The Charlotte Jane
Thomas Wilson (1850-1918) migrated from County Down, Ireland, to Canterbury as an infant with his parents, Robert, a labourer (1819-1890), and Margaret (32), and his siblings Samuel (1844-January 28, 1914) and Sarah (4).
The Wilson family was sponsored by Edward Ward, and after the death of Henry and Edward Ward in June 1851 the family stayed some time on the Ward property on Quail Island.
After some time the Wilson family shifted to Lyttelton, and in October 1851, Samuel and Sarah were enrolled at the Lyttelton Commercial School.
According to sources, Samuel was a farmer in Sefton and Thomas was a farmer in North Road and later in Wandle Downs. In 1900, when this photo was taken, Thomas was living in Belfast and Samuel in Sefton.
Samuel’s headstone is in Belfast cemetery.
Robert Wilson was born on April 23, 1818, and married Margaret Donnelly (b. 1820) on November 30, 1841. The couple lived with their family in the parish of Rev Henry Ward in Killinchy, County Down, Ireland.
The Wilsons were sponsored to Canterbury by the Ward family, who assisted a number of immigrants. Edward and Henry Ward’s deaths are attributed to drowning, and were apparently quite distressing for the Wilson family. The Wilsons stayed for an unknown time on Quail Island before moving to Lyttelton, then Ferrymead.
At some point two of Robert’s brothers, William and Samuel, followed him to Canterbury, and the family believes that three of his sisters, Margaret, Mary and Agnes, also came to Canterbury.
By 1853, the Wilsons had moved to Belfast, where James (Robert and Margaret’s fifth child) was born in September 1854. At Belfast the Wilsons bought a 50-acre section (RS 430). Over time this was increased to 100 acres. Robert also bought several blocks of land in the Sefton area, in what was known then as Mt Grey Road. Their eldest son, Samuel, farmed there all his life, and William also lived there from 1899 to 1903. The names of Robert’s other sons, Thomas, Edward and James, all appear on the land titles. The properties at Belfast and Sefton provided the Wilson children with opportunities in farming. Margaret died in 1876 and Robert in June 1890, and both are buried in Lyttelton cemetery.1
Thomas was 17 months old when he arrived at Lyttelton. His childhood was spent in Belfast, except for the transitional years between 1850 and 1854. In 1873, Thomas married Rachel Boyce.
Thomas first farmed at Weirs farm (Section 2295) on Terrace Road, Sefton, which is where children Ethel (1875-1890) and Ada (1877-1974) were born. Thomas then moved back to Belfast, where five other children were born – Ivy (1879-1942), Grace (1881-1975), Laura (1883-1985), Dorothy (1893-1973) and Bessie (1889-1977).
In 1894, Thomas bought land between Main North Road and Kaputone Creek (to be known as Urekia Farm), which he sold to his brother, William, in 1902.
Thomas lived in New Brighton while he looked for more land to purchase. In 1903, he drew a ballot for a grazing run at Waiau, part of the Highfield subdivision − 1453 acres called Wandle Downs. Thomas built the house there and planted many of the trees that were still there in 2000.
Thomas was involved in community activities in Belfast. He served on the school committee, was a warden at the Anglican Church, and a member of the South Waimakariri River Board and the North Avon Road Board. He was also a member of the New Brighton Trotting Club. He farmed at Wandle Downs until his death in June 1918. Rachel lived in Christchurch until her death in 1936. The couple are buried in the cemetery at St Paul’s, Papanui.2