Topic: William John Stewart (1853-1925)

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Katikati settler William John Stewart brought a consignment of blackbirds, thrushes and starlings to New Zealand on board the Lady Jocelyn in 1878. He was also the father of the first European child born in Katikati. Story researched and written by Debbie McCauley.

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William John Stewart was born in Belfast, Ireland. His father, Charles Stewart, was a mechanic. William served an apprenticeship as a mechanic and qualified as a marine engineer.

In his youth he became a noted long-distance runner.

At St Mary's in Belfast, William married Sarah Turner on 13 February 1874. Sarah was the daughter of Alexander (Sandy) and Mary Turner (nee Magee) who married in Belfast in 1849. The couple emigrated to New Zealand on the Carisbrooke Castle in 1875 with Sarah's family. Their eldest son, George Vesey Stewart, was the first European child born in Katikati on 23 January 1876. He was named after the founder of the settlement, but bears no relation to him.

The children of William John and Sarah Stewart (nee Turner):

  1. George Vesey Stewart (1876-1928). The first European child born in Katikati on 23 January 1876 (reg. 1876/14472). He married Emily Florence Inson in 1917 (reg. 1917/479). George died in Rotorua in 1928.
  2. Charles James Stewart (1879-1965). Born in Katikati in 1879 (reg. 1879/10102). Charles served in the Boer War. He married Ethel Maud Burgess in 1906. Charles died in Te Awamutu in 1965.
  3. William (Bill) John Stewart (1881-1944). Born in Katikati in 1881 (reg. 1881/16760). 1NZEF. He died in Tauranga in 1944.
  4. Alexander (Alick) Stewart (1882-?). Born in Katikati in 1882 (reg. 1882/14242). He served in the Boer War.
  5. Wallace Stewart (1884-1968). Born in Katikati in 1884 (reg. 1884/6132). He married Thelma Atareta Arthur in 1932. Wallace died in Auckland in 1968.
  6. Robert (Bob) Blackhall Stewart (1887-1957). Born in Katikati in 1887 (reg. 1887/16417). He married Evelyn Hilda Goodman in 1937. Robert died in Tauranga in 1957.
  7. Henry Stewart (1888-1918). Known as 'Harry' he was born in Tauranga on 7 December 1888 (reg. 1889/17549). Henry married Elsie Christmas in 1916. He died of his wounds in France on 24 October 1918 whilst serving during World War I. Henry's name appears on the Tauranga Memorial Gates.
  8. Bruce Stewart (1891-1977). Born in Tauranga in 1891 (reg. 1891/1556). Bruce died in Auckland in 1977.
  9. Hugh Stewart (1893-1984). Born in Tauranga in 1893 (reg. 1893/10040). Hugh married Mabel Louisa Morbey in 1920; Katherine Holbeck (nee Smith) in 1946 and Isabella Glover Henriksen (nee McDermit) in 1956. He died in Hamilton in 1984.
  10. Alfred Turner Stewart (1897-1978). Born in Tauranga in 1897 (reg. 1897/15015). He died in Auckland in 1978.

William travelled to England at the request of the acclimatisation authorities and brought out a consignment of 25 blackbirds, thrushes and starlings to New Zealand on board the sailing ship Lady Jocelyn in August 1878.

William took up land in Katikati. He followed the occupation of engineer on several steamers on the East and West coasts of New Zealand, including the steamer Katikati. Eventually he joined Captain William Williams (c1836-1913) in joint ownership of the steamer Result, which traded between Tauranga and Katikati for over twenty years. They eventually sold the Result and replaced her with the steamer Rothesay in 1904, which was designed by William and built by Seager Bros. The pair ran the vessel in the Tauranga-Katikati trade for several years. In 1907 they sold the Rothesay to the Northern Steamship Company.

In 1907 William returned to Scotland where he stayed for the next twelve years. During World War I he worked as a mechanic in the munition works in Paisley, Scotland and was specially commended for his notable services.

In 1920 William returned to New Zealand. He farmed in Tauranga County and owned properties at Katikati, Te Puna, 'Bureta' at Otumoetai and Cambridge Road.

William John Stewart died at Tauranga Hospital at the age of 72 years on 25 June 1925 (reg. 1925/3891).



Bay of Plenty Times (28 November 1882).

Bay of Plenty Times (24 June 1904).

Births, Deaths & Marriages.

Obituary: Bay of Plenty Times (26 June 1925).

The Pioneers, Settlers and Families of Katikati and District (2012) by Christine Clement and Ellen McCormack (pp. 326-329).

This page was archived at perma cc July 2017

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William John Stewart (1853-1925)

First Names:William John
Last Name:Stewart
Date of Birth:1853
Place of Birth:Belfast
Country of birth:Ireland
Date of death:25 June 1925
Place of death:Tauranga Hospital
Place of burial:Tauranga Anglican Cemetery
Occupation:marine engineer and farmer
Date of Arrival:8 September 1875
Name of the ship:Carisbrooke Castle
Date of sailing:8 June 1875
Place of settlement in Bay of Plenty:Katikati
Port of arrival:Auckland
Spouses name:Sarah Turner
Spouses date of birth:c1856
Spouses place of birth:Belfast, Ireland
Spouses date of death:1938
Spouses place of death:Auckland
Spouses place of burial:Waikumete Cemetery
Date of marriage:13 February 1874
Place of marriage:St Mary's, Belfast, Ireland
Fathers name:Charles Stewart
Name of the children:Robert Blackhall Stewart, Henry Stewart, Bruce Stewart, Hugh Stewart, George Vesey Stewart, Charles James Stewart, William John Stewart, Alexander Stewart, Alfred Turner Stewart, and Wallace Stewart