In the passenger lists for the Blenheim Donald Cameron is recorded as a labourer of 52, from Trishilaig, with the note by Donald McDonald:
This man and his family have been known to me all my life & are a very industrious family. The same remark applies to his brother and his family who are next to him but one on the list, they have besides excellent Certificates.
The list included:
- Donald Cameron, 52, labourer
- Mary McPherson, 40, his wife
- John Cameron, 24, quarrier, his son
- Allan Cameron, 22, quarrier, his son
- Donald Cameron, 20, shoemaker, his son
- Duncan Cameron, 18, shepherd, his son
- Ewen Cameron, 17, ploughman, his son
- Alexander Cameron, 15, cowherd, his son
- James Cameron, 14, cowherd, his son
- George Cameron, 9, his son
- Mary Cameron, 26, dairymaid, his daughter
- Ann Cameron, 12, his daughter.
Also on board were Donald and Mary’s oldest daughter, Jane, wife of Dugald McLachlan, and the family of Donald’s brother Ewen Cameron.
Donald Cameron was called “Cooper” or “Bane” (fair) to distinguish him from the other Donald Camerons.
Return to The Blenheim People
Donald Cameron and Mary McPherson
The Old Parish Register for Kilmallie (Inverness) records the birth of Donald Cameron, son to Angus Cameron and Mary Cameron, Corveg, on 28 April 1776, making him rather older than the 52 noted in the Blenheim list.
Mary McPherson was born around 1790, so was also older than the listed 40.
The couple were married around 1807 and were living in Inverscaddle when their first child, Jane, was born in 1808, but by the time of the next recorded birth, of John in 1812 they were at Trislaig, across Loch Linnhe from Fort William, and seemed to have remained there until their departure for New Zealand in 1840. There are no records of births between John in 1812 and James in 1825, but if the ages given in the Blenheim passenger list are correct (and the younger children are about right), then there may have been others who died in infancy or did not travel.
The Old Parish Register for Kilmallie (Argyll) recorded that Ewin and Mary, son and daughter to Donald Cameron, Trislaig, and Mary McPherson, his wife, were born on 1st current, and baptized on 6 January 1829. These twins were not on the voyage to New Zealand, so presumably died before 1840, but it is strange that they were given the same names as those held by older siblings.
Donald and Mary and their family had moved on from Wellington to Turakina by 1850 and farmed there for the rest of their lives. In his book Early Rangitikei, Sir James Wilson wrote:
A second family of Camerons, of Turakina, was that of Donald “Bane,” whose family consisted of John, Allan, Duncan, Sandy, James, and George, Mrs McLauchlan (afterwards Mrs Brabazon), Mrs Grant (Mrs A.K. Simpson’s mother), and Mrs Alick McDonald…
The family is also mentioned in the reminisces of Eliza McKenzie, daughter of Thomas Urquhart McKenzie and Blenheim emigrant Margaret Fraser, published in Rob Knight’s Poyntzfield, “…but we lost interest in the subject sooner than we would owing to a more intimate interest – namely of the arrival of the Grant family in Turakina, They had come out in the same ship as my Grandfather and his family and we had always known them – that is to say we were friends. We children were sorry that their place was not near. It was away past McQuarrie’s, and their first whare was built on the flat opposite the old ‘Makiri’ homestead, occupied by its first owner Donald Cameron. ‘The Cooper’ he was called in Wellington, but here he soon took on the ‘Cameron Makiri’ that seemed natural. I liked to go to that house on account of the furniture. Not like other houses but made of queer shaped branches and roots put aside from time to time, we were told it was ‘Rustic’. Mr and Mrs Cameron were Mrs Grant’s parents – were also ‘Little Annie’s’ and others not so interesting,” and “On our way out to the beach we passed the house of ‘Cameron Makiri’. (In Wellington he was called Donald the Cooper.) The old man, calling his grand-daughter with him went with us as far as the sand hills, said ‘Good-bye’ in solemn Gaelic and we went on.”
Donald died in 1854, and Mary on 15 February 1874 at Turakina, aged 84. A memorial plaque has been reinstated, with additional references, at the Makirikiri Private Cemetery on land that was part of their farm. It reads:
Sacred to the Memory of Donald Cameron native of Argyle Shire Scotland, died at Turakina 1854 aged 78 years, and of Donald Cameron son of the above died at Turakina Sept 15th 1851 aged 30 years & of his son Donald Cameron died April 6th. 1851 aged 6 months and of George Cameron son of the above died at Turakina 1856 aged 24 years and of Alexander Cameron son of the above died at Turakina June 7th. 1860 aged 32 years and of Mary Cameron died at the Makirikiri 15th. Feby 1874 aged 84 years. Also sons, Allan died 1878, aged 60, John born 1816 & Ewen born 1823 died in Wellington prior 1850, James born 1828 died?
