Topic: Rachel McCauley (nee Hamilton) (1880-1969)

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Rachel Hamilton was the daughter of Katikati pioneers and lived her whole life in Katikati. She was my great grandmother - Debbie McCauley.

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Rachel Hamilton was born at Katikati on 19 May 1880 (reg. 1880/2344). She had eight brothers and sisters and walked three miles to Waitekohe School each day. In 1887 Rachel was registered at Katikati No. 3 School on Walkers Road. The school roll was 26, the teachers name M J Mulgan. One of her fellow pupils was her future husband, George (Peg-leg) McCauley.

Rachel Hamilton married the son of another Katikati pioneer family, George (Peg-leg) John McCauley (1876-1943), on 26 November 1902 (reg. 1902/4972) at her mother Mrs Rachel Hamilton's home in Surtees Road, Katikati. The marriage witnesses are William Barraclough (Rachel's sister Mary Ann’s husband) and Jane Barraclough, both of Katikati.

An article in the Bay of Plenty Times records the wedding:

A very quiet wedding was solemized at Katikati on November 26th, when Mr George McCawley was united to Rachel, youngest daughter of the late Rev [incorrect: wasn’t a Rev] John Hamilton. The ceremony, which was performed by the Rev W. Katterns, took place at the residence of the bride’s mother, who gave her daughter away. The bride wore a purple velvet bodice, trimmed with white silk, with black figured skirt and hat to match. Miss Jane Baraclough, attired in a pretty white dress was bridesmaid, whilst Mr James Baraclough supported the bridegroom as best man. The happy pair were the recipients of many useful presents. Early in the afternoon Mr and Mrs McCawley left for Te Puke en route for Rotorua. (Bay of Plenty Times, 3 December 1902, p. 2).

The Hamilton farm at the foot of Sharp Road was gifted to Rachel and George as a wedding present. Bert Middlebrook (1975) noted that: The Hamilton land passed to George McCauley as a wedding gift when George married Rachel Hamilton’ (p. 17).

The three children of Rachel Hamilton:

  1. Lennard (Len) John George McCauley (1904-1980).
  2. Muriel (Girlie) May McCauley (1912-1984).
  3. Olive Rachel Jane McCauley (1919-1950).

George and Rachel attended the 40th anniversary of the Katikati settlement in 1915 (Gray, 1950, pp. 123-124). A very detailed account of the anniversary celebrations was reported in the Bay of Plenty Times on 18 September 1915:

Beyond, but many still remain, and of these several were present last night to help celebrate the Fortieth Anniversary of the arrival at Katikati of the members of the First Stewart Special Settlement. The following members of the Nos. 1 and 2 parties are still residing in the district:-

No 1. Party.

  • G. V. Stewart and family
  • F. Johnston and family
  • W. Lockington and family
  • Mrs T. Mills and family
  • Jas. Lockington and family
  • C. T. Dunne and family
  • Mrs John Middlebrook and family
  • Mrs Robert Stuart and family
  • N. A. Johnston and family
  • N. Johnston and family
  • W. Johnston and family
  • G. Leech and family
  • Harry Dunne and family
  • John Wilson and family
  • Robert Hunter and family
  • Mrs Stewart Rea and family
  • Mr Stewart Rea and family
  • Mr Thos. Rea and family
  • Mr Mervyn Stewart and family
  • T. Mulgrew and family
  • Adam Johnston and family
  • Geo. McCauley and family
  • Mrs Blomquist and family
  • W. J. Andrews and family
  • Mrs W. Lomas and family
  • Jas. Lockington, junr and family
  • Geo. Stewart and family
  • Mrs E. Earl and family

No. 2 Party.

  • Mr Gregory and family
  • W. Taylor and family
  • R V. Surtees and family
  • F. S. Hoeing and family
  • W. Busby and family
  • W. Busby, junr and family
  • Sam Busby and family
  • Robt. Busby and family
  • Mrs Henry and family
  • Mrs John Martinsen and family
  • Mrs F. Smith and family
  • W. J. Gray and family
  • E. H. Gledstanes and family
  • Mr John Killen and family
  • Mr K. Morton and family

The celebration took the form of a concert, followed by a social and supper. The hall was packed to its utmost limit, and with unanimous acclaim Mr Geo. Vesey Stewart, “the Father” of Katikati was appointed Chairman for the evening.

