BAY OF PLENTY
ULSTER PLANTATION
FIRST PARTY TO KATIKATI
1875

George Vesey Stewart (known as Vesey) was born on the 3 October 1831 and christened on the 20 January 1832 at Brighton, Sussex, England. He was the third son and third child of Captain Mervyn Stewart and Frances Stewart née Vesey.

The Stewart’s lived at Lisberg near Ballygawley in County Tyrone and Vesey Stewart built up a business as an estate manager. He also built a linen mill at Lisdoart, also near Ballygawley. With the mill he also erected houses for the staff which are still standing in 2010. However this venture failed and near bankruptcy and with the land and religious troubles escalating during the 1860s and early 1870s, he began to think of emigration, not only for himself and family, but as an ‘Ulster plantation’. Vesey Stewart departed London on the 19 December 1873 on-board the ss Mongol, the first steamship to New Zealand.

After an extended tour of New Zealand, George Vesey Stewart came to Tauranga in early April 1874. He was taken to the Katikati block and liked what he saw there. He then returned to Auckland where he made an official application for 10,000 acres of the block. The agreement was signed on 24 June 1874 and Vesey Stewart then returned home to organise his first party of special settlers. In Ireland he embarked on a recruiting campaign of lectures and circulars to his own tenants and to members of the Orange Lodge.

Vesey Stewart’s first party of special settlers departed Belfast on-board the Carisbrooke Castle which arrived in Auckland on the 8 September 1875. There were 150 government immigrants and 238 (34 families) Katikati settlers on-board, including his wife Margaret and their family.

In January 1877 Vesey Stewart began arrangements for the 10,000 acres adjoining the original block for a second party of special settlers. He returned ‘home’ with many letters of support from the first party and wrote Notes on the Origins and Prospects of the Stewart Special Settlement, Katikati, New Zealand; and on New Zealand as a Field for Emigration (N Carson: County Tyrone 1877). Again he went on a recruiting campaign and his second party, which included his parents Captain Mervyn Stewart, his wife Frances, his brother Hugh, Hugh’s wife Adela and their son Mervyn left for New Zealand on the Lady Jocelyn. On the 17 August 1878 the Lady Jocelyn arrived in Auckland with 378 immigrants for Katikati on-board.

In 1879 Vesey Stewart was informed that 16,000 acres of the Te Puke Block was available for purchase and despite competition from two rivals, the Tauranga Working Men’s Association and Katikati No1. Party settler Fitzgibbon Louch – eventually purchased it for £19,700. Vesey Stewart was to be responsible for having the land surveyed into sections and the roads laid out at his own expense and he engaged surveyors before leaving for Britain and Ireland to attract settlers for this special settlement. He also had a town site included in the survey to be known as Stewartstown (Collins Lane area) but this township was never developed. The majority of the Te Puke block purchasers arrived in Tauranga on the 2 January 1881 directly from London again on-board the Lady Jocelyn.

George Vesey Stewart was always involved in public service and had been a Justice of the Peace in County Tyrone. He also became one in New Zealand. On the 11 May 1876 at a meeting held on the lawn of half-finished Mount Stewart, Vesey Stewart was elected the first chairman of the Katikati Highway (Road) Board and the Katikati School committee. He was elected to the first Tauranga County Council after the abolition of the Auckland Province in 1876, and later served as chairman from 1878 to 1880, and 1881 to 1883. He was on the Katikati Cemetery Board of Trustees and the Katikati Railway League. In 1879 Vesey Stewart purchased the Bay of Plenty Times. He was also a member of the Bay of Plenty Hospital and Charitable Aid Board (and later the Tauranga Hospital Board) and was a member and also chairman of the Tauranga Harbour Board. In 1881 he made an unsuccessful bid for a parliamentary seat – Katikati voted strongly, but not unanimously, for him but Te Puke did not. When Tauranga was declared a borough he was elected by a substantial majority as the first mayor in March 1882.

After arriving in London in 1883 to attract investors for Tauranga, East Coast and Hot Lakes Railway Company Ltd, he stayed and set himself up as immigration agent in the office of Shaw Savill Company, London. From here he travelled all over Great Britain and lectured and wrote pamphlets advertising his special settlements as well as settlers’ guides to New Zealand. It was claimed that he sent 500 families exclusive of single men and women to New Zealand, or around 4000 people. He returned to New Zealand in October 1888 and again was elected to the Tauranga County Council, became chairman of the Katikati Road Board, and was a member of both the Tauranga Harbour and Hospital Boards. He was made an OBE in 1918. During the winter of 1919 Vesey Stewart developed bronchitis and went to Rotorua for his health. He died there on 3 March 1920, Katikati Show Day, aged 88 and is buried in the Katikati cemetery. A memorial to him was unveiled in the Uretara Domain, Katikati in April 1922.

Also see Index to the book "An Ulster Plantation - The Story of the Katikati Settlement" by Arthur J Gray -(Second edition 1950: A H & A W REED, Wellington).

