Tag Archives: labourer

James Mitchell and Jane Stewart

James Mitchell and his family were listed in the embarkation and arrival lists for the Blenheim as being as being from Paisley, with details as follows:

  • James Mitchell, 29, labourer
  • Jane Mitchell, 28
  • Marion Mitchell, 5
  • Jane Mitchell, 3

Return to The Blenheim People.


James Mitchell and Jane Stewart

James Mitchell was born around 1811, while Jean Stewart was born on 19 November 1812.

According to the Old Parish Register for January 1835 for Abbey in Renfrew, James Mitchell, weaver, Silk Street, and Jean Stewart, residing in George Street, both in this parish, were married on the 25th by the Reverend Andrew Symington, Paisley.

The family emigrated to New Zealand on the Blenheim, arriving in Wellington in  December 1840.   After living at Molesworth Street the family moved to Porirua where James purchased land and took up farming.  Their homestead was named “Burnside”.

Jane died on 10 June 1883 aged 70.  The Manawatu Standard of 15 June 1883 recorded that “Another old Wellington settler has passed away by the death of Mrs James Mitchell at her residence, Alma lane, off Tory street. The deceased lady was one of the pioneer settlers, having arrived in Wellington by the Blenheim in 1840, and was one of the first to settle at Porirua. The funeral, which took place yesterday, was attended by a large number of old settlers.”

James Mitchell died on 15 August 1890 aged 79.

James Mitchell’s brother John arrived in Wellington on the Marriner in 1850, and built a home next to Burnside.  In 1853 he married Helen Brown, who had also come out on the Marriner with her parents, and was a niece of James and Mary Brown who emigrated on the Blenheim and were the first settlers in Upper Hutt.  John Mitchell died three months after the marriage, but their son John succeeded to his uncle’s farm in 1875.  John Mitchell, the younger, described in the Cyclopedia of New Zealand as, “a keen, pushing business man”, had the farm at Porirua, another at Longburn in the Manawatu, and promoted two butchery businesses.  In 1876 he married Nancy Allen, a daughter of Mr Eli Allen, a farmer at Tawa Flat, whose mother was from an English family of Mitchells.  The Burnside property was eventually sold to the government to become part of the Porirua mental asylum.

Marion Mitchell

The Old Parish Register for Paisley High Church in Renfrew for December 1835, records that Marion, lawful daughter of James Mitchell and Jean Stewart was born on 3 ult, and baptized on 6th instant.

Marion travelled with her family to New Zealand on the Blenheim in 1840.

Marion Mitchell married Andrew Orr on 8 October 1869, but he apparently absconded, leaving Marion with four daughters.

The Wairarapa Daily of 28 September 1905 reported that “the death occurred on Monday last, at Wellington, of Mrs M Orr, who arrived in the Colony in 1840 on the ship Blenheim, and was the eldest daughter of Mr James Mitchell, who was one of the first to settle in the Porirua district.”

Marion and Andrew had four daughters:

  • Jane Orr, born in 1870, married James Jacob Esson in 1891, and died in 1956, aged 86. James Jacob Esson was a telegraphist in Post Office in the 1880s and 90s but during World War 1 became a Lieutenant-Colonel, and from 1922-25 was Secretary to the Treasury.
  • Mary Ann Orr, born in 1872, died in 1873 aged 15 months.
  • Marion Orr, born in 1873, married George Webb in 1899, died in 1938.
  • Ann Orr, born in 1878, died in 1945.
Jane Mitchell

Jane Mitchell was born around 1837 in Paisley, and travelled to New Zealand on the Blenheim in 1840 with her parents.

Jane Mitchell married Robert Miller on 24 June 1859.   Robert Miller was also a passenger on the Blenheim, as a 9 year old, the son of William and Maria Miller of Glasgow.  Robert Miller was a successful baker and businessman, and also served as a City Councillor.

The Wellington Independent of 26 October 1867 carried the following Death Notice: “Miller – On October 24, at the residence of Mr James Mitchell, Burnside, Porirua, Jane, the beloved wife of Mr Robert Miller, Tauerue Station, Wairarapa, aged 30 years.”

Following Jane’s death, Robert married Mary Ellen Angell on 22 January 1873.

