Nelson Historical Society Journal, Volume 6, Issue 5, 2002
[introduction to Robert Shallcrass]
Robert Shallcrass was born in Banstead, Surrey, England, on 29 October 1819. He was apprenticed as a printer at the age of twelve. In 1851 he went to America, then returned to England and later travelled to the goldfields of Victoria, Australia.
Shallcrass then emigrated to New Zealand, sailing on the Spray from Melbourne, and arrived in Nelson on Sunday 29 June 1856. He was then 36 years of age.
He worked as a printer for the Nelson Examiner and took up half an acre of land in Brougham Street, part of town acre 600, which he purchased from HC Daniell on 16 November 1857. Shallcrass built Merton Cottage and, before it was completed, he met Miss Annabella Williamson Jeffrey. Annabella had emigrated with her family from Fyvie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland at the age of 24, arriving on the Cresswell on 6 October 1856.
Robert and Annabella were married on 4 July 1857 by the Rev TD Nicholson and resided in Merton Cottage. They had eight children, seven sons and a daughter, with two small sons dying in 1861 during a diphtheria epidemic. They were buried in Fairfield Cemetery and Robert planted five elms around the grave to represent his five living sons.