Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Giving James Watson his due

In October last year, I posted about the Exchange Hotel, later Royal Exchange Hotel, in Shortland Street. At the time, what I saw pointed to the hotel being built by William Hart in the early 1840s. But no -- the original owner was James Watson, prior to Hart. This was brought to my notice by an email this week from Cheryl Hill, who has researched Watson, the original crown grantee for the section on Shortland Street where the hotel stood.

Thanks for putting me straight, Cheryl. I love hotel histories -- it's great having a bit more info on this one. If you have further information on James Watson to share here, let me know.


  1. If Cheryl Hill or anybody else has more information to share on James Watson, please post it here! Watson was my 3rd great grandfather and I'd love to know where he arrived from. I know he married Ann Elizabeth (Nancy) Woods in Russell in 1841, and the wedding announcement in the SMH mentions his hotel, which must have been brand new at the time. I also know he had some connection with Chatham, Kent.

  2. I've let Cheryl know about your comment.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Sorry James Watson is a mystery. According to others who have researched the family history he came to NZ on the China around 1839 but I haven't been able to verify this. The information I have is that he was born in Birr, Kings County, Ireland. I haven't been able to find anything regarding the Chatham, Kent connection apart from the Sydney Morning Herald comment. Yes the hotel would have been brand new when he married as the New Zealand Herald and Auckland Gazette, 1841, August 28 p.1 (3) advertises the opening on September 10 of James Watson's Exchange, Family Hotel and Coffee House. On page 4 it says that part of the Coffee House will be opened on September 1. There is a sketch of early Auckland 1844 by John Adams that shows the buildings on Shortland St. The Exchange is listed as number 18. If you want to see a copy go to the National Library's website Timeframes and search for :Auckland in February 1844, from a pencil sketch by John Adams. [1890, then link to the archived copy where you can zoom in. By September 1845 the hotel was being advertised for rent. From Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand.
    New Zealander, Volume 1, Issue 16, 20 September 1845, Page 1.

    Shortland Cres, Sept. 11.

    TO BE LET, with immediate possession, either entire or in detached portions, the Buildings and Offices known as the Exchange Hotel. Apply to
    Sheriff's Office. Why it was for let through the Sheriff's Office I don't know. Maybe Watson was bankrupt.
    I have been trying to find out where James Watson died but no success on that score either apart from the fact that it was before 1873.

    Whoopos just realised I had posted this under my son's google account so I've taken it down and am reposting it. Cheryl

    1. I am a genealogist of 22 years and also the 3rd great grandaughter of James Watson esq. Apparently because I do a lot of research I noted from sources on line that James most probably lies in a graveyard in Onehunga. I have the handwritten notes I made but I just need to locate it in my research books. All I remember is that this Watson is mentioned as being from Chathams Kent (recently). I think it is him. I can't remember the date of his internment, but I will definitely be trying to procure these notes.

  5. Thanks for your reply, Cheryl. Much appreciated.