Reid family in New Zealand

 William Reid

The Cyclopaedia of New Zealand has an informative entry for William Reid, although the name of the ship Travancore is misspelt:

REID, William. Settler Plymouth Street, Wanganui.
Born on the 11th June 1823, in the parish of Banff, Banffshire, Scotland, where Mr Reid was early engaged in farming pursuits, he gained considerable experience in farming and cattle breeding on different estates. He came out to Lyttelton in March 1851 per ship “Travencore” when there was but one house in Lyttelton and one in Christchurch, viz., Mr Godly’s and Mr Britton’s respectively. The township of Christchurch was then a network of survey lines through a bed of tutu and fern. After working for eighteen months on the Heathcote, Mr Reid went to Wellington and thence to Wanganui in November 1852. Settling in the Matarawa Valley, he commenced farming with a few cows, ultimately purchasing land on the Wangaehu, of which he still holds 1150 acres, under the management of his son James Alexander. Mr Reid also has two farms on the Waimate Plains, of about 300 acres each. Mr Reid’s town residence, which was erected in 1876, the grounds fronting Plymouth, Campbell and Bell Streets, is one of the best appointed in Wanganui. Mr Reid has three sons and three daughters.
(Source: Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Volume 1, p. 1450).

The Latter Day Saints Church records a christening for a William Reid in Banff, Banffshire, on the 22nd June 1823, and therefore it is highly likely that his parents were Alexander Reid and Jane Craib, (Source: IGI Parochial Christenings Index).

The Travancore.
Source: South Australia State Library – PRG 1373/11/39

The 562 ton Travancore sailed from Gravesend on the 6th December 1850, and arrived in Lyttelton on the 31st March 1851. It was one of the early ships bringing settles to Canterbury for the Canterbury Association. Olwyn Whitehouse has recorded a passenger list and other information about the Travancore.

The ship Travancore, 562 tons, Captain, Henry Brown, which arrived at Lyttelton on March 31, 1851, left Gravesend at Noon on Friday, December 6, with a freight of 173 souls, of which eighteen were chief and seventeen fore-cabin passengers. On Sunday, the 8th of December, she lay in the Downs, detained by contrary, winds. Early in the morning of Monday, however, she sailed with a gentle breeze and soon left the shores of England among the remembrances of the past.
During the next ten days we experienced exceedingly rough weather in the chops of the Channel and the Bay of Biscay, says the chronicler. Two kinds of feeling were prevalent at this time — dismay at being obliged to beat about in fruitless attempts to get out of the Bay, and wonder at the performances and powers of our good ship. At last on the 19th about noon, a fresh fair wind sprang up, enlivening the most desponding and soon reducing the list of sea sick passengers. It was not till then that we began to experience the exhilarating effects of a sea voyage.
The cold and damp of this period proved fatal to nearly the whole of the starlings that had been sent on board in the hope of some of them at least reaching New Zealand. Only four survived the Bay. These also died at a later period in the voyage, except one which escaped from its wiry tenement.
The Travancore now began to prove her sailing powers. She averaged for some time 200 miles daily, and on Thursday, the 26th of December, we saw the loom of Madeira to the eastward of us. Our westerly course extended to within a short distance of the Brazilian coast, passing on Saturday, the 18th of January, at midnight,between Trinidad and the Martin Vas Rocks.
Various and multiplied now became the objects of interest and excitement. The catching of a dolphin or bonita, the phosphorescent appearance of the tropical seas at night, music, dancing, and the usual nautical games all contributed to make the days pass away quickly and pleasantly….
(Source: Lyttelton Times, 10 May 1851, as quoted by Olwyn Whitehouse)

William and Sarah Reid marriage cert

Marriage to Sarah Emslie

On the 4th October 1852, about 18 months after arriving in New Zealand, William Reid married Sarah Emslie, in Wellington. Their marriage certificate does not provide much information, although it is interesting that Sarah did not know how to write her name. It seems that she was born about 1825, and emigrated to New Zealand around 1851, but a ship and passenger record has yet to be located.

There is some ambiguity about the correct spelling of Sarah’s surname. On their wedding certificate, and middle name of their son, the name is Emslie. On both William and Sarah’s death certificates it is Elmslie. As Sarah herself apparently did not know how to write her name, this may remain uncertain unless a verfiable connection can be made to her father, who in turn may also not have been able to write his name.

