Topic: Emily Charlotte Sophia Surtees (née Stewart) (1857-1957)

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Emily Charlotte Sophia Surtees (née Stewart) was the eldest child of George Vesey and Margaret Torrens Stewart (née Miller). She was born in 1857, possibly at Lisbeg House, County Tyrone, Ireland. Emily was a rare breed, a woman photographer in a male dominated profession. Her photographs appear in this kete as the 'Emily Surtees Photographic Collection'. Story by Debbie McCauley.

Emily Stewart was born in 1857, possibly at Lisbeg House in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. She arrived in New Zealand on board the Lady Jocelyn in 1878 with her father, George Vesey Stewart; grandparents, Captain Mervyn and Frances Stewart (née Vesey); her Aunt Adela and Uncle Hugh Stewart, their son Mervyn, and various other family members.

Whilst on board the Lady Jocelyn there was a big party for her 21st birthday. She also met her future husband, Richard Villiers Surtees, on board. He was the brother of Louisa Surtees who travelled as a companion to Adela Stewart. Richard and Louisa's father was the Reverend Surtees who had married Adela and Hugh in England.

The following year, on 12 June 1879, Emily and Richard married at Mount Stewart, the home of George Vesey and Margaret Stewart. Their wedding photograph is below:

Marriage of Emily Stewart to Richard Surtees at Katikati, 12 June 1879

The wedding was reported in the Bay of Plenty Times on 14 June 1879:


On Thursday the nuptials of Mr R. Villiers Surtees, son of the Rev. R. Surtees, Rector of Holtby, Yorkshire, England, and Miss Stewart, eldest daughter of Mr George Vesey Stewart, J.P., Mount Stewart, Katikati, were celebrated at the bride's residence at Mount Stewart, in the presence of a large and select company, including many of the elite of the neighbourhood. The weather was most propitious, and, if there any truth in the old adage "happy is the bride the sun shines on," Miss Stewart was specially favoured in this respect and may look forward to a long career of bright and unclouded happiness in her wedded life. Though in the middle of winter, the day was warm, sunny, reminding us of the early autumn weather in the old country, which is regarded as so congenial for bridal festivities. The scene at the bride's residence seemed peculiarly consonant with the occasion. The bright waters of the Bay of Plenty sparkling under the rays of the midday sun stretching away in the distance, the dark green of the trees and foliage skirting the beach, the Katikati mountain ranges with their well-defined summits appearing against the pure azure of the western sky, with the autumnal tinted verdure of the Katikati hills in the background formed a picture which perhaps this part of New Zealand alone could present.

Before the commencement of the ceremony the lawn in front of Mount Stewart House was dotted with groups of ladies and gentlemen chatting pleasantly on the happy event - the gay attire of the former, and the wedding favours worn by many of the latter, at once revealing the object of the festive gathering. A little after two o'clock the company assembled in the drawing room. The bridegroom, who was accompanied by his best man, Mr Edward J. Smith of Wanganui, awaited at the improvised altar, the arrival of the bride, who immediately entered, leaning on the arm of her father. She looked charming, the pure white corded silk trimmed with lustrous stain, and veil of Limerick lace suspended with a wreath of orange blossoms, in which she was attired harmonising admirably with the fairness of her complexion.

Following the bride came her three bridesmaids, two of whom wore white cashmere dresses double trimmed with blue and the third - Miss Gledstane's - a white cashmere trimmed with salmon colour. All three wore mop caps to match and handsome silver lockets, the gift of the bridegroom, the becoming manner in which they were attired setting off their beauty to the best advantage. The bridesmaids were Miss Gledstane’s, cousin of the bride; Miss Surtees, sister of the bridegroom; and Miss Devine. Mrs Stewart, the bride's mother, who occupied a seat on the left of the altar, wore a rich mauve silk trimmed with white lace, with bonnet of similar material tastefully trimmed on one side with a wreath of flowers. She looked extremely well, her youthful appearance being noticed by several of the company.

