Monday, December 27, 2010

Brief visit to a Wesleyan cemetery

These shots were taken at the Wesleyan part of the Symonds Street Cemetery today. I could have spent much longer there, but -- as happens, I had places to go and people to see. This post may have a sequel at some stage later, though.

What caught my eye first off was this -- Mary Conway's gravestone, at an angle to all the rest. Nothing else on the stone except a grieving angel, her name, and "Lives with God". But have a look at the foreground. Yes, that is a footpath, going right over her gravesite. I'd love to know whether Council found her relatives to ask their permission to do that.

Above, a lost cross from the grave of William Augustus Dean Pitt. I say lost, because right now, it's resting on the grave for the Gribble family.

Much regret has been expressed here [in Auckland] by the many friends of Major Dean Pitt at the speedily fatal termination of the illness from which Major Pitt has been suffering. Only three weeks before his death he came over from Sydney in a delicate state of health and notwithstanding the skilful attention of Dr Haines he expired from consumption on the 8th inst., at the comparatively early age; of 58. Major Pitt came to the Colonies in 1857 after selling out his commission in the 60th Rifles, but he has been more or less connected with military matters all his life. His great wish, that he might end his days in Auckland, and be laid beside his father, Major General Pitt, who was interred in the Symonds street cemetery in that city forty years ago, has been fulfilled, and he was buried in the family vault on Tuesday last amid many tokens of affection and respect, sentiments which all in this community, who had the pleasure of being acquainted with the deceased officer, share, and much sympathy is expressed with Mrs Pitt in her sad loss. The funeral service was conducted by Bishop Cowie assisted by the Rev. C M Nelson.The grave was tastefully lined with white flowers set in moss and many wreaths and crosses of flowen covered the coffin.
(Bay of Plenty Times, 17 November 1890)

If Bishop Cowie conducted the funeral, then Maj. Pitt was an Anglican -- and his cross is in the Wesleyan Cemetery? Perhaps he was actually buried over in the Anglican section, but the cross migrated north to the Wesleyan side. I wonder if, after all motorway work, whether he's still buried there, or whether his ashes have joined those of the others at the special memorial.

Rev. William White's headstone. Follow the link, you'll see his biography -- he was a well known figure in Northland history.

These days though, despite reinforcing with metal, the headstone's in a broken mess (well, it looks like they used some sort of glue to fasten the stone to the metal -- and I can tell you, it's a heavy bit of stone!)

More destruction, this time by nature, in the form of a tree branch that no one seems keen to prune. Slowly, gradually, the left hand stone, one of two there for the Blakey family, is going to come to grief.

This is an extremely sad stone. Three children from the Boucher Hill family of Victoria Street lie here: 5 year old John Boucher Hill (29 February 1864); Charles Boucher Hill (18 August 1864, aged 16 months); and Emma Boucher Hill (1869, aged 11 months). Thomas Boucher Hill was a shopkeeper in Chapel Street (now Federal Street) c.1865, a landowner on the Whau Road (possibly New North Road) and at St Marys Bay. In 1868, he ran for a seat on the Auckland Provincial Council. When young Emma died, the family lived at Freeman's Bay. The Southern Cross seems to have lost track of him after he tried another election for the APC later that year.

This memorial is mirrored by one half the world away at St Andrews Cemetery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne in England. Fom here:

In loving remembrance of George Brewis McQueen, solicitor of this town who went to Auckland New Zealand for the benefit of his health and died one month after his arrival November 16th 1874 aged 26 years and was interred in Auckland Cemetery. His gentle loving disposition endeared him to all who knew him. His end was peace.
Someone is looking after his grave -- there's a recent garden planted here. Very nice.

Above, Charles Southwell's headstone. Another one of Auckland's footnote characters from times gone by. He first appeared on the Auckland scene early in 1856, as "the popular tragedian and lecturer" performing as a member of W H Foley's dramatic company at the Theatre Royal. At the Oddfellows Hall  a bit later that year, he gave an oration on the Crimean War.
Opinions of the Melbourne Press: "Mr. Southwell possesses several of the rare attributes of true Oratory, warmth of feeling, and a thorough conviction in his heart of the truthfulness of the cause which he advocates." — Argus, August 18.
"Mr. Southwell was, as usual, clear and eloquent, — other Orations are to be given by this talented and popular Orator." — Herald, August 18.
"Mr. Southwell is the most efficient political Orator in the Colony." — Age, September 17.
"Mr Southwell's Orations are now attracting considerable attention. They are attended by the most respectable poition of the citizens" — Examiner, 22nd September.
The Proceeds of this Oration, deducting only incidental expenses, will be handed over to the Patriotic Fund.
(Southern Cross, 28 March 1856)

He was advertised as being about to leave for Sydney -- but didn't seem to have quite made up his mind to actually leave Auckland. Instead, he stayed, and stayed, and stayed.

