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The Early Canterbury Runs: Containing the First, Second and Third (new) Series

Mt. Grey — (Runs 11 and 194)

Mt. Grey
(Runs 11 and 194)

This station covered all the country from the Ashley to the south branch of the Kowai, and from the sea to the foot of Mt. Grey. It is one of the oldest stations in Canterbury and was held under the New Zealand regulations before the Canterbury Settlement. It was taken up by Captain Mitchell, probably about the middle of 1850. Mitchell arrived in New Zealand in 1848. In 1850 he and Dashwood travelled overland from the Wairau to Canterbury. He started Mt. Grey as a cattle station, and went back to India in October, 1850. Ward in his diary published in the Press of 14th February, 1925, speaks of Mitchell having a house and page 69cows at Mt. Grey in January, 1851. Mitchell died about the.end of 1851 and his representatives sold his station in April, 1852, to Major Edward Maurice O'Connell for £400 without the cattle, which were taken at valuation and brought the total price for the station and cattle up to about £2000. O'Connell belonged to the 99th Regiment and had been Brigade-major to the Commander of the troops in Wellington. He came to Lyttelton in the schooner Twins in April, 1852, so did not waste much time in buying a station. At the time of Governors FitzRoy and Hobson, a Lieut.-General Sir Maurice O'Connell was in command of the troops in New South Wales and I take it Major O'Connell was his son.

On 1st January, 1852, Pasturage License 11, for ten thousand acres, was issued to O'Connell under the Canterbury Land Regulations. O'Connell died about the year 1855, but his widow went on with the station. She was a great dairy farmer and milked 50 cows there in 1856. Thomas Dodd and his wife worked her dairy for her. They afterwards lived at Saltwater Creek and later at Waikari where they were famous for their cheeses. In June, 1857, Mrs O'Connell took up Run 194, of five thousand acres. Her first manager was George Douglas of Broomfield Station, who had come out with Captain Mitchell. After him her son Maurice managed the station till it was sold.

Mrs O'Connell died in October, 1870, and in 1871 her executors sold Mt. Grey to Archdeacon Matthias and Charles Ensor. Ensor bought the Archdeacon's share in 1881. Before buying Mt. Grey they had owned Rollesby Station at Burke's Pass together.

When Ensor first went to Mt. Grey the land on the plain was being bought out of the run every day, but he secured what he could. In 1890 he bought the freehold of the balance from the Midland Railway Company. He was in his time a great merino breeder. He died in 1900 and Mt. Grey was divided amongst his sons. C. H. Ensor got the homestead block of five thousand acres which he afterwards sold to H. A. page 70Knight and Henry Cotterill. Since Knight and Cotterill's time the land has been sold piece by piece, so that the homestead is now only a farm carrying less than 1000 sheep. It belongs to J. Fleming.