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Donald Cameron and Christian McLean

The Blenheim passenger list noted that this Cameron family came from Ormasaigmore, and Donald McDonald commented that “This man and his family have been known to me for many years, he is very industrious.”  The family included:

  • Donald Cameron, 46, weaver
  • Christian, 40, his wife
  • Dugald, 18, labourer, his son
  • Alexander, 17, labourer, his son
  • Donald, 16, labourer, his son
  • Catherine, 14, housemaid, his daughter
  • Ann, 12, his daughter
  • John, 10, his son
  • Duncan, 8, his son

In order to distinguish the various Donald Camerons, the senior Donald Cameron in this family was nick-named “Weaver” on account of his occupation, and his son Donald Cameron was nick-named “Piper”, because he was a bagpiper.

A detailed history of this family and their life in New Zealand can be found in The Kaiwarra Camerons, by M J Ullyat.


Return to The Blenheim People.


Donald Cameron and Christian McLean

Donald Cameron was born at Ockle, Ardnamurchan, Argyll, probably around 1784.

Christian McLean was born in Ockle, probably in 1791.

Donald and Christian were married around 1820, and went on to have at least the seven children who accompanied them on the Blenheim. One child, Allan, born in 1827, died the same year.

Ormasaigmore is a locality on the Ardnamurchan peninsular of Argyll.  The  parish of Ardnamurchan was partly in the county of Argyll, and partly in the county of Inverness, and comprised the quod sacra districts of Aharacle and Strontian.  As discussed in The Kaiwarra Camerons, the family probably moved to Ormasaigore, on the southern side of the peninsular, in the mid-1830s, from Ockle,  on the northern side, where the children were born.

Following their arrival in Wellington in 1840, the family lived at Kaiwharawhara (“Kaiwarra”). In 1842 Donald and his son Donald joined a New Zealand Company expedition led by the surveyor Charles Kettle and including Alexander Grant, another Blenheim passenger. While exhausting, the expedition did confirm that there was a lot of land in the Wairarapa that would be suitable for farming.  Donald and his sons made further trips to the Wairarapa, and also, in 1856, bought a section of land at Waiwhetu in the Hutt Valley, where Donald and Christina made their permanent home.

There is a suggestion in some histories that in 1843 Donald set up a rope-making business and a flax dressing school in Wellington, at the corner of Molesworth and Murphy streets.  However, this is incorrect, since in fact it seems to have been the activity undertaken by a Mr Robert Cameron, a rope-maker from Durham, England, who emigrated to New Zealand on the Himalaya in 1843 with his wife and six children, and established himself as a rope and sailmaker, ran a flax and rope-making school in Thorndon, and later owned a flour mill in Ngauranga.  Contemporary newspaper reports and advertisements, and juror lists, confirm this.

Donald Cameron and Christina McLean
Donald Cameron and Christina McLean

Donald Cameron and his family had taken up land in the Wairarapa by 1846, at Pahaoa on the Wairarapa coast, which was initially leased from local Maori. In 1854, following the Government purchase of land in the district the leaseholders were able to buy the land. Donald Cameron purchased the homestead block, while the licence for the remainder of the Pahaoa property was in the names of his five sons. By 1858 Donald had also bought land at Parewanui in Rangitikiei to secure a property for his daughter Annie and her husband James McDonell.

In an 1867 court case involving the estate of his son Donald, it was noted that Donald Cameron, the elder, the father of the intestate, died about February, 1860, having devised his freehold land near Pahaua and “Blairlogie” at Whareama to his five sons, their heirs and assigns, as tenants in common. He also bequeathed all his sheep unto, and to be equally divided between, his said five sons. The sheep bequeathed were depasturing upon the devised land. The case goes on to state, that the five brothers took possession of the lands and sheep, and carried on, thereon and therewith, the business of sheep-farmers together, without any agreement in writing.

Donald Cameron died on 12 February 1860 aged 75, apparently as a result of a logging accident at Waiwhetu. and his wife Christina died on 18 December 1872 aged 81.  The Evening Post of 18 December 1872 carried the Death Notice: “On the 18th inst, at the residence of Mr. David Smith, Mulgrave-street, Mrs Donald Cameron, relict of Mr Donald Cameron, of Kaiwarra, aged 81 years. (Canterbury papers please copy.)”

Dugald Cameron

Dugald Cameron was born around 1822 in Ardnamurchan.

In the Blenheim passenger lists Dugald was described as a labourer of 18.

The Wellington Independent of 8 April 1862 carried the Marriage Notice: “Cameron-Jeffs – On 12th March, at Kai-warra-warra, by the Rev. John Moir, Mr Dugald Cameron to Miss Anne Jeffs, both of this City.”

Annie Jeffs was a schoolteacher in Wellington, who was born in Wellington on 1 July 1842 and baptised on 26 June 1845 at St Paul’s in Wellington.  She was the daughter of George Jeffs and Anne Bilton, who arrived in Wellington on 30 October 1841 on the Gertrude, having sailed from Gravesend on 19 June 1841.  The Jeffs came from Coventry in England, and in the 1841 census for the parish of St John the Baptist were listed as living in Spon St, Coventry, Warwickshire.  George, aged 40, was a ‘plush weaver’, born in the county, his wife Ann was 35 born outside the county, daughter Louisa was 12 and son Francis was 8.  The steerage passenger list for the Gertrude had George as a labourer of 35, with a note that he was a cook, possibly meaning on the voyage, his wife Ann was 32, daughter Louisa was 12, an un-named son was 7, twins were born on board on 10 July 1841, with Charles dying on 23 July 1841 and Ann dying on 5 August 1841. At the time of Anne’s baptism their address was given as ‘on the Waiwetu River’, and George’s occupation was ‘labourer’.

Anne (Jeffs) Cameron died on 30 April 1870, aged 26.  The Wellington Independent of 3 May 1870 carried the Death Notice: “Cameron – On April 30, Ann, the beloved wife of Mr Dugald Cameron, Kaiwarawara. Aged 26 years.”

The Wellington Independent in April 1871 published  advertisements for the auction by Dugald Cameron Esq. of freehold and leasehold property at Kaiwarra, “comprising 8½ acres of freehold land and 20 acres of leasehold land, including a four-roomed dwelling house, large stable, and piggery; also, a very fine garden, well stocked with fruit trees, in splendid order.”

The Wellington Independent of 17 March 1873 carried the Death Notice: “Cameron – On March 16, at Kaiwarra, Mr Dugald Cameron, aged 50 years.”  In the same newspaper on 19 March 1873 it was reported that at the inquest on Dugald Cameron, Dr Grace who carried out the post-mortem examination, certified to death having been produced by apoplexy, and a verdict to that effect was returned. The Evening Post of 17 March 1873 reported more fully on the death:

A case of sudden death occurred yesterday at Kaiwarra. Mr Dugald Cameron, an old settler, went at about nine o’clock into the Waterloo Hotel, and having obtained a drink, lay down apparently to sleep. After some time, those in the hotel went to wake him, but found that he was dead. An inquest was to have been held this afternoon on the body.

Dugald and Annie had five children:

  • Christina Ann Cameron, born in 1862, died in 1877.
  • Donald Francis Cameron, born in 1864, died in 1943 in Scotland, married Elizabeth Charlotte Margaret Burles formerly Mathie in 1908 in Scotland.
  • Catherine Lyons Cameron, born in 1866, died in 1908, married George Herbert Humphrys in 1890.
  • George Alexander Allan Cameron, born in 1867, died in 1897.
  • William Duncan Cameron, born in 1869, died in 1890.
Alexander Cameron

Alexander Cameron was born around 1823 in Ockle, Ardnamurchan, Scotland, and travelled to New Zealand on the Blenheim in 1840, being described as a labourer of 17 in the passenger list.

