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Thomas Caverhill was born on 2 January 1820 in or near Jedburgh in Roxburgh, Scotland, son of William Caverhill and Agnes Scott.

It is not clear when he arrived in New Zealand, but he is listed in the 1841 census of Scotland as living in Jedburgh.

When his brother John Scott Caverhill died in 1897, his obituary in the Christchurch Press states that he (John) had arrived in Australia in 1839, and had worked as a drover for various land-owners there before coming to New Zealand in the early 1840s on the advice of Sir George Grey.   It is likely that Thomas Caverhill arrived in New Zealand about this time.

On 2 March 1848 Thomas married Elizabeth, eldest daughter of David and Hellen Speedy, who had arrived in New Zealand from Perthshire on the Lord William Bentinck. The marriage took place in Wellington and was performed by the Rev. R. Cole.

Tragically the marriage was short-lived, as Thomas was to die before the end of 1848.

New Zealand Spectator and Cook's Strait Guardian, 20 December 1848.                                                                        A melancholy and fatal accident occurred to Mr. Thomas Caverhill, the Manager of Mr Clifford's station at Warekaka, Wairarapa, on Saturday last. Mr. Caverhill was engaged with some other persons in driving cattle across the river Ruamahunga, which at that place is about fifty yards wide, at a ford near Mr. Gilles' station; he entered the river on horseback below the ford, and on arriving at the opposite bank the horse sprang up the steep bank, but missed its footing and fell, and it is supposed must have kicked Mr. Caverhill and stunned him, as both horse and rider sank to the bottom of a deep hole in that part of the river. After dragging the river the body was recovered and was found to be much bruised about the face. The body was buried at Wairarapa. The deceased had only been married eight months.  

Wellington Independent 20 December 1848. We regret exceedingly to state that a melancholy accident has occurred at Wairarapa, involving the loss of a very intelligent and respected man, Mr. T. Caverhill. He was crossing the river on Saturday when, from some unknown cause, both horse and rider foundered and did not rise again. On Sunday the settlers collected around the spot where Caverhill had been last seen, and after dragging for some time his body was recovered. The unfortunate deceased was buried on Monday, and all the neighbouring residents paid their last tribute of respect by attending the corpse to the grave.


A few weeks earlier the following advertisement had appeared.                                                     

New Zealand Spectator and Cook’s Strait Guardian, 7 October 1848. MERINO RAMS. FOR SALE, by private contract, the surplus RAM STOCK on Warekaka Station, consisting of 28 Imported Rams. The above, imported from New South Wales by Messrs. Clifford and Weld, are young sheep, chiefly from the Bathurst district, out of the flocks of Sutton, Esq., M.L.C., and the remainder of H. M'Arthur's noted breed. Also several Colonial bred Rams, out of Ewes bred by the late Sir J. Jamison, and others. For particulars apply to Mr. T. Caverhill, Wairarapa.  

Although it is difficult to prove, it is possible that his was the first burial at Blackbridge. We are fairly certain that the cemetery was available by this time, and few death notices for Hutt Valley residents appeared in the newspapers as early as this. The family believes that he was buried at Knox.

There was one child of the marriage, born after the death of his father. Thomas William Caverhill was born in 1849.

Thomas William married Amy Laura Knight in January 1877 (recorded under Caverill on BDM website)      


Their children were:

1880 Thirza Mildred,

1881 Christina Scott, 

1883  Thomas Vivian,

1884  Amy Jeanett, 

1885  Maggie Nita,               

1887  Harold Victor,

1890  Kathleen Isabel,

1891 Graham Speedy, 

1893 Olive Muriel, 

1894  Kenneth Leslie,                      

1896 Elsie Gladys,

1898  Cyril John. 

Thomas William Caverhill was involved with a number of organisations in the Hutt Valley.                      