Theatre Royal.— We learn that this place of amusement has lately changed hands, the building having become the property of Mr. Hardington, and been leased by him to Mr. Charles Southwell. As an actor, Mr. Southwell is more known in Auckland by report than by observation; but as a man of energetic and business habits, and of extensive information, he has become generally appreciated. We augur much of his management, and wish him every success in an undertaking which, doubtless, will be attended, at the outset, with considerable difficulty. We are in possession of Mr. Southwell's views and intentions, in his new project, and shall revert to the subject in next number, when, the 'Denny and 'Zingari' being away, our spare space will be larger. 
 (Southern Cross, 4 July 1856)

He opened a "Salle de Danse" in Victoria Street in November 1856, ran for a seat on the Auckland Provincial Council in 1857 (but he finished seventh) -- but was known mainly for his lectures. His headstone describes him as "Editor & Lecturer". He died 7 August 1860, "after a severe and lingering illness", at Wynyard Villa, Symionds Street.
We cannot allow the death of Mr. Charles Southwell, until a few weeks past editor of the Auckland Examiner, to pass without further notice than that contained in our obituary. De mortuis nil nisi bonum, is the ordinary phrase : nil nisi verum, is our own. Possessed of more than ordinary talents, supported by much general reading, he kept afloat for three years a journal which was a terror to all ill doers, and, sometimes, to more than them. His blows were dealt right and loft, to friend and foe; often unjustly, but never, we believe, wilfully so. He effected much good, upon the whole; and is regretted by some of those whom he spared the least. 
(Southern Cross, 10 August 1860)

Another example of the metal reinforcing.

This time behind two small headstones which have been badly shattered, especially the one on the right. All that can be seen is "CW" and "WW" -- possibly children's graves linked to the plot for the Waddel family in the middle. The name at the bottom is William Richard Waddel, described there as "three times Mayor of Auckland." Basically, though, this meant he was elected three times in a row, serving from 1883-1886.

The funeral of the late Mr. W. R. Waddel took place yesterday, and was witnessed by thousands of people. The deceased was interred with full military honours, he having been a captain in the City Guards and a number of Oddfellows and Freemasons were also present. 

(Evening Post, 12 June 1888)

The last is that of William Rowlands who died August 21 1870. Two years previously, he arrived in Wellington after serving at the Wesleyan College in Auckland as a Classical Master, and opened his own Te Aro Grammar School there.

On August 21, of consumption, Mr William Rowlands, formerly master in Woodhouse Grove and Taunton Wesleyan Colleges, England, and late of Wesley College, Auckland, aged 84 years. His end was peace.

(Southern Cross 6 September 1870)


  1. Fascinating! Yes Rev William White was quite an identity. He was on the Tory in 1839 when it grounded on the Kaipara Heads. I think he was also dismissed from the Wesleyans for profiteering

  2. Great read thanks - after my recent fascinating trip to Bowen Street Cemetery in Wellington I've promised myself a trip to Symonds Street . . .

  3. The cemeteries in Wellington are interesting, right enough. Get started on Symonds Street, though, you may never stop.

  4. Whoops and of course I meant Bolton Street in Wellington not Bowen

  5. Fantastic Lisa..i've been doing a small spot of cemetery trawling here in Christchurch myself yesterday and transcribing on flickr.

    The information below is from the Auckland Libraries cemetery database for Symonds street and lists the area the Pitt grave is in and further below this, the link to plans of the Anglican sections of the cemetery:
    [1 of 1]
    The Anglican Sexton's list has Major General George D. Pitt at Block F 42.

    According to the late 1950's tombstone transcriptions William Augustus Dean (son of Major General Dean Pitt K.H.) died 8 November 1890 aged 50 years and Major General George D. Pitt (K.H. Lieutenant Governor of Her Majesty's Forces) died 8 January 1851 aged 79 years.

    The Parks Department record P55 of 21/8/1953 and 8/9/1853 at Auckland City Council Archives has a descriptions of two headstones in the form of crosses saying "To the memory of William Augustus Dean Pitt, late of the 60th Rifles, youngest son of Major General Dean Pitt K.H., died 8 November 1890 aged 56 years" and "In memory of his excellency Major General George Dean Pitt K.H. Lieutenant Governor of the Northern Province and Commander of H.M. forces in the colony, died 8 January 1851 aged 79 years".

    The Death certificate index for 1890 has William Augustus Dean Pitt (No. 1606).

    The New Zealand Herald of 10\11\1890 has William Augustus Dean Pitt died 8 November 1890, son of the late Dean Pitt, and buried 11 November 1890 in Symonds Street Cemetery.

