Friday, October 9, 2020

Salisbury’s Ferry at the west bank of the Motueka River (1879)

"Salisbury's Ferry" [1879]
E.A.C. Thomas, photographer

Ngatimoti pioneers, the Salisbury family lived at Pokokoro on the west bank of the Motueka River.They kept a canoe near the confluence of the Graham and Motueka Rivers (pretty much where the Pokororo footbridge stands today) and ran a service transporting people and goods, including live sheep and bales of wool, from one side to the other. Foot passengers were charged a fee of sixpence. This became known as Salisbury’s Ferry. 

There being no bridges for many years, up to nine other settlers also had punts and canoes operating on the river between the current Baton and Alexander Bluff Bridges, the Hodges family being one of them. Goldminers and farmers, Sydney Hodges & his brother William settled at the far end of the Graham Valley around 1880, where they each ran in turn an accommodation house at the South Branch of the Graham called "Glencoe” and had a service packing tourists, diggers and fossickers up to the Mt Arthur Tableland. They ran a canoe between Hodges’ Landing on the east bank and Cole’s Beach on the west and the Hodges family have claimed this photo as their own. However, there is a problem with this scenario as the dates don’t fit - Sydney’s son Ern, said to be in the canoe, wasn’t born until 1889, ten years after the photo was taken. Safe to say that it was in fact the one belonging to the Salisbury family. 

The Salisbury brothers, John Park (Jack), Thomas (Tom) and Edward, became Ngatimoti’s first settlers when they bought 400 acres of land seventeen miles up the Motueka River in 1854. There being no track between Motueka and Ngatimoti until they themselves, with the help of six hired Maori, cleared one a bit later along the line of the present Waiwhero Road, their first move was to build themselves a canoe. As they began work on a tree trunk, an elderly Maori, seeing what they were up to, sat down and watched with great interest. Before too long, though, he leapt up in great agitation, gesticulating furiously as he demonstrated what they were doing wrong and how they should be proceeding. Recognising they had a master craftsman at hand, they promptly hired him to supervise and add the finishing touches to the project and in a very few days a canoe of beautiful lines emerged from the log and was given two coats of tar to make her seaworthy. She was launched and loaded with blankets, tools, tent, seed potatoes and every other thing likely to be useful in making a start on the new farm. It took three days of back-breaking toil to work their way up the Motueka River to their new home.

A later Ngatimoti settler, Cyprian Brereton, who recounted this tale in his book “No Roll of Drums”, commented that most settlers’ canoes were just “dugouts with flat sides and no grace or design. A Maori waka is a work of art, perfectly adapted for speed and stability. It is almost impossible to capsize them unless they are full of water. Salisbury’s canoe sat in the water like a duck”.

The photographer, Judge E.A.C. Thomas, was a relative of Col. Charles Thynne Thomas of “Dehra Doon”, Riwaka, a former British Army officer retired from service in India. Judge Thomas paid a family visit to the Motueka area during the first quarter of 1879. While staying in the area he spent quite a bit of time exploring the Mt Arthur Tableland, making drawings and taking a number of photographs as he went. I think it likely that someone colourised this photo later - experimentation with colour techniques had began but at this stage was very rarely used for standard photography. 

Further reading

Brereton, Cyprian Brereton (1947) No Roll of Drums. Wellington, NZ: A.H. & A.W. Reed

Beatson, Kath & Whelan, Helen (1993) The River Flows On: Ngatimoti Through Flood & Fortune. Nelson, NZ: Copy Press Ltd.

Tyree, Vern & Rita (nee Hodges), compilers (2004) Life Under Southern Skies. Nelson, NZ: Copy Press Ltd.

Salisbury, J.P. (John Park) (1907) After Many Days:Sketches in Australia and New Zealand. London: Harrison & Sons.

Salisbury, Neville (2006) Bush, Boots & Bridle Trails: The Salisburys of the Motueka and Aorere Valleys. Auckland, NZ: J.Neville Salisbury and Family.

Photo credit
"Salisbury's Ferry"
Thomas, E.A.C., photographer
Alexander Turnbull Library, ref E-305q-019.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Charles Thorp of "Burton Farm", Motueka, New Zealand.

Charles Thorp
Born 26 July 1820 at Burton Overy, Leicestershire, England
Died 20 March 1905 at "Burton Farm", Motueka, New Zealand.

Charles Thorp (1820-1905) (no “e” on the end!) was one of Nelson’s earliest settlers and for many years a leading citizen of the nearby township of Motueka.

