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Genealogy:The Journey of the Duff Family
Posted by: Mace Edwards on May 18 2015 07:16

The Duff Family emmigrate to New Zealand

Donald Duff and his two adult children, John and Margaret,sailed for New Zealand on the Larkins, which left from the Downs in the English Channel on Friday, June 8,1849. Most of the 130 passengers were Scots about to start a new life in the Free Church settlement of Dunedin on the other side of the world.

The Larkins was a wooden sailing ship built in Calcutta 1808 by the East India Steam Navigation Company and named after J.P. Larkins, the Company's Deputy Chairman. A fully rigged ship with three masts, two decks and a poop deck, she was 129ft x 35ft with 6.5ft between decks. In 1810 she was recorded as having a crew of 60 and 14 guns. During her working life, the Larkins transported convicts from England to Sydney and Hobart on three occasions in 1817, 1829 and 1831. By 1849 the Larkinswas not in good shape and four years later made her final voyage to Albany, Australia. There she was anchored in the harbour and used as a coal hulk for 23 years before being “pulled out of the water and completely broken up ... the surviving timbers (teak) used in construction of houses built at this time.” The figurehead, depicting an Anglo-Saxon warrior, is housed at the Albany Museum. (* 5)

The voyage to New Zealand was reasonably uneventful. Off the coast of Cape Verde they saw large numbers of flying fish which are truly amazing. At night they gave off a fluorescent light and “ lit up the water all around the ship - not like fire but more like the sparkling light of glow worms.” In the evenings the passengers danced country dances, Scottish reels and quadrilles on deck to the music of a fiddler and there was singing as well. (* 24)

There were strange incidents from time to time - a large shelf fell and hit Donald Duff. He wasn't badly hurt but on the same day a little boy had a very unusual accident - “he took hold of the main sail that was flapping about and it took him up a good height (in the air) and then he fell. He turned up his eyes and chattered his teeth, he got his sight afterwards.” In the tropics the men had an unusual bath, running naked in the rain after locking the women and children safely below hatches.” (* 1) There were three deaths, two of them infants, and three births during the voyage.

The Scots immigrants were not the easiest of companions for the other passengers on board. Hardy's diary records that he “was a good deal annoyed with continual psalm singing and praying by the scotch people. They will go to prayers after breakfast, in the young mens cabin, and directly after call one another liars and swear like fun. They monopolise the time from 8 to 9 every evening and if anyone does anything while they are at their devotions they are shore to cast a slur on them in their prayers ... a more selfish and narrow minded set I never saw.” (* 24).

Food was an ongoing saga for passengers and crew. Hardy describes meager rations as well as difficult cooking conditions. With a pregnant, sick wife plus two young children to fend for, his own food offerings for the family were dominated by gruel, a thin concoction of water strained through oatmeal with either savoury or sweet additives.

As the journey progressed both water and meat rations became increasingly putrid. Things were so bad that “a deputation of 15 interviewed the cook regarding the soup. ” (Hardy's diary identifies Thomas Grainger as being one of the leaders). Only just two weeks at sea, the water started to stink and lime juice was given out to make it taste a little better. The sailors said the water would stink eight more times and then not stink again! After this the passengers tried to catch rain water whenever possible.

Conditions on the Larkins were also miserable for the sailors, even by the standards of those times. During the voyage the passengers were very concerned for the sailors, Hardy noting, “There were great complaints (to Captain Brunton) against the owner of the ship Mr Young for the very scandalous manner in which the sailors were treated. Their meat is exceedingly bad. They have no flour, no butter and they get no grog which to them is a great hardship. I wonder how they stand to do their work for it is very labourious.” (* 24)

Because the Larkinswas so battered, some passengers had refused to sail on her and, instead, opted to travel on theKelso, making for very crowded conditions on this ship. A third ship, Cornwall, had a very long voyage - it set sail six weeks before the Larkins and landed at Port Chalmers a week later. Ironically, of these three ships, the Larkins made the best time for the journey despite her dilapidated state. She was the ninth ship to reach Dunedin bringing settlers to the new colony, making landfall at Port Chalmers on September 11, 1849 after 96 days at sea. (* 3,4,5, 24)

