The poineers of early settlement in Marlborough underwent more trying experiences than those which fell to the lot of their contemporaries in other more tranquil provinces of the Middle Island. Dealings with the Maoris oft times ended in a conflict or massacre, and ruinous floods frequently devastated the land.
The first European settlers were the whalers, who settled in 1827 at Te Awaite, or “Tar Whire,” as it was more generally terned by Englishmen with little aptitude for following the musical Maori pronunciation. From conventent points of the surrounding headlands they could watch the monsters of the deep; and the industry of whaling, established so long ago, is still carried on with success.
Despite the tribal wars of the Maoris, and their occasional assaults upon the Europeans, settlement progressed surely, thoughslowly, although it was checked for a time by the Wairau massacre, of 1843. But the spirit of adventure was strong in the young colonists of Nelson, and in 1845 exploring parties moved towards the Wairau. Messrs Fox, Redwood, Ward, and Goulter were amongst the earliest settlers on the Plain, and in 1847 Mr. Charles Clifford and Mr. Frederick Weld (afterwards Sir Charles and Sir Frederick) shipped a large mob of sheep from Sydney to Port Underwood, and took them to Flaxbourne. in 1848, the European population of the province was 194, but Sir George Grey's payments to the natives, two years later, of £1,600 and £3,000, in liquidation of their claims to the Wairau, lead to a further increase of settlement. The newcomers were supplied chiefly by Nelson, and the settlers were mostly pastoralists, who took up runs in the Wairau, Waihopai, and Awatere districts.
An incident illustrative of the early days has been described by an old Marlborough settler, who relates that he walked from Nelson to Blenheim, and crossed the bed of the Wairau river, dry shod. On arriving at the northern bank of the river one evening, he decided to camp there until morning, but during the night the river had changed its course to some considerable distance behind him. As he walked over the dry bed he felt like an Israelite of old crossing the Red Sea, and realised that the days of miracles had not entirely passed away.
For this section, as for other portions of the Marlborough division of this volume, the conductors of the Cyclopedia of New Zealand have secured records of representative pioneers, the story of whose lives must prove of interest to the present generation and to future times.
Mr. Henry Adam Ball
is one of the oldest residents in Blenheim. He was born in January, 1836, at Great Bar, in Staffordshire, England, where he was educated, and was afterwards brought up to the malting business in his father's malthouses. At twenty years of age, Mr. Ball came to New Zealand in the ship “Ann Wilson,” and soon after landing was appointed by Dr. Featherston overseer of a gang of men who were engaged in the construction of the Ngahuranga road near Wellington. In the year 1857, however, when the Collingwood diggings broke out, he joined the rush, but, meeting with little success, he went to New South Wales, where he found work for about six months in the Paramatta orange orchards. In 1858, Mr. Ball returned to New Zealand
and subsequently removed to Blenheim, or, as it was then called, Beavertown. Shortly after, he joined the late Mr. Henry Dodson in partnership, and the firm carried on a successful brewing, malting, and hop-growing trade for about fifteen years, under the style of Messrs Dodson and Ball. Mr. Ball then sold out his interests to his partner, and after living a somewhat retired life for ten years, he built a large brewery on Grove road, and at the same time established extensive malthouses at the corner of Herbert and Dodson Streets. Two years later, he sold the brewery, which is now conducted by a company under the name of the Marlboroug Brewery, and has since devoted his energies to the malting business. Mr. Ball is noted for his kindly and benevolent disposition. He married, in the year 1861, and has five sons and five daughters.
Mr. William Bell
was born in the year 1818, in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, where he was educated, and was brought up as a farmer. In 1860, he went to Queensland, Australia, in the ship “Champion of the Seas,” and for about seven years was employed as a station manager. Mr. Bell then came to New Zealand in 1867, in the “Kate Waters,” a cattle barque, and for a few years he leased the Hillwood Farm, at Wakapuaka, in Nelson. In the early seventies, he removed to Marlborough, and took up the Erina run, in the Wairau Valley. This he sold ten years later, and purchased the Benopai run, and shortly afterwards the St. Leonards Farm, both of which he conducted until his death. Mr. Bell was one of the most successful farmers in the province, and was much respected. He died in July, 1895, leaving four sons and three daughters.
Mr. Henry George Bell
, formerly in business on a large scale, as a flax-dresser at “Amerfoot,” Blenheim, was born in London, England, in 1837. He went
to sea at the age of fifteen, and remained there for about six years. In 1860, he landed in Sydney, and shortly afterwards crossed to New Zealand. He settled down in Marlborough, and followed bushfelling for a time, but in 1874, he turned his attention to flax-milling. Mr. Bell was for a time manager of the Government Reserve accommodation house, on Manuka Island, but had been previously stationed for nine years in Fabian's Valley. In 1874, he leased the Waihopai Reserve, and carried on sheep farming for twenty-one years, besides conducting the accommodation house. At the expiration of his lease, Mr. Bell, having been burnt out of his flaxmill at Waihopai, removed his plant to the “Amersfoot” site in Blenheim. A few years ago he met with a painful accident, which dislocated his hip, and since then he has been unable to take a very active part in local affairs. He is, however, a member of the Marlborough Agricultural and Pastoral Association. Mr. Bell married a daughter of the late Mr. William Pipe, of Fabian's Valley. He is now (1905) out of business.
