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PIONEERS OF CANTERBURY
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From a Painting at Riccarton
JOHN DEANS OF RICCARTON, 1820 - 1854.
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PIONEERS OF CANTERBURY
A. H. and A. W. REED, 33 Jetty Street, DUNEDIN,
and 182 Wakefield Street, WELLINGTON,
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PRINTED IN NEW ZEALAND
All Rights Reserved
COULLS SOMERVILLE WILKIE LIMITED
DUNEDIN, NEW ZEALAND
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FEW people in Canterbury, or indeed anywhere in New Zealand, have so long an unbroken connection with the land as the Deans family. Riccarton has belonged to them since 1843--first as a run of 33,000 acres leased from the Maoris, afterwards as a freehold farm of 400 acres. Most of the land there has been sold from time to time, and in 1914 almost all that was left of the Riccarton Bush was given to the people of Canterbury as a reserve for all time. The homestead in its beautiful grounds is, however, still in their possession, and members of the family still own the greater part of Homebush, the station taken up by their grandfather and his brother William in 1851.
This continuation of homes and property in the same hands fosters the preservation of old letters and documents, and I think there can be no question of the interest and value of these records to all who care for the history of Canterbury or of New Zealand. The records contained in this book consist chiefly of letters which passed between the members of the family in New Zealand and their relatives in Scotland, and cover the period from 1840 to 1854.
I know no book which gives so vigorous a picture of the day to day lives of the early colonists. Their struggles, difficulties and material progress have always seemed to me more interesting than the squabbles of Governors, Ministers and officials, or than the continual disappointments and mismanagement of the Maori wars, which make up most of the early political history of New Zealand.
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This book ends sadly with the early death of the last of the two brothers who came to New Zealand, but his widow consolidated the fortunes of his son, and the third and fourth generations still carry on the family tradition. As these letters show, none of them cared for politics, but in local and public affairs, sport, farming and stock breeding, they have played a worthy part since the earliest days of the Province. They have never been buyers of land for speculation, but have always held it to farm and to make their homes on.
The publication of this book, just before the Centenary of New Zealand, comes at the right time. I hope it will inspire all those who possess similar records to allow the proposed historical section of the Celebrations Committee to make use of them, and to ensure their safe keeping for all time.
L. G. D. Acland.
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THE family of Deans is of old Ayrshire origin, with its roots deeply planted in the soil of Scotland. Records show that in 1506, John Denes, son of Hugh Denes, was a landholder in Irvine, and in 1547 a charter was granted to John Deyne by the Abbot of Kilwinning of the land of Over Auchentiber. A further Charter of Confirmation under the Great Seal, dated 22nd July, 1585, was granted by James VI. On 2nd June, 1590, John Dene was "retoured heir" to his father in the land of Over Auchentiber, and on 5th June, 1620, John Deyne succeeded to the same property. His son John Deans (the first to spell his name in this way) acquired the property of Peacockbank in 1693. His eldest son John died about 1730 unmarried, but his second son Andrew married in 1717 Agnes Mitchell and left four children. The eldest, John, married Margaret Barbour, but left no family. His brother, William of Braehead, married Agnes Reid of Bonshaw, leaving four children, and it is from his son John, of Kirkstyle in the parish of Riccarton, near Kilmarnock, that the New Zealand family is descended.
He had four sons, William, James Young, John, and Andrew, the last named dying in childhood. William, having purchased land from the New Zealand Company in London, left Scotland in 1839. He sailed in the ship Aurora and landed at Port Nicholson, as Wellington was then named, on 17th January, 180. Owing, however, to difficulties of survey and trouble with the natives he was unable to obtain possession of his land. After exploring the country as far north as Taranaki--he was one of the first party with Major Heaphy to make the journey overland from Wellington--and as far south as the Bluff, he decided, if his brother John would join him, to take up land on what was then known as the Port Cooper Plain.