The Reid Family plot at the Wanganui Heads Road Cemetery has the following inscriptions:
The family burial ground of William Reid –
In loving memory of Sarah beloved wife of William died 15 June 1898 aged 73 years
also William Reid died 12 December 1921 in his 99th year
also Alexander McCurroch died 12 December 1899
also Sarah Ann beloved wife of James Alexander Reid died 24 July 1897 aged 27 years


The Cyclopedia entry indicates that William and Sarah Reid had three sons and three daughters:

  • Cecilia McLean Reid – born 1853, married John Philips in 1873.
  • Emily Wyburn Reid – born in 1855, married Joseph B Roots in 1874.
  • Margaret Reid – born 1857, married Henry Goodland Mayo in 1888.
  • William Henry Reid – born 1859, married Margaret Mary Dallas in 1885.
  • John Emslie Reid – born on the 11th October 1861, married Esther Amelia Young in 1894.
  • James Alexander Reid – born about 1867, but a birth certificate has not been found, cited in the Cyclopedia and the family gravestone, married Sarah Ann Ruscoe in 1891.

Plymouth Brethren

In the History of Wanganui, William Reid is identified as a pioneer of the Plymouth Brethren movement, and a benefactor to the YMCA.

The pioneer of the Plymouth Brethren movement in Wanganui was William Reid, a retired farmer, who died in December 1921 at the age of ninety-five. Reid lived in Campbell Street for many years and the first Gospel Hall was built on a part of his section facing Bell Street. At a later date he gave a section on the opposite side of Bell Street, on which the present hall was built in the early nineties. Reid also gave to the Y.M.C.A. the valuable site on which their buildings now stand.
(Source: L.J.B Chapple and H.C. Veitch; History of Wanganui, Hawera Star, 1939, p.176)

David and Elizabeth Robb

David Robb death notice

William Reid’s step-brother David Robb also emigrated from Scotland to Wanganui. From 1877, he is recorded as a bootmaker and freehold land owner in Glasgow Street, until his death on the 12th July 1883. (Source: Electoral Roll and Wises Directory). David Robb’s death is also recorded on the gravestone at Dumbennan, Huntly, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, along with other members of his family.

Three years later, his widowed wife, Elizabeth was married again to Thomas Morrison. Thomas died at age 56. Elizabeth outlived both her husbands, until she died in 1910. The gravestone at Heads Road Cemetery, Wanganui, reads:

In loving remembrance of David Robb who died at Wanganui 12th July 1883 aged 48 years, a native of Huntly, Scotland. Erected by his sorrowing widow and children. Thomas Morrison died 4th January 1897 aged 56 years; Elizabeth Morrison died 9th January 1910 aged 72 years.

Sarah Reid death cert

Deaths of Sarah and William Reid

Sarah died first, on the 15th June 1898, aged 73, at Plymouth Street, Wanganui. Her death certificate records the ages of the three sons and three daughters, giving an approximate indication of the years of birth. The NZ Mail recorded the following obituary:

Mrs William Reid, who died at Wanganui on Wednesday and whose funeral took place on Saturday, was 73 years of age at the time of her death, and had, with her husband, resided in the district since 1852.
(Source: Obituary in NZ Mail 23rd June 1898 p.23e)

William Reid death cert

William Reid died at 42 Campbell Street, Wanganui, on the 12th December 1921, as his gravestone inscription states in his 99th year. His death certificate records that he died of “senile decay”. On the certificate, the age of only one daughter is recorded, indicating that the two others predeceased their father.

John Emslie Reid

John Emslie Reid was born in Wanganui on the 11th October 1861. Like his father, John Reid became a farmer, initially in the Wanganui area, and later in Waipukurau, in the Hawkes Bay.

John Reid death cert
John and Esther Reid marriage cert
John Reid birth cert

On the 17th September 1894, at age 32 he married Esther Amelia Young, aged 27. The marriage took place in Auckland, although both John and Esther were living in Wanganui. Esther’s parents were James Robert Young, born in the Bay of Islands in about 1838, and Elizabeth Amy Young (nee Seymour) who emigrated on “Mystery” in 1862 when only 15 years old. The Young family farmed in Timaru, until moving to Wanganui around 1880.

John Reid died at the age of 84, on the 29th October 1944, in Waipukurau. Esther died at age 68, on the 31st July 1933, at Ruataniwha Street, Waipukurau. John and Esther are buried together in the Waipukurau cemetery.

Uncertainly about his mother’s surname continues, as John’s birth certificate uses the spelling Elmslie, whereas his marriage certificate and death certificate both have Emslie.