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Fruit From the Scoria

Fruit From the Scoria

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Published by Lisa Truttman
Story of Captain Robert David James of Mt Albert and Avondale, in Auckland, New Zealand
Story of Captain Robert David James of Mt Albert and Avondale, in Auckland, New Zealand

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Published by: Lisa Truttman on Oct 20, 2008
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10/09/2013

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Fruit fromthe Scoria
Captain Robert David James of Mt Albert & Avondale
 Lisa J Truttman 2008
 
The life of Captain Robert David James before 1868 as, at the moment, obscure. He appears tohave been born c. 1812 in Wales.
1
He was described in his death notice in 1895 as being “late 7
th
 Hussars” which may explain his title of “Captain”. He married in London in 1842, and from1845-1865, he lived in New Brunswick, Canada
2
(which may explain later confusion in theAuckland press who claimed he was American) His first wife Susannah Elizabeth died there in1859.
3
He and Susannah Elizabeth had 11 children; 4 died in infancy.
4
He married Sophia Riceon 20 June 1860 in New Brunswick, and arrived in New Zealand in 1865.
5
 Captain James appears on Aucklanddocuments in February 1868, when hepurchased a number of adjoiningsections from Allan Kerr Taylor. Hewas elected as one of the trustees of theMt Albert Highway District Board inOctober that year.
6
In August 1869, hetransferred part of his holdings west of Alexis Avenue to J. T. Garlick.
7
On theremaining 15 acre triangular section,bounded by New North Road, Kitenuiand Alexis Avenues, he set aboutcreating his orchard.Captain James served as chairman of the Mt Albert Highway District from1869-1871. During his time in the chair,among the local issues were of the costof road maintenance, the trustees’proposal to have the quarry opened up
1
Research notes from Betty Lark of Nelson, received 20 September 2008
2
ibid
3
Website for New Brunswick Genealogy Society, http://nbgs.ca, sighted 19 September 2008
4
ibid
5
Research notes from Betty Lark
6
 
Southern Cross 
, 7 October 1868, p. 4
7
21D.676, LINZ records
Deed Whau 7 (LINZ records), 1868–1869, showing thefull extent of Captain James’ landholding in Mt Albert.
 
school district. James convened a public meeting in December 1869,
8
at which he was appointedto the new school committee, and served as their first chairman. Heading a deputation to theProvincial Superintendent later that month,
9
he argued on behalf of the Mt Albert ratepayers thattheir share of the toll gate money collected should be for the maintenance of roads in the district,and not just specific roads, but it was also requested for consideration that the New North Roadtoll gate be removed as it was an impedance. As for the quarry, the Superintendent of theProvincial Council agreed in early 1870 to have the Board’s request considered.
10
 Sophia James herself was involved with the Wesleyan Sunday School in Mt Albert, and was oneof the ladies who catered for their annual meetings and soirees.
11
In February 1871, however, sheand Captain James were involved in an accident after a shaft pin on their buggy fell out andcaused the shaft to drop down against their horse’s legs, startling it.
“The horse, which is greatly prized by Captain James for the quietness of its disposition, took fright and bolted down Hobson-street into Wellesley-street towards Freeman’s Bay. Fortunately, Captain James had somecontrol over the animal, and endeavoured to guide it into Mr. Harrison’s wood-yard, to avoid thedescent down the hill; but the trap upset outside the fence, and its occupants were thrownviolently to the ground. Captain James escaped unhurt, but Mrs. James was much shaken and bruised, though the injuries sustained were not serious … The buggy was of course considerablydamaged, but the horse came off scathless.”
12
 Captain James retired from the Highway Board in July 1871.
13
His next community involvement,however, was as a member of the committee appointed by the Mt Albert district residents to setabout the task of organizing the building of the district’s Anglican church, later known as StLuke’s.
14
In 1874, he was once again chairman of the district’s school committee, but retired thefollowing year.
15
 The greatest number of column inches devoted to Captain James, however, involved his orchardand vineyard at Mt Albert. A correspondent to the
Southern Cross
in January 1874, “OldPractical”, in writing about wasted theories and writing about what could or couldn’t be grown in
8
 
Southern Cross 
, 23 December 1869, p. 4
9
 
Southern Cross 
, 25 December 1869, p. 6
10
 
Southern Cross 
, 11 January 1870, p. 7
11
 
Southern Cross 
, 8 September 1870, p. 3
12
 
Southern Cross 
, 23 February 1871, p. 2
13
 
Southern Cross 
, 11 July 1871, p. 3
14
 
Southern Cross 
, 27 March 1872, p. 3
15
 
Southern Cross 
, 2 February 1875, p. 3

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