Sunday, July 21, 2019

Once were eccentrics: Nelson identity Archie Gascoyne.

Archie Gascoyne 
One of a number of eccentrics who were once a familiar sight on the streets of Nelson, many stories have grown up around fondly recalled Nelson character, Archie Gascoyne, a persistent one being that he was a remittance man. This was not the case, though it's always possible this rumour had its genesis in one of Archie's own tall tales. Nor did he come out of nowhere – he  was part of a large family, many of whom formerly lived around Motueka and Nelson.

Archie came from an English family originating in Gascony, France, hence the surname, which was spelt Gascoigne. Although his father's family used the variant "Gascoyne", their surname was often alternatively written "Gascoigne" and either version was considered acceptable for legal purposes. According to family legend, in the past one branch of the family fell out with the rest and altered their surname in order to distance themselves from the other lot. The first Gascoigne, who is believed to have arrived in England at the time of the Norman Conquest, was granted lands in Yorkshire, married well, and started a line with a long and distinguished history.

Major Charles Manners Gascoyne
Archie's paternal grandfather
There were family dramas as well, like the scandal caused by Archie's grandfather Major Charles Manners Gascoyne, who took up with his children’s Scottish governess after his arrival  in New Zealand. Miss Sutherland was not only attractive, described as "tall, slender and good-looking, with lovely auburn hair", but also an intellectual equal. A bizarre ménage à trois which shocked the Motueka community continued for years with Charles and the governess plus his sidelined wife Isabella all living together at Pangtotara in the same household. Making matters worse for the unhappy wife, her children also preferred the governess! 

Although their domestic arrangements raised eyebrows, their social standing saw the Gascoynes readily received by Motueka's worthies, such as the Greenwoods, Fearons, Thorps, and Decks, and the Gascoynes' oldest daughter, Isabelle, later married the Greenwoods' eldest son, John. Bucking the general trend, Isabella cordially detested the much-admired Greenwoods, who made it perfectly clear they considered her a waste of space as a settler's wife. Possibly true, but it wasn't what she'd signed up for, after all -  as a memsahib all she'd needed to do was look decorative, direct the servants and socialize with other officers' families. Major Gascoyne was appointed a J.P. and sat at sessions at Motueka's courthouse as a magistrate.

Then there was the massacre during the Taranaki Land Wars of the Major’s nephew Lieutenant Bamber Gascoyne, his wife and their three children, when the Pukearuhe redoubt north-east of New Plymouth was overrun by a war party led by chiefs Wetere Te Rerenga and Te Oro in 1869. 

Isabella Gascoyne
nee Campbell (1810-1903)
Archie's paternal grandmother
After trying his hand at a number of ventures, Archie’s uncle Major Frederick Gascoyne ended up becoming a career soldier and had many a narrow shave while fighting with colonial forces in Taranaki, including one with Te Kooti. His reminiscences, “Soldiering in New Zealand”, can be read online. One of Archie's aunts, Emily Gascoyne (known as Amy), would go on to marry Bamber's younger brother (and her cousin) Henry Gascoigne, who took up farming at Waimate. 

For anyone wanting to find out more about the colourful Gascoynes, the excellent book “Strangerland”, written by Gascoyne relative Helena Drysdale, makes a fascinating read.

Born at Motueka on 12 March 1883, Archie's name was recorded by Joseph Foord Wilson, Motueka's Registrar at the time, as Archibald Brabane Cecil Gascoyne. It's likely he was named for the great-uncle who died the same year his father was born - Captain Archibald Charles Dunstaffnage (Archie) Campbell (1807-1845), 5th (and later 1st) Regiment of Bengal Cavalry, the brother through whom his grandmother Isabella met her future husband, Major Charles Manners Gascoyne. "Brabane" and "Cecil" were surnames of family significance - the first to the Wrights, the second to the Gascoynes. 

