The Faces of War

Photo of entrance to Gallipoli: The scale of our war
Photo of the entrance to “Gallipoli: The scale of our war” at Te Papa, Wellington until 2018

There has been quite a lot of press in the last two years about World War I (WWI) due to the centenary of events that occurred.  One recurring theme seems to be that everyone (male) went to war and most of them died or were tragically injured either mentally or physically.

That’s not quite true.

Which is good news for people like me who don’t really feel connected to WWI.  My grandfather did get there for the last 3 weeks (I’m not kidding) but he was married to his first wife then and it seems like it’s part of their history, not mine.

I did a quick presentation for the Kilbirnie branch of the NZSG on my Gran’s 5 maternal uncles and their war experiences in WWI.  Here’s the edited condensed version with some links.

The O’Callaghan Brothers

My gg-grandparents Jasper Pyne O’Callaghan and Winifred Alice Baker had 9 children.  Four girls including my g-grandmother Greta followed by 5 boys.  This post is the story of those brothers.  I’m going to do them in order of length of military service, rather than chronological age.

Jasper Warner O’Callaghan 1880-1933 – military service 4 years 112 days

Jasper Warner O'Callaghan - military uniform - cropped

Jasper, the second son, joined up in August 1914, less than a month after war had been declared.  He was a chemist living in Dunedin at the time.  By the beginning of December he was a Lance Corporal in the Otago Mounted Rifles and in Egypt.  He soon ended up in the NZ Medical Corps.

On May 20, 1915 he left Alexandria for the Dardenelles aka Gallipoli.  He was part of the Field Ambulance at Anzac Cove.

Jasper followed the war to France in 1916.  On 30 June, 1917, he was awarded the Military Medalion for acts of Gallantry in the field.  I haven’t managed to find any online detail of his actions.

To understand his war, you should read his service record in conjunction with the New Zealand Medical Service in the Great War 1914-1918.

In February 1918, Jasper was made a Sergeant.  On 13 December, 1918 he was officially discharged back in New Zealand.

In 1926 he married Alexis Allardyce and had two children before dying prematurely in 1933 of appendicitis (pre-antibiotics).

Thomas Robert O’Callaghan 1879-1944 – military service 2 years 129 days

Winifred and Thomas Robert O'Callaghan 1930s - cropped

Thomas and his wife Winifred in the 1930s

Thomas left his wife Winifred and three children to enlist in June 1916 – just before the Military Service Act 1916 was enacted allowing conscription.

When you read Thomas’ medical report on enlistment, you get the impression that given the choice, the Army would have said no due to eye problems.  But in 1916 they were so desperate for men they said yes and Thomas was in England for Christmas on the way to France.

But first, in January, Thomas spent time in hospital with conjunctivitis.  One of the amusing parts of his service record is the letter pointing out that he was in a Military Hospital at this point, not a Venereal Disease Hospital!  The stigma of a Venereal Disease Hospital was very great!

He joined up with the NZ Rifle Brigade in France.  To understand his war, you should read his service record in conjunction with the Official History of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade.

In April 1918, Thomas was admitted to hospital with diarrhea and this heralded the end of his war.  In August he was on the Ionic heading back to New Zealand.  His continuing eye problems had given him a medical discharge.

Gerald Charles O’Callaghan 1882-1947 – military service ? days
Gordon Harcourt O’Callaghan 1884-1953 –military service 318 days

Photo of Gordon and Gerald O'Callaghan

Gordon & Gerald

Gerald and Gordon are known to their mother’s side of the family as “Winifred’s bad boys”.  I’m putting them together because their military experience was very similar.  In 1916, both were drafted.  Like around half of draftees, they appealed their drafts.

Gerald was living in Strathmore in Taranaki.  His appeal was reported in the Hawera & Normanby Star on 2 February, 1917:

Gerald Charles O’Callaghan, settler, Strathmore, appealed on the ground of undue hardship and religious objections, and asked for three months’ exemption. There was no appearance of-appellant, and the appeal was therefore dismissed.

Records after that are very thin on the ground. For a while I couldn’t find anything and thought maybe he had just gone bush – his occupation on the electoral roll at that time being bushman.  And then on Archive NZ’s Archway appeared his ballot, attestation and medical papers – in Christchurch, 22 May, 1917.

