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143 White Swan Road, Lynfield
Prepared for Puketapapa (Mt Roskill) Historical Society
Lisa J Truttman June 2012
Above: DP 289, dating from 1884 (copied by Dept of Lands and Survey in 1940). LI Z, crown copyright reserved. Cover: 1940 aerial of the site and environs of 143 White Swan Road (circled). From Auckland Council GIS website.
143 White Swan Road is part of an area of former farmland which is part of the watershed for the Whau Stream through Lynfield and New Windsor areas of Auckland. It is part of Allotment 72, Parish of Titirangi. In 1845, Dr Samuel Hayward Ford obtained title to Allotments 70-72 of the Parish of Titirangi. 1 When Samuel Hayward Ford died on the 19th of July, 1876, shipping in the harbour at Russell in the Bay of Islands had their flags at half-mast. He had established a hospital in the area in 1858 “for destitute seamen and others”, and it is said that at least two “whaling babies” were born in the Ford household, American “whaling wives” having accompanied their husbands on their round the world voyages. He was well-respected in his community, and his son Ernest Ford would be elected one of the first councillors on the Bay of Islands County Council in 1877.
From Eden Roll 46, LI Z crown copyright reserved
Born c.1811, Samuel H. Ford qualified as a Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries in 1832, and Member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1833, after studying at St Thomas’ in London. He proposed to Martha Wilcox when he was 17 years old, and was rejected, but three years later succeeded with a second proposal in Belgrave Square. They married in December 1834, and the couple initially took up residence in Hampstead. In 1836, Ford volunteered for service as a medical missionary with the Anglican Church Missionary Society, and arrived at the Paihia Mission Station in 1837. The Fords left Paihia for Te Wahapu in 1842, officially due to Ford’s poor health at the time, but unofficially there may have been problems between himself and Archdeacon Henry Williams. Even so, the two men got along amicably enough, as long as they worked independently of each other. Ford attended the Archdeacon during the latter’s last illness at Pakaraka. Hone Heke’s war in 1845 meant the Fords had to leave Te Wahapu, although reluctantly, to live in Auckland for a time. In 1849, they returned to the Bay of Islands, and there Ford spent the rest of his life at Russell. His widow Martha outlived him until January 1894, and died at the age of 83. A grand-nephew by marriage of his was Hayward Wright, developer of the main kiwifruit cultivar in New Zealand in the 20th century. 2 Ford came to hold Crown Grant titles for Allotments 66, 67, 70, 71 and 72 from May 1845 so he was an early owner of a considerable amount of New Windsor, Lynfield and Blockhouse Bay areas. Just before returning to Russell, Dr Ford transferred the three allotments to William Donnelly.3 Donnelly was Clerk of the County Court office in Auckland in 1843, a member of the Legislative Council 1845-1847 and a practising lawyer from 1846. It appears he left the colony around 1854. Rates became an issue for Donnelly’s estate, administered by Reader Wood, when the Mt Roskill Highway District was inaugurated in 1867. By 1869, Donnelly’s land had accrued over £13 in rates, and the chairman of the Highways Board, Joseph May, pursued the matter in court.
Southern Cross 8 July 1869
The issue possibly continued until 1880, when a memorial of satisfaction was recorded on the deeds index between the district’s collector of rates and Mrs Donnelly, clearing the way for the property to be transferred to solicitor William Henry Connell in 1881. 4 Connell and Mangere farmer James Cooper Cairns (the latter took over title from Connell in 1882) 5 subdivided the three allotments and sold them off from 1884.