Archie had an older sister, Emily Manners Gascoyne (known as Ella), who was  born in 1877, and on 13 April 1901 married at the Palmerston North Registry Office to Alfred Percival Pritchard, a cabinet maker,who was a connection from Aramoho, Wanganui. They settled at Feilding and had three children - Dulcie, Edythe and Noel.

Archie's parents were Charles James Gascoyne (known as Charlie) and Mary Ainger nee Wright (known as Sylvia), who married at St Thomas' Anglican Church, Motueka, in 1874. 

St Thomas' Anglican Church, Motueka, in 1879
with the Rev. Samuel Poole's parsonage behind.
Archie's parents were married here 
by Rev. Poole on 28 July 1874.

The story goes that some of the bridegroom’s friends thought they’d have a bit of fun and during the ceremony sneaked out and locked the church gates. Undeterred, the intrepid newly-weds mounted their horses, cleared the fence together in fine style and galloped off down the road to their wedding breakfast, leaving the dumbfounded guests to follow. 

They remained for several years in Motueka, where Charles worked as a blacksmith and wheelwright, advertising in January 1876 that he had taken over the business on High Street formerly owned by James F. Leech.

However, about a year after Archie's birth the family went to live at Marton, a farming supply town in the Rangitikei, which had undergone a boom following the arrival of the railway in 1878. Industry in the areas of engineering, sawmilling and textile production had taken off, providing a number of opportunities for Charles, who set up at Section 3 on The Broadway, Marton's main street, operating as  "C.J. Gascoyne, Coachbuilder, Wheelwright and General Blacksmith".  A practical, inventive man, as a hobby he devised various items "for use or ornament", his patented "Gascoigne's Wool Press" (later known as the Sandow Wool Press) being particularly popular and sold all around the country. He also invented a swingle-tree which enabled horse-drawn vehicles to be manoeuvered with ease and his signal arm for use on the railway found international use. In a 1909 report the "Colonist" remarked with interest upon a specially designed  billiard table he had constructed in his Hardy St workshop. 

Archie, who probably attended the Marton School with his sister, became a mechanic by trade. He was no academic and his size limited his choice of occupation, but he was always good with his hands and honed his skill with machinery in his father's smithy. He also appears to have rather less successfully inherited his father's inventive streak. Described as a "frustrated inventor", Archie tinkered about creating odd gadgets which he sometimes tried to market around Nelson, but these were of curiosity rather than commercial value.

The Broadway ca 1900.
Marton's main street, where Charles Gascoyne
ran his smithy for around 14 years.
Why Marton? In 1858 Charles' oldest sister Isabelle (Izzy) Gascoyne had married John, oldest son of Motueka pioneers Dr Danforth & Sarah Greenwood of Motueka. In 1879 they followed their oldest daughter Agnes north, with John practising as a dentist in Wanganui and Feilding. Agnes Greenwood had married in 1878 to Douglas Cowper Tennentwho had a stock and station agency in Marton, where the couple made their home after the wedding. This family connection doubtless lay behind Charles and Mary Gascoyne's move north. New Zealand was by then in the grip of the Long Depression and prosperous Marton may well have offered more possibilities at the time than Motueka.

Charlie & Mary's families were next-door neighbours whose farms shared a common boundary in the Motueka Valley and the children all grew up spending a lot of time in and out of each others' homes.

Charles James Gascoyne was born in 1845 at Mathura (Muttra), Utter Pradesh, India. He was the fifth of the seven surviving children* born to Major Charles Manners Gascoyne, a British East India Company army officer who served with the 5th Bengal Light Cavalry in India, and his wife, Isabella Augusta Eliza nee Campbell, whose Scottish father Captain John Campbell, born at Dunstaffnage Castle, was a surgeon who had served as medical officer with the 8th Madras Cavalry.

St John's Garrison Church
Meerut, India.

