Past Newsworthy

Early Settlers' Diamond wedding - 28 February 1935

Mr and Mrs Richard Perkin of Hagley avenue, Christchurch, who will celebrate today the diamond jubilee of their wedding.

“The change in the face of the city and in the methods of travel since they arrived were the first things to be commented on yesterday by Mr and Mrs Richard Perkin, of 488 Hagley avenue, when talking with a reporter yesterday.

Mr and Mrs Perkin will celebrate the diamond jubilee of their wedding to-day. Mrs Perkin was only six weeks old when she arrived at Lyttelton from England in June 1851, as she was born during the voyage. The boat in which she came with her parents was the Jack Stedfast, the sixth ship to arrive at Lyttelton and she was called Stedfast [sic] after it.

The family settled in Lyttelton at first, and Mrs Perkin's memories of the place are associated with the Maoris, who had a large pa where the station now is. For the six years that she lived there she was very much afraid of them.

In 1857 the family made the journey over the hill to Christchurch, and Mrs Perkin explained that while the luggage was taken over by packhorse she, and the rest of the family, had to walk. Trips over the hill were frequent, as most of her friends lived in Lyttelton, and on one occasion Mrs Perkin recalled that it was blowing so strongly that she had to spend all the day lying down in the tussocks.

Her first, home in Christchurch was in Durham street, near the Wesleyan chapel. Durham street was then not a formed road at all and where the Supreme Court now stands was an open paddock, and quite a wild place when Mrs Perkin arrived.

She went first to a small private school and later to Mrs Frederick Thompson's in Cashel street. A daughter of the headmistress of this latter school afterwards married Dean Jacobs.

Mr Perkin was born in Yorkshire and came to New Zealand in the Egmont, landing at Lyttelton on July 6, 1862. He did not go over the hill to Christchurch but went round in a small steamer to Sumner and up the river to Ferrymead, and thence to Christchurch by a bullock dray. This was in 1866. He received his first education in New Zealand at a small school in Riccarton and later at St Michael's.

Here the fees were paid by the week, and Mr Perkin explained that he managed to be kept at school by paying his shilling every Saturday. When his school days were done, he became interested in volunteer work, and joined the City Guards and the Christchurch Rifles at different times till they amalgamated. In all, he had about 15 years' service with these two bodies.

After they were married Mr and Mrs Perkin lived in Peterborough street and though they have changed houses since, they have lived in that neighbourhood for the 60 years of their married life. Mr Perkin volunteered for service against Te Kooti, and though the Christchurch volunteers were ordered to be ready, there were sufficient men available in the North Island, and the South Island reserves were never called out.

When she was a young girl, Mrs Perkin was taken to see the opening of the first railway line in Christchurch. and scrambled on board for the first trip. She said yesterday that she enjoyed it immensely and would never forget the thrill of it.

Mrs Perkin is still a member of the Canterbury Pilgrims and Early Settlers' Association, and though Mr Perkin was formerly a member, he resigned a little time ago. For more than 20 years Mrs Perkin has been a keen worker and supporter of the Hospital Lady Visitors' Association.

Mrs Perkin was very much interested in the progress of the city and the machines which were life easy now, as she contended. She said that she would like to come back in another 50 years and see how much further progress had been made.”

Richard PERKINS[sic] married Elizabeth Steadfast[sic] ILES at St Luke's Church, Christchurch. The well known figure Reverend E.A. LINGARD officiated.

Richard, described as a Salesman, passed away on Saturday, 24 October 1936.

Elizabeth, described as a widow, passed away on Sunday, 31 January 1937. They are interred together at Bromley Cemetery, Christchurch with their surname given as PERKIN.

Their daughter Ethel May PERKIN born 1879[3] is buried in the same plot. She passed away Saturday, 16 July 1927 aged 47.

National Library of New Zealand; Paperspast portal; The Press, Volume LXXI, issue 21410, 28 February 1935, Page 20; Image of Mr and Mrs Perkin.
New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs; Historic BDM search; marriage registration 1875/220 (NB: Richard's surname has been entered as PERKINS)
[3]; New Zealand, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1840-1902

Grave image by Alistair

©2023 Sarndra Lees


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