Auckland Star 3 May 1882
From A 30/93, 1882
In August 1884, solicitor Edmund Thomas Dufaur purchased three sections of this subdivision, all from Allotment 72, nearly 67 acres between Boundary, Donovan and White Swan Roads. 6 Christopher Atwell Harris obtained title to most of this property in 1891. 7 Harris (c1843-1903) was a substantial landowner, including the entire Glendowie Estate, several blocks in Queen Street in the city, and also lots from the NZ and River Plate Company at St Heliers purchased in October 1896, July 1900 and June 1903. 8 He spent his early years in the Coromandel,
From NA 36/128 1884
From NA 59/202 1891
From NA 175/143 1911
becoming a County Councillor there and founding the Thames Hauraki Gold Mining Company. 9 “For many years Mr C. A. Harris was connected with the timber industry, and spent a great portion of his time at mills in bushes [sic]. While at Whangapoua Mr Harris went in for prospecting, and when the mining boom started, about seven years ago, he at once went into the business. He conceded, or at all events carried out, the idea of floating a company in London with capital sufficient to erect large pumping machinery, and sink the Queen of Beauty shaft to test the Thames low levels. Mr Harris was successful in his efforts in so far as floating the company, and he was also connected with other mining ventures. Deceased was one of the fortunate ones who made by mining, and he died worth considerable property in and around the city.” 10 Tamar Amy Thornes, wife of real estate agent Joseph Thornes held the title to the now nearly 59 acres from 1905, 11 and subdivided the farm further. Herbert William Brooks (c.1855-1931) 12 purchased just over 23½ acres of the Thornes’ property in 1911. 13 He and his wife Helen were living in Mt Roskill by at least February 1913. 14 Herbert Brooks married Helen in New Zealand on 1 January 1884. She was the eldest daughter of Captain William Hamilton Irwin, 80th Regiment Royal Tyrone Fusiliers, Ireland, daughter of Anne McCausland Irwin nee Hamilton, and niece of Major Sanderson Hamilton of the same regiment. 15 Her father died 18 March 1868 while at Union Street, Freeman’s Bay, Auckland. 16 According to online sources, 17 he was promoted to Captain 6 March 1856, living in Drumglass House, County Tyrone, retired in 1864 and emigrated to New Zealand in that year. The only information to hand as to Brooks’ career in Auckland comes from Andrew D Griffen, in an article published in 1955. 18 Griffen probably obtained his information from Brooks’ daughter Annie Althea Webb. He related that Brooks worked 28 years for both the horse-drawn and electric tram systems, and chose on retirement to take up a farming life in what was then a rural part of Lynfield, on White Swan Road. If so, Brooks probably retired around 1910, just before purchasing the property in 1911. According to Griffen, “After selecting the site for his home, [Brooks] pitched a tent there, living in it until he had put up a shack for temporary accommodation while the big house was being erected.” Possibly, this was just before World War I. The house, known as the “Turret House” by locals, is a box cottage, originally with a hipped roof but with the early addition of the “turret” or tower. Prior to 1968 the two side verandahs were demolished, leaving only the one at the front. 19 From photos taken in on 7 June 2004, 20 it appears the rear of the house was an addition, possibly the kitchen/laundry space. Brooks ran unsuccessfully for the Mt Roskill Road Board in May 1917. 21 Towards the end of 1917, he advertised for a farm hand to work on his pig farm. 22 His son Herbert was killed in action in Belgium, 30 December 1917. 23 His wife Helen died at White Swan Road on 30 November 1925, aged 70. 24 When Herbert Brooks died in 1931, the land was inherited by his daughter Althea. After her second marriage in 1954 to Atkinson Webb, 25 she subdivided the Donovan Street-White Swan Road frontages of the family property. Just over a third of an acre around the old house, now 143 White Swan Road, remained intact and in the family’s ownership. 26 The
rest of the Brooks former farm was taken by proclamation for a secondary school (Lynfield College) over the course of 1957-1959. 27 The house and remaining land was inherited by Joyce Albertina Gerken in 1963. 28 The Gerken family remained as owners until 2001. In 2006 the property was transferred to Al-Hijaz Trust Incorporated.
From NA 1194/52 1956
From NA 133C/606 2000
otes: 1. Deeds Index 2A, pp. 251-253, LINZ records 2. Information on Samuel Ford from “Samuel Hayward Ford: NZ’s first resident surgeon”, Timespanner blog, http://timespanner.blogspot.co.nz/2008/11/samuel-hayward-ford-nzs-firstresident.html 3. Deeds Index 4. NA 25/229, LINZ records 5. NA 30/93, LINZ records 6. NA 36/129, LINZ records 7. NA 59/202, LINZ records 8.Elizabeth T. Jackson, Delving into the Past – Section Six – St Heliers Bay (Centennial edition, 1982), p. 71, also NA 56/47 pp. 4, 6, and 7 9. Jackson, pp. 71-72 10. Obituary, Auckland Star 4 September 1903 11. NA 124/271, LINZ records 12. Online BDM database, www.bdmhistoricalrecords.dia.govt.nz 13. NA 175/143, LINZ records 14. Marriage notice, wedding of Fred Albert Leslie Gerken to Annie Althea Brooks, eldest daughter of H W and H Brooks, Mt Roskill, 26 February 1913. Auckland Star 22 March 1913 15. Marriage notice, Auckland Star 1 March 1884 16. http://www.compassion-in-business.co.uk/graham/robert-irwin-register-report.pdf; death notice, . Southern Cross 19 March 1868 17. Rootsweb, sighted 20 June 2012 18. “Early Days in Mt Roskill South”, Roskill Times, 13 July 1955 19. “Story of an Old House”, Mt Roskill & Onehunga ews, 23 September 1968, p. 3 20. Council files 21. Auckland Star, 8 May 1917, p.2 22. Auckland Star 1 December 1917, p. 1 23. Personnel record, AABK /18805 /W5520/ 120/ 0018462, Archives New Zealand 24. Death notice, Auckland Star, 3 December 1925 25. NA 175/143, LINZ records 26. DP 41943, LINZ records 27. NA 1194/52, LINZ records 28. NA 1194/52
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