Mr. George Chandler
, formerly a farmer on the banks of the Opawa river, about two miles from Blenheim, was born in 1844, in Bedfordshire, England, where he followed the calling of a farmer until 1874,
when he came to New Zealand. He was for many years a resident of Marlborough, and always took an active interest in things appertaining to the welfare of his district. Mr. Chandler is married, and has a large family. He now (1905) resides in the North Island.
Mrs Catherine Carter, widow of the late Mr. Thomas Carter, third Superintendent of Marlborough, was born in Nelson, and is the eldest daughter of the late Mr. G. W.
Schroder, a prominent settler. She was educated at her native place, and continued to live with her parents until 1866, when she married Mr. Carter, and left Nelson to reside in Marlborough. For many years Mr. and Mrs Carter had their home at Hillersden station in the Wairau Valley, where an extensive plantation surrounded the homestead. More recently, they took up their residence at Burleigh, close to Blenheim, and there Mrs Carter has continued to live since the death of her husband.
Mr. Caleb Davies
is one of the oldest residents in Blenheim. He was born in July, 1827, at Hethel, near the town of Newport, in Shropshire, England, where his father, a builder by trade, was then engaged with others
in the erection of Lillishall Hall, one of the seats of the Duke of Sutherland. Mr. Davies was educated in a small private school at Sherifales, and afterwards learned carpentry. In the early part of 1858, he came to New Zealand, and landed in Nelson. Three months later, in company with his brother, Mr. Davies went to Blenheim, where he has since continuously resided. He established himself as a builder, in conjunction with his brother, the firm being known as Messrs Davies Brothers, and built most of the earlier residences in the town. Later on, however, the partnership was dissolved, and Mr. Caleb Davies conducted the business on his own account, until a few years ago, when he retired. He owns considerable property in Blenheim, and his residence is situated on the left bank of the Omaka river. Mr. Davies was a member of the first road board in the district, and was for nearly ten years a member of the Wairau River Board.
Mr. William Thomas Daikee
came to New Zealand in 1855, landed in Nelson, and shortly afterwards went to the Wairau. For a time, he was employed at timber sawing, and later on took up a small farm; but when the settlement of Blenheim was fairly started, and there was a demand for substantial residences, he turned his attention to his trade—that of a builder. As one of the earliest builders and bricklayers in the province, Mr. Daikee conducted an extensive and prosperous business, and manufactured his own bricks for many years in Blenheim; and he was respected as a thoroughly reliable tradesman. Mr. Daikee died in the year 1904, when seventy-three years of age; and left two sons and one daughter.
Mr. George Dodson
was born near Malmsbury, in Wiltshire, England, on the 3rd of September, in the year 1821. When a youth he went to Nova Scotia, but owing to the cold climate returned to England. Mr. Dodson then came to New Zealand in the ship “Fifeshire,” the first vessel to arrive in Nelson, and landed on the 1st of February, 1842, with just four shillings and sixpence in his pocket. He joined the New Zealand Company's survey staff with the late Mr. W. Budge, and worked at Nelson, and at Massacre Bay. Then in March, 1844, he was selected by Mr. Tuckett, Chief Surveyor to the New Zealand Company, to accompany him on an expedition to search the coast of the South Island for a site for a new settlement to be named New Edinburgh. Otakau (since corrupted to Otago) was the place chosen for this purpose. Unfortunately, the New Zealand Company got into financial difficulties, with the result that there was a stoppage in the proceedings, and Mr. Tuckett left its service. Mr. Dodson, with one of the surveyors, remained at Otakau, in charge of the Company's materials, but owing to ill-health he soon returned to Nelson for medical advice. He was then engaged in farming, and in 1854, when the Wairau Valley was opened for settlement, he bought land there, and settled in the Spring Creek district, of which he was one of the pioneers. The district was then subject to destructive floods; but Mr. Dodson, as a member of the Marlborough Provincial Council, the River Board, and also as a private settler—did so much to avert trouble from that cause, that it was not long before the farmers were securely protected from loss and anxiety in that connection. As a settler, Mr. Dodson kept abreast of the times by obtaining improved implements as they came into use. He introduced one of the first manual reaping engines, the self-delivery
reapers, one of the first wire binders, string binders, the first double furrow ploughs, and the first traction engine and plant for threshing purposes ever seen in the Wairau. Mr. Dodson was the second colonist to take up farming in the Wairau—first as a dairy farmer, and then as an agriculturist. He was one of the first to advocate the separation of Marlborough from Nelson, and became a member of the Marlborough Provincial Council. Mr. Dodson was chairman of the Spring Creek River Board for twenty-five years, from its inception till the 3rd of January, 1900; a member of the Spring Creek Road Board for five years; a member of the Waste Lands Board for six years, and a Justice of the Peace for eighteen years. He died during the year 1905.