The bride and bridegroom having taken their places in front of the altar, the Rev. Cannon Johnston, who officiated, proceeded with the ceremony. The replies of both bride and bridegroom to the usual questions were clear and distinct. At the conclusion of the ceremony the bride was affectionately embraced by her mother and the friends and relatives immediately surrounding her and the newly married couple afterwards received the congratulations of the general company. The register having been signed and duly witnessed, the bride and bridegroom left the drawing-room and proceeded to the lawn, where a photograph of the bridal party was taken by Mr Spender, photographer. Immediately afterwards luncheon was served in the billiard room.

The following, among others, received invitations to be present at the wedding:- Captain Mervyn Stewart and Mrs Stewart, the Hon. George M. O'Rorke, Major-General J. F. Stoddard, Major-General T. H. Stoddard and Mrs and Miss Stoddard, Captain Hugh Stewart and Mrs Stewart, Captain Morris, M. H. R., and Mrs Morris, Rev. Canon Johnston and Mrs Johnston and the Misses Johnston, Rev. E. J. Phillips, Rev. J. Mark and Mrs Mark, Mr and Mrs Hoyte and the Misses Hoyte, Inspector Emerson and Mrs Emerson, Mr and Mrs Jordan, Mr and Mrs Buddle, Captain and Mrs Way, Mr G. N. Gair, Mr and Mrs Killen, Mr and Miss Gledstane’s, Mr and Mrs Stoddard, Mr and Mrs Crene, Mr Quintal, Mr and Miss Commons, Mr Buckworth, Miss Surtees, Miss Devine, Mr and Mrs Stephenson, the Hon. Randolph Rowley, Capt. and Mrs Clarke, Major and Mrs Clarke, Mr and Mrs Hunter, Mr Everard, Mr F. A. Purvis, Major Weir, Mr Gellibrand, Captain Crapp, Captain and Mrs Turner, Mr and Mrs Shaw, Mr and Mrs Chadwick, Captain and Mrs Tunks, Mr and Mrs Beattie, Mr Claude Park, Mr D Hean, Mr A. Hill (Crown Lands Ranger), Mr D. A. Tole (Waste Lands Commissioner), Dr and Mrs Ginders, Mr and Mrs Goldsmith, Mr and Mrs Goss, Mr W. W. Tuthill, Mr and Mrs J. Wylie, Mr McKinney (National Bank), Mr and Mrs Kelly and Miss Kelly, Captain and Mrs Morton, Captain and Mrs Farrar and the Misses Farrar, Mr and Mrs Louch, Miss Louch, Mr J. da Vinci Lough, and Mr E. F. Louch, Capt. and Mrs Norris, Mr and Mrs Mulvaney and the Misses Mulvaney and Mr T. Mulvaney, Mr and Mrs Konig, Mr Buckworth, Mr Ralston, Mr Mulgan, Mr J. G. Allen, Mr Wm. Allen, Mr A. C. Allen, Mr Edward J. Smith (Wanganui), Mrs Phillips, Mr and Mrs Fletcher and the Misses Fletcher, Mr and Mrs Latimer, Mr and Mrs Smith (Katikati), the Misses Leech, Miss Mulgan, Mr D. McKellar (Collector of Customs), Mrs Andrews, Mr Thomas Wrigley, Mrs Wrigley, and Miss Wrigley, Mr S. L. Clarke, and Mrs Clarke.

Mr G. V. Stewart, at whose right sat the bride and bridegroom, occupied the chair, and Captain Mervyn Stewart the vice-chair.

Grace was said by the Rev Canon Johnston, and after luncheon.

The Rev Canon Johnston proposed the health of the newly married couple, who he was sure carried with them the best wishes of everyone who knew them (hear, hear), but among all their friends there was none that entertained a deeper feeling of regard for them than he did himself (applause). He prayed that every blessing might rest upon them, and that their life might be one of happiness and prosperity.