Mr Stewart expressed great pleasure in meeting those gathered together. He sincerely hoped that everyone would enjoy themselves. He regretted having to apologise for the absence of Mr C. E. Macmillan, Mayor of Taranga, Mr D. Donaldson, Mayor of Waihi, Mr J. H. Griffiths, County Clerk, and Mr H. D. Morpeth, Town Clerk, Waihi.

A most enjoyable programme of vocal an instrumental items was then rendered, songs being sung by Mesdames Grey, A. Brown (Tauranga), Renshaw, Boyes, Messrs Comer, W. Ure, Morgan (Waihi), McKenzie, E. McLeay (Waihi), C. F. Wigley, Beagerie; duet by Mrs T. Rea and Mr McKenzie; pianoforte duet by Miss Frodsham and Mrs Brunskill; violin solo by Mr Raine. The accompaniments were very nicely played by Mrs Rea and Miss Frodsham. Two choruses were also rendered by a choir, nineteen members of which were either the children or grandchildren of early settlers.

After the concert an adjournment was made to a large marquee erected adjoining the hall, in which supper - most excellently catered for by Mr C. F. Wigley - was laid. At least as many as the marquee would accommodate adjourned for supper while the remainder immediately commenced dancing. The stream of people to the marquee seemed interminable and Mr Wigley and the many willing lady helpers had an exceedingly busy time, more than two hundred people having to be catered for. During supper many toasts were honoured, Mr G. V. Stewart presiding throughout the evening. In the hall dancing went merrily on, the floor being in splendid condition, and excellent music being provided by Miss Wright at the piano and Mr Raine violin. Extras were also played by Miss Frodsham and Mrs Stevenson.

Long into the small hours of the morning were the festivities continued, the old, rejuvenated, vieing with the young to take the greatest pleasure from the occasion. Quite easily did the attendance of settler’s and friends from far and near establish the gathering as a record for Katikati. Few perhaps of the rapidly thinning band of these early settlers will live to see the fiftieth anniversary of their arrival in a new land, but all will carry to the end pleasant recollection of the fortieth anniversary celebration, when old memories were revived and the intervening years were reminiscently lived again.

The Committee responsible for the very excellent arrangements were Messrs M. P. Welsh, T. Morton, W. Andrews, G. Leech, R. Wilson, W. R. Richards, and T. Rea, with Mr C. Dunne as Secretary. They worked everything up in a little over a fortnight, and are to be heartily congratulated on the pronounced success of their endeavours.

There were many visitors present from Tauranga, Waihi and other places, among them being Mr and Mrs J. Mark of Te Matai, Te Puke, who were formerly Katikati residents. Mr R. Badger was also present and at the invitation of the Committee gave a short stirring address on the Empire and its present needs.

Among the early settlers who were present were Mr and Mrs R. Hunter, Mr Middlebrook (who reached Katikati before No. 1 Party arrived and piloted them from Tauranga to Katikati), Mr Slevin (who, with Mr C. R. Dunne, were the “boys” aboard the Carisbrooke Castle, and whose mother still resides in Waihi at the ripe age of 88), Mr Wilson, Mrs Rea, Mrs Leech, Mr Wm. Taylor, Mr Lockington (whose was in Katikati before the party arrived, and joined the settlement there), Mr C. J Dunne, and others whose names it was not possible to ascertain in such a crowded gathering.

Katikati last night incontestably established its reputation for open-handed hospitality, and the thorough enjoyment of residents and visitors alike easily marks the occasion as one of Katikati's “Red Letter” days. (Bay of Plenty Times, 18 September 1915, p. 3).

An article dated 1967, possibly from the Bay of Plenty Times, about Rachel McCauley (née Hamilton) records the following:


Very proud of the fact that she was born in Katikati, and has lived there her entire life, is Mrs Rachel McCauley who celebrated her 87th birthday on the last day of May. She can  claim that she is the oldest person actually born in the district, and is the daughter of the late Mr and Mrs John Hamilton who arrived on the “Lady Jocelyn” [incorrect, actually Ocean Mail] from Belfast, in Ireland.

Every year Mrs McCauley's daughter Mrs R. Bellamy arranges a birthday party for her mother, and this is attended by close friends, all eager to pay court to this well-loved senior citizen. Mrs McCauley also has a son who lives in Taupo.  Her younger daughter, Mrs Olive Kelly died several years ago, leaving three small children. The children were brought up by their grandmother, helped by Mrs Bellamy, and visit their “Gran” whenever possible.  Altogether there are eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Still active Mrs McCauley believes in clinging to her independence, and each morning goes to her own home, returning at night to her daughter's home in time for the evening meal.  The houses are only a few yards apart, making it an ideal arrangement.

