Margaret Isabel Jollie 1862-1936


Margaret Isabel Jollie

Named after her paternal Grandmother, the eldest child of Edward and Caroline Jollie was born in 1862 at Islington, a pleasant suburb to the near north of the City of London.


Known affectionately as Maggie, Madge or Aunt Peggy, Margaret married twice, first to a Mr. Birkmeyer and then to Hallyburton Johnstone, a collector of ornithological specimens and Maori artifacts, of seaside Howick, near Auckland.

Though she had no children of her own, Margaret played a significant role in the care of the children of her widowed younger brother Teddy (Edward junior). Both Margaret and her brother are buried in New Plymouth’s Te Henui Cemetery.

As a fifteen year-old Margaret wrote a surviving account of the family’s 1877 voyage from Lyttelton to London aboard the sailing vessel Rangitiki. Along with her seven younger brothers and sisters, she was traveling with her parents and their two female servants Rachael and Severine.  The fifty-two year-old wealthy pastoralist and politician's family occupied Saloon cabins (the first of three classes), below the poop deck at the stern of the vessel.

In the text Margaret refers to her 14 year-old sister Caroline as Carrie, 12 year-old brother Francis as Frank, 11 year-old sister Elizabeth as Bessie. Mary (May), aged 9, rates few mentions as do 6 year-old Edward (Eddy) and 2 year-old Sara. The infant Christobel is not mentioned.

Formerly the Scimitar of 1863 and capable of a complement of 430, the 212 foot New Zealand Shipping Company's 1,227 ton full-rigged clipper ship Rangitiki was in every way ideal for the colonial service, being 8 feet 6 inches between decks and well fitted. 

Linked below, in four chapters, is an annotated transcript of Margaret's shipboard diary of the non-stop, eighty-five day voyage from Lyttelton to London, via Cape Horn.

It is an account of the return leg of the fifth of the Rangitiki's twenty-four voyages to New Zealand, where the vessel had arrived on that antipodean coast three months earlier.

1 --March ----The Early Voyage

2 --April ----- South Pacific

3 --May --- --South Atlantic

4 --June -- -- North Atlantic