. Mr. Richards came forward, published his political manifesto, and entered the lists against the late Mr. W. H. Watt, if I recollect rightly. The day of the election came round (those were the days of open voting), the Resident Magistrate was the Returning Officer, and there was a large and excited crowd in front of the old Rutland Hotel, then kept by John Gotty. On this momentous (for the candidate) occasion, Mr. Richards opened his heart and his purse, too, and there were refreshments of various kinds, solid and liquid, without stint or limit. Mr. Richards took up his position on the balcony of the hotel and harangued the "free and independent" electors on the street below. But so great was the tumult and excitement amongst the two opposing parties, that not a single word of Mr. Richards's speech could be heard; all that could be seen was the candidate bareheaded, waving his hands, gesticulating and almost foaming at the mouth owing to his frantic efforts to make himself heard. Just here I must explain that, previous to polling-day he had announced to all his friends and supporters that, if elected, he would entertain all and sundry at dinner at the York Hotel in Wicksteed Place, kept at that time by one John Kells, a discharged sergeant of the 65th Regiment. But when the numbers at the close of the poll were announced, placing Mr. Richards in a minority, he sent off a message post haste to Kells to stop the dinner. At this period of Wanganui's early history the well-known newspaper writer and literateur, Thomas Moser, was residing here, and being a bit of a "wag" and a writer of verses on occasions, he thus described in rhyme Mr Richards's defeat:—
"The election's lost, as I'm a sinner;
"Run to Kells', and stop the dinner!—
Poor Mr. Richards, in common with many more Wanganui well-known people, his fellow passengers, met with a watery grave when the ship "Avalanche" collided with an American homeward bound steamer named the "Forrest" in the English Channel and went down, 11th September, 1877—an awful catastrophe!page break page 47
Ross, Hugh, Barrister and Solicitor.—This fine English gentleman of the old school came to Wellington in the early forties from Hobart, Tasmania, where he held the position of Crown Prosecutor for some years. He experienced many vicissitudes, changes, and hardships in common with his fellow colonists during the disturbances with the natives at Wellington and the Hutt in 1846-’47-’48, and many a good story could Mr. Ross relate of bush fighting in those days, for, besides being a charming conversationalist, he was a great wit and full of fun and repartee. After the war, he left Wellington, and went to Rangitikei, where he took up land at a pretty place named Lake Alice. Here Mr. Ross and his family, three sons and one daughter, remained for some years, farming their land and putting up with all the hardships and inconveniences incidental to a settler's life in such a scattered district and rough country as the Rangitikei was then, surrounded by Maoris of all kinds—good, bad, and indifferent. In addition to working on his farm, Mr. Ross used to practice his profession, coming into Wanganui occasionally whenever engaged in an important case, and to see his Wanganui friends, the late Major Durie more especially, one of his companions in arms in Wellington during the disturbances above referred to. Later on, Mr. Ross sold or leased his farm at Lake Alice and came into town with his family and settled down to the practice of his profession, in which he stood high, plodding, punctilious, and scrupulously observant of the rules and etiquette of his profession. He worked up a very good practice and took into partnership the late Mr. Henry John Perham, solicitor. But this did not continue long; the partnership was dissolved, and not long after Mr. Perham died. Mr. Ross carried on his practice, assisted by his second son, Mr. Alfred (afterwards Captain, now Major Ross, N.Z. Militia) until his health broke down. He died in August 1869, aged 73 years. Mr Ross, during his long and chequered career, sustained many sore bereavements in his family. First of all, his wife died suddenly in Wanganui in 1854, or thereabouts, under distressing circumstances; then during the war on this coast in 1864-’68—his third son Frederick, a most promising young man and a lieutenant in the N.Z. Militia, was killed at Turu-turu-mokai, near Patea, the garrison of the redoubt of which he was in command having been page 48 completely surprised and surrounded by the rebel natives one very dark night. Lieutenant Ross was shot dead on the spot as he rushed out to see what was going on, and so were most of his small garrison of about 25 men, and the redoubt was "looted!" This sad affair was a terrible blow to old Mr. Ross—a blow from which he never fully recovered. Two very promising grandsons of Mr. Ross, Montagu and Augustus McDonough, died also about this time, one from brain fever, the other from consumption. The elder of the two, Montagu, who was a clerk in the Post Office, and afterwards joined the staff of the Bank of New Zealand, was a most estimable, gifted young gentleman, and gave promise of rising to a high position.
Roberts, George.—This widely-known, somewhat remarkable man came to settle in Wanganui in 1848, embarking in business as a storekeeper and auctioneer. In 1854, be gave up storekeeping and took over the "Ship Hotel" from "Andy" Green, an old Rangitikei settler. This hotel stood on Taupo Quay at the corner of Wilson Street, quite near where the present Railway Station is. Mr. Roberts was a most active, bustling, in-deed, restless kind of a man; he devoted all his time and energies strictly to business, except perhaps during an election or at race-meetings, for he was a great politician, and as a "stump-orator" it would have been difficult to beat him in those days when party feeling—Provincialism v. Centralism—ran high. Indeed, he was a born orator and just the kind of man to lead and sway the populace, and had he had the advantages of a good education, I have not the slightest doubt that he could have taken a leading place amongst politicians at that time. But Roberts, being "wise in his generation," stuck to business and made lots of money. He did a "roaring trade" at his hotel, especially with the military (there were two companies of the 65th Regiment Foot stationed here then besides a few artillery-men, engineers etc.), and also the Maoris, although it was contrary to law in those days to sell them intoxicating liquors of any kind. But the police and administrators of the law were somewhat slack in upholding it in this matter; indeed, Magistrates and police alike, I fancy, winked and looked the other way whenever they saw a Maori in a public-house "bar," unless the aboriginal indulged too freely, got page 49 intoxicated, or kicked up a "row." Then he incurred the risk of being "run in" by one or the other of the two constables, one a Maori named Pirimona (Anglice Philemon) who constituted the guardians of the peace in those primitive, free-and-easy days when George Roberts flourished at the "Ship Hotel," Wanganui. Then, again, it was a risky thing to "run a Maori in" for anything. They were in the majority by a great number, and in the ascendant too, to a great extent, and consequently were tenderly dealt with by magistrates, police, and civilians alike. Nor had they a very great fear of the military, which was not greatly to be wondered at seeing what a poor display we made during the war with Heke at the Bay of Islands, etc., in 1845-’6; also with Rauparaha, Te Rangihaeata, Te Mamaku, Te Heu-Heu, and other warrior chiefs in the southern part of the North Island in '47 and '48. But I am getting away from my old friend, George Roberts, and must bring this little "sketch" of that worthy citizen of old Wanganui to a close. In 1858 Mr. Roberts took a trip to the Old Country, partly on business, partly "on pleasure bent." Just before leaving Wanganui he entertained his numerous friends and patrons, including the officers of the Garrison, at a banquet—at his own hotel, of course. There was a large gathering; everything was done in the very best style possible for those days, and feast, mirth, song and story were the order of the evening and up to a late hour of the night. Of course, upon the removal of the cloth, there were "toasts" to be drunk, many and varied. But the "toast" of the evening was when some leading guest (I think it was Dr. Featherston or Captain Trafford) rose to propose the health of our "host," and wish him bon voyage and a safe return to Wanganui. Roberts rose to reply and there was a burst of applause, of course. The departing "host" of the "Ship" waxed eloquent and poured out sentence after sentence with great fervour and rapidity, rising to lofty flights of eloquence that both astonished and delighted his audience. Then came the peroration which was a masterpiece of its kind. I was present, listened attentively as a young fellow should do, and can recollect even now every word that our eloquent "host" said. Here are his words, verbatim et literatim:—"Gentlemen, I should be guilty of the basest ingratitude if, after thanking you all for your kind wishes and page 50 flattering words, I neglected to return my most sincere, heartfelt thanks to the Wanganui River which flows close past this hotel, and which during all the years I have been in business here has honored all my draughts (drafts) upon it, and which has been as good to me as £3000!" Loud, long, and tremendous cheering. In due course, Mr. Roberts returned to Wanganui, bringing with him a large quantity of goods, drapery chiefly, and started in business as a draper, etc., in conjunction with the late Mr. William Kells. But I do not think he did quite as well in his new line of business as at the old "Ship Hotel" on Taupo Quay before he went Home. His health failed after this, and he died here in 1876, aged 60 years, leaving a widow and grown-up family behind him. Mrs. Roberts still carries on the business in a shop in Victoria Avenue. She is now an old lady but well and hearty, and much respected by all who know her.
