Edward Jollie began his memoir seven years after building a homestead on his Beachcroft Estate near Lake Ellesmere in the Selwyn district, which he represented from 1866 until the abolition of the Canterbury Provincial Legislature a decade later.
Commenced at the age of forty-seven and abandoned eight years later, it was intended for the benefit of his eight surviving children and their descendants.
As a pioneer surveyor and explorer of colonial New Zealand few names have been afixed to such a wide range of geographical features, and the streets of virtually every city and town of significance, as Jollie's.
His reminiscences include much social comment, stories of early settlers and recount the surveying of the Wellington, Nelson, Canterbury and Otago provinces. From the prehistoric Māori who remembered Captain James Cook to the Whalers who first set up shore stations along the coasts, Jollie also knew most of the explorers, politicians, bureaucrats and magnates who dominated the first century of European settlement.
The incomplete manuscript was probably intended as an initial draft in a style that we now know as "stream of consciousness." With a provincial education that ended when he was fifteen, Jollie could not be counted among the more scholarly of our early pioneers. However, his candid literary effort appears to indicate a significant capacity for undivided and sustained attention. Lacking chronological sequence, but prolific in the use of personal pronouns and conjunctions, his sentences are paragraphs long.
Along with other family diaries, letters and photograph albums, the manuscript passed to Edward and Caroline's Granddaughter Sheila Angus (1901-1989) of Morecombelake in Dorset. Miss Angus donated the original manuscript to the people of New Zealand in 1958.
Typed copies were made by the Alexander Turnbull Library, who then provided Miss Angus with several duplicates as well as a bound copy of the individually photographed pages of the original document. It is from those typescripts, verified from the Alexander Turnbull Library's microfilm copy of the original manuscript, that this edited version of the memoir has been prepared.
Although widely quoted in New Zealand histories, his memoir has not previously been published. Now edited to the sequential, with grammar and punctuation that is more acceptable to modern tastes, his reminisces provides an interesting perspective on an important era in the nation's history.