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Pre 1848 Settlers of Otago and Southland

Star 1898



"Evening Star", Otago Jubilee Edition, March 23.1898

THE FIRST SETTLERS (IN OTAGO)  (Printed in 1898)


It is a popular fallacy that there were no settlers in Otago before the advent of the Pilgrim Fathers of 1848.   As a matter of fact, there were white settlers in Otago a few years prior to 1840.  It was some years prior to the latter date that the late "Johnny" JONES purchased from the Maoris   a large tract of land for the purpose of forming a settlement in connection with his whaling station at Waikouaiti.  And besides white settlers in Otakau - the proper name of Otago - there were white men located at Moeraki and Purakanui in the early forties.   "Johnny" JONES put in charge of his whaling station the late Edward PALMER (who afterwards settled at Otakia), and he had with him John FOREMAN and Stephen MURPHY as headsmen, J. M'LAUCHLAN (whose wife was with him), as cooper, two boats' crews, a picking-up boat's crew, Dr  CROCKER (Crocome) and one M'KENZIE  ( a blacksmith).  

 These men constituted the first European settlement at Waikouaiti.   But Mr. JONES now wanted men to till the ground and attend to the rearing of cattle and sheep, so that the little settlement might become self supporting, as he found the expense of bringing supplies from Sydney to be considerable.  With that purpose in view he returned to Sydney, and was fortunate to engage there several families from the south of England, who had been only eleven months in the colony, and who, not liking the heat, were glad to try a change of climate.   They accordingly agreed to come to Otago with Mr. JONES who engaged them for twelve months certain, at 35 a year each, rations found.   The date of their arrival at Waikouaiti cannot be definitely fixed, but it is known that they sailed from Sydney in March, 1840, in the Magnet commanded by Captain BRUCE, and that she arrived at the Bluff on 16th of March.   This vessel, which was owned by Mr. JONES, traded regularly between Sydney and New Zealand, bringing down stores for the settlers, and taking back oil, etc.   In addition to Mr. JONE'S contingent, the Magnet had on board on this trip some influential Maori chiefs, whom Mr. JONES had taken over to Sydney to show them the "sights" of the then capital of Australia.   The first cattle, horses and sheep came in in Magnet on this voyage.   Of these Maori worthies more anon.

Mr. JONE'S batch of immigrants comprised:-

PASCOE, wife and one child

Thomas HAWKINS and wife

George GLOVER, wife and two children

William KENNARD, wife and three children

Thomas JONES, wife and two children

Frederick PRYOR and wife

Benjamin COLEMAN, wife and two children

William COLEMAN and wife



David CAREY, wife and one child

Joseph BEAL and  wife

Charles FULLAR and wife

William TROTTER, single (overseer).

- STANLEY, single (carpenter)

We have endeavored to trace descendants of these original settlers, but our efforts have only been partially successful.   In 1843 the following whites lived in various parts of Otago:-  

JOSEPH BEAL was well known in later years as a hotelkeeper at Waikouaiti, having built the Royal Hotel, in Beach Street,  and afterwards kept a public-house near the bush.   He resided for some time in Dunedin after 1848, and died at Waikouaiti.   He had two daughters and one son.   The latter (Ned) also died at Waikouaiti.   One daughter (Anne) became the wife of E. W. DURDEN, for many years postmaster at Hawkesbury.   She is a widow, resides at Hawkesbury, and her aged mother lives with her.   The other daughter (Caroline) became Mrs. PAGAN, and resides at Waimate.

DAVID CAREY, with his wife and two children lived for many years on the shore of the little bay near Port Chalmers that was named after him.   Mrs. Carey died there in 1888, he in 1896.   Their daughter (Julia Ann) was married to Mr. John TAYLOR (died in Dunedin), and now lives at Littlebourne (a suburb of Dunedin).   The only son (James) resides at Bluff Harbour.

