Waitangi Day – My first New Zealand ancestor

The Waitangi Day Blog Challenge is to write about our earliest New Zealand ancestor.

I’ve written before about my great-great-grandmother Margaret Craig, who arrived in the new settlement of Auckland in 1842 aboard the Jane Gifford with her family when she was 4 years old. Today I’ll talk about her father.

Joseph Craig

Joseph Craig (c1804-1883)

Joseph Craig married Agnes Allan in the parish of Paisley Abbey, near Glasgow, on 16 February 1827. They had at least eight children between 1827 and 1842, with the youngest, Louisa, born in 1841. Agnes must have died some time between and because Joseph married Elizabeth Lachlan a week before the Jane Gifford sailed for Auckland on 18 June 1842.

Joseph was a respectable member of society He acted as a constable on the voyage aboard the Jane Gifford and was recommended for gratuity by ship’s surgeon. When they arrived in Auckland Joseph settled in Mechanics’ Bay, where the workers lived. I wonder if there was a house waiting for them when they arrived. I suspect not. Perhaps the family lived in a tent until Joseph built a hut for them to live in.

Later he lived in a house in Nelson Street and worked as a brickmaker. I imagine bricks were in great demand. One of his sons, Joseph, started a merchant and carrying business that became J.J. Craig, made famous by his eldest son Joseph James Craig.

Joseph died at the ripe old age of 83. He was living in Arthur Street, Ponsonby, and I believe my great-great-grandmother, Margaret Lowe, nee Craig, was living with him. Her husband John Hindley Austin Lowe had died ten years before, and Margaret took her remaining children and went to live with her father and stepmother.

Elizabeth died eight months after her husband. She is a bit of a mystery to me. She was the only mother Margaret knew. What made her agree to marry Joseph and go to the other side of the world with him to a brand new colony and look after all those children? I can’t imagine. Things must have been bad in Scotland for such a prospect to be so tempting.

The only picture I have of Joseph is this one sent to my cousin and I from a distant relative in Canada. Joseph had an older brother Robert and sister Janet who migrated to Ontario. We know that they were related because Janet, who died a spinster, left Joseph some shares in her will. Lucky for us!

Joseph Craig's grave in Old Symonds Street Cemetery Auckland

Joseph Craig's grave in Old Symonds Street Cemetery Auckland


Scotland OPRs

Jane Gifford passenger list

Auckland Police Census 1841-1846, compiled by Auckland City Library, 2007.

1852 Electoral Roll

New Zealand Births Deaths and Marriages

Auckland Rate Books

(Sorry for the abbreviated sources, I’m distracted by the Cyclone Yasi news from Queensland)

Australia Day Challenge – A Conditional Purchase Application

Shelley at Twigs of Yore has set herself a task for Australia Day, and a challenge for the rest of us:

Find the earliest piece of documentation you have about an ancestor in Australia. If you don’t have an Australian ancestor, then choose the earliest piece of documentation you have for a relative in Australia.

On Wednesday 26 January 2011 post your answers to these questions:

  1. What is the document?
  2. Do you remember the research process that lead you to it? How and where did you find it?
  3. Tell us the story(ies) of the document. You may like to consider the nature of the document, the people mentioned, the place and the time. Be as long or short, broad or narrow in your story telling as you like!

What document to choose? Which ancestor? The first one in Australia, or the first one born in Australia?

I’ve decided to go with one of my first arrivals into the colony of New South Wales but ignore the very first documents, which are the assisted immigrant passenger lists. These lists are easy to find – you search the online index at the State Records NSW website, and then you look up the microfilm. There are two lists, and if you are lucky your ancestor will appear in both. I posted a story a few years ago about how I found my Richard Eason’s mother’s mother from the ‘relative in the colony’ Richard gave when he immigrated, so I won’t repeat that here.

Instead I’d like to focus on what Richard did when he got here. He eventually became a farmer, and the first document I have for him that he actually signed is his application for a Conditional Purchase.

Conditional Purchases were introduced in 1862 as a way of getting small landholders on the land. They paid an initial deposit of %10 of the value of the land, and had to pay it off. The conditions were that they had to reside on the property, and they had to improve it – build a house, fences, etc. They could select land before it was surveyed, so by the time the surveyor came around there was often some improvements already built, which the surveyor often marked on the plan.

The land is 40 acres in the Parish of Graham, County of Bathurst, which is just north of the town of Blayney.

Conditional Purchase application form

State Records NSW: NSW Lands Department, Conditional Sales Branch, Correspondence files 1877-1951, NRS8103. Letter no. 71/5977.

I am inclined to think that Richard filled out this form himself, product of the Irish Education system as he was. He said he could read and write when he arrived in the colony in 1850, as did most of the people on the Oriental with him. The handwriting looks similar throughout, except for the signatures of others.

The form was also signed by Robert Ewin. Robert was Richard’s brother-in-law, Richard having married Esther Ewin in 1862. Robert also had land in this area, and Richard bought some of it from him later on.

When the survey was done the land was found to be slightly larger than the 40 acres, and Richard agreed to pay the extra.

Richard built a house on this land and raised his family in it, even though his wife died not long afterwards. His son John raised his own family there. John’s son Richard, my grandfather, sold the land and took the materials for his own building.

The process of finding this document was made easier by the fact that the Conditional Purchase number and Richard’s name was recorded on an old parish map:

Graham Parish map 1884 detail

NSW Lands Department, Historical Parish Maps. Bathurst County, Graham Parish, 1884. Detail showing Portion 199.