Sherriff, Francis.—I now come to one of the best-known, most highly respected, and in some respects, most remarkable men that ever made Wanganui his home. Mr. Sherriff was born in Kent, in 1801, and died at his town house, Ingestre Street, Wanganui—"Carlton House,"—in August 1897, at the extreme old age of 96, exactly. As I was for a good many years intimately acquainted with the late Mr. Sherriff, I am, fortunately, in a position to narrate a good deal of him, but I will endeavour to be as brief as possible when dealing with such a prominent figure in the history of Wanganui. Mr. Sherriff arrived here for the first time in 1853 or '54, bringing his eldest surviving son, Bedford, with him. When the New Zealand Company was formed in London in 1839 or 1840, by such distinguished, well-known men as the late Lord Durham, Sir Charles Buller, the Wake-fields, and others, land was purchased by them from the natives (this was before New Zealand was made a Crown Colony by Governor Hobson's Proclamation in 1840) in Port Nicholson, Nelson, and Taranaki. The land was cut up into areas or blocks of—country land, 640 acres; suburban land, 5 acres, and town sections of ¼-acre each, and disposed of by "lottery" in London. There was considerable interest awakened in London respecting New Zealand at that time, 1840-’41-’42 and onwards. Mr. Sherriff, who was in a large way of business in thepage break page 51
cotton trade both in London and Manchester in partnership with the great Richard Cobden, caught the land fever in common with hundreds of others, and took a large number of shares or tickets in this lottery concern. A considerable area of land fell to him when the "drawing" took place, and he found himself the possessor of land in Wellington, Nelson, and Wanganui—the latter place chiefly. Mr Sherrift's Wanganui properties consisted of several town sections in Ridgway Street, etc., and the splendid "Rusthall" estate (named after his country place near Tunbridge Wells in Kent), about 3½ miles from the town on the No. 3 Line of road, and consisting of 640 acres of beautiful land—open, bush, undulating, and flat, with a lovely perennial stream running through it. Mr. Sherriff was so pleased with the general appearance of his property when he saw it for the first time that he decided to settle upon it, farm it, and make it his home for the rest of his life. Consequently, he entered into possession with his son and worked on it himself for a considerable time, visiting the town frequently, where he built a small house on one of his town sections, and living a free-and-easy, unrestrained sort of life, which seemed to suit him after the bustle, hurry-scurry, and worries of a large business in the City of London. Mr. Sherriff remained working away with his son and farm labourers on his beautiful place for 3 or 4 years. Then he returned to England, via Sydney, leaving his son in charge of "Rusthall." After his return to London, he dissolved partnership with Cobden and his junior partner, Jillett (the style of the firm was Cobden, Sherriff and Jillett), broke up his beautiful home near Tunbridge Wells, sold the property, also a fine house at Brighton, and returned to New Zealand in 1863, bringing with him the younger members of his family, viz:—3 sons and his youngest daughter, and a complete outfit for a well-furnished house as well as a large quantity of farming and agricultural implements purchased chiefly from the well-known firm of Ransomes and Sims. Mr. Sherriff and his family lived together at their charming country home, "Rusthall," for many years, working hard on, and improving it. He was reputed to be a wealthy man, and must have spent a considerable sum on his fine country property. As time went on, changes of course took place; his eldest son after the war settled in another part of the country, and his daughter married in Wanganui, page 52 but afterwards went to reside in Dunedin. About 1876 Mr Sherriff, senr., left his country property and came to reside at his town house, "Carlton House." Here he remained in retirement, receiving visitors on occasions and entertaining his many friends during his old age and up to within a few years of his death. The fine old English gentleman of whom I am writing was what might be aptly described as a "man of many parts." He had seen a deal of life—London life especially—in his time, and knew many prominent men in politics, business, literature, and art, amongst them the late Earl Russell, Richard Cobden, Sir James Duke, at one time Lord Mayor of London, and many more besides. Mr. Sherriff was for many years a prominent member of the Haberdashers' Company—one of the wealthiest of the City companies, and although often urged to submit himself for election as a member of the Corporation of the City of London, always declined the honour, his native modesty and retiring disposition prompting him to remain a simple citizen. During the many years that Mr. Sherriff was a resident of Wanganui, whether at Rusthall or Carlton House, he all along took a deep interest in church matters and was a most regular attendant at church and a consistent, upright, conscientious churchman (Anglican). He was also a great and ardent lover of music, and did all that lay in his power to cultivate and encourage a taste for good music in Wanganui. The many musical re-unions at his country house during the sixties will never be forgotten by the writer of this "sketch"; here, as well as in town afterwards, all those possessing a knowledge of, and taste for good music used to assemble and thoroughly enjoy the rich musical repasts provided by Mr. Sherriff and his talented daughter. Mr. Sherriff brought with him from London a very valuable, and carefully selected musical library, of which good use was made by the family and some of their musical friends; also a choice and well-selected general library of some hundreds of volumes. In closing this "sketch" of one of my greatest, most respected, and valued friends, I must remark that there are, I fear, all too few left now-a-days of his stamp; a man of the strictest integrity and honour; a man scrupulously regardful of truth and honesty in all his words and actions; an inplacable enemy of humbug, sham, deceit, hypocrisy and fraud, and a lover of all that is good, true, page 53 noble, and right. He died here in Wanganui "full of years and honours," beloved and respected by all who had the privilege of knowing him, and of whom it may be truthfully said in the words of Solomon—"The memory of the just is blessed." In deference to Mr. Sherrift's expressed wish long before his death, his interment in the Wanganui Cemetery in August 1897 was strictly private; there was no public funeral, consequently the general public had not the opportunity afforded them of following the remains of the "G.O.M." of Wanganui to their last resting-place!
Speed, James.—This well-known business man and Licensed Victualler came to Wanganui about the year 1854—originally from the United States of America, of which he was a citizen and continued so, for I do not think that he ever became naturalised as a British subject, whilst he was in Wanganui, at any rate. Mr. Speed started in business as an importer, etc., and later on took over the Rutland Hotel in succession to John Gotty. This was about 1856 or ’57. Here Mr. Speed did a very good business; the "Rutland" was the favourite resort of almost everyone in those days—military officers, Government officials, farmers, business men, travellers from Wellington, Taranaki, Australia, etc., putting up there and meeting together in friendly intercourse. Mr. Speed was not long in discovering that the old "Rutland" was too small and inconvenient for the growing requirements of the town and surrounding districts; so he made considerable additions, and the new portion was a really fine, substantially built, structure of the best materials procurable in those days. Although the frame-work was necessarily of timber the inner walls and ceilings, etc., were of cement and lath and plaster of the best kind, and a splendid piece of work it was. The billiard room, which abutted on both Victoria Avenue and Ridgway Street, was a very fine room indeed, and it was the principal resort of afternoons and evenings for several years for the officers of the garrison, Government officers, bankers, merchants, and the gentry of Wanganui generally at that time. Many a game of billiards and pool was played in this room on the splendid billiard-table there, and many a jolly evening, more especially on Saturdays, "put in" page 54 where besides the enticing games of the green cloth, mirth and jest, fun and frolic, reigned supreme. The hotel was burned to the ground on Xmas Day, 1865—a day never to be forgotten by old Wanganui residents and, more especially by those who were present at, and assisted to extinguish the fire there was no Fire Brigade then) which was supposed to have been the work of an incendiary! Mr. Speed did not remain very long in possession of the Rutland Hotel, but let it and left Wanganui altogether about 1861 and went to Picton, where he purchased a considerable quantity of land and built a large house as a family residence in the full expectation that Picton, at the head of Queen Charlotte's Sound, would be made the seat of Government of New Zealand. In this expectation Mr. Speed was disappointed, for the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of selecting a suitable place for the seat of Government, wisely fixed upon Wellington. This was in 1864. Mr. Speed may have visited Wanganui once or twice after going to Picton in order to look after his interests here, but he never made Wanganui his place of abode again. Besides his valuable town properties—the Rutland Hotel, afterwards sold, and the block at the corner of Victoria Avenue and Taupo Quay where Paul and Co.'s fine shops, Caxton Buildings (A. D. Willis's), the A.M.P. Insurance Offices, the "U.F.C.A.", and other premises now stand—Mr. Speed was the owner of a considerable area of splendid land in the Makiri-kiri Valley, now in the occupation of his son, Mr. Hugh Speed, sheep-farmer. As I have nothing further of interest to add respecting Mr. James Speed, I must close my "sketch" by stating that he died at Picton, when, I cannot exactly say, leaving a widow and several grown-up sons and daughters. Mrs. Speed was the daughter of Mr. Hugh Montgomery, a very old Wanganui settler from the Land o' Cakes in the early fifties, and Bailiff of the R.M. Court when the late Major D. S. Durie was the Resident, or Stipendiary Magistrate. As I had the pleasure of knowing Mrs. Speed well, and as my late father was the officiating minister when she was married to Mr. Speed in 1856, I can bear testimony to her many amiable qualities; she was a very handsome, attractive young woman, and a great favourite with all the "good sorts" who frequented, or made the old Rutland Hotel their home!page break page 55