Robert Miller died on 24 October 1904 aged 73.  The Wairarapa Daily Times of 28 October 1904 carried the Death Notice: Miller – On the 24th October, 1904, at his residence “Waiwetu” Tasman street Wellington, Robert Miller, aged 73 years.”  The Manawatu Times of 26 October 1904 reported, “Mr Robert Miller, one of Wellington’s early settlers, who came to Port Nicholson in the ship Blenheim in 1840, died yesterday.”  The Evening Post of 24 October 1904 published the following obituary:

Mr. Robert Miller, one of Wellington’s early settlers, died at his residence in Tasman-street this morning. About a fortnight ago he was seized with a paralytic stroke, from which he did not recover. The deceased gentleman was born at Paisley, Scotland, and came out to Port Nicholson with his parents in the ship Blenheim in December, 1840. The family resided for some time on what is now the site of the Hotel Cecil. Mr. Robert Miller was in business in Wellington for many years, and afterwards went to live in retirement at the Hutt, but for some time before his death he had been a resident of Tasman-street. In years gone by he occupied a seat on the City Council, and he laboured in other ways to advance the interests of the city. He was a director of the Equitable Building and Investment Company, from its formation up till the time of his death, and was also a shareholder in other joint stock concerns. He has left a widow and a family of eleven, the eldest being Mr. W. Miller, of the Greymouth-Point Elizabeth Company. The late Mr. Miller was very highly respected.

Mary Ellen Miller died on 20 March 1940 aged 88.

Jane and Robert appear to have had at least five children:

  • William Miller, born in 1860, died in 1940, married Susan McLaren in 1883.  William Miller was an auctioneer, valuer and accountant, became the last clerk of the Miramar Borough Council and for ten years was Town Clerk at Johnsonville.
  • James Miller, born in 1861, died in 1862, aged 3 weeks.
  • Jane Miller, born in 1862
  • James Miller, born in 1865
  • Robert Alexander Mitchell Miller, born in 1867, died in 1940, married Evelyn Rose Aitchison in 1925. Farmed at Kopuaranga, Wairarapa with his brother from the early 1900s.

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John Chisholm

John Chisholm appears at the end of the initial list of passenger on the Blenheim, in a group that included some crossed out earlier in the list or put there as late additions.

In the initial list John Chisholm was described as a labourer of 40, and in the other lists as an agriculturalist.


Return to The Blenheim People.


Although John Chisholm arrived on the Blenheim, he did not stay long in Wellington. Apparently disenchanted with the conditions he found there and the delays that would affect his ability to take up land, he succumbed to promises of better conditions in Tasmania, and left for Hobart on the Lord Sidmouth on 4 February 1841, barely six weeks after arrival.

The New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator of 16 January 1841 stated:

The Lord Sidmouth was sent down to relieve us, not by supplying us with food, but by carrying away our population. A very mean spirit has been exhibited in the attacks made upon this settlement. It might have been expected that a community acting for itself, without any of that extraneous aid generally liberally bestowed by the Government, would have been deemed interesting, and worthy of all the support which could be extended by neighbouring communities of the same parent stock. But though unaided even by sympathy, this settlement has succeeded, is now securely planted, and may treat with contempt the imbecile efforts which have been made, and are making, to injure us.

The Colonial Times of Hobart, in its edition of 23 February 1841, noted that:

The passengers arrived by the Lord Sidmouth, who are about sixty in number, amongst other unfavourable reports state, that, in consequence of the frequency of earthquakes, of which several shocks had been experienced by the settlers since their arrival, they dare not build stone buildings of any size. We were not before aware that the Colony was visited by such a calamity, and we trust the report will turn out to be unfounded. We give it, however, as we received it; and shall be most happy to have it in our power to contradict the assertion.

The newspaper also published the list of passengers who arrived on the Lord Sidmouth on 19 February, who included “J Chisom” (and also Dr Campbell, Dr Sutherland, and others who may also have been Blenheim passengers).

The New Zealand Clan Chisholm Society, in its Newsletter #47, August 2009, noted that John Chisholm never returned to New Zealand, ending his days on the goldfields of Ballarat.


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