Upping Sticks: The O’Callaghan siblings

Updated: 25 March 2013

I’ve already noted in a previous post the number of Arthur Pyne’s grandchildren who immigrated to New Zealand.  This post is about my specific branch of his grandchildren – the O’Callaghan’s.  See the Arthur Pyne grandchildren post for any photos I currently have.

The Pyne’s and O’Callaghan’s are not your normal members of the Irish Diaspora.  They were relatively well off.  After all, my gg-grandfather Jasper Pyne O’Callaghan (JP O’C) came to New Zealand in the chief cabin.  He was not down in the hold with the peasants!  So why leave?

The answer is probably the rising Irish nationalism.  Irish Catholics were beginning to assert their rights as the majority population.  Protestant landowners like the Pyne’s and O’Callaghan’s were, in the bigger scheme of things, usurpers.  Historically there was too much English in their ancestry and worse still, they weren’t Catholic.  I suspect they could see which way things would eventually go.

And added to this was the issue of inheritance.  As I’ve noted in ‘Where’d the money go?‘, having lots of children significantly dilutes individual holdings.  Land gets sliced down until no one has anything of real value.  This was not a problem in 1860’s New Zealand (unless you were Maori).

So in total, 6 of Denis O’Callaghan and his wife Sarah Pyne’s 11 children ended up in New Zealand (the oldest son and 4 daughters stayed).  Here are their stories – the edited condensed versions!

The first to arrive – Jasper and Thomas

Denis O’Callaghan and Sarah Pyne’s two youngest sons JP O’C and Thomas Robert O’C sailed to Lyttleton, New Zealand in 1861 on the Chrysolite underCaptain McIntyre.  She sailed from the Downs on April 18, 1861 and arrived on July 27.  They were 22 and 19 years old respectively.

The Lyttleton Times published a list of immigrants on July 24.  The O’Callaghan’s are not on it.  The July 31 issue clarifies – there were two O’Callaghans in the chief cabin.  Obviously these passengers were not immigrants in the poor sense!

The Chrysolite was also bringing some ‘mod cons’ to Christhchurch.  JM Heywood & Co of Norwich Quay were expecting cargo on the Chrysolite including East India pale ale, Barclay’s best stout porter (ie beer), tapioca, macaroni, red anti-corrosive paint, “permanent green in three shades” and perfumery.  Cookson, Bowler & Co were expecting shoes, Whitbread’s ale and bibles.  Obviously a brewery was needed!  But my family was not the one to provide it.  Frederick J Moss stayed off the beer but received brandy, whiskey, sherry, rum and tobacco – the temperance movement obviously hadn’t gotten started yet!

Interestingly the two brothers must have been kept busy building farms for themselves because neither married until eleven years later in 1872.

In April JP O’C married Winifred Alice Baker who was 19 to his 33.  She was the only known child of Charles Baker and Emma King to be born in New Zealand.  They had 9 children.  In the GR MacDonald Dictionary of Canterbury Biography he is noted as having gone bankrupt in 1870, 1876 and 1883, having joined the Papanui Cricket Club in 1874 and is described as “tall, lean and dark – had the look of a Spanish grandee”.  Most people in MacDonald’s have a short paragraph.  JP O’C’s entry is a page and a half!  He certainly seemed to be in the middle of everything!  JP O’C died in 1895 of stomach cancer.

Thomas married Anna Tubman in May 1872.  Her brother Richard was charged in April 1874 with obtaining money under false pretences by pretending to represent Thomas.  It is unlikely that either Thomas or Anna were alive to see the final outcome.  Thomas was killed in June when his horse shied and his wagon fell on him.  Anna died in September, cause as yet unknown (ie not an accident).

Arthur, Elizabeth and Emily

The brothers must have put in a good word somewhere because the Lyttleton Times reports on April 25, 1865: “The Rev. A. O’Callaghan, one of the clergymen engaged for Canterbury by Mr. H. Harper, sailed in the Greyhound from London for Lyttelton”.  Arthur arrived on May 7 with his sisters Elizabeth Pyne O’C and Emily Christiana O’C aged 29 and 19 respectively.  Arthur was 28 and engaged to his cousin Dorothea Louisa Pyne – back in England.

