Friday, December 31, 2010

Even more gravestones from Symonds Street

 Around this time, as I was wandering around, taking pictures of stonework up to 150 or so years old, I realised I should have visited the Wesleyan part of Symonds Street a lot sooner than I did. Of course, the fact that the ground is a slope underlaid by crumbling brick retaining walls, criss-crossed by tree roots, and drops down abruptly at the edge (plus the strange people you see wandering through there) does do a fair bit towards putting off the camera trail. But, it was worth it.

Couldn't quite make this one out, aside from the name which appears to be Arthur B----? Williams. This is a kiddy's grave.

Above are two shots of the grave of Elizabeth, the wife of Thomas Short (died 17 July 1881). I thought the design was beautiful -- by William Thomas, monumental mason of Lorne Street.

Comer of Lorne and Victoria-streets, Auckland East.
Inscriptions accurate and beautiful.
Monuments, Tombs, Headstones, and every description of Stone Work at the lowest possible prices, or town and country. Agent for Mr Bruce, of Raglan (the Stone Quarry). 
(Observer, 11 February 1882)

 This is another of his (above) -- John and Jane Savory.

(Observer, 7 January 1899)

(Observer, 25 August 1906)

William Thomas seems to have flourished in the trade from the early 1880s through to when he retired.

Mr. William Thomas, sometime of Victoria Street East and of Ponsonby, was born at Ludlow, Shropshire, England, in 1822. He was taught the trade of a stone cutter. In 1864 he came to New Zealand by the barque “Ballarat,” and landed at Auckland, where he remained about twelve months. Then he went to the Thames goldfields and had very in different success until 1867, when he and seven others took up the ground afterwards known as the Thames-Hauraki, and then as the “Queen of Beauty.” This proved a mine of wonderful richness, as Mr. Thomas received for his share £10,000. He then began to speculate in other parts of the field, and lost the greater part of the money which he had made out of the “Queen of Beauty.” With the remains of his fortune, he returned to Auckland, and started business as a monumental mason. He carried the business on until 1894, when he retired with a respectable fortune, and relinquished the business to his two sons, Mr. William Thomas, and Mr. Samuel Thomas, who had always ably assisted him. This business they still carry on with increasing prosperity. Mr. Thomas died at his residence, through an attack of paralysis, after three weeks of illness, at the age of seventy-eight. He left a widow and a family of two sons and three daughters. Mr. Thomas always stood aloof from party strife and politics, but took a great interest in religious matters. He identified himself throughout his life with the Primitive Wesleyan body, and was a constant attendant at the little church in Ponsonby. He was accounted a most estimable citizen, doing his duty all through life, and died deeply lamented by all classes. Mr. Thomas celebrated his golden wedding on the 1st of January, 1900, and died in June of the same year.

This appears to be his grave, but why the broken column, if William Thomas died aged 78? It usually is taken to mean "a life cut short" -- but in this case, it could also have masonic meaning. See here.

James Carlaw's grave.

The well-known turncock at the Ponsonby reservoir. Mr James Carlaw, died yesterday morning from cancer in the stomach, after a long and painful illness, at the age of 67. He was a native of Newcastle on Tyne, and had been a resident of Auckland for nearly a quarter of a century. He was an engineer, and at one time in charge of the Harbour Board dredge. For 16 years he had been in the employ of the City Council, and for 12 years turncock at the Ponsonby reservoir, and engineer of the pumping station, a position which he efficiently filled till his death. Latterly, he took charge of the works at the pumping station at Western Springs, owing to the illness of Mr Gibson. Previous to entering the employ of the City Council he was engineer in several stations.

He visited the old country a year ago, to see the friends and scenes of his youth. In his last illness he was assiduously attended by Drs Haines and Coom, but medical skill proved unavailing. Deceased was much esteemed for his integrity of character and geniality of disposition. He was a prominent Mason and was Past Master of Lodge, Eden, a member of the Royal Arch Chapter, also member of the Mark Lodge, and had been swordbearer in the Grand Lodge of England. Deceased was a Congregationalist and a regular attendant at the Beresford Street Congregational Church. The funeral which, as will be seen by advertisements elsewhere, is to be a Masonic one, will take place at three pm tomorrow afternoon and he will be interred in the Symonds Street Cemetery. 
 (NZ Herald, 14 April 1891). 

He died at the Valve House in Karangahape Road.

What intrigued me was this symbol. Near as I can make it out, it appears to be “IHS”, the first letters of Jesus’ name in the Greek alphabet. Could also stand for “in hoc signo”, “by this sign we conquer” referring to the cross, but has fraternal associations also. See here.

