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An ambush brings family tragedy

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Almost midway between Papakura and Waiuku, Glenbrook Road dips down to cross a bridge over the upper reaches of the Taihiki River, a southern inlet of Auckland’s Manukau Harbour. On the Papakura side of the bridge, and just a few steps down from the roadside, a white picket fence surrounds a small cemetery. Of the handful of early settlers named on the memorial stone plaque, Private Jas (James) Dromgool, Mauku Forest Rifles, was the older brother of Charles Dromgool, my maternal grandfather’s father. (The plaque incorrectly gives James’s death as September 1863: it should be November 1863).

Taihiki River bridge, on Glenbrook Road, about 15km east of Waiuku and about 2km west of the Kingseat-Patumahoe roundabout. November 2018.
James Dromgool, born in Co Louth, Ireland in July 1843, was the eldest child of John and Susan Dromgool. When John and Susan and their eight children (Anne had died as an infant in 1852) arrived in Auckland on the SHALIMAR in December 1859, Susan was seven month…

A is for Alexandra ... and Appleyard

Princess Alexandra of Denmark and Princess of Wales from 1863, following her marriage to Queen Victoria’s son Albert Edward, gave her name to two early New Zealand settlements. Lower Dunstan or Manuherikia in Central Otago was renamed Alexandra in 1863. Just a year later, in a meander of the Waipa River, about 30km south of where it flows into the Waikato River at Ngaruawahia, another settlement was named Alexandra. This was a strategic military settlement: a short way to the south, the Punui River joined the Waipa and formed part of the demarcation line of the area that is known as the ‘King Country,’ following the decisive battle of Orakau. The 2nd Waikato Regiment built redoubts in Alexandra from which to defend the demarcation or confiscation line, and settlers who had fought in the regiment were granted land. The Waipa was navigable as far as Alexandra so in the mid-1860s the settlement was seen as a potentially thriving future communication and supply link between Auckland (fro…

A Wedding and ... some mysteries

A wedding and … some mysteries
When brothers Hugh and James WYLIE and Teresa/Caroline SWIFT embarked on the SHALIMAR in Liverpool in September 1859, I wonder if Hugh and Teresa/Caroline already knew each other. Were they already planning to wed during the voyage or did a shipboard romance blossom, leading to their marriage less than a month out from England?  The bride’s given name is variously recorded as Teresa and Caroline, but here, let’s suppose Teresa is correct.  As I haven’t been able to locate a complete list of the details that were recorded about each passenger when they embarked, there is no way of knowing how old Teresa and Hugh were or where they came from. I suspect they either met on the ship or immediately before embarking. Why they didn’t marry before they said farewell to their friends and families can only be speculated at. It’s easier to imagine why they decided to get married among their fellow passengers rather than get married on arrival in Auckland where they…

A very versatile man

When the SHALIMAR left Liverpool bound for Auckland in September 1859, there were probably as many reasons for facing the perils of the 100+-day voyage and the uncertainties of settling in a new land as there were adult passengers on board. Undoubtedly, the occupations with which the passengers embarked weren’t necessarily what they would end up doing when they reached New Zealand. Edward Leyland is an intriguing example. Born in Yorkshire in 1828 or 1830, he was one of 4 sons employed by their father in his prosperous woollen mill in Halifax. In the English census of 1851, Edward is a ‘worsted spinner and manufacturer’. He married Emma Hughes in 1855 and they had two sons before Edward decided to come to New Zealand. As often happened, he came alone, presumably to check out the best place to settle and to get established. Emma and the children arrived on the Queen of the North in July 1862. I wonder if he took his family to where he was living in Hunua when he had registered to vote…

A glimpse of Auckland 1859

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Auckland had been New Zealand’s capital for nearly 20 years when the SHALIMAR arrived in the Waitemata in December 1859. Governor Hobson had chosen the capital’s site over other options which included inside the Mahurangi inlet, inside the Tamaki estuary and Thames, and the Surveyor General, Felton Mathew, had draw up a fine, curvaceous plan for the city, featuring concentric circles of terraced housing.  from a photo that was in the possession of my Aunt Laura
By 1859 Mathew’s plan had been discarded and the settlement was still concentrated around Mechanics and Official Bay and along the ridges of Ponsonby, Parnell and Karangahape Road. Partington’s flour mill had dominated the Karangahape Road-Symonds Street skyline since 1850 and Partington had become a major producer of flour and biscuits. While Shalimar passenger Thomas KIDD headed north to investigate the farmlands, his family lived in a rented house near Partington’s mill. John and Lucy SWALES were a Shalimar family from Yorks…

Getting around in a land without roads

These days, heading north over the Auckland Harbour Bridge, it’s sometimes hard to imagine that when the SHALIMAR arrived in the Waitemata in December 1859, the North Shore was very sparsely populated and beyond that the map was practically blank. There were no real roads and certainly no bridges: Maori were familiar with a network of foot tracks and the very early Pakeha settlers had used these tracks as bridle paths. However, they were often impassable in winter and seldom wide enough for pulling a cart, let alone a dray laden with of a settler family’s precious belongings. The most practical way north then was by sea, often combined with a great deal of walking. For settlement on the east coast north of Auckland, the most practical routes where by sea to Mahurangi, Mangawhai, Russell and Whangaroa. The SHALIMAR passengers who settled in the Taraire Valley near Kaeo bought their land sight unseen in Auckland after perusing Charles Heaphy’s drawings in the Land Office. They took the…

The passengers go their various ways

On 8th December 1859 the SHALIMAR was within sight of Melbourne. Since leaving Liverpool on 13th September they had last sighted land in late October, off the coast of north Africa. Wistfully, one passenger wrote in his diary “We could be in Melbourne tonight if that were our destination.” It was about this time that passengers and crew – those at least whose religions allowed them to gamble – began to place bets on when they would arrive in Auckland: would it be before or after Christmas day? Amid the excitement of arriving, packing away the books and chattels that had given some comfort during the voyage, fathers and husbands among the passengers would have been anxious perhaps about the great responsibility that they had assumed in bringing their families so far from home to start a new life. After the SHALIMAR finally anchored in Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour during the night of 22nd December, the men folk made their way ashore in rowboats: some to be met by friends or family but m…