THE ANNUAL MEETING of the Ratepayers of the Western Hutt Road District will be held at the house of Mr T. W. Caverhill on Tuesday, the 20th day of December, 1870, at 3 o'clock p.m., for the purpose of fixing rates for the ensuing year STEPHEN JUDD, Chairman. 24 November 1870

Hutt Cricket Club. A Meeting of the members of the above Club will be held at Whitewood's Hotel on Thursday, the 28th inst., at 7 o'clock p.m. Thos. W. Caverhill. Hon. Sec.    (23 December 1871 Wellington Independent)

THE HUTT AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY.                                                                                                          

A public meeting was held of this society on last Thursday evening, when the rules as read were adopted. The following resolutions were carried "That the Governor be respectfully requested to become the patron of the society" and "That the Hon. W. Fitzherbert be elected President of the society." The following office-bearers were elected, viz. Vice Presidents Messrs. Cruickshank, Upper Hutt; P. A. Buckley, Lower Hutt; Jas. Knight, Lower Hutt; Wm. Beetham, Taita; D. Sinclair, Wainuiomata: N. Valentine, Lower Hutt; A. Braithwaite, Lower Hutt; Wm. Buick, Petoni; C. F. Worth, Taita; J. H. Corbett, Taita; J. Grace, sen., Wainuiomata; G. Buck, sen., Taita: J. G. F. Wilford, Hutt; W. A. Fitzherbert, Hutt; and J. Walker, Stokes Valley. Committee Messrs. John White, D. Buick, Job Mabey, G. Hill, P. Bruce, R. T. Mellow, W. Russell, H. Russell, D. Knight, T. Caverhill, A. Pringle, D. Speedy, W. Browne, E. Hollard, and S. Mason. Treasurer P. A. Buckley, Esq.; secretary —J. H. Corbett, Esq.; auditor— W. S. Milne, Esq. The meeting closed with a vote of thanks to the chairman.       Evening Post 18 November 1876

Resignation of a School Committee.

A meeting of the Lower Hutt School Committee was held in the Schoolhouse, Hutt, on Tuesday evening last. Mr. David Speedy was in the chair, and there were also present Messrs. Knight, Cudby, M'Nab, Jones, Caverhill, and Damant. A letter was received and road from the Education Board, enclosing a copy of the Board's decision, acquitting Mr. Richards, the headmaster, on the charges brought against him. The following resolution was then unanimously passed “That this Committee being dissatisfied with the decision arrived at by the Education Board on the charges brought against Mr. Richards, the headmaster of this school, they therefore tender their resignation as a Committee, and that the clerk be instructed to forward the same to the Chairman of the Education Board at once."   8 April 1886

LOWER HUTT,   The annual meeting of householders was held last evening at the schoolroom for the purpose of electing a School Committee for the ensuing twelve months. The following gentlemen were elected Messrs. W. A. Fitzherbert, R. K. Jackson, D. Speedy, L. Payne, T. W. Caverhill, W. H. Whitton, J. O'Sullivan. Of those, Messrs. Fitzherbert, Jackson, Speedy, Payne, and Caverhill were members of the retiring committee. A vote of thanks was passed to the outgoing committee, and responded to by Mr. Fitzherbert, the Chairman. A vote of thanks was passed to Mr. Barry, head master, and his teaching staff. This was responded to by Mr. Barry in a few well-chosen remarks. At a meeting held by the newly-elected committee, Mr. Fitzherbert was re-elected Chairman and Mr. L. Payne Secretary and Treasurer.               (Evening Post 29 April 1890).

A PUBLIC MEETING WILL BE HELD AT ODDFELLOWS' HALL, LOWER HUTT, ON SATURDAY NEXT, 20th FEBRUARY, at 8 o'clock, re Agricultural Show Grounds. The Meeting is convened by the under signed with a view of getting united action by the residents of Hutt and Petone towards keeping the Wellington Agricultural Society Show Grounds in the Hutt. Everyone is invited to attend. W. A. Fitzherbert, W. Copeland, James Knight, G. G. Buck, D. Speedy, T. Allan, T. Caverhill, J. H. Whitton, J. Pringle, T. E. Ransom, J. Wilkins, J. Pringle, sen., J. Knight, C. Hollard, B. Miller, H. D. Atkinson, H. Eglinton, C. W. Brown, D. West. (Evening Post 17 February 1892)

At the Lower Hutt Magistrate's Court yesterday, before Messrs. H. Jackson, T. W. Caverhill, and J Wilkins, Justices, George Woods and William King were fined ls each for playing football in Jackson street.           (Evening Post, 6 April 1893)