Shields, Thomas.—This gentleman, the son of an English squire (County Durham) came to Wanganui in the early fifties—about 1853 I fancy, and took up land near the banks of the Wangaehu stream, about nine miles east of Wanganui, which he named "Headlands," after the family estate in Durham, I imagine. Here Mr. Shields lived a secluded life for several years, improving his fine property and having as a companion and kind of "Man Friday" a Maori named Henare (Henry) Tahau—a sort of chief, a good fellow, and a devoted servant and friend of Mr Shields, whom he generally styled his pakeha (European) and rungatira (master). Mr. Shields, who was a gentleman in every sense of the word, occasionally came into town and always "put up" at the Rutland. Here of an evening his many friends used to gather round him and enjoy his company and conversation, for Mr. Shields was a man of culture and refinement. In addition to all this, he was a splendid musician, and as a flautist perhaps the best and most accomplished amateur that ever came to the colony in those days. It was a great treat to hear Mr. Shields play on his fine, rich-toned, box-wood flute, but it generally took a good deal of coaxing and persuasion to "draw him out," so to speak, and get him to play. I have often been present amongst a roomful of Wanganui people at the old Rutland and listened with mingled feelings of delight and admiration to Mr Shields' magnificent flute-playing. But, strange to say, he was always extremely modest over it all and seemed to think nothing of his performances and would say—"Bah! I can't play now; out of practice; lip too hard; can't produce a good tone," and so forth. He often used to talk of Richardson, the great English flautist, in his time, whom he knew personally; also several of the great violinists, Carrodus for example, and others. In 1857 Mr. Shields collaborated with the late Thomas Moser, and wrote a very clever, most amusing brochure entitled "Mahoe Leaves," which was widely read and afforded much amusement at the time. In this clever little book, Mr. Shields' "Man Friday," Henare Tahau, figures conspicuously. Mr Shields up to the time of his death, a somewhat sudden one, in 1864 I think, lived in almost complete retirement, and never took an active part in public affairs of any kind, preferring the quiet of his country life at "Headlands," but always pleased to receive and entertain page 56 visitors in a homely way. I cannot state for certain what Mr Shields' age was at the time of his death, but I should be inclined to say he was considerably under fifty. Mr. Shields, one of the masters at the Wanganui Collegiate School, is a nephew of the late Mr. Thomas Shields.
Scrivener, Thomas, senr.—This somewhat remarkable old settler and typical specimen of the English yeoman class came to Wanganui with his wife and family—a son and his wife—in 1857, if I recollect rightly, and resumed the occupation he had been engaged in in the Old Country, that of a market gardener. He purchased, or leased, for the purpose, a considerable piece of land in Victoria Avenue, immediately opposite the Industrial School Estate and set to work to improve it; no easy task at that time, tor it was nothing else than a swamp or morass, fringed by a sand ridge and covered with fern, toe-toe, flax, clocks and other weeds which flourished there in great profusion and luxuriance. To drain, clear, and improve this piece of land (about ten acres) was no light task for anyone to undertake, and yet Mr. Scrivener, senr., then an old man, tackled it bravely and in a few years' time the wilderness was literally made to "blossom as the rose," and what was a bog or swamp was turned into a fruitful garden. In accomplishing this heavy task the old man was almost unassisted, except by the "partner of his joys and sorrows," for his son, who was a carpenter, found plenty to do in following his trade. By degrees the land was drained, cleared, sown, and cultivated, and being the very best soil for the purposes of a market garden and orchard the fruit trees grew apace and vegetables of various kinds were quickly raised; so that in a few short years Mr. Scrivener's industry and skill were rewarded by the profitable sale of the fruits of the earth-to numbers of Wanganui townspeople. But poor Mr. Scrivener's peace of mind was suddenly rudely disturbed, and his well-filled purse abstracted and carried away one Sunday evening while he and his wife were absent from their comfortable home at the Wesleyan Church, of which they were old, regular, and consistent members. Some scoundrel who knew where the old man kept his money, took advantage of Mr. and Mrs. Scrivener's absence at Divine service, made his way into their bedroom, and stole the little bag page 57 of sovereigns (about £60) out of a chest of drawers, and made off with it. It was a terrible blow to the good, honest, hard-working old man. During the many years he lived in Wanganui Mr. Scrivener took a great and active interest in local affairs and his great "hobby"—indeed the "ruling passion" with him—was to see the establishment of a local board of some kind for the management and control of local affairs, for in those days there was no such thing as a Town Board even, and the Municipal Corporations Act was not, I imagine, thought of then. It was a regular thing with old Mr. Scrivener, consequently, at all public meetings of any kind and for the purpose of discussing almost any subject whatever, to have something to say on his favourite, all-absorbing topic—"Local Boords," as he expressed it. The outcome of this was that the worthy old man earned for himself the soubriquet of "Local Boords" (sic), and the name stuck to him until the Great Leveller, Death, stepped in and translated him to that Haven of Rest, let us hope, where the absence of "Local Boords" or Borough Councils in little Wanganui would never more worry or disturb his righteous soul, and where the "wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest." I remember one occasion when the late Sir William, then Mr. Fox, who represented this district in Parliament, was addressing his constituents here in the old Oddfellows' Hall after the session held in Auckland at that time. I think it was 1861 or ’62. At any rate, at the close of an eloquent, fervid address on the leading topics of the day—the war at Taranaki over the celebrated Waitara question, more especially—the chairman, as usual on such occasions, asked if any elector wished to ask the Honorable Member any questions before he declared the meeting closed. Upon this old Mr. Scrivener rose from his seat in the middle of the hall and asked with the greatest seriousness—"Is the honorable gentleman in favour of 'Local Boords'"? There was a titter for a moment or two and then profound silence as Mr. Fox with a winning smile on his genial face answered—"Well, I have not the pleasure of knowing who my questioner is, nor has the question anything to do with the subjects touched upon in my address; but the subject of Local Boards is, no doubt, an important one, and I may inform my friend that I think Local Boards very useful institutions, and if properly and page 58 honestly managed should be the means of doing much good in a community. I am, therefore, strongly in favour of Local Boards in such towns as Wanganui." Mr. Fox then sat down and Mr. Scrivener, rising once more, said—"Sir, I thank you for your answer. I am quite satisfied." (Great cheering). I cannot say just now when Mr. Scrivener, senr., died or what his age was, but he must have been close on to 80. He was a simple, industrious, well-meaning, good citizen. His son, Mr. Thomas Scrivener, now getting to be an old man, is still alive and hearty and may be seen trundling along on his "bike" as active and nimble as many a younger man. He has long since retired from business on a competency and is living with one of his sons, his wife having died several years ago.
Stevenson, James L. and John.—These two brothers came to Wanganui quite little boys with their widowed mother in 1857 from Glasgow, N.B. They came out with, and under the charge of, Captain John McGregor, in his schooner, the "Ariel." It affords me considerable pleasure to give a "sketch" of the Stevensons, because their position in Wanganui furnishes an instance of success, prosperity, and influence in a community attending upon a career characterised in a marked degree by honesty, industry, perseverance, and honourable, upright conduct in their dealings and intercourse with their fellow citizens. These two well-conducted, religiously trained Scotch lads, after attending the Wanganui Board's school for a few years, and assisting their good, pious widowed mother in a little business that they started on Taupo Quay and corner of Wicksteed Place, where Messrs Cock and Co.'s fine store now stands, purchased the corner section in Ridgway Street and Wicksteed Streets, a few yards above the Cosmopolitan Club. Here the Stevensons built a store, considerably enlarging it as time went on and circumstances demanded. Mr. J. L. Stevenson, the elder of the two brothers, looked after and attended to the business chiefly, the younger brother joining the Bank of New Zealand as a junior clerk through the influence of Mr. W. F. Russell, manager of the Bank in Wanganui for many years; commencing in 1863, I think. By degrees the Stevensons' business developed into quite an extensive one, necessitating the employment of severalpage break page 59
"hands" in the shop and store. I ought to mention that the business carried on was of a mixed kind—grocery, wines and spirits, provisions, crockery and glassware, etc., etc. In 1883 Mr. John Stevenson was appointed to the position of local manager of the N.Z.L. and M. Agency Company (Ltd.), in succession to Mr. W. F. Russell, who gave it up when certain fresh arrangements were effected between the Bank and the Company This important, responsible position Mr. John Stevenson still fills with advantage to the Company and great credit to himself. The business done here and in this district generally is a very large one, and I suppose there must be about 15 employès of the Company in their large building, Taupo Quay, under the control of Mr. John Stevenson. About two years ago Mr. J. L. Stevenson sold out his business and let his stores to Mr. M. Russell of Wellington, Mr. Stevenson retaining a portion of the premises for offices, some of which he has let to the Government Life Insurance Department, and others, retaining offices for himself as well. Mr Stevenson is local agent for the Tyser line of steamers, and other companies and business concerns, so that I fancy I am safe in saying that both brothers have done well in Wanganui, securing competencies for themselves and families, thus proving what may develop from small, humble beginnings when combined with the qualities, characteristics, and good principles exhibited and practised during the whole of their career from mere childhood by the brothers Stevenson of Wanganui. I must not omit to mention that Mr. J. L. Stevenson was Mayor of Wanganui during the Diamond Jubilee year—1897. He is also a prominent member of the Wanganui Chamber of Commerce, chairman of the Heads Railway Company, and has besides, served on various Boards and taken a leading position for several years in the Presbyterian Church, of which he is a regular attendant, consistent supporter, and office-bearer.
