The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]
Mr. John Brown, sometime timber merchant at Sheffield, was born in Norfolk, England, in 1830, where he was apprenticed as a mechanic. He came to Christchurch in 1851, and worked as a carpenter for some years. In 1855, he built the first combine in New Zealand, with which he performed the first steam-threshing in Canterbury, and threshed oats from the site of the City Hotel, Christchurch. He obtained as high as £2 10s. per acre for cutting wheat. Prices then ruled high for all commodities, corn selling at twelve shillings per bushel, legs of mutton at 9s. 6d. each, the 4-lb. loaf at eighteen-pence, and cattle in the same proportion, calves fetching as high as six pounds. Mr. Brown caught the goldfever and went to Gabriel's Gully, where he only got frostbitten, and quitted the goldfields. Returning to Canterbury he resumed his trade. Among other buildings that he erected were the Prince of Wales Hotel, also the hotel at Cass, and Porter's Pass Hotel on the West Coast road. The difficulty of travelling up-country was great then, as there were no roads or bridges. One of his party was drowned in crossing the Waimakariri river, others escaping the same fate by hanging on to their horses' tails. About this time he visited the West Coast, where he worked at his trade for four years. He was sworn in as a special constable, during the faction riots there. Returning to Malvern he carried on his trade, and built the second bridge over the Hawkins, and the Bealey Gorge bridge in 1876. Finally, he established his timber yards at Sheffield in 1874. He was one of the school committee. He was married in 1855 to Miss Jeffreys, and had five sons, two daughters, and eighteen grand-children. Mr. Brown died at Sheffield in the middle of January, 1902.
The Late Mr. J. Brown
Mr. John Jebson, sometime of Sheffield, was born on the 1st of January, 1819, at Flockton, near Wakefield, Yorkshire, and went to work in the coal mines, when he was five years old, for four-pence a day. He attended night school and acquired a fair share of education, soon rising above his fellows. Ultimately he became a mining engineer, and received appointments as mine manager in Lancashire and Yorkshire, and acted in that capacity for many years, during which period he successfully sank several shafts. He came to New Zealand in 1862 in the ship “Zealandia,” Captain Foster, and is said to have bored the first artesian well in the Colony. Mr. Jebson supervised the construction of the telegraph between Lyttelton and Christchurch, and erected the first telegraph line to the West Coast, Greymouth, and Hokitika. He brought the first team of horses to Sheffield, which cost £100 in Christchurch, and were purchased for the Kowai Coal Mining Company, which held three mining leases in the district. Mr. Jebson was appointed manager to the company, and under his directions, a bore was put down which stuck coal, which is still being worked. When the company surrendered its lease, he took it up and worked the mine for twenty years. He cultivated the first crop of oats in the district, and carried on agricultural and pastoral farming on the reserves. Mr. Jebson was the first chairman of the East Malvern Road Board, and was a member of the Canterbury Provincial Council during 1874–6. He was on the school committee, of which he was chairman for ten years, and was the promoter of the first Methodist church in the district, in which he was local preacher for many years. He was married in England in 1839 to Miss Haigh, who died in 1886, leaving six sons and three daughters. Mr. Jebson survived his wife by about fourteen years.
The late Mr. J. Jebson.
Mr. Thomas Avis Pannett, who arrived at Lyttelton, by the ship “Lady Nugent,” in 1851, was born at Lewes, Sussex, England, in 1811, and was brought up as a farmer. His first engagement in Canterbury was on Mr. John Deans' estate at Riccarton. Subsequently he worked near the Ferry Road, Christchurch for a year or two, and then returned to Riccarton, where he remained for seven years. In 1863 Mr. Pannett took up a farm at Springston, which he carried on successfully until 1882. From that date until the time of his death, seven years later, he lived in retirement at Lincoln. Mr. Pannett was preminently identified with public affairs, and served as a member of the Springs Road Board, and the Lincoln school committee, and was for some time chairman of the road board. He left a widow, and a surviving family of nine children. Mrs Pannett died in 1898.
Mr. George Willis, one of the first settlers at Sheffield, was born at Whitchouch, in Buckinghamshire, England, in 1810, and was brought up to farming. He came out to New Zealand in the ship “Cressy,” which arrived at Lyttelton in 1850. Mr. Willis went to Akaroa for a short period, and then took course. In 1864 he went to Springfield, where he built the first accommodation house on the West Coast road. A few years later he removed to Sheffield, then known as Little Racecourse Hill, and erected an accommodation page 767 house, which was a stopping place for Cobb and Co.'s coaches. In 1875, the railway having been opened as far as Sheffield, Mr. Willis built a new hotel in the township, to which the license was transferred. This building is now used as the Anglican parsonage. Having leased the hotel to a tenant, Mr. Willis retired to the old house, where he carried on farming up to the time of his death in 1890. He was a member of the East Malvern Road Board, and of the Waddington Cemetery Board. Mr. Willis left a widow, and a surviving family of eight children. His widow died in September, 1902.
The late Mr. G. Willis.