Marry in haste...
It had been love at first sight for this handsome pair, and just a few weeks after meeting, Charles and Isabella were married by special licence on 24 February 1835 at St John's Garrison Church in Meerut, then part of the British East India Company's Presidency of Bengal. All went well for many years but each had issues which would later become significant under pressure. He was a soldier-scholar, a polyglot fluent in many languages, but was of an "unpractical turn of mind" and prone to melancholia. She had all the social graces but little learning, and was emotionally needy. Born in India, family circumstances saw her sent as a five-year old to live with strangers in England, and the fear of being abandoned always haunted her. Both had aristocratic connections in England and Scotland respectively which made Archie second cousin to the Marquess of Salisbury and the Duke of Argyll. NZ Government agent Sir Donald McLean, Native Secretary and Land Purchase Commissioner, was one of Isabella’s relatives.  A comfort to her in her difficulties, they corresponded with each other regularly, and on occasion he was called upon to act as the estranged couple's reluctant go-between.

Mary Ainger Wright was born in 1850 at Allahabad, Utter Pradesh, India. She was the oldest of three children, the other two being John Tandy (born 1856) and Adelaide Maria (born around 1858). Her parents were Captain William Brabane Wright, another British army officer retired from service in India, and Emily nee Fitch, daughter of London merchant James Fitch. Both born in 1828, they had married at St Mary's Bryanston Square, Westminster, London, on 25 August 1849, with Captain W. B. Wright recorded as the son of army officer Captain John Wright. 
The Motueka Valley, looking towards Wharepapa/Mt Arthur [1863]
Painting by Alexander Le Grand Campbell (1819-1890)
Ten years after the arrival of the first European settlers,
parts of the landscape are already starting to take on
the pastoral appearance of standard English-style farmland.

Like Major Charles Gascoyne, Captain Wright served as a J.P. and magistrate for Motueka, and in 1866 was present as a witness at the execution of the Maungatapu Murderers in Nelson. He was also on the Pangatotara Road Board and the committee of the Pangatotara School, which had opened in 1856 on the land now known as Peach Island, then part of the Wrights' farm. Another of the Wrights' farming neighbours, Captain Frederick Edward Horneman, served as the Pangatotara School's first teacher from 1856 to 1861. Formerly with the Honourable Artillery Company, Horneman was another military settler who served as J.P. and magistrate for Motueka. Captain Wright's children probably didn't attend this school.  His son was sent to the Bishop's School in Nelson as a child and later went to Nelson College, while the girls, who were close friends with Captain Fearon's daughters, for some years shared their governess.

Captain William Brabane Wright
of "Banda", Pangatotara.

The Fearons also played a part in the Gascoynes' story. Finding her situation at home unbearable, at one stage Isabella Gascoyne left her husband and took refuge with Mrs Fearon ("a truly kind and worthy lady"). For the best part of two years she lodged at "Northwood", the Fearons' family home in Motueka, but denied access to her children, she gave in and returned to her Pangatotara home, despite the fact that nothing there had changed.

As magistrates behaving badly, Captains Wright and Horneman thoroughly entertained those present at a session of the Motueka Court in 1866 with a fiery exchange of "language by no means complimentary" after stepping down from the Bench and taking their positions at the Bar as complainant and defendant in a case involving the costs of a disputed mutual boundary fence. Peppery Captain Wright also had a number of testy exchanges at the Motueka courthouse with another Pangatotara settler, David Jennings. A religious dissenter and former solicitor from Kent, the litigious and decidedly eccentric Jennings' contrary ways put him offside with several of his neighbours, and maybe had also done so with his English family. It was rumoured that Jennings had been banished by his family to New Zealand for the crime of becoming a bankrupt, though if he was a remittance man he was a short-changed one. David Jennings lived with his large family in even more straitened circumstances than the Gascoynes until receiving money from England as an inheritance, too late in life for him to enjoy it. Incidentally, Jennings and his family had ccupied "Grove Farm" in Lower Moutere for a couple of years before the Gascoynes' stay there.