Taylor, Thomas Ballardie.—The senior partner for many years of the old-established firm of Taylor and Watt, Wanganui, was born at Austruther, Scotland, in 1817; came to New Zealand in 1841, and was drowned at sea in Cook's Strait through being washed overboard from the firm's brig, the "Lady Denison," on 16th July, 1871, aged 54. The time and space at my disposal, now page 60 that I am approaching the close of these "sketches" of Wanganui Old Settlers, is altogether inadequate to enable me to deal with such a well-known, highly respected, and prominent figure in the history of Wanganui as I should like to do. I must, consequently, try and compress into as small a space as possible what I have to record of the late much-lamented "Skipper," as he was familiarly called. In partnership with the late Mr. Wm. Hogg Watt, Captain Taylor came to Wanganui in 1841 from Sydney. They were both seafaring men in Scotland, and agreed to share each other's for-tunes upon meeting in Sydney. With their hard-earned savings they purchased and freighted a small cutter, of about 15 tons, named the "Catherine Johnson"; brought her safely to Wanganui Heads, crossed the "bar," and sailed up to where the town now stands, then, I imagine, scarcely entitled to be reckoned a little fishing village. I recollect being informed by the late Mr. W. H. Watt that, after purchasing their little cutter and freighting her for Wanganui, the two partners had just half-a-crown left between them. The partners did so well with their goods, that they returned to Sydney, increased their capital, made several trips, one of the partners staying behind in Wanganui to trade with the natives and handful of Europeans here in those early days, whilst the other navigated the little vessel to and from Sydney. In course of time the "Kitty Johnson" was found to be too small for the trade; she was therefore sold, and the partners purchased a smart little fore-and-aft schooner of about 30 tons, which they named the "Governor Grey" in honour of Sir George Grey who assumed the Governorship of New Zealand in 1845. As years rolled by the business carried on by Taylor and Watt so greatly increased that they built a large store facing Taupo Quay, bought a considerable area of land both in town and country, and added to their fleet of sailing vessels; so that in later years they owned no less than five vessels. Here are their names—"Venture" (brig); "Rosebud" (brigantine); "Sea Gull" (topsail schooner, 90 tons); "Tyne" (schooner, 34 tons), and "Lady Denison," a very handsome brig of about 250 tons. The "Governor Grey" was either sold or lost, I forget which, giving place to the "Tyne"; the "Sea Gull" was driven ashore at New Plymouth during a fierce nor'-wester; the "Tyne" was wrecked just inside Port page 61 Nicholson Heads, and I fancy both the "Venture" and "Rosebud" were sold in Sydney. The "Lady Denison," quite a new vessel from Sydney, was stranded at the Heads of the Wanganui River, abandoned by the underwriters, and purchased by Taylor and Watt for a trifling sum. They succeeded in launching their purchase across the "Spit" into the river, very little the worse for the mishap, brought her up to the town, refitted her, and placed her in the Sydney trade. This was in or about 1867. What became of her afterwards I cannot exactly say, but I think she was re-sold in Sydney. During all the years that Captain Taylor was in Wanganui in partnership with the late W. H. Watt—1841 to 1871—a period of 30 years, he did not take a very active part in the firm's general business, preferring a seafaring life, looking after their ships in which he always took great pride and a deep interest, and their beautiful farm, Westmere, about 5 miles from the town just off the great northern road. Captain Taylor, who was a man of gentle manners and most amiable disposition, was universally loved and respected by all classes. He was a Justice of the Peace, a consistent supporter of the late Dr. Featherston, Superintendent of the Wellington Province, and his patty, and an elder of the Presbyterian Church for many years. His untimely end was universally deplored, and quite a gloom was cast over the place for some time when the sad news reached Wanganui. Mr Taylor left a widow and large family behind him to mourn his loss, most of whom are still resident in or near Wanganui. A very handsome monument to the memory of the late Captain T. B. Taylor is to be seen in front of St. Paul's Presbyterian Church, Victoria Avenue, on which is inscribed the date of his birth, arrival in New Zealand, date of his untimely death by drowning, and other particulars. On the reverse side of the same monument is recorded the death, also by drowning, of his eldest daughter, Miss Annie Taylor, through the collision of the ship "Avalanche" with the American steamship "Forrest" in the English Channel, September 1877, when a number of Wanganui people (about 25) were returning to New Zealand, and who ail perished on that melancholy occasion.
Taylor, Rev. Richard, M.A., F.G.S.—This gentleman, one of the early missionaries sent out by the page 62 London Church Missionary Society, arrived in New Zealand in 1838, and joined the Church Mission at Paihia, Bay of Islands. He was at first stationed at the Waimate, not many miles distant inland from the Bay, and took charge of the school there, a mixed one for European and Maori boys. Here Mr. Taylor laboured for several years in conjunction with the noble band of missionaries, both of the Anglican and Wesleyan Methodist Church Missionary Societies stationed in various parts of the North Island at the time, but chiefly at the "Bay," as it was always called, and at Hokianga on the opposite, or West, Coast. In about 1846 Mr. Taylor was sent to this place as Missionary, and took up his quarters and established his Mission at Putiki-wharanui, a native settlement of considerable importance then, nearly opposite the town of Wanganui. From this centre, Mr Taylor paid periodical and frequent visits to the natives scattered up and down this river right away up to Taupo, and up and down the Coast, north and south of Wanganui. Travelling in those days had to be accomplished either in canoes up and down this river, or on foot or horseback—chiefly on foot—up and down the coast and to the inland pahs and villages. Mr. Taylor, at that time a very active, energetic missionary, travelled great distances, and visited many places, the native population then being considerable. It would be quite out of place for me here to discuss the results of missionary labour in this, or indeed any, part of New Zealand; suffice it to say that Mr. Taylor, in common with most of the missionaries at that time, laboured hard, travelled much, and experienced privations, trials, dangers and difficulties that the bulk of Europeans now living in the colony have but a faint conception of. In or about 1851, he went to England for the purpose, chiefly, of publishing his book on New Zealand—"Te Ika a Maui"—Anglice, the "Fish of Maui" (name of a Maori chief). He took with him a chief and catechist, Hoani Wiremu (John Williams) Hipango. Returning to New Zealand in about 1857, Mr. Taylor took up his quarters at the Mission Station, Putiki, once more, and resumed his mission work, occasionally visiting the town, mingling with his many European friends, and sometimes officiating at the services in the Anglican Church situate in Victoria Avenue. Mr. Taylor, I am pleased to state, belonged to what ispage break page 63
known as the Broad or Evangelical branch of the Anglican Church; there was nothing of the Puseyite or Ritualist about him; he was always pleased to meet and associate with ministers of the Nonconformists Churches, and would have been glad to exchange pulpits with them but for fear of his Bishop,—the great, masterful, modern St. Paul—George Augustus Selwyn. Mr. Taylor visited England again in 1867, returned to the colony in 1870, lived on at the new mission house, Putiki, in somewhat feeble health, and died at his town residence, "Sandown," Campbell Street, 10th October, 1874, aged 67 years. He was an English gentleman in the true sense, most kind, friendly, and "given to hospitality," and a man of considerable scientific attainments. He was an excellent geologist and enthusiastic botanist, taking a great interest in the cultivation of his beautiful flower garden and orchard at Putiki. He was a Master of Arts of Cambridge University and a Fellow of the Geological Society of England. Mr. Taylor was interred in the Wanganui Cemetery on a mound occupying a commanding position in that final resting place of many more old Wanganui Settlers, and I need scarcely add that his obsequies were attended by a very large number of people,—Maoris from Putiki and elsewhere, as well as Europeans. It should be added that the Revd. R. Taylor's remains were interred on the mound referred to above in deference to the express wish of the Putiki natives, so that they might view from Putiki, just opposite, the last resting place of their much-loved minita (minister), Te Teira (the Taylor).