Born at Tahawai in 1880, Mrs McCauley was only a small child when the family moved to a farm on Sharps Road not far from the old dairy factory.  She attended the Waitekohe school, and in fact was destined to spend practically all her life in that area. When she married Mr George McCauley the Hamilton family gave them the farm as a wedding present.  Mrs McCauley went to live in Katikati after her husband’s death many years later. Wedding gift: The couple were married by the Reverend Katterns, and the bride recalls receiving an unusual wedding gift from the vicar's wife.  This was an ostrich feather, taken from one of the birds of the Katterns' ostrich farm. These birds were a common sight as the property was on the site of the present saleyards and the ostriches were a constant source of amusement to the young children who used to tease the birds, if no adults were around.

Mrs McCauley has several interesting items which came out on the “Lady Jocelyn” [incorrect, her parents arrived on the Ocean Mail on 23/11/1875] with her parents, including a pewter bowl, a heavy glass salt cellar, a ruby red glass bowl, and a well used cake plate with a lattice work edge and decorated with flowers. The most fascinating relic of all though is a family Bible which was apparently given to the family before they left Ireland.  Inside the cover the unknown donor has written a message and the spidery handwriting has become almost illegible in parts, but starts off by advising everyone to “read this Book daily.” It was while we were flicking through the pages that we found the most interesting item of all, hidden for many years in the yellowed pages. This was an item cut from the Bay of Plenty Times, and written on January 14, 1886, nine years after the first Katikati settlers arrived.  It had obviously been kept because it mentioned Mrs McCauley's father.

It said: "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.  I am happy to say that Mr Stewart Rae's son who was injured by a horse on New Year's Day is progressing favourably.” There is no indication as to who has written the item, but the wording does suggest that the writer was a true son of Ulster.

Mrs McCauley and her daughter, Mrs Bellamy are both very interested in the prospect of a pioneer museum being started in Katikati, and are happy to think that their collection of Ulster items will in time be in safe keeping and not thoughtlessly destroyed by an uninterested younger generation. (1967, courtesy of Ellen McCormack).

Tauranga historian Jinty Rorke provides further details about the Kattern’s ostrich farm in ‘A Place in History’: ‘In 1886 a permanent vicar was obtained for Katikati, the Rev. William Katterns, for whom a road is named. Apparently finding that he needed to supplement his stipend he set up an ostrich farm, which proved very successful. The farm remained in existence until World War I, when it is said that dogs chased the last surviving ostrich to the Waitekohe River, where it drowned. The farm features in one of the town's murals’.

Ron Mcdonald bought the Sharp Road farm off George and Rachel when they retired around 1940. They moved into the township of Katikati next door to their daughter Muriel (Zordia Mackie, personal communication, 8 November 2011). George (Peg-leg) John died on 29 October 1943 (reg.1943/24555), aged 67, of a Coronary Occlusion at Katikati and was buried on 1 November 1943 at Katikati Cemetery (125 Anglican Block A, Plot No.137 p. 18).

In 1945 granddaughter Zordia went to live with her grandmother Rachel for three years. On 15 June 1950, seven years after George’s death, their youngest daughter Olive died. With her daughter Muriel’s help Rachel then brought up Olive’s three children; Glenda, Rachel and Neville.

According to Notes on Early Katikati Families from Rita Hume (née Johnston) interviewed by E. T. Jordan (1991): There was a nephew George McCauley junior who had a wooden leg after a horse accident. He married Rachel Hamilton, a wonderful lady who was Mrs Muriel Bellamy’s mother. Muriel’s daughter Valerie was an accountant in Katikati until fairly recently (this is written in 1991). She was Mrs Boyd. She has now remarried and is living in Hamilton (courtesy of Ellen McCormack).

Extract from Tales of Old Katikati by Elsie Lockington: 'Mrs Rachel McCauley was the only person, when she died at the age of 89 in 1969, to have lived the whole of her life in Katikati.  She was a good, quiet-natured person and she spent the last years of her life with her daughter, Mrs Muriel Bellamy, in the town'.