"Mrs Wright's clearing, 25 miles from Motueka"
Artist: Sarah Greenwood (1809-1889)
Hut used when out working on the farm.

Wholesale clearance of the bush by fire and felling
contributed to the disastrous flood of 1877
Captain William Wright died on 21 April 1871, his  widow Emily, by then living in Nelson, followed on 2 February 1879. Both were buried at Wakapuaka Cemetery in Nelson. The Pangatotara farm, named "Banda"  for the  province where Captain Wright had served in India, devolved upon his son John Tandy Wright (known as Tandy), who had it leased out when it was trashed by the devastating flood of 1877. John Wright sold up in 1880 and moved overseas, eventually making Australia his home. He married twice, had one child, Geraldine, and died in 1930 at the Melbourne suburb of Murrumbeena. Mary's sister Adelaide, who became blind, never married. She made her home in London and died there in 1933.

The Gascoyne and Wright families had settled at bushclad, flood-prone Pangatotara on the east bank of the Motueka River in the 1850s, after taking up land in the backblocks as part of a special deal offered by the Nelson Provincial Government to retired British army and naval officers prepared in exchange to defend neighbouring settlers if necessary. Several other former East India Company officers had taken up this offer. These included  Edwin Hare (Teddy) Dashwood, a fellow veteran of the Battle of Sobraon, whose Lower Moutere home, "Herstmonceux", the Gascoynes rented while building their own house, and also charismatic Plymouth Brethren evangelist James George Deck, then living in the Waiwhero Valley. He later re-baptised converts Major Charles and Isabella Gascoyne and their daughter Amy in the waters of the Motueka River  - as members of the Establishment, they had been brought up in the Anglican fold. Sons Fred and Charlie never followed suit.

 "Grove Farm" [1851] (renamed "Herstmonceux")
Artist: Sarah Greenwood
Edwin Dare Dashwood's Lower Moutere home.

After arriving in 1853, the Gascoynes spent
6 months there while a 2 storeyed prefab
 house was erected on their Pangatotara property.

It was a terrible comedown and hard going for families used to a sociable, pampered lifestyle in india, with plentiful servants on hand to do all the work. Despite the fact that the Gascoynes named their new home "The Bungalow" after their former charming residence at the idyllic hill station of Lohaghat, the differences in their lifestyle couldn't have been greater as they struggled to pick up the basics of farming and domestic chores.  Although that exotic past world was often recalled in nostalgic memory, they did at least escape the horrors of the 1857 Indian Rebellon against British East India Company rule in which many old comrades were lost.

Money was short and both the Gascoynes' sons, Fred and Charlie, had to join their father in the hard yakka of breaking in the land. Frederick, aged 16  when the family moved to Pangatotara, later recalled, "From the time we took possession of our new home I had plenty of hard work in assisting to fence, plough and crop the land. I became fairly expert at farm work in a couple of years; learning to milk cows, drive a bullock team, split and erect fencing, to reap, thresh, sow and mow, and use an axe. My brother Charles helped me as much as his strength would allow. He was only eight years of age when we started farm life, but at twelve he could do as much work as an average man, and was particularly expert with an axe". Hot-tempered Fred increasingly clashed with his father and left home in 1857 at the age of 19, while Charlie, who dutifully gave up most of his childhood to the family farm, stayed on until 1871, when he took up work in Motueka.

As by far the most practical member of the household, the governess was often too busy to take lessons, so Charlie and his younger sisters Charlotte (Chatey) and Caroline (Carrie) had a fairly sketchy schooling, mostly provided by their mother, whose own education had been limited to subjects considered suitable for young ladies. Isabella often wished to perdition Charles Flinders Hursthouse, whose promotional writings for the New Zealand Company had persuaded her husband to emigrate to this so-called "Britain of the South". Like many a colonial settler's wife, she had been given no say in the matter.

The Motueka River, with the Mt Arthur range behind.
 Tranquil beauty belying a force to be reckoned with.
The 1877 flood left the river twice as wide and half as deep as before.
It also shifted parts of the east bank over to the west side,

including what is now Peach Island, site of the first Pangatotara School.