Once I had the Conditional Purchase number, CP71.252, I could go to State Records NSW at Kingswood and ask to see the Conditional Purchase Register for that year. From there I could trace the correspondence through the Correspondence Registers to find the documents. It sounds easy but it is quite time consuming, and easy to make mistakes.

On the map you can see many other names of the people that Richard must have known. Robert and William Ewin were his brothers-in-law. A sister-in-law married a Thornberry. All of them came from the same couple of parishes in County Tyrone in northern Ireland.

A couple of years ago I visited this land and saw the remains of the house. I have written about this previously. I met the current owner of the property, who gave me a photo of Richard’s son John Eason, my great-grandfather, that I had never seen before.


Remains of the house at 'Fernside' near Blayney

I’ve traced many conditional purchases since then, but none have been as exciting as this first one!

Further information:
State Records NSW Archives in Brief No 93 – Background to conditional purchase of Crown land

My DNA results have arrived!

I have previously written about beginning my DNA adventures with a test with 23andMe, a company that focuses more on the health aspects of genetics than the genealogical aspects. They had an offer I couldn’t refuse, and I didn’t!

When I got up this morning there was an email to say that my genetic profile was ready. I had to go out and so couldn’t give this interesting news the attention that it deserved, until now. I’d like to write down my impressions as I go through the results.

The menu is split into three headings:

  • My Health
  • My Ancestry
  • Sharing and Community

The first thing I did before I left the house this morning was look for my mtDNA haplotype under My Ancestry. This is the one that sorts  you into migration groups from 10-50,000 years ago. Mine is X2b:

According to 23andMe haplogroup X2 is mostly found in southern Europe, Central Asia, and North America, with a few scattered populations in places like the Orkney Islands in Scotland. It is relatively rare in most of the populations in which it is found.

It’s nice to think that my haplogroup is relatively rare. We all like to think of ourselves as a bit special! I can trace my direct female line back five generations to Agnes Allan, who married William Stewart in Paisley, Scotland, in 1827, and died before William remarried and took his family to Auckland, New Zealand in 1842. So perhaps she was descended from the people who ended up in Orkney.

Other headings under My Ancestry are:

  • Relative Finder, which won’t have results for another week or so. Disappointing!
  • Paternal Line which is no good to me since I am not male and the paternal line can only be traced by the Y chromosome, which women do not have.
  • Ancestry Painting, which makes no sense to me at the moment. It has a diagram of some chromosomes and a key that shows different colours meaning different things if the chromosomes show those colours. My chromosomes show no colours, only grey bits, and apparently “Gray segments indicate regions where 23andMe’s genotyping chip has no markers.”
  • Global Similarity shows your similarity to groups of people from around the world. Check it out:

Global similarity map

Global similarity graphI am slightly more similar to the people of Oceania than to any of the Europeans. Apparently Oceania includes the people of Australia (ie, Aboriginals), New Guinea and the Pacific Islands, including New Zealand, but the sample only includes those from New Guinea. The sample dates from January 2008, which is a bit disappointing.

There is the opportunity to see the graph for others who have shared their profile with you, and those I can see have predominantly Northern Europeans and very little Oceania. That makes sense. Most of us in Australia, aside from the Aboriginal people, come from Europe.

My father, however, is a part-European Fijian. The Fijians are Melanesian, with some Polynesian where they associated with people from Tonga and other islands. So this result makes some sense.

When I have some time I will delve into these results in more detail to work out how they arrive at the conclusions they have.

Under the heading Sharing and Community are the tools for comparing your genes with those of relatives. So far I have shared my profile with two people, and I have no similarities with either of them. I will look at this category in more detail when it has something to show me.

The first heading, which I have left until last, is My Health. First up is Disease Risk.

The results for Parkinson’s Disease are locked, so that they can explain what the results mean, and don’t mean, before you see them. I think that’s a good idea. I have a scientific background and know that the percentages they are talking about are very small, but others may be unnecessarily concerned.

The other results are displayed in a long list, with the increased risk first, followed by decreased risk and then typical risk. The ones on the top of my list are no more than double the very low average incidence, which is heartening. I can then click on each one to find out more. Here are some of my ‘typical risks’:

Health typical risk

Where the results show a red and green arrow there are multiple markers associated with the condition, and I may have one or more of them.

It would be easy, I imagine, to use these results as an excuse to do nothing. If I see a graph that shows my risk of heart attack is greater than average I might resign myself to the fact and keep living on fatty foods and no exercise (which I don’t – it’s hypothetical). Or I could make some changes to counteract the predisposition in my genes.

Each item on the list also gives a ‘confidence rating’, the stars, based on the number of studies that have been done and the number of participants in the studies.

I have a slightly higher risk of developing asthma, based on one of three markers for which studies have been done. The studies are listed and described, with the type of population and numbers of subjects described. I actually do suffer from asthma.

Carrier status to certain conditions has a similar layout. I’ll have a good look at that later.

Drug response will also take some time to digest. I am likely to be a fast metaboliser of caffeine, which I gave up some years ago, and I have typical results for most other items on the list.

Traits looks interesting. I don’t have the muscle performance of a world-class sprinter, nor am I resistant to malaria or HIV/AIDS. I am likely to have brown eyes (correct) and to have straighter hair (correct, despite my father having frizzy black hair).

That’s enough for now. It will take some time to go into this more thoroughly. My initial reaction is positive, and I’m glad I spent the $99.

Image courtesy of Chris Harvey at Dreamstime.