Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 44, September 2000

Journal No 43, September 1999, records a century of Anglican clergy in Paeroa. The article notes that the first recorded services were provided by the Rev. E J McFarland, who was stationed in Katikati, in 1883.

Further research has shown that, prior to 1883, "Ohinemuri" (Paeroa) was visited by the Rev. Vicesimus Lush, who held the position of first Vicar of Thames (1868 - 1882).

Vicesimus Lush was born in London on 27 August 1817, the son of Charles and Charlotte Lush. (His name, Vicesimus, marked the fact that he was his father's twentieth child.) He obtained his B A Degree at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, in 1842 and his M A Degree in 1847, and was ordained deacon in 1842 and priest in 1843. Vicesimus married Blanche Hawkins on 5 May 1842 at Ewelme Church, Oxfordshire. He and his family (they then had four children) left England on 14 May 1850 in the Barbara Gordon, arriving in Auckland on 11 October. Their first home was in a raupo cottage at St. John's College, Tamaki (then called Bishop's Auckland) until he was appointed vicar of Howick on 14 December 1850, holding this appointment until November 1868 when he became known as 'Minister to the Inner Waikato', covering the area from Papakura to Raglan. On 24 November 1868 he was appointed first vicar of the Thames Goldfield (the last appointment made by Bishop Selwyn) and on 22 November 1881 he was transferred to Hamilton and became the Archdeacon of Waikato. Vicesimus Lush died at Parnell on 11 July 1882.

The house known as Ewelme Cottage situated at 14 Ayr Street, Parnell, Auckland was built, mostly of kauri, by Vicesimus Lush while he was Vicar of Howick so that his sons could attend the Church of England Grammar School in Parnell. The house was let while they lived at Thames and Hamilton but was vacant when Vicesimus died and so his widow lived there until her death on 4 September 1912. Their elder daughter, Blanche (known as Blannie), continued to live there and died at the house on 9 December 1922. After the death of the last family occupant, the cottage was sold to the Auckland City Council which then leased it to the Historic Places Trust at a peppercorn rental, on the understanding that it would be restored and open to the public.

Reverend Vicesimus Lush

Reverend Vicesimus Lush

Vicesimus Lush in Ohinemuri
Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 44, September 2000
Reverend Vicesimus Lush

Vicesimus's first recorded visit to the Ohinemuri was on 21 December 1868. This event was recorded in his diary, kept for the benefit of his family in England and it was published in Journal 2.

His next recorded visit was not until 23 August 1876: "Last week I took a trip up the river to a Settler's house about two-thirds on the way to Ohinemuri. The weather was fine and while I was away from home my rheumatism left me so I was enabled to enjoy my little outing. I went on Friday and returned on Saturday: the cutting annexed explains the object of my visit." (The cutting referred to recorded the first European marriage in the Upper Thames district, that of Miss Charlton [Ellen Chalton, Samuel Chalton's eldest daughter, married John Osborne in 1876 with Rev Lush officiating - correction kindly supplied by Andrew Chalton 2018]  of Te Kapara to Mr Osborne of Thames.)

Two days later, 25 August 1876, a further visit was made, this time as far south as Mackaytown: "I went to Ohinemuri by the Effort today. Being on duty I went 'free'. I reached Ohinemuri about 10 o'clock and walked straight to Mr Mitchell's house where I had Dinner and, the afternoon being far from fine, I remained in, sitting by a good fire all the afternoon."

26 August 1876: "After breakfast walked to Mackaytown - 4 ½ miles - the roads were very muddy but by picking my way I did not any where sink deeper than my ankles. I called at almost every house but found the great majority of the people Romanists who all received me very cordially and I had a cup of tea at one place and dinner at another, and Allom lent me a horse to ride back, sending Piper their hopeful son of 12, on ahead to reach the Mitchells' before me and wait there to bring back the beast. The two Miss Alloms rode with me so I had a pleasanter trip in the afternoon than morning. When I gave up the horse to Piper I did not go to the Mitchells' but walked on to Paeora [Paeroa] and finished the day by visiting all the Church people there. I got back to the Mitchells' by 5 and enjoyed my meat tea and a quiet evening."

27 August 1876: "Service at 11 a.m. at Paeroa and at 3 at Mackaytown. Mr Mitchell lent me a horse, otherwise I know not how I could have got to Mackaytown, for it had been raining heavily all night and the roads were impassable unless you were prepared to wade knee-deep in liquid mud. I had about 30 people in the morning and 26 in the afternoon."