In June 1969 the Korero newsletter of Katikati noted the birthday of Rachel McCauley: Congratulations to Mrs Rachel McCauley who celebrated her 89th birthday on the last day of May. Her daughter Mrs A. Bellamy arranged a delightful afternoon party and this was attended by many old friends and relatives. Amongst the guests was the former May Lomas, well known to many of the old folk of Katikati. (Korero of Katikati, 1969, p. 4).

Rachel died, aged 89, on 10 November 1969 (reg. 1969/38293) of ‘Gangrene through Atheroma’ (hardened artery which can lead to gangrene in extreme cases) at Tauranga Hospital. On the death cert her parents are incorrectly named as John & Mary Hamilton (nee Williamson) - Mary Williamson married John McCauley (Snr), George John McCauley's mother was Martha Brierly (nee McCauley) but he was raised by his grandfather John McCauley (Snr) and his second wife Mary Williamson. Rachel's actual mother was Rachel Hamilton (nee Lennard). She was buried next to George on 12 November 1969 at Katikati Cemetery (125 Anglican Block A, Plot No. 138b p. 18). Her obituary, probably from the Waihi Gazette, records family details:


With the passing of Mrs Rachel McCauley, Katikati has lost a link with the early pioneering of the district. Born in Katikati in 1880, Mrs McCauley was the last surviving member of nine children of the late Mr and Mrs J. Hamilton. She was born at Tuapiro and during her whole life, almost 90 years, she lived in the Katikati district. Her parents were from Belfast, and her father was a steward for the founder of Katikati, George Vesey Stewart. Mrs McCauley married a son of pioneers, Mr George McCauley, and the couple lived on a farm at the foot of Sharp Road. Mrs McCauley inherited the true pioneer spirit, always ready to help anyone in trouble. Her wonderful qualities were recognised by neighbouring children, and throughout the years they paid homage to her with visits whenever possible. It was also a compliment that she was usually called by her first name, but with utmost respect, by many who had know her since childhood. Mrs McCauley knew what it was to live in hard times, but never dwelled in the past. She worked hard, and when she found herself unable to spend long hours in her garden, she taught herself to embroider, giving most of the finished articles away. By then she was 80 years of age. Twenty-nine years ago she moved into Katikati to live near her daughter, Mrs M. Bellamy. When her other daughter, Mrs K. Kelly passed away in Waihi, Mrs McCauley took over the family of three children, looking on it as a labour of love. Mrs McCauley's memories of early Katikati were interesting and she took pride in her district. Her birthday was on the last day of May and each year it became a gathering of old friends and relations, meeting at Mrs Bellamy's home. Mr McCauley passed away several years ago. Mrs McCauley is survived by a son (Mr L. McCauley, Taupo) and a daughter (Mrs M. Bellamy, Katikati). There are nine grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. (Waihi Gazette, 1969, supplied by Peter Attwell, Research Services, Alexander Turnbull Library).



Bay of Plenty Times.

The McCauley Family of Katikati, New Zealand: 1876-2012 by Debbie McCauley (2012).

This page was archived at Perma cc may 2017

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Rachel McCauley (nee Hamilton) (1880-1969)

First Names:Rachel
Last Name:Hamilton
Date of Birth:19 May 1880
Place of Birth:Katikati
Country of birth:New Zealand
Date of death:10 November 1969
Place of death:Katikati, New Zealand
Place of burial:Katikati Cemetery
Family Surname:McCauley
Spouses name:George John McCauley
Spouses date of birth:14 December 1876
Spouses place of birth:'Jessie Osborne' at sea
Spouses date of death:29 October 1943
Spouses place of death:Katikati, New Zealand
Spouses place of burial:Katikati Cemetery
Date of marriage:26 November 1902
Place of marriage:Surtees Road, Katikati
Fathers name:John Hamilton
Fathers date of birth:2 July 1835
Fathers place of birth:Martray, County Tyrone, Ireland
Fathers date of death:22 July 1892
Fathers place of death:Katikati, New Zealand
Mothers name:Rachel Lennard
Mothers date of birth:c1836
Mothers place of birth:Anglinacloy, County Tyrone, Ireland
Mothers date of death:13 August 1904
Mothers place of death:Katikati, New Zealand
Name of sibilings:Jane Hamilton, Thomas Henry Hamilton, Walter Hamilton, Mary (Maggie) Ann Hamilton, Thomas (Tom) Henry Hamilton, John (Jack) Hamilton , Margaret Hamilton, and Alice Hamilton
Name of the children:Lennard John George McCauley, Muriel May McCauley, and Olive Rachel Jane McCauley

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