Emily was the first off the shelf of all her siblings.  In 1867 she married William Horton Revell.  He was only 17 years older.  She was probably living with one of her brothers in the Kaiapoi area where the Revell’s owned a farm.  William was a policeman and later a magistrate.  During the West Coast gold rush they lived in various towns on the West Coast as he was Superintendent of Police.  Revell Street in Hokitika was named after him.  After other positions around the South Island including magistrate they retired to Timaru, back on the east coast.

Elizabeth took a bit longer to get hitched – the second last of her siblings, in 1877.  But like her mother, she married her (younger) sister’s husband’s brother – John Charles Revell – his younger brother, but the same age as her.  It’s likely she was living with either her brother Denis or sister Mrs Revell in Kaiapoi around that time.  Despite both of them being in their early forties, they went on to have two sons.

Arthur went back to England to marry Dorothea in 1869.  They returned to New Zealand via Melbourne.  They had 3 children before she died in 1874.  In December 1875, in Greymouth, he married Florence Hindmarsh.  His sister Emily probably introduced them as she was living in Greymouth at the time.  Arthur and Florence went on to have 11 children.

Arthur was the most publicly successful of the siblings.  He went on to become an MP for Lincoln.  Google him if you’re interested in more.  He died aged 94 in 1930.  He would have seen Christchurch go from a muddy settlement to a paved metropolis.

The black sheep – Denis Jnr

Denis and Sarah’s third son Denis was actually the first to leave Ireland.  Around 1838-9 he ran away to sea aged 14 and was not much heard of.  Arthur’s daughters recall his return:

Ada Mrs Cull:

One day in Lincoln (Canterbury NZ) a visitor told APO’C (my father) that he had seen a man “the dead spit” of APO’C working on the Adelaide wharves. Enquiries were made & the upshot was that Denis came to NZ & was in that rather straight-laced society a bit of a shock.

According to Emily Mrs Collingwood he arrived like a bearded down-at-heel tramp at the fence where her father was gardening, quite unrecognised.  ‘Hello Tad!’ he said using Arthur’s boyhood nickname.  Arthur always said he nearly jumped out of his skin!!

He married Elizabeth’s servant Martha Jane Phillpot aka Jenny in 1877.  They went on to have 11 children.  Their son Denis William O’C is my only relative to have died at Gallipoli – we’ve been to see his memorial at Chanuk Bair.

Dennis & Sarah’s children

This list comes from Burke’s Irish Landed Gentry so it’s boys, then girls.  The birth dates may not be entirely accurate!

Cornelius O’Callaghan (1836 – 1881, Ireland)

Arthur Pyne O’Callaghan (1837-1930, NZ)

Denis O’Callaghan (1838-1920, NZ)

Jasper Pyne O’Callaghan (1839-1895, NZ)

Thomas Robert O’Callaghan (1842-1874, NZ)

Mary O’Callaghan (? – ?, Ireland)

Elizabeth Pyne O’Callaghan (twin) (1836-1908, NZ)

Barbara O’Callaghan (twin) (1836 – ?, Ireland – never married)

Sarah O’Callaghan (? – ?, Ireland – never married)

Dora O’Callaghan (? – ?, Ireland)

Emily Christiana O’Callaghan (1846-1920, NZ)


3 thoughts on “Upping Sticks: The O’Callaghan siblings

  1. Julia Bradshaw

    Hi from Julia, the director of Hokitika Museum. William Horton Revell is a very important figure in the story of the gold-rushes on the West Coast and we are very keen to find a photograph of him. Can you help at all please?
    Thanks, Julia, director@hokitikamuseum.co.nz

    1. Hi Julia,
      The Revell family aren’t my direct branch, so I’ve passed your inquiry on to a cousin who is descended from William’s brother John Charles Revell. He may be able to help you or know another cousin who can.

      Best wishes,

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