Family & Ancestors

Seventh of the eleven children - Thomas, William, Robert, John, Frances, Mary, Charles, Anna, Louisa, Harry and Frederic - born to Rev. Thomas Thorp, M.A., and Frances Topp nee Lee, (1) Charles came from a background of affluent English county gentry, part of a congenial social network and with a passion for customary sporting pursuits like the fox-hunting for which the locality was renowned. His father was rector of the ancient rural parish of Burton Overy in Leicestershire, a comfortable living that came with status, a large Georgian Rectory and nearly 300 acres of farmland. His wife had brought this post to him by way of a dowry upon their marriage in 1811 – she was the daughter, granddaughter and gt-granddaughter of previous Rectors of Burton Overy, and the incumbency of Burton Overy had long been held by her family. 

Charles and his brothers were all keen
"riders to hounds" and associated with the
Quorn and Fernie Hunts based in nearby Billesdon
After their father Rev. Thomas Thorp died in office in 1846, two of Charles’ brothers “inherited” the rectorate of Burton Overy through the same process. The service from 1811-1916 given as rectors of the parish of Burton Overy by first Rev. Thomas Thorp, followed in turn by his sons, Revs. Robert and Frederic Thorp, is commemorated at St Andrew's Church, Burton Overy, by a set of three stained glass windows installed in 1957 and known as the Thorp windows.  

In actual fact, through Charles' mother Frances Thorp nee Lee, the connection with the rectorate of Burton Overy was much longer. It dated right from the time when her ancestor, Rev. William Burdett, became rector of Burton Overy in 1582, and only ended with the death of her youngest son, Rev. Frederic Thorp, in 1916. The patronage (advowson) - right to nominate the successor as rector to the benefice of Burton Overy – was passed down the family line, and with the judicious use of locums paid to fill in the odd gap, William Burdett's descendants contrived to keep the incumbency more or less continuously in their own hands. (2) Her father, Rev. William Southworth Lee, M.A., was the patron (holder of the advowson) when Frances married, and he presented his new son-in-law, Rev. Thomas Thorp, to the benefice of Burton Overy as the parish's next rector.

Anglican clergymen abounded on both sides of his family, and the Church of England  always played an integral role in Charles Thorp's life. 

Growing up in England

The Old Rectory at Burton Overy,
Leicestershire, England.

Although the inscription on his headstone gives his year of birth as 1821, parish records show that Charles Thorp was in fact born at the Burton Overy Rectory on 26 July 1820, and baptised the following day, probably by his father, at St Andrew’s, the medieval parish church right next door. (3) It’s likely that he would have either gone to one of the better-known public schools or had private tutoring. He certainly attended Oxford University, matriculating at Worcester College in 1838. (4) When the 1841 census of England was taken, Charles was staying at home in the Burton Overy Rectory, along with his parents and unmarried sister Frances Thorp, perhaps pondering his future options. (5)

Instead of then following his brothers into one of the traditional careers with the Army, Navy or the Church expected of a gentleman, at the age of 21 he set sail for the far side of the world, travelling cabin class as a single man on the 500 ton barque “Olympus” to Nelson, New Zealand. (6) Before departing England from Gravesend on 16 June 1842, he had purchased land at the New Zealand Company’s London office under the ballot system, with the sections thus bought to be allocated later on arrival in Nelson.

Arrival in Nelson, New Zealand

Nelson Haven 
 The artist, William Fox, was at the time
 the New Zealand Company's Nelson agent.
Soon fitting into Nelson’s small society after his arrival at Nelson Haven (now Port Nelson) on 28 October 1842,  Charles started clearing his new 50 acre block at Stoke, being at the time one of just four intrepid settlers who had taken up land in this area known then as Suburban South, and situated about 8km from the Nelson township. 

In a report dated 1 December 1843, William Fox (Captain Wakefield's successor as the  the New Zealand Company's Agent for Nelson), noted, "On entering the plain from Nelson, the first cultivations met with are those of Messrs Thorp, Ward and Songer, each of which has enclosed about five acres, which are at present cropped with barley and potatoes." (7)

 Thorp was also one of the four riders who took part in the first Nelson Anniversary Day madcap steeplechase up and down Church Hill in February 1843 (all that fox-hunting came in handy). (8) William Weightman, whose horse "Lottery" Charles was riding on the day, had been one of his fellow cabin class passengers on the "Olympus", and later settled at Upper Moutere. A few months later Thorp was fortuitously just too late arriving in Nelson from Stoke to join the party involved in the disastrous Wairau Affray, a confrontation with Ngati Toa chieftain Te Rauparaha over land claims, during which the New Zealand Company’s Nelson agent, Captain Arthur Wakefield, was killed, along with 21 other settlers from Nelson.

