Captain Moses Campbell and Jessie Cameron

Captain Moses Campbell and his family travelled as cabin passengers on the Blenheim.  Being cabin passengers they were not included in the passenger lists of those receiving free passage. The family included:

  • Captain Moses Campbell, 51
  • Jessie Campbell, 31
  • John Campbell, 8
  • Colin Campbell, 6
  • Louisa Margaret Campbell, 5
  • Susan Campbell, 1
  • Isabella Campbell, 1 (died at sea)

Jessie Campbell kept a detailed journal of the voyage of the Blenheim, and also wrote many letters to family and friends back in Scotland.  This material provides a fascinating view of life on the Blenheim, and in early colonial New Zealand, from Jessie’s perspective (see Jessie Campbell’s Journal and Letters).

Return to The Blenheim People.

Moses Campbell and Jessie Cameron

Moses Campbell was born around 1787, the son of John Campbell of Inverliver and Susan Cameron of Breadalbane.

Moses Campbell served in the  72nd Regiment, the Duke of Albany’s Own Highlanders.  In February 1811 Ensign Moses Campbell was promoted to be Lieutenant without purchase, and in 1828 Lieutenant Moses Campbell from the 72nd Foot was promoted to be Captain of Infantry.  On the death of his father, Moses Campbell left the Army on half-pay and seems to have lived in Glasgow while he tried to sell the estate of Inverliver, on Loch Awe in Argyll.

Moses Campbell and Jessie Cameron were married in 1827, when he was around 40 and she was 19.

Jessie Cameron was the daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel John Cameron of Achnasaul and Louisa Campbell of Glenure.  She was born around 1807 in Kilmallie.

After advertising it for a number of years, Moses Campbell sold the Inverliver Estate in 1836 having already moved to Achindale, near Fort William and the home of Jessie’s family.

Captain Moses Campbell
Captain Moses Campbell
Jessie (Cameron) Campbell
Jessie (Cameron) Campbell

By 1839, the family had decided to emigrate to New Zealand. In that year Moses was allotted two one-hundred-acre sections in Wanganui by the New Zealand Company.  The Morning Post of 4 July 1840 carried the notification from the London Gazette that “Capt. Moses Campbell, upon half-pay Unattached, has been allowed to retire from the army, by the sale of his commission, he being about to become a settler in New South Wales.”

Moses Campbell and Jessie Cameron had at least one child who died before they left for New Zealand in 1840:

  • Susan Ann Campbell, born on 24 October 1830 to Capt. Moses Campbell 72nd, Achandell, and Jessy Cameron, baptized  13 November (OPR, Kilmonivaig).

As cabin passengers and with servants to help with the chores and children, and with additional private food supplies, the Campbells were more comfortable than their fellow-travellers in steerage. Jessie’s Journal provides a valuable record of the voyage and her perception of the experience.  On arrival in Wellington she noted, “The climate would be delightful but for the high winds that prevail.”

On arriving in Wellington it was found that titles to the land in Wanganui were delayed, and in 1841 Captain Campbell sailed to Sydney with a deputation to the Governor.  Although the titles remained unsettled, the family moved to Wanganui in November 1841, travelling on the Clydeside, which was nearly wrecked on the North Spit at the entrance to the Wanganui River.  Moses Campbell formed a partnership with John Cameron, who had also travelled on the Blenheim as a cabin passenger, and while waiting to take possession of their land built a town house.  They also leased land at Putiki and later grazed stock at Kaitoke.

Jessie’s letters home to her family give us some insights into the life they led and the problems they faced, including the continuing issue of finding and keeping servants, not to mention the gossip about her friends and neighbours.

In 1847, the settlement at Wanganui was attacked by Maori and Captain Campbell took his family to Taranaki, where they lived for a several years, returning in 1851 when peace was achieved.  In 1853 Moses Campbell completed the first house at his property “Wiritoa”, which also served as a blockhouse.  The property bordered Lake Wiritoa which was about three miles from Wanganui.  In 1857 the partnership with John Cameron was dissolved.

In 1841, Moses Campbell had been appointed as a magistrate in Wellington Province, and represented Wanganui and Rangitikei in the Wellington Provincial Council from 1857 to 1861.  He was also an elder in the Presbyterian Church in Wanganui.

Moses Campbell died on 20 September 1862, aged 75.

