A CHRISTCHURCH PRESS PROJECT

Benjamin Corlett
The George Seymour

Original information:
Benjamin Corlett arrived in Canterbury when he was six, with his parents Stephan (1805-1880), an agricultural labourer, and Jane (44), and his siblings Mary Ann (20), a servant, John (16), an agricultural labourer,  William (13), Thomas (10), Eliza(8), and Alfred (2).

The Corlett family shifted to Christchurch to work for J. C. Watts Russell, at Ilam. Unfortunately, they lost their equipment and heavy baggage on the Sumner Bar. The Corletts lived for some time in a dugout on the upper Avon River and it was under these conditions that William died of tuberculosis on January 1, 1852.

In the winter of 1853, Stephan Corlett bought 50 acres on the south side of Riccarton Road, and it was there he built a cob house and named the property “Capesthorne Farm’’. The Corlett family home became a regular preaching place on Sunday afternoons. Curletts Road, which was originally Corlett’s Lane, is named after the family.

Readers' response:
Stephan Corlett married Jane Lawson on March 26, 1825, at Bride, Isle of Man. On May 10, 1853, Stephan Corlett bought his first piece of land near St Peter’s Church, Riccarton, for £90. The description on the deed was of 50 acres on the south side on the public road out from Christchurch and Riccarton towards Lake Ellesmere and near the fork of the same road called Harewood Road.

On January 16, 1860, Stephan bought a further 50 acres in the Lincoln district, for which he paid £100. Several months later he applied for 20 acres of land at Easdale Nook in the Upper Christchurch District, paying £2 an acre.

As mentioned, Curletts Road is named after the family− a family member thinks the spelling change is due to the surname being spelt with a “u’’ on the passenger list of the Sir George Seymour.

On January 10, 1854, the Corletts lost another child, John, to tuberculosis.

Jane Corlett, a Wesleyan, was a great worker in the cause of religion. Prayer and Bible meetings were held in a number of settlers’ homes in the neighbourhood, and in about 1854 the Corletts’ house was made a preaching place for Sunday afternoons, hosting services and Sunday school.
In the late 1860s or early 1870s, the Corletts built a wooden home in Riccarton that was apparently the first two-storeyed house in the area. In 1875, Stephan Corlett began selling off his land around Lincoln, investing the money in more land in North Canterbury for his sons Thomas, Benjamin and Alfred.
Three hundred acres were bought in June 1876, 192 acres in August and 42 acres in September. In 1877, after Jane’s death, and in 1878 Stephan subdivided his land in Riccarton. Stephan died on September 15, 1880.

On March 24, 1886, Benjamin and brother Alfred married two sisters from Woodend − Benjamin married Laura Ranby and Alfred married Fanny Harpham Ranby. The two brothers took their wives back to Greta Peaks, which was originally part of the Stoneyhurst Station. There they constructed a cob house. Benjamin and Laura had 11 children, with one dying as an infant.

The Corlett brothers fell on hard times in the 1870s and 1880s as the land boom collapsed. In August 1887, the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Co. was instructed to sell the Greta Peaks property.

Soon after, Thomas, Benjamin and Laura moved to the North Island, where Thomas died in September 1889. Benjamin and his family moved back to Riccarton in 1895 and then returned to the North Island, where he took up farming at Te Mawhai in the Waikato. Benjamin died there on February 9, 1928. Alfred lived at Amberley for a time, then Woodend and Rangiora, until he moved to the North Island in 1902.1

 

Footnotes:
1:Frances Stewart, unpublished family history