 The move to Motueka

Having befriended Motueka settlers Dr Danforth Greenwood and Captain Edward Fearon (Fearon’s brothers-in-law Tom & John Ward had been two of his three neighbours at Stoke), Thorp sold up his land at Stoke and around 1844 moved to Motueka, a small  outpost on the other side of Tasman Bay. At the time the only ready access from Nelson was by sea, with small ships sailing to and fro from the Raumanuka harbour long used by local Maori. Charles took up  Section 49, close to both the Greenwood & Fearon homesteads, on a road line running parallel to Motueka's eastern seashore, and he built a small house there. The whole of central Motueka was then covered by a large stand of lush lowland podocarp-hardwood forest of great cultural and horticultural significance to local Maori and known by them as Te Maatu (the Big Wood. Two remnants are all that now remain of this forest - the Fearon Bush Recreation Reserve and Te Maatu/Thorp Reserve. So close to both ocean and forest, the air would have been filled with the calls of native birds of sea and woodland. 

There were few Europeans in residence then and ongoing anxiety about potential armed conflict with Maori following the Wairau Affray in 1843 meant early settlers tended to cluster near each other for reassurance. 

"Woodlands" [1852]
Artist: Sarah Greenwood
The farm and homestead established at Motueka in 1843
by early settlers Dr Danforth & Sarah Greenwood.

Surveyor Samuel Stephens' house at his Riwaka farm "Knowle Wood" was destroyed in a fire on 25 July 1846, and he and his wife Sarah stayed for a couple of months at the "Woodlands" home of their friends Danforth & Sarah Greenwood,. The household  soon became too crowded, the Greenwoods having 10 children, and the Stephenses then decamped to Charles Thorp's little home just down the road, and for a while Charles "became a boarder in his own home". 

The Stephenses then moved into a small cottage at the northern end of the growing town of Motueka. with which Samuel Stephens had an early connection, having overseen the Motueka subdivison on behalf of the NZ Company in 1842. He reported in a letter to family in England that "The society of Motueka was small though agreeable, consisting of Mr and Mrs Greenwood and family, Mr Thorp and a Mr and Mrs Fearon - the English population, mostly labourers and mechanics*, might number 100 souls - the natives 150 men, women and children. They are on very good terms with the Europeans and are industrious cultivators, as well as employers of the mechanics in assisting them to build their warries**or rather houses now..." (9)

"Burton", a residence of Charles Thorp, esq.,
Drawn as a wedding gift for Charles Thorp
and his bride Mary Ward
by the artist, Sarah Greenwood.In 146 
Over time, Thorp invested in property as it came up for sale in and around the township, some of which he subdivided off into smaller sections for sale as Motueka grew. He also had land in the outlying areas, including Section 32 in  Lower Moutere and 50 acre Section 11 at Riwaka, 35 acres of the latter being sold to Riwaka settler Richard Holyoake  around 1853.  Part of the Greenwoods' original Section 152 also became absorbed into the Thorp Estate. However, Charles chose to live and farm for much of his long life at his first home block, soon expanded to comprise the four 50 acre suburban sections designated 148-151 on the NZ Company survey map, set between Tudor Street and Old Wharf Road on the western side of the road line later named for his family – Thorp Street.

A public-spirited man, he served as a Justice of the Peace at a time when a J.P. was called upon to act as magistrate and oversee court cases, on the Motueka Education Committee, and as Chairman of the Motueka Road Board. He was closely involved with the development of the Anglican Church in Motueka, often acting as a lay reader in earlier days. Following the outbreak of the "Flagstaff War"  in Northland in 1845, a short-lived Nelson Battalion of Militia, consisting of two companies, was formed, although it never saw action. Charles served as ensign in No 1 Company, with Dr Greenwood as captain.(10) When the First Taranaki Land War broke out in 1860, a Volunteer Militia Corps was formed in Motueka, but Thorp was not involved with this. Unlike his friends Captain Fearon & Dr Greenwood he never showed any inclination to enter the cut-throat world of politics.

The Church of England  

One of the strong bonds between Thorp, Fearon and Greenwood was their dedication to establishing the Anglican Church in the Nelson area and particularly at Motueka. In 1844 Captain Fearon donated a piece of land on the corner of the present Thorp and Fearon Streets as the site for an Anglican church and churchyard cemetery. A church was built, but it was of cob construction and before the roof could be put on, a torrential storm rapidly turned it into a mud pie. 

