WRIGHT OF STIRLINGSHIRE, SCOTLAND TO POKENO, NEW ZEALAND
John WRIGHT was born in Dunipace, Stirling, Scotland in 1822, the son of Robert WRIGHT and Jean MICKELJOHN. John was involved in the printing business. In 1843 he married Helen (Ellen) MITCHELL the daughter of John MITCHELL and Ellen ?. John and Helen had nine children, and the six surviving immigrated with their parents to New Zealand in 1864 on the HELENSLEE.
The family came to New Zealand under the Waikato Immigration Scheme, which was part of an attempt by the New Zealand government to bring large numbers of immigrants to settle the area south of Auckland (present day Franklin). Four main classes of immigrants were initially sought - labourers, mechanics, small farmers and capitalists. Mechanics (industrial craftsmen and artisans) were to be offered free passages plus a land grant if they resided on that land for three years. John WRIGHT and some of his sons fell into the category of “Mechanic”. Immigrants were entitled to a quarter-acre section in the local township, a suburban allotment of ten acres, plus five for each child above 12 years old. Immigrants could apply for an additional grant of ten acres, plus five acres for their wives and children over 12 years old, if they repaid half their fare.
The HELENSLEE dropped its anchor on Thursday 22 December 1864 in Auckland but it wasn’t until the 27th that the passengers were permitted to disembark. There was no accommodation available for the immigrants and many of them slept under trees until they got word they were to be sent on to Mangere. They then went by boat up the Drury Creek and stayed in a farmer’s large flourmill or wool shed at there until they got word that they were moving on to Pokeno down the Great South Road. Pokeno was at that stage known as Queens Redoubt. The WRIGHT’s settled in the Pokeno area and many of the HELENSLEE passengers intermarried and their children intermarried too. Many descendants of the original immigrants are still in the area today.
Queens Redoubt, Pokeno 1863.
The children of John and Helen (Ellen) WRIGHT were;
Robert born 1844 Busby, Renfrewshire – came to New Zealand on the HELENSLEE as a single baker. Onboard he met Maggie DEAN , who came out with her mother and three brothers. Robert died in Ponsonby, Auckland in 1925. (See below)
John born 1845 Denny, Stirlingshire – came to New Zealand on the HELENSLEE as a single baker. He did not marry and spent much of his life in the Avondale Asylum. He died in 1913 in Auckland.
William born c1847 Cathcart, Renfrewshire – came to New Zealand on the HELENSLEE as a single baker. He left New Zealand around 1875 and moved to Liverpool, Sydney were he worked as a miner. He was unmarried and died in 1913 in Liverpool, NSW.
Peter born 1850 Denny, Stirlingshire – came to New Zealand on the HELENSLEE as a 14-year old baker. He married Harriet POPE in 1883 and they had ten children – Mary, Jane (Jeannie), Walter Charles, John (Jack), Thomas Pope, Frank Peter, Ethel Ellen, Herbert Robert, Alice Harriet and Maud Elizabeth. Peter died in 1910 in Te Aroha.
Jean (Jane/Jeannie) born 1852 Neilston, Renfrewshire – came to New Zealand as a 12-year-old on the HELENSLEE. She married William CHRISTIE in 1874 and they had seven children, born mostly north of Auckland – Mary, Ellen, Hugh, Jeannie, Jessie, William and John Wright. Jean died in 1832 at Whangarei Hospital.
Thomas born 1855 Neilston, Renfrewshire – came to New Zealand as a 10-˝ year old. He married Mary GRAHAM (another HELENSLEE passenger) in 1883 and they had eight children – Helen (Nellie), Frederick James, Janet, Mary, Reubena, Thomas John, Elizabeth and Samuel Robert. Thomas died in 1897 in the Pokeno Valley.
Alexander born and died 1857 Neilston, Renfrewshire
Matthew born 1858 Neilston, Renfrewshire died 1861 Glasgow, Lanarkshire
Helen born 1861 Glasgow, Lanarskshire died before 1864.
Robert WRIGHT and Maggie DEAN m married at Queens Redoubt in 1870 and had eight children all born Pokeno.
Mary born 1867. Married Alexander CRAIG (another HELENSLEE family). Lived Manurewa, Auckland. Four sons, three daughters.
Helen born 1870. Married John Thomas SAUNDERS. Lived Mangere, Auckland and Hawera, South Taranaki. Two sons, five daughters.
John born 1872. Died 1876 aged 4 years
Margaret born 1875. Married Herbert Stanley CROWE. Baker. Lived Lloyd Avenue, Mt Albert, Auckland. Three daughters
William (Dick) born 1877. Married Harriet Watson BOOTH. Two sons.
Jeannie (Jane) born 1878. Daughter born 1883. Brought up by grandparents Robert and Maggie. Married 1st Edward Andrew MUMFORD. Three sons, three daughters. Married 2nd Patrick CRONIN Two daughters
Robert Maurice (Bert)born 1881. Married 1st Kate Charlotte WARD. Three sons, five daughters. Married 2nd Millie ?.
Mabel born 1883. Married Bertie Purnell ANDREWS. Lived Glen Murray, South Auckland. Two sons, two daughters.
See also CRAIG, DEAN and WRIGHT Family Reunion 1964.
For further genealogical information on these families please go to
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