Members of the First Party who came to New Zealand on-board the Carisbrooke Castle arriving in Auckland on 8 September 1875 and settled in Katikati
ANDREWS William, Mary, Anne Gilmer (Annie), William James, Robert John, George, David
CRAWFORD Thomas Atkinson, Margaret, Josephine, Margaret Rubina (Madge), Mary Jane, Sarah Elizabeth (Lily), Phoebe Atkinson, Annie
CROSSLEY John Rev., John Arthur, Emily Gertrude, Caroline Jane
DUNNE Thomas Johnson, Eliza S, Charles Thomas (Also E C & A Dunne in Single Women)
FLETCHER Thomas Henry (Dr.), Grace Ann, Jocelyn Johnstone, Robert Michael, Grace Adelaide, Rosetta, Kempston Fox, Charles Albert Johnstone, Henry Thomas, Eustace Cosby
GOSS Stephen, Emma, Stephen Weston, William Mannix, Addeen Emma, Kate Vidal, Eliza Susan C (In Single Men - J C P Goss, In Single Women Henrietta, Mary J, Maria, Mary, Mary E)
HOYTE Henry Charles, Eleanor, Jane Elizabeth, Margaret Edith, Charles Alfred, Francis Henry (Frank), Edwin Noel, Mary Ellen Sheelah
HYDE Joseph (Sgt), Eliza, Maria Jane, Edward George, Anastasia (Annie, Hannah), Sarah Eliza, Louisa Mary, William Henry, Ada Laura, Gertrude Margaret
IRVINE Arthur C, M, three children (Did not settle)
JOHNSTON Noble, Elizabeth, Sarah Ann, Adam, Albert John, Charlotte, Esther Isabella (Essie), Rebecca (also Margaret and Sarah JOHNSTON in Single Women)
LATIMER Hugh Nesbit, Jane Elizabeth, Eliza Jane, John Clare, Eleanor, Adelaide, Hugh Nesbit
LEECH Thomas, Margaret, Anne Jane, Margaret Rachel, Rebecca
LOUCH Fitzgibbon, Isabella, John Da Vinci, Ernest Fitzgibbon, Emmeline Mary, Sophia Eleanor Gardiner, Isabella, Amy Lilian, Elizabeth Chambers, Sarah Eliza Fitzgibbon, Caroline Grace O'Dell (born on-board)
MULGAN William Edward (Rev.), Arabella Maria, Arabella Maria, Edward Ker, Maria Thomasina, Olivia Louisa, William Francis, Selina Imogen Frances, Charlotte Augusts Pauline (Polly)
MULGREW John, Elizabeth, William James
MULGREW William James (Billy) (and mother Margaret and sister Eliza)
O'BRIEN James, Jane, four children (Did not settle)
PASCOE Samuel, Jane, one child (Did not settle)
REA Stewart, Margaret, Mary Jane, Rachel, Elizabeth (Lizzie), Stewart
RORKE Richard, sister Jane SLEVIN posed as a married couple, her son Joseph Edwin SLEVIN and Eliza J SLEVIN also posed as a married couple to gain land grant. She was Sarah VANES
SANDFORD Thomas (Did not settle) Land taken over by James LOCKINGTON
STEWART George Vesey, Margaret, Emily Charlotte, Mervyn Archdale, George Vesey, John Rowley Miller, Frances Vesey Montgomery Moore (Fanny), Mary Phoebe (Minnie), Hugh Alexander Montgomery Moore, Andrew Charles Henry Arbuthnoth (Harry), William Nassau. (Emily Charlotte may not have been on-board as was also on Lady Jocelyn voyage of 1878)
STUART Arthur, Margaret, Robert, William Henry, Thomas, David (E S & R STUART in Single Women)
STUART William (possibly William Henry Stuart above)
THOMPSON George, John (Did not settle)
TRIMBLE William, Mary Anne, Elizabeth, William Humphrey, Catherine (Kate), Mary Anne, Fanny, Ellen (Nell)
TURNER Alexander (Sandy), Mary, Alexander, John, Catherine (Kate), Mary J. (Daughter Sarah on-board with husband William John Stewart.)
WILSON Andrew, William, John, Andrew, Richard, James, Annie, Mary Jane (Minnie), Martha, Sarah Maria, Amelia
WILSON John, Elizabeth, Eleanor, Robert, Martha Elizabeth, Anna Maria
WYLIE Joseph (Jnr), Ellen Elizabeth
WYLIE Joseph (Snr), Mary Ann, James, William, Mary Jane, Annie (also Frances with Single Women)
WYLIE Thomas, Mary Eleanor, Margaret, Mary Adelaide (born on-board)
Passengers on the Carisbrooke Castle who were said to be also for Katikati - possibly servants
CRAIG Agnes
FLEMING Joseph, Matthew
FREIGE Amelia
HALL Martha H
MacGREGOR M J
McCARTER Joseph
MOLLOY William
MURDOCH John
NORRIS Mary
O'BRIEN John, Lawrence, J H
SCHOLAS Mary S
WEIR Catherine
Members of the First Party who were not passengers on the Carisbrooke Castle and did not settle at Katikati
BUTTON Horace G Dr
COLLIER Mrs
DEADMAN James
Later members of the First Party who did not arrive on the Carisbrooke Castle but settled at Katikati
ANDREWS Michael John (ex SS Mongol)
HAMILTON John (ex Ocean Mail)
MARK John Rev. (ex India)
SMITH Joseph Robinson (possibly ex Halcione)
TANNER Thomas (ex SS Mongol)


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