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)

7 comments on “Waitangi Day – My first New Zealand ancestor

  1. Pauleen 3 February 2011 12:27 am

    I love the transcontinental connection and the wonderful old photo -just proves they’re out there somewhere and you can get lucky.

  2. Seonaid Lewis (@genebrarian) 5 February 2011 1:03 am

    Thanks for the blog Carole. I can almost picture them in Nelson Street. The local Maori were renowned for assisting new settlers by putting up shelters for them to live temporarily in, perhaps thats what happened here? Suppose we’ll never know for certain . . . Your family arrived just a couple years after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi too!

  3. shirley kendall 18 October 2011 12:34 pm

    Would you like a photo of the John Hindley Austin Lowe gravestone? The Craig and Lowe stones must have been very close because they are both located just near Grafton Bridge.


  4. Carole 18 October 2011 1:58 pm

    Shirley that is very kind of you! I visited the graves of Joseph Craig and JHAL when I visited Auckland in 2009. In fact, I chose my accommodation to be within walking distance of the Old Symonds Street Cemetery.

  5. Christine 1 March 2013 5:27 pm

    Two questions – do you know if the 18 year old Mary Craig on the “Jane Gifford” was a relative of your Joseph?

    The wife of William Forsyth (also of Glasgow and also one of 4 chosen men to be Constables) had the surname Craig. Do you have any idea whether they were relatives with your Joseph???

  6. Carole 1 March 2013 9:15 pm

    I have no reason to think that Mary is related to Joseph, unfortunately.
    I also didn’t know about anyone with the maiden name Craig. I’d be interested to know more. We know that Joseph had a brother and sister in Canada; the sister died single and left some of her assets to Joseph.

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