Trafford, Major Benjamin William Rawson, at one time a Captain in H.M. 65th Regiment of Foot, and widely known throughout this and the surrounding districts, belonged to an old Warwickshire family, Castle Trafford. He resided in this, and the neighbouring district of Rangitikei; and although, strictly speaking, he was a Rangitikei settler more than a Wanganui one, yet he visited this town so often, living in a cottage he rented, and identified himself so closely with much that was going on here—horse-racing more especially—that I should not be justified in passing him over. Captain Trafford rented from the natives in the Rangitikei—Manawatu district a large "run" between the two rivers, the Rangitikei and the Manawatu, named "Te page 64 Rakihou," also "Mingiroa," and a splendid property of several thousand acres of rich land it was. This big "run" was in charge of a manager, Mr. William Ferguson, who resided on the place, Major Trafford himself being very little there, spending most of his time at his place in the Upper Rangitikei not far from Bulls, which was quite a rendezvous for friends and acquaintances in the fifties and early sixties. He also stayed months at a time in this town amongst his old comrades of the 65th and the few civilians of leisure here in those days, taking a leading place, especially in all matters appertaining to the Turf and sports generally. Indeed Major Trafford, or, as he was dubbed by the Maoris, Karu-tahi ("one eye" because of his wearing an eye-glass), was for years looked up to and considered the greatest authority on horse-racing, and the best judge of horse-flesh in this part of the Colony, including Wellington and Wairarapa. For several years in succession he run in his own or John Walker's name a thoroughbred mare named "Sybil." She was a beauty, truly, and as docile and gentle as a domestic tabby. I don't think she ever lost a race for which she ran, and John Walker, now an old man of 80, always bestrode the favourite mare at the Wanganui Race Meeting in the "good old days," when the "Produce Stakes" amounted to Sixty Pounds! "Sybil" was always the favourite, and when she came back to scale after the race—the winner, of course—the "Major" would chuck his eye-glass up to his "weather-eye" and view his beautiful bay mare with a look of pride and satisfaction on his aristocratic, finely-cut features. I have little to add respecting Major William Rawson Trafford, a man who, although a great sufferer from neuralgia and a complication of complaints which made him a bit of a cynic, perhaps, was always looked up to as a gentleman and born aristocrat. When the Manawatu-Rangitikei block was purchased for the Government by the late Dr. Isaac Earl Featherston, Superintendent of the province of Wellington, and Chief Land Purchase Commissioner, of course Major Trafford had perforce to part with his "run." This was in 1865. But prior to this, in 1863, owing to a complete break-down of his health, Major Trafford left New Zealand and went to England in the ship "Electra" from Wellington in medical charge of Dr. Tuke, now Sir John Batty Tuke, of Edinburgh. The "Electra" page 65 made a quick passage (for a sailing vessel) of 73 days to Plymouth, and Major Trafford upon arrival in London was handed over by Dr. Tuke to Sir William Ferguson, the eminent surgeon at that time, who made a new man of him, so to speak. A bit of romance attaches to the subject of this "sketch," for after being restored to health by the eminent surgeon just named, he married a daughter of his old Colonel, Lieut.-Col. Wyatt, H.M. 65th Regiment. Major Trafford, I should add, was never married before. What became of the gallant Major afterwards I cannot exactly say, but I think he went and lived in retirement in Jersey, Channel Islands. Whether he is still in the "land of the living," I do not know; if so, he must be somewhere near 80 years of age.
Treweek, John.—A "cousin John" to the backbone, and one of the right sort, too, well-known, and one of the very best settlers that Wanganui ever possessed, came out to Taranaki from Cornwall in 1840 or ’41 in one of the N.Z. Company's ships along with a number of immigrants from Devonshire and Cornwall in charge of the late Mr. John Tylston Wicksteed. Mr. Treweek, a first-class West of England farmer, laboured away with the assistance of his wife and some of his family on his farm in Taranaki until about 1850 or ’51, when he was persuaded to shift to Wanganui, the inducement being, I imagine, that he could get a much larger area of land here than in Taranaki, the settlers there being much hampered and circumscribed at that time owing to the hostile attitude of the natives and their obstinate unwillingness to sell any more of their land to the Government. (The purchase of land from the natives by private individuals or companies was, at that time, absolutely prohibited). Mr. Treweek was fortunate enough to meet with a Wellington gentleman, Mr. Ashton St. Hill, brother of the late Mr. Henry St. Hill, for many years Stipendiary Magistrate for Wellington, who was willing to sell his splendid property of about 1500 acres at Kai-iwi, nine miles from Wanganui, and skirting the coast—a most valuable property and consisting for the most part of rich arable land. The bargain was struck, and Mr. Treweek became the fortunate owner of this splendid estate for a very moderate sum, about £2000 or £3000. In connection with this trans- page 66 action, it is worth mentioning that Mr. Henry St. Hill, upon hearing that his brother had parted with this fine property was very wroth; but it was too late; the bargain was completed and the purchase money handed over. To resume—Mr. Treweek was not long in getting to work on his new place, which in the course of a few years he greatly improved, making it one of the best farms, if not the best farm, in this district, for Mr. T. was a thoroughly practical farmer and knew exactly how to till the splendid land—clear, plough, plant, sow, reap and store the fruits of the earth; raise stock of the best kinds, and generally turn to good advantage all that was at his command. All went well with Mr. Treweek, his wife, and fine stalwart sons and one daughter until the war broke out in Taranaki in 1860, and subsequently, when military operations were carried on in this district and quite close to Mr. Treweek's farm at Kai-iwi. Mr. Treweek stuck to his place like a true Britisher for some time, risking his life on several occasions, and proving the stern stuff that he and his sons, then fine, strong young men, were made of. But his wife (very naturally, no doubt) got alarmed, indeed panic-stricken, and at length prevailed upon her husband to leave the place and come into town for safety. They did so; but poor, honest, hard-working John Treweek was almost brokenhearted over it all, and in the end he sold his beautiful property to Peat and Alexander, of this place, for £10,500, equal to £7 per acre including stock, buildings, farm implements, etc. Soon after this poor John Treweek left Wanganui and went to Otago, and speculated a good deal, I fancy. Disaster seemed to pursue him for, in addition to money losses, etc., two of his fine sons were carried off, one by drowning, the other by fever contracted on the Otago Goldfields. After some years, with broken fortunes and broken health, John Treweek returned to this district and got on to a small piece of land somewhere near Hawera, and died about three years ago at a good old age, about 80, I imagine. Poor old John Treweek! Behind a somewhat rugged exterior there was the kind heart, bursting, so to speak, with good nature, generosity, and native goodness; ever ready to assist, a man of boundless hospitality, good humour and joviality, whose ringing, cheerful laugh it did one good to hear; in a word, a true Englishman and typical Cornishman.page 67
Waters, Thomas.—No historical account or sketch of Wanganui would be complete without a line or two respecting Mr. Thomas Waters, one of the most experienced, shrewdest men of business that ever took up his abode either in Wellington or Wanganui. Mr. Waters, who had received his mercantile training in the City of London, came out to Wellington some time during the forties, if I am not mistaken, and after engaging in business there for some years, left his partner, Mr. James J. Taine, and came to Wanganui, in about 1851, starting a store at the corner of Taupo Quay and Victoria Avenue, still known as Waters' Corner, and where Messrs J. Thain and Co.'s large ironmongery (formerly Duthie's) establishment now stands, one of the best business "stands" in Wanganui, as it is quite close to the bridge and has a double frontage to the streets above named. Here Mr. Waters carried on his business in a quiet, unpretentious way for many years—before, during, and after the War of 1863-’68. Mr. Waters, who was a man of the simplest habits, shrewd, saving, and cautious, must have accumulatad a handsome fortune, and it is known that he died wealthy, leaving the bulk of his fortune to his two sons, Thomas and Alfred. In addition to the qualities just mentioned, Mr. Waters was a man of ready wit and a splendid mimic. When in the humour, he could keep one in a simmer of laughter with his funny, comical stories and anecdotes of odd or eccentric people, or imitating peculiarities of voice, manner, or appearance. Some of his reminiscences of Wellington and the "Old Identities" there in the forties were most entertaining and amusing. He seemed to know everyone and could tell you all about them. But there was nothing spiteful or offensive in it all; it was all genuine good humour and fun. Mr. Waters was all through his career here and in Wellington a staunch and consistent supporter of the late Dr. Featherston and the Provincial Party, and a "tower of strength" to them he was, although he never took an active or prominent part in politics, and never sought or took office. When the Stafford-Richmond Government was defeated in Auckland over the Waitara War question by the Featherston-Fox-Fitzherbert Party in 1861, one of Mr. Fox's first acts as regards Wanganui was to create Mr. Waters a Justice of the Peace—a position for which he was eminently fitted. A shrewder, more impartial, fearless, right- page 68 thinking magistrate I do not suppose ever sat on the Bench in Wanganui and heard a "case" than the late Thomas Waters. I cannot say exactly when Mr. Waters died, or whether he died here or in Wellington, for I was stationed at Greymouth, West Coast, at the time of his death. But he lived to a ripe old age, perhaps 75 or 80. To sum up.—The late Thomas Waters was, no doubt, a "character" in his way; he had hard and fast notions on many subjects, and as a commercial man his standard was a high one; a man, in fine, of the strictest integrity, who had a great down upon fraud, humbug, lying and cheating, of all which kind of things he was unsparing in his denunciations.