Just two days after landing at Port Chalmers, J.B. Sadd records that “most of the sailors were packing up their things to run away being tired of the Larkins. We expect them all to go.” On the third day in port most of the Scottish settlers had left and the remaining sailors “... are all drunk and fighting. Two of them. one named Riley, an Irishman, and a Dutch man named Collings, had a most desperate fight. Riley knocked the other down the main hatchway head foremost, and after when he came up again knocked him down on the deck and bit his upper lip off and spat it upon the deck ... such a dreadful sight I never saw before.” (* 1)

After four weeks at Port Chalmers, the Larkins continued its voyage, delivering the remaining passengers to Wellington and Nelson. The ship had to be “manned by Runners as nearly all our sailors cleared out, thirteen left in one night and, out of the Ship’s Company of 24 men before the mast, only three original hands were left to work the ship to Wellington.” (* 2)

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Genealogy:Life in the Otago Settlement
Posted by: Mace Edwards on May 18 2015 07:15

Life in the Otago Settlement

By the end of 1848, the first settlers had achieved a great deal and Dunedin boasted of having “... two hotels - a church - a school- a wharf, small though it be. We have butchers, bakers, and stores of all descriptions. We have an Odd Fellows' Society - a Cricket Club- we have boats plying on the bay and the river, and every outward sign of commercial activity and enterprise .” There was also “a goodly sprinkling of houses, some of wood, others of mud and grass; whilst numerous gardens, well fenced and cleared, and one street at least, showing a broad track from end to end of the future town.” (* 27)

However, Dunedin failed to impress the new arrivals from the Larkins. J.B. Sadd writes, “This place called Dunedin is a wretched hole not fit for a dog to live in. You cannot go from one house to another without getting up to your knees in mud.” Sara Lowe was equally scathing, “... the miserably imperfect state of the houses, mostly built of clay or green wood which from its shrinking so much renders them very uncomfortable, the more so as scarcely a day passes without very high winds ... indeed it is not infrequent to have all four seasons in one day ... if I could have guessed half the inconveniences attending us in such a new settlement I would never have come.”

Despite these grumbles, they had to admit that the new land showed some promise. The bird life was abundant “... the Parrots (kakariki) are the most common birds here, flying in flocks like so many sparrows, all green with red and yellow about the head.” The bush was already providing good timber “... the settlers naturally place themselves (at the edge of the bush) for the sake of the timber which is I must admit splendid.” There was plenty of work available. “The principal work going on is sawing. Two sawyers can earn from 18/- to 20/- per hundred feet. They can cut 120 feet a day.”

Food was plentiful with oysters, muscles and cockles on the shore for the taking and wild boar in the bush. You could also eat out at an hotel. ”We made for the principal inn as a matter of course where we dined on roast beef and potatoes which we punished most awfully.” Soils were fertile as well. “All kind of vegetation here is gigantic, we had some Radishes given us yesterday, very large but no flavour, the potatoes are splendid.” (* 1,3)

The Duffs in Dunedin

It is possible to track where the Duff family lived during these first years through the pastoral visits of the Rev Thomas Burns. During the first eight years of the Dunedin settlement, the Rev Burns, nephew of the famous bard Robbie Burns, visited every household in the District recording each person living within a dwelling.

During a visit in December 13, 1849, he records that Donald, Margaret and John Duff were living at the Caversham end of Princes Street.

On May 23, 1850, Margaret Duff married Louis Edwards at the “dwelling of Donald Duff, Princes Street, Dunedin, with witnesses being John Duff and Thomas Grainger.” She moved to Company Bay, Upper East Harbour where Louis was living.

Later in 1850 Donald Duff shifted to North East Valley and worked as a farm labourer for a fellow Larkins passenger, Dave Hutcheson.. He worked there until 1856 then moved in with John and Emily Duff when they also shifted to North East Valley.

John Duff, who is described as a shoemaker on his arrival, continued to live at Princes Street for some time, possibly carrying on his trade. On December 30, 1853 he married Emily Cameron, who had arrived in 1852 on board theSlains Castle. Their first two children, Mary and Donald were born at Princes Street. In 1856 the family, moved to Signal Hill, North East Valley, where John was now described as a farmer. Two more children were born at North East Valley – Janet in 1857 and Jean in 1858. (* 6)