Mr. William Benjamin Earll
, who was one of the earliest settlers in Marlborough, came to New Zealand by the ship “Iguana,” in 1856. He was born at Oxford, Essex, England, on the 5th of October, 1831, and followed a seafaring life from an early age. Mr. Earll married in the year in which he came to New Zealand. Shortly after landing he moved to Blenheim, where he joined the local police force, of which he was one of the first members. He was also one of the first to open an accommodation house at the
Awatere, where he successfully conducted one for six years. After that he moved into the township of Blenheim, where he opened the first livery stable on the site of the present police station. His premises were burnt down, and he chose as a second site a section in Grove Road, where business increased so much that the present site in Alfred Street was chosen, and substantial buildings erected, to meet the demands of customers. Later on, Mr. Earll admitted into partnership Mr. McKenzie, has adopted son. Mr. Earll's death, which took place on the 5th of October, 1894, was due to heart disease. He left the whole of his property to Mr. McKenzie, with a life interest in the estate to his own widow. Mr. Earll always took an active part in everything
conducive to the welfare of the province. He brought out Mr. T. L. Buick, whom he so successfully “fathered” at his advent in the political arena. For three years Mr. Earll sat on the Borough Council, and proved an honest, hard-working member. He took a leading part in Freemasonry, and was associated with the Order from its introduction in Marlborough.
Mr. George Graham
, sometime a farmer at Fairhall, Blenheim, was born at High Trees, Hutton Roof, Cumberland, England, on the 23rd of September, 1826; the summer of which was called the “Droughty Summer,” owing to the excessive drought which came over the land. He was educated at a private academy, and early in life followed farming, the avocation of his ancestors. While a young man he went to the United States, and was for several years there and in Canada, but returned to England, on account of his health, which had suffered in those countries. He afterwards decided to emigrate to New Zealand, and came to Lyttelton in the ship “British Empire,” in 1863; but he soon removed to the Marlborough district, where he remained ever after. When he first went to Marlborough, the site upon which Blenheim now stands was nothing but a raupo
and flax swamp, so that the district gave plenty of scope to a man of Mr. Graham's energetic disposition. In five years after his arrival he took up 180 acres of flat land, where he farmed so successfully that he latterly had 1200 acres of freehold property, acquired by dint of energy and perseverance, and frugal habits. Mrs Graham, who also came out in the early days with him, had been a willing helpmate, and enjoyed with her husband the fruits of their joint labours. Mr. Graham died on the 4th of April, 1903.
Mr. W. B. Girling
was born at Brentwood, Essex, England, and was educated at a private school in London, where he was apprenticed to Howitt and Co. He came to New Zealand in 1872, landed at Nelson, and engaged with Wymond and Co., drapers and clothiers, but did not stay long with the firm before he decided to establish the business of W. B. Girling and Co., in which he met with a large measure of success. Mr. Girling died on the 20th of March, 1898; aged sixty-five years.
Mr. David Herd
, sometime of Auntsfield Farm, Blenheim, was born on the 17th of November, 1829, in Dundee, Scotland, where he was educated. He worked for many years in a soft goods' factory, and in the year 1852 emigrated to Australia. For two or three years, he was employed as a shepherd, and then, finding the climate uncongenial, he came to New Zealand in 1855. Mr. Herd landed in Nelson, and in the following year went to the Wairau, where he was employed for a time as a shepherd on large runs. Subsequently, for nearly twenty years, he managed Meadowbank station for Mr. A. P. Seymour. He resigned that position in 1884 in order to farm a property of 300 acres on Doctor's Flat, which he had previously bought from Mr. A. P. Seymour, and which afterwards became known as Auntsfield Farm. This Mr. Herd systematically worked till 1898, when he let it to his son-in-law, Mr. J. W. Paynter, retaining the homestead with a few acres immediately surrounding it. During the remaining years of his life, Mr. Herd devoted his whole time to his extensive orchard, to the cultivation of grapes, and the making of wine. His grape wine won nearly all the prizes awarded in that section at local exhibitions, gained a high reputation all over the province, and was recommended by many medical men for its excellent quality. Mr. Herd died in June, 1905, leaving a widow now (1905) seventy-seven years of age, five son and three daughters.
Mr. David Hammond
was born in England in 1811, and landed at Nelson, New Zealand, by the ship “Lord Auckland,” on the 23rd of February, 1842. Mr. Hammond was engaged by the New Zealand Company to survey
the Nelson district, then in its natural state. He belonged to the party of surveyors who were cruelly massacred by the Maoris in the Wairau district, but had been recalled to headquarters at Nelson shortly before the raid made by the hostile natives, and in that way he escaped the fate which befell a number of the party. After the New Zealand Company failed, Mr. Hammond decided to take up some land, and he made a home for himself and family on the fertile Waimea Plains, where he remained for a considerable time. In 1871 he removed to Marlborough, where he resided until his death in 1892. Mr. Hammond took no part in politics, but he always did his best for the interests of the district. He was one of the earlier members of the local Lodge of Oddfellows, Manchester Unity.
was born at Isleworth, on the banks of the Thames, England, where his father was an eminent solicitor. He was educated at King's College school, London, and afterwards studied at St. Thomas's Hospital, where he and the late Dr. Cotterell, of Nelson, were under the celebrated surgeon, Le Gros Clark. After obtaining his diploma Dr. Horne made two voyages to Melbourne in the clippers “Lightning” and “James Baines.” Subsequently he came to New Zealand in the
The late Dr. Horne.
