- Born: 8 Nov 1836, Buckinghamshire, England
- Marriage: Martha NEWPORT on 3 May 1862 in Nelson, Nelson, New Zealand
- Died: 31 Jul 1892, Nelson, Nelson, New Zealand at age 55
- Buried: 2 Aug 1892, Wakapuaka Cemetery, Nelson, New Zealand
John John Kidson and his family lived at the Nelson Lighthouse from about 1861. Daughter Martha wrote about their life there in a diary and with other information was printed in a Port of Nelson Report in 2004: "Martha Lily Kidson was born in May 1878 at her grandparents' home on the Port Hills, and went across to the lighthouse with her mother when was just a few weeks old. She was one of a family of ten children and recalls the day to day events of childhood on the Boulder Bank in the middle years of the 19th century.
It was a happy life for us children. We had to go to school in a small boat and missed many days when the weather was rough. If the wind was strong and we were not able to get home at night we were given a signal and we would stay with our aunty and that please us very much. We attended Toi Toi School so it was a long way to go. Sometimes the wind was strong when going home at night, the boat would land a mile up the Boulder Bank and we had to walk home.
In those days there were a good many sailing vessels coming to Nelson. One night while a ship was anchored at the back of the lighthouse two men deserted ship and came ashore on a raft and walked up the Boulder Bank onto the mainland. They left their swags on the raft as they were soaking wet and too heavy to carry, so Father spread them out to dry, and not being very old then I was greatly taken with a large tin of all kinds of buttons which one of the men had collected on his travels.
At one time there were a lot of goats on Haulashore Island (this was before the Cut was made) and as there was no water there they used to come up to our house looking for some. One day Mother was baking and put her bread outside to cool. When she looked out the goats were having a good meal.
The family had a small garden that they were very proud of - it entailed a lot of hard work with the soil brought over in a boat from Wakapuaka.
We had to depend on rain water and as we only had two tanks we were often out of water. In the dry weather we had to cart water from the mainland by boat. We used to fill one boat so that it would just float - that was for washing and household use. We towed that one and brought a very large cream can of clean water for drinking, in the other boat.
The times were not all happy - Martha recalls one occasion when the roofs of the houses at the Light were painted with lead paint, resulting in all the families becoming ill, and one of the younger children dying. Happier times included a day when friends gave the family the rare treat of fresh fruit - a case of apricots. A memory that stands out, even though Martha was very young at the time, was the drama surrounding a whale stranding at the end of the Boulder Bank.
Men were trying-out the blubber when a ten foot shark came up the harbour. The tail of the whale was at the water's edge and the shark took it clean off. The men folk were very excited, they baited a very large iron hook with a piece of whale and threw it out. The shark came and took bait hook and all - just bit through the rope … the men hurried to the store and got another hook, put wire on it instead of rope and caught the brute. It had two rows of the most awful teeth.
John Kidson died in 1892, aged only 55, leaving his wife with five children to provide for. He was taken from the Boulder Bank in the pilot boat, his coffin draped with the Union Jack.
Martha went north to stay with her sister Charlotte who had married an assistant from Nelson who had gone on to become the keeper of the Kaipara lighthouse north of Auckland. Returning to Nelson as a young woman, Martha lived at the port and went into dressmaking with her sister Ethel at a shop that later became McKay's, and then H&J Smiths. In 1906 Martha married Frank Robertson at All Saints Church and went to live at Brightwater. She had six children and died in Nelson in 1956."
John Kidson, born in 1836, was the eldest son of John and Amelia Kidson, and arrived in Nelson on the Bolton in March 1842. On 19 April 1862 he married Martha Newport, daughter of Samuel Newport and Mary Ann Newport (should read Ann Newport). Towards the end of 1862 Kidson was appointed the lightkeeper of the Nelson lighthouse on the Boulder Bank and this was to be the couple's home for the next thirty years. The Kidson's were to have twelve children and the keepers' children had to be rowed each day to the Port to attend the Haven Road School. John Kidson was a very large man, and his wife had to make all his clothes, enlarging the uniform which was provided.
One of Kidson's duties was to signal the state of the tides to the harbourmaster and he was often involved with rescuing people in trouble in the bay. At times his wife had to provide hospitality for people from boats caught by sudden storms and unable to get back through the harbour entrance. In 1872 Kidson was awarded the Royal Humane Society Silver Medal for his part in rescuing survivors from a boat belonging to Arthur Elmslie of French Pass, which capsized in rough weather on 14 September 1871.
John Kidson (Junior) died on station on 31 July 1892. Martha Kidson died on 1 November 1918.
John married Martha NEWPORT, daughter of Samuel NEWPORT and Mary Ann WILSDEN, on 3 May 1862 in Nelson, Nelson, New Zealand. (Martha NEWPORT was born on 8 Aug 1840 in Bradenham, Buckinghamshire, England, died on 1 Nov 1918 in Nelson, Nelson, New Zealand and was buried on 3 Nov 1918 in Wakapuaka Cemetery, Nelson, New Zealand.)