The toast was received with very warm applause.

Mr Surtees replied in very felicitous terms, thanking Canon Johnstone for his kindly remarks regarding him and his wife, and the company for the very cordial way in which they had responded to the sentiment. He felt confident that in taking the step he had done, he had united himself to one that would secure him life-long happiness (applause).

Captain Morris, M. H. R., who was very cordially greeted, rose to propose the health of Mr G. V. Stewart and Mrs Stewart, the father and mother of the bride. Although he could have wished the pleasing duty of proposing this toast had been entrusted to abler hands than his, yet he felt there was a peculiar appropriateness in his being permitted to do so, as he was one of the first gentlemen in this district that supported Mr Stewart's project regarding this settlement when he first came to the colony (applause). He confessed that at that time, though he believed Mr Stewart might be able to some extent carry out his views, he had no idea that the scheme which he projected would meet with the unqualified success that had attended it (applause). He was pleased to admit that the results achieved by Mr Stewart in connection with the settling of this district far exceeded anything that he anticipated (applause). Only those who had visited this district some few years ago, before the establishment of Mr Stewart's settlement, could form an adequate idea of the advantage conferred by Mr Stewart on the colony (hear, hear). At that time the whole place was he might say a desert waste, unprofitable to the county, and most of it difficult to access, whereas now it was dotted with pleasant homesteads, the abodes of industry and peace and hundreds, he might say thousands, of acres were now converted into well-cultivated and fertile paddocks (applause). For the bringing about this state of things they were indebted to Mr Stewart, and it was no small obligation (applause). To him they were also indebted for the happiness of meeting together on that occasion, a happiness which he was sure they would all look back to with pleasure during the remainder of their lives (cheers). It could not be but a source of genuine gratification to Mr and Mrs Stewart to see their beloved daughter wedded that day to one in every way worthy of her regard (applause), and on behalf of himself and the company assembled under their hospitable roof, he tendered them their heartfelt congratulations (applause). He was glad to be their guest on such an auspicious occasion and from the bottom of his heart he prayed that they might long be spared to witness the prosperity and happiness of their offspring (applause).

The toast was very cordially honoured.

Mr G. V. Stewart, on rising to respond was greeted with marked applause. He thanked Captain Morris, for the very flattering terms in which he had proposed his and Mrs Stewart's health, and also the company for the manner in which they had received it. It was quite true, as Captain Morris said, that the establishment of the Katikati Settlement had been a great advantage to the whole district, but Captain Morris had given him very substantial assistance in the formation of the Settlement, and it was but fair that his services should be recognised (applause). In the year 1874 this project for the establishment of a settlement at Katikati met with exactly the same opposition that his scheme for another settlement in this district was at the present day receiving at the hands of the Waste Lands Board, but that opposition he overcame thanks to Captain Morris, Mr Kelly, and other influential gentlemen (applause), and he entertained no doubt that the present opposition which he as now meeting with would be also overcome (applause). He again thanked the company for the kindly expression of their feelings towards him and Mrs Stewart, and he could not sit down without assuring them of the pleasure he felt at seeing so many of his friends gathered at his festive board. He hoped that before long there would be many occasions of a like nature on the block (cheers).

Captain Way (Rotorua), in a humorous speech, proposed the health of the bridesmaids, on whose beauty and accomplishments he passed a high encommm. He was happy to number the worthy bridegroom among his friends, and he hoped Mr Surtees' good example would stimulate all the young gentlemen in the company to go and do likewise (applause). He (Captain Way) had gone through the ordeal himself, and so he could speak from experience, and if his young friends around him would take his advice, they would enter the connubial state as quickly as possible, for it was the happiest in every respect (applause).

The toast having been duly honoured -

Mr Edward J. Smith (Wanganui) responded in a few appropriate remarks.

Mr Stewart, in a humorous speech, proposed the health of the groomsman and the bachelors present.

