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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Taranaki, Hawke's Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts]

Mr. Thomas Andrew Shirley

Mr. Thomas Andrew Shirley, sometime of “Mt. Wensley,” Taradale, was a well-known colonist, who spent almost the whole of his life in New Zealand. He was born in the year 1837 in the parish of Horsington, Somerset, England, and was a son of the late Mr. Thomas Shirley, who landed in Wellington with his family from the ship “Arab” in 1841, and leased some sections of land at the Lower Hutt. At that time it was common for all residents of the Hutt Valley to be called into barracks for protection from hostile Maoris, but Mr. Shirley was averse to yielding to them, and he and his sons carried on their farming operations under martial law, and had many narrow escapes from violence at the hands of the natives. When at length war openly broke out, the Maoris killed eleven soldiers, and one who was dangerously wounded would certainly have been a twelfth victim, but for the bravery of Mr. Shirley, senior, who ran to his assistance, and, under a hostile fire, carried him to a place of safety. After the war was over the hero of this incident continued farming at the Hutt until 1856, when he purchased land at Puketapu, near Napier, and resided there until his death in 1887, at the advanced age of eighty-six, being followed a year later by his wife, who was also eighty-six at the time of her death. Both are buried at Napier, in the family grave, which already contains four generations. Mr. T. A. Shirley, after being educated and trained to farm life, joined in Fox's “rush” to Lake Wakatipu, and for a few months kept a store at Queenstown. Going afterwards to Invercargill, he entered the employment of Messrs Morison and Law, merchants, and remained with them until 1867, when he returned to Wellington, and began farming at “Longwood,” in the Wairarapa. Three years later Mr. Shirley took Abbot's Featherson Hotel, and after a similar period there, bought the Royal Hotel in the same town. This he also conducted for three years, replacing the old building in 1874 with a fine new hotel of about forty rooms. He then retired to “Underhill,” a large private house which he had built near Featherston, but in 1880 he let this, and moved to Napier, where he bought the Masonic Hotel. Selling out of that house two years later, he bought “Korokepo,” which he farmed until 1885. Mr. Shirley afterwards lived at “Mr. Wensley,” in retirement, up to the time of his death, which took place on the 1st of September, 1899. Mrs. Shirely was also born in Somersetshire, and came to Wellington with her parents (Mr. and Mrs. Bicknell) in 1841, being then but a few months old.

The Late Mr. T. A. Shirley.

The Late Mr. T. A. Shirley.