Jessie Campbell died on 18 October 1885, aged 78.  The Wanganui Chronicle of 20 October 1885 carried the following obituary:

On Sunday afternoon Mrs Campbell (widow of the late Captain Campbell), one of Wanganui’s oldest and most respected residents, passed peacefully away to her rest. The deceased lady, who was in her 78th year, succumbed to an attack of bronchitis, which an enfeebled system was too weak to resist. Though she had been ailing for about a fortnight, she was only confined to her room for four or five days, and retained perfect possession of her mental faculties to the last. Mrs Campbell, with her husband, arrived in the Colony in the year 1840, landing at Port Nicholson, and soon after coming on to Wanganui, where the family have resided ever since. Among the surviving passengers by the vessel which brought Mr and Mrs Campbell from the Old Country may be mentioned Mr John Cameron, of Marangai, and Mrs Gregor McGregor, of Wilson street, old settlers who have borne the heat and burden of the day. The deceased lady and her husband experienced all the vicissitudes common to the early settlers. On one occasion, during the early Maori troubles, they were obliged by the military to quickly abandon the house in which they were living, at what is now the corner of Wilson and Ridgway-streets, as it was considered a dangerous outpost and likely to invite attack from the natives who were hovering round. The place was therefore vacated, the occupants retiring to the town stockade, which stood on the spot now occupied by the Ship Hotel. The deserted house was partially destroyed by the troops, but the ruins were subsequently taken possession of by the Maoris. These were the days of stirring scenes, numberless stories concerning which have been told by the old residents, whose ranks are now so rapidly thinning. The lady who was the subject of our present notice was much loved and respected for her kindly nature and charitable disposition, evidences of which were abundant in the days gone by. She leaves to mourn her loss four sons and three daughters, all grown up.

Moses Campbell and Jessie Cameron also had six more children after they arrived in New Zealand:

  • William Patrick Campbell, born in 1841, died in 1925, married Annie Edith Powell in 1881.
  • Ewen Alexander Campbell, born in 1843, died in 1934, married (1) Helen Barbara McDonald in 1873, (2) Alice Jane Stedman in 1878.
  • Isabella Elizabeth Campbell, born in 1845, died in 1931, married John Tyleston Wicksteed jnr in 1866.
  • Helen Ann Campbell, born in 1847, died in 1932, married Samuel Roland Garrett in 1873.
  • Robert Andrew Campbell, born in 1850, died in 1904, married Sarah Annie (Daisy) Stedman in 1880.
  • Mary Susan Campbell, born in 1852, died in 1940, married Andrew Cunningham Bruce in 1888.
John Cameron Campbell

The Old Parish Register for Kilmonivaig recorded that John Cameron, son of Capt. Moses Campbell, Achandall, and of Jessy Cameron, was born on 18 September 1832, and baptised on 22 October 1832.

John Cameron Campbell died in 1887, aged 56.  The Wanganui Herald of 24 August 1887 carried the Death Notice: “Campbell.— On the 24th instant, at Wilson Street, John Cameron Campbell, oldest son of the late Captain Campbell, of Wiritoa, aged 66 years. Friends are informed that the Funeral will leave the residence of Mr Robt. A. Campbell, Wilson Street, to morrow (Thursday) afternoon, at 2 30 o’clock.”

Colin Macmillan Campbell

The Old Parish Register for Kilmonivaig recorded that Colin Macmillan, son of Capt. Moses Campbell of 72nd, Achandell and Jessy Cameron, was born on 3 July and baptized on 14 July 1834.

Colin McMillan Campbell died in 1879.

Louisa Margaret Campbell
Louisa Margaret (Campbell) Sheild
Louisa Margaret (Campbell) Sheild

The Old Parish Register for Kilmonivaig recorded that Louisa Margaret, lawful daughter of Captain Moses Campbell and Jessie Cameron, Achnadall, was born on March 19th and baptized on 12 April 1836.

Louisa Margaret Campbell married Richard Thomas Sheild in 1864.

In 1877, Louisa was drowned on 11 September 1877 in the wreck of the Avalanche in the English Channel. Over 100 lives were lost, including many New Zealanders returning from Great Britain. A detailed report was carried in The Times of 13 September 1877, and also later published in the Wanganui Herald of 6 November 1877. In summary:

A collision, resulting in the loss of over 100 souls, occurred on the night of the 11th Sept., about 15 miles off Portland, between the Avalanche, of London, bound for Wellington, New Zealand, and the Forest, of Windsor, Nova Scotia. The Avalanche sank almost immediately, only three out of the 94 souls on board being saved. The Forest sank shortly afterwards, and many of her crew were drowned. The collision occurred at 9.15 p.m. on Tuesday, 15 miles south-west from Portland, the Avalanche being on the port tack, and the Forest on the starboard tack. The latter struck the Avalanche amidships, then rebounded and struck her twice further aft, causing her to founder in about three minutes from first striking her. There was no time to launch the boats.