28 August 1876: "Left the Mitchells' in the morning at 10 o'clock and called on a few people, ending at Lipsey's Hotel, where I took possession of a tiny, neat parlour and sat down at a good fire. Shortly after one the maid brought in (unordered by me) my dinner: a roast fowl and mashed potatoes - she asked what I would take, sherry or port! But I said I preferred beer, so I had half a pint of good ale.

I ate and read, leisurely and luxuriously, and about a quarter to two the maid came and cleared all away. Then about half past two Mrs Lipsey came and told me the steamer was in sight, and asked after Mrs Lush,& c. I at last said, 'I am sorry I have no money with me but I will settle with you for my dinner next time I come up.' Out flared all her Irish feeling: 'Now your Riverence, do you think I would take a farthing from you? You're welcome to a dinner whenever you come up' & c., & c. So I thanked her and told her she was very good, and we parted good friends, at least as far as my own feelings went.

The steamer proved to be the Ruby, so I had an opportunity of judging for myself of the new boat and I must say she is a great improvement upon the Effort and the Pearl. I had my passage free - moreover my tea also, as one of the Passengers insisted on paying for me! I don't know whether they all take me for a very poor man, but whatever motive induces this generosity, I take it all very thankfully and make no protest."

3 March 1877: ". . . I made another 'early' attempt to reach the Ohinemuri steamer in time: had breakfast at 6.30 and, fortunately, was on the wharf in good time. The weather has been splendid - perhaps a trifle too hot - but Blannie and Sophy [Kenny] saw our beautiful river to great advantage. It takes between 4 and 5 hours steaming to Paeroa (the chief town in the Ohinemuri district). They were both struck with the magnificent willows growing on the banks and the miles of peach trees, very many loaded with fruit. Had we been in a rowing boat we might have done what Martin [Lush] has often done at Coromandel - filled his boat with peaches. As it was, we had a rapid passing glance at them.

We went to the chief Inn and had luncheon and then started for Mackaytown, 4 miles off. The dust was fearful and the heat very oppressive. After walking about 3 miles I called in at a cottage occupied by a man and his wife who used to live in Shortland and we were most kindly welcomed and had a nice refreshing tea. After a long rest we set out again and reached Mrs Allom's at Mackaytown about 4 o'clock; the Alloms used to live at Parawai - he is J.P. and under-Warden, so the chief personage in the little community.

This morning we left the Inn at 7 and went straight on board the same Steamer, which brought us back to Shortland by 12 o'clock. The trip cost me in all £2.5.3 but I am very glad Blannie should see the upper country and that she should have had the trip in company with her friend Sophy."

8 July 1879: "Since my last entry [23 April] I have made an excursion to Ohinemuri. I left here on Wednesday, reaching Paeroa about 8 o'clock. I went straight to a Mr Phillips, a store keeper who has lately built a large house: by him I was hospitably entertained until I left on Friday at noon. Thursday fortunately was fine and though the roads were very muddy I managed to make good round of visits - baptizing four infants. I was on foot, walking and talking, from breakfast till tea at six o'clock and I fear I am beginning to get old - or to feel old - for I must confess I missed my dinner and my ¼ hour's sleep after dinner, and felt slightly disgusted that the Phillipses had only bread and butter for tea - no meat! And, bread and butter for breakfast, and Ditto repeated for tea, and no nice supper to make up for it, was rather hard on me after a toilsome day's work - however I slept well and the next day, Friday, I had a piece of cold chicken at 11 o'clock just before I left their house for the Steamer. This boat, the Pearl, was too small for a canteen or kitchen or Steward, so nothing was to be got in the shape of creature-comfort till I got to Home Sweet Home about 7 o'clock. Annette [Lush] was the first to meet me and throwing her arms around my neck she exclaimed, 'You dear old man!' Didn't I enjoy some cold mutton and a glass of beer!"

There are no more references to visits to Paeroa or Mackaytown but the following excerpt refers to this area. This incident, the shooting of Daldy MacWilliams, is fully recorded in Journal 3: -

"Yesterday, the 27th [August 1878] was cold and showery . . . Last Friday my immediate neighbour told me that a Surveyor, Mr Bayledon and two of his linesmen had been shot by natives near Ohinemuri. I thought at the time that the report was probably greatly exaggerated and so it turned out. Bayledon escaped unhurt and so did three of his men, but one had a bullet right through his body, but wonderful to say is thought by the Doctors likely to recover. This event has caused great excitement."

