Thursday, January 29, 2009

Early stirrings towards an Anglican church in the Whau

While I was carefully looking through the very old original papers and scraps in the manuscript collection of John Bollard's papers at the Auckland Museum library (looking for references to brickmakers, and finding only one scant mention of Messrs. Murray and Sloan buying potatoes from Mr. Bollard in April 1870), I found what just may be a wee gem in terms of this district's early history.

There are a few scraps of blue writing paper, like the old minute books from the 19th century, in Bollard's collection, and one long narrow piece is headed up: "List of subscriptions towards the erection of a Church and School at Whau." Several things about the list indicate to me that this is a list of subscribers towards the establishment of an Anglican Church here, in the early 1860s (that is a decade before the gift of land on what is now St Judes Street by James Palmer in 1874). First: the top name on the list is that of "His Lordship Bishop Selwyn", who subscribed £10. Below his name is that of "Thomas Aickin Esq, MD" who subscribed "An acre of land" worth £20. That acre of land could just as well be the cemetery on Rosebank, now the George Maxwell Memorial Cemetery. To quote myself from that linked post:
The cemetery was originally part of the farm of Dr Thomas Aickin from 1859, and it is a child of his, William Aickin, who is the first burial there (3 August 1862). Dr. Aickin, according to a memorial stone in the cemetery, “dedicated this land to the Church of England as a cemetery (in 1862)”.
And yes, the Rosebank cemetery is, indeed, an acre in extent. See below.

None of the names on the list seem to counter the possibility that this dates from at least c.1865, and perhaps slightly before. The figures after each name are pounds/shillings/pence:

His Lordship Bishop Selwyn, 10/-/-
Thomas Aickin, MD An acre of land 20/-/-
OCA Rayson, 5/-/-
A H Spicer 5/-/-
J Buttress 2/2/-
A K Taylor 2/2/-
W I Taylor 1/-/-
D Pollen 5/-/-
Edward King 5/-/-
Mr. E. Brophy, 1/-/-
Mr. J Bambridge 1/-/-
Mr Richard Ringrose, 1/-/-
Mr. Charles Cooper 1/-/-
James W Copland 3/3/-
Thomas Johnson -/10/-
C Crisp 2/-/-
W. Webb 1/-/-
Charles Burke 1/-/-
Charles Edwards 1/-/-
John McLeod 1/-/-
T. Aickin 1/-/- (This could be another T. Aickin, who apparently was living on the New Lynn side of the river at the time.)
R. H. D---y (name illegible) 1/10/-
James Smith 1/2/6
George Sanders 2/-/-
Thomas Sansom, 1/-/-
John Malam, 2/-/-
Ben Belsham, 2/-/-
Fred. Bacon, 1/-/-
Edward Copland, -/5/-
Mr. Henderson, -/10/-

Interesting find -- but what became of all that money? The only thing that remained was Aickin's land offer, and that wasn't taken up by the Anglicans until 1886 (when it was put into trust). Again, quoting my earlier post:
The Avondale Anglican Cemetery Board recorded that on 12th July 1886 a Deed of Conveyance was registered, concerning “the piece of land containing one acre”, transferring ownership of the property to “Alan Kerr Taylor, John Bollard and Matthew Thomas Clayton upon trust for a cemetery and for religious charitable and educational purposes.”
That was two years after St Judes Church was completed. So, at least £60 from the subscription list went somewhere ...? More investigation required, I think.

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