JAMES ANDERSON had a wife and daughter.   He died in New South Wales, Mrs. Anderson at Port Chalmers about 1864.   In 1848-49 Anderson owned a Deal-built lugger, named Khadamanthus, which he sailed in Otago Harbour, carrying goods and passengers between the Port and Dunedin.   His only daughter (Jane) became Mrs. BOWLING and now lives at Merton.

JAMES M'LAUGLAN, who was at Waikouaiti before the arrival of Mr. Jone's batch of immigrants in 1840, lived to June 2, 1884, having been born in 1803.   He died at Waikouaiti, his wife having predeceased him.   She was the first white woman to land in Otago, and used to walk from Waikouaiti to Dunedin by the mountain track.   They had two children but buried them in Sydney.  

CHARLES ROEBUCK, his wife, daughter, and nephew (George PALMER).  Roebuck died at Port Chalmers in 1868;  his wife survived him twenty-seven years.   Their daughter (Mary Ann) married Mr. J.R. MONSON, and now resides at Port Chalmers, George PALMER died at Dunedin in 1884.

-SHUTZ and his housekeeper;  they afterwards went to Wellington.

Octavius HARWOOD; is still living at Portobello

John MURRAY: died at Port Chalmers in 1851 or 1852

John HUNTER:  died at Dunedin, 7th May, 1889

William GAILY:  left Otakau in 1845

-MURRAY ("Hickory");  left Otakau in 1844 or 1845

James RICHETTS or RICKARDS;  went afterwards to Port Cooper

Mussel Bob (surname unknown):  died at Otakau in 1846 or 1847.

Tom Walkabout: left about 1844

Scotch Davey;  left about 1844

Little Davey;  left about 1844

William THOMPSON;  left for America about 1847

James LOPER; probably yet living in Otago.  Mrs. Jas LOPER died at Milton (1878)

James BROWN; was lost in the Lavine, (Leven), cutter, on a voyage to Wellington about 1847.

James FOWLER; died at Otakau about 1857

-CHRISTIE;  left for Sydney about 1844

John PHILLIPPINE;  died at Otakau about 1848

Joseph CORBETTS; went to Sydney, date unknown

Richard DRIVER (then resident at Murdering Beach); the first pilot at Otago Heads;  died at Purakanui in 1896.

James or Elisha CARPENTER;  died in 1851

The following resided at Otakau between the years 1843 and 1847;

ROWAN;  farmed at Kelvin Grove, Otakau;  sailed for Wellington in the cutter Lavine, (Leven)  about 1847, and was drowned at sea.

Harry HARWOOD;  was also lost in the foundering of the Lavine, (Leven)

Mrs. BANKS and family;  left for California.

Mrs. ROBINSON; also left for California.

When the first ship with immigrants arrived in Otago Harbour in 1848 the farm at Kelvin Grove, situated behind where the Maori Kaik now  stands, was a beautiful spot.  The land was fairly well tilled and its dairy supplied milk and butter to the pioneer settlers.   To-day Kelvin Grove is covered feet deep with drift sand.   The following families resided in Otakau in 1848:-

Joseph BEAL, wife and five children

David CAREY, wife and five children

James ANDERSON, wife and three children

Charles ROEBUCK, wife and one child.

B. COLEMAN, wife and five children

W. COLEMAN, and wife

W. SCOTT and wife

George SMITH (afterwards kept the Royal Hotel at Dunedin)

Captain Peter WILLIAMS

- STEWART, wife and two daughters

John SUTTON (afterwards a druggist in Dunedin) and wife.


Richard DRIVER (pilot);  then resided at Taiaroa Head.


- BARRY, wife and three children

John Washburn HUNTER

William GEARY


Charles SOURDON ("French Charley")

-WATSON, known as "Oamaru Watson"

John GIBBS, a carpenter, called "Alderman"

Simon M'KENZIE, (blacksmith)

Charles WINDSOR and wife (kept the first day school and Sunday School at the Heads)


-STOKES, (who then held Kelvin Grove)

Angus CAMERON (shepherd to Stokes)


Charles HOPKINSON, (afterwards landlord of the Royal Hotel, Dunedin, and a runholder near Palmerston.