On 5 June 1855 Alexander Cameron married Mary Morrison, another Blenheim emigrant, daughter of Hugh Morrison and Anne Turner. This was a joint ceremony with Anne Morrison ‘s second marriage to Hugh McPhee.

Although Alexander Cameron was a partner with his brothers in their Wairarapa farming activities, it seems that he remained primarily in Wellington and handled matters from there as their Wellington agent.

Alexander Cameron died on 19 December 1899 aged 76.  The Evening Post of 21 December 1899 published the following obituary:

The funeral of the late Mr. Alex. Cameron, one of the oldest and most respected residents of Kaiwarra, took place this afternoon, and was very largely attended. The interment was made in the Sydney street cemetery. The deceased, who was a native of Argyllshire, and was 76 years of age, came out to New Zealand by the ship Blenheim in 1840, and has resided in the colony ever since. He was in New Plymouth when the first immigrants arrived there, and later on he walked from that township to Wellington. He went down to Otago with the first party of surveyors sent to that district, the journey occupying six weeks. Later on he worked under the Hon. Captain Russell’s father in forming the military roads near Johnsonville. Mr. Cameron was for some time in partnership with his brothers as station owners in the Wairarapa, but for the last 21 years he has been out of business. Amongst many public offices which he had held were those of Mayor of Onslow, Chairman of the local Licensing Bench, Vice-President of the Caledonian Society, and Chieftain of the Gaelic Society. The deceased, who leaves a widow and nine children, one of whom is the wife of Captain Cameron, Marine Superintendent for the Union Company, was possessed of a genial and generous disposition, and was deservedly popular.

Mary (Morrison) Cameron
Mary (Morrison) Cameron

Mary (Morrison) Cameron died on 11 October 1911, aged 77. An obituary was published in the Wairarapa Daily Times of 12 October 1911:

The death of Mrs Cameron, wife of the late Alexander Cameron, of Kaiwarra, occurred at her son’s residence “Okar,” yesterday afternoon, at the ripe age of 77. The deceased lady was one of Wairarapa’s earliest pioneers. She came out with her father, the late Hugh Morrison, of Glenmorven and Morrison’s Bush in the year 1840, by the ship “Blenheim.” After residing in Wellington for a short time, when quite a young girl, she came to Wairarapa with her father, who had taken up a run known as Morrison’s Bush. They made the journey from Wellington in an open whaleboat, and after a very rough and exciting passage, during which they narrowly escaped shipwreck, they landed on the open beach at Te Kopi. It was in the days when quicker modes of transit were unknown in these parts, and through the roughest of country she made the way to her future home, all on foot. She was the only surviving sister of the late John Morrison, of Blairlogie, well known in this district. Mrs Cameron was a fine type of the early pioneer, facing the difficulties of the early times with undaunted courage; and at the same time had a kindly disposition and was greatly beloved by all who came in contact with her. She leaves three sons and five daughters to mourn her loss. The funeral takes place to-morrow at Wellington.

Alexander and Mary had ten children:

  • Donald Douglas Cameron, born in 1856, died in 1937, married Annie Ida Storey in 1880.
  • Annie Cameron, born in 1857, died in 1949, married Captain Angus Cameron in 1882.
  • Christina Cameron, born in 1859, died in 1878.
  • Mary Cameron, born in 1861, died in 1929.
  • Hugh Cameron, born in 1863, died in 1910.
  • Alexander Cameron, born in 1865, died in 1937.
  • Jessie Cameron, born in 1867.
  • Catherine Margaret Cameron, born in 1869, died in 1934.
  • Isabella Jane Cameron, born in 1871, died in 1945.
  • John Duncan Cameron, born in 1873, died in 1957, married (1) Ellen Jane Kibblewhite in 1906, and (2) Helen Annie McBeath in 1939.
Donald (Piper) Cameron

Donald Cameron was born around 1824 in Ockle, Ardnamurchan, Scotland.

Donald Cameron was a labourer of 16 when he emigrated to New Zealand on the Blenheim in 1840.

Donald (Piper) Cameron
Donald (Piper) Cameron

On 28 December 1853 Donald Cameron married Isabella Glasgow.  Isabella was the daughter of Robert Glasgow and Mary Lamb, and had arrived in New Zealand in 1842 on the Bombay.  The Glasgow family went on to become early settlers in Turakina.

Donald Cameron died on 26 June 1866.  The Wellington Independent of 14 July 1866 carried the Death Notice: “At his residence, Waiwetu, Hutt, Donald Cameron, Esq., on the 27th of June, 1866, aged 40 years. Deeply lamented by a large circle of relatives and friends. He was one of the oldest settlers of this province.”

Isabella (Glasgow) Cameron remarried in 1868 to William Lowes, and died in 1920 aged 86. The Wairarapa Age of 6 July 1920 published the following obituary:

MRS. WILLIAM LOWES. Residents of the Wairarapa will learn with deep regret of the death of Mrs Lowes, relict of the late Mr William Lowes, which occurred on Sunday night. The deceased lady arrived in New Zealand with her parents (Mr and Mrs Robert Glasgow) in 1841, and resided for some time in Wellington. She came to Masterton in 182, and later went to Wanganui, where she married the late Mr Cameron. Returning to Masterton in 1877, the late Mrs Lowes went on to a farm with her husband at Te Ore Ore, and endured many of the vicissitudes of the pioneer settlers. She was a woman of sterling character, and endeared herself to a large circle of relatives and friends by her kindly disposition. The deceased lady was twice married, her second husband being Mr William Lowes, who predeceased his wife some years ago. The family of the first marriage are Messrs Duncan (deceased), Robert, D. J., William, Walter and Allan Cameron, of Masterton, while Messrs F. B. Lowes and J. P. Lowes (Rongomai), Mrs Gledstone, Mrs F. C. Lewis, and Mrs F. F. G. Cooper, of “Westbrook,” Queensland, are the family of the second marriage. The funeral will leave the residence of Mr H. Graham, Gladstone road, Manaia, at 2 o’clock this afternoon, for the Masterton cemetery, the processional route being by the Te Whiti road and Johnstone street.

Donald and Isabella had six children:

  • Duncan Cameron, born in 1854, died in 1918, married Evelyn Barker in 1881.
  • Robert Cameron, born in 1856, died in 1931, married (1) Eliza Clark in 1895 and (2) May Ellen Baigent in 1899.
  • Donald John Cameron, born in 1859, died in 1942, married Anna Robina Woodroofe in 1886.
  • William Lamb Cameron, born in 1861, died in 1933, married Elizabeth Shaw in 1891.
  • Walter Cameron, born in 1862, died in 1946, married Madeline Stewart Baldwin in 1902.
  • Allan Alexander Cameron, born in 1864, died in 1934.
Catherine Cameron

Catherine Cameron was born around 1826 in Ockle, Ardnamurchan, in Scotland.

Catherine Cameron was 14, and described as a housemaid, when she travelled to New Zealand on the Blenheim in 1840.

Catherine married John Macfarlane on 30 December 1848.

John Macfarlane was born on 9 February 1817 at Letter, Port of Menteith, Stirling, Scotland, and came to New Zealand in 1842, landing at Nelson.  His brothers Daniel and Malcolm followed him to New Zealand some years later.  John Macfarlane was a field man with the survey team at Wairau, and made haste into Nelson to bring news of the massacre there.

