Saturday, February 14, 2009

Street Stories 7: Children's names in Morningside

Images are details from DP 4163 and DP 4806, LINZ records.

It never pays, in local history, to just assume and not to check.

Dick Scott in the classic local history In Old Mt Albert (1961, 1983 and reprinted 2006) wrote this about one of Morningside’s early landowners:

“There was Elihu Shaw, another Hokianga pioneer who had been driven out by Heke’s war in the north. He bought 16½ acres at Cabbage Tree Swamp in the late ‘forties and then acquired larger areas as he prospered. Shaw Street is named after him and Collin and Ethel Streets and Leslie and Kenneth Avenues after his children.”

John Davenport in another classic, Street Names of Auckland (1990) went ahead and used Scott’s paragraph in his book. The Auckland City Library’s very good “Auckland City Street Names” database has:

Collins Street: (Named after Collin Shaw, son of subdivider Elihu Shaw.)
Ethel Street: (Named after Ethel Shaw, daughter of subdivider Elihu Shaw.)
Kenneth Avenue: (Named after Kenneth, a son of the subdivider Elihu Shaw.)
Leslie Avenue: (Named after Leslie, a child of the subdivider Elihu Shaw.)
Shaw Street: (Named after the subdivider, Elihu Shaw.)


McDonald Street: (Named after a local early settler family.)

These are streets in Morningside, between Morningside Drive (formerly Argyle Street) and Sandringham Road (formerly Kingsland, then Edendale Road).

There’s just one slight problem with Scott’s book, Davenport's book, and the library database: Elihu Shaw didn’t subdivide Allotment 153 where McDonald, Shaw, Collins and Ethel Streets were dedicated, nor did he subdivide Allotment 154, where Kenneth and Leslie Avenues were dedicated. In fact, he never owned Allotment 154 in his lifetime, and Allotment 153 was subdivided as “Shawville” well after his death.

I’ll go more into Elihu Shaw’s story in another post when I can, but … here’s the gen. He died in 1895, and the executor of his estate was his son-in-law Alexander McDonald. It was McDonald who subdivided Shaw’s farm at Morningside (he himself was a market gardener as was his father-in-law in Shaw’s latter years). Another son-in-law was Mr. Collins. The McDonald, Shaw and Collins families are each memorialised in “Shawville” streetnames (the subdivision taking place in 1910, 15 years after Elihu Shaw’s death.) It’s not certain who Ethel was, but I reckon she was either a McDonald or a Collins.

As for Kenneth & Leslie Avenues, these streets are on a farm formerly owned by James Gribble until his death c.1886. In 1891, his son-in-law, S. L. Hirst, had the title, and in 1906, 20 years after Gribble’s death, the allotment was subdivided and the roads dedicated. Who were Kenneth and Leslie? Probably either from the Gribbles or the Hirsts. Hopefully, more info will come to light.

For the record, the names of Elihu Shaw’s children were: John, Silas, Emily, William, Mary, Martha, Elizabeth and Reuben. Nary a sign of an Ethel, a Kenneth or a Leslie. To Scott’s credit, however, he may not have thought to check the subdivision plans at the time, and wouldn’t have had ready access as we have today to the Shaw family history. His book, though, is still a classic.

The Gardener and the Squire’s Daughter, Gwen P. Howe, 1988
Deeds Indexes for Allotment 153 and 154, Section 10, Suburbs of Auckland, LINZ.

An update -- and likely answer as to who Kenneth and Leslie were -- here.


  1. Oooh, thanks for that post, given me a reminder to ask Dad to jot down almost exact same details about a large land holding a few suburbs over with streets named after the children of the original owner.
    Don't think it's been noted anywhere, Dad's dad knew the land owner and the kids themselves.
    Damn good reminder that history is available even down to the names of the streets!

  2. Cheers, Jayne -- yes, never too soon to note down history while folks are still around who remember it. Good on you!

  3. How wonderful! You have filled in so much detail for me concerning my Great, Great Grandfather
    Elihu Shaw....I had no idea!

    Thank you
    Karen McDowell.

  4. Thanks for the info, I like so many others am a direct decendent. I am fortunate to have a few of his records, his daughter Elizabeth was my great great grandmother, i have her and Alexander's portrait in my kitchen. Their son Victor was my great grandfather and he built a house inEthel st where he raised my grandfather's family. I was fortunate to visit the house a few times before it was buldozed after he died.

    1. Elizabeth and Alexander are my g.g.grandparents also. Victor is my grandmothers brother. Her name was Vera McDonald, I remember Uncle Billy, Victor and David. I used to call David 'Old Uncle David' (he liked it) .. I'm Shelley King and I live in Morningside ! also on FB.

  5. Thanks for your comment. That's wonderful that you still hold some of thos old records.