Watt, William Hogg.—The junior partner of the original firm of Taylor and Watt, merchants, importers, ship-owners, landed proprietors, etc., Wanganui. Intimately associated for more than 30 years with his partner, Thomas Ballardie Taylor, of whom I have given a somewhat lengthy "sketch" ante, little remains to be recorded of the late Mr. W. H. Watt, except as regards the many public positions he occupied during the long period that he "filled the public eye"—to use a colloquialism—in the town of Wanganui and district. The late Mr. Watt was a native of Dundee, N.B., and like his partner, a seafaring man. Having already described the firm's early experiences, it only remains for me now to say that the late Mr. Watt, besides being the more active partner of the two, as regards their general business, took a prominent place in public affairs—local, municipal, and colonial. Mr. Watt was the first chairman of the Wanganui Town Board—a local body constituted years before the first Municipal Corporations Act was passed. In this position he did yeoman's service; as also, later on, as chairman of the Harbour Board (1876), School Committee, etc. During the days of "Provincialism" he represented Wanganui for many years in the Provincial Council in Wellington, and was ever a staunch supporter and constant personal friend of Dr. Featherston, Superintendent of the Province. Mr. Watt also represented Wanganui for some years in the House of Representatives in succession to Mr. H. Shafto Harrison. He opposed the late Hon. John Ballance at two general elections, defeating him at one by the narrow majority of three, and being defeated in page 69 turn by a considerable majority by Mr. Ballance at a subsequent general election. But all this is ancient (Wanganui) history, and does not demand any further remark. It may be truly said of the late Mr. Watt that he was always a "busy man." "Willy Watt," as he was familiarly called by his more intimate friends, was at all times ready and willing to listen to, advise, and assist those who came to him; and of him and his firm it may be truthfully said that many a "lame dog has he or his firm helped over the stile!" Indeed, it is not too strong an assertion to make here, that through the kindness and over-trustfulness of the old firm of Taylor and Watt many thousands of pounds owing to them, as shown by their books, were "written off" and never sued for or recovered. The old firm, after Captain Taylor's melancholy death by drowning, broke up, and the new firm, consisting of Mr. T. C. Taylor and Mr. J. P. Watt, eldest sons of Captain Taylor and W. H. Watt respectively, was started. Mr. Watt, senior, retired from business altogether later on, merely winding up the old firm's affairs with the assistance and advice of the late Mr. Edward Broughton, their confidential clerk and manager. Besides taking an active and lively interest in local and colonial affairs, the late Mr. Watt was a Justice of the Peace and an Elder of the Presbyterian Church, of which he was a warm supporter and consistent member. Indeed, Mr. Watt loved his Church intensely, and was rarely absent from its services during all the years he lived in Wanganui so long as circumstances and the state of his health permitted. He died at the family residence, "Sandridge Hall," situate in Victoria Avenue and Wicksteed Street, in March, 1894, surrounded by several members of the family. A very melancholy occurrence, and a heavy blow to Mr. Watt's peace of mind and happiness, was the awfully sudden death by drowning of his eldest daughter Margaret, through the collision in the English Channel referred to ante. Mr. Watt's fatal illness was a short one, and his age at time of his decease 76. I omitted to mention above that, when the question of a water supply for the town was taken up, Mr. Watt most generously made a free gift of the water from Westmere Lake—the property of the firm—for the use of the inhabitants of Wanganui in perpetuity. I need scarcely add that the magnificent gift was accepted, and the town has for many page 70 years been supplied with water from Westmere Lake as a "feeder" to Virginia Lake on St. John's Hill, close to the town. In recognition of Mr. Watt's generous gift, a handsome fountain, with a suitable inscription thereon, was erected in the centre of Victoria Avenue mid-way between the Post Office and the Rutland Hotel.
Wicksteed, John Tylston.—I have already referred to this gentleman in my "sketch" of the late John Treweek, and what I have now to relate of him will be short and, I trust, of interest, to members of the Fourth Estate, more especially. Mr. Wicksteed, before coming to New Zealand as one of the agents of the New Zealand Company under their distinguished leader, Col. Wakefield, was for several years one of the Sub-editors of the London "Spectator"—at that time and now, considered one of the leading and most influential journals of the Great Metropolis. It goes without saying, therefore, that Mr. Wicksteed was a man of culture and literary attainments or he could not have occupied so honourable a position in the Republic of Letters as that just described. Mr. and Mrs. Wicksteed with their two young boys, John T., and Arthur, landed in the first instance at Wellington. This was in 1841 or ’42, I think. And here it is interesting to mention that many years after, Mrs. Wicksteed, a lady of culture and refinement, wrote a very interesting little book giving an account of the family and their experiences in Wellington, at that time a village at the Thorndon end of the settlement composed chiefly of Maori whares and log huts. Later on, about '43, I fancy, the Wicksteeds were sent on to New Plymouth in charge of a batch of immigrants for that settlement. Mr. Wicksteed took up land at Omata, a few miles from the village of New Plymouth (south) under the very shadow of the majestic, lovely snow-capped Mt. Egmont. Here they lived for several years, farming their land, and Mr. Wicksteed himself looking after the little colony from the West of England. In course of time, Mr. Wicksteed severed his connection with the N.Z. Company and engaged in the work of his old profession or calling, becoming Editor of the 'Taranaki Herald,' a weekly paper established, printed, and published by my late brother, Mr. Garland Woon. Mr. Wicksteed used to ride in from his farm once a week, pick up whatever news was floating about, scan the page 71 Auckland and other papers, and then write his article and in other ways supply "copy" for the little paper, and a well-conducted, well printed, ably edited little paper it was. Some of Mr. Wicksteed's "leaders" were very clever and ably written; others were very funny and used to cause a great deal of mirth and amusement. Much depended upon the humour the worthy Editor was in at the time of writing, but at all times, and under all circumstances, Mr. Wicksteed was invariably the courteous, polite, cultured English gentleman. In the early fifties (the 'Taranaki Herald' was started in 1850)—about ’53, I fancy, Mr. Wicksteed and his family moved from Taranaki to this district, taking up and farming a splendid piece of land about nine miles north of Wanganui near the Kai Iwi, named Otamatea. In about 1856, when the 'Wanganui Chronicle and Rangitikei Messenger' was started by an Irish gentleman, Mr. Henry Stokes, Mr. Wicksteed was the first Editor. The paper was published once a week, and as in the case of the 'Taranaki Herald,' Mr. Wicksteed used to come into town, with his articles and other matter for the paper, always putting up at the old "Rutland Hotel," where he used to meet his friends. It was a pleasure to hear Mr. Wicksteed converse; he had a rich store of knowledge and information to draw upon, and as he knew many of the leading men in the literary world of London, it was quite a treat to listen to him relate his experiences and anecdotes of notable men whom he knew and with whom he had been associated. The fortunes of the 'Chronicle,' as well as its proprietary having as time went on, languished, Mr. Wicksteed severed his connection with the paper as Editor, and he very rarely came into town thereafter. He died at his place, Otamatea, about 1865, and was there interred, his widow coming into town and living here after that event. One of the streets of Wanganui is named after the late Mr. John Tylston Wicksteed.