Archie was 15 when his father sold his Marton business at the end of 1898 and the family moved to another railway town - Aramoho, on the outskirts of Wanganui. This is where Archie's mother Mary died at the family home, "River Bank", on 11 August 1900.  She was buried at Heads Road Old Cemetery, Wanganui. A few years later John and Isabelle Greenwood retired to Nelson. Charles decided to go as well, and started a business as a wheelwright at premises on Hardy Street, while Archie worked for a cycle importer and dealer as a mechanic, though he willingly turned his talents to fixing anything from bicycles to his specialty, Model-T cars. He also fixed and tuned pianos for Beggs' music store and had a sideline teaching others to drive motorcars. Locals recalled Archie teaching Allen Brereton to drive his new car around Ngatimoti about 1918 - perhaps not a total success as Allen apparently went over a bank and never drove again! Charles and Archie Gascoyne lived together, first at a home on Lot 4, Tasman Street, near the Queen's Gardens, then later moved to Milton Street. 

Charlie Gascoyne died on 7 September 1923, and things changed then for Archie. His sister Emily and brother-in-law Alfred moved down to Nelson not long after his father's death, and for a few years Archie lived with them and their family at 67 Milton St. From this point on he is always recorded as being retired, despite only being in his forties at that time, and it's believed that he lived on the interest of money that had been left to him. A gentle, kindly soul who took pleasure in helping others, he loved music. A self-taught musician, he learnt to play the side drum so he could join the Nelson Garrison and City Brass Bands. He  was a good singer and a talented pianist, who given half a chance, would entertain with a tune anywhere where there was a piano on hand, like Beggs' store or the auction rooms. In earlier times he would regularly play at dances held at the Oddfellows Hall, very spiffy in his patent leather shoes. When later living at 161 Milton Street, his verandah, with its old piano and specially made small-sized furniture, was one of his favourite hang-outs and venue for many an impromptu concert enjoyed by neighbours and those working at the Cawthron Institute across the road.  Born a midget  and always known as "Little Archie" amongst the family, he was probably always a bit different. 

Archie's aunt, Miss Mary "Gazzy"  Gascoyne
(in white cap), seated beneath the school banner
with her teaching staff around her.
Headmistress of Toi Toi Valley Girls' School
from 1880 to 1897.

It’s said that members of his family bought him that house at 161 Milton St. most associated with him - possibly his sister and brother-in-law. They moved to a Waimea Road address in the mid-1930s and may have wanted to see Archie settled in the area familiar to him. There used to be a lemon tree on the large front lawn of his new home, and Archie sold lemons at the door and sometimes tried to barter them for goods and services in town. He was once heard earnestly telling staff at the Department of Agriculture office on Hardy Street that his tree cropped so prolifically because he poured the laundry waste water around it, but this special treatment only worked if St Mungo's soap powder had been used in the wash! Archie also grew lettuces for sale, but whether they too were christened with St Mungo's water is unknown.

Without his father to keep him on track, it seems that Archie just wandered off on his own whimsical path through life, happily becoming one of Nelson’s best known eccentrics as he pottered around town in one of his many hats, a huge red plastic Stetson being the most memorable. He could be seen most days trundling a hand cart piled high with wood offcuts gathered from Webleys' timber factory on Alma Lane back to his Milton Sreet home, often with local kids in tow, giving him a hand to push it. Some was used to stoke his fire, but he gave much of it away to friends and neighbours, or to the Boy Scouts for sale as a fundraiser.

