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John Cameron died in 1888, and his wife Catherine in 1899. Both are buried at Blackbridge cemetery beside Knox Church in Lower Hutt.


We find him mentioned in the early electoral rolls as follows,


Electoral Roll, Wellington Country Districts 1856.

John Cameron Snr, Wainuiomata, farmer

John Cameron Jnr, Pencarrow Head, farmer.


During the 1860s John Cameron is listed on the Hutt Electoral Roll as living at Okiwi, which is the original name for what is now known as Eastbourne.



Cameron, John, Gollan's Bay, stock-keeper      (17 April 1860, Wellington Independent.)

John Cameron m Catherine Caisey, February 1860

Children of John and Catherine Cameron.


Jessie 1861

Allan 1863

John 1865

Hugh 1869

Charles 1871

Catherine 1873


The name “Caisey” does not appear at all in the Wellington area. Catherine could be the Catherine Cassie baptised 23 September 1836 in the parish of Keithhall and Kinkel in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. There were a number of Cassie’s living in the Wellington area in the late 19th century, including James, Alexander and Andrew – names which appear in Catherine’s family.


There are some questions about how and when John Cameron arrived in New Zealand. According to his obituary in 1888 (see below), he had arrived on the “Falcon” 48 years previously. The only ship of this name to arrive around 1840 was the one wrecked at Maketu in the Bay of Plenty, which was reported as follows:-

The New Zealand Journal, Saturday, August 29 (1840) New Zealand Shipping At Sydney.                                                         


April 25.—From New Zealand, having left the 8th instant, the schooner Fair Barbadian, Captain Bennett, with potatoes, &c. Passengers—Captain Leslie, and part of the crew of the Falcon, wrecked at New Zealand.

 This ship was under the command of Hans Holman Felk better known in New Zealand as the trader Phillip Tapsell. The ship was owned by Frederick Peterson, not Phillip Tapsell as is implied by the plaque on the Falcon memorial at Maketu. It was under charter to Hans Homman Felk,  A cannon and plaque commemorate the wreck of the topsail schooner Falcon, in the early hours of 1 March 1840. The plaque names the ship as ‘Valcona’.

In 1867 the family fell foul of the law when parts of a whisky still were discovered on their property. The following newspapers items from December 1867 and January 1868 give a detailed description of the sequence of events.

Wellington Independent 14 Dec 1867 Illicit Distillation. Acting under the instructions of the Inspector of Police, Sergeant Monaghan and Constable Fraser left town on Thursday evening for the Hutt, and thence proceeded to the house of Mr John Cameron, farmer, at Pencarrow Head, where they discovered a portion of a still, which they seized, and brought into town yesterday evening.

Wellington Independent 21 Dec 1867 Illicit Distillation. A small still is lying at present behind the Police Court Buildings, which has apparently been in use for a considerable time, and from whose now battered and rusty-looking worm streams of “the cratur” have no doubt trickled in times gone past, when the laws were not so stringent and police raids less frequent. This particular still has a little history connected with it. Some two months ago, a copper boiler of suspicious aspect was sent to town for repair. It certainly might have been exactly what it purported to be, but it had a rakish smuggling sort of look that betokened early associations of peat reek and malt. At any rate, the Customs authorities seized the boiler, which they thought, if fitted with a head and arm and worm, would look marvellously like a still. To find those fittings became the work of the police, and so a few days ago, acting on information received, Sergeant Monaghan, accompanied by constables Fraser and Brady, made a visit to a sheep farm at Pencarrow Heads, and commenced a diligent search. After being so employed for several hours, they came upon the still-head then, in another place they found the arm, while the worm was discovered in two separate pieces, in different places. These fittings have been brought into town, they were duly tried on the boiler and found to fit exactly, which then became transformed into a very complete, albeit somewhat old-fashioned still, with a capacity of about forty-five gallons. A charge has been laid against Mr John Cameron, the occupier of the land whereon the fittings were discovered, which will come up for hearing on the 30th instant. According to the old ordinance passed in 1841, a rather heavy fine can be inflicted on any person on whose property distilling utensils may be found.

Evening Post 3 Jan 1868 Resident Magistrate’s Court – Breach of the Distillation Ordinance. John Cameron, a farmer, living near Pencarrow, was charged with having on the 13th December, had on his premises portions of a still. Mr Hart conducted the case for the Collector of Customs, and the defendant was represented by Mr Allan. Sergeant Monaghan stated that on the 13th December, he had gone with constables Fraser and Brady to the residence of Mr Cameron, at Pencarrow Head; there saw defendant and his family; in a paddock about five hundred yards from the dwelling house, concealed among some flax bushes, found portions of a still worm (produced) and in the fowl house discovered the arm of the still hidden amongst some dishes and farming implements; in other portions of the premises the remainder of the still was found; defendant and his wife both stated to witness that the still had been on their premises for twenty-two years, and that a boiler had been taken away by the Maoris and seized by the Customs authorities; witness had subsequently seen this boiler, and on fitting together the different pieces he found that they made a complete still.

Cross-examined by Mr Allan – No impediment was offered by defendant to the searching of his premises; witness had never told defendant he had come to look for a new still. Constable James Brady and Charles Fraser having given corroborative evidence, the case for the Crown was closed. Mr Allan contended that there was not sufficient evidence against his client. He did not deny that the articles were discovered in the places stated, but argued that by their appearance it was extremely probable the pieces of the still had not been used for twenty years. He contended that the Distillation Ordinance was only passed to prevent illicit distillation and the consequent defrauding of the revenue, and pointed out that the still was a broken and battered old instrument that seemed to be useless except as old metal. The interpretation to be put on the Act of last session – under which the information had been laid – was, that it affected persons guilty of intent to defraud, and that his client had this intent there was no evidence adduced to show. His Worship considered the evidence most convincing and inflicted a fine of £100.