John Duff did not make a happy transition to the new settlement. He “committed suicide by hanging himself to a tree in the Puerua Bush (Balclutha District) on or about 26thDecember last, 1872.” Reports of the time were brutally direct. The Otago Witness newspaper reported that at the time of his death John Duff “... possessed, or at one time did possess considerable property. Of late his habits have been very intemperate, and he has consequently been separated from his wife and family, who are said to be resident in Dunedin.” The Duffs were rarely referred to again by the Edwards family. My father, Russell Edwards, remembers hushed references to the Duffs, particularly in connection with a Willy Duff who competed in the Caledonian Games for many years. (* 16)

Life at Company Bay, Otago Peninsula

One of the sailors who deserted the Larkins in 1849 was a young Swedish man named Louis Edwards. Having changed his name from Lars Peterson to Louis Edwards in the United States and become a naturalised citizen, Louis jumped ship and made a new life for himself in the raw Otago settlement. At the time of his marriage to Margaret Duff in 1850, he was working as a sawyer for the Company Bay sawmill run by James Christie. (* 10,6 )

James Christie and his family had arrived on the Philip Laing and settled at Upper East Harbour in 1848. When they arrived to view the property “... there was (already) a company of men put there to saw timber for the Church and other buildings ... but owing to some dissatisfaction with the men ... they were paid off and he (James) ... got the job of sawing timber for the Church.” (* 22)

The Christies built a wattle and daub cottage as a temporary home by the edge of a stream at Dublin Bay. Shortly after they built a timber and stone building called Airlie Bank Hotel, to house timber workers employed by the Company. The name “Airlie Bank” was named after the Ogilvy Family Seat, Airlie Castle, in Perthshire. A brass plaque from the homestead is now mounted on the gate of the first house in Castlewood Road at the Company Bay end, and the Airlie Bank Private Cemetery, halfway up the road towards Larnach’s Castle), are the only remaining connections with the name “Airlie”. (* 9)

James Christie and Louis Edwards were inextricably entwined in the timber company at Company Bay. The pit sawn timber was towed by whaleboat to the Dunedin township where it was sold. The sawmilling company operated there until 1881. When the mill had taken all the good trees, the rest was felled and burnt - the fires lasted for a fortnight – then the ground was sown in grass for dairy farming. (* 19,23,29)

Louis and Margaret's first son, Donald, was born in 1851 at the “Upper Harbour” Airlie Bank. John followed in 1853. It seems likely that the family lived at the Airlie Bank Hotel during these years. However, by the time Thomas was born in 1855, Margaret and Louis had established their own homestead at Rosebank, Cosy Dell (between Macandrew Bay and Company Bay). In 1858 Donald Duff, now 68, came to live with the expanding family. Three more children were born at Cosy Dell – Lewis, Helen and James. (* 6, 19)

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Genealogy:Problems With The Church
Posted by: Mace Edwards on May 18 2015 07:15

Problems With The Church

At the Airlie Bank Hotel, James Christie sold a variety of goods including food and clothing as well as housing itinerant workers. He also operated an illegal still in the bush behind the hotel and was convicted of selling spirits without a licence in the late 1858. James was obviously fond of a drop himself and often shared this with his neighbours ... “ the Edwards would come in and he would have a few noggins and as it got near Christmas he would have a few more and then he would have half a bottle.” (* 21)

When James applied for a liquor licence in 1859, the Free Kirk was incensed. A special meeting was held by the parish (at that stage Port Chalmers) and they recommended that “the Superintendent of the Province refuse the granting of said licence for the following reasons :

  1. That the Upper Harbour is not a locality where travellers resort to.
  2. That its proximity to Dunedin is such that no inconvenience can be felt from the want of a public house.
  3. That a public house in said locality would become a place of resort to settlers residing there, and from experience derived from other localities, the moral tone of society there would be impaired, and the interests of religion injured if not destroyed.
  4. The the fact that the said James Christie having been already convicted of breaking the law by selling spirits without a license is in the opinion of the session a valid reason for the refusal of a licence in the present occasion. ” (* 28 )

In May 1860 both James and Louis were put “under discipline” and required to appear before a Kirk Session “for the purpose of investigating certain famas affecting their character and conduct as members of this church “. The whole matter dragged on into 1862 without resolution

Tensions between the Kirk and the two families were clearly evident. In the Edwards household both Margaret and her father Donald were church members but Louis was not a member and the Kirk was on shaky ground in disciplining him. However, the Kirk got its opportunity in 1862 when the youngest child, James, was born. The Kirk refused to baptise James because Louis was still under discipline. James Christie was a Free Kirk member but became so frustrated with the Kirk that he later joined the Anglicans.

