So, who was this William Bray – and the rest of this family of early Mt Albert settlers?It appears that William was born in Devon c.1831, the eldest son of Thomas and SarahBray, and brother to George, John, James and two sisters. The Bray family arrived inTaranaki in 1841, but moved to Auckland by 1844. There, Thomas Bray purchased land,initially near the Three Kings area
(where he raised cattle),
then he and his sonsGeorge and William purchased Allotments 58 (1850), 52 (1852) with 57 (1853) andfinally 53 (c.1858), all in the Parish of Titirangi
. In today’s terms this farm would havestretched from between the Oakley Creek and New North Road in the north-west(Allotment 58, today mainly railway land, Soljak Place and Pak n’ Save) then downacross New North Road to all the land between Richardson Road and the creek, toapproximately where Richardson Road meets Hendon Avenue, and including today’sAlan Wood Reserve. Later, according to the Bray family history, Allotment 52 of thisland went to Thomas Bray’s son-in-law John Stewart when Thomas Bray went bankruptduring the late 1870s-early 1880s.
According to the electoral roll for Raglan, 1865-1866, at that time Thomas Bray ownedAllotment 52 (towards Hendon Ave/Richardson Road intersection), while next to himwas a block owned by son George Bray and then fronting New North Road was WilliamBray’s block (Allotment 57).By the end of 1851, Thomas Bray had “the well known Cart Horse, Young Farmer’sFancy” standing at his Mt Albert residence for breeding fees.
He next came to the noticeof Auckland newspaper readers for an entirely different reason in August 1855: accusedof stealing cattle from Patrick Donovan at Epsom and selling them at Otahuhu saleyards.Despite witnesses to transactions and the presentation of a tanned hide bearing the realowner’s brand, the jury at the Supreme Court in December found Bray not guilty.
In 1862, George Denyer, traveling along Great North Road through Avondale, was setupon by brothers John and James Bray somewhere close to “Preece’s public house”