The entry for the Eastons in the Blenheim embarkation list describes George as 22, a baker from Paisley, and his wife Mary as 21.
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George Easton and Mary Wood
George Easton and Mary Wood were married in Glasgow on 24 August 1840, the day before the departure of the Blenheim. The Old Parish Record for Edinburgh noted that George was a baker living at No 4 Howe Street, St Stephen’s parish, and Mary, who resided at the same place and parish, was the daughter of Lieutenant James Monypenny Wood of the Royal Navy. The celebrant was the Rev Dr James Henderson of St Enoch’s, Glasgow. Although the wedding was in Glasgow, the registration was in Edinburgh.
It appears that George and Mary did not stay long in Wellington, moving to Auckland in 1841 where he continued his career as a baker, before moving to Pukekohe in 1862 to take up a farm at Cabbage Tree Swamp. After arriving in New Zealand they had one son, James Hume Easton, in 1842.
George, Mary and James appear to have had a busy time breaking in their farm in Pukekohe East. In 1863 during the Maori Wars, George and James were part of a small group of militia and settlers besieged in the local church. The action was described in The New Zealand Wars: A History of the Maori Campaigns and the Pioneering Period: Volume 1: 1845-1864, by James Cowan.
The New Zealand Herald of 10 July 1876 records a serious accident at Pukekohe East when George Easton suffered a broken leg while felling trees.
James Hume Easton married Mary Elizabeth McHayle on 19 July 1870. According to the Marriage Notice in the New Zealand Herald of 22 July 1870 the wedding was at her father’s residence in Pukekohe East, with the celebrant being the Rev Thomas Norrie. Both bride and groom were their parents’ only child. James and Mary went on to have nine children, including Annie (1870), George (1871), Elizabeth (1873), Mary Jane (1875), William James (1877), Sarah (1878), Alfred (1881), Walter (1884), Eleanor (1888).
George Easton died on 31 August 1894. The Press Association Telegram, carried in a number of newspapers on 7 September 1894, provided the following obituary:
AUCKLAND, September 6. The death is announced of Mr George Easton, an old settler at Pukekohe East, aged 75. The deceased came to Wellington from Glasgow in 1840 by the ship Blenheim, and in 1841 arrived in Auckland. In 1865 he removed to Pukekohe district with a few other settlers, and fought for his homestead, successfully resisting attacks of the Natives. In commendation for this event he was awarded a medal.
Mary Easton continued to live in Pukekohe East with her son and daughter-in-law, who both pre-deceased her, and died on 17 November 1917 in her 99th year. The Pukekohe & Waiuku Times of 20 November 1917 included an obituary:
DEATH OF MRS MARY EASTON
ALMOST A CENTENARIAN.
In the death that took place at her residence at Pukekohe East on Saturday last of Mrs Mary Easton, wife of the late Mr George Easton, the district of Pukekohe loses another of the few remaining of its earliest settlers. The deceased lady, who was in her 99th year of age, was born in Scotland and in company with her husband, who died some 24 years ago, came out to New Zealand in 1841. They first lived in Wellington and then in Auckland, the late Mr Easton following his trade as a baker. Farming, however, duly engaged his attention and he next took up a section at Cabbage Tree Swamp. In 1862 Mr and Mrs Easton made their way to Pukekohe East where they acquired a bush farm. When the Maori war was in progress in 1863 Mrs Easton went for safety to Drury but her husband and only son, the late Mr James Easton, who died some three years ago, formed part of the small knot of settlers that were gathered together in the Pukekohe East Church when it was besieged by the natives. On the conclusion of the war Mrs Easton returned to Pukekohe East and has resided there ever since. Despite her advanced age and the trials and vicissitudes of life she naturally went through in the early days the late Mrs Easton retained her faculties up to the very last. She is survived by nine grandchildren, including Private Alfred Easton, who is at the front and who also took part in the Boer war, and Privates Walter and William Easton, both of whom are in camp, and eleven great-grandchildren. The funeral took place yesterday at Pukekohe East Cemetery, Mr R. Begbie (Church of Christ) officiating, in the presence of a large assembly of settlers from all around the district.
George and Mary Easton are buried together at the Pukekohe East Church.
- Blenheim passenger lists at FamilySearch website
- Family trees on Ancestry.com
- PapersPast website
- NZ BDM records
- ScotlandsPeople website
- Chapter 30, “The Defence of the Pukekohe East Church Stockade” in New Zealand Wars: A History of the Maori Campaigns and the Pioneering Period: Volume 1: 1845-1864, James Cowan, 1922, online at the Victoria University NZETC website.