Jasper Pyne O’Callaghan – Spanish Grandee

Updated: 25 April 2015 – photos!

I should start by saying that ‘Spanish Grandee’ is a description of what Jasper looked like from GR MacDonald – “tall, lean and dark – had the look of a Spanish grandee” – not an indication of his personality or nationality!  And here he is!

Photo of Jasper Pyne O'Callaghan

This photo was taken by Standish & Preece between 1885 and 1890 – the duration of their partnership. I’ve known about Jasper’s ancestors since I was about 11.  When my Gran died there were genealogies of the O’Callaghan’s amongst her possessions.  Only recently have I come across further papers which show her interest in her grandfather who died 9 years before she was born.  Included amongst them is a letter from GR MacDonald (creator of the GR MacDonald Dictionary of Canterbury Biographies – a very important resource for people with Canterbury ancestors!) and what I believe is her response.  Both have given me a starting point to write about Jasper’s life which is going to be quite long winded.  Most people in MacDonald’s have a short paragraph. Jasper’s entry takes up a whole card!  He certainly seemed to be in the middle of everything!

Fermoy, Ireland

Jasper Pyne O’Callaghan was born around 1839 in Fermoy, Ireland.  Not many specifics are known about him or his siblings in Ireland.  He was the fourth son of Denis O’Callaghan (1787-aft 1863) and Sarah Pyne (1804-?).

Denis O’Callaghan’s ancestry is document in Burke’s Irish Landed Gentry and other similar volumes available online (page 517).

Sarah Pyne was the daughter of Arthur Pyne of Ballyvolane House in County Cork.  Her family have been detailed in a series of articles by HF Morris in the Irish Genealogist (available on CD-Rom – try your library).

My Gran notes that he was educated at Trinity College, Dublin but had no information on when or if he graduated with a degree.  An online copy of “A Catalogue of the Graduates in the University of Dublin who have proceeded to degrees” lists Arthur Pyne O’Callaghan, Jasper’s older brother but not him, so no degree.  Jasper’s attendance there is still up for debate.  The 1924 version of the Alumni Dublinenses only goes to 1845 and the 1935 version is not available online, so it’s on the list of things to find out!

Upping Sticks

Jasper and his younger brother Thomas Robert were the first of Arthur Pyne’s many grandchildren to immigrate to New Zealand in 1861.  Why is not specifically known, but the O’Callaghans and Pynes were Protestents in a largely Catholic country which had recently seen famine, so it was certainly a sensible idea.  And at 22 and 19 respectively, the O’Callaghan brothers must have found it quite an adventure.

They arrived in Lyttleton, New Zealand in 1861 on the Chrysolite under Captain McIntyre.  She sailed from the Downs on April 18, 1861 and arrived on July 27.  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 Callaghans in the chief cabin.  Obviously these passengers were not immigrants in the poor sense! GR MacDonald backs this identification up with an article in the Star newspaper on 8 October 1875.

Giving evidence in a sheep rustling case (Mr MacDonald points out Jasper was not the defendant!), Jasper says that he has “fourteen years’ experience of sheep in the Colonies”, dating his arrival to 1861.

He and Thomas kept in touch with home, although not always remembering to add postage. In 1865 they were joined by their siblings Arthur Pyne, Elizabeth Pyne and Emily Christiana.

Finding references for Jasper in newspapers becomes difficult after this point.  Rev Arthur Pyne O’Callaghan got a lot more press!  And it can be hard to ascertain when only the surname is given which sibling (or other unrelated person!) it is.


Jasper settled in Fendalton (now a suburb of Christchurch) where he ran sheep and grew some crops. He went into partnership with John Leslie Henry Hendry.

Lyttleton Times - 26 Sep 1868

The auction above may not have been a normal business sale.  A meeting of the Riccarton Road Board in October 1868 mentions them being asked to collect the “Education Rate in Aid” for the district.  They decline as “the collection of their own Road rates being, in consequence of the present depression, already attended with great difficulty”. The same meeting finds Jasper tendering “for gravelling Fendallton and Riccarton Junction Road, 15 chains”.  He tendered 2s 9d and was outbid by C Lewis who tendered 2s.  His attempts to increase his income this way failing.