The Times article included the passenger list noting that first cabin passengers included Mrs Sheild, formerly Miss Campbell, on her voyage to Wanganui.

Louisa and Richard had at least four children:

  • Marmaduke Campbell Sheild, born in 1867, died in 1868.
  • Caroline Isabel Sheild, born in 1869, died in 1942. married (1) William Dabbs in 1893, (2) Hugh Stewart in 1899.
  • Rosamunda Louisa Sheild, born in 1874, died in 1969, married Robert Lilburn in 1898 (their youngest child was Douglas Lilburn, composer).
  • Helen Barbara Sheild, born in 1876, died in 1877.
Isabella Eliza Campbell and Susan Ann Campbell

The Old Parish Register for Kilmonivaig recorded that Isabella Eliza and Susan Ann, twin daughters of Capt, Moses Campbell of the 72nd foot, Achnadell, and of Jessy Cameron, were born 24th September 1838 and recorded on 23 October 1838.

Isabella died on board the Blenheim, while Susan died in Wanganui in 1847, apparently of whooping cough.



13 thoughts on “Captain Moses Campbell and Jessie Cameron”

  1. 27 August 2015. Post updated to include information about the death of Louisa Margaret (Campbell) Sheild in the wreck of the “Avalanche” in September 1877 in the English Channel.


  2. Captain Moses and Jessie Cameron are my Great Great Grand Parents.
    My Grand Mother was Alice Mary Wicksteed daughter of Isabella Campbell and John Tylson Wicksteed – all the above from Whanganui.
    I am Alys Ingrid Wicksteed of Tauranga (nee Revfeim)


  3. My Great Grandparents also are Captain Moses and Jessie Cameron. My maternal grandfather was Robert Hartley Wicksteed, son of John Tylston and Isabella Wicksteed. My paternal grandmother was Helen Jones ( nee Wicksteed), daughter of John and Isabella.
    I am Christine Jamieson (nee Jones)


    1. Hello Cousin Christine, I am your Tauranga relative.
      Alys Ingrid Wicksteed (Revfeim ) I married Bruce Cambie 1964 .
      You lived at MAUNGWHARE in early 1962/63 ?


      1. Hello Cousin Alys. I stayed with your parents in 1962/3, when I worked in the Tauranga Public Library. I have lived in Wellington for the last 30 odd years, am a widow and have two daughters, and three grandchildren.


  4. Hello Cousins Alys and Christine. I am descended from Ewen, son of Moses and Jessie and Isabella’s brother. I’d love to get in touch but am reluctant to post my email address here


    1. Hello Matthew, great to hear from you. Do you live in NZ, I live in Wellington. Would love to connect with you. I have photos of the portraits of John and Susan Campbell, Moses’ parents. I think that Moses brought the portraits with him to NZ. Also a photo of Granny Wicksteed ie Isabella Campbell. Not sure now we can connect outside thus website


    2. Hello it is great to hear from you Matthew 😊 yes I would love to make contact with you and Christine as I have such a lot of historic information about US ALL


  5. Thank you Hugh
    I live in Auckland but I go down to Tauranga for work fairly often, Wellington less frequently


  6. Hello dear Cousins … I will make myself be more involved with our historical background this year … Would it not be wonderful to plan a REUNION for 2021? in Whanganui?

    Alys Ingrid Wicksteed (Revfeim) TAURANGA


  7. Hello again Cousins,
    Well 2020 a year of much change…
    I am finally completing the Chateau Story 1929… Actually I have decided that the Title will have the name ‘KOROWAI’..
    I was invited to Auckland Museum by TVNZ this last July 2020.
    They were filming NATIONAL TREASURES NZ last 100 years.
    This Programme will be viewed TV One January 2021.. 4 prt series.
    My treasure – Chateau Opening Menu 4th November 1929, with some very interesting signatures on the back cover.
    Maungawhare Homestead has sat vacant since my Sister in law, Hilary
    died January 11th 2020.
    Would be a great place for a ‘Family Reunion’ ?

    Best Wishes and HAPPY CHRISTMAS.

    Alys Ingrid Wicksteed (Revfeim) 027 2476999


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