Evening Post, 25 April 1893. LOWER HUTT.  At the annual meeting of householders Mr. W. A. Fitzherbert was in the chair, about 50 householders being present. Reports from the retiring Committee and Mr. Barry, head master, were very satisfactory. Five householders were nominated previous to the meeting, and four others in the room, the following being elected Messrs. W. A. Fitzherbert, A. W. Collett, D. Speedy, T. W. Caverhill, L. Payne, W. Gough, and A. Peters. Votes of thanks were passed to Mr. Barry and his teaching staff and the out-going Committee. At a meeting held by the new Committee Messrs. Fitzherbert and Payne were re-elected Chairman and Secretary respectively


Evening Post 9 June 1896. The monthly meeting of the Hutt County Council was held to-day. Present Councillors G. Brown (Chairman), C. W. Brown, Wakeham, Jillett, Majendie, Bradey, Field, and Cook. An application by Mr. T. W. Caverhill for consent to a road through sections 37 and 186, Belmont, was referred to Councillor Speedy for a report.

Evening Post, 12 July 1898.The monthly meeting of the Hutt County Council was held to day. There were present Councillors Bradey (Chairman), Majendie, Gr. Brown, C. W. Brown, Cook, Wakeham, Bould, Caverhill, and Field, M.H.R. 


Amongst the correspondence laid before the Hutt County Council to-day was a letter from the Petone Borough Council asking the Council to co-operate in urging the Government to widen the main road between Kaiwarra and Petone, and annually assist in its maintenance, and also straighten the railway line. Councillors Majendie and Field urged the importance of the proposed work. Councillor G. Brown said that if the railway line was straightened the County Council would be able to widen the road. Councillor G. Brown commended the action of the Petone Council. He suggested that a toll should be established, and the money earmarked to widen the road between Wellington and Petone. He also thought that a cycling track should be laid down between the city and Petone, and a small charge made on those who used it. He found that every 24 hours about 1200 vehicles passed along the Hutt road. He believed that if the County took action the Government would be induced to straighten the railway line. Councillor Caverhill said he was afraid that if a toll were established a whole regiment of soldiers would be required to maintain it. The outcome of the discussion was the passing of a motion by Councillor Field to the effect that the County Council acquiesced generally with the Petone Borough Council's views, and suggested a conference of the local bodies interested.

Dominion, 13 May 1910.  At  the Petone Police Court yesterday, before Mr. T. W. Caverhill, J.P., Henry Thomas, charged with insobriety; was fined 20s., in default three days' imprisonment.

Evening Post, 30 September 1876    Wanted, a Boy, for farm work —must be able to milk also two Wood- cutters. Apply to T. W. Caverhill, Lower Hutt.        

The following two advertisements give us an indication as to where the farm was situated.

Evening Post, 9 October 1896.   THURSDAY, 22nd OCTOBER, 1896, At 2.30 o'clock. Important to Buyers of Country Farms and suburban homes. Sale of the Beautiful Suburb of CAVERTON, Situated within ¼ mile of Belmont Railway Station and 1 1/4 Miles from Lower Hutt. MESSRS. J. H. BETHUNE & CO. are favoured with instructions from T W Caverhill, Esq., to sell by public auction at their rooms, Featherston street, on Thursday, 22nd October, at 2.30 p.m.— The delightfully situated SUBURB OF CAVERTON, divided into 8 charming Free hold Sections, ranging in area from 2 ACRES to 16 ACRES, being subdivisions of Sections Nos. 37 and 186, Hutt District, together with the Five-roomed Cottage erected on lot 1. CAVERTON fronts the main Hutt road, is within 9 1/2 MILES of the City of Wellington, and, from its ease of access by road and rail, affords an exceptional opportunity to those in search of a suburban home. Each section contains a first-class Building Site, surrounded by picturesque native scenery, well watered and sheltered, with high and sunny aspect, commanding a lovely view of the Entrance, Hutt Valley, and Wellington City. Titles, Land Transfer Act.