Mary Cameron was born on 12 August 1813 , probably at Trislaig in the parish of Kilmallie (Argyll).
The initial Blenheim passenger listed a Janet Cameron, 26, dairymaid, as the daughter of Donald Cameron and Mary McPherson. The embarkation list had her as Mary, 26, but in the subsequent lists she was back to being Janet. Possibly the confusion arose because Mary’s older sister Jane was planning to travel with them, and eventually did so but with her new husband Dugald McLachlan and his family.
Mary Cameron married Alexander Grant, another Blenheim passenger, on 29 January 1841, a month after their arrival in New Zealand. Their story is continued at Alexander Grant and Mary Cameron.
Mary (Cameron) Grant died on 21 April 1895, aged 82.
Alexander and Mary had nine children, not all surviving infancy:
- John Grant, born in 1841, died in 1843.
- Catherine Grant, born in 1843, died in 1918, married Robert Kirkpatrick Simpson in 1863.
- John Archibald Grant, born in 1845, died in 1845.
- Ewen Grant, born in 1846, died in 1920.
- Mary Cameron Grant, born in 1848, died in 1938, married James McDonald in 1874.
- John Grant, born in 1850, died in 1942, married Mary Shove in 1885.
- Elizabeth Grant, born in 1851, died in 1878.
- Duncan Donald Grant, born in 1853, died in 1900.
- Betsy Grant, born in 1857, died in 1947 in Australia, married Alexander Fraser McRae in 1891.
The Old Parish Register for Kilmallie (Inverness) for 1812, recorded the baptism of a John Cameron, son of Donald Cameron and Mary McPherson of Trinslack, on 12 May. it is not clear if this is the John who travelled to New Zealand.
John’s age was given a 24 on the Blenheim passenger lists, suggesting a birth year of around 1815-16, but if this is the same John he would have been 28. He was described as a quarrier.
John Cameron apparently died by drowning, possibly in Wellington harbour, although his inclusion in the Early Rangitikei reference suggests he may have moved to Turakina by 1850.
Allan Cameron was described as a quarrier of 22 in the Blenheim passenger list, indicating he was born around 1817-18.
Margaret Perry’s diary, around 1863, notes,”Old Granny Cammeron lived not far off in an old whare with clay walls, and her son Allan,…”.
The Wanganui Chronicle of 5 March 1878 reported, “March 4. Allan Cameron, a settler, was found drowned in the Turakina river this morning. Deceased was last seen on the racecourse on Friday.” New Zealand BDM records suggest that he was 61 years old at the time.
The Wanganui Chronicle of 6 March 1878 reported:
An inquest was held to-day at Belvie’s Railway Hotel, on the body of Allen Cameron, before Mr Ross, coroner, and a jury, of which Mr A. Simpson was chosen foreman. The jury having been sworn, Joseph Henderson was the first witness called, who deposed to having seen deceased on the racecourse on Friday last, at 6 p.m.; deceased was the worse of drink. Mr Duncan Grant stated that he was a nephew of deceased; he saw him last on Friday, on the racecourse; he missed him since then; on Monday last went to look for him, and found his body in the Turakina river, at the foot of a high bank; deceased must have fallen 40 feet; was unable to get him out alone, so went for assistance; Mr Archibald Cameron and Mr Mclnnes helped him to get the body out; deceased was quite dead; he was about 61 years of age. Mr McInnes said he was called to help to pull deceased out of the water; recognised the body as the same. The Coroner summed up the evidence, and the jury returned a verdict of found drowned.
Donald Cameron jnr
Donald Cameron was described as a shoemaker of 20 in the Blenheim passenger list, suggesting a birth year around 1820.
The list of persons qualified to serve as jurors in the district of Port Nicholson included Donald Cameron, jun, as a labourer, Kai warra Road in 1845; and a shoemaker, at Willis Street in 1846 and at Lambton Quay in 1847-1850. A Donald Cameron, Kai warra Road was also listed as a shoemaker in 1845.
From the Makirikiri memorial, Donald was married, and had a child born around October 1850 who died on 6 April 1851. New Zealand BDM records show that a Donald Cameron and Mary Robertson Mitchell were married on 18 March 1850, and that a son Donald Cameron was born on 24 October 1850 to Donald and Mary Cameron.
Mary Robertson was born in Blairgowrie, Perthshire, on 6 May 1821, and may have emigrated on the Lady Nugent, which arrived in Wellington in March 1841. A Mary Robertson, 18, servant, was included on the passenger list. On 15 April 1844, Mary Robertson, daughter of Mr Robertson of Blair Gowrie, Perthshire, married Francis Mitchell, an agriculturalist, formerly of Logie, Perthshire. Francis Mitchell had arrived in Wellington on the Martha Ridgeway in July 1840. The New Zealand Spectator and Cook’s Strait Guardian of 12 April 1848 carried a report of the death of Francis Mitchell, apparently at sea after an absence of two years, having left his wife and young child in Wellington in January 1846.
