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


Myths & Legends: Viscounts Lifford

Updated: 6 November 2013

The Myth

Our Hewitt family is descended from the Viscounts Lifford, whose family name is Hewitt.

This one has been doing the rounds for more than a hundred years.  As I detailed in ‘The Elusive John Hewitt‘, my Field cousin Henry Claylands Field wrote to William Hughes Field in 1897 that his grandmother Sophia Ann Hughes had married:

John Hewitt, a son or grandson of the Earl of Lifford who was also Dean of Cloyne. He was an officer in the army, I think the Guards; but retired on his marriage, which was probably considered a mere alliance by his people.

And pretty consistently when I make contact with members of the extended Hewitt family they are fascinated by this story and spent quality time trying to find out if it’s true.

The Truth


Being Viscounts, the Lifford Hewitts are very well documented.  The first Viscount Lifford was James Hewitt who was born in 1712 so could have been the father of our John Hewitt.  He did, in fact, have a son called John.  John was born in 1756, spent time as Dean of Cloyne in Ireland and died in 1804.

So our John Hewitt was not the son or grandson of a Viscount Lifford.  He was born around 1747 and so could not have been one of the Viscount’s legitimate offspring.

But I am related to them – through my grandmother and a couple of marriages.  My family tree programme says that James is the “paternal grandfather of husband of 2nd great grand niece of wife of 7th great grand uncle” of me.  Which in English means that a 7th great-uncle’s sister-in-law married a Lifford descendent.

My personal view is that our John was trying to impress his rich in-laws – he was, after all, significantly older than his wife.  But then William Hughes was too rich to be that stupid (?) and probably checked out things before letting his daughter and heir Sophia marry.


There is the possibility that our John Hewitt was a cousin of the Viscount.  So what do we know of the Lifford Hewitts before James First Viscount?

James’ father was William Hewitt, a draper and Mayor of Coventry in 1744.  So far I’ve ascertained that William and his wife Hannah Lewis had three sons:

– James, 1st Viscount (1712-1789)

– William (1719-1781) – lived in the West Indies – had no children

– Joseph (1725-1813) – had no children

So our John wasn’t a nephew of James.

Which brings us to Cumberland. William Snr was born in Rockliffe, Cumberland in 1683.

The Hewitt Papers

Amongst the Hewitt Papers held at the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa) is the ‘Notes and Memoranda, Genealogical, Historical and Personal of the family of Hewitt’ were written in 1891 by Rev. James Alexander Hewitt of the ‘Cape of Good Hope’.  Their catalog lists it as (my emphasis):

A2  A genealogical, historical and personal record of the Cumberland Hewitts. Known as “Statesmen” the highest form of regard in the North. There are no less than 13 lines from which descendants may exist. Scattered during the Civil Wars in reign of Charles I.

This implies that there are LOTS of Hewitts out there from Cumberland.  Too many to go chasing willy-nilly.

And thanks to the lovely Zofia at the University of the Witwatersrand I now have a copy of this part of the Hewitt papers.  I shall start out saying that our John is not mentioned in the papers.  However, there are mentioned many potential avenues of inquiry.

From a family bible the Rev James traces his Hewitt family back to a Henry Hewitt born in Blackrigg near Rockcliffe, Cumberland.

His interest was in working out which Henry Hewitt was his.  From this seems to have spread an interest in the various Hewitt families that sprang from Cumberland.  He noted that there were also Hewitt families in Bedfordshire, Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Lancashire which he thought came from ‘the time of the Conqueror at Manor Hewits – near Ashford in Kent’.  He also mentions a branch in Warwickshire!  The possibilities seem to be getting bigger rather than smaller!

The Cumberland Hewitts

The Hewitt family of Cumberland which would ultimately produce the Viscounts Lifford line began in Rockcliffe which is a few miles outside of Carlisle.  The parish registers there started in 1679.  The Rev James notes that at that time there were 6 heads of families called Hewitt:

  1. Robert Hewitt whose son William was baptised in September 1679
  2. James Hewitt who married Mary Urwin in November 1679 (grandparents of the 1st Viscount Lifford)
  3. Allen Hewitt whose son Thomas was baptised in July 1680
  4. Peter Hewitt whose daughter June was baptised in July 1680
  5. George Hewitt of Castletown whose daughter Sarah was baptised in March 1681
  6. William Hewitt of Churchtown whose son Henry was baptised in 1686

These Hewitt heads could be the g-grandfather or grandfather of our John Hewitt?  Although I continue to be dubious.  Why?  Because none of these names appear in our Hewitt branch.

The Piccadilly Hewitts

The first Viscount Lifford’s brother William Jnr spent time in the West Indies.  Papers that survive from then refer to relatives based in London.  A cousin has sent details through of plaques that commemorate some Hewitts in St James Piccadilly.  One is dedicated to John Hewitt by his brother Edward:

of a respectable Family in the County of CUMBERLAND, a near Relation, Friend, and many Years private Secretary to JAMES Viscount Lifford. Lord High Chancellor of IRELAND.  He died 1st March 1783 Aged 46.

This isn’t our John either but is a contemporary.  Also at St James Piccadilly is a plaque to his brother Edward who died in 1794.

The Hewitt papers provide further details of that branch.  Edward left an estate of £18,000 (a huge fortune!) to his nieces, daughters of his brother James.  This James Hewitt was a wine merchant in Carlisle.  From the will we find two daughters and a son Francis.  There were also bequests to various Hewitts still living in Rockcliffe further confirming the family connection.  It’s still not clear if these Hewitts were first or second cousins of the Viscounts Lifford.  And there is no documented connection to our family either.


I’m going to reiterate here that as I currently have no idea where our John Hewitt was born, there is no known connection to any of the Hewitts discussed above.  But we keep looking.  DNA may provide some hints – once I get around to it!

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)