Terms 10 per cent, deposit, 15 per cent, in one month, balance on mortgage for 3 years at 6 per cent. For plan and further particulars apply to J. H. BETHUNE & CO., Auctioneers. THURSDAY, 22nd OCTOBER, 1896, At 2.30 o’clock           .

BELMONT, LOWER HUTT. To let, for a term of years, that delightfully situated Property, within five minutes' walk of BELMONT Railway Station, at present occupied by T. W. Caverhill. Esq., and containing 200 Acres, fenced and subdivided, together with comfortable family residence, containing eight rooms, with stable, trapshed, and cowshed. If desired, a smaller area of land can be let with dwellinghouse. For particulars and cards to view, apply to J H. Bethune & Co.  (Evening Post, 12 August 1899)  

Elizabeth Caverhill (nee Speedy) died in 1880, and was buried at Blackbridge cemetery.

Evening Post, 9 June 1880 The Friends of the late Mrs. Caverhill are respectfully invited to attend her funeral, which will leave her late residence. Belmont, Hutt, proceeding by the Hutt Bridge, on Friday, the 11th, at 2 p.m. E. H. Collett. Undertaker.

Two of the Caverhill children died when quite young.

Evening Post 22 November 1883, Caverhill, On the 20th November, at Belmont, Christina Scott, beloved child of Thomas Wm. and Amy Laura Caverhill, aged 2 years and 4 months.            

Evening Post, 6 April 1893, Information was received in town this afternoon that a little boy named Caverhill, son of Mr. T. W. Caverhill, of the Lower Hutt, had been accidentally drowned in a creek this morning, but up to the time of going to press no particulars had been received by the police. (This was Graham Speedy Caverhill aged 17 months. Both children were buried at Blackbridge cemetery, as were their parents.)       

Another son also died young, probably during the 1918 flu epidemic.

CAVERHILL.—On the 12th November, 1918, at Featherston Military Hospital, Cyril John, youngest son of the late Thomas William Caverhill (Hutt Valley) and Amy Laura Caverhill (Day's Bay); aged 20 years.     

Evening Post  9 May 1912.  Mr. T. W. Caverhill, an old and well- known resident of the Hutt Valley, died at Petone yesterday afternoon. Mr. Caverhill, who was sixty-three years of age, had resided in the district all his life, and was greatly respected. He was a Justice of the Peace for many years, and up till a short time ago was a familiar figure on the Bench. Originally he was a farmer at Belmont, and later was appointed a Government valuer. He did good work in this position for about eight years, when he was retired under the retrenchment scheme. He had always taken a very keen interest in local politics, and figured prominently in any movement having for its object the progress of the Valley. For some time prior to his death he had been ailing. He leaves a widow and a family of thirteen children, eight of whom are married.       

Evening Post, 4 January 1940. CAVERHILL. —On January 3. 1940, at the residence of her daughter, Mrs. A. W. Aplin, Manakau, Amy Laura, relict of the late Thomas William Caverhill of Belmont, Lower Hutt. Private interment.    

The name of Maggie Aplin (nee Caverhill) also appears at the memorial stone at Blackbridge Cemetery. This is the last recorded date on the original memorial, and it is likely that her ashes were scattered there.

Evening Post, 15 May 1942, DEATHS  APLIN.—On May 14, 1942, at a private hospital, Wellington, Maggie Nita, beloved wife of, A. W. Aplin, of Manakau. Private Cremation.       

Although John Scott Caverhill did not remain in the Wellington area, for long, he had rather an adventurous life while he was there. 

Wellington Independent 16 August 1848. Since the above was written, we have received the following important intelligence Rangihaeata has taken possession of the whole of Mr. Skipwith's sheep, eleven hundred in number. A few days since he stopped sixteen head of cattle belonging to Mr. Waitt, merchant of this place, which were being driven to Wanganui, and seized the person of Mr. Caverhill who had charge of the herd, detaining him close prisoner for some time. Some of the resident natives attempted to resist Rangihaeata's party, but they were not strong enough to effect their object. Mr. Caverhill was ultimately allowed to return to Wellington, without the Cattle, on condition of taking back to Manawatu 10 bottles of rum, 10 lbs. of tobacco, and sundry other articles.  


