Nov 15, 2008

Our history may be somewhat closer than many of the more recent generations are aware...

As a child the Ngati Toa tribal chieftain Te Rauparaha (~1760-1849) remembered the visits of James Cook to New Zealand between 1769 and 1777. He also knew Edward Jollie (1825-1894), whose 1861 wedding was attended by this contributing Editor's Great Grandmother. Accordingly, there are no more than three degrees of separation between Captain Cook and living New Zealanders.

In the case of Canterbury there are still a few locals who knew the last survivor of the original settlers of 1850. Among them is 93 year-old Austen Deans, last surviving Great Grandson of John Deans who settled at Riccarton in 1843.

Richards Evans aged in 16 in 1864

Richard Evans (1848-1944) arrived aboard the Cressy as a two year old. The second to last survivor of the first four ships and a Patron of the Canterbury Pilgrims Association, he is remembered by Roger Ridley-Smith, who is thereby a remarkable link to the very beginnings of Christchurch.

The Reverend Frederick Brittan (1848-1945), last survivor of our first settlers, delivered a eulogy at Richard Evans' funeral.

Tea drinking 90 year-old Richards Evans seated beside a young Roger Ridley-Smith

Roger Ridley-Smith writes:
My father, E D R Smith, (1901-1975), a lawyer in Rangiora, knew Richard Evans. In 1938, the three of us went to the Bridle Track where there was a ceremony at the memorial there. It may have been the unveiling of it. Evans, who would have been aged ninety, sat in the back of my father's Chevrolet. and I recall him as a small man with a snow white beard. I was aged seven. Memory is fallible, but that is as I recall it.

Dilapidated and forgotten, this is the grave of Georgina Sophia and Richard Evans in St John's cemetery at Rangiora.

Canterbury Heritage is gratefully indebted to Sarndra Lees for the 1864 photograph of her Great Great Uncle and his grave. Also to Dr. Ridley-Smith for the 1938 photograph of his father's 90 year old friend.

We would also be very pleased to hear from anyone who can expand upon this interesting aspect of our history.


Elizabeth said...

Three degrees of separation between Captain Cook and living Canadians too, since I'm Canadian and Edward Jollie was my great grandfather. I didn't know your great grandmother attended his wedding, Canterbury Heritage, or was that a guest editor speaking?

Canterbury Heritage said...

My maternal Great Grandmother was the sister-in-law of Captain Charles Heaphy, V.C. Your Great Great Grandmother was staying with the Heaphys in Parnell, Auckland before her marriage to Edward Jollie. vic

Elizabeth said...

I didn't realize that. How interesting. Three degrees of separation between us on opposite sides of the world then - or is it four? Heaphy seems to have been a very intriguing and complex character. Are any of his art works available online? If not, a possible future project for Canterbury Heritage?

By the way, I see that the NZ archives have published a map by Edward Jollie at

Canterbury Heritage said...

There's quite a lot of Heaphy's art online via

The map referred to contains some significant anomalies in the form of much information that didn't exist before 1853. Not the least being that what was referred to in early correspondence as the Christchurch Common was not renamed as Market Place until that year. Also, what was Ridley Square in 1850 is shown as Cathedral Square, and so on.

The map is almost certainly an officially sanctioned forgery in order to justify building on the Common and three of the green belts that surrounded the original city.

I have a map dated eighteen months later and named "The Town of Lyttelton otherwise Christchurch," which also differs significantly by omissions from the alleged Jollie map, which was completed on the 18th of March, 1850.

The foregoing would appear to confirm political manipulation of our history, an ongoing embarrassment that's yet to be addressed...

Elizabeth said...

You should do an article about the maps.

Canterbury Heritage said...

Thanks for the suggestion; I've now begun to accumulate research notes to that effect. At this juncture, the map appears to have been prepared about 1855-1856, but apparently bears the signature of the Chief Surveyor who returned to England in April 1852.

Sandy said...

Austen Deans mentioned in the post died 18 October 2011


Canterbury Heritage said...

Thanks for the link to the obituary Sandy, must confess to having ceased to follow any form of domestic Media some time ago, so missed the news of his demise.

Upon returning to New Zealand, I lived at Mount Peel for a couple of years and accordingly got to know Austen fairly well. He struck me as a gentle soul, with an unworldly quality. Not what you might call a sophisticate (even by local standards), but the sort of chap who was always in need of a strong woman to make him amount to anything.

It's long been said that all men marry their mothers, which in Austen's case might give some indication as to the characters of those pioneering Deans women.