Widow Isabella Gascoyne  (rt) with
  daughters Charlotte (Chatey) (lt)
& Caroline (Carrie) (centre), ca 1890s.
Apart from his father and sister, Archie had other relatives in Nelson at various stages.  As a widow his grandmother Isabella Gascoyne lived till her death at home on 27 January 1903 at 384 Hardy Street with two unmarried daughters, Charlotte and Caroline. Archie once told later resident Mrs Mann that his aunts used to live there - a true story. These aunts were also well-known for their eccentric ways. After their mother died, they led completely separate lives within the same house, one claiming the front half and the other taking over the back, one using the kitchen in the morning, the other in the afternoon. One was a Baptist, the other a Presbyterian, and they had no friends in common. Both were keen gardeners. Caroline grew flowers in the front garden, selling the cut blooms  for charity, while Charlotte would ride around on her distinctive bicycle with wooden mudguards delivering the produce she grew in the back garden to friends and neighbours. Caroline was the last of the trio to pass on. After her sister Charlotte died in 1929, she boarded with widow Emily Burrell, a former Ngatimoti acquaintance then living at Tahunanui. Described by those being polite as “autocratic,” she may have been a trying lodger. An obituary written at the time of Caroline’s death in 1939 is rumoured to have concluded with the words “Satisfied at last”! 

All three are buried together at Wakapuaka Cemetery (Baptist Block 4, Plot 17). 

Archie's errant grandfather Major Charles Manners Gascoyne had died at the age of 66 on 5 September 1872. He was buried at the Pangatotara Cemetery, next to his “beloved friend” Amelia Sutherland, the governess, who had died of typhoid fever in 1868. Their headstones and any trace of their graves were swept away, along with the Gascoyne's house and much of their farm, by the "Old Man Flood" of 1877 which radically reshaped the Motueka Valley. An exodus of  Pangatotara's early settlers followed - having painfully picked themselves up after previous major floods in 1868 and 1872, this the last straw. Isabella Gascoyne had a new home built further from the river and battled on for a while, and but by 1880 she had leased out "The Bungalow" property to Pangatotara neighbour, Francis Grooby. She was already living at her Hardy Street home by 1884 and the Pangatotara property was sold for a pittance to another Pangatotara settler, Grooby's brother-in-law Henry Inwood Snr, after being advertised for sale in 1886. Henry's son Lawrence, who had previously worked as a farm hand for the Gascoynes, then moved into the Gascoyne home. From 1931 this land was owned by tobacco growers Daniel & Rona Hurley, followed by their son John Hurley, who served as Mayor of the Tasman District for many years.

Piano Man
Playing to the crowd, Archie and his teddy bear 

entertain from a truck-drawn trailer during a parade 
down Trafalgar Street, date unknown - possibly 1940s
Woman in front thought to be the 'Pearly Queen".

Through the 1880s and 1890s another unmarried aunt, Mary Gascoyne, lived in Washington Valley, Nelson. Known by her pupils as “Gazzy” and elsewhere as “the fierce and fiery little Miss Gascoyne” she had worked as a schoolteacher in Napier before becoming headmistress of Toi Toi Valley Girls’ School from 1880 to 1897. She later moved to Taranaki and resumed her teaching career there before settling in Hastings to look after her brother Fred following his wife’s death in 1923. Born in Kurnaul, India, on 1 January 1840, she died in Hastings on 6 August 1929.  She was buried at the Old Napier Cemetery with her brother Major Frederick Gascoyne and sister-in-law Marion (nee Carr),  a headstone above commemorating all three.

John Greenwood died in 1909, not long after the return to Nelson, his last years marred by the financial failure of the investment he and his brother-in-law Major Fred Gascoyne had made in the Wangapeka Gold Dredging Company. Archie's aunt Isabelle Greenwood nee Gascoyne remained in Nelson for many more years. She was aged 95 when she died on 5 October 1931, and was buried with her husband at Wakapuaka Cemetery. 

Archie Gascoyne's old home in The Wood.
161 Milton St. today. The verandah (originally open)
was the venue for many an impromptu piano recital.
Blessed by St Mungo, a prized lemon tree
once flourished on the large front lawn.

