Headstone of Robert Farrell (1827-1873)
Original Filename: Mission_Cemetery_Headstones_-_1_Oct_2016_-_Farrell__Robert.JPG (view)
Original Size: 11.9 MB
Original Image Type: image/jpeg
Robert Farrell was born in County Meath, Ireland, in 1827 (at this stage the correct name of his parents is unknown). In 1846 he joined the British Army's 31st Foot Regiment in Dublin, fighting with them during the Siege of Sebastopol (1854-1855) in the Crimea. In South Africa Robert met Esther Lewis who had been born in Llandeilo, Wales, on 11 December 1829. Her parents were John and Mary Lewis. Robert and Esther, who lived in Mowbray, Cape Town, were married at Rondebosch on 21 January 1862 (married at both St Paul’s and St Michael's on the same day). Their marriage certificate lists Robert as a Labourer and Esther as a Servant. Son Robert John Farrell was born in Cape Town on 31 December 1862. Just four months later Robert departed for New Zealand, on 26 April 1863, on board the brig 'Susanne'. He arrived in Auckland on 17 June 1863. On 2 July 1863 in Tauranga he enlisted with the 1st Waikato Regiment as a Private. His promotion to Sergeant came on 9 December 1863.
On 19 March 1864 Esther's employer, Mr Staunton, wrote as a reference for Esther; 'Hester[Esther]Farrell has worked for me for 10 months, as cook. I have found her a trustworthy, hardworking and obliging servant. She leaves to join her husband in New Zealand'. Esther sailed with son Robert John on the brig 'Pakeha' on 24 March 1864, arriving in New Zealand on 26 May 1864. The family were reunited in Tauranga in October 1864. Robert and Esther would go on to have four more children together. Robert fought Māori during the Tauranga Bush Campaign of 1867 for which was awarded the New Zealand Medal.
Robert died at his residence, an 80 acre farm lot at Tauriko in Tauranga, on 11 October 1873 (reg. 1873/13042). This land was part of a government grant to soldiers. He was buried in Mission Cemetery (Otamataha Pā) where his ground plaque reads:Sacred to the memory of Sergt. Robert Farrell, died 11 Oct. 1873, aged 46 years. Esther died in Tauranga 16 years later on 5 December 1889 (reg. 1889/4294) at her residence on the corner of Cameron Road and Seventh Avenue (now the site of Warehouse Stationery). It is assumed that she was buried with Robert in Mission Cemetery (Otamataha Pā), but no record of her burial exists.
Text and photograph by Debbie McCauley (1 October 2016). Tauranga City Libraries Image Number: 16-242. See also: Early settler's war medals back in family (Bay of Plenty Times, 11 May 2010). Many thanks to Paul Farrell for his assistance with this article on his ancestor.