A piece of discarded ornamentation, just lying in the leaves.

Above, Henry White's grave.

The body of Mr. Henry White, an old and well known resident in Auckland, was found in the harbour yesterday. About half past ten o'clock, the attention of several persons walking on the wharf was attracted by the appearance of a body lying at the bottom of the harbour, at some distance on the town side of the steamboat T, and about thirty yards from the wharf. The tide was low at the time, but the onlookers could not be certain whether it was a body or not. The police boat, in which were Sergeant Evers and Constable Carrigan, was pulling out from the wharf at the time and, on being called to, the boat was brought to the spot. The body was brought to the surface by means of the boatbook, placed in the stern of the boat, and conveyed to the deadhouse near the Wynyard Pier. Here several persons, among whom was Mr. Eggington, identified the corpse as being that of Mr. Henry White, bricklayer. Mr. Waymouth, accountant, was one of those who saw the body soon after it had been conveyed to the dead-house, and he undertook to communicate with the relatives of deceased, who live at Remuera. Mr Butler, who is in the employment of Mr. Phillips, painter, deceased's son-in-law, also went to the relations. In a short time after, Mr Phillips came to town, and viewed the body at the dead-house.

An inquest will be held on the body to-day, at two o'clock, at the Royal Hotel. Mr. White left his house at Remuera on Saturday morning in good health, and without anything appearing to excite attention. Mr H White, accountant, Wyndham-street, saw deceased about 10 o'clock on the same morning, and Mr. Phillips spoke to him about 1 o'clock. Mr. George Taylor, of the Wharf Dining-rooms, thinks that he dined there on Saturday afternoon, but is not certain. Neither his relations nor the police are aware of any one who saw him after that, but, almost certainly, others who knew him saw him during the afternoon. Any one who saw him at a later hour than 1 o'clock ought to communicate with the police, so that as much evidence as possible should be before the coroner’s jury.

The deceased has been in the province for about twenty-three years. He was a bricklayer, and had built some of the largest buildings in and about Auckland, amongst which we may mention the Wesleyan Chapel High-street ; the new Lunatic Asylum; the new Post-office and Custom-house; the Southern Cross printing office, &c. 

(Southern Cross 20 July 1868)

A Coroner’s inquest was held yesterday at 2 p.m. at the Railway Terminus Hotel, on view of the body of Henry White, found drowned on Sunday morning in the Waitemata harbour. The following jury was empanelled : — Samuel Brown (foreman), John Wilson, Patrick Harkins, Charles Heine, William Miller, Thomas Watson, Hubert Hampton, John George Freer, Abraham Quail, David Fort, James Simpkins, Charles O. Montrose.

Jeremiah Carrigan, a constable in the water-police, deposed that on Sunday morning at about 10.30 he was going down the harbour in the police boat, when a number of persons on the wharf hailed him. Witness immediately turned back to ascertain what was the matter. He then saw something lying on the sand about ten yards from the wharf. There was about 54 feet of water. It was about ten yards from the T where the North Shore boat comes to. Witness put down his boat-hook and laid hold of the object, which proved to be a man, and placed it in the boat. With the assistance of Sergeant Evers, who identified the man, the body was removed to the dead-house. Sergeant Evers was in the boat with witness. The body was then clothed as now, there was nothing on the head. On removing the body to the dead-house, examined the pockets, and found the sum of 4s. 7d. in deceased's trousers pocket, and a silk handkerchief in his coat pocket. There was no watch or papers, or property of any kind. Perceived no marks of violence on the body, and no trace of blood. Judging from the appearance of the body, witness would think it had been about six hours in the water. There was light froth on the mouth when witness removed the body to the dead-house.

Louis James, proprietor of ''James's Q.C.E.," deposed that he knew deceased, and last saw him on Saturday, about 11.30 p.m. or midnight. He was knocking at witness's door. The door was closed, bat a private supper was going on. The night bell was rung, and witness went to the door and asked deceased if he wanted a bed. He said he wanted to rest awhile. Witness saw deceased's face, but told him as it was after hours he could not let him in. Deceased appeared to have been drinking a little, very slightly, but witness did not take much notice, being busy. Witness closed the door and saw no more of deceased. Deceased was alone. Some of the servants said that a man answering to the description of deceased had been in earlier in the evening and had drunk some beer. By the Foreman: He did not want a bed. He only asked to rest a bit.