“Maori,” and in 1855 went Home in her by way of China. Having made the round of the world, he came out to Nelson in 1857, and went to Collingwood, where he practised for some time. In 1858 the town of Blenheim had just been founded, and there being a great need for a medical man, he acceded to the request of Dr. Muller and settled permanently in the Wairau. For some years he practised on his own account, and subsequently in connection with Dr. Johnston, later of Feilding, and Dr. Cleghorn, of Blenheim, the latter of whom had also been a student of St. Thomas's Hospital. During the last few years of his life Dr. Horne resided for the most part on his country property, acting as a consultant with his fellow practitioners in important cases, especially those of a surgical nature. Dr. Horne was highly esteemed for his excellent qualities, and his sympathy and active kindness in times of sickness and adversity endearea him to all. He met his death at the disastrous fire which destroyed over twenty buildings at Blenheim on the 30th of June, 1887. He had been attending a sick person at the Criterion Hotel, where he and one of his sons had decided to stay for the night. The fire broke out in the hotel about one o'clock in the morning, and it is supposed that in attempting to rescue his son (who had previously escaped from the burning building), Dr. Horne lost his life. He left a widow and a large family.
Mr. Charles Lucas
, formerly proprietor of Opawa Farm, at Dillon's Point Road, and one of the pioneer
The late Mr. C. Lucas and Mrs Lucas.
settlers in the district, was born in Bristol, England, in the year 1820. He came to New Zealand in early manhood, by the ship “Olympus,” and landed at Nelson. For several years Mr. Lucas carried on a large business as one of the first storekeepers in Nelson, and about the year 1859 he went to Marlborough, where he acquired the Opawa Farm. During the latter years of his life, he lived at Grove Road, Blenheim, where he died in the year 1899
Mr. Alexander McLauchlan
, sometime of “Rannoch,” Old Renwick Road, Blenheim, was a native of Ross-shire, Scotland. In 1851, he emigrated to Australia, and landed in Melbourne. He was at Bendigo, Ballarat, and other goldfields, and was also engaged in stock dealing. In 1855, Mr. McLauchlan came to New Zealand, and landed at Nelson. He travelled to the
Wairau, and engaged in various occupations, including the management of sheep runs. Mr. McLauchlan re-linquished
the supervision of Kekerangu run to settle on the property which he named “Rannoch.” He died on the 13th of August, 1903.
Mr. Sutherland John Maclister
, sometime of Blenheim, was born at Clyth, Caithness-shire, Scotland, in 1848, and was one of a family of twelve, who, with their parents, landed in New Zealand in 1865. At the age of seventeen, Mr. Macalister started work on Weld's Hill, Awatere. Shortly afterwards the telegraph was established in New Zealand, and he obtained a position in the department. There he displayed unusual expertness, with the result that he was very soon appointed to the charge of the office at Kaikoura. Thence he was transferred to the King Country, where he served the department so well that the Government acknowledged his services by appointing him, at the age of twenty-four, Inspector of Telegraphs for Nelson, Marlborough and Westland. He held the position for fourteen years, during which many important telegraph lines were erected under his supervision. When the amalgamation of the post and telegraph branches took place, Mr. Macalister was appointed chief postmaster at Blenheim, and filled the position for five years. The sedentary life inseparable from the position did not, however, agree with his health, and he retired in 1887. When he did so he obtained twelve months' leave of absence on full pay, in addition to a flattering testimonial from the authorities. He was also presented with a beautifully illuminated address, together with a large astronomical clock by the officers of the department, contributions having been received from all parts of the Colony. Mr. Macalister left the Government service with a record established by exceptional administrative ability and a thorough knowledge of electricity. He afterwards turned his attention to agricultural and pastoral pursuits with varying success, and also engaged in the businesses of auctioneer, commission agent, contractor, etc. Subsequently he left Marlborough for Auckland, and settled on a sheep run at Rotorua. This venture did not turn out very satisfactorily, and Mr. Macalister removed to Auckland city, where, during the mining boom, he acted as auctioneer for the Free Stock Exchange. In 1895, he returned
The late Mr. S. J. Macalister.
to Blenheim, and opened a commission agency, which he carried on till his death on the 3rd of December, 1897. In matters affecting the welfare of the district, Mr. Macalister took a keen and intelligent interest; full of energy and possessing more than average ability, he was ever in the vanguard of progress. Being a fluent speaker, he was at home on the public platform. Politically, he was a Liberal, and he twice unsuccessfully contested the Wairau seat. Mr. Macalister was for a time president of the Marlborough Agricultural and Pastoral Association, and he also acted as secretary of the Land and Railway League. In private life Mr. Macalister was highly esteemed; warm hearted, hospitable, ever ready to lend a helping hand. He was stricken down in a painfully sudden manner while walking along the footpath, and never regained consciousness. His funeral was attended by colonists who came from all parts of the province to testify to the respect and esteem in which he was held. He married a daughter of Mr. James Sinclair, the founder of Blenheim.