John Macfarlane moved to Wellington and by the time of his  marriage to Catherine Cameron he was managing White Rock station in the Wairarapa.  In 1850 he sold out his interests to his in-laws and moved to Canterbury. The family established themselves in North Canterbury, where John Macfarlane and his sons became leading pastoralists.

John Macfarlane died in 1884.  The Press of 24 October 1884 carried the following obituary:

THE LATE JOHN MACFARLANE.
We have to record the decease of Mr John McFarlane, of Rangiora, which took place at his residence, Coldstream, near Rangiora yesterday morning. The deceased gentleman landed in Wellington about thirty-eight years ago, and we believe married there, and then came to Canterbury. He settled first at Loburn station, near Rangiora, and afterwards removed to White Rock, a few miles further up country. He subsequently, bought a large quantity of the best land near Rangiora, and took up his residence on it where he remained until his death. As a sheep farmer he had a most successful career, being able of late years to purchase for his sons several very large stations in the north of this island, The deceased took very little interest in’ political matters, but for some time was a member of the Ashley County Council. He was President, for a number of years of the Northern Agricultural and Pastoral Association, in which, he took great interest, giving liberally towards the prizes and encouraging the shows with large exhibits of stock of various kinds.
For the past two or three years Mr Macfarlane has been failing in health, and hence has resigned the position he has so worthily filled in connection with the above Society. He leaves a widow and a family of six sons and three daughters, all of whom, except the three youngest sons, are married. The funeral will take place on Saturday.

Catherine (Cameron) Macfarlane died on 24 April 1908 at Christchurch. The Star of 25 April 1908 carried the Death Notice: “Macfarlane – On the 24th inst., at the residence of Mrs Nicholls, Papanui, Catherine, widow of the late John Macfarlane of Coldstream, Rangiora; in her eighty-third year.” The Dominion of 28 April 1908 carried her obituary:

AN EARLY SETTLER.
Christchurch, April 27. Mrs J. MacFarlane, of Coldstream, North Canterbury, who died on Friday night, ranked among the very earliest colonists, having arrived in Wellington with her father, Mr Donald Cameron, in the ship Blenheim in 1841. Seven years later, she married Mr. John MacFarlane, who had landed in Nelson in 1842, and afterwards removed to Wellington. In 1850, three weeks before the arrival of the first four ships; she and her husband came to Canterbury and took up the Loburn run, where they lived until 1862. They then removed to Coldstream, where Mr. MacFarlane died in 1884. Mrs. MacFarlane has left six sons, four of whom are well-known Amuri pastoralists, while the eldest has Coldstream.

Catherine and John had eleven children:

  • Malcolm Macfarlane, born in 1849, died in 1911, married Anna Mary Chisnall in 1883.
  • John Donald Macfarlane, born in 1851, died in 1921, married Margaret Hart Gibson in 1880.
  • Catherine Macfarlane, born in 1852, died in 1934, married John Fulton in 1881.
  • James Macfarlane, born in 1853, died in 1931, married (1) Stephana Mary Tylee in 1876, (2) Isabel Louise Scully in 1916.
  • Agnes Macfarlane, born in 1854, died in 1924, married George Jameson in 1874.
  • Walter Macfarlane, born in 1856, died in 1914 in England, married Minnie Margaret Wilson in 1889.
  • Helen Macfarlane, born in 1857, died in 1922, married Walter Charles Nicholls in 1881.
  • Christina Ann Macfarlane, born in 1858, died in 1875.
  • David Duncan Macfarlane, born in 1860, died in 1914, married Mary Frances Newton in 1893.
  • Frederick Graham Macfarlane, born in 1862, died in 1863.
  • Alexander Macfarlane, born in 1863, died in 1913, married Sarah Helen McRae in 1896.
Annie Cameron

Annie Cameron was born around 1829 in Ockle, Ardnamurchan, Scotland.

Ann Cameron was listed as 12 years old when she travelled on the Blenheim to New Zealand in 1840.

Anne Cameron married James (Big Mac) McDonell on 18 December 1849 at Kaiwarra.

James McDonell was born in Auchlauchrach, Glengarry, Inverness, Scotland, in 1818.  He went first to Australia with other members of his family, and then became  one of the first settlers in the Rangitikei district.

James McDonell died on 4 September 1875 at Parewanui.  The Wanganui Herald of 16 September 1875 published the following obituary:

The death of James McDonnell, which happened on Sunday, has cast a gloom over the whole District. The deceased who has been gradually declining for some mouths past, arrived in the Colony of New South Wales as long ago as 1838, when he came to Wellington, being engaged in the shipping of horses and cattle to the above port. He subsequently determined to make New Zealand his home, and was one of, if not the, first, settler in Rangitikei, where he has remained, living at Inverhoe ever since. The deceased in the early days was known throughout the Province for his unbounded hospitality, and never was there a case of want or distress but what “Mr Big Mac” as his friends fondly called him, came forward to assist and alleviate. The funeral, which took place yesterday, was attended by settlers from all parts and as the procession, which started from Bull’s, neared the family burial ground at Inverhoe, its ranks were gradually swelled by young and old, by Maoris and others, all wishing to pay the last tribute of affection and respect to the once free-hearted settler, until it was at least half a mile long. In passing Parawanui I noticed that nearly all the Maoris who were themselves unable to follow, had adopted the usual symbol of their grief, viz—a garland of green creepers wreathed round their brows. The funeral service, which was performed by the Rev. Father Kirk, was admirably adapted for the occasion, and the address afterwards, pointing to the uncertainty of life and the wonderful mysteries of the never ending future, will long be remembered by the hundreds surrounding the grave where the remains of James McDonnell now rest in peace. Much sympathy was expressed for the widow and the large, though happily grown up family, thus suddenly left in sorrow, which let us hope will soon give way to a feeling of thankfulness in that death in this case was not only painless but peaceful.

The Wanganui Chronicle of 18 September 1875 published the following:

Big Mac has passed away. I know that no irreverence attaches to this old familiar name, with which every one of the pioneers on this coast is so well acquainted. Many will miss his warm hearty greeting, and many will remember his open hearted hospitality. In days of yore, the deceased, Mr James McDonnell, was engaged pretty extensively in cattle trading, Poneke being then the only market. His life has not been without its adventurous incidents, and many and hairbreadth have been the dangers which he encountered and surmounted triumphantly in the early days of colonization in this province. Many an old identity will feel a pang of regret to hear that the genial host of Inverhoe, who was never happier than when his hearth was surrounded with guests, has left the old familiar scenes, where his cheery presence was a welcome in itself. A large family is left behind. His funeral was one of the most touching demonstrations I have ever witnessed Maori and Pakeha seeming to vie with each other in showing respect for the departed.

Annie (Cameron) McDonell died in 1919.  The Wanganui Chronicle of 19 April 1919 carried the following obituary:

BULLS NOTES.
(From Our Own Correspondent.)
I have to record the passing of the last of the pioneers of the Lower Rangitikei, in the person of Mrs. Annie McDonnel, who reached the bend, in the road of life early on Wednesday morning The deceased lady will be sincerely mourned, especially by those’ to whom she was such a friend in the days of long ago. It is a far cry to the year 1840, when she landed in New Zealand in the ship Blenheim. She was a member of one of the Cameron families on board, and to distinguish her family from the others they were known as the Piper Camerons. The deceased lady was the last surviving member of that family. She lived in Wellington for about nine years after her arrival, and was then married to the late Mr. McDonnel, and came up to “Inverhoe,” on the Rangitikei, where she has resided ever since. She is survived by three sons and six daughters, viz., Mr. John McDonnel (Marton), Mr. James McDonnel (Wairoa), and Mr. A. A. McDonnel (Lower Rangitikei), Mrs. Hugh Fraser (of Kauangaroa), Mrs. Gray (Wellington), Mrs. Smith (Palmerston North), Mrs. Daniels (Foxton), Mrs. Morse (Bulls), and Miss K. McDonnel, who lived with her mother. Twelve of her grandsons served at the front, viz., Capt. Daniels (killed), Laurie and Denis Daniels, William, Eric, and Dan Gray, also Lionel, Claude, George, Keith, and Wilson McDonnel, and Jack Fraser. Many of them were wounded. She also had three grand-daughters in the nursing staff—Nurse Gray, at the Front, and Nurses E. Gray and I. Daniels on the nursing staff in New Zealand. The two latter were both able to assist in nursing their grandmother at the last. Mrs. McDonnel would have been 90 years of age on Saturday.