Henry T. White, jun., deposed : l am the eldest son of deceased, and live at Mount Albert. Deceased lived at Remuera, and he was a builder. His age was 54. I last saw him at 10 o'clock on Saturday morning at the foot of Wyndham-street. He was then in his usual good health and spirits. There was not the least sign of melancholy or depression about him. He left me and went up Wyndham-street. I had brought him in that morning from Remuera. He seemed to have had nothing at all to drink at that time. He had no work in hand then, having just concluded a job. When I left him, he was in company with Mr. Frank Greenwood, a labourer with whom he had worked at the last job. Did not see deceased after that, though he promised to call through the day at my office in Wyndham-street. I believe he did not go home afterwards. I heard on Sunday about noon, from Mr. Phillips, that my father had not been at home on Saturday night. It was at twenty minutes to three on the same afternoon that Mr. John Phillips informed me of the finding of my father 's body. My father was in difficulties at the time of his death, and he was very much disappointed at the reception that was given to his petition by the Provincial Council. I don't believe there was anything in his affairs that would drive him to commit suicide. He was perfectly rational and sane when I saw him. He was not excited in any way. He was certainly not in a state of delirium tremens. He had been at home all last week. He had never suffered from it. I don't believe that he would commit suicide. It was not his practice to go on the wharf. I cannot account for his going on it. He expected his brother up from the Thames, and that may have got into his head. I think he must have inadvertently stepped over the wharf, the night being dark and stormy. He had never been accustomed to fits. My father's habits were temperate generally during the past few months. He had been at home during that time almost daily, during which time he had not been in liquor.

Mr. Freer: There was a steamer came up between 11 and 12 o'clock from the Thames, and that may account for his being on the wharf.

Mr. Hampton: Three steamers came up on Saturday night between the hours of 11 and 12.

Constable Carrigan, recalled, deposed : The wharf is pretty well lighted, but there is a good distance between one lamp and another. There is no security at the sides to prevent persons falling over, except for three or four yards at the watermen's steps. Saturday night was very dark and windy. The wharf was not unsafe for a sober person. A drunken man would stand a great risk of falling over. There is no policeman stationed on the wharf. There are two men on duty in Queen-street at night; the beat of one of them is from Durham-street to the lower end of Queen-street Wharf. I don't know the constable who was on duty that night. Since the reduction in the force there has been no policeman stationed at the landing-place on the arrival of the Thames steamer.

Mr. Hampton said that, considering the great traffic now on the wharf at night, there ought to be a policeman stationed on the wharf continually. It was pretty evident to him that deceased was on the wharf with the idea of seeing his son, and it was possible that he may have fallen over. Were a constable placed on the wharf he might be able to save any man in liquor from falling over. The jury, after a short deliberation, returned a verdict of "Found drowned without marks of violence, and that there was no evidence to show how deceased came by his death." The jury also returned the following rider to their verdict :—" And the jury are further of opinion that with the existing large passenger traffic on the Queen-street Wharf, and the frequent arrival at night of steamers conveying passengers from the Thames, it is absolutely necessary, in order to prevent loss of life, that a police-constable should be continually stationed on the wharf; that the wharf itself should be better lighted, and fitted with aide chains, removable as the convenience of the shipping might require." 
 (Southern Cross 21 July 1868)

This is an example of how the land is around here -- the Thorne family vault, built as close to the precipice as it possibly could get, and is slowly slip-sliding away as time moves on. The present day has transformed it into a rubbish tip.

And above, another reason why I treated this area with caution. I wasn't going to try to see whose headstone that was, thanks.

I'll end this part with another sad grave -- Harold, son of William and Lizzie Buddle, aged four. It would appear that he is alone behind the railing.


  1. awww it's all so sad the state of disrepair isn't it :-)

    Fantastic pics though. The monumental work is fabulous...such talent. There is one i took there of a fireman's grave. He had a Helmet and a hatchet on it i think. I must hunt it down and add to flickr.

    Nice post.


  2. Ooh -- let me know when you do, Sandy. Would love to look at that.

  3. So sad that part of our history has almost been forgotten behind the busy'ness of the city and the motorway.

  4. New to your blog, Lisa, but enjoyed this post very much. I am a bit of a graveyard-tragic, I am afraid.

  5. Hi Julie, and welcome! If being "graveyard-tragic" means you like wandering around them like I do -- you're at the right place.

  6. I have barely tippled the surface of your wonderful blog, but you have already caused me to research two new ideas for posts of my own: one on dairy farms in Sydney in the late 19thC and the other on the Botany Cemetery which I have had in mind for a while but need to take a bus trip out along a peninsula. Shall do that in the second week of February. Cheers ... and thanks.

  7. Oh, research trips to distant spots -- that's fun! I like causing people to research. Better than being an entirely bad influence! ;-)