Dr. Stephen Lunn Muller
was the first Resident Magistrate of the Wairau district, and ably filled the position for twenty-two years. He was appointed in 1857, with his headquarters at Blenheim, and Picton was visited at regular intervals. Dr. Muller was born at Camberwell, near London, England, in 1814, and was the son of a French gentleman, a count by birth. He was educated for the medical profession at the London University. After taking the degree of M.R.C.S., England, he practised at Peckham for about twelve years, and then decided to emigrate to New Zealand. He landed at Nelson from the ship “Pekin,” in January, 1850, and resided there for nearly eight years, when he proceeded to Blenheim to discharge the duties of Resident Magistrate. Dr. Muller died on the 27th of April, 1891, and was very hale and hearty till three days before his death. He was a man of studious habits, and ever ready to assist any movement which had for its object the intellectual and social improvement of his fellow colonists. He also wrote on the topics of the day, and in that connection he received valuable assistance from Mrs Muller, who was the first in New Zealand to advocate Woman's Franchise. Dr. Muller read interesting papers before the members of various popular associations, recorded the meteorological observations made by him, and
The late Dr. S. L. Muller.
kept a diary which, no doubt, contains items which would be useful to the historian of Nelson and Marlborough. In conjunction with Mr. John Allen, Dr. Muller organised the Marlborough Art and Industrial Association, which was carried on for several years. He left a family of three daughters; namely, Mrs Elliott and Mrs McCrae; and Mrs Arthur Carkeek, of Otaki, Wellington.
Mr. Samuel Munson Neville
was born on the 22nd of March, 1842, at Boxted, in Essex, England, and was educated at Maling's private school. His father, the late Mr. Sammuel Neville, who died in the early nineties at Kaiapoi, where he had for
years plied his trade as a coach-builder and wheelwright, had come out to New Zealand with his family in 1855. Mr. S. M. Neville at once began a rough pioneering life. At first, he was employed at ten shillings a week as a bullock driver in agricultural work, but shortly afterwards secured an engagement at one pound a week as a wool carter, and he was one of the first to drive on the Saltwater Creek and the Amuri roads. Later on, whilst still quite a lad, he
took a position on the Hawkeswood station near the Conway river, on the boundary of Nelson and Marlborough, and after two years' experience as a stockman and general station assistant, he and one of his fellow workers began to trade in partnership as carriers. They bought one team of bullocks, and worked it until they were able to buy another. The partner was killed in an accident, and for a few years Mr. Neville conducted the two teams, with the help of an assistant. By that time, he had worked up a wide connection, and was regarded as a most careful and courageous carrier. In 1868, be bought two more teams, and for a year or so was kept steadily going in the carriage of fencing and building materials and general supplies. In 1869, he married Miss Elizabeth Wamsley, formerly of Belfast, Ireland, and, with a view to settling down, he sold his teams and bought the accommodation house and site at the Waiau, and shortly afterwards built a large hotel. He resided in the village for nine years, during which he traded successfully as a hotelkeeper, storekeeper, carrier, and general dealer, and, under a Government contract, he conducted the ferry service over the Waiau for three years. On selling out, he went cattle dealing on the West Coast, and drove the herds over to the Cloudy Range and Hossack runs, which he held under lease. He used to buy store cattle all over the three provinces, and also in Canterbury, and, after they had been fattened, he sold them at the best markets in the large centres. In the early eighties, Mr. Neville took up the Gladstone run on the Awatere river, in conjunction with Mr. John Tinline, and then he went to reside in Nelson for nine years, so that his children might have the benefit of a good education. Whilst there he worked under leasehold the station known as “Hillwood.” The Gladstone run, which Mr. Neville now conducts on his own account, is a stretch of mountainous country covering over 20,000 acres, and is devoted entirely to sheep. It is a very old property, as it was first taken up in the fifties by Mr. Hottison, and remained in the hands of his family until the early eighties, when it was bought by Messrs Neville and Tinline. “Paranui,” which Mr. Neville also works, contains 3,000 acres of agricultural and pastoral land in the Omaka road district, near Blenheim. It belongs to the widow of the late Dr. Richardson, whose son is now proprietor of “Meadowbank,” and was taken up by Mr. Neville in 1894. Many improvements have been effected during recent years, and the property now carries about 1500 head of sheep, and a stud flock of pure English Leicester, while several hundred acres are in crop. “Paranui” embraces a good deal of low-lying country, including the site of a number of small lakes: and possesses various relies of Maori habitation, such as artificial channels, and the remains of underground dwellings. Mr. Neville entered public life as a member of the Amuri Road Board in 1869, and has ever since continued to serve his province. He was one of the advocates of the present road from Kaikoura to the Wairau, and of many other roads that have conferred inestimable benefit upon the settlers. During his residence in Nelson, he was elected to the Waimea County Council, and the Suburban North Road Board, of which he was chairman for five years: and, almost continuously, since settling in Blenheim, he has been on the Wairau Hospital and Charitable Aid Board, of which he was chairman for several years. Mr. Neville has a family of seven daughters and two sons.
