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Nelson Historical Society Journal, Volume 7, Issue 2, 2010

Francis Jollie 1815-1870. An Early Nelsonian

page 42
Francis Jollie. The Nelson Provincial Museum, Bett Collection: 1/4 277

Francis Jollie. The Nelson Provincial Museum, Bett Collection: 1/4 277

page 43

Francis Jollie 1815-1870
An Early Nelsonian

“... if she wanted to sell the newspaper the children were to be given first choice. However this did not happen”.In 1841 two brothers set sail for New Zealand; the elder one Francis arrived in Nelson on the Fifeshire and the younger Edward, reached Wellington three weeks later on the February 9, 1842 on board the Brougham. Francis was aged 26 and Edward just turned 17. They left behind a widowed mother and a brother and sister. Let Edward Jollie tell the story of how this came about.

“The NZ Company in 1841 projected a settlement in New Zealand. My eldest brother Francis bought a land order and determined to try his fate as a colonist. About the same time my mother’s relations were debating the question as to what should be my future occupation. I was nearly fixed as an apprentice in the North of England when a letter arrived from Frank saying I might get an appointment under the NZ Company as a cadet attached to the survey staff. I said at once that I would, upon which my mother who was sitting opposite me burst out crying and left the room.” No wonder she was upset for within a month both sons left for New Zealand.

Very often when people talk about their ancestors or even about present day immigrants, the question is asked “Why did they come?” The answer is sometimes economic circumstances. At first glance this would not appear to be the case when Francis Jollie became an immigrant.

page 44

He came from Carlisle, Cumbria and his family had had what seems to have been a secure business in book selling and printing for over 50 years. His grandfather Francis had arrived in Carlisle from Montrose in Scotland in the 1780s (Edward says the family had originally been driven out of France by the Edict of Nantes) and had set up in business as a printer, publisher and bookseller. By 1783 he was producing public notices, auction catalogues, chap books, song sheets and election material. Later there were topographical books and a valuable guide and directory in 1811. But perhaps his most lasting achievement was establishing Carlisle’s first weekly paper in 1798. This was the radical Carlisle Journal and Northern Literary Advertiser which lasted about 150 years.

In 1820 Francis died and his son Francis (father of the Nelson Francis) and his brothers took over the business. However Francis died in 1825 aged 35. According to his will he was the sole proprietor of the Carlisle Journal and this was left to his wife, Margaret nee Routledge whom he married in 1813. There were four children of this marriage, Francis, later of Nelson, b. 1815, William b. 1820, Elizabeth b.1822 and Edward, later of New Zealand.

When their father died these children were respectively aged 11, 6, 4 and 1. In his will their father left approximately £700. £20 per annum had to be used for the maintenance and education of the children. At age 22 the children could get their share of the property and afterwards at the discretion of the trustees they could be awarded £30 a year. Their mother Margaret was given copyright of the Carlisle Journal and if she wanted to sell the newspaper the children were to be given first choice. However this did not happen. On the death of her husband Margaret appointed James Steel, a former apprentice to be editor of the newspaper and in 1831 they entered into partnership. In 1836 James Steel evidently bought out Margaret Jollie and he became the sole proprietor. Francis Jollie of Nelson was now21 and it is tempting to wonder if this sale was a factor in turning his thoughts to emigration. Did he want to be a newspaper editor? He must have had some aptitude and/or experience for he became the second editor of the Nelson Examiner. Maybe he really wanted to farm?

The 1841 census was taken on the night of 6/7 June. Margaret Jollie was living with her brother and family in Carlisle. Son William was in a boarding establishment two streets away, whilst the two younger children were with another of Margaret’s brothers. Francis was possibly in a boarding establishment in London.

Once in Nelson, like all other immigrants, Francis set about getting established in this very new town. Nelson Provincial Museum has three letters written by Francis to William Blamire in London during his first year here in 1842. I have not been able page 45 to find out whether they were ‘official letters’ or just letters to a friend. Blamire is a Cumbrian name and judging by the December letter, he must have been familiar with Cumberland people and places. The first letter is dated June 15 when Francis had been here four months.“We are progressing here on the whole very satisfactorily, the majority of the settlers are yet in the transition stage, building or preparing to build, like myself.

”He mentions the price of bricks as £3 per thousand. The houses are mainly of wood. There are a few mud ones but the season has been unfavourable for mud houses.

The letter of September 17 says that already one or two farms are under cultivation. His house in town was on Brougham Street and his rural section was at Wakapuaka and he had named it Thackwood. The original Thackwood is a farm about six miles from Carlisle and was where the poetess Susannah Blamire (1747-1794) was brought up by her aunt. Francis Jollie would obviously know of the place and possibly had some connection with it.