Gordon was clerk at Akaroa County Council.  His appeal was reported in the Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser on 17 April, 1917.  The chair of the military board was not impressed with Gordon and the Council asking for 3 months to get affairs in order before he went off to service:

Mr Bishop said it was a much fairer thing to the Empire that they should take over such men to help them in the field. He alluded to the need of men which was pressing and even greater than the need for food. The Acting Prime Minister was urging the Board to send more men and it was his clear duty to send as many as possible.

Gordon was attested on 18 May, 1917 – four days before his brother.

Both were classed C2 – not suitable for active service overseas, but suitable for home service.  The reason given was their health – VDH.

VDH is Valvular Disease of the Heart.  It results from contracting rheumatic fever as a child, and is usually associated today with poverty and living in cramped conditions.  Given their father died when they were 13 and 11 respectively leaving 9 children, this was not unexpected.

For Gerald, this appears to be the end of his war.  He has no further records.

Gordon was given “leave without pay” until 14 January 1918 (9 months!), when he was expected to turn up for service.  He served until 30 November, 1918 when he was given a “Certificate of Leave in lieu of Discharge”.  He started out as a Private and ended up as a T/Cpl (Transport Corporal?)

Gerald and Gordon became “billiard hall proprietors” together in the 1930s.  Neither married nor had any (known) children.

William Bell O’Callaghan 1885-1960 – military service 0 days

William did no military service at all.  Like many others, he was given a Reservist classification in the draft.  In his case “Class C – Reservists who have two children”.

The O’Callaghan casualties

Winifred was lucky – she ended the war with all her sons still alive.  Her sisters-in-law were not so lucky.  The O’Callaghan brothers lost 2 of their cousins in the war:

Lest we forget.


Six Degrees of Separation

The theory of Six Degrees of Separation was first set out by Frigyes Karinthy in 1929.  Here in New Zealand there is a joke that there are no more than two degrees of separation.  Sometimes it’s true.  Other times you get back to 6.  This post is about how my paternal and maternal branches have overlapped at times, but didn’t hook up until my parents.  It’s one that may expand over time!

[And if this doesn’t interest you, you can click over to the Oracle of Bacon which calculates the degrees of separation of anyone on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) from actor Kevin Bacon.]


Akaroa is a lovely town on the Banks Peninsula, 75 km from Christchurch.  It’s noted for its French influence due to it being New Zealand’s only French settlement.  But my connections here are more English/Irish!

From around 1877 when she arrived in New Zealand with her husband’s brother Alfred, until 1907 when she and Alfred retired to Christchurch, my paternal gg-grandmother Rose Anne Maria Mrs James E Nicholls lived in Akaroa.  It’s where my g-grandfather Alfred James Nicholls grew up (and won school prizes – see the Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser on Papers Past for details!).  Alfred snr was Headmaster at Akaroa School during this time.

It was also the home to my maternal gg-grandfather Robert William Black’s brother Greacen Joseph Black (1850-1932) for a number of years before he sold up and moved to Gisborne.  Amongst other things, he is likely to have run into Rose, Alfred and family at his store – Criterion House where following family tradition he sold drapery.  His entry in the 1903 Cyclopedia of New Zealand gives you some idea of his activities.

Alfred snr and Greacen were also members of the Akaroa Mutual Improvement Association.  It seems to be a variation on Toastmasters where they practised public speaking!  There is also a Richard Black who attended these meeting – likely to be Greacen and Robert William’s since lost brother.

They both were pillars of the community being also members of:

  • the Akaroa Regatta Committee in 1877
  • the Presbyterian Church
  • won prizes at the Horticultural and Industrial Exhibition in 1878

And Greacen’s oldest son Robert won a prize in the infants class of the school in 1887, awarded by Headmaster Alfred.

Kilmore Street, Christchurch

My maternal 3x g-grandfather Robert Black built a house at what now is about 214 Kilmore Street, not far from the intersection with Barbados Street.  This is the house referred to in the 1949 book Old Christchurch in Picture and Story by Johannes C. Andersen (which lead to my The Old Lady in the Garden post).