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John in the meantime had bought land in the Nelson settlement, but on his arrival there in the Thomas Harrison on 25th October, 1842, was so dissatisfied with his prospects that he decided to join his brother in the venture on the Plains. The consent of the Government having been obtained, on 11th February, 1843,William sailed down the coast in Captain Sinclair's 30-ton schooner Richmond. He took with him John Gebbie and Samuel Manson, with their wives and families, also provisions, poultry, and timber for building. The women and children were left in charge of Gebbie at Port Levy, where there was a settlement of old whalers and Maoris, while a house was being built at Putaringamotu, or "Place of an Echo." This they named Riccarton, after their native parish in Scotland, and the river Otakaro they called the Avon after the stream in Lanarkshire on whose banks they had played as boys.
John, who sailed from Port Nicholson for New South Wales soon after William had left for the south, arrived from Newcastle by the Princess Royal on 17th June. He brought with him three mares, sixty-one cattle, and forty-three sheep, all well-bred stock. He brought another shipment of 600 sheep and some cattle from New South Wales by the Comet in 1847,and a larger shipment in June, 1850, in the ship Woodbridge. This consignment consisted of eight bulls, one hundred and sixty-two heifers, twelve mares, and over six hundred sheep. It was when on his way to Australia for a further shipment in 1851 that William Deans was drowned in the wreck of the Maria in Cook Strait.
In 1852 John Deans returned to Scotland to marry Miss Jane McIlraith of Auchenflower, where he had been a cadet before leaving for New Zealand. On his way home he contracted a cold crossing the Isthmus of Panama, from which he never fully recovered. He died in 1854, leaving one son, John, who married Catherine Edith Park in 1879 and had a family of eleven. He died in 1902,being survived by one daughter and eight sons, several of whom occupy parts of the original Homebush Station.
These letters will afford some idea of the early struggles, successes and failures of two young Scotsmen, who landed in
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an undeveloped country at the early age of 23. Though there are gaps in the correspondence, there are enough letters to make a coherent narrative, and where necessary explanatory notes have been added. In the appendix will be found copies of documents of interest, the insertion of which would have broken the sequence of the main story.
I am deeply indebted to distant cousins in Scotland, the Carmichaels, who now own Braehead, for information about the early Scottish records of the family, and to members of my own family for assistance in the preparation of this book.
Kirkstyle, N. Z.
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FOREWORD - - - - - 7
PREFACE - - - - - 9
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS - - - 15
I--EARLY DAYS IN WELLINGTON - - - 17
II--IMPRESSIONS OF THE NEW LAND - - - 47
III--SETTLING AT RICCARTON - - - 66
IV--PROGRESS IN TROUBLOUS TIMES - - - 100
V--SUGGESTED CANTERBURY SETTLEMENT - - - 122
VI--NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE NEW ZEALAND COMPANY - - - 138
VII--FURTHER IMPORTATIONS OF STOCK - - - 161
VIII--NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE CANTERBURY ASSOCIATION - - - 177
IX--THE DEATH OF WILLIAM DEANS - - - - 200
X--THE VISIT OF JOHN DEANS TO SCOTLAND - - - 217
XI--RETURN TO NEW ZEALAND - - - - 238
XII-FARMING IN THE 'FIFTIES: DEATH OF JOHN DEANS - - - 262
APPENDIX - - - - - - 282
INDEX - - - - - - 307
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[LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS]
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List of Illustrations
John Deans of Riccarton,1820-54 - From a Painting at Riccarton. - -Frontispiece
James Young Deans of Kirkstyle, Ayrshire - From a Photograph. - - 80
Riccarton, April, 1844 - From a Sketch by J. W. Barnicoat. - - - 81
An Early Map by John Deans of Vicinity of Canterbury Settlement - - - 96
Native Names of Avon, in the Handwriting of John Deans 97
Lease from Maoris, 1846 - - - - - 128
Plan of Riccarton, as approved by Capt. Thomas and Wm. Fox, 1848 - - - - 144
Jane Deans, nee McIlraith, 1823-1911 - From a Painting at Riccarton. - - -240
John Deans of Riccarton, 1853-1902 - 256
Homebush in the 'Fifties - From a Photograph by Dr. Barker. - - - 272
Riccarton House, about 1859 - From a Sketch by R. Park. - - - 273
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