Annie and James had at least eleven children:

  • Archibald McLean McDonell, born in 1850, died in 1917, married Elizabeth Ann Wheeler in 1884.
  • Christina Ann McDonell, born in 1852, died in 1922, married Hugh Fraser in 1874 (New Zealand-born son of Duncan and Marjory Fraser).
  • Flora Jemima McDonell, born in 1855, died in 1938, married Joseph George Smith in 1895.
  • Donald Cameron McDonell, born in 1857, died in 1884.
  • Catherine  McDonell, born in 1858, died in 1921.
  • James Angus McDonell, born in 1862, died in 1924, married Mary Jane Nicholls in 1883.
  • Elizabeth McDonell, born in 1863, died in 1942, married George Gray in 1888.
  • Mary McDonell, born in 1864, died in 1936, married Percy Edward Daniell in 1888.
  • John McDonell, born in 1866, died in 1936, married Ellen Brookie in 1891.
  • Aeneas Alexander McDonell, born in 1868, died in 1930, married Elizabeth Burne in 1896.
  • Selina Priscilla McDonell, born in 1872, died in 1960, married Ernest Walford Morse in 1904.
John Cameron

John Cameron was born around 1830 in Ockle, Ardnamurchan, Argyll, and travelled to New Zealand on the Blenheim as a 10 year old.

John Cameron married Ann Stewart in 1868.

Ann Stewart was the daughter of Duncan Stewart and Anne McPherson, and was born in Ardnamurchan, Scotland in 1841.  The family came to New Zealand on the Oliver Lang in 1858.

In October 1873, a number of newspapers, e.g. the Southern Cross of 15 October 1873, carried advertisements for the sale of station properties in the Province of Wellington in the estate of the Cameron Brothers, noting that in consequence of the death of two partners in the firm, two stations were to be sold at public auction in Wellington on 1 December 1873.  The stations were “Blairlogie” in the Whareama District and the station at Pahaua in the East Coast District.  At the auction they were purchased by the surviving members of the firm.

In 1878 there was a further sale of the Blairlogie and Pahaua stations, with the former purchased by Mr John Morrison and the latter by Messrs J and D Cameron.

The Evening Post of 2 October 1890 reported “The house of Mr John Cameron, at Pahaua, East Coast, was totally destroyed by fire on Sunday last.”  In the Evening Post of 4 October it was further reported that the day after the fire, while returning from the funeral of his nephew William Cameron, John Cameron suffered serious injuries when his buggy overturned as a result of the horse shying at a cow in the road, and he was dragged for a hundred yards along the road.

John Cameron died on 8 December 1900 aged 68.  The Wairarapa Daily Times of 8 December 1900 carried the following obituary:

DEATH OF MR JOHN CAMERON.
From one end of Wairarapa to another, the news of the death of Mr John Cameron, of Opaki, will be learned with deep regret. He passed away this morning, at the age of 68. The deceased was born in Argyleshire, Scotland, and came out to New Zealand in 1840, in which year he arrived at Wellington. He lived at Kaiwarra for some little time, and eventually settled at Pahaou, where he has a station, which his son John now manages. He leaves a large family, nearly all of whom are grown up.
The late Mr John Cameron was a brother of Mr Duncan Cameron, of the Coast, and father of Mr Robert Cameron, who joined the Masterton Contingent of the New Zealand force which went to South Africa. The deceased was one of the few remaining pioneers of settlement in this part of the Colony—and was one who had earned the esteem of all who knew him for his integrity and his sterling qualities as a colonist of many years standing. The grieving relatives will have the sympathy of a large number of settlers in their bereavement, The funeral will take place on Monday afternoon.

Ann (Stewart) Cameron died on 13 October 1918, aged 76.  The Wairarapa Age of 14 October 1918 carried the Death Notice: “Cameron – At the residence, Cole Street Masterton on October 13th, Mrs John Cameron, relict of the late John Cameron, Opaki, aged 76.” The paper also published the following obituary:

Mrs John Cameron: Another old resident of the Wairarapa, in the person of Mrs John Cameron, died at her residence at Cole street, Masterton, on Sunday evening. The deceased, who was seventy-six years of age, had been ailing for about five weeks. She was born at Argyllshire, Scotland, and came to New Zealand in 1857 in the «hip Oliver Laing.  For a number of years she resided at Pahaoa, East Coast, and later on the Opaki. She leaves a family of six sons and four daughters. The sons are Messrs Donald Cameron (Hinakura), Duncan A. Cameron (Hunterville), John Cameron (Dunedin), Robert A. Cameron (Mauriceville), M. D. Cameron (Sydney), and E. P. Cameron (France). The daughters are Mrs H. Hamlin (Auckland), Mrs W. Roberts (Whakatane), and Misses C. and M. Cameron (Masterton). The funeral will take place to-morrow afternoon.

John and Ann had at least ten children:

  • Donald Cameron, born in 1869, died in 1945, married Elizabeth Sutherland in 1898.
  • Flora Anne Cameron, born in 1871, died in 1940, married Henry William George Hamlin in 1905.
  • Christina Cameron, born in 1872, died in 1967.
  • Duncan Alexander Cameron, born in 1873, died in 1937, married Ethel Walton in 1909.
  • John Cameron, born in 1875, died in 1928.
  • Mary Stewart Cameron, born in 1877, died in 1949.
  • Robert Allan Cameron, born in 1878, died in 1942, served in South African War, married Florence Jessie Young in 1914.
  • Dugald Stewart Murray Cameron, born in 1880, died in 1967 in Australia, married Ethel Norah Shepherd in 1916 in Australia.
  • Ernest Percival Stewart Cameron, born in 1882, died in 1967, married Donalda Ross Sutherland in 1921.
  • Maud Isabella Katherine Cameron, born in 1884, died in 1970, married William Clare Roberts in 1909.
Duncan Cameron

Duncan Cameron was born in Ockle, Ardnamurchan, Scotland around 1832, and was 8 years old in 1840 when he sailed for New Zealand on the Blenheim with his parents.

Duncan married Mary Gillies in 1863 (daughter of Isabella Turner and Archibald Gillies). They spent the rest of their lives farming in the Wairarapa, although not without mishap. The Evening Post of 29 April 1880 reported that Mr Duncan Cameron of Moroa met with a serious accident at Featherston, when his trap capsized going around a corner, causing cuts and bruises and a broken collar bone.