Amongst my Grandad’s papers there are copies of the title deeds for this block of land.   It originally started out as blocks 511 and 513 on Kilmore Street and blocks 512 and 514 on Chester Street.  After Robert’s death, it was inherited by his son and my gg-grandfather Robert William Black.

Robert William sold part off in 1895 to Arthur Chigley and the rest in 1896 to Cornelius Cliff.  Deeds show that in 1899 Arthur Chigley owned all of blocks 511 and 513 and a smidgen of 512.  In 1905, Chigley sells an L-shaped part of 511, all of 513 and smidgens of 512 and 514 to James Haswell Wood (snr).

And this is where the connection comes in – James’ son James Haswell Wood (jnr) married May O’Callaghan in 1917.  May was the daughter of my paternal gg-grandparents Jasper Pyne O’Callaghan (the Spanish Grandee) and Winifred Alice Baker and sister of my g-grandmother Greta.

The land in Kilmore Street passed from James H Wood snr to his two spinster daughters Kate Selina Wood and Elsie Haswell Wood who passed away in 1961 and 1969 respectively.  It then passed to Beryl Haswell Wood (1913-2002) until it was taken by the council under the Public Works Amendment Act 1948.

Grandad wrote that the house his g-grandfather built there was still standing in 1981 when he visited:

In 1981 this house (renumbered 214 Kilmore St) still existed and the writer has been in it.

It is a single storey timber framed weatherboard house with a slate roof. As there is no slate in NZ, the slate would have been imported from Britain. [Deleted: With increasing availability of other materials, this practice had ceased before the end of the century, so slate roofed houses are now rare.] There is a roofed verandah across the whole front with cast iron filigree ornamentation between the posts.

It is quite a large house, about 200m2, but the interior shows signs of considerable past alterations, so how it was laid out originally remains doubtful. In 1970 the property was compulsorily acquired by the Ministry of Works, apparently with eventual intent to erect a public building on the site. Meanwhile it remains in use as a tenanted dwelling, but it is very dilapidated and really fit only for its prospective demolition.

Nearly, but not quite

In my post Death in Print there is an item on the Black Beattie & Co Accident which took place in my maternal gg-grandfather’s shop in High Street, Christchurch.  The unfortunately victim of this accident was Margaret Pyne.  My paternal gg-grandfather Jasper Pyne O’Callaghan’s mother was Sarah Pyne of Ballyvolane, Ireland.  However, it would appear that Mrs Pyne’s husband Henry was from England.  While the Irish Pyne’s are likely related to the English ones, the connection is currently unknown.

Near neighbours

This is the one that got me thinking about this post first.  But it’s also the one I have no evidence for.

Te Kuiti is the “shearing capital of the world” located in the King Country, part of the Waikato region.  About 18kms away is Waitomo, famous for its glow-worm caves and caves in general.

In the 1910s, Te Kuiti was home to my paternal grandfather Walter and his first family – he lived there when he commenced his WWI service.  Up the road in Waitomo, my maternal Grandad was a small child growing up on a farm his father Harold was hacking out of the bush.  Did they ever cross paths?  Who knows?

Te Kuiti is the seat for the Waitomo District Council.  And Walter was a mechanic so he may have fixed something of Harold’s.  Unfortunately, there is no one left to ask.

But fortunately, my grandfathers went on to have my parents who did meet.

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

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)

Death in Print

Updated: 23 Oct 2013

For most of the people in my family tree the only things known about them are their name, often their birth and sometimes their death.  Sometimes the only events of their lives of which any detail is known comes from the fact that they didn’t die in their beds.  A good source of information on these people can be found in newspapers.  Here in New Zealand the best source is Papers Past, a digital collection of the country’s newspapers.

So this (slightly morbid) post is the reporting of all the accidents that have beset members of my family.  Most of them involve horses – all were ultimately fatal.  They’re in chronological order.

