Edward Jollie - Reminisces 1841-1865

Caroline Orsmond Jollie: "Good and Careful and Patient Wife"


We probably have Edward Jollie's wife, Caroline Alexandrine Orsmond Jollie (1836-1919), to thank for the existence of his memoir, which begins:


My wife Carrie has asked me to jot down some of the incidents of my life and in order to tempt me to begin she has placed a little round table with ink bottle upon it at my side before the fire.

Edward also mentions Carrie's proddings to continue later in the memoir: "After eleven months rest, on the expostulations of my wife I resume."

Carrie Orsmond was born in Tahiti, daughter of the English missionary and linguist, John Muggridge Orsmond (later official minister of religion, head of Native Police and Director of Native Affairs for the French colonial administration) and his Australian wife, Isabella Nelson Orsmond. Carrie was sent to England in 1843 at the age of seven to be educated. The British 1851 census indicates that she was still there, at a girls' school on Tower Street in Hackney, Shoreditch, London, England run by Catherine Avers and her three sisters. One of the teachers there was Harriet 'Osmond', 18, of Tahiti, presumably Carrie's older sister. They had been sent to school at considerable sacrifice on the part of their parents. Their father, writing from Tahiti in 1849, reported:


I sold my horse, boat, cow, and any other essentials to obtain the sum that I sent to pay for my children's school expenses… I have borrowed from friends and am now sending 31 pounds to equip my three children outward… If you ask how I obtained 31 pounds, I say, by theft from back and belly.


After Carrie's parents' deaths in the mid 1850s, she was invited to stay with her aunt, Harriet Nelson Shepherd, near the Bay of Islands in New Zealand. Edward Jollie describes meeting her for the first time in 1860 at a dance in Auckland:


…I recollect sitting alongside a naval lieutenant in the corner of the dancing room when we discussed the merits of the several young ladies who were figuring in the dance, when we both came to the same conclusion viz. that the dark young lady dressed in white was the prettiest young lady in the room and the best dancer.


They got to know each other better when they co-starred in two plays, Sheridan's "The Rivals" and "Bombastes Furiosos". Edward writes, "Captain Absolute I did not find an easy character to represent and I failed in it very much although Miss Orsmond was Lydia Languish. She acted very well and naturally so it was not her fault that my performance was so bad."


Edward sums up his life with Caroline as a happy one: "Now in 1880 looking back over nearly nineteen years of married life, I can review them with great satisfaction in regard to everything in which my wife was concerned for she has truly been a good and careful and patient wife, and a loving one to me, and our children I am sure will join with me in saying at least as much for her as a mother."


There are no pictures of her in the days when she was the prettiest young lady at the dance, but there is a portrait of her in middle age, painted on china in Germany (above), the mate of a similar portrait of Edward, as well as several photos of her as an old lady at Waireka, their large comfortable house on the North Island of New Zealand, near Patea. She seems to have had a peaceful comfortable life with her wealthy successful husband and numerous children. In middle age, they lived in Germany, Switzerland and England for several years with their children. Perhaps she remembered her own experience as a young child, sent so far from home, and ensured that if her children went to Europe to be educated, she would go with them.


When Edward and Carrie returned to New Zealand, they took up land at Waireka near Patea, in the South Taranaki district where they were established by March, 1884. Later in life, Carrie developed knowledge and skill in horticulture. She was active in the Hawera Horticultural Association and a photo of her as an elderly woman shows her gardening. After Edward's death at Waireka in 1894 she left the district, travelling to Europe and other parts of New Zealand to visit her grown children and their families. She died in Seatoun, Wellington, New Zealand in 1919.




Davies, John. (Edited by C. W. Newbury. (1961). The History of the Tahitian Missions. Cambridge University Press.