Duncan Cameron died on 21 April 1915.  The Wairarapa Daily Times of 22 April 1915 carried the following obituary:

MR DUNCAN CAMERON
The: death occurred yesterday morning, at Moroa, near Greytown, of a highly respected and pioneer settler of the Wairarapa, in the person of Mr Duncan Cameron, who had reached the ripe ago of 84 years. Deceased came to New Zealand with his parents, and landed, at Kaiwarra on Christmas Day, 1840. In the year 1846 his father, Mr Donald Cameron, entered into possession of the sheep station, on the East Coast, known as Pahaoa, which later was taken over by the five sons, Messrs Dugald, Alexander, Donald, John and Duncan Cameron. Later again Messrs Duncan and John Cameron bought out their brother’s interest in Pahaoa, and divided the property into two parts, one of which was renamed Glen Dhu, and became the property of Mr Duncan Cameron.
Deceased leaves a widow, who is a daughter, of the late Mr Archibald Gillies, of Otaraia, and there were ten children, as follows:—Messrs William, (deceased), Thomas (deceased), Alan (at Castlepoint), and Jack Cameron (at Glen Dhu), Misses Annie, Nellie. and Grace Cameron, and Mrs Cecil Kebbell, Mrs Fred Pearce, and Mrs J. Goring Johnston. The relatives will have the deep sympathy of a wide circle of friends in their bereavement.

Mary (Gillies) Cameron died on 16 February 1916 at Moroa, Greytown, aged 73.

The Wairarapa Daily Times of 30 July 1919 reported that the Misses Cameron had instructed Messrs Levin & Co to sell by public auction the well-known Moroa homestead, together with fine old home of 15 rooms and outbuildings which, with slight alteration, could be made into a good boarding school.

Duncan and Mary had nine children:

  • Annie Isabella Cameron, born in 1864, died in 1934.
  • Donald Thomas Cameron, born in 1866, died in 1913, married Mary Bulkley in 1910.
  • Mary Christina Cameron, born in 1867, died in 1943, married Cecil Kebbell in 1896.
  • Catherine Ellen Cameron, born in 1870, died in 1956.
  • Jessie Cameron, born in 1871, married Frederick Pearce in 1896.
  • William Duncan Cameron, born in 1872, died in 1901 while serving in the South African War.
  • John Alexander Cameron, born in 1874, died in [1941?] married Helen Gough in 1920.
  • Alice Margaret Cameron, born in 1876, died in 1936, married John Goring-Johnston in 1899.
  • Allan Archibald Cameron, born in 1878, died in 1928, served in South African War, married Kathleen Meredyth Meredith in 1912.
  • Constance Evelyn Grace Cameron, born in 1879, died in 1970.

Sources:

  • Blenheim passenger lists at FamilySearch website
  • Family trees on Ancestry.com
  • PapersPast website
  • NZ BDM records
  • The Kaiwarra Camerons, M J Ullyat, 2009
  • Morvern to Genmorven, Frank Fyfe and Bebe Douglas, 2000
  • The Sons and Daughters, Shona McRae, 1991
  • Hardy Highlanders in New Zealand, Jennifer Macdonald, 1991
  • The Early Canterbury Runs, L G D Acland, 1930, 4th ed. 1975, available online at the Victoria University NZETC site.

Photographs:

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Alexander Thompson and Helen Gollan

Alexander and Helen Thompson were not on the initial passenger list for the Blenheim, but did appear on the embarkation and subsequent lists:

  • Alexander Thompson, 28, Paisley, labourer
  • Helen Thompson, 26, Paisley

Spelling: Although the Blenheim passenger lists used “Thompson” most other records have “Thomson”.


Return to The Blenheim People.


Based on the details in the Blenheim passenger list, Alexander Thomson was born around 1812 and his wife Helen around 1814.

The Old Parish Register for Paisley Middle parish records that Alexander Thomson, lawful son of Alexander Thomson and Margaret Robertson, was born on 27 October 1812 and baptized on 15 November 1812.

The Old Parish Register for Barony in Lanark, recorded the marriage on 15 May 1836 of Alexander Thomson, cotton spinner, Calton, and Helen Gollan, residing there.

From the reports below, it appears that Alexander and Helen moved to Auckland shortly after the arrival of the Blenheim, and eventually settled on a farm in West Tamaki.

The Auckland Star of 14 June 1886 provided a full report of the Golden Wedding celebrations for the couple:

A GOLDEN WEDDING.
The golden wedding of Mr and Mrs Alex. Thomson was celebrated on the evening of Thursday, the l0th inst., in the Presbyterian Church of Tamaki West. The little church was very artistically decorated for the occasion with evergreens, white and pink camellias, and other flowers of the season. About three hundred visitors were invited, and the church was literally crowded. An excellent repast was provided, chiefly by Mrs Thomson. Tables the whole length of the inside of the building were liberally spread with the daintiest viands. A number of ladies of Tamaki and neighbouring settlementa courteously waited at the table. After a bountiful tea, the Rev. John Macky took the cbair, supported by Mr and Mrs Thomson, Mr William Thorne, and immediate relations. The proceedings opened with the hymn “Praise Ye Jehovah” and prayer by Rev. R. F. Macnicol. The Chairman then made a few appropriate remarks upon the auspicious event, and called upon the Rev. Mr Steele to read apologies from well-wishers who were unavoidably absent, viz., the Revs. David Bruce, A. Carrick, T. M. King (St. John’s College), Mr James Bell, of Wairoa, and several others. The Chairman proceeded and expressed the pleasure he felt in the position which he had been called upon to occupy. He felt sure that in wishing Mr and Mrs Thomson much happiness on the event of their golden wedding day, every heart would respond to the prayer that their kind friends might be spared many years longer in their career of usefulness in connection with the locality and the church. He had known Mr and Mrs Thomson intimately ever since he was first introduced to them thirty three years ago. Having spoken at some length in eulogistic terms of the amiable qualities of his friends, he would call upon Mr Thomson to speak for himself and his aged partner. Mr Thomson, on rising, was greeted with prolonged applause, and proceeded to say that he had frequently said that if it should please God to spare him and Mrs Thomson to see fifty years of married life, he would have all Tamaki and half Auckland present to celebrate the happy event. He had not much to say to married guests upon the subject of matrimony, but he hoped they would all live to see their golden wedding, and be able to look back over half a century with as much retrospective pleasure and satisfaction as he looked over his past. He then gave some advice to unmarried men, enforcing the words of the highest authority, “It is not good for man to be alone,” the truth of which he and his partner had proved in their early colonial struggle by being united. They had found in their mutual endeavours that “two heads are better than one.” The speaker then gave a pleasing sketch of his life from tho time when he started with others from Glasgow, in 1840, by the good ship Blenheim for Wellington, and of his arrival in Auckland with Sir William Martin, the Hon. William Swainson, Mr Outhwaite, and others. He and his partner worked hard, and at length saved sufficient money to purohase Water Yett, Tamaki, the farm upon which he and Mrs Thomson had laboured 40 years. He now occupied the building which formed the first Presbyterian Church in the province. A preacher, still living in Scotland, characterised the church as a barn, and the pulpit a tea chest. He did not approve of the terms. The little church, however, had boen of real service to the people of the district, and the ministrations from that so-called “tea chest” had proved a blessing to many. Mr Thomson then sketched the history of the church and the Sunday school and Bible class, with which he had been closely connected, for the long term of forty-five years, concluding with several suggestions for practical work and general improvement. At Mr Thomson’s request, Rev. Mr Steele read the marriage lines, which showed that Alexander Thomson, bachelor, and Ellen Gollan, spinster, were married on the 2nd of June, 1836, by the Rev. John Edwards, in the Monteith Row Church, Glasgow. (Loud cheers.) Short congratulatory addresses were successively given by Rev. T. G. Carr, D. W. Runciman, G. E. Monro, K. F. Macnicol, Thomas Norrie and Mr Hunter. Between these brief speeches several sacred selections and songs ware sung. Mrs Kimpton, of Otahuhu, sang the old but very appropriate song, “Darby and Joan,” with telling effect. The same lady, with Miss Wallace, sang a duet, and subsequently the fine lyric entitled “Charity.” Miss Pulman sang “Too Late,” with pianoforte accompaniment. Mr James Wallace gave a recitation, “The Young Man Leaving Home,” with much elocutionary skill. Miss Lily Pulman then recited “The Golden Wedding Song,” written for the occasion by Mr John Blackman, which was received in a kindly spirit. This effusion was distinctly and clearly enunciated by the reciter. A splendid picture of the aged pair, photographed by Pulman, Shortland-street, was then exhibited to the audience, elegantly framed. The wedding cake was then cut by the bride with the silver knife and distributed to the assembled visitors. The cake was the gift of Mrs Carr and Messrs W and A, Thorne. The Rev. Mr Steele, on behalf of the company, expressed thanks to Mr and Mrs Thomson, to the ladies of the tea tables, and to all who had assisted in contributing to the entertainment, and the whole closed with the Benediction pronounced by the Chairman.