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This incident took place at Thames: 17 July 1869 -

"As I was coming home down Rolleston Street in the dark and in the rain, I passed a poor woman lying on her face in the mud. It was too dark to distinguish her features - she was lying near the door of a Baker's shop. I stopt and spoke to her - no answer: I stooped down and touched her - still not a word. I then pulled her over on to her back but she did not speak; going to her head I lifted her into a sitting posture and in doing this I got horribly muddy. Directly I let her go, down she fell, flop into the mud, and she groaned. A man now came up and advised me to have nothing to do with the poor wretch; for, said he, 'if her husband comes out of that shop' - it was shut up and quite dark - 'he may attack you, for he is an awful temper and he has been beating his wife until she is in this state, and thrust her out of doors'.

'Well,' I said, 'I can't leave her in the cold and rain and mud; she will die.'

'Likely enough,' he said and walked away.

So I went round to the back door and by pushing it open confronted the brute of a husband; he was as drunk as he could be, but I managed after a long wrangling to get him to allow me to bring his wife in, to lay her down before the oven; he said I might if I could, but he would not help me. So out I went and, putting my arms underneath her arms, away I tugged and, step by step, gradually dragged her through the thick mud.

But here I was dreadfully puzzled. I knew I was slowly moving the body along but, in the darkness, it seemed as though her body was lengthening out, longer and longer, till it suddenly flashed through my mind that I was gradually leaving all the poor wretch's clothes behind in the mud - first the gown and then one petticoat, then another, until there was a long streak of whitish clothing lying in the mud. I was horror struck - my first idea was to bolt. Then I thought, how lucky it is dark and Thatcher [an entertainer, who entertained with constantly changing songs and stories] is not looking on - for if he were, tomorrow night he would make the Theatre roar again with laughter while he sang a song of 'Parson Lush and the Drunken Woman'.

This idea so tickled my fancy that I was near laughing myself, but the poor wretch began moaning so lamentably that I worked away, and before I got to the door of the bakehouse I found no more clothes slipt off. It was no slight trouble to me to get her inside, the brute of a husband sitting on a bench looking stupidly and savagely on, but refusing to help. At last I laid her full length on the floor - and if she had no petticoats on, she certainly had a thick coat of mud - but I quickly gathered all the clothes and threw them on her for a covering such as they were: one mass of wet and dirt. Poor wretch!

When I reacht home and got the lamp alight and looked at my own clothes - well, thinks I to myself, there's a job of brushing tomorrow morning. But I don't think I slept any the worse for having placed the poor, miserable woman by the door of the oven, instead of leaving her in the cold and rain and mud.

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Francis Lipsey arrived on the new goldfield before it was opened on 3 March 1875. By 22 February of that year he had constructed two "calico houses", wooden frames with walls and ceiling of tightly stretched (and probably reinforced) calico or canvas; one served as a general store, the other as a "grog shop". Five days later a reporter appeared at "Mackay Town and Gorge Town" where this business was established. He noted that Gorge Town was a mining camp on the other side of the river from Mackay Town; on 3 March another reporter arrived and wrote of "the embryo township which has sprung up under the wing of Mr Lipsey". Popularly the settlement became known as Lipseyville, soon adapted to Tipsyville - and later changed to Williamstown after the Warden, William Fraser. But it still continued to be known as Gorge Town.

By 6 March officials were still trying to investigate claims for business sites at Mackay Town and its camp across the river - which had now become Fraserville, still commemorating the Warden. This problem was at least partly solved on 8 March 1875 by the departure of most of the diggers. After a gallant attempt by Mr Lipsey in mid-May of the same year to "erect a substantial hotel" at Fraserville it was reported that the main Ohinemuri activity was now in the Waitekauri area where claims had been staked; few diggers were left in Mackay Town. In the old Miners' phrase: "Where it is, there it is" - and the population migrated accordingly.

On 3 January 1876 Francis Lipsey advertised that he had taken over Paeroa Hotel from P Austin, a house built some time before 1875 to accommodate travellers by steamer, hopeful of acquiring Maori land, and such itinerant clergy as the Vicar of Thames. It was here that Vicesimus Lush enjoyed Mr and Mrs Lipsey's generous hospitality.

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Excerpts from "The Thames Journals of Vicesimus Lush 1868-82" edited by Alison Drummond, published by Pegasus Press, Christchurch.

Information re Ewelme Cottage: "Historic Places" No.11.