Edward Jollie - Reminisces 1841-1865

9. Auckland: 1860-1861

35 year old Edward Jollie
Photographed at Auckland in 1860

I arrived in Auckland in the winter of 1860. And took up quarters at an hotel during the whole parliamentary session.  In the Assembly I voted with the Government, but only spoke once in a debate, and then briefly.

The Governor and Mrs. Gore Brown (1) had dancing and music parties once a week, and I think it was at the first of these parties that I attended that I first met Miss Orsmond, who was introduced to me by Mrs. Brown.

(1) His Excellency Thomas Robert Gore Browne (1807-1887) 

Governor of New Zealand 1855-1861,Browne was noted for his candour, but not for his generosity.

 That same evening I recollect sitting alongside a naval Lieutenant in a 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.

I was shortly afterward requested to join in some private theatricals, and at a meeting held in a room at Government House [above].  It was decided to act The Rivals by Sheridan, to be followed by Bombastes Furioso. (1)  In the former I had the part of Captain Absolute given me and in the latter the part of the King.  Captain Absolute I did not find an easy character to represent and I failed in it very much, although Miss Orsmond was Lydia Languish.

(1) Bombastes Furioso, subtitled A Burlesque Tragic Opera, was written in 1810 by William Barnes Rhodes. First published in 1822, it is a drama, with comic songs, that satirizes the bombastic style of other tragedies that were in fashion at the time. It was very popular throughout the 19th century.

She acted very well and naturally, so it was not her fault that my performance was so bad.  In the after piece I felt more at home.  Crosby Ward was Fusbos and Baynes was Bombastes and Miss Atkins was Distaffina.  They all acted very well and we got through it without a hitch.  In The Rivals Miss Atkins acted Mrs. Malaprop very well, Carry Gold (a daughter of General Gold) was a maid to Lydia, Mary Abraham was Juila, Baynes was Old Absolute, Crosby Ward was Sir Lucius O’Trigger, Mr. Merriman was Captain Stewart and Hunter Brown the servant man.

 Auckland, circa 1860

I was in Auckland altogether about three months and towards the end of my stay I took the opportunity one night in walking home from a concert with Miss Orsmond to ask her to be my wife.  She kindly consented, and so it was settled.

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 me in saying at least as much for her as a mother.

Miss Orsmond was born in the island of Tahiti, where her father (1) was for many years a missionary.  At seven years of age (in 1843) she was sent to England to be educated, and for that purpose she was taken charge by Mrs. Capper, the wife of a Quaker.  While in England her father and mother died, the latter in 1856 in Tahiti and the former in 1857 on board ship on a voyage from Tahiti to Sydney.

(1) Better educated than most Missionaries, the Reverend John Muggridge Orsmond (1788-1856) of the London Missionary Society arrived in Tahiti in February, 1817. He later returned briefly to New South Wales and on Christmas Day 1819 married Isabella, daughter of Isaac Nelson, an Emancipist farmer and the first schoolteacher at Liverpool.

Principal of the South Sea Academy on the island of Moorea, Orsmond is reputed that believing "a too bountiful nature on Moorea diminishes men’s natural desire to work’, ordered all breadfruit trees to be cut down.” Writing in 1849, the bitter and disillusioned ex-missionary dismissed the introduction of Christianity into Tahiti as "a mass of religious trickery."

Edward Jollie's late Father-in-law was not only an important missionary, but also an Anthropologist who recorded the language and the royal genealogy of Tahiti. As a Polynesian scholar and educationist he spent many years recording and documenting the various customs and legends of the indigenous culture. Orsmond passed away before completing the work and Teuira Henry, his granddaughter, spent most of her life completing and correcting his manuscript, which resulted in the 1928 book, Ancient Tahiti (Tahiti Aux Temps Anciens).

In 1858 she was invited by her aunt, Mrs. Shepherd, to come and stay with her and her husband Mr. Shepherd (1) at Whangaroa, near the Bay of Islands, New Zealand.  Having accepted this offer she took passage in the Kingston in charge of Sir William and Lady Martin, the former being at the time the first Chief Justice of New Zealand.  She reached Auckland on the 26th or 27th of December, 1858 and in January, 1859 she joined her uncle and aunt at Whangaroa.  There she remained until towards the end of 1859, when she left Whangaroa on a visit to Auckland.  When I met her she was staying with Mr. C. Heaphy (2) in St. George’s Bay [Below].

(1) Harriet (Nelson) Shepherd (1800-1877) and James Shepherd (1796-1882).  Born in New South Wales, James Shepherd was a Lay Missionary sent in 1820 by the Reverend Samuel Marsden to Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands, where he was the first Storekeeper. The Shepherds were subsequently among the first permanent settlers at Whangaroa in 1840.

(2) Major Charles Heaphy, V.C. (1820-1881). Draughtsman, artist, surveyor, explorer, soldier and public servant. Auckland Provincial Surveyor at the time of Caroline Orsmond's sojourn, in his later years financial troubles, over-work and poor health became the over-riding influences on a spirit whose earlier days were marked by humour and great optimism.


Having still a great amount of work to do in surveying the runs south of the River Rangitata we, that is Miss Orsmond and myself, agreed that it would be the best plan for me to return to Canterbury and finish that work during the coming summer.  Then to revisit Auckland and claim my bride and this was the programme carried out.

In the middle of April, 1861 I completed my work in connection with the survey of the runs in the Rangitata district, which I had started from Christchurch on the 19th October, 1858.

On the 20th April 1861 I left Lyttelton in the steam ship Airedale(1)bound for Auckland, where I arrived on the 28th April, and on the 14th of May Miss Orsmond and myself were married at St. Paul’s Church, (2) Parnell, by Dr. Selwyn, Bishop of New Zealand.

(1) The four year-old Airedale carried 100 passengers between Manukau, Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Picton, Taranaki, Lyttelton, Otago and Bluff for Messrs. Henderson and MacFarlane of Auckland. Now a destination for recreational divers, the Crimean War veteran ended he career in 1871 on a reef near Taranaki's Taniwha Point.

(2) Jollie married Caroline Alexandrine Orsmond (1836-1919) at St Mary's Church, Parnell (above).  The celebrant was the quick tempered, intolerant and muscular christian; first and only Lord Bishop of New Zealand.

The same day we drove to a village named Howick, [above, 1860] about twelve miles from Auckland where we passed our honeymoon, which lasted about three weeks.  We then took up our quarters in Auckland for a few weeks, and about the end of July or beginning of August we steamed out of Manukau Harbour on route for Canterbury, where we safely arrived and took up our quarters in lodgings in Christchurch.

Forty-four year-old Caroline Jollie.

Detail from a portrait in the Collection of Sylvia Yeoman.