His death registration shows that Alexander Thomson died on 3 August 1886 at St Andrews Church of Scotland. He was a farmer of 73, the son of Alexander Thomson, stonemason, and Margaret Robertson, was born in Paisley, had been in New Zealand for 46 years, and had been married in Glasgow at 25 to Helen Gollan. There were no living children. The cause of death was apoplexy.

The Auckland Star of 4 August 1886 carried the Death Notice: “Thomson – On August 3, Alexander Thomson of West Tamaki.” The New Zealand Herald of 4 August 1886 included the following account of his life and death:

SUDDEN DEATH AT THE MEETING OF THE AUCKLAND PRESBYTERY.
At the meeting of the Auckland Presbytery, yesterday afternoon, a very sad event occurred. After the Presbytery had concluded the business before it, Mr. Alexander Thomson, an elder residing at Panmure, and representing the church at West Tamaki, rose, having taken no part in the business previously, and asked that the Presbytery should proceed then to inquire whether the collections for the foreign missions appointed by the Assembly had been made by the several congregations. To this the Presbytery at once agreed, out of respect to Mr. Thomson, and was about to carry nut the request when he was observed to have fallen back in his chair in what appeared to be a fainting fit. He was immediately unconscious and, a pallor coming over his features, it became evident that death was at hand. The Moderator and the other members near him did all they could to ease his position, but the heart had ceased its pulsations. Dr. Kenderdine was present in a few minutes, and pronounced life extinct, the cause being apoplexy. After some time had elapsed, and the body had been removed into the vestry, the Presbytery met for a few minutes, and Mr. Carrick, at the Moderator’s request, engaged in prayer, the Presbytery adjourning its meeting until to-day, at ten a.m.
The deceased gentleman was 75 years of age, and on the 10th of June last celebrated his golden wedding. It appears that about two years ago he received injury in the chest from the kick of a horse, which at the time caused a very dangerous illness. Since his recovery he had been subject to fainting fits, and yesterday morning, when coming to the Presbytery meeting, he complained of not feeling well. Mr. Thomson came to Wellington in 1840, and after remaining there for about a year he came to Auckland, where he has been ever since, on a farm at the Tamaki. He leaves a widow, but no children. Deceased was an active member of the Presbyterian Church, and took a great interest in the Sunday schools and in other departments of Church work. He was kindly, frank, and hospitable.

The Auckland Star of 14 August 1886 also provided an obituary:

Mr Alexander Thomson, a very old settler of Tamaki West, and an elder of the Presbyterian Church, died on Tuesday, August 3, at the sitting of the Presbytery in St. Andrew’s Church. Mr Thomson came into town early and transacted a considerable amount of business,and while dining at a friend’s house in Shortland street said he feared he had overdone it. He felt somewhat weary, and his breathing was difficult. He left for the meeting of Presbytery at St. Andrew’s, and was speaking upon the subject of the collections of the churches for Foreign Missions, when suddenly he staggered and fell back unconscious upon the seat. A pallor immediately overspread his features, and it was evident that the hand of death «as upon him. Mr Lennox ran for Dr. Kenderdine, and that gentleman, on arrival, pronounced life extinct. The cause of his death was apoplexy. The body was removed at the moderator’s request into the vestry, and subsequently was placed in a shell and removed by Mr Wm. Thorne, solicitor, a nephew of deceased, to Mr Thomson’s late residence. Deceased was born in Glasgow in I811, so that he had reached his 75th year. In early life Mr Thomson was a cotton weaver in his native city, and was of a quiet and religious disposition. He was married June 2, 1836, to Ellen Gollan, in Glasgow, and four years from that auspicious event, in 1840, the young pair left Glasgow in the good ship Blenheim, for the city of Wellington, and after staying there for some months, sailed for Auckland, and filled in this city and suburbs several positions of trust. Mr Thomson and his partner settled on a small farm at West Tamaki, known as Water Yett, where they lived for more than 40 years. Mr Thomson told the story of his colonial struggles with graphic force on the occasion of the celebration of his “golden wedding” in June last. The funeral of the deceased was very largely attended, several hundred persons joining in the procession. A short service at the house was conducted by the Rev. John Macky, sen., minister of the united charge of Otahuhu, Tamaki, and Howick, and the Rev. T. G. Carr, Wesleyan minister (nephew of the deceased by marriage). On arriving at the cemetery the coffin was carried into St. Enoch’s Church, where service was performed by the Revs. J. Macky and T. Norrie, the former giving an appropriate address, in which he spoke of the Christian character of the deceased, and the good services he had rendered in the district for many years, especially to the younger members of the resident families, and concluded by urging all to follow his example. The Rev. D. Bruce and Rev. Mr Steele conducted the service at the grave, near the church.

Helen Thomson, widow of 84, died on 14 May 1898, at Pakuranga. No details of her parents were included in death registration, although it was noted that her father was a schoolteacher. Helen was born in Glasgow, and had been in New Zealand for 58 years. She was married in Glasgow at 18 to Alexander Thomson. There were no living children. The cause of death was senile decay.

The New Zealand Herald of 16 May 1898 carried the death Notice: “Thomson – On Saturday May 14, Helen, the widow of the late Alexander Thomson, of West Tamaki, aged 84.”

The reports above refer to a nephew, William Thorne, solicitor, and nephew by marriage, the Rev T G Carr. William Thorne and Matilda Carr were the children of William Thorne and Mary Gollan, Helen’s sister, who were married in 1846. Mary Gollan emigrated to New Zealand on the Duchess of Argyle which sailed from Greenock to Auckland in 1842. She was 30. There was another family of Gollans from Glasgow on this ship, headed by James Gollan, 33, and including his wife Abigail and several children.


Sources:

Francis and Eliza Sinclair and John McHutcheson

The Sinclair family was listed in the Blenheim embarkation list as being from Perthshire, and included:

  • Francis Sinclair, 42, described as a sailor in the arrival list
  • Eliza Sinclair, 40
  • John Sinclair, 20
  • George Sinclair, 15
  • James Sinclair, 14, described as a labourer in the embarkation list
  • Jane Sinclair, 12
  • Helen Sinclair, 10
  • Francis Sinclair, 6
  • Ann Sinclair, 1

In fact, “John Sinclair” was John McHutcheson, Eliza’s brother, and it is likely he travelled as one of their children because the cost of his travel would then be covered by the the purchase of a £100 land order from the New Zealand Company by Francis Sinclair.

Note on Spelling: The use of “McHutchison” or “McHutcheson” or “Hutcheson” has been determined by the source material, since a variety of spellings have been used at different times.