Mr J. G. Allen, in responding, said, though he could not boast of having successfully passed through the trying ordeal as Captain Way had done, yet from all he had seen and heard he was inclined to think that young men might do a worse thing than imitate Mr Surtees example (applause); in face, his advice to all young men was that they should marry (laughter and applause). Young men coming to New Zealand were generally lonely, and there was no better cure for this evil than matrimony (hear, hear and applause). He himself was quite a convert to Captain Way's views regarding the question of marriage (hear, hear), and he hoped before long to give a practical proof of the sincerity of his convictions (laughter and applause) - that is if he could find a young lady like those he saw around him that would have him (renewed laughter and applause). He concluded by thanking the company for the very cordial manner in which they had honoured the toast.

Mr G. N. Gair, in a neat speech, proposed the health of Captain Mervyn and Mrs Stewart - the father and mother of Mr G. V. Stewart. He felt that Captain Mervyn and Mrs Stewart were worthy of everything that could be said in their praise (hear, hear), and he thought their conduct in leaving their native land at their ripe age, and following the footsteps of their son to New Zealand, indicated an amount of energy and courage on their part which could be rarely met with (applause). For bringing up such a son as Mr George Vesey Stewart, and as it were bestowing him on the colony, they were entitled to the thanks of the community (applause), for Mr Stewart's services to the country were universally recognised (hear, hear). Captain Mervyn and Mrs Stewart were now well advanced in years, and in every relation of life they had set an example which was worthy of general imitation (applause). It must be a great pleasure to them to see their grandchildren who were growing up treading in their footsteps (hear, hear), and the ceremony that had just taken place, uniting their son's eldest daughter to one in every way worthy of her, would be a special source of gratification (applause). He concluded by wishing Captain Mervyn and Mrs Stewart unmingled happiness in the land of their adoption.

The toast was honoured with every demonstration of cordiality.

Captain Mervyn Stewart, on rising to respond, was greeted with warm applause. He briefly thanked the company for the cordial manner in which his and Mrs Stewart's names had been received and assured them it afforded him the greatest pleasure to meet so many of his friends on such an occasion in Katikati (applause). Mrs Stewart would, he was sure, feel deeply gratified when he would tell her of this expression of their feelings towards her (applause). Before sitting down he desired to propose the health of the Rev. Canon Johnston, who had taken a no unimportant part in the happy proceedings of that day (applause).

The toast was warmly drank.

The Rev. Canon Johnston, having expressed his thanks for the manner in which his name had been received, remarked that he hoped it would be found that he would not make the worst settler in Katikati (laughter). He was a very quiet man - that is, so long as people kept from treading on his coras, but once his temper was thoroughly roused he had an awkward habit of forgetting the Church (laughter), and he might be found exceedingly disagreeable (roars of laughter). He was an old soldier, and sometimes a bit of a fight might not be altogether unpleasant to him (renewed laughter). However, joking apart, he thanked the company heartily for their kindly manifestation of feeling towards him.

 After the ladies left, a few more toasts were given.

At half-past four o'clock, the company assembled on the veranda to take leave of the bride and bridegroom.

After shaking hands with the guests, and having many a wish expressed for their future welfare, the happy pair left amid a shower of rice and slippers and the ringing cheers of the gentlemen present.

At night Mrs Stewart gave a ball in the billiard-room, which was gracefully decorated for the occasion. Dancing commenced at 8 o'clock, and was kept up with great spirit till an advanced hour yesterday morning.