Mr. Edmund Onion
, who died in Blenheim on the 14th of March, 1905, was for many years a farmer in the Wairau Valley. He was born in Staffordshire, England, in the year 1833, and came to New Zealand in the ship “Edward Thornhill,” in 1862. Mr. Onion first settled at Stoke, Nelson, but afterwards found his way to the Wairau Valley, where he secured the freehold of 100 acres of rich level land. This property Mr. Onion turned to the best account, devoting himself chiefly to sheep grazing and grain growing; in the year 1902, he let his farm, and for the remaining years of his life resided in Blenheim. For many years he was a member of the Wairau school committee. Mr. Onion was married, and had a family of five sons and five daughters.
Mr. William Benoni Parker
, J.P., was born on the 30th of April, 1837, at Greenwich, London, England, and is the youngest son of the first family of the late Mr. Edward Stone Parker, who went to Victoria, Australia, in the year 1838, as Native Protector, under appointment by the British Government. He was educated by a tutor, and subsequently at the Melbourne Grammar School. Mr. Parker was then brought up as a stockdealer, and in 1861 came to Otago, New Zealand, in charge of a large shipment of sheep for Messrs Cook
Brothers, of Melbourne and Dunedin. He landed at Port Chalmers, and drove the flock to Lawrence, where it was disposed of. He then took charge
of Mr. William Cook's store in Wetherstones, for a time, and, later, returned to Dunedin, where he met his brother, who had also come over from Australia. At that time, the great Dunstan (Hartley and Riley) rush took place, when Dunedin was practically deserted for a short while; and Messrs Parker Brothers made up a party, and started from Blueskin for the Dunstan, via Shag Valley, about a week after the rush commenced. On the third day of their journey they met the first contingent of returning Dunedin residents, who had recovered from the gold fever before reaching the gold-fields. In May of the following year, the Parker Brothers set out to ride overland to Nelson, with the intention of prospecting, as they heard good reports of the auriferous nature of the province from local residents. During a short halt, in a then untrodden spot near Naseby, they accidentally discovered auriferous gold in a small creek, known since as the Hogburn, and decided to prospect the district. After prospecting for a week or so, and finding good payable gold, Mr. W. B. Parker and another of the party rode to the Dunstan (a distance of about fifty miles), reported the find to the Warden, and applied for a prospecting claim. This caused a great rush to the locality, and within forty-eight hours there were over 2000 diggers on the field; in the space of a few days the famous Hogburn diggings were in full swing. Messrs Parker Brothers remained on the field and in its neighbourhood for over a year, and during that time they formed a company with a capital of several thousands to construct a water race to the nearest stream—the Eweburn — for sluicing purposes. Mr. R. W. Parker was the manager of the company. In the autumn of 1864, when the returns from the Hogburn were rapidly diminishing, the Wakamarina rush set in, and Mr. W. B. Parker, together with several others (including a woman), rode overland to Blenheim, where Mr. Parker settled. His brother joined him about six months later, and in 1865 they entered into business conjointly on Grove Road, as general store-keepers, butchers, stockdealers, and farmers, and for nearly twenty years traded successfully under the style of Messrs R. and W. Parker. In 1883, they dissolved partnership; the senior partner took over the general store, and Mr. W. B. Parker has since been engaged in stock dealing, butchering, and farming. He was one of the prime movers in the establishment of the Marlborough Agricultural and Pastoral Association, was for two years its honorary secretary, and has several times been an executive officer. He has been a member of the Marlborough Education Board almost continuously since its inception, was for sixteen years a borough councillor, is a member of the Marlborough County Council, the Marlborough School Commissioners, the High School Board of Governors, the Omaka Road Board, Hospital and Charitable Aid Board, and the Blenheim Cemetery Board, of which he is chairman. Mr. Parker is senior circuit steward in the local Wesleyan church, and is an advocate of No Licence in the province. He married Miss Gifford, a daughter of the late Mr. Isaac Gifford, of Spring Creek, in the year 1873, and has five sons, the eldest of whom, Mr. E. S. Parker, is further referred to as a business man in Blenheim, and as Captain of the Blenheim Rifle Volunteer Corps.
