Monday, December 22, 2008

Sheep in the Whau

Avondale isn't especially renowned as a sheep district -- but, along with cattle, sheep were the occupiers of many of the large farms in the area from the mid 1840s through to the end of the 19th century. The earliest sheep farm may have been that of John Kelly. Robert Chisholm from the 1860s through to the 1870s certainly ran sheep. Benjamin Gittos had one of the very few wool scouring operations as part of his tannery, and may well have cleaned fleece from local flocks.

The Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives is a goldmine of information collected by the government on various aspects of New Zealand life. One volume alone, Part H of 1895, published a detailed list of sheep owners in the the County of Eden (the Auckland isthmus). Such a list wasn't repeated -- probably because before 1894, there were a lot more sheep owners, and afterward, too few to bother with statistically.

Out of the list came the names, and flock totals, of three Avondale sheep owners as at 1894 and 1895.

H & J Binsted, the butchers, owned 24 sheep and lambs in 1894, and 20 the next year.
Alexander Blayney had 173 sheep in 1894, but zero in 1895.

And the number one sheep owner in Avondale? The Hon. Daniel Pollen, just before he died in 1896, with 291 (1894) and 290 (1895).

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