Charles Baker

My ggg-grandfather Charles Baker died at the age of 62 when he fell off his horse.  From the Star, Christchurch, October 28, 1868:

FATAL ACCIDENT – We are sorry to record an accident which terminated fatally, to Mr Baker, dairyman, an old resident at Lyttleton.  It appears from the statement of Mr Julian, that yesterday morning he accompanied the deceased as far as the head of the bay for a ride, and that in returning he was a few yards in advance of the deceased.  When near the house of the custodian of the bathing shed, the deceased’s horse came up without its rider.  He caught the horse, and upon turning round, he saw the deceased lying on the ground.  He spoke to him, but obtained no answer, and observing that blood was flowing from a wound on his head, Mr Julian immediately rode into Lyttleton for assistance.  Dr Motley was speedily in attendance, and ordered the removal of the deceased to his own house.  Drs Donald and Rouse also attended, but the deceased never rallied, and expired at nine o’clock last night.  The cause of death was ascertained to be a fracture of the base of the skull.  An inquest was held this afternoon, before WJS Coward Esq., coroner, at the Albion Hotel.  A verdict of accidental death was recorded.

Rachel Greacen Black

My ggg-grandmother Rachel Greacen Mrs Black died at the age of 48 in a buggy accident.  From the Press, Christchurch, of November 18, 1872:

It is with feelings of sincere regret that we have to record the occurrence of an accident on the Akaroa road, by which Mrs Black, wife of Mr Robert Black of the Criterion drapery establishment, High St, lost her life.  From what we can learn it appears that Mr and Mrs Black accompanied by Mr and Mrs Bassett left town for Akaroa on Tuesday last, Mr Black driving one buggy, Mr Bassett the other.  They reached Akaroa safely and remained there until Friday morning when they left about half past ten on their return journey.  All went well until the descent into Robinson’s Bay when either through the harness giving way or the horse stumbling the occupants of the buggy, Mr and Mrs Black, were thrown out, down the side of the hill into a gully, Mrs Black sustaining severe injuries and Mr Black also some bruises.  Mrs Black was removed as soon as possible and every care shown, but the shock was too great and she gradually sank until seven p.m. on Saturday night, when she died.  The deceased lady was greatly respected by all who know her and universal sympathy is felt with Mr Black under his severe affliction.

Rachel’s untimely death even made the news in Ireland.  From the Belfast News-Letter on January 27, 1873 (available on FMP for a fee):

MELANCHOLY AND FATAL ACCIDENT. — On the 16th November last, Mrs Rachel Black, youngest daughter of the late Nathaniel Greacen, of Monaghan, met with a fatal accident, when driving with her husband from Ackaroa to Christschurch, New Zealand.  The melancholy event occurred in consequence of the horse in the buggy Mr Black was driving running away, precipitating the machine and its occupants over a precipice more than thirty feet in depth.  The horse was killed on the spot, and Mrs Black never spoke afterwards.  Strange to say, her husband, who is a very delicate man, recovered himself immediately; and, although falling such a distance seems to have escaped without injury.  Mrs Black only left Dungannon about nine years ago.  Numerous friends there and in Belfast, who fully appreciated her many excellent qualities, will be much grieved to learn her sad fate.  — Northern Standard

The road is still quite precarious – having driven over it in a camper van!

Thomas Robert O’Callaghan

My gg-grandfather Jasper’s brother Thomas Robert O’Callaghan died at the age of 32 when his wagon fell on him.  From The Star, June 8, 1874:

FATAL ACCIDENT – Mr Thomas O’Callaghan, a farmer on Kaiapoi Island was killed about seven o’clock on Saturday night.  He was returning from Christchurch, driving a light American waggon, and after crossing a bridge over the cutting, the horse shied and turned the vehicle over the approach.  The waggon fell on deceased, and he died in a few minutes.  The body was removed to the Courtney Arms Hotel.

Thomas and Jasper were both members of the Canterbury Yeomanry Cavalry.  They posted this notice in the Press on 9 Jun 1874 regarding Thomas’ funeral (from Papers Past/National Library):

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

Sadly, Thomas’ young wife Anna Tubman died less than four months later in September, 1874.

The Black Beattie & Co Accident

This unfortunate event did not result in anyone dying in my family, but it was still ultimately tragic for those involved.  It happened in my gg-grandfather’s shop in Christchurch.  It was first reported in The Star, Christchurch on 17 October 1894:

Serious Accident.