The Hendley/O’Callaghan partnership managed to survive the depression for a while but ultimately went bankrupt in July 1870.  A further court hearing in October Jasper gives more details of their problems:

we had a quantity of wet grain and we were not able to put in the crops for the following year on account of the river overflowing

If the economy was depressed, then nature had been the last straw.  Although JLH Hendry being named as co-respondent in the first divorce case in Canterbury may have also contributed.  The aggrieved husband Mr Ferguson was asking for £1,000 damages!  Infuriatingly, there is no report of what ultimately happened in the case.  It does not appear to have been resolved before the bankruptcy.

According to GR MacDonald went bankrupt a further 2 times – in July 1876 and March 1883.  Mr MacDonald’s letter to my Gran expresses a hope that she won’t be too upset by this.  It would have had a very negative effect on her family.


Farming and bankruptcy must have kept Jasper busy because he didn’t find time to marry until 1872 – eleven years after he arrived and at the age of 33. According to my Gran, her grandmother Winifred Alice Baker was a pupil at Mrs Sale’s School at Oxford.  Winifred was the only known child of Charles Baker and Emma King to be born in New Zealand.  Near her school was the farm of Arthur Pyne O’Callaghan.  At some point on a visit to his brother, Jasper met Winifred and charmed her into marriage.  She was only 19 when they wed.

Photo of a young Winifred Alice Baker

From the information provided by Walter Cook, it would appear that this photo dates to the 1890s.  It was taken by Wrigglesworth and Binns. Jasper and Winifred would go on to have 9 children – they’re listed below.

The Canterbury Yeomanry Cavalry (CYC)

Jasper’s younger brother Thomas had joined the CYC in 1873.  The CYC was the local militia, although once you read some of the newspaper reports you wonder if it wasn’t just boys playing with horses and guns!  The CYC later evolved to become the Canterbury Mounted Rifles which first saw overseas service in the Boer War.  Among those who served then was Jasper and Thomas’ nephew Leslie George O’Callaghan (1879-1917) who survived the Boer War, only to be killed at Ypres in WWI.

Thomas was tragically killed in June 1874 when his horse shied and the wagon he was driving fell on top of him.  [The foreman of the inquest jury was ET Revell, doubtless a member of the Revell family Thomas’ 2 sisters had married into.]  Captain Stouts of the CYC encourages friends of Thomas’ to attend the funeral:

Funeral Notice - Press 9 Jun 1874 - TR O'Callaghan

Very soon after, Jasper joined the CYC.  This snippet from the Star on 16 May 1878 shows the sort of things they got up to…

Canterbury Yeomanry Cavalry - Star 16 May 1878

And why did they miss the train?  I’ll leave that up to your imagination! I’m not trying to denigrate the CYC, but when Jasper turns up in the papers, there always seems to be alcohol involved!  They do turn up in the papers without him (and sober!).

Later life

Jasper joined the Papanui Cricket Club in 1874 – probably as my husband does – to get away from the family and (then) play cricket!  And in 1886, he became a member of the Christchurch Amateur Swimming Club. My Gran wrote the following to GR MacDonald:

The O’Callaghan family of nine, who were to lose their father early, must even in his lifetime known some vicissitudes.  He was of a generous disposition, had not been trained to practical farming, and after several bankruptcies and an unfortunate  gold-mining venture, was probably glad to accept  a position as Inspector with Selwyn County Council.

His generous nature is evidenced by his efforts to collect grain for the Irish Famine in 1880.  He was obviously very persuasive as the Timaru Herald reports him saying that “he had not met a single farmer who had not promised grain” (5 Feb 1880). GR MacDonald’s letter says this about the gold:

He was a Provisional Director of the North Creek Gold Mining Company and reported to the shareholders on a journey he had made up the Wilberforce River. (This was a hopeless affair) Jan ’84.

This was obviously Jasper’s next big idea after he went bankrupt in 1883! Press reports show that Jasper’s brother Arthur Pyne O’Callaghan was also involved.  The Company issued a prospectus in January 1884:

Press - 21 Jan 1884 - North Creek Mining Company

Two years later the company went into liquidation: Press - 5 Jan 1886 - North Creek Mining Company - liq

This had been agreed at a extraordinary meeting of the shareholders in July 1885. Jasper was appointed Inspector of Slaughterhouses in Selwyn County in December 1885.  He beat out 72 other people for the role.