Early on Saturday morning another of our earliest colonists, Mr John Scott Caverhill, passed away. Mr Caverhill was born near Jedburgh in May, 1820. The deceased gentleman, came of au old Scotch family, well versed in sheep breeding, and Mr Caverhill, from his youth upwards, took a keen interest in. all kinds of stock, and was a first-rate judge of all kinds of animals. Mr Caverhill, finding insufficient scope for his energies in his native village, emigrated in 1839 to Australia, where for some years he was taking cattle overland for the late Mr Hawdon, Lieutenant (now Sir George) Grey and others. At the suggestion of Sir George he came to New Zealand early in the forties, and engaged in contracting for the supply of meat for the troops during the early Maori wars. While thus engaged he was captured by the Natives, and was for some time a prisoner of the renowned chief Te Rauparaha. Being an expert horseman, Mr Caverhill was employed by the Maoris to break in some horses for them, and after a while he was enabled to select one of the fleetest, by means of which he effected his escape. He then found his way to the Middle Island, and, associated with Sir Charles Clifford, was for some time engaged in selecting station properties, principally in the Nelson district, for various persons. He himself became possessed of the now well-known Cheviot Hills property, and also took a lease from Messrs Greenwood Brothers of the Motanau station, which at that time was a very large one, and used chiefly as a cattle run. Upon Cheviot Hills being purchased by the late Hon. W. Robinson, Mr Caverhill purchased the Hawkswood estate, where he resided many years, and early commenced its improvement by planting, grass seed sowing, and a careful selection of merino sheep.


Hawkswood was afterwards bought by the late Mr John Macfarlane, but prior to its sale Mr Caverhill removed to Highfield, where he carried on improvements on the same principles as he had done at Hawkswood. On the disposal of Highfield to its present owners, Messrs Wharton and Co., Mr Caverhill removed, with a considerable sum of money, to the North Island, settling first at New Plymouth and then going to Hawera. There, through impaired health, declining years and unfortunate investments in Maori leases and other causes, he lost the whole of his early gainings, and at the last was in very straitened circumstances. He will, however, long be remembered as having been one of the most generous and kindhearted of men, and many persons, now living in good circumstances, owe their first start in life to his kindness and assistance, and it is well-known that no swagger ever applied to him in vain for food or shelter. Always a lover of pure stock, Mr Caverhill spent large sums in perfecting whatever class he had, and was never without something good in either sheep, cattle, horses, or dogs. The deceased gentleman was a warm supporter of the Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association from its early days, and the last occasion on which he officiated as a judge of short horn cattle was at the November show of 1890. In 1852, the first lot of cattle brought overland from Nelson to Canterbury was driven across the Hurunui by the late Mr Caverhill. They comprised the Bow and Arrow brand, 500 in number, including eight pure bred bulls, said to have been large-framed Teeswater looking cattle. They were supposed to have descended from Patter McQueen's famous cattle bred in the Hunter River district, and on reaching Canterbury were disposed of to the late Mr J. T. Brown (Mount Thomas), W. D. Wood (Riccarton) and the late Rev. J. Raven (Woodend).


Those sold to the last formed the nucleus of the late Mr. J. Bowie's dairy herd. Before it was dispersed, Mr. Caverhill's herd comprised the largest number of pure cattle held by one person in the country. It included Duke and Duchess, Kathleen O'More, Beatrice, Dairymaid and Miss Harrison, besides the bulls Lord John, Conrad and Regicide. In 1855, Mr Caverhill married Miss King in Lyttelton, who, together, with four sons and three daughters, survives him. The eldest of the former is the popular manager of the Bank of New Zealand, Kaiapoi, and the eldest of the latter the wife of the Rev. L. M. Isitt. The eldest son, William, was a victim of the disastrous fire in Hawera some time ago. Owing to the very short notice given of the death, only those relatives and personal friends of the deceased who could be privately communicated with on Saturday were enabled to attend his funeral yesterday afternoon. But a large, number of telegrams of sympathy with the bereaved family, besides many floral tributes, were received. The interment took place at the Linwood Cemetery. The Rev. Dr. Elmslie, assisted by the Rev. L. M. Isitt, officiated at the grave.

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