Education/Macandrew Bay School

Education was always dear to the Scots and as early as “... 1858 the residents of the district approached the Education Board with a request to declare their area an education district. As an inducement to the authorities to start a school, James Christie gave the use of his barn free of charge to house the scholars and agreed to provide the schoolmaster with board and lodging.”

This first school started in 1859. Donald and John Edwards were among the foundation pupils and Louis Edwards was a Committee Member of the first School Committee, James Christie being Chairman.

“The first master, Mr Kenneth Morrison, was generous in the matter of corporal punishment, his favourite instrument being the supplejack, which he used with great frequency. The following year Mr Morrison moved to a one roomed residence and school combined in Morrison Street, Macandrew Bay. At this stage the school had a roll of 11 pupils who traveled up to 4 miles to attend.” Finally the new one-roomed school was opened in September 1860 with a roll of 22 pupils, 8 boys and 14 girls. (* 17)

Road Access

Access for pupils of the Macandrew Bay School was very difficult until the road was built in 1865. Before the road existed children walked round the beach which was known as the “Hundreds” because the boulders were so numerous. From the beach they took a steep track up to the school through the Edwards farm at Cosy Dell. ( *19)

Road access on the Otago Peninsula was a major issue for may years and Louis Edwards was a long time member of the Otago Peninsula Roads Board, eventually succeeded by his sons John and Lewis as Board members. (* 17)

Land Grant

In August, 1863, Louis Edwards officially received a Crown Land Grant of 46 acres at Cosy Dell, one bay north of Macandrew Bay. The grant was made under the Waste Lands Act of 1858 and signed by Sir George Grey. In actual fact, Louis and his family had occupied this land well before the official grant was made and the documentation merely tidied up the loose ends and provided legal title. (* 12)

Family Matters

The year of 1865 was devastating for the Edwards family with two deaths in the family. First the youngest child, James, died, aged 3, on February 11 and, later in the year, Donald Duff died on November 29, aged 75. These were the first of the Edwards burials in the Airlie Bank Cemetery at Company Bay. (There may have been a family connection with the Christie, Ferguson and Winton people buried at Airlie Bank, as these families also came from Perthshire.) (* 9)

Donald Duff’s death seems to have prompted Louis to make a will, which is dated February 16, 1866 and appoints James Christie and James Macandrew (head of the Otago Provincial Government) as executors. The will shows detailed concern for Margaret’s financial security but, for some unknown reason, it cuts out the oldest son, Donald, in favour of John, to inherit the farm. Perhaps Donald Edwards, who was 15 when Louis made his will, was already set up on a farm. Although the will states that Donald was to receive the benefit of six cows in-calf over a period of four years, it does seems unusual. (* 13)

John Edwards eventually did take over the family farm when Louis died on October 7, 1873. He farmed there for a few years before selling to his neighbour, James Christie, in 1878. John married Agnes Irving, a daughter of another North East Harbour settler, Richard Irving, in 1878 and they moved to Waiwera, taking Margaret, John’s mother, with them. (* 18)

Margaret, who died at Waiwera on January 24, 1884, aged 60, was taken back to Company Bay and buried alongside her infant son, father and husband. Hers is the last of the Edwards family burials at Airlie Bank Cemetery. (* 9)

Both Louis and Margaret Edwards were illiterate and signed all documents (wedding certificate, birth certificates, death certificates and Louis's will) with a cross, “signature x his/her mark.” This well explains the incredible spelling variations of Louis’s name where he is randomly spelt as Louis, Louie, Luois and, more commonly, the Scottish form of his name, Lewis. (* 6,12,13,14,18)

Thomas Grainger and his wife, Margaret (nee Murie), were lifelong friends of the Edwards family. Both were from the Perthshire area of Scotland and were fellow passengers on the Larkins. Thomas, a weaver in Scotland, is cited as witness to both Louis and Margaret’s marriage in 1850 as well as John and Emily Duff’s marriage in 1853. The Graingers also took up land on the Otago Peninsula and leased land from Mr Robertson in the Highcliff Road area. In the next generation,there was the marriage of Donald, first child of Louis and Margaret Edwards, to Jean Ballantyne Grainger, fourth child of Thomas and Margaret Grainger. (* 15)

Sue Edwards


December 2008

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