Donald Cameron died on 15 September 1851, aged 30.
After Donald’s death, it appears that Mary (Robertson) Cameron , formerly Mitchell, married John Cameron on 25 September 1855. John Cameron, the son of John Cameron and Janet McGregor, was also on the Blenheim, and the posting for that family provides further information on Mary Robertson.
Mary (Robertson) Cameron died on 5 June 1887. Her death registration noted that she was 66, her father was given as Alexander Robinson, carrier, she was born in Scotland and had been in New Zealand for 40 years, and was married in Wanganui to John Cameron. She had three female children living, aged 30, 28 and 27. The cause of death was dropsy. There was no reference to any of her other marriages.
Donald and Mary had one child:
- Donald Cameron, born in 1850, died in 1851.
Duncan Cameron was a shepherd of 18 on the Blenheim passenger list, indicating he was born around 1821-22.
Duncan was referred to in Early Rangitikei but was not included on the Makirikiri memorial plaque.
No further information has been established regarding Duncan Cameron.
Ewen Cameron was described as a ploughman of 17 on the Blenheim passenger list, meaning he was born around 1822-23.
The History of the Parewanui district and schools incorrectly states that this Ewen Cameron married Sarah McKinnon, but that was a Ewen Cameron from another Turakina, but non-Blenheim, family of Camerons.
The reference in Early Rangitikei noted above does not include a Ewen or Hugh, suggesting that he may have died or gone elsewhere before the family moved to Turakina.
No further information has been established for Ewen Cameron.
The Blenheim passenger list described Alexander Cameron as a cowherd of 15, suggesting he was born around 1824.
According to the Makirikiri memorial, Alexander Cameron died on 7 June 1860 at Turakina aged 32. New Zealand BDM records confirm the date but give his age as 34.
The History of the Parewanui district and schools incorrectly states that this Alexander Cameron married Jemima McDonell, but in fact it appears that he did not marry, and his estate administration involved his mother, Mary Cameron (who signed documents with her mark “X”), John Cameron, the younger (son of John Cameron and Janet McGregor, who married the widow of Donald Cameron jnr above), and James Stewart, both of Turakina. Alexander was described as a farmer of Turakina in the probate documents.
According to the Old Parish Register for Kilmallie (Argyll) for 1825, James, son of Donald Cameron in Trislaig and Mary McPherson, was born on 24 October and baptized on 1 November.
In the Blenheim passenger list James was described as a cowherd of 14.
James is referred to Early Rangitikei and is included on the Makirikiri memorial, but with a date of death unknown.
No further information has been established for James Cameron.
Ann Christian Cameron
The Old Parish Register for Kilmallie (Argyll) records that Ann Christian, daughter of Donald Cameron crofter in Trinsleig and Mary McPherson was born on 27 ulto, [i.e. November] and baptized on 27 December 1827.
The Blenheim passenger list included 12 year-old Ann Cameron.
In Poyntzfield, Eliza McKenzie described a picnic on Somes Island in 1848 or 1849, “Most of the company we were acquainted with, and were pleased to see amongst them ‘Little Annie Cameron’ (The cooper). It was so nice just to look at her….Near her was sitting ‘Alick’ called so by all present and genial to all, and a member of a proud Scottish family as he was. He too had come out in the Blenheim but as a passenger with some others, not as immigrant, and I feel now that neither he nor the rest of the party forgot that fact.”
Annie Cameron married Alexander McDonald on 13 January 1852, and more details of their life can be found at Donald McDonald and Anne Cummings.
Ann Christian (Cameron) McDonald died on 26 February 1898.
Annie and Alexander had possibly eight children [details require confirmation and completion]:
- Mary McDonald, born in 1854, died in 1939, married Alexander Dundas in 1878.
- Annie McDonald, born in 1855, married (1) Henry Seegers Palmerson, (2) George Latta Rodaway Scott in 1891.
- Donald McDonald, born in 1857.
- Adam Alexander McDonald, born in 1860, died in 1940, married Mary Helen Sarah Dundas in 1898.
- Ada McDonald, born in 1863, married John Henry Lee Macintyre in 1887.
- Catherine McDonald.
- Georgina McDonald, born in 1866, died in 1945, married Alfred Richard Lyons in 1889.
- Margaret McDonald, born in 1869, died in 1924, married Edward Cyril Morley Netherclift in 1897.
The Old Parish Register for Kilmallie (Argyll) for 1831 shows that George, son to Donald Cameron, crofter Trislack, and Mary McPherson, was born on 11 February and baptized on 16 February.
George Cameron is referred to in Early Rangitikei and was included in the original Makirikiri memorial.
George Cameron died in 1856 aged 24.