The first St Thomas Anglican Church 
at Motueka.
Built of pit-sawn timber and
consecrated by 
Bishop Selwyn 

on 16 April 1848. 
The second attempt, constructed from pit-sawn timber this time, was more successful.  Named St Thomas’, the new church was consecrated by Bishop Selwyn on 16 April 1848, and its first vicar, the Rev. Thomas Lloyd Tudor, was inducted. In the meantime informal services had been held in settlers’ homes, most often Dr Greenwood’s “Woodlands” homestead at the seaward end of Tudor Street, with Thorp and Greenwood often serving as lay readers
Although the church was slow arriving on site, the cemetery was in use from early on and it was Charles Thorp who conducted the first committal service there on 2 November 1845 – that of Maria Brougham. As seems fitting, the last burial to be held at this cemetery was that in 1946 of Charles Thorp's daughter-in-law, Helen Thorp nee Gillard. The old cemetery remains as Pioneer Park, however, the centre of town having moved over time to High Street, in 1860 the church itself was dragged by a bullock team to a new spot on land earlier donated for the purpose by Dr Greenwood.  Its new home was close to the site of the present St Thomas’ Anglican Church, buillt in 1911 at 101 High Street, Motueka. (11)

“A Gentleman of Independent Means” 

When Charles Thorp came out to NZ in 1842 the class system was very much alive and well.  His status as a member of the gentry was acknowledged by the consistent use of the courtesy title “Esquire”.  A gentleman of independent means was one who was so well off, generally through inherited assets, that he had no need to work for a living. His paternal grandfather, Thomas Thorp Snr of "Burleigh Hall", Overseal Leicestershire, owned his own bank at nearby Loughborough, so money probably wasn’t an issue! 

Two Maori waka off Motueka's eastern coastline,
a common sight for Thorp Street's earliest residents.
Snow-covered Wharepapa/Mt Arthur in the distance
and Te Maatu (the Big Wood) at centre.
The school Charles himself attended is unknown, and it is possible that he had private tuition. Apart from his brother William, whose career as a captain in the Royal Navy began as a midshipman when he was thirteen, Charles’ brothers went to well-known public schools Rugby & Uppingham Grammar. John then joined the British Army as an ensign with the 63rd Regiment of Foot, and the rest went on to university - Cambridge, their father's alma mater, for fledgling clergymen Robert and Frederic, and Oxford for Charles and Harry, who became a merchant based in Liverpool.

Athough he was in a position to hire labourers for his farm and did so, it’s clear that Charles was not someone to stand on ceremony when there was work to be done and was prepared to do the hard yards himself in bringing his land into production  - his obituary makes this point quite clearly. Farm life came with its hazards – in July 1852 he received a kick to the leg from one of his working bullocks, which left him with a compound fracture and out of action for some time.

Marriage and Family

Mary Thorp nee Ward 
Married Charles Thorp
at Motueka on 11 June 1850
 On 11 June 1850, Charles Thorp married at St Thomas Church, Motueka, to Mary Ward, (1817-1886) (12), the wedding service conducted by Rev. Thomas Lloyd Tudor, Motueka's first resident vicar. 

Mary was the younger sister of Captain Fearon’s wife, Elizabeth nee Ward and her brothers John & Tom Ward had been Thorp's erstwhile neighbours at Stoke. The Wards were gentlemen farmers, based for several generations on land near the market town of Crediton in Devonshire, England. Mary was born in 1817 to Thomas Ward and his wife Elizabeth nee Huggins at "Langridge", the Ward family farm, her baptism at the Church of the Holy Cross in Crediton being registered on 12 February 1817. 

John Ward had returned to England in 1848 for a visit, and while there he married Caroline Micklem in London. On his return to Nelson on the ship "Bernicia", he brought back with him his bride and and his sister Mary Ward, who on arrival in November 1849 made her home with the Fearons at their "Northwood" home in Motueka.
Thought to be
Charles Herrick Thorp

Charles' neighbour Sarah Greenwood was delighted with this match and commented "I think our estimable neighbour Miss Ward will be  married in a fortnight. Mr Thorp is smartening up his little home and I hope to make a drawing of it soon after the wedding. I suppose I must give them each a copy for their friends"(13) Her daughters Mary and Fanny Greenwood attended the wedding as bridesmaids.

The Greenwoods, Fearons and Thorps always remained close. Thorp was one of the executors of Captain Fearon's will, and after Fearon died in 1869 supported the family. He was also a trustee of the Fearon Estate.When subdivision of the "Northwood" property began following the death of Edward Fearon's widow Elizabeth in December 1901, Charles Thorp dealt with the details by taking tenders for  the various lots and advertising for contractors to build a road (today's Fearon Street) tracing the line of the original long drive leading to the "Northwood" homestead. (14)
Thought to be
Mary Dyott Thorp

Newly-weds Charles & Mary settled at the little home Thorp had built on his Thorp Street property and named “Burton” after his English birthplace. They had 3 children: Charles Herrick Thorp (1852-1873), who attended Nelson College 1863-5 (there is a suggestion that this was where he contracted the  tuberculosis that later killed him), Mary Dyott Thorp (1853-1867), and Frederick William Thorp (1861-1911), known as William. 