An interesting perspective on this family can be found in “The Sinclairs of Pigeon Bay, or ‘The Prehistory of the Robinsons of Ni’ihau’: An essay in historiography, or ‘tales their mother told them'” contained in “Watriama and Co: Further Pacific Island Portraits” by Hugh Laracy, ANU Press, 2013.


Return to The Blenheim People.


Francis Sinclair and Elizabeth McHutchison

Francis Sinclair was born around 1797, the son of George Sinclair, a master mariner of Prestonpans.  Elizabeth McHutchison was born on 23 April 1800 and baptized on 27 April 1800.  Her parents were James McHutchison and Jean Robertson, and the record was in the Old Parish Register for Renfrew in the county of Renfrew.

The Old Parish Register for Gorbals, Lanark, recorded that Francis Sinclair and Elizabeth McHutchison, both in Kingston, were married by the Reverend Mr Ritchie in Gorbals on 13 January 1824.

Francis Sinclair was an excise officer, which  is perhaps why the family lived in a number of places, as shown by the locations of the birth of the children.   In 1824 they were in Glasgow, in 1826 in Kinloss in Morayshire, back in Glasgow in 1829, then in Stirling in 1831 through 1839 before they boarded the Blenheim for New Zealand in August 1840.  In her journal of the voyage, Jessie Campbell notes that on Sunday 6 September the cabin passengers had the Bible read to them in English “by a very respectable steerage passenger of the name of Sinclair from Stirling.”

On arrival in New Zealand, Francis got to work immediately by buying a boat and shipping timber from Petone to Wellington.  Within a few months he moved the family to Wanganui, where he had purchased an option on land through the New Zealand Company.  However, there were going to be considerable delays before the land could be settled and they returned to Petone.  There Francis built a boat, the Richmond which he used as a cargo vessel and to relocate his family and that of Ebenezer Hay to Banks Peninsular in the South Island, squatting on land in Pigeon Bay.  In building the vessel, Francis Sinclair, his sons and John McHutcheson did all of the work themselves, except for the iron work which was done by a blacksmith named Fraser, another Blenheim passenger.  The Richmond was sold to pay for cattle, but Francis built another ship, the Sisters, which he used for trading between Banks Peninsular and Wellington.  This vessel was sold in 1845 to purchase land at Pigeon Bay from the Nanto-Bordelaise Company.

Tragedy was to strike, when in May 1846,  Francis, his oldest son George, and two others, were lost when his next ship the Jessie Millar went down while  sailing to Wellington with a cargo of dairy products.  The New Zealand Spectator and Cook Strait Guardian of 11 July 1846 reported:

By the Mana we learn that Mr Sinclair, of Pigeon Bay, left that place on the 10th of May last in a small cutter of about 10 tons, bound for this port.  She has never been heard of since, and there is too much reason to fear that the unfortunate vessel foundered the following day in the heavy south-east gale, which our readers may remember came on very suddenly.  Mr Sinclair was accompanied by his two sons, a nephew, and Mr M’Lennan, a shoemaker of Akaroa.  He has left a widow and several children to lament his untimely fate.

This report appears to be not quite correct in the identities of the missing.

Elizabeth moved to Wellington for a couple of years, but in 1849 returned to Pigeon Bay, and on their land at Sinclair Bay built a homestead called “Craigforth”.

The family prospered there for a number of years but in 1863 they decided to make a fresh start elsewhere.  Thomas Gay, who married Jane Sinclair, purchased the barque Bessie and the family set off, first to British Columbia, and then to Hawaii where they purchased the island of  Ni’ihau from King Kamehameha V. Ni’ihau had good grazing land for sheep and the family also bought land on the neighbouring island of Kauai where they grew sugar cane.

The Marlborough Express of 14 January 1893 included the Death Notice: “Sinclair – On October 15, at her residence, Makaweli Kauai, Hawaiian Islands, Elizabeth MacHutcheson, widow of the late Francis Sinclair, formerly of Craigforth, Pigeon Bay, New Zealand, in her ninety-third year.”

George Sinclair

The Old Parish Register for Glasgow records that Francis Sinclair, Excise Officer, and Elizabeth McHutcheson, had a lawful son  George born on 5 November 1824.  Witnesses were James McHutcheson and Robert Miller.

George Sinclair emigrated to New Zealand on the Blenheim in 1840 and worked with his father on his various enterprises until they were lost at sea in 1846.

James McHutcheson Sinclair

According to the Old Parish Register for Kinloss in Morayshire, James McHutcheson Sinclair, lawful son to Francis Sinclair, Excise officer, and Elizabeth McHutcheson, in Findhorn, was born on 23 June and baptized on 25 July 1826.  Witnesses were William Duston, Excise officer, East Grange, and George Gill, Findhorn.

James Sinclair was a passenger on the Blenheim in 1840 along with his family, and moved to Hawaii with his mother in 1863.  James did not marry and died in 1873 in Hawaii.  The Press of 19 December 1873 carried the Death Notice: “Sinclair – At Makawell, Kauai, Sandwich Islands, on 22 September, James McHutcheson Sinclair, Esq, late of Craigforth, Pigeon Bay, Canterbury, New Zealand.”

Jane Robertson Sinclair

The Old Parish Register for Glasgow records the birth to Francis Sinclair, Officer of Excise, and Elizabeth McHutcheson, of a lawful daughter, Jane Robertson, born on 22 March 1829.  Witnesses were James Calder and John Wylie.

Jane travelled to New Zealand with her family on the Blenheim in 1840.   The Wellington Independent of 24 October 1849 carried the notice: “Married – August 18, at the Court House Dunedin, Otago, by the Rev. C Creed, Captain Gay, of the whaling ship Offley, from Hobart Town, to Miss Sinclair, of Pigeon Bay, Banks Peninsular.”

Thomas Gay was a widower, whose first wife was Bridget Burke, who died in Tasmania in 1847.  They had two sons, Thomas Gay and James Walter Gay. James Walter Gay, was born on 19 November 1841 in Tasmania, and died on 28 May 1893 in Hawaii.

The Gays moved to Hawaii with the rest of the family, and Captain Thomas Gay continued to trade with New Zealand and Australia.  In 1864 Thomas Gay and his brother William, his first mate, were tried in Auckland for assaulting an insubordinate seaman, and were sentenced to six months’ imprisonment but were released early.  Thomas Gay, however, died in New South Wales, Australia, on 9 February 1865 of pneumonia.

Jane and Thomas Gay had at least five children in New Zealand and a further child in Hawaii:

  • George Gay, born in 1850.
  • Francis Gay, born in 1852.
  • Eliza Gay, born in 1856.
  • Annie Gay, born in 1859.
  • Charles Gay, born in 1862.
  • Alice Gay, born in 1865.

Jane (Sinclair) Gay died in 1922.

Helen McHutcheson Sinclair

The Old Parish Register for Stirling records that Helen McHutcheson Sinclair, daughter of Francis Sinclair, Officer of Excise, and Elizabeth McHutcheson, was born on 29 May and baptized on 26 June 1831 by the Reverend B Bailey.  Witnesses were James Brown and William McHutcheson.

Helen was on board the Blenheim with her family on the voyage to New Zealand in 1840, and moved with them to Pigeon Bay.

Helen Sinclair married Charles Barrington Robinson on 17 January 1853.  The Lyttelton Times of 29 January 1853 carried the notice: “Married – January 17th, at Akaroa, by the Rev W Aylmer, Charles Barrington Robinson, Esq, to Helen, daughter of the late Captain Sinclair, of Craigforth, in Pigeon Bay.”