Wellington Independent 04 Jan 1868 Illicit Distillation. Mr John Cameron, upon whose premises at Pencarrow Head portions of a still were lately seized by the police, was examined before Mr J. C. Crawford yesterday upon the charge of having the articles in question in his possession. The information was laid under the 13th clause of the Distillation Act 1866 Amendment Act 1867 which renders any person possessing an unlicensed still or other utensils for distillation liable to a fine of not less than £50 and not more than £500, or, at the option of the justices, to suffer not more than two years’ imprisonment. The evidence of the police clearly showed that the articles in question had been found upon defendant’s premises; and, although Mr Allan, counsel for Mr Cameron, declared that he could bring witness to prove that his client did not use the utensils for any unlawful purpose, his Worship decided that the wording of the Act made the mere possession penal, and inflicted a fine of £100 and costs.

John Cameron appears to have been active in procuring good stock for his property. In June 1876 he bought 22 Leicester ewes at £2 10s each at Messrs Bethune and Hunter’s sale. 31 May 1870 return of stock lists his holding 1600 sheep.

His death in 1888 is recorded thus:

 Cameron — On 22nd August. 1888, at Petone, Hutt, Mr John Cameron, late of Gollan's Valley, near Pencarrow Lighthouse, aged 65 years.


FUNERAL NOTICE. The friends of the late Mr John Cameron, of Gollan's Valley, are respectfully invited to attend his funeral, to leave Coventry House, Hutt-road, for the Presbyterian Churchyard, to-morrow (Saturday), the 25th August, at a quarter-past 3 o'clock in the afternoon. JOSEPH HALL, Undertaker.          (Evening Post, 24 August 1888)


Another old settler has passed away, Mr. John Cameron, of Gollan's Valley, died at Petone, on Wednesday, after a short illness of a few weeks. He left his home about four weeks ago to reside at Petone for a short time, in order to receive medical advice, but never returned home again. The deceased came to Wellington about 48 years ago in the Falcon, and has resided at Gollan's Valley, near Pencarrow Lighthouse, most of the time, enjoying very good health up to about eight weeks ago. He leaves a widow, four sons and two daughters to mourn his loss.         (Evening Post, 24 August, 1888)


Catherine Cameron lived for another eleven years, and this is the newspaper report following her death in 1899.


Funeral Notice. The Friends of the late Mrs. John Cameron are respectfully invited to attend her Funeral, which leaves the residence of Mr. Hugh Cameron, Muritai, at 1 o'clock To-morrow, the 19th inst., passing through the Lower Hutt for the Presbyterian Cemetery, Blackbridge, at 3 p.m. G. A. M'Ilvride, Undertaker. Lower Hutt.


Old Wellingtonians, and many young ones who are at all acquainted with Gollan's Valley or Muritai, will learn with regret of the death of Mrs. John Cameron, a very old settler of Gollan's Valley. The deceased lady arrived here during the Forties, and her husband died about ten years ago. Of late years the old lady, though active enough, has seldom gone far from her home in the Valley. Recently she was attacked with a cold, which developed into inflammation of the lungs, ending in her death after a short illness yesterday morning. She leaves four sons and two daughters. The funeral is to leave Muritai at 1 o'clock to-morrow for the Hutt Cemetery (18 April 1899)


Gollan’s Valley is almost certainly to have been named after Donald Gollan, who arrived in Wellington on the ship “Clydesdale” as a cabin passenger on 11 October 1841 to work as a surveyor for the New Zealand Company. This ship had left from Greenock on the River Clyde. 


The following obituary which appeared in the “Hawkes Bay Herald” on 15 October 1887 gives a great summary of Donald Gollan’s life in New Zealand.


Our readers will regret to learn of the death of Mr Donald Gollan, which took place yesterday. The deceased gentleman, who was held in the highest estimation by all who had the pleasure of knowing him, was born at Culloden, near Inverness, in the year 1811. His education was commenced at the latter town, and completed at the Edinburgh Academy, after which he adopted the profession of engineer and surveyor. In that capacity he came to New Zealand in the year 1841, under engagement to the New Zealand Company. In 1854 he commenced sheep-farming upon the land now known as the Mangatarata run, and for some years endured all the vicissitudes and hardships which fell to the lot of the early settlers in their endeavours to carve out a home for themselves in what was literally a wilderness. Mr Gollan took a prominent part in the agitation which resulted in Hawke's Bay being separated from Wellington and made a province. The Herald, which was started to support the separation movement, published its first number on September 24th, 1857, and in that number Mr Gollan’s name appears on the short list which then constituted the Hawke's Bay electoral roll. In that year Mr Gollan was elected to the Wellington Provincial Council as representative for the East Coast. In 1859 he married the widow of the late Mr Charles de Pelichet, but she was removed by death shortly after the birth of Mr Gollan’s only son, Mr Spencer H. Gollan. He contracted no further ties, devoting his life to his family, the son above mentioned and two step-children— Miss de Pelichet and Mr Louis de Pelichet, The portion of Mr Gollan’s life after he surmounted his early difficulties was prosperous and happy, and he remained strong and in good health until two months ago, when he grew feeble, and gradually sinking, died painlessly yesterday morning in his 76th year.


Donald Gollan bapt. 14/5/1811 in Inverness, son Donald Gollan and Janet Mathieson.

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