Topic: William John Douglas (1848-1909)

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Tauranga settler William John Douglas swallowed a galvanised staple whilst fencing. He was taken immediately to Waihi Hospital for an operation, but the staple could not be removed. William died a few days later. Two of his children would later be killed at Gallipoli on successive days. Story by Debbie McCauley.

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William John Douglas was born near Belfast in Ireland in 1848. His parents were William and Rachel Douglas (nee Turbitt) who married in Ireland in c1835.

He likely arrived in Auckland, New Zealand with his father and siblings in 1861 on board the 'Blue Jacket', his mother following a couple of years later.

William married Annie King in 1880 (reg. 1880/2745). Their children were:

  1. Eva Douglas (1883-1935). Born in 1883 (reg. 1883/2147).
  2. William Frank Douglas (1885-1911). Born in 1885 (reg. 1885/1343).
  3. George Alexander Douglas (1886-1915). Born in Tauranga on 25 November 1886 (reg. 1886/19612). He was killed in action at Gallipoli on 8 August 1915 (reg. (reg. 1918/39425). 
  4. Thomas Lewis Douglas (1889-1915). born in Tauranga on 28 January 1889 (reg. 1889/17367). He was killed in action at Gallipoli on 9 August 1915 (reg. 1918/39422).
  5. Harold King Douglas (1891-1966). Born in 1891 (reg. 1891/13227).

On 22 November 1909 William died accidentally (reg. 1909/6517). His obituary appeared in the Bay of Plenty Times on 22 November 1909:

OBITUARY. MR WILLIAM JOHN DOUGLAS: Quite a gloom was cast over the town today when intelligence was received from Waihi notifying that Mr William John Douglas had passed away. Last week Mr Douglas accidentally swallowed a galvanised staple and immediately proceeded to Waihi for the purpose of undergoing treatment for its removal. We understand that an operation was performed on Saturday, but the obstruction was not removed; today word was received that Mr Douglas had died at an early hour. Deceased was born near Belfast (Ireland) and in early life settled in New Zealand. After residing in the Northern Wairoa district he accompanied his father to Tauranga and joined him in farming operations on Mount St. John about thirty years ago. Whilst residing there Mr Douglas married. The property was afterwards sold to Mr W. T. Raymond, and Mr Douglas removed with his family to Motiti Island, where he managed the estate there on behalf of his uncle. Upon the latter's death Mr Douglas and his cousin succeeded to the property, which was disposed of to Mr Lawford. About 16 years ago, Mr Douglas purchased a block of land on the northern end of Otumoetai, afterwards selling portions to Messrs T. L. Thompson and N. Dickey, and retaining a part, on which he resided up till about two years ago, when he disposed of his farm to Mr W. Martin, at what was up till then the record price for country land in these parts. Mr Douglas then purchased a section of land on the corner of Willow and Park Streets, on which he had a comfortable house built, and where he had since lived. During his residence at Otumoetai he was one of the most prominent exhibitors of draught horses and dairy cattle at the Tauranga Agricultural and Pastoral Association's Shows, and carried off the red ribbon on very many occasions. Deceased, who was a man of sterling and upright character, belonged to a class that unfortunately is passing too rapidly away, and was held in the highest esteem by all who knew him. Although a sufferer from rheumatism for many years, he always looked on the bright and cheerful side of life. Having been a resident of the district for so many years there are numerous acquaintances in the Tauranga, Te Puke, and Katikati districts who will learn of Mr Douglas' death with the keenest regret. Deceased is survived by a widow, one daughter and four sons, mostly grown up, for whom great sympathy is felt in the heavy bereavement which has so suddenly befallen them. The funeral will leave the junction of the Tauranga-Katikati main road at 8 p.m. on Wednesday for the new cemetery.

Two of William and Annie's children's would be killed at Gallipoli on successive days.



Bay of Plenty Times (1909, November 22, p. 2).

Births, Deaths & Marriages Online (New Zealand).


This page was archived at perma cc March 2017

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William John Douglas (1848-1909)

First Names:William John
Last Name:Douglas
Date of Birth:1848
Place of Birth:Belfast
Country of birth:Ireland
Date of death:22 November 1909
Place of death:Waihi, New Zealand
Place of burial:Tauranga Presbyterian Cemetery
Date of Arrival:1861
Name of the ship:Blue Jacket
Spouses name:Annie King
Date of marriage:1880
Place of marriage:New Zealand
Fathers name:William Douglas
Fathers date of birth:1805
Fathers place of birth:Northern Ireland
Fathers date of death:18 October 1885
Fathers place of death:Tauranga, New Zealand
Mothers name:Rachel Turbitt
Mothers date of birth:1815
Mothers date of death:1872