Jasper died in 1895 of stomach cancer.  His children were aged 22 down to 10.  His wife Winifred died in 1932 aged 79.

Photo of Winifred Mrs O'Callaghan in old age

Children of Jasper Pyne O’Callaghan and Winifred Alice Baker

[+ had descedents; – no descendents; ? don’t know]

– MAY O’CALLAGHAN was born on 01 Jun 1873 and died in 1935. She married JAMES HASWELL WOOD (1874-1954) in 1917, son of James Haswell Wood and Susan Mrs Wood.

May O'Callaghan       May O'Callaghan and her nephew Gerald Nicholls

+ DORA SARAH O’CALLAGHAN was born on 28 Oct 1874 in Christchurch and died on 22 Jun 1922 in Christchurch. She married JOSEPH WILLIAM ATHA WALKER (c1871-c1944) on 12 Jan 1899 in St Matthew’s, St Albans, Christchurch, son of William Henry Walker and Anna Maria Esther Pearce.           Photo of Dora O'Callaghan

+ GRETA MARION O’CALLAGHAN was born on 15 May 1876 in Christchurch and died on 19 Mar 1949 in Wellington, New Zealand. She married ALFRED JAMES NICHOLLS (1874-1949) on 26 Feb 1901 in St Albans, Christchurch, son of JAMES EBENEZER NICHOLLS and ROSE ANNE MARIA BUXTON.

+ EDITH EMMA O’CALLAGHAN was born on 01 Oct 1877 and died in 1933. She married WILLIAM HENRY COLLINGTON SWAN (1879-1950) in 1904, son of William George Collington Moore Swan and Helen Sarah Spratt.

+ THOMAS ROBERT O’CALLAGHAN was born on 01 Mar 1879 and died in 1944. He married WINIFRED LONG (c1874-1944) in 1901.

+ JASPER WARNER O’CALLAGHAN was born on 14 Sep 1880. He died in Aug 1933 in Napier, New Zealand. He married ALEXIS BERYL ALLARDYCE (1903-?) in 1926, daughter of William Morrison Allardyce and Janet Angus Russell.Jasper Warner O'Callaghan - military uniform

– GERALD CHARLES O’CALLAGHAN was born on 22 Mar 1882 in Christchurch and died on 27 Nov 1947 in Christchurch, unmarried.

– GORDON HARCOURT O’CALLAGHAN was born on 8 Mar 1884 in Christchurch and died on 3 Jun 1953 in Christchurch, unmarried.

Photo of Gordon and Gerald O'Callaghan
Gordon on the left, Gerald on the right

+ WILLIAM BELL O’CALLAGHAN was born on 11 Oct 1885 in Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand. He died in 1960.  He married (1) MARION HILLIARD WHITE (c1888-1922) in 1911, daughter of George Henry White and Marion Painter and (2) ELSIE GLADYS DAVIS in 1923.

I’ve added another blog post about their son’s experiences in WWI


17 thoughts on “Jasper Pyne O’Callaghan – Spanish Grandee

  1. Gillian Wettern

    In one of our blogs you mention Oxted Place – I live at Oxted Place West and someone called Ruth said she had a Great Aunt who lives there – that’s me. Who is she because I cannot think of a great niece called Ruth – I’m intrigued.
    Gillian Wettern

    1. Hi Gillian,
      It is intriguing the people who find my blog! I have Ruth’s email address. Would you like me to ask her if it’s okay to pass it onto you?

      Best wishes,

      1. Gillian Wettern

        Hi Sarah
        Please pass on my email address to Ruth. I have lived at Oxted Place for nearly forty years. Jasper Pyne was the son of the Revd William Pyne who built Oxted Place, circa 1930, as the Rectory for St Marys Oxted, which was the Rectory until 1900 – I’m sure you have all that information. My father-in-law, Herbert Wettern, bought the house in 1915. I married Herbert’s younger son, Desmond, in 1995 who sadly died in 1991 at the age of 57. My mother-in-law Dorothy (Dolly) lived here until 1995 moving to a local nursing home, dying at the grand old age of 100. My brother-in-law Paddy and I are the ones who know the history of Oxted Place in the 20th centur. Tim Beckett has obviously done research on the early history of the house, although his original website has been closed. Looking forward to hearing from Ruth! I can send photos, past and present, if it would be of interest to you.