Mr. William Pike
, sometime of “The Laurels,” Blenheim, was born in Devonshire, England, on the 1st of December, 1829. He learned gardening, and became, at an early age, overseer for Mr. George Neumann. Mr. Pike
afterwards resigned that position in order to come to New Zealand, where two of his brothers-in-law—Messrs Davies Brothers, builders—had been for some time settled in Blenheim. On arriving in Blenheim, he immediately took up a farm of 150 acres on the south-eastern border of the town, which subsequently became known as “The Laurels.” Mr. Pike afterwards took his sons into business with him, and conducted it, during the latter years of his life, under the title of Messrs W. Pike and Sons. Since his death, two of his sons, Messrs W. D. Pike and T. Pike, have carried on the work under the same title. Mr. Pike was married for some years before he left the Old Country, and had four sons and four daughters, of whom the four sons and one of the daughters are still living. His widow, seventy-six years of age, still (1905) resides in Blenheim.
Captain Robert Priddle
was born in Devonshire, England, in 1841. While he was a mere lad he went to sea as a cabin boy, but steadily forged his way to the front, and obtained his master mariner's certificate in the early sixties. He was the owner of the barquentine “Ocean Ranger,” which he sailed all round the world. On arriving at Lyttelton in 1879, he disposed of his vessel, and settled with his wife and family at Blenheim, where he purchased the old Grosvenor Hotel, which he successfully conducted until his death, which occurred on the 30th of October, 1894. Captain Priddle left a widow and a family of nine children.
Mr. Henry Redwood
, who is best known throughout New Zealand as the Father of the Turf, on account of his early and long continued labours on behalf of horse racing, is one of the oldest living colonists in Marlborough. He was born about eighty-three years ago at the village of Ticksell, in Staffordshire, England, and came out with his parents in one of the first ships in 1842. His father, the late Henry Redwood, was one of the first, and one of the most courageous, of the pioneer stationholders, both in Nelson and Marlborough, and did a great deal towards opening up the country and popularising it as a sheepraising area. For many years the family farmed on the Waimea, and in 1863 Mr. Redwood took up a large farm at Spring Creek, where two vears later he also established a flour mill. In 1870, however, his two sons took over the whole property, and Mr. Redwood has since lived a comparatively quiet life, and now (1905) resides with his brother in Blenheim. Mr. Redwood was at one time extensively engaged in the importation and training of horses, and he brought several shipments of thoroughbred stock to New Zealand. He also took a keen interest in political affairs during his earlier years, and for some time was a fellow member with the late Mr. Alfred Saunders, of the Executive of the Nelson Provincial Council.
Mr. Thomas Redwood
, J. P., of Blenheim, is one of the earliest and best known colonists in Marlborough, and comes of a family distinguished for its pioneering work in the Nelson and Marlborough provinces. He was born in Staffordshire. England, in the
year 1833, and is the third son of the late Mr. Henry Redwood, for many years proprietor of Stafford Place station, in Nelson, and a pioneer runholder in Marlborough. For a few years Mr. Redwood attended school
at Upper Hanyard, in Staffordshire, and at Tixall College; but as he came to New Zealand with his parents in one of the first ships in 1842, he completed his education under Mr. Ward, of Nelson. He was then brought up to general farm work, and the management of stock, as his father was about the first successful agriculturist in the Nelson province. In 1848, Mr. Redwood went with a flock of sheep to the Wairau, and returned soon after. Four years later, however, he went to manage. Bank House station for his father, who held it on lease from Dr. Monro, and after three years of highly successful work, he took up a similar position on the Vernon run, which he managed for his father until 1876. Earlier in the seventies, Mr. Redwood bought “Burleigh” from Mr. James Balfour Wemyss, then Provincial Secretary for Marlborough, and lived on the estate for twenty-three years. Shortly after the close of that period, he sold the property, and then, in turn, farmed “Woodburne,” an area of 1200 acres, near Renwicktown, and the Omaka Reserve. In 1900, however, Mr. Redwood met with an accident that compelled him to retire, and has since lived at “Southside,” in Blenheim. For some years, in the early days, he was a member of the Provincial Council Executive, and has been a member of the Wairau Licensing Committee. He was also for some time secretary to the Marlborough Racing Committee, and subsequently owned superior horses, with which he won many races, including the Marlborough and Wellington Cups, and the Christchurch Derby in 1866. Mr. Redwood married Miss C.E. Grimstone, in May, 1863, and has five sons and seven daughters.
Mr. Frederick Smith
, sometime a farmer in the Tua Marina district, was born in Prussia, and came to
New Zealand in 1854. He landed in Nelson and settled in the Tua Marina district in 1859. Mr. Smith has always taken an active interest in public matters, and has been a member of the various local boards, and also of the school committee, but having done his share of work in that connection, he is quite content to let younger men take his place while he enjoys a well-earned rest. He now (1905) lives in retirement in Blenheim.
Mr. William Simmonds
, some-time of Wairau Valley and Blenheim, was born in London, England, on the 4th of March, 1819, and was educated at the Bluecoat School. At an early age he joined the navy and was engaged in the Indo-China and other services during his terms. Mr. Simmonds came to Nelson, in February, 1842, by the second immigrant ship which reached that part of New Zealand. On settling in Marlborough, he took to sheepfarming in the Wairau Valley, and was so engaged, and with various commercial undertakings in Blenheim, until 1868, when he returned to Nelson. Mr. Simmonds always took a great interest in the affairs of his district, and was a highly respected member of the Order of Oddfellows. He died at Nelson on the 12th of December, 1875, when he left a widow, two sons, and one daughter.