Thomas CURTIS, a carpenter

Thomas FERGUSON (a carpenter)




James STEVENS (drowned near Wellington in 1854)


William GEARY (drowned in the harbour about 1866)

Black Andy (a native of New South Wales); lost in the bush, South Otago in 1862.

A youth called Bill, who afterwards went to Sydney

John LOGAN ( a sawyer)

Old Tom, or "Brown:"

David SCOTT (afterwards resided at and died at Dunedin)

Black Isaac ( a Negro)

Thomas HAWKINS and wife

The Mrs. Peter WILLIAMS who is now living in Port Chalmers is the Mrs. Benjamin COLEMAN who came here in the Magnet in 1840.   Her husband, (B. COLEMAN) was drowned through a boat accident at Black Jack's Point.   A Mr. WATSON, who was landlord of the old Commercial Hotel, and a young man, a shoemaker by trade, were also drowned , but Mr. John W. HUNTER was saved.   The following are the names of Mrs. WILLIAM's children by her first husband (B.COLEMAN) :-

Mary (Mrs. WALSEY) of Port Chalmers

Phebe (Mrs. SHANKS) of Port Chalmers

Eliz (Mrs. M;KINLAY) of Port Chalmers

James COLEMAN, Blenheim

Elinor (the late Mrs. Captain EDIE), deceased

Lousia (Mrs. SMYTH) Port Chalmers

Harriet (Mrs. STUMBLES) Timaru

Charlotte (Mrs. C.T. HAYNES) Christchurch

Also by her second husband, the late Captain Peter WILLIAMS:-

Emma (Mrs. ROBERTS) of Oamaru; and

Mr. Peter WILLIAMS, Dunedin

The following are the names of the late Mr. David CAREY'S children, all of whom have been born in Otago:-

Julia Ann (Mrs. J. TAYLOR) Littlebourne

James H. CAREY, living at Bluff

George H. CAREY, living at Port Chalmers

Edwin H. CAREY, living at Evandale

David H. CAREY, living at Port Chalmers

William H. H. CAREY, living at Mornington.

Stephen H. CAREY, deceased

Emily Elizabeth CAREY, (Mrs. John WILSON) of Littlebourne

Henry B. CAREY (of the firm of Glaister and Carey, coach-builders).  He resides at Littlebourne.

At Waikouaiti there resided when the pioneer settlers arrived in 1848, the following:-

The Rev. Charles CREED, wife and son

John JONES, wife and family

William KENNARD and wife


George GLOVER, wife and family

Stephen SMITH and wife

J. M'LACHLAN and family


George DAVIS

Andrew MOORE

Scotch Bob

Dutch Harry

-HOAD, wife and family


-LUDLOW (who afterwards erected paling fences in Dunedin)

And at Moeraki there lived the same year:-

-SKIDMORE, wife and family





-NIMM (who fought at Trafalgar)

Hatched, Matched and Despatched.

The first deaths among the original settlers were those of Mrs. Charles FULLAR and her infant babe.   Next Mr. David CAREY lost his two-year-old daughter, who was drowned at Matanaka; and shortly afterwards Frederick PRYOR'S only child, a little girl, fell into the fire and was so severely burned that she died a day afterwards.   They were all buried at Matanaka, and, with the exception of a Mrs. ROBERTSON, who had been buried there previously were the first European females buried in Otago.   Mr. M'LAUGHLAN was the father of the first boy born of white parents in Otago, and Mr. David CAREY of the first girl.  The first marriage in the Settlement was solemnised between George ( a sawyer) and Betsy DODS (one of "Johnny" JONE'S housemaids).  They were married by the Rev Mr. WATKIN, the ring used on the occasion having been lent by Mrs. W. COLEMAN.   The marriage turned out unhappily, George proving a veritable scamp.


Submitted by; John Perry More Information


75 Glenross Street
New Zealand