    Photograph taken by James D. Richardson (Neg. No. 4-RIC286) shows tombstones of Major General George Dean Pitt and William Augustus Dean Pitt. The inscriptions read: "To the memory of William Augustus Dean Pitt, late of the 60th Rifles, youngest son of Major General Pitt K.H., died 8 November 1890 aged 56 years. In memory of his excellency Major General George Dean Pitt K.H. Lieutenant Governor of the Northern Province of New Zealand and Commander of H.M. Forces of the Colony, died 8 January 1851 aged 79 years".
    Subjects Pitt, William Augustus Dean, d.1890; Pitt, George Dean, d.1851; 60th Rifles; Dean-Pitt, -
    Symonds Street Cemetery
    Notes: The (Variable Quality) Photographs at Auckland City Libraries of the TOMBSTONE in the Anglican section at F 43 of January 1995 (Auckland City Libraries Negative Nos 46634\B\29-36) have "In memory of his Excellency Major General George Dean Pitt K.H. Lieut Governor of the Northern Province of New Zealand and Commander of her Majesty's forces in this colony, he died January 8th 1851 aged ... years" and "In memory of William Augustus Dean Pitt, late 60th Rifles, youngest son of Major General Dean-Pitt K.H., died 8th November 1890 aged 56 years".

    Link to maps of Anglican sections:

    May be a fun excursion next time to try to locate the Pitt grave :-)

    Months back i did a bio on a grave in Symonds Street... the epitaph was too tempting to ignore:

    [in shaky Christchurch]

  6. Hi Sandy,

    I found that while I was writing up the post (where would I be without handy links to the ACL's cemetery lists?) That even has the mistake using an apostrophe for a date (1950s). That's why I know Pitt was Anglican, as well as by the presnce of Bishop Cowie -- but yes, finding out where the vault is, if it still exists, would be interesting.

    The ACL lists for Symonds Street are only as good as the info they could find to compile them. Take Mr Waddel for example. "No records found by last query." Yet -- he was a Mayor of Auckland ...

    Take care down there in the Shaky South, y'hear?

  7. Cheers for the links to the cemetery maps. Looks like the Pitt grave may have been close to Hobson's grave. If so -- they did some "cleaning up" around Hobson's grave, to pretty the area up and make it look more suitabl;e for the last resting place of a Governor of NZ. If so -- the Pitt vault may have been removed without the motorway being an influence

  8. Howdy

    Yes i thought you'd probably be well aware of the ACL resources :D but ya never know! New pages added all the time.

    Shaky isles indeed...damage to my house/land in the most recent ones on boxing day...have put my claim in! Worked out well I was here if it had to happen at all.

    I await with baited breath on the outcome of the Pitt grave... always a story to follow up when one trawls a cemetery!


  9. I'm in the area again tomorrow -- might duck across to the other side and have a look. The name might be on the memorial wall ...

  10. :-) fabulous...did u get there in the end???

  11. Yes (did it today) -- and I found the gravesite. Stay tuned for an upcoming post shortly (soon as I catch my breath!) ;-)

  12. Dear Lisa,

    I have a good photo of the two gravestones of Major General George Deal Pitt and his son William Augustus Dean Pitt in the Anglican Cemetery but will have to check actual location. To the best of my memory they were buried about F42 and you can check the location on the large cemetery map in the APL.



  13. Hi Shirley,
    I found them three days after making this post.
    Finding the Pitts.

  14. Dear Lisa,

    I sent an email last night to the address you gave me re a favour you might be able to help me with but no reply and no return from postmaster so could you please let me know if you received it. Thanks, Shirley

  15. Something is definitely amiss with your email, Shirley -- because I did reply. I will try sending it through again via my other address -- your email provider may hqave issues with gmail?

  16. Thanks Lisa, I thought there must be something wrong here. It think it must have something to do with the spam arrest programme.

  17. If you haven't received email number 2 (which comes from a domain) -- I'll try another ...

  18. just tried my emails and nothing in inbox or unverified, Lisa. I shall have to check this out.

  19. Okay -- I'll try another email address (I do have a supply).

  20. Sent you another email - just want to see if you receive it - and whether we get the reply.
    Thanks, Shirley

  21. Just sent the reply now ... fingers are crossed!

  22. hi guys,
    jst found out l'm related to Major General george dean pitt and some how found you guys, l live in whangarei and are on fb as "possum Burville" if any1 is interested and may know of possible relatives lve not met

  23. How cool! You should find my follow up post, showing the Major General's grave, elsewhere in the blog.

  24. Thank you for your site and pictures of George Brewis McQueen's plot. I tend his grave as a long lost ex-pat native of Newcastle, England. Thanks again, Mick Scott

  25. Yep -- when I get time to put up a post, I do. Most of my time is at the Facebook page these days.