The bridal presents, which were numerous and valuable, included the following:- A toilet service of blue porcelain, painted in chaste design, from the Rev. Canon Johnston and Mrs Johnston; a handsome five o'clock tea service of Limoge's porcelain, a delicate pink colour, from Mr A. W. Fisher; a silver sugar basin, from Mr Claude Park; A comb, brush, and papier-mâché tray, from the Hon. Randolph Rowley; two silver napkin rings, from Mr Buckworth; a fruit knife, fork, and spoon, from Mr Rolston; a silver Scotch brooch, of classic design, from Mrs A Fisher; A gold crested ring, from Mrs Stewart; a beautifully designed and enamelled papier-mâché blotter, from Mr F. A. Purvis; a silver egg-stand, with cups and spoons from Mrs Beattie; a silver and gold cake basket, from Mr Hean (Auckland); a handsome lamp of pink porcelain, medallioned from Mr and Mrs Fitzgibbon Louch; a handsome frame, from Miss Devine; a miniature of the bride, beautifully painted by Mrs Stoddart, from Mrs Stewart; a table and stand from Mr Smith; a fancy table, from the Misses Leech; a handsome opossum rug from Mr G. N. Gair and Mr Tuthill; a handsomely embroidered apron, from Miss Farrar; a cushion, from Capt. and Mrs Morton. Mr Booth, of Tauranga, also presented a basket of choice flowers. The staff of the BAY OF PLENTY TIMES presented a handsome work-box, furnished with a selection of useful articles.

The brides cake was from the establishment of Mr Waters, Auckland, Mr J. Maxwell of Tauranga supplying the general confectionary, all of which was of a very superior quality, and worthy of the high reputation of his establishment.

During the day a flag was floated from the upper storey of the BAY OF PLENTY TIMES premises in honour of the event. (Bay of Plenty Times, 14 June 1879)

Emily Charlotte Sophie Surtees (nee Stewart), 1898Emily and Richard lived at Stanford which was situated on Surtees Road. A few years ago the council renamed the road Hikurangi, apparently not believing that the name Surtees was relevant to the history of the Katikati area. It appears that Emily and Richard and family moved to England for a few years but later returned to Katikati.

In around 1899-1900 Emily made a visit to Katikati and photographed many of the early settlers living there as well as the local points of interest. She took her plates with her back to England in around 1900. On her way home Emily passed through the tropics and unfortunately, due to the humidity, some of the plates sustained damage.

When Emily arrived home she developed the plates herself using her own equipment and printed the photographs. The collection was mounted in a photograph album and Emily made notes throughout as to who the people and places were, also including the dates the photographs were taken. This is the history of the Emily Surtees' Photographic Collection.

Richard died, aged 85, on 26 April 1938 at Katikati. He was buried in Katikati Cemetery.

Emily died, aged 99, on the 2 May 1957. She was cremated at Waikumete Cemetery.


Bay of Plenty Times, 14 June 1879

The Times (London, England), Friday, Apr 29, 1938; pg. 1; Issue 47981. Retrieved December 28, 2012, from


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Emily Charlotte Sophia Surtees (née Stewart) (1857-1957)

First Names:Emily Charlotte Sophia
Last Name:Stewart
Date of Birth:1857
Place of Birth:Lisbeg House, County Tyrone
Country of birth:Northern Ireland
Date of death:2 May 1957
Place of death:Torbay, Auckland, New Zealand
Place of burial:Waikumete Cemetery
Family Surname:Surtees
First settled:Katikati
Date of Arrival:1878
Name of the ship:Lady Jocelyn
Place of settlement in Bay of Plenty:Katikati
Later places of settlement:Auckland
Port of arrival:Auckland
Spouses name:Richard Villiers Surtees
Spouses date of death:26 April 1938
Spouses place of death:Katikati
Spouses place of burial:Katikati Cemetery
Spouses nationality:English
Date of marriage:12 June 1879
Place of marriage:Mount Stewart, Katikati
Fathers name:George Vesey Stewart
Mothers name:Margaret Torrens Miller
Name of the children:Sophy Surtees, Sybil Surtees, Bessie Surtees, Scott Surtees, Carrie (Toto) Surtees, and Ethel Surtees
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License
Emily Charlotte Sophia Surtees (née Stewart) (1857-1957) by Debbie McCauley (Tauranga City Libraries) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License