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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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:
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…
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!).
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:
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.
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.
+ 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.
+ 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.
– 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.
+ 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