Volume 1

William Clarkson 1835 - 1905

Judith Moor and Joan Kendrick

William CLARKSON was born 27 June 1835 at Airdrie, Lanarkshire, Scotland. He was married 31 December 1857 at Craigneuk, Dalziel Parish, Lanarkshire, Scotland to Helen (Ellen) EASTON. Ellen was 20 years old and the daughter of William EASTON and his wife Isabella STENSON. William Clarkson was 22 years old and a coal miner.

In December 1864 William and Ellen sailed from Glasgow on the ship Viola bound for New Zealand. With them were their second and third children, Isobella and David. Also on the Viola were John Clarkson and his family. John was a younger brother of William. After a lengthy voyage, the Viola arrived in Auckland on 4 April 1865. From Auckland the 'Kirikiri' settlers were off-loaded onto cutters for the journey to Wairoa Landing (later called Clevedon), and then by bullock dray to Rings Redoubt, near Papakura. The first night was spent in tents which must have caused a great deal of ill feeling. Here they remained until their raupo homes were ready. Thus they began their life in New Zealand.

Their land was not ready for them and, even worse, some were to find later that their land had not even been surveyed. William and Ellen eventually received a ten-acre farm block and a town section in Papakura. Here they stayed until at least August 1867 when William's brother George struck gold at Thames. By July 1868, William and his family appeared to be living in Thames, as his daughter Janet was born there on 18 July. There would be a strong possibility that he was also working for George. The Wises Directories and 1870 Thames Electoral Rolls did not list William. In November 1868 his father, David, and brothers James and David arrived from Scotland.

On 22 April 1869, an application was made by David Clarkson Snr and sons James and William to lease three and a half acres in Wisemans Gully, for gold mining purposes. This application was evidently approved the next day, the 23rd, but on April 27 the application was withdrawn. On 6 August 1869 James, William, David and George Clarkson made an application to register the "Clarkson No.1 Gold mining and Quartz Crushing Company" at Wisemans Gully. They had paid 25,000 pounds of the required 30,000 pounds of capital. Where did James, David and William get their money? George had made his money from his Shotover mine. Did he finance this mine? If so, why did he hold the lesser shares?

Back row: William Jnr and Helen
Seated: William Snr, Isabella, Ellen Easton, Janet, Rosina

William appeared to go back to Papakura quite often. The 1868 Hunua Assessment rates showed him owning Lot 10 (10 acres) in Opaheke and his rates were 2/6d per acre. By 1869 he had bought another ten acres, Lot No. 90. This was an allotment belonging to Christopher Tiernan. The rates were 5/- per acre that year. The Franklin Electoral Rolls for 1869-70 and 1871-72 showed that William's land was freehold and his residence was Tararua, which was on the northern side of Shellback Creek, Wisemans Gully, Thames. The Papakura Church records showed that his children Helen and William were baptised there in the June of the years 1870 and 1873. Both these children were born in Papakura.

The 1875-76 Wises Directory lists him at Tararua but this could possibly be an error as in December 1875 he and family were living in Dunedin where his last child, Rosina, was born. Also living in Dunedin were George and his family. By circa 1872 most of the gold had gone from Thames, and there wasn't much work for miners in the area. In Dunedin, George was a coal master at Green Island. William possibly worked in the same mine, although he lived at Fairfield.

The mining returns for the 1870 year for the "Clarkson No. 1 Gold Mining Company" showed it was still operating. The amount of paid up scrip had risen from £13,037.13.0 in June to £15,576.13.0 in December. No dividend was declared to the four shareholders and the cash in hand dropped from £26.11.6 to £5.6.9.

In the Return of the Freeholders 1882 it is noted that Ellen Clarkson was listed as a “farmer of Pukekohe in the County of Manukau.” Valued at £1,225. William Clarkson, coalminer, had a section in Papakura on the corner of Arawa Street and Railway Street East facing the railway, (Town Section8) valued at £500.

The family later had a farm at Maungatawhiri and when it flooded the children used to paddle around the farm in a bath tub. They called their parents Mama and Papa.

During the 1880s - 1920s many significant family events took place:-

  • 1884 William was a witness at the wedding of his niece Roseina Clarkson to Thomas Wilson. The wedding took place at the home of the bride's mother, Mrs John Clarkson, Papakura.
  • 1886 the first wedding in William and Ellen's family took place. Their daughter Isobella married Thomas Bennett at the home of the bride's father, Papakura.
  • 1888 William and Ellen's first grandchild was born on 7 May and baptised 11 August at the Papakura Presbyterian Church. His name was Thomas Alan Bennett.
  • 1889 their second grandchild, William Easton Bennett was born 7 August at Papakura and baptised 30 December. In 1893 their grandson William died and was buried at Papakura.
  • 1896 their daughter Ellen married David Robertson and in 1897 David and Ellen's first child, Nellie was born.
  • 1899 William, only surviving son of William and Ellen, married Clara Henwood Harris.
  • 1900 saw three family events. The first was the marriage of their daughter Janet to Ernest Henry Solomon on 29 January. A granddaughter Clorinda May Clarkson was born during that year and 25 November Ina Easton Solomon was born.
    1902 saw the birth of two more grandchildren, Cordelia Ellen Clarkson and Myra Isabella Solomon.
  • 1903 was the year that David and Ellen Robertson's daughter, Irene Hardie, was born.

On 28 June 1905 William Clarkson died at his residence in Papakura, aged 69 years. His funeral took place at the graveside, at Papakura Cemetery. Among the chief mourners were his brothers George and David. At his death William left his widow Ellen, son William and daughters Isobella, Janet, Ellen and Rosina. He also had six grandchildren.

Extract from New Zealand Herald, 1 July 1905:

The funeral of the late William Clarkson took place in the Papakura Presbyterian Cemetery on July 1. There was a large attendance of friends and settlers, including a number from the surrounding districts. The Rev. Norrie of Pokeno officiated at the grave where he delivered a suitable address rred to the deceased's long connection with the Presbyterian Church.
The late Mr Clarkson, having expressed a wish prior to his death that the hymn “Shall we gather at the river” be sung at his grave, this was accordingly done, the whole assembly joining in the well-known hymn.
The chief mourners were his son William Clarkson and brothers George and David Clarkson, son-in-laws Messrs E. Solomon, T. Bennett, D. Robertson and nephew J. Jackson.
  • 1905 saw the birth of two more grandchildren for Ellen. Joseph William Solomon and Isobella May Clarkson.
  • 1907 was the year that John Robertson (brother of Ellen's husband David) married Rosina Clarkson and also the birth of Isabella Maude Solomon.
  • 1908 three more grandchildren arrived - Joyce Easton Clarkson; Catherine Ena Robertson, daughter of David and Ellen Robertson; and Netta Rosina, first child of John and Rosina (Lil) Robertson.

On 28 August 1909 Ellen Clarkson died at St Mary's Road, Ponsonby, aged 72 years. She was buried at Papakura Cemetery with her husband William and grandson William Easton Bennett Two grandchildren were also born in 1909 - David Alan Robertson and Rita Easton Robertson. There were two more grandchildren, Jean Hardie born 1912 and Isabella Lyle, born 1915, children of John and Rosina Robertson.


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