About eleven o’clock this morning at the drapery establishment of Messrs Black, Beattie and Co., whereby Mrs Pyne, wife of Mr Pyne, plumber, was seriously injured. Two of the employes of the firm were moving an empty case on the upper floor, close to two large rolls of cocoanut matting which were standing one upon the other. The case struck the lower roll and tilted it; and it is supposed that as it fell back against the wall the shock shot the upper one forward, and sent it flying over the railing surrounding the “well” for admitting light to the ground floor. The railing was about five feet from the rolls of matting. Mrs Pyne was, sitting before a counter on the ground floor, and the roll of matting struck her on the back. It waa at once apparent that she had been seriously injured, and so medical aid was summoned by telephone. Dr Murdoch was quickly in attendance, and the St John Ambulance stretcher from the Lichfield Street Fire Brigade station was procured. On this Mrs Pyne was taken to the house of her mother, Mrs Stevens, Lower High Street, where she now lies in a very critical condition. It is feared that her spine has sustained serious injury.

The accident prompted some quick changes at Black, Beattie & Co which was reported on October 20:

THE RECENT ACCIDENT AT BLACK, BEATTIE’S.— Messrs Black, Beattie and Co. have had the light “wells” in the first floor of their establishment covered with strong and securely fastened wire netting, so as to effectually guard against another accident such as that by which Mrs Pyne was injured on Wednesday last. It is satisfactory to note that Mrs Pyne is progressing favourably.

By April 1895 the issue had gotten litigous and in June it went to trial.  The Star reported the verdict:

SUPREME COURT.—The case of Pyne and wife v. Black, Beattie and Co., in which the plaintiffs claimed £3000 damages on account of injuries sustained by Mrs Pyne through the fall of a roll of matting in defendants’ shop, was heard before his Honor Mr Justice Denniston and a special jury of twelve yesterday. The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiffs, and awarded £200 damages to the husband and £400 to the wife.

The damages were not enough to save the husband Henry Pyne from bankruptcy.  The report of his first meeting of creditors in September 1895 paints a bleak picture.  His marriage appears to be over and the accident had left him with many debts.  His bankruptcy was discharged in December 1895.  He was probably still not very solvent when his wife sued him for maintenance in October 1896.

Margaret Horne Pyne died in October 1898 aged 36, undoubtably as a result of her accident.  Henry died in 1938 aged 86.

Now, I should point out that the Pyne family also feature in my tree.  However I have yet to make any connection between Henry Pyne, his wife and my branch.  He was likely to be of the English branch of the family, as my side were Irish.

Finding the Lost Children

Updated: 18 June 2012

Photos of your ancestors are great!  Until you have one (or ten) where you don’t know who the subjects are.  This post is dedicated to some photos I have in my possession of children who I didn’t know who were!  And now I do.  And it’s to remind everyone out there that if you know who someone in a photo is, write it neatly in pencil on the back!  Then questions won’t get repeated!!!

Photo from the Pyne family collection

The search for these children can be categorised under “famous last words”.

This photo is in the possession of one of my Pyne cousins in Ireland.  He generously let us borrow the albums and scan the photos.  Many his mother had identified, but this one she had not.  Probably because it was taken in Christchurch, New Zealand.  This narrowed the field of potential subjects a bit – they had to be one of the descendents of Arthur Pyne in NZ – one who was still keeping in touch with the Irish side of the family.

With some pointers from the Helpful People on Trade Me’s Genealogy forum, I have found a few things that might help.  Firstly, there is an interesting information on Meers & Co on the Early New Zealand Photographers blog which helps with dating.  So secondly, it was likely that the photo was taken some time between 1886 and 1900 – give or take.

So who were they?  The combination of boy/girl (can’t tell who’s oldest), boy, girl (and assuming they’re siblings and not a combination of cousins – this is the famous last words bit) is quite unusual. Interestingly, many of the Pyne g-grandchildren were runs of girls or boys, not alternate as the photo would suggest.

Tentatively they have been 4 of the children of Denis O’Callaghan and his wife Martha Jane Phillpot, as they had alternate boy/girl children.  But this was a bit hard to believe.  Denis was the first Pyne grandson to leave Ireland and was long thought dead at sea until he turned up in NZ.  Contact with the family in Ireland doesn’t seem all that likely!

I recently got in contact with one of Denis and Martha’s descendants.  She says all her family is blonde or red so the children are too dark to be hers.

So I went back to another Arthur Pyne descendant I hadn’t been in touch with for a while.  And after her reply, I sat there thinking I’m pretty sure I asked her about this before!  And like before she came up with the answer.