Mr. James Sinclair
, Founder of Blenheim, was born on the 1st of November, 1817, at Nybster, Wick, Caithness, Scotland, and arrived at Wellington, New Zealand, by He was accompanied by his wife and their the ship “Agra,” on the 3rd of March, 1852, eldest child, then only six months old, and a nurse, who afterwards became well-known in Wairau as Mrs Charles Brindell. Mr. Sinclair soon removed with his family to Nelson. where he opened in business with a stock of goods which he had brought with him from Manchester. From Nelson he went to the Wairau and settled there, and though the effects of the memorable and historic massacre were still felt in the district, Mr. Sinclair soon gained the confidence of the Maoris by his firmness and scrupulous honesty, and almost at once secured a large and profitable trade with them and the settlers; indeed, so much was he respected that for many years he was both banker and merchant for the run-holders and farmers. As the settlement progressed Mr. Sinclair's business-like qualities produced prosperity for himself, and he acquired a considerable fortune, which greatly increased his influence, which he always exerted for the benefit of the district. He and his wife were literally the founders of Blenheim, for they built the first house there; and for over forty years they afterwards went on building up the whole settlement—she with the civilising social graces and hospitalities of a cultivated generous gentlewoman, and he with the intelligent energy of an educated man of wide business experience and indomitable public spirit. Mr. Sinclair was
largely instrumental in having Marlborough separated from Nelson, and in having Blenheim made the capital of Marlborough. His wife died on the 23rd of December, 1895, aged sixty-eight, and he himself, on the 9th of August, 1897, aged seventy-nine. Mr. and
Mrs Sinclair were survived by four sons and one daughter—Mrs S. J. Macalister. The eldest son, Mr. J. J. Sinclair, was himself for nearly thirty years a prominent citizen of Blenheim, which he did much to advance, and he now lives in Christchurch. Another son, Mr. William Sinclair, was for many years Crown Solicitor at Blenheim; and another, Mr. D. P. Sinclair, also a barrister and solicitor by profession, is now (1905) Town Clerk of Blenheim.
Mr. Joseph Taylor
, sometime of Blenheim, was born at Bolton, Lancashire, England, in 1814, and followed the trade of a blacksmith, at which he excelled. He emigrated to Australia, in 1853, in the “Bonaventura.” On arriving in Melbourne, he went to the Ballarat diggings, which he reached the day after the historic riot. He met with no luck, and so he worked at his trade for a short time, until he decided to try New Zealand, to which he came by the ship “Bella Creole,” in 1854. From Wellington he went to Picton, where he was engaged to carry mails to Blenheim, then a difficult and dangerous undertaking. Mr. Taylor was the first tradesman to start black-smithing in Blenheim, and through want of proper appliances, he was compelled to make some of the tools of his trade himself. He was the father of Freemasonry in Marlborough, and served on the town board before the borough was formed. Mr. Taylor was held in high esteem for his many good qualities, and when he died in 1893, he left three sons and one daughter.
Mr. Frederick Williams
, sometime a Justice of the Peace, was born in Middlesex, England, in the year 1827, and was educated for the medical profession in London, in company with his brother, who afterwards practised for many years in Nelson. He came to New Zealand late in the fifties, and shortly afterwards entered into partnership with his brother in the purchase of land, in various parts of the Marlborough province. They soon became large landed proprietors, and held property at the Clarence, Awatere, Avondale, and at Blenheim. It was whilst inspecting his estate at the Clarence that Mr. Williams came by the accident that ultimately caused his death. He died at Brooklands, Blenheim, in the year 1869, leaving three sons and two daughters.
Mr. William J. White
was for some years postmaster at Kekerangu,
where he entered upon his duties on the 6th of May, 1889. He is the son of Mr. William White, of Richmond, who arrived at Nelson in the ship “Bolton,” in 1842. Mr. White was born in 1843, and is, therefore, one of the first Nelsonians. While still young he removed to Marlborough, and was employed for about eleven years at “Upton Downs,” and on other stations. On the 1st of February, 1875, he joined the Post and Telegraph Departments at Blenheim, where he was for twelve months, and then removed to Top House, Nelson, where he was in charge for thirteen years. Mr. White was then removed to Havelock North temporarily, and subsequently entered on his duties at Kekerangu. He has retired from the public service, and now (1905) lives in Blenheim.
Mr. Joseph John Wensley
, who was formerly in business in Blenheim as a manufacturer and importer, is a native of Maitland, New South Wales, where he resided for some years, but afterwards went to Geelong, Victoria, where he was apprenticed to Mr. George Beatty, boot manufacturer.
After completing his apprenticeship, Mr. Wensley was for three years in a leading house in Sydney. He landed in Wellington, in 1882, but soon went on to Marlborough, and established himself in business. Mr. Wensley now (1905) lives in retirement.