Woon, Revd. William.—My late father, Wesleyan Methodist Missionary, one of the first missionaries to the South Sea Islands and New Zealand also, in company with two other missionaries—the Revds. J. Wat-kin (father of the Revd. Dr. Watkin, of Melbourne) and Turner—left London in the ship "Lloyds," August, 1830, arrived at the Bay of Islands January, 1831, and page 72 after staying there and at Hokianga a few weeks to recruit, proceeded on to their destination Tongatabu, Friendly Islands, where they arrived in March following, and took up their abode and missionary work at Nukualofa, the principal settlement of the group and the headquarters of "King" George. Here my father remained and laboured in the mission field, assisting in the translation of the Scriptures into the Tonguese language and printing of same, until 1834 when, owing to my mother's health failing, he was compelled to leave Tonga and return to New Zealand and its more bracing, salubrious climate. Landing at the Bay of Islands again, my father went across to Hokianga, the headquarters at that time of the Wesleyan Mission in New Zealand. From there he was sent to Kawhia, in the Waikato Country, to take charge of the mission, and where he remained until 1836, when he was moved back again to Hokianga and stationed at Mangungu, near the head waters of the Hokianga Estuary, and where he remained continuously until 1846, and where several of the family, including myself, were born. In January, 1846, owing to the war with Heke at the Bay and surrounding country, the family, in company with a considerable number of Hokianga settlers, were taken round to Auckland for safety by order of Sir George Grey, the Governor, who feared a general massacre of the Europeans at that critical time in the history of New Zealand. After remaining in Auckland several weeks, my father was ordered by the Committee of Management to take charge of the mission in the Ngatiruanui Country, Taranaki South, where he arrived in May, 1846, settling down at the Mission Station at Heretoa (Waimate) quite close to where the village of Manaia now is, and within a mile of the sea-coast. Here my father remained and laboured amongst the natives—the very worst tribe in New Zealand—until 1853, when his health having completely broken down, he was compelled to resign, abandon the Mission Station, and go to New Plymouth. Here he remained as a supernumerary minister until 1854, when he and my brother came here to Wanganui and joined the little home provided by two of his sons—Richard Watson and Edwin Turner Woon. Although shattered in health through his long career as a missionary amongst the Tonguese and New Zealanders, yet my father was able to do a minister's work occasionally amongst the Europeans here, military page 73 and civilian, and the Government of the day, then in Auckland, under Acting-Governor, Lieut-Colonel Wynyard, H.M. 58th Regiment, kindly conferred upon him the appointment of Postmaster of Wanganui in succession to James Lett, Esq., deceased. This was a position for which my father was well suited, and I am proud to say that he discharged his duties to the satisfaction of the authorities and the public until his health, which completely broke down in 1858, compelled him to give up his work which I, then a lad not long from school in Auckland, was able to do. My father died in September, 1858, at the comparatively early age of 54 years and 9 months. He was a native of Truro, Cornwall, and was born December, 1803.
Woon, Garland William.—Eldest son of the foregoing, was born at Nukualofa, Tongatabu, in 1831, and came to New Zealand with his parents in 1834. When old enough he was sent to the Waimate, near the Bay of Islands, to school, at that time under the charge of the late Revd. R. Taylor, M.A., of whom I have written a "sketch," ante. When the family went to Auckland in 1846, my brother was apprenticed to Messrs. Williamson and Wilson, proprietors of the "New Zealander" newspaper, Shortland Crescent, to learn the printing business. Here he remained until 1849, when he rejoined the family at Waimate, Taranaki South, and afterwards was started in business in New Plymouth (1850) by my father. Later on he, in conjunction with a Mr. Collins, also a printer and compositor, started the "Taranaki Herald" under the style or title of Woon and Collins, but the partnership did not continue long, Mr. Collins leaving New Plymouth and going to Canterbury, at that time a newly-founded settlement, and where he did well as a farmer and landed proprietor. My brother carried on his splendid little paper successfully up to, and during the war in 1860-’61 and onwards. Its circulation largely increased, and it was edited at various periods of its career by such able, distinguished writers as J. T. Wicksteed, Esq., C. W. (afterwards Judge) Richmond, J. C. Richmond,—afterwards Native Minister in Sir E. W. Stafford's Ministry,—Arthur Atkinson, brother of the late Sir Harry Atkinson, and lastly by the late Richard Pheeney, who died only two or three years ago. My late brother, owing to his perfect page 74 knowledge of the Maori language and intimate acquaintance with a large number of the natives in and near Taranaki, including the celebrated Waitara (Ngatiawa) chief, Wiremu Kingi (Anglice, William King) te Rangitake, was often able to obtain and impart valuable information to the military authorities during the War at the Waitara, etc., and he was on intimate and most friendly terms with such officers of the Imperial troops as Colonel Warre, 57th Regiment, Colonel Wyatt, 65th, and many others. But his most intimate acquaintance and personal friend during those critical times (1860-’64) was Commodore Sir H. Beauchamp Seymour, of H.M.S. "Pelorus," flagship in New Zealand waters at that time, and who years afterwards was created Lord Alcester in recognition of his distinguished services during the disturbances in Egypt at the time of Arabi Pasha's rebellion, and more especially for the bombardment of Alexandria by our ships. Indeed, years after Sir Beauchamp Seymour left New Zealand and returned to England, he kept up a correspondence with my late brother—Garland William Woon. After the cessation of hostilities with the natives in Taranaki in 1866, the state of things in New Plymouth changed greatly for the worse as regards business, owing chiefly to the withdrawal of the troops, and my brother suffered in common with many others, with the result that he was compelled to succumb to the inevitable, make great sacrifices, sell out his business to the Westons of New Plymouth, and come to live in Wanganui. This was in December, 1866. Here he remained earning a precarious living for himself and family (wife and three sons) as a licensed interpreter and native lands purchase agent, etc. But it was a "poor game" in those days, and after struggling on for two years, he was advised to return to the home of his early youth, Auckland. This was in 1868 when the Thames Goldfields were all the rage and the gold fever had "caught on" to thousands! My brother and his family went on to the goldfields at the Thames and literally worked hard, digging and delving for the precious metal at the "Hokianga Claim" there, but I don't think either he or those associated with him in the exciting work of gold-digging even got the "colour" of, much less "struck," gold rich! Things went from bad to worse with my poor brother and his family, and at length he abandoned the delusive search page 75 for gold and returned to Auckland, where he was taken by the hand by his old friend and master, John Williamson, Esq., at that time Superintendent of Auckland Province. He gave him a billet as clerk in the Works Department of the Provincial Government Service, which after Mr. Williamson's retirement was continued to him by Sir G. Grey, who became Superintendent. In this position my late brother continued until 1874, when the appointment to the office of clerk and interpreter to the R.M. Court at Rangitikei becoming vacant, he was advised to apply for it. In this he succeeded, and shortly afterwards came to Wanganui again. But he did not take up his duties at Rangitikei for the reason that a similar position became vacant here in Wanganui through the transfer of Mr. F. South, Clerk of Courts, to another district. My brother, consequently, applied for the Wanganui billet and fortunately got it, largely through the influence of another brother, the late Mr. Richard W. Woon, of whom I shall have something to say in my next "sketch." My late brother, G. W. Woon, continued in the discharge of his duties here as Clerk of the R.M. and District Courts, Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Registration and Returning Officer—also Deputy-Sheriff and Registrar of the Supreme Court—until 1892, when he was "retrenched" out of the service by the late Hon. John Ballance, Premier, etc., at that time. He then embarked in business once more as a native interpreter and land agent, etc., at the same time visiting and working on his farm in conjunction with his two elder sons at Raorikia, about 15 miles up the River Wanganui from this town. So occupied, going up to his place from town by boat once a week and returning every Monday, my late brother continued until 1895, when on the 6th June of that year he died in an awfully sudden manner from failure of the heart's action. He was apparently in the best of health on that self-same day when I met and spoke to him at about 1 p.m. At 5 the same afternoon, whilst on his way to his home on the River Bank Road, he must have been suddenly seized with a fit (so the medical evidence disclosed at the inquest afterwards) whilst doing something to his boat which was lying under the River Bank within a few yards of his own door! His body was found about 22 hours afterwards near the boat in about 8 feet of water. It was an page 76 awfully sudden death and, I need scarcely add, a terrible shock to his family as well as to myself. This sad, sudden event caused quite a sensation throughout the town and neighbourhood at the time, for my late brother was widely known, respected, and much liked because of his amiable, kindly, gentle, and obliging disposition. He was just 64 when the sad event here narrated occurred.