They are Francis Arthur Pyne (1874-1930) and his sister Fanny Pyne (1877-1941) who are the children of William Beynham Pyne and Agnes Walker Smith.  With them are their younger cousins (famous last words!) Arthur Charles Beynham Pyne (1880-?) and Ida May Pyne (1882-1852) the children of Charles Frank Masters Pyne and Caroline Chisholm Smith. Interestingly, they’re double cousins as their fathers were brothers and their mothers were sisters.

Arthur and Ida’s parents both died within months of each other in 1885.  They were either living with their uncle and aunt or were grouped for a photo that would have gone to their half-uncle George Masters Pyne of Ballyvolane.

Boys dressed as girls

For a while my train of thought expanded to – but what if the smallest child is a boy…?

Yes, boys wore dresses in those days.  As my husband likes to point out – it’s amusing that all the upper class men who fought in the Great War grew up wearing pink dresses.

The only family with that many boys in a row is that of Jasper Pyne O’Callaghan and his wife Winifred Alice Baker.  They had 12 children in total so which 4?  And why only them??  And Jasper has never struck me as one to write home either…?

Further consultation on Trade Me resulted in me going back to Plan A – she’s a girl.

It was suggested that she had been ill not long before the photo was taken.  Apparently it was quite common to cut the hair of sick children.  This would make it easier to wash and/or would stop it “draining the nutrients”.   It might also explain why she looks tired compared to her siblings.

The Lost Children in Auckland

This is another one where asking your distant cousins will find you an answer.  I have the original of this photo which I knew came from my Mum’s side of the family.  Since it was taken in Auckland that meant it came from her father’s side (her Mum being a Pom/English).

I recently re-established contact with my Johnston cousins.  Various members of my family have been in touch with them over the years (and I suspect asked exactly the same question I asked!), but no one ever writes the important things (like who’s in that photo) down.  Anyway, my Johnston cousins have confirmed that it is from my Mum’s side of the family and more specifically the Johnstons.

These are the first three children (of four) of Robert Johnston and Elizabeth Foster – (from l to r) Ena Nellie Johnston (1891-1920), Robert Foster Johnston (1883-1954) and May Elizabeth Johnston (1885-1940).  It was probably taken around 1893.

My gg-grandmother Elizabeth Foster immigrated to NZ with her husband Robert Johnston in 1882.  Not long after her parents William Foster (c.1839-1904) and Isabella/Elizabeth Corrigan (c.1836-1919) immigrated with all her siblings and they settled in the Gisborne area.  So here are the details of William and Isabella’s children:

  1. ELIZABETH FOSTER was born on 01 Jan 1860 in Enniskillen, Fermanagh, Ireland and died on 18 Sep 1940 in Mt Eden, Auckland, New Zealand. She married ROBERT JOHNSTON on 04 Oct 1881 in Garvary Church of Ireland, Enniskillen, Fermanagh, Ireland, son of JOHN JOHNSTON and HELEN YOUNG. He was born about 1844 in Falkirk, Stirling, Scotland and died on 20 Jan 1925 in Auckland, New Zealand.
  2. “MAGGIE” MARGARET FOSTER was born about 1861 in Fermanagh, Ireland and died on 07 Oct 1933 in Auckland, New Zealand. She married JAMES JOHNSTON on 01 Mar 1881 in Garvary Church of Ireland, Enniskillen, Fermanagh, Ireland. He was born about 1860 and died on 22 Oct 1917 in Auckland, New Zealand.
  3. ANNE JANE FOSTER was born on 18 Jun 1864 in Enniskillen, Fermanagh, Ireland. She married DAVID DAWSON in 1888 in New Zealand. He was born in 1863 in New Zealand.
  4. WILLIAM FOSTER was born about 1867 in Fermanagh, Ireland and died before 08 Dec 1895 in Auckland, NZ.
  5. “JACK” JOHN FOSTER was born on 19 Feb 1869 in Enniskillen, Fermanagh, Ireland and died about 1950. He married (1) RACHEL GREENE on 28 Aug 1896 in Gisborne, New Zealand. She was born on 10 Mar 1873 in Te Arai, Gisborne, NZ and died on 16 Mar 1950 in Hamilton, Waikato, New Zealand. He married (2) “LIL” ADA LILLIAN MORGAN on 28 Aug 1945 in Masterton, New Zealand. She was born about 1881 in New Zealand and died in 1956 in New Zealand.
  6. SARAH FOSTER was born on 22 Jun 1870 in Enniskillen, Fermanagh, Ireland. She married JOHN WILLIS in 1899 in New Zealand.
  7. JAMES FOSTER was born about 1877 in Enniskillen, Fermanagh, Ireland and died in 1948 without marrying.
  8. MABEL FOSTER. She married MR SMITH.

