Topic: John Hamilton (1835-1892)

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John Hamilton was a pioneer who, along with his wife and family, contributed much to Katikati. He was my second great grandfather. Story by Debbie McCauley.

John Hamilton (1835-1892)

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John Hamilton was born on 2 July 1835 in Martray, County Tyrone, Ireland. His parents were Stewart and Alice Hamilton (nee Wilson). They married in Tyrone c1835.

John’s family came from 20 miles outside of Belfast and he was a farmer as well as a trader between Ireland and Scotland. From 1850 John worked for Captain Mervyn Stewart and his wife Frances Stewart (née Vesey) on their estate Martray Manor at Ballygawley in County Tyrone.

On 10 March 1860 John married Rachel Lennard in  Lisburn, County Antrim, Ireland. Rachel was  born  in Aughnacloy, County Tyrone, Ireland, about 1836. Her parents were John and Rachel Lennard (née Curnes), who were farmers.

The Hamilton’s intended to sail to New Zealand on the Carrisbrook Castle with the first party of settlers from Ireland. However, they were delayed due to an outbreak of measles which probably caused the death of their son Thomas (Tom) Henry Hamilton in 1875. They eventually sailed from Gateshead on 15 August 1875 aboard the Ocean Mail. Rachel was just over eight months pregnant upon departure and on 11 September 1875 gave birth to a son just off the Cape of Good Hope. He was named Thomas Henry Hamilton after his older brother. 

The family arrived in Auckland on 23 November 1875 and made their way to Katikati. The Hamilton's were one of the seventy-seven foundation families of Katikati.

John was allocated 131 acres (Tahawai Lot 70) at Katikati which they named 'Seaview Cottage'. The property was on the south side of Kauri Point Road. Fitzgibbon Louch’s property, 'Castle Grace', was next door. 

The children of Rachel and John Hamilton:

  1. Alice Daveron (c1860-1888). Born Ballygawley, County Tyrone, Ireland.
  2. Mary (Maggie) Ann Barraclough (c1862-1901). Born Ballygawley, County Tyrone, Ireland.
  3. Thomas (Tom) Henry Hamilton (1865-1875). Born Ballygawley, County Tyrone, Ireland.
  4. John (Jack) Hamilton (c1866-1902). Born Ballygawley, County Tyrone, Ireland.
  5. Margaret Daveron (1870-1949). Born Ballygawley, County Tyrone, Ireland.
  6. Jane Lomas (1874-1936). Born Ballygawley, County Tyrone, Ireland.
  7. Thomas Henry Hamilton (1875-1935). Cape of Good Hope, on board Ocean Mail.
  8. Rachel McCauley (1880-1969). Tahawai, Katikati.
  9. Walter Hamilton (1883-1958). Katikati.

Extract from the Bay of Plenty Times dated 28 February 1877:

J. HAMILTON.  Wooden homes being erected, no other improvements. Hamilton has been living with Mr G.V. Stewart, since his arrival.'

An 1877 report by A. C. Turner states of J Hamilton’s 120 acres: ‘Has done nothing to land, he is working at present for Mr G. V. Stewart’ and later that ‘No. 41, J Hamilton ‘Wooden house being erected no other improvements. Mr Hamilton has been busy with Mr G. V. Stewart since his arrival’ (Tauranga City Libraries New Zealand Room AMS 44/3).

John wrote the following letter to George Vesey Stewart in 1877. It subsequently appeared on page 51 of Stewart's book; ‘Notes on the origin and prospects of the Stewart Special Settlement, Kati-Kati, New Zealand, and on New Zealand as a field for emigration’ (1877):

KATI-KATI, July 1st, 1877.