Charles Robinson was Akaroa’s first magistrate from 1840 to 1845, and purchased land there from the Nanto-Bordelaise Company.  He is said to have raised the British flag in Akaroa in 1840 to thwart French efforts to claim the South Island.

Charles and Helen had a son, Aubrey, born on 17 October 1853.  However, in 1855 Helen parted from her husband, apparently because he was violent to her, and she and Aubrey moved with the family to Hawaii.

Charles Barrington Robinson died at 15 Hermitage Road, Richmond, Surrey, England, on 28 December 1899.

The date of Helen’s death has not yet been established.

Aubrey Robinson married his cousin Alice Gay in 1885, having travelled in Europe and Asia, and returned to Hawaii in 1883 to manage the family estates with his cousin and brother-in-law Francis Gay. They established the company of Gay & Robinson.  Aubrey died in Hawaii in 1936.

Francis Sinclair

The Old Parish Register for Stirling records that Francis, son of Francis Sinclair, Officer of Excise, and Elizabeth McHutchison, was born on 12 January 1834 and baptized by the Reverend Alexander Marshall of Friar’s Wynd Chapel.  Witnesses were John Paton and George Harvey.

After emigrating to New Zealand with his family, and living with his mother at “Craigforth” following his father’s death, Francis Sinclair and his uncle John McHutchison took up a sheep farm in the Mackenzie Country, but were unable to make a go of it, and returned to Banks Peninsular.  Francis then moved with his mother and siblings to Hawaii, returning to New Zealand in 1866 to marry his cousin Isabella.

The Lyttelton Times of 29 August 1866 has a Marriage Notice: “Sinclair-McHutchison – August 7, at Blenheim, Marlborough, by the Rev Russell, Francis Sinclair, Niihau, Sandwich Islands, to Isabella, third daughter of William McHutchison of Blenheim.”

The New Zealand Herald of 12 April 1890 carried a review of “Ballads and Poems From the Pacific” by Francis Sinclair.  The review noted that he had been well known to New Zealand readers in the past under the pseudonyms of “F.S.C.” and “Aopouri”, with the book of poems originally published under the nom de plume of “Philip Garth”.  In commenting on the poems, the review said “among his sketches in the Pacific Ocean are to be found some glowing descriptions and brilliant pieces of word painting.”

The Otago Witness of 12 December 1900, in a piece entitled “In Starry Byways” set out some biographical details of Francis Sinclair, quotes from his poems, and suggests that he may claim to be New Zealand’s “first poet”.

In 1881 Francis bought a property in Epsom, and in 1883 passed management of the family’s Hawaiian estates to his nephews Aubrey Robinson and Francis Gay.  In 1885 he was in London overseeing the printing of Isabella’s book Indigenous Flowers of the Hawaiian Islands, and in 1891 sold his property on Ni’ihau to his sisters, Jane Gay and Helen Robinson, and his nephew Aubrey Robinson. When his mother died in 1892 he was living in California, but eventually moved to England.  Following Isabella’s death around 1896 Francis married her widowed sister Williamina Shirrifs.  He settled in London and published more poems, essays and short stories.

Francis Sinclair died on the island of Jersey on 22 July 1916 aged 83.

Ann McHutchison Sinclair

According to the Old Parish Register for Stirling, Ann McHutchison Sinclair daughter of Francis Sinclair, Excise, and  Elizabeth McHutchison, was born on 7 March and baptized on 22 March 1839 by the Reverend Mr Marshall.  Witnesses were Andrew Beath and James Mitchell.

Ann, aged 1, was part of the family party that emigrated to New Zealand on the Blenheim in 1840, lived at Pigeon Bay, and then moved to Hawaii in 1863.

The Lyttelton Times of 27 May 1867 carried the Marriages Notice: “Knudsen-Sinclair – On the 12th of February, at the residence of the bride’s mother, Nihau, by the Rev D S Kupahu, pastor of Nihru, Valdemar Knudsen, Esq, of Waiawa, Kuai, to Annie, youngest daughter of the late Francis Sinclair, Esq, Canterbury, New Zealand.”

Valdemar Knudsen was born in Norway in 1819, and travelled to North America where he was a publisher in New York and a merchant during the California gold rush.  He then moved to Hawaii where he managed a plantation before leasing land at Waiawa on West Kauai.  Valdemar Knudsen died in Honolulu in 1898.

Ann and Valdemar had five children – Ida, Augustus, Maud, Eric and Arthur – and lived in Waiawa, and Halemanu in Kokee when Waiawa was too hot and dry.

Ann (Sinclair) Knudsen died in 1922 at Kauai, Hawaii, aged 83.

John McHutcheson

The Old Parish Register for Glasgow records that James McHutcheson, manufacturer, and Jean Robertson, had a lawful son John, born on 6 October 1816.  Witnesses were Thomas Mitchell and Septimus Ellis.

John McHutcheson travelled on the Blenheim with his sister and her family, but under the name of “John Sinclair” and aged 20 (in fact he was 24), but reverted to his real name on arrival.

John McHutcheson worked with his brother-in-law in their various enterprises, and accompanied the family initally to Wanganui, back to Petone, then to Banks Peninsular. In 1856, with his nephew Francis, John took up a run of 10,000 acres in the Mackenzie Country, but they lasted there only two years because of the difficulties in working it effectively.

It appears that at some point “John McHutcheson” became “John Mack Hutcheson”.  John Mack Hutcheson married Mary Gorrie on 4 July 1856.

In 1873, John Mack Hutcheson was elected Mayor of Blenheim.

John Hutcheson died on 27 January 1899. The Press of 28 January 1899 carried the following obituary:

Wellington, January 27: Mr John Mack Hutcheson, aged 82 years, a very old colonist and one of the best known and esteemed settlers in Marlborough, died at noon to-day. The late Mr Hutcheson was well known in Canterbury. Having come out to New Zealand from Glasgow in 1840, he settled on the Hutt river, Wellington, and though he removed to Wanganui, he soon returned to the Hutt. In 1843, however, he settled at Pigeon Bay, Akaroa. He went to England in 1848, and while there was interested, with Captain Cargill, in securing the despatch of the first immigrants to Otago, in the ships John Wickliffe and Philip Laing. On his return to the colony he settled in Canterbury, and remained in this district till 1864, when he left for Nelson, where he and Mr McDonald re-opened a branch of the Union Bank. Later on he took up a cattle run in the Mackenzie Country, and it is stated that he was the first man, after Mackenzie, to wander over those plains. His nearest neighbour at this time was sixty miles away, and the loneliness of the life did not offer many attractions to Mr Hutcheson, who sold his property, the buyer, it is said, being a Mr Gladstone, a nephew of the late Prime Minister of England. Mr Hutcheson went into business in Blenheim in 1859, and resided in Marlborough ever since.

John and Mary had at least eight children:

  • John Hutcheson, born in 1859, died in 1907.
  • Francis Sinclair Hutcheson, born in 1863, died in 1881.
  • David Gorrie Hutcheson, born in 1868, died in 1930.
  • Richard Morley Hutcheson, born in 1871, died in 1877.
  • Helen Eadie Hutcheson, born in 1873, died in 1941, married Malcolm Bird in 1910.
  • Jeanette Robinson Hutcheson, born in 1877 died in 1889.
  • Ronald Oliphant Hutcheson, born in 1881, died in 1951, married Cecilia Jane Jacobsen in 1920.
  • William Hutcheson, born in 1882, died in 1904.

John’s brother William McHutcheson also emigrated to New Zealand in 1862, having worked for the Inland Revenue in Scotland before moving to Christchurch and then Oamaru. William died in Oamaru in October 1905, aged 95.


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