"Dyott" and "Herrick" were respectively the maiden names of Charles Thorp's maternal grandmother and gt-grandmother as a nod to his illustrious relatives, the Dyotts of Freeford Hal.

“Burton”: There and Back Again via "Sandridge"

Although keeping his farming operation running at "Burton", as his family grew Charles Thorp had a new, larger home built on Section 146, his land at the Old Wharf Road end of Thorp Street, near the estuary and tucked against a pretty grove of trees. Because it sat on a large sandy ridge, it was given the name "Sandridge”.  

Second home of Charles & Mary Thorp
at the south end of Thorp Street, Motueka.

 Striped corrugated iron verandah roofs were
 very fashionable around the 1880s.
However,  after the deaths there of their only daughter Mary in 1867 (15) and eldest son Charles Jnr. in 1873, (16) it clearly became an unhappy place for Charles & Mary Thorp.    and after the death of Charles Jnr. they moved back to their original home halfway between Tudor St  & Old Wharf Road. Soon after their return to "Burton", an additional building was constructed there to house farm labourers, who gave their new quarters the ironic title "Buckingam Palace" (when the "Burton" farm was subdivided many years on, "Buckingham Palace" would become repurposed as the front part of the Liveseys' home). At a later date a block was attached to the "Burton" home itself and consisted of a storeroom, dining room, bedroom and office for a farm manager. In keeping with the Royal palaces theme, this became known as "Balmoral" and Charles' granddaughters recalled that it was occupied for a time by Jerry Huffam. Another long-term farm worker they remembered well was Jim King, who had worked at both "Sandridge" and "Burton", but had his own home elsewhere and left after the death of their father Frederick William Thorp in 1911. (17)

Around 1874 Charles Thorp leased “Sandridge” to an old friend, ex-British East India Company army officer turned Plymouth Brethren evangelist, James George Deck, whose daughter Mary Deck ran a private school for girls there with the help of her sisters Alice Deck and Margaret (Daisy), who had been left a widow with a baby daughter just a year after her marriage to Robert McIntyre in 1866. After their father’s death in 1884, the Deck sisters moved to Motueka's oldest surviving house, “The Gables”, also on Thorp Street, where they lived together for many years. It seems that the Decks leased only the household section at "Sandridge", while Charles Thorp continued to farm the rest of the property.

The “Sandridge” property remained in the Thorp family for years, however, the house became dangerously decrepit and was eventually demolished. Late in 1918 Helen Thorp, widow of Charles Thorp’s youngest son, Frederick William, advertised the materials from the recently dismantled "Sandridge" homestead for sale by auction in the "Nelson Evening Mail" on 4 November 1918. Presumably the land was being cleared, though whether it was also sold at this time is unclear. Names of owners later connected with this property include Woodman, Halliwell, Duncan and Bensemann. Currently (2020) its owners are Edmund & Faye Bensemann.

Death and Descendants

Charles' Thorp's headstone
at the old St Thomas'
Churchyard Cemetery
now Pioneer Park
Charles Thorp died at his home, “Burton Farm”, on 20 March 1905, in his 85th year. (18) He was buried at the old St Thomas’ Anglican Churchyard Cemetery (now known as Pioneer Park) on the corner of Thorp & Fearon Streets, along with his wife Mary, who had predeceased him by many years, dying at “Burton Farm” on 8 August 1886. (19) All three of their children were also buried here. Charles Thorp's obituary gives an instructive picture of the concerns which occupied Motueka's earliest European settlers.

The inscription on his headstone reads

Charles Thorp 
Born 26 July 1821
Died 20th March 1905. 
Arrived in Nelson 1842

Sadly, of Charles & Mary Thorp's 3 children, only the youngest, Frederick Wiiiiam Thorp, survived into adulthood, becoming a successful businessman, one of his ventures being the Burton Butter Factory which he established in Motueka  in the 1880s.This is thought to have been the first such factory to open in New Zealand, though a butter factory at Karere, near Palmerston North which started in 1884 is recorded as the official holder of that title. He was also manager of the Motueka Fruit Grower's Syndicate, and followed the tradition of public service espoused by his father. He  served on a number of committees, as a member of the Motueka Harbour Board and the Nelson Hospital & Charitable Aid Board, and as chairman of the Motueka Literary Institute. In 1905 he was elected Mayor of Motueka, having previously served as a councillor on the Motueka Borough Council and as Acting Mayor. He died suddenly and unexpectedly in office on 25 August 1911 at the age of 51. (20)

In 1891 F. William Thorp married Helen nee Gillard (1868-1946), youngest daughter of Joseph Henry Gillard & Sarah Eliza nee Catley. Her father was an early Wellington settler who took up land in the Hutt River area, and worked as a clerk for Wellington wine merchants Bethune & Hunter before joining the Civil Service.  