Even after his sister Emily and brother-in-law Alfred shifted to Auckland around 1946,  Archie still had relatives in town. His niece Edythe Pritchard had settled permanently in Nelson after her marriage in 1932 to carpenter Nolan Frost, living at Bridge St opposite the Queen's Gardens for a number of years before later moving to Waimea Road. 

Sadly, as he neared the end Archie had to go into care at Ngawhatu Hospital. He died on 12 December 1965. Either he had lost track of time or whoever arranged his burial wasn't sure of his date of birth, but obviously he was not aged 86 at the time of his death as has been recorded, but in fact 82. Archie was buried with his father at the Wakapuaka Cemetery, New Presbyterian Area, Block 8, Plot 049. Indications are that there was once a headstone there marked “C. Gascoigne”, but this marker was reported as no longer being anywhere to be seen in 2002. 

Thanks to the efforts of Nelson "cemetarian" Brian McIntyre, along with local contributions towards materials and labour, in July 2019 a brand new steel cross, inscribed with the names of Archie and his father Charles, was erected at their gravesite to mark their final resting place. 

A lasting memorial to little Archie, who for so many years was a fixture in central Nelson, entertaining (and maybe at times exasperating) its citizens with his quirky antics. Despite his handicaps, he was a free spirit who had the ability to live, childlike, in the moment, and make the most of his life. Although treated with kindness by most, people can sometimes be intolerant of those out of the ordinary, and it's rumoured that a group of young louts once thought it a great joke to peg Archie to a clothesline - maybe another urban legend to add to the Archie mythology? 

Thanks for the memories...
A new headstone now marks the final resting place
of Archie Gascoyne and his father Charles. 
At one time he was known by all. "Every man, woman and child knows Archie Gascoyne", he once said proudly, and everyone who knew him has a memory of him: Archie in his cowboy suit, complete with little plastic six-shooter in holster and trademark ten-gallon hat, riding his large trike around town; Archie parked on the doorstep of his favourite dairy, licking a large ice cream, or playing around balancing a ping pong ball on a jet of water from his garden hose; Archie bringing the traffic to a halt as he blithely meandered across the Bridge St bridge with his overflowing cart; Archie proclaiming that he'd once worked as a stable lad for the Queen, or spooning up cold baked beans from an open can while sitting on the kerb by the Nelson Provincial Buildings; Archie playing up a storm on a piano placed on the back of a truck driving through the city during a Christmas parade.

For those who grew up in Nelson in the 1940s, 1950s and early '60s, Archie was an integral part of the city scene, and even now he can still bring a smile to the faces of those who remember him.


Acknowledgements: Mr Ed Stevens, Ngatimoti, for access to unpublished material, Claire McLean for discovering the photo of Archie playing the piano in a Nelson parade, and members of the Top of the South Island, New Zealand History Facebook page co-founded by Mr Brian McIntyre, for information and shared Archie stories.

Note:  Major Charles Manners & isabella (nee Campbell) Gascoyne had 9 children altogether, but two, Charles Cecil McKenzie Gascoyne and Charlotte Caroline Gascoyne, died as infants. As was a custom of the time, their names were reused for later children as a sort of memorial.


An Old Identity Passes
"Nelson Photo News" No 63, 5 February 1966

"Nelson Mail" 25 June 2012 

More Nelsonian characters in passing parade.
"Nelson Mail", 9 July 2012

"Nelson Mail" 7 July 2019

The deaths of Lieutenant Bamber Gascoigne and his family.
Te Ara:The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Cyclopedia of New Zealand (1908): Taranaki, Hawkes' Bay and Wellington
Provincial Districts.Major Frederick J.W. Gascoyne

The memoirs of Major Frederick J.W. Gascoyne.

Miller, Constance McNair [undated] The Gascoyne Story [unpub. ms]

"Colonist" 8 March 1877, pg 5

Obituary: Miss Mary Gascoyne
"Nelson Evening Mail", 10 August 1929, pg 3.