Famous Namesakes

This page is a bit like my post “houses my family doesn’t own anymore” – this is “famous people that could be my ancestors but aren’t”.  It could also be subtitled “What you can find in ten minutes on Google.”  Or “the people that always turn up first on Google when you’re searching for your family”.  More will follow later.

Frederick Hewitt

My ggg-grandfather’s namesake, Frederick William Hewitt (1857-1916) was an anesthesiologist who looked after the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, helping remove his appendics in 1902.  He got a knighthood for his troubles and a ward is named after him at St George’s Hospital (now in Tooting, London).  According to an article on the Life & Health Library, he “later designed the first oral airways, probably as a result of taking care of the king, an overweight, bearded man”.  Whatever that means.  He also “designed an early anesthesia machine to administer variable portions of nitrous oxide and oxygen, a combination used widely for dental procedures and short surgeries from the late nineteenth century until today” (Modern Anesthesia Is Developed).

The Royal College of Surgeons also have an annual Frederick Hewitt Lecture.

His family came from Badbury in Wiltshire so is, so far, not related.

Jasper Pyne

My gg-grandfather was Jasper Pyne O’Callaghan, named for his uncle Jasper Richard Masters Pyne (1797-1860) (along with 4 other O’Callaghan’s).  Uncle Jasper also inspired another sibling to name a son after him – Jasper Douglas Masters Pyne (1848-1888).

JDMP (for short) sounds like a very entertaining personality.  He was also an MP who (like other family MP’s) got into a bit of trouble and when a warrent was issued for his arrest went into hiding.  From the Old Waterford Society newsletter Spring 1990:

A furious District Inspector Wynne of Cappoquin denied that there was a single word of truth in the Freeman’s account. ‘Mr. Pyne has not returned to Lisfinny Castle‘, he explained, ‘ for the simple reason that he has never left it. He merely pretended to do so. He had hidden himself in his room, but had been overheard talking and joking by the night patrols. Pyne’s accent and laugh were such, Wynne assured his superiors, that they could not possibly be mistaken.

On 2 January 1888 District Inspector Bourchier of the Special Branch confirmed that Pyne was safely within the castle and a police patrol properly posted without.  There was no possibility of escape, except by means of an underground passage, but, he added hastily, none such existed.  District Inspector Barry corroborated his colleague’s report that Pyne was hemned in on every side and that all avenues of escape were sealed off.

The police, however, had underestimated Irish nationalist ingenuity. On the evening of Friday, 13 January, some 200 cattle were stampeded in the vicinity of the castle. While the 20 constables on duty contended with this bovine diversion Pyne scampered down the exterior wall and made his way to a waiting car that set off immediately for Cork.   The telegraph wires at Tallow had been cut and when the police eventually realised that they had been duped they were unable to raise the alarm.  The fugitive boarded a cargo ship bound for Plymouth whence he proceeded to London on the afternoon on 16 January.

The Star newspaper of Canterbury, New Zealand (perhaps knowing of all of his cousins here in NZ?) reports as follows on 18 January 1888 (page 4):

The Escape of Mr Jasper Pyne.

LONDON, Jan. 17. It has transpired that Mr Jasper Pyne has effected his escape to England. Mr Pyne, who is the member for West Waterford, was charged with inciting resistance to the Sheriff, and in order to prevent his being arrested he fortified his residence, Lisfarny Castle, and after holding out for  some time succeeded in escaping.

You could just imagine the scene in a movie!

JDMP was arrested entering the House of Commons and served six weeks in prison.  He later was declared dead after disappearing off the Holyhead to Dublin ferry in mysterious circumstances.

And nowdays there’s even a racing horse named called Jasper Pyne.