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

Sources

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)

Genealogy research in other countries

I am constantly surprised by the differences in genealogy research in different countries (and Australian states). We tend to take for granted procedures and availability of records in our own patch and then get caught out when we start looking at another country. Well, I do!

I am off to New Zealand for three weeks in a week. I’m going to the AFFHO Congress in Auckland on the 16-20th January, and I’m going a week early to do some research on my own family. I’m trying to prepare for the research I hope to do. New Zealand is a small country and yet the records are so decentralised. Most of them, anyway.

I found the same thing in Victoria. The attitudes to some of the records that I take for granted in Sydney, the birth place of the country, are totally different in Melbourne, where a totally separate colony was established without having convicts as its reason for being. It’s no criticism of them, just something I wasn’t aware of. Although it can blind them to records that are based in Sydney from the period before the establishment of the separate Colony of Victoria.

I’ve seen similar attitudes in posts from Americans enquiring about English research. They expect things to be similar to them and find it confusing when it isn’t. I personally find US research more confusing, what with records in courthouses and attics and all. Of course, I’ve never actually down any on-the-spot US research so what do I know!