William Thorp & Helen nee Gillard had 2 daughters, Ethel Mary Thorp (1907-1990) and Helen Dyott Thorp (1909-1985)

Ethel married in 1934 to John Dunstan "Dun" Atkinson, a cousin of sorts through the Ward family connection - his mother Mary Herrick nee Hursthouse was a daughter of Richmond Hursthouse and Mary nee Fearon. Known as "Torchy" for his red hair, Dunstan Atkinson became a significant figure in horticultural science and research circles.Their wedding was covered by the "Evening Post" on 4 June 1934. They had 2 sons, Arnold Burton Atkinson (known as A.B.) & William Atkinson. Arnold lived at "Burton Farm" during  WWII and started school at Motueka. He later became a nurseryman at Kumeu. (21)

Helen married George Arthur Tillson, an English immigrant, formerly a farmer at Braeburn, Lower Moutere, who served as a medic during WWI and as a Squadron Leader with the RNZAF during WWII. After their marriage the Tillsons farmed at Moturoa Island in the Bay of Islands.They had no children, though George Tillson, a divorcĂ©, had a family from his first marriage.
The Thorp Estate

F.W. Thorp’s family continued to live on at “Burton”, with the farm itself being leased out  to a Mr Goodman, who lived with his family at "Buckingam Palace". The Thorp Estate had by this time built up a substantial portfolio of local real estate. Following the death of F.W. Thorp’s widow Helen nee Gillard in 1946 (hers was the last ever burial at the old St Thomas Anglican Churchyard, Motueka), her daughters Ethel & Helen gifted 8 acres of original native bush from the Thorp Estate to the Motueka Borough Council in 1952 for the reserve now known as Thorp Bush. (22)
The Thorp Bush Reserve
at Motueka

Further land from the Thorp Estate was sold around the same time to the Motueka Golf Club for an addition to its beachfront golf course. This land included Motueka Sections 139, 140 & 141 (a total of 148 acres) on the seaward side of Thorp Street. (23) In 1860 Captain Fearon had exchanged his land at Motupipi in Golden Bay for these particular Motueka sections, originally owned by a local Maori. The land was intended as the site for a school for Maori, but this didn't eventuate, and it seems that at some point these sections have been passed on to Fearon's friend and brother-in-law, Charles Thorp. 

In 1858 Charles Thorp himself had undergone a process with the Commisssioners of Native Reserves to swap some of his Motueka land for Section 146, the 90 acre block of Maori reserve land on the seaward side of Thorp Street, which was where he established his "Sandridge" property. (24) 

Another parcel of 4 acres from the Thorp Estate had already been sold around 1945 to the National Tobacco Company for their Motueka headquarters on the corner of High & King Edward Streets – currently the site of the Caltex service station. Motueka’s iconic Art Deco clock tower is the only reminder now of the N.T.C.’s presence – the company which had it built in 1951 to a plan drawn up by Hastings architect John Kingsford. Rather unfairly, though, the clock tower has in fact for many years been known locally as the Rothmans' Clock Tower, taking the name of a later tobacco company which was set up on the same site.

The mystery of the “other” Charles Thorp

The presence of a later Charles Thorp in Motueka has caused some confusion, given that the original Charles Thorp’s only surviving child, F. William Thorp, had no sons.  This other Charles was a well-known solicitor who practised in Motueka from 1920 through to the late ‘50s. 

It turns out that he was Charles William Thorp, born at Malton, Yorkshire, in 1890.  He was related to the Thorp family of Motueka, being Charles Thorp’s great-nephew. Charles William Thorp was a son of Rev. Robert John Thorp & Evelyn nee Willoughby, and a grandson of Charles Thorp’s older brother,  the Rev. Robert Thorp, whose stint as Rector of Burton Overy following his induction in 1846 was cut short when he died in 1851 at the age of 37 as the result of a hunting accident.

Charles William Thorp had apparently decided to emulate his great-uncle Charles – he emigrated from Yorkshire, where his family lived, to Nelson, NZ, around 1910 and took up a position as school teacher at Collingwood, Golden Bay. Following the death of his cousin Frederick William Thorp in 1911 he moved to Motueka, presumably to support his Motueka kin in their bereavement. He taught at the Motueka District High School and then at Wellington College before retraining as a lawyer, later returning to Motueka, where he set up his legal practice.

Clearly the English Thorps & the NZ Thorps had kept in touch. 

Charles William Thorp from Armthorpe, Doncaster, Yorkshire, was married on 2 September 1916 to Ivy Mabel Coote (1892-1991) eldest daughter of Cecil Henry & Blanche Coote of "Mountrath",  Wakapuaka, Nelson, at Christ Church Cathedral, Nelson.(25) Ivy's brother John Coote was a well-known Nelson businessman, associated with Hall & Coote's garage on the corners of Rutherford & Hardy Streets in Nelson.