SIR, - I am very glad to see that you have got that other block of land of 10,000 acres adjoining your first block. It was a hard contest with you and the Government of this Colony for the last 12 months. So I am glad you gained the victory, and as you are now for going back to the old country, I wish you every success, happiness, and prosperity, to you return to us again. It is a long way for you to go, but you know that God doth prosper a man that putteth his hand to good work. The settlers here will think great long to you return back to us again. You know well the good wish that they have for you here; you have seen that everything that was in their power to do for you they have done it; you have seen the spirit that they have done it in, in that they have elected you chairman of the School Board, and also chairman of the Road Board, and in your absence they elected you in for the County Council in Tauranga, and if that vacancy does occur in your absence, you are sure to return to us with M.P. to your name; you know that there will not be one vote lost.

Dear Sir, the No. 2 lot of settlers that you intend to fetch out will have a good chance that your No. 1 had not. You know what this place looked when they came here first; to stand and look around you as far as they eye could see, they could see nothing only the sea on one side, and a large range of bush on the other, and a vast plain of fern land in the midst of it; not as much as a house or tuft of grass to be seen. But now your No. 2 lot can look round them and can see hundreds of acres of fine grass paddocks, plenty of wheat, oats, Indian corn, and potatoes in abundance. They will not have to give the people of Tauranga £8 per ton for potatoes as we had to do, because they knew we could not do without them; there are plenty now to sell on the block from £3 to £5 per ton, thanks be to God for it. Your No. 2 lot can get a week’s lodgings from their brother settlers here, and they can see from 25 to 30 good cottages erected on the block.

Sir, the settlers are all glad to see that you are getting £100 from Government for each School-house for this block, and you see that the settlers have sent to you their subscriptions larger than you did expect. They feel thankful to you for your grant of 50 acres of land to erect a church on, and I may, as that hero ‘Ulster Scot’ says, “by the aid of your friends at home and abroad,” we shall soon see a fine church erected on it.

Dear Sir, wishing you a good and happy voyage, and a speedy return, I feel thankful to you for being the cause of bringing me out to the Colony, where a man can live under his own vine and fig tree; no landlord, agent, nor bailiff, nor one to make him afraid of. I had to rough it, and to work hard for a few months. I can see that a man’s children can reap the benefit of it, what they cannot do in the old country, so I remain, yours truly,

JOHN HAMILTON, Seaview Cottage, Kati-Kati.

When John was aged 48, on 3 August 1878, the Bay of Plenty Times reported that he had been elected 'Fence Viewer' by the Ratepayers of the Katikati Highway District (Bay of Plenty Times, 3 August 1878, p.3).

John was a witness in the case of Harley v. Mulgrew at the Tauranga Court on 7 August 1878 which culminated in the plaintiff, Harley, being arrested for forgery (Bay of Plenty Times, 10 August 1878, p. 3).

On 31 August 1878 John Hamilton was allocated a further 40 acres (Block IV Lot 10) on the west side of the main road between Tuapiro and Woodland’s Road. At the same time Captain Mervyn Stewart was allocated 123 acres (Tahawai Lot 74) adjoining Seaview Cottage on Kauri Point Road. Captain and Mrs Stewart had arrived on board the Lady Jocelyn in August 1878 and soon built a house on their block at Tahawai which they named Martray. John Hamilton managed the Stewart’s farm.

The Bay of Plenty Times reported John's re-election as fence viewer on 24 July 1879: The following gentlemen were elected as trustees for the ensuing year : — Messrs G. V. Stewart, P. Crene, J. Wylie (jun.), J W. Andrew, and R. V. Surtees ; 'Messrs Crawford and Hamilton, as fence- viewers; and Messrs J. Wilson and T. Leech as auditors. Mr Stewart proposed a vote of thanks to the Chairman, which, having been carried, brought the meeting to a close. (Bay of Plenty Times, 24 July 1879)

The following is the concluding portion of the Crown Lands Ranger's Report regarding the Katikati No. 2 Settlement from the Bay of Plenty Times dated 4 October 1879:

STEWART.—Captain Mervyn Stewart, 820 acres, occupied in September, 1878. Two acres of open land have been laid out as in an orchard; the number of forest trees planted is 600; the farm stock consists of 7 sheep, 4 horses, and 2 cows; the area enclosed with fencing is 2 acres and the nature of the fence is post and five wire. The following buildings have been erected : Dwelling-house, No. 1, 55ft x 20ft, with walls 11ft. ; kitchen, 24ft. with walls 11ft. ; weatherboards and shingle roof, and verandah (cost, L1,000) ; stable, ; coach-house, and barn, 60ft. x 13ft., with walls 9ft., weatherboards and shingle roof (cost, L100); dwelling house, No. 2, 24ft. x 12ft, with walls 9ft., weatherboards and shingle roof, brick chimney and verandah, two rooms (cost, L60). The total value of improvements is £200. Mr Stewart occupies land adjoining that lately in the occupation of a person named Hamilton. I was informed that he has purchased Hamilton’s property. He is engaged in cultivating it. Mr Stewart's selection is all open land. Not entitled (Bay of Plenty Times, 4 October 1879).

John Hamilton took part in a cricket match at Mr Mulgan's farm as reported in the Bay of Plenty Times on 6 November 1879 (p. 2). He also took part in meetings held about a proposal for bridging the Tuapiro River as reported in the Bay of Plenty Times on 6 November 1879, (p. 2) and 13 April 1880.

John Hamilton was a witness in case of JAMES A. PARKINSON V FREDERICK as reported in the Bay of Plenty Times on 8 May 1880. The following year, on 15 February 1881, the Bay of Plenty Times reported that:

Mr John Hamilton had just sold his farm of 40 acres to Mr (William) Taylor for £200” and then on the 15 March 1881 reported that “Mr Hamilton applied (to the Katikati Highway District Assessment Court) to have his name substituted for that of Mr A Dean in regard to a farm of 200 acres, Mr Dean having left the country for Queensland.

John Hamilton was a witness in case of Fitzgibbon Louch V Captain M. Stewart as reported in the Bay of Plenty Times on 20 April 1882: RESIDENT MAGISTRATE'S COURT: FITZGIBBON LOUCH V CAPTAIN M. STEWART (case for alleged trespass by defendant's horses on a paddock belonging to the plaintiff at Katikati, and also for architect changes in connection with certain alternation made to defendant's residence) John Hamilton, farmer, Katikati sworn - "I manage Captain Stewart's farm. I was with him in 1879. There was sufficient feed on Captain Stewart's farm to feed two horses. The horses had plenty to work to do, but were well fed. If I had land sown in September I would rather have horses on in January than nothing. I have seen other horses in the paddock." (Bay of Plenty Times, 20 April 1882)

Extract from ‘Katikati Centennial Souvenir 1875-1975’ (green book), Recalled by Bert Middlebrook, written down by Stella Wills': At the end of SURTEES ROAD, near the Tuapiro River, there  lived John Hamilton but when their house was burnt down they moved to the Waitekohe.

The Hamilton’s were possibly living at the end of Surtees Road (now Hikurangi Road) near the Tuapiro River at this stage. This house was said to have burnt down in the late 1880s and the family then moved to Waitekohe to what is now Sharp Road. From here the children walked the three miles to the No 3 School at Waitekohe each day. John was still managing Martray as at 14 January 1886. 

John is mentioned again in the Bay of Plenty Times in an article on Martray's oat crop dated 14 January 1886, nine years after the first Katikati settlers arrived:

Harvest operations are now in full swing over the settlement, and taking into consideration the long continued spell of dry weather we have suffered from, will prove much better than anticipated. The best crops of oats, I have seen this year has been cut down on Captain Mervyn Stewart's property, Martray. Great praise is due to his land steward, Mr John Hamilton for the manner in which this property is managed; the crops of maize and potatoes are simply splendid and by far the best sheep on the block are to be found on this estate. The veteran Captain, and his good lady are in the best of health, anxiously looking forward for the return of their eldest son, Mr George Vesey Stewart, the founder of this settlement, who has been absent in England for nearly three years. We all join in wishing him a safe and pleasant voyage, and he will receive a right loyal welcome from the settlers, en masse. (Bay of Plenty Times, 14 January 1886)

John Hamilton along with his son John Hamilton (Jnr) were involved in a working bee at the Katikati Cemetery which was recorded in the Bay of Plenty Times on 15 April 1889.