Dalton, Constance (1959) "The History of St Thomas' Anglican Church, Motueka".

Drysdale, Helena (2006) "Strangerland: A Family at War". published by Picador, an imprint of Pan MacMillan Ltd. (Includes a Gascoyne family tree dating back to 1700).

Hursthouse, Rhoda (1945) "In the High Court of Justice". Wellington, NZ. 
A.H. & A.W. Reed. Follows the story of Adelaide Wright and her contested will.

Note that some facts and dates are incorrect, and rather oddly, a number of the people mentioned in this book - Fearons, Hursthouses, Chaytors etc. - although recognizable, have been given different surnames, possibly for privacy reasons.

Neale, June E. (1984) "The Greenwoods: A Pioneer Family of New Zealand", Nelson, NZ, General Printing ServicesLtd.

Whelan, Helen [undated] "Dictionary of Ngatimoti Biography" [unpub. ms]
Charles Manners Gascoyne of "The Bungalow" & William Brabane Wright of "Banda".

Gascoyne Family Tree: 1000 Years of the Gascoyne Family

Image credits

Archie Gascoyne with his push cart, a familiar sight on Bridge Street.
"Nelson Photo News", 5 February 19, pg 3

Miniatures of Major Charles Manners Gascoyne and his wife Isabella nee Campbell 
painted around the time of their marriage in 1835 
From Drysdale, "Strangerland", pg 108

Church and Mr Poole's parsonage, Mutueka (sic) [April 1879]
Artist : E.A.C.Thomas (1825-)
Alexander Turnbull Library, ref. E-305-q-057 

The Broadway, Marton, ca 1900
Photographer: Edward George Child
Alexander Turnbull Library, ref 1/1/0-11002-6

The Motueka Valley [1863]
Artist: Alexander Le Grand Campbell (1819-1890), early explorer, Riwaka settler, 
later J.P., Clerk of the Court & Registrar of Births, Deaths & Marriages for Motueka.
Used as an illustration for Ferdinand von Hochstetter's magisterial work
"New Zealand: its physical geography, geology and natural history" 
(German edition. published  1863, English ed. pub. 1867)
Lithographer: Arnold Meermann, Munich, Germany.

Captain William Brabane Wright  of "Banda", Pangatotara.
Nelson Provincial Museum, Davis Collection, ref 10181 

"Mrs Wright's clearing, 25 miles from Motueka" [Apr. 1874]
Artist: Sarah Greenwood 1809-1889)
Nelson Provincial Musem Collection ref. AC263

"Grove Farm" [1851]  (later "Herstmonceux")
Artist: Sarah Greenwood.
The first house to be built at Lower Moutere. Because it was for some time the only 
one in the area, for a while it was also referred to simply as "the Moutere house".
Another settler, Walter Guy, afterwards took the name "Moutere House" for his own home in the same vicinity, causing later confusion for researchers.
Originally owned by partners Nathaniel Morse,  George Murray and William Rogers.
Renamed by Edwin Hare Dashwood for his English homeplace
Nelson Provincial Museum, Bett Loan Collection: AC324

The Motueka River
Photo courtesy J. McFadgen

Miss Mary Gascoyne, Headmistress of Toi Toi Girls' Valley School
from 1880 to1897, with her teaching staff around her.
Nelson Provincial Museum, Tyree Studio Collection, ref. 36443

Isabella Gascoyne with her daughters Charlotte and Caroline, ca. late 1880s-1890s.
Nelson Provincial Museum, Tyree Studio Collection, ref. 32860

Playing to the crowd: Archie entertains the crowd from a piano fixed to a trailer
during a Trafalgar Street parade in the 1940s.
Nelson Provincial Museum, Kingsford Collection, ref. 161260

Archie Gascoyne's new memorial cross at Wakapuaka Cemetery
Photo courtesy Mr B. McIntyre.


  1. Amazing,what a lot of work to get it out in print.I love the history and the stories that link family names to places,streets etc.Well done.