In the December 20 letter he tells William Blamire that at Thackwood he has employed a father and son by the name of Graham who had come from Renwick (a village in Cumberland). The letter continues with more about the town. He is delighted that Mr Cotterell is away trying to find new land. This has evidently given a much needed boost to morale, He talks about his new house which has cost £400. “I had lived longer in a tent than anybody else. The house is large - if not the largest in the place certainly the best. It is comfortable, somewhat too comfortable.” He then becomes more personal and we see a young man far from home. “Ship after ship has been arriving and I have had no letters. It is now within a twelve month of arriving and I have had no letters”. But in a long postscript he looks ahead and details what he is intending to do at his farm. His 50 acre section has turned out better than he anticipated. “35 or 40 acres can be put to immediate account, (there is) plenty of wood, water and a fine crop of grass ready to mow on the wetter part of the section. If I could get my country land adjoining I would be fortunate”.

He was very fortunate for a few years later he received his rural land of 150 acres added to Thackwood. Francis did not actually live there until 1844. In February1845 his brother Edward visited the farm and stayed about a year. In his memoirs he gives a good description of the farm at that time. “Went to Thackwood (it is) in a beautiful valley eight miles from Nelson.” The hut was in a clump of Kahikatea and Towai. There were mud walls, six feet high. It was thatched, measured 36 feet by 12 feet and had three rooms. There was a housekeeper, a ploughman and a page 46 boy. Edward also says that later when Frank got his extra acres he was not able to develop the farm properly because with the delay he had spent his money on his fine house in town.

Within six months of arriving in Nelson, Francis began to take an active part in the affairs of the town. His participation can be charted to some extent by reading the Nelson Examiner. The issue October 1, 1842 mentions a meeting to establish an elementary school. His name was added to the committee on September 19, 1842. He was put on the committee of the Agricultural and Horticultural Society in March1843 and in September became the treasurer of the Literary and Scientific Society.

Changes after the Wairau Incident

In the sad and anxious times after the Wairau Incident, when so many leaders of the community were killed others had to step forward. Francis now took Richardson’s place as editor of the Examiner. He was a voice about the need for military protection and became a member of the committee which received subscriptions for a memorial. In December he gave an eloquent sketch of Arthur Wakefield’s character. Tucket was now appointed the new Resident Agent of the New Zealand Company in place of Arthur Wakefield and was replaced a year later by William Fox with Francis Jollie as his deputy. In his job he had to deal with and finally dismiss the notorious German agent Beit who had come on the St. Pauli. Then in 1848 Francis succeeded William Fox. He had also become a magistrate in 1846.

However the editorship of the Examiner only lasted about a year for in 1844 this notice appeared in the newspaper

“circumstances which it is needless to explain, have again rendered necessary a change in the editorial management of this paper”.

The reason appears to have been his “peculiar and objectionable editorial on debentures” (Ruth Allan). Jollie’s political aspirations seem to have begun when he became a contender in the election for the first superintendent of the Nelson Provincial Council. It is beyond the scope of this article to comment at length on the political situation in Nelson at that time. A fuller account is given in Nelson, A Regional History by Jim McAloon. The details given here are those which affected Francis Jollie. The election took place in August 1853 and he was nominated by the “Supper Party”, a group which included David Monro, John Wallis Barnicoat and John Danforth Greenwood. The nickname was derived from their habit of discussing and organising town affairs at dinner parties in each other’s homes. The other candidates were Edward Stafford and John Waring Saxton. Of these three Jollie page 47 was possibly the most conservative, which is a little surprising as his family were very radical in their founding of the Carlisle Journal and continued to be so.

By April the election had brought a crop of unsigned, outspoken and sometimes libellous letters in the Examiner. On March 24 “an elector” wrote a reasonable letter about each candidate and finally favoured Stafford. Contrast this with two scurrilous letters printed in April which were aimed at Jollie, one written in mock rustic by A. Hopper and the other signed Clodhopper. When the votes were counted the result was Stafford 251, Saxton 206 and Jollie 130.

Soon after this Jollie left Nelson for South Canterbury and developed Peel Forest Station. Four blocks of land suitable for farms, being part of the Thackwood Estate, lately the property of F. Jollie, Esq. were auctioned on June 21, 1855. Edward Jollie says the land was sold for half its value.

In 1858 Francis left for England and saw his mother and his family. He met his bride on the boat returning to New Zealand. In 1861 he became a member of the House of Representatives standing for Timaru and became the treasurer in Stafford’s Ministry of 1866. He died in 1870 at Peel Forest.

Jollie’s Pass near Hanmer is named for Edward Jollie who along with three other men drove 1000 sheep to Canterbury discovering the pass on the way. Some of the ewes were destined for the Peel Forest Station. The Jollie name survives in Nelson in Jollie Street, Marybank.


Letters by Francis Jollie at Nelson Provincial Museum

Research at Cumbria Record Office, Carlisle, UK

Article: The Jollies, Father and Son, Printers of Carlisle, by June Barnes

Nelson Examiner

Jollie. Francis from An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand editored by A.H. McLintock,1966

Memoirs of Edward Jollie. Alexander Turnbull Library. Wellington

Susanna Blamire (1747-1794) Poetess. Stephen Van Hagen. Edgehill University

Nelson. A Regional History. Jim McAloon

Nelson, A History Of Early Settlement. Ruth M. Allan

Photocopies from Canterbury Museum given to me by Mavis Donnelly