Rachel Hamilton (1839-1904)On 10 July 1892, just 15 days prior to his death, John Hamilton made a new will leaving everything to his wife, Rachel:

This is the last Will and Testament of me John Hamilton of Katikati.  I hereby revoke all wills by me at any time heretofore made.  I appoint Tom Dalzell and William John Gray both of Katikati to be my Executors and direct that all my just debts and funeral and testamentary expenses shall be paid as soon as conveniently may be after my decease.

I give device and bequeath unto one Rachel Hamilton my wife for her absolute use and benefit all my real and personal estate whereinsoever situated including my farm and house situated in the parish of Te Mania Katikati and the sum of 200 (pounds) and upwards for which my life is insured with horses cattle furniture and farm implements on condition of her remaining single.  If she does marry again all my real and personal estate as above to be divided amongst my children in equal shares.

In witness where of I the said John Hamilton have to this my last Will and Testament at my farm this tenth day of July in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and ninety two.  Signed. (10 July 1892).

John died, aged 57, on 22 July 1892 in Katikati of ‘ulceration and cancer of the stomach’, from which he had suffered for one year. A Bay of Plenty Times report dated 25 July 1892 recorded John’s death:

A well known resident of Katikati, Mr John Hamilton, passed away on Friday night and was buried yesterday in the Cemetery of that place, General Stoddard officiating  at  the grave in absence of a clergyman.  The deceased was an old retainer of the family of the late Capt. Stewart and came out to NZ with the family.

John was buried on 24 July 1892 in Katikati Cemetery (Anglican Plot No.12 or 13). His wife Rachel died on 13 August 1904, aged 62, of cancer of the liver from which she had suffered for one year (reg. 1904/15). Rachel was also buried in Katikati Cemetery (Anglican Plot No. 14).



Bay of Plenty Times.

Births, Deaths and Marriages Online (New Zealand).

Katikati Centennial Souvenir 1875-1975 (green book). Recalled by Bert Middlebrook, written down by Stella Wills.

Notes on the origin and prospects of the Stewart Special Settlement, Kati-Kati, New Zealand, and on New Zealand as a field for emigrationby George Vesey Stewart (1877).

This page was archived at Perma cc May 2017

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John Hamilton (1835-1892)

First Names:John
Last Name:Hamilton
Date of Birth:2 July 1835
Place of Birth:Martray, County Tyrone
Country of birth:Ireland
Date of death:22 July 1892
Place of death:Katikati, New Zealand
Place of burial:Katikati Cemetery
First settled:Katikati
Date of Arrival:23 November 1875
Name of the ship:Ocean Mail
Date of sailing:15 August 1875
Port of arrival:Auckland
Sailed from:Gateshead
Spouses name:Rachel Lennard
Spouses date of birth:c1836
Spouses place of birth:Aughnacloy, County Tyrone, Ireland
Spouses date of death:13 August 1904
Spouses place of death:Katikati, New Zealand
Spouses place of burial:Katikati Cemetery
Spouses nationality:Irish
Date of marriage:1858
Place of marriage:Lisburn, County Antrim
Fathers name:Stewart Hamilton
Fathers date of birth:c1810
Fathers place of birth:County Tyrone, Ireland
Fathers nationality:Irish
Mothers name:Alice Wilson
Mothers date of birth:c1815
Mothers place of birth:County Tyrone, Ireland
Mothers nationality:Irish
Name of sibilings:Margaret Ann Hamilton (c1845-1889)
Name of the children:Mary (Maggie) Ann Hamilton, Thomas (Tom) Henry Hamilton, John (Jack) Hamilton , Margaret Hamilton, Alice Hamilton, Jane Hamilton, Thomas Henry Hamilton, Rachel Hamilton, and Walter Hamilton

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