        1. Hi Gillian,
          I’ll pass your details onto Ruth.

          I personally don’t have a great interest in Oxted Place as none of my ancestors lived there. But there will be a number of my cousins here in New Zealand who will be interested. My 3xgt-uncle Arthur Pyne O’Callaghan married his cousin Dorothea Louisa Pyne, the daughter of Revd William. I’ll pass them onto you as they make contact.

          Best wishes,

  2. Really enjoyed your post about the O’Callaghan family. I am researching Leslie George for the “Soldiers of Selwyn’ tribute site and wonder if you have a photograph. I do have one of him as an officer during the Boer War but it is a groups shot. A fascinating family.

    1. Hi Lynda,
      I don’t have any pictures of that generation – the ones I have came from the family in Ireland and they’d obviously stopped sending them back by then! I do know Leslie’s daughter married a Mr Riordan and died in 2008, but haven’t found details of the marriage (either after 1934 or overseas) and any children. If anyone makes contact, I’ll pass them onto you.

      Your website is very interesting! Good luck with your search!!

  3. Hannah

    Hi Sarah,

    Jasper was my Nana’s great-uncle, and this has all been very interesting to read. I was wondering if you have a citation/reference for him playing cricket? It would be very useful for an essay I’m currently working on for university. Cheers.

    1. Hi Hannah,
      Great to make contact! Who was your Nana? And her parents and grandparents?

      The cricket reference comes from my Gran’s notes, but you can find it in the newspapers here. I haven’t found much more so far. I think cricket has been played here since the first settlers arrived!

      Best wishes,

      1. Hannah

        Hi Sarah,

        My Nana is Mary (nee O’Callaghan), her parents were Herbert and Margaret (Peg). I’m not sure of Herb’s father’s name.

        Yes – my essay was on early leisure in New Zealand and cricket was popular from the early days 🙂

        1. Hi Hannah,
          I think great-grandfather Herbert was the son of Herbert (1870-1955) who was the son of Arthur Pyne O’Callaghan (1837-1930) and his first cousin Dorothea Louisa Pyne (1846-1874). So you’re related to me twice over! And yourself for that matter 😉

          If you’re interested in the family history, we have a Facebook group you (or any member of your family who is interested) can join – Descendants of Arthur Pyne in New Zealand. You’re descended from Arthur (not to be confused with his O’Callaghan namesake!) through his daughter Sarah Pyne who married Denis O’Callaghan and his son William Masters Pyne.

          Best wishes,

  4. Lesley [Florence Collington] Read

    If this reaches Sarah, I think my father, William Henry Collington Swan, and Edith O’Callaghan’s husband, married about 1904 in Masterton, was born in 1880, not 1879.
    A minor detail I expect for your tree but you may like detail.

      1. And I’m expecting to see Dennis [George Collington] Swan and Christine his wife, for lunch sometime in the next two weeks … as we do from time to time. Dennis is Edith and my father’s grandson, and to our amusement as we are the same age!
        Maybe you are in touch with Dennis. I’ll enquire. We are now both in Auckland.

        1. Hi Lesley,
          I’m not yet in touch with Dennis. Feel free to point him this way!

          It’s funny how the generations go! It makes things interesting to find out!

          Best wishes,

  5. Cherie Taylor-Patel

    Kia Ora – My name is Cherie Taylor-Patel and I am the oldest grand-daughter of Colleen O’Callahan, who was the daughter of William Bell O’Callahan. It has been super reading through all the information you have gathered about the family. Greg, my husband, has relations who live in Fendalton today, which was a real coincidence. In 2014 we visited Ireland and stayed opposite the Trinity College in Dublin that our ancestors attended – so there are many connections to be made, along with more information to find out.

    Nga mihi nui – Warm regards – Cherie Taylor-Patel

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