Woon, Richard Watson.—Second son of the late Rev. William Woon, was born at the Mission Station, Mangungu, Hokianga, in 1834; educated in Auckland, first at the late Mr.—afterwards Rev.—John Gorrie's Academy, Vulcan Lane and High street, and afterwards at the Wesleyan College and Seminary, now the Albert College, Upper Queen street, and after leaving school in 1852 went from Hokianga to Hobartown (now called Hobart) in company with the late Rev. John Hobbs and his son. Richards Hobbs, Esq., late M.H.R. Here my brother remained in the employ of Waterhouse Brothers, who were in a large way of business at that time as drapers, etc. My brother was engaged as bookkeeper and accountant to the firm, but finding the work hard, and the hours of business very long (there were no "Shops and Shops' Assistant Bills" in existence in those days), he gave up his employment after about nine months, and getting home-sick as well, took passage to Nelson in a little steamer named the "Ann," arriving there in 1853 and going into the employ of Messrs C. and J. Elliott, proprietors of the "Nelson Examiner," at that time one of the best and certainly the most ably edited journal in the Colony. Here my brother got on well and was much liked and thought of by the firm named—gentlemen in every sense of the word, and men of culture. In 1854 my brother came to Wanganui and joined the family circle here, it being my parents' wish that he should do so. The position of clerk and interpreter to the R.M. Court was about this time likely to become vacant through the contemplated retirement of the late Samuel Deighton, Esq., of whom I have written ante; so my brother resolved to qualify himself for the position by furbishing up his Maori and making a study of the language, his knowledge of it then being meagre as compared with others of the family. Consequently, he placed himself under the tuition and guidance of the late Revd. George Stannard, page 77 then missionary stationed at the Ihupuku, Waitotara. Here my brother remained until 1855, studying and reading hard under Mr. Stannard and going about amongst the natives in order to improve himself in speaking the language. This he accomplished, and in due time was appointed clerk and interpreter to the R.M. Court here vice Mr. S. Deighton—a position my brother continued to occupy until about 1871, I think, when he was promoted by the late Sir Donald McLean, Native Minister, to the important position of Magistrate for the Upper Wanganui (Native) District. In this position he remained until about 1882, when he was compulsorily retired upon pension by the Hon. John Bryce, at that time Native Minister, for some occult reason of his own, my brother being anxious and willing to complete his 30 years' service, viz.—from 1855 to 1885, inclusive. There is so much of a tender nature respecting my late brother, Richard Watson Woon, owing to his physical disability (Nature had not been too kind to him) that I feel it difficult to write much of him. I will just say, however, that whilst being heavily handicapped in the way indicated, he was compensated, so to speak, by the superior qualities of his heart, head, and mind. I prefer that others should write or speak of my late brother's mental qualities; I will only just say here that men in high positions such as the late Sir G. Grey, Sir Donald McLean and others, thought much of him, and the first two named showed their confidence in him by placing him in positions of great importance and trust amongst the natives of this district—the up-river and Putiki natives, more especially—a confidence which was not misplaced as I know full well, having been informed so by Sir George Grey himself when in London in 1896, six years after my brother's death, when I called upon the old ex-Governor and veteran statesman at his lodgings, Stanhope Gardens, Kensington. His words to me were:—"Ah! I was very grieved to hear of your little brother's death; I always thought much of him, especially as regards his influence with the Wanganui natives, and when I gave him that position many years ago I knew I had not made a mistake. He did great good for the country, and his influence with the natives had much to do with keeping the peace in Wanganui during those anxious times"—meaning during the disturbances here in 1864-’65-’66 and onwards. After page 78 being compulsorily retired from the Government service, my late brother lived in retirement here, doing some business, however, with the natives, and with Europeans in quest of land, as an interpreter and native lands' agent, and having a small office on the River Bank near his own residence in Mathieson Street. In 1890 his health completely broke down, and he became both physically and mentally a wreck of humanity! This did not continue long, however, for in August of the above year he passed quietly away at the hospital here in the midst of some of his family and surrounded by numbers of friends. I was at Greymouth, West Coast, at the time. There was a very large concourse of people, Native and European, at his funeral obsequies, and I can truthfully record of my late brother that he was loved, respected, and honoured by all who knew him. Amongst the Maoris here there was much lamentation over the death of their Matua (father), Rihari Wunu— Richard Woon. My late brother at the time of his decease was 56 years of age. He left behind him a widow and three sons, all now grown up, his eldest child and only daughter dying in 1873 at the early age of 7½ years, inflicting a blow upon my late brother's happiness from which he never fully recovered!
Woon, Edwin Turner.—Third son of the Revd. William Woon. Was born at Mangungu, Hokianga, in 1836. I have but little to record of this brother, as he was not, owing to circumstances in which he was placed, so prominently before the public as either of the rest of us—I mean, of course, the male members of the Woon family in New Zealand. He went to school in Auckland at the same establishments as his brother, Richard Watson, and myself. After leaving school, he went to New Plymouth to assist our eldest brother, Garland, above-mentioned, in his business. There he stayed until 1853, when he came here to Wanganui, and was taken into the employ of Taylor and Watt as a salesman, etc., and living at the little family home in Wilson Street In 1855 he entered into partnership with the late Mr. George Beaven, of this town, trading under the style or firm of Beaven and Woon. They built a store at the upper end of Taupo Quay, and did a good business for several years—with the natives especially; for, like his elder brothers, but unlike myself, page 79 Edwin Woon was an excellent Maori linguist, and well-liked by the natives up and down the Wanganui River generally. The partnership with Mr. Beaver, continued until about 1864, when it was dissolved—my late brother starting on his own account and taking over the drapery business on Taupo Quay, carried on by the late Mr. W. C. Hylton. In 1865 or ’66 my brother "launched out," so to speak, still more, and took a large shop adjoining Taylor and Watt's premises, where Mr. Sinclair's establishment (Nursery and Seedsman) now is. This turned out a bad move; times changed after the war of 1865-’66, business fell off, and my brother had in the end to succumb to the inevitable. He sold out to Taylor and Watt, gave up the business for which by early training and family instincts he was quite unfitted, and started again as a licensed interpreter, etc., in the Native Land Courts, and moved about the country in that capacity with various Lands Court Judges, e.g., the late Henry Monro, John Rogan and others at Auckland, Kaipara and Hokianga, at Otaki and Waikanae on this coast, and lastly at Gisborne, Poverty Bay, where he died in Nov, 1887, having been paralysed for a considerable time previously, at the comparatively early age of 52 years. It would ill-become me to say much more of my late poor, unfortunate brother, Edwin Turner Woon. Suffice to record the fact that whilst he lacked firmness of purpose, perhaps, he was amiable, good-natured, affectionate and kindy-dispositioned to a fault, and, I must add, allowed himself to be imposed upon by others rather than make a disturbance, or what is commonly called, "kick up a row." Although my late brother married when young (21), he had no family—a great disappointment to a man of his affectionate disposition. Peace to his ashes!
Of myself I shall say nothing, preferring to let those who know me, friends or foes, say or write of me what they please.
In bringing to a close the above somewhat hurriedly written "sketches" of Wanganui Old Settlers, I cannot do better than adopt (and adapt) the lofty language employed by the great historian, Edward Gibbon, in the page 80 closing passage of his colossal work—"The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire":—"Of these pilgrims, and of every reader, the attention may be excited by an history of"—not the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire—but of many of the oldest and best known settlers of this part of New Zealand, from the early forties of the last century down to the early sixties.
I sincerly hope and believe that in all I have written there will not be found one sentence, or word even, respecting those dealt with that would give pain or offence to any surviving relative or friend. If by any inadvertence or want of sufficient care I have been so unfortunate as to wound any of my readers' feelings, all I ask is that they will forgive me and put it down to an error of judgment, rather than to a fault of heart, on my part.
Special and Concluding Remarks.—It has occurred to me since the aforegoing "Sketches" of Wanganui Old Settlers were written and handed to the publishers, that I may have omitted all mention of one or more who, it may be considered, should have found a place in my little book. If so, I wish it to be clearly understood—and I cannot emphasize the remark too forcibly—that any such omission was quite unintentional: it was a lapse of memory at the time, and nothing more. Therefore, I crave the forgiveness of those I have thus forgotten who are still in the "land of the living," and who may consider themselves entitled to a place in my book; and in the case of those who have "crossed the Bar" and "joined the great majority" on the other side, I ask the forgiveness of any of their surviving relatives or friends remaining behind! Just one word more. I take it for granted that no sensible or reasonable person would expect me, or any other chronicler, to write "sketches," or record the doings, of people of no special prominence in the community, or who, to use a common every day expression, did not "fill the public eye" in any marked or notable manner. It would have been "from the purpose" and almost absurd to do so. With this last remark I take my leave of my readers, hoping and confidently believing that they will give me credit for page 81 singleness of purpose in this regard, and an honest endeavour to do my best.
J. G. Woon.Wanganui,