Charles W. Thorp died in 1961 at Nelson Hospital and a plaque at Marsden Cemetery in Nelson marks the place where his ashes were deposited. (26)



* "Mechanic" was an older term for what we'd now call a skilled labourer, craftsman or artisan - carpenters, blacksmiths  etc.

** "Warrie" - corruption of the Maori word "whare", meaning a hut or dwelling, often made  from raupo leaves and rushes like the one seen in the photo below. For many  years it was common for European settliers to refer to houses and the huts and shelters they knocked up on their farms as "warries".

Unnamed group from Motueka outside a whare [ca 1860s]
Unidentified photographer.

Further related information 

For more background and detailed information about the development of early Motueka, and Captain Edward Fearon and his friends Charles Thorp and Dr Danforth & Sarah Greenwood, see:

Captain Edward Fearon:The King of Motueka

For more detailed information about Charles Thorp's grandparents, parents and siblings , see:

Charles Thorp of Motueka, New Zealand: Parents and Siblings.


1) Charles Thorp of Motueka, NZ: Parents & Siblings
Rustling in the Wind blogsite
2) "Aspects of Burton Overy" edited by Joan Stephens, pub. Burton Overy Parish Council. Leicestershire, England.  Ch. 4, pg 43 St Andrew's Church. Covers the history of St Andrew's  and the Rectors of Burton Overy, including William Burdett and the 3 Reverends Thorp.

see also:

List of Rectors of Burton Overy
St Andrew's Church, Burton Overy, Church Registers. Transcriptions Vol 3 1732-1787.
Transcribed 1966 by L.W. Foster, rector, for the Burton Overy Parish Council.

3) Baptismal record accessed via

4) Alumni Oxonienses: The Members of the University of Oxford (1715-1886), Vol 4. S-Z
Online at the Internet Archive

5)  Census of England for 1841 acessed via

6) Neale, June E. (1989) "Pioneer Passengers: To Nelson by Sailing Ship, March 1842-June 1843", Nelson, NZ: General Printing Services Ltd. 
Ch VIII  "Olympus" pp 57-62 &  "Olympus", passenger list pp 159-160.

7) Neale, "Pioneer Passengers", pg 59
"On entering the plain from Nelson, the first cultivations met with are those of Messrs Thorp, Ward and Songer, each of which has enclosed about five acres, which are at present cropped with barley and potatoes." Fox, William. Report dated 1 December 1843 
Note that John & Tom Ward would later become Charles Thorp's brothers-in-law when he married their sister Mary Ward in 1850.

8) (1843, 4 February), "Nelson Examiner", pg 190 see "Hurdle Race"

9) i) Notes from the "Thorp Family" file held at the Motueka Historical Association rooms. 
    ii) Stephens, Samuel, "Letters and Journals", held at the Nelson Provincial Museum   per  "...and so it began" (March 1984) Motueka Historical Association Journal, Vol. 2, pp 20-21
    iii) (1846, 5 Aug) "Wellington Independent", pg 3 "Nelson", ex "Nelson Examiner"
         Contains a report of the fire which destroyed  Samuel Stephens' home at Riwaka.

10) Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Nelson, Marlborough & Westland Provincial Districts] 1906. Military, pg 48
Note that in his obituary Charles Thorp is described as a lieutenant in this militia 
company, but this does not appear to have been the case.

(11) "The Anglican Church", article contributed by the Rev. John Crozier."And so it began " March 1984. Journal of the Motueka and District Historical Association, Vol 2. pp 54-56. 

(12) Married: Thorp-Ward at St Thomas Church, Motueka,
11 June 1850, "Nelson Examiner", 20 April 1850, pg 32

13) Neale, June E. (1984) "The Greenwoods: A Pioneer Family of New Zealand"
Nelson, NZ.: General Printing Services Ltd. Ch. X Early Motueka & Bishop Selwyn, pg 53

14) "Land for Fruit Growing"
Subdivision of the Fearon Estate, tenders to Charles Thorp Esq,
"Motueka Star", 25 February 1902, pg 3
see also: 
Tenders are invited to be sent to Charles Thorp Esq., for Road Work on Northwood.
"Motueka Star", 28 March 1902, pg 3

15) Died: Mary Dyott Thorp, aged 13 years 
 at "Sandridge", Motueka, on 1 June 1867
"Nelson Examiner", 6 June 1867, pg 5

16) Died: Charles Herrick Thorp, aged 21 years, 
at "Sandridge", Motueka, on 30 May 1873.
"Nelson Examiner" 4 June 1873, pg 5

17) "Thorp Family", Motueka Historical Association research room, Motueka Museum 

18) Charles Thorp. Died at his home, "Butron Farm" on 20 March 1905, aged 84.
Motueka: Death of an Old Settler
"Colonist", 22 March 1905, pg 2

19) Death: Mary Thorp (nee Ward), wife of Charles Thorp.
Died at her home, "Burton Farm", on 1 August 1886
"Nelson Evening Mail", 10 August 1886, pg 2

20) Frederick William Thorp, Died at his home, "Burton Farm", on 25 August 1911
"Colonist", 20 September, 1911, pg 5

21) Descendants of J.D. "Dun" Atkinson and Ethel Mary Thorp, older daughter of Frederick William Thorp and Helen nee Gillard.
"Mary Herrick & Samuel Arnold Atkinson" at Winsome

22)  "Three Living Monuments- the story of our first parks", article contributed by Eileen Stewart. 2011  "And so it began",  Journal of the Motueka and District Historical Association. Continuing the story of Motueka, Vol 7, pg 24. 

23) Motueka Ward Reserves Management Plan (May 2019) Tasman District Council, 
available online as a pdf 
Motueka Golf Course: Location and History pp 121-123- confirms that 
Sections 139 (pt), 140 & 141 were purchased from the Trustees of the Thorp Estate.
see also
Te Maatu/Thorp Reserve, pp 126-128
and Fearon Bush Recreation Reserve, pp 105-6

24)  Exchange of land at Motueka, NZ, in 1856
Deed no 35, a transaction between Charles Thorp of Motueka and the Commissioners 
of Native Reserves.
Mackay, Alexander (1872) "Compendium of Documents relative to Native Affairs in the South Island". Online at NZETC.

25) Charles William Thorp (1890-1961) 
Original research by Anne McFadgen

26) Personal Items: Marriage of Charles William Thorp & Ivy Coote
“Nelson Evening Mail” 4 Sept 1916, pg 4

Image credits

Charles Thorp (1820-1905)
Nelson Provincial Museum, Davis Collection, ref. 11025

The Fernie Hunt
Artist: John Theodore Eardley Kenney

The Old Rectory: A Grade Listed Building in Burton Overy, Leicestershire
British Listed Buildings website, 

Blind Bay, Nelson from W. Fox's house [1847] 
Artist: William Fox (1812-1893)
Hocken Pictorial Collection, ID 4,27432a10144
(Blind Bay is now known as Tasman Bay)

Greenwood farm at Motueka, [1852]
Artist: Sarah Greenwood (1809-1899)
Nelson Provincial Museum, Bett Loan Collecton. reference AC333

"Burton, the residence of Charles Thorp, Esq." [1850]
Artist Sarah Greenwood (1809-1899)
Nelso Provincial Museum., Bett Collection, reference AC335

The first St Thomas’ Anglican Church on the cnr of Thorp & Fearon Streets. 
Drawing by Sarah Greenwood, labelled "Our little church at Motueka".
Nelson Provincial Museum, Bett Loan Collection, ref AC325

"Motueka, near Massacre Bay, Middle Island, NZ. Artist: John Pearse [between 1851-1856] Date most likely to have been 1852 when Pearse is known to have visted
Artist: John Pearse (1808-1882)
Alexander Turnbull Library, reference E-455-f-081-1
Note: Massacre Bay is now known as Golden Bay and Middle Island, the South Island.

Mary Thorp nee Ward 
Married Charles Thorp at St Thomas Anglican Church, Motueka,
on 11 June 1850 
Nelson Provincial Museum, Davis Collection, ref. 10134

Thought to be Charles Herrick Thorp 
Oldest son of Charles & Mary Thorp
Nelson Provincial Museum, Davis collection,, ref 10135

Thought to be Mary Dyott Thorp
Only daughter of Charles & Mary Thorp
Nelson Provincial Museum, Davis Collection, ref. 10973

"Sandridge"  Charles Thorp's second Motueka home, 
built at the southern end of Thorp Street.
Courtesy Motueka Historical Association Collection, 
ref Sundry 1489/1 Sandridge 

Charles Thorp's headstone at Pioneer Park, Thorp Street Motueka,
formerly the St Thomas' Anglican Churchyard Cemetery.
Record at Find A Grave website, photo courtesy MystikNZ

Tasman Reserves: The Thorp Bush Reserve at Motueka
Places NZ website
Please note that Charles Thorp came to NZ on the ship "Olympus",
not the "Olympia" as quoted in the Places NZ blurb.

"Group from Motueka outside a whare" (Unnamed)
Unidentified photographer
Alexander Turnbull Library, reference PA-Coll-2145-2-2-