Thursday, 11 December 2008

JAMES McKERROW – 1834-1861 Chapter II

James McKerrow
With special reference to Exploration, 1861-3
Code Number.17
History Honours. University of New Zealand 1948
By David Herron

Here is Chapter 2 of Dave Herron's thesis.

ONE day early in December 1859, a young Scotsman walked
into the Dunedin Survey Office. He came in answer to the urgent
advertisement for surveyors made necessary by the persistent
demands for roads, bridges and general surveying which were
taxing the resources of Mr. Thomson’s little staff. The applicant’s
name was James McKerrow; a name which for sixty years was to
be known and respected throughout New Zealand.

James McKerrow had to survey Moeraki Beach and the Native Reserve pictured above.

McKerrow was well fitted both by aptitude and by
academic training for the profession he was to grace for so long.
His father, Andrew McKerrow, the famous ploughmaker of
Beansburn, Kilmarnock, Scotland, whose patent single furrow
ploughs and back delivery reaping machines were used as far
from his native land as South Africa and New Zealand,1 was
in a position to provide each of his seven sons with adequate
educational opportunities. James, the eldest son, showed general
all round scholastic ability from an early age and frequently
was top of his class.2

His particular interest was in the field of
Mathematics,3 and after an excellent grounding in both the
pure and mixed aspects of the subject under Mr. Thomas Lee
of the Kilmarnock Academy, he studied these subjects further
at Glasgow University.4
N.B. The Registrar Glasgow University can find no James
McKerrow on his files. He suggests however that he may have
been a “private” student. This would possibly correspond to the
extramural student in New Zealand.
On the completion of his academic studies, James was
compelled by his father to serve an apprenticeship in the
implement-making trade. All the boys were similarly treated,
for Mr. McKerrow senior considered that the experience in the
trade would prove a safe standby in times of need, and would
often open the door to numerous other occupations.
During this time James interested himself more in
surveying than in his apprenticeship, and much of his spare
time was spent in applying his knowledge to the surveying of
neighbours’ paddocks.5

In 1859, at the age of twenty four, and filled with the
courage and optimism of youth, he realized that the colonies
offered prospects where initiative and vitality would pay
ample dividends, and decided to emigrate to New Zealand.
The decision was made in no light hearted spirit of bravado or
without full realization of the implications involved.
“My first reminiscence of New Zealand,” he wrote much
later, “carries me back to my school days … when I remember
two or three families left my native place for New Zealand. At
that time it was considered a very great venture to set out for
these most distant Islands of the sea, inhabited by formidable
tribes jealous of the intrusion of the stranger the pakeha, and
who only a few years previously had wreaked a terrible revenge
at Tua Marina near Blenheim over a land dispute, now known
as the Wairau Massacre.”6

His marriage to Miss Martha Dunlop who, in the difficult
days ahead was to prove an admirable source of inspiration and
encouragement, took place at Fenwick, Ayrshire, Scotland, on
the 5th August, 1859.7 Shortly afterwards, the young couple
were accorded to public farewell which Kilmarnock habitually
tendered to her aspiring youth. A friend, Mr. John Thomson,
recalled the scene some forty-four years later. “Our guest’s hair
was then like the raven8 `his bonnie bow was bent.’ His face was
grave, thoughtful, resolute and self-possessed unusual for his
years, and his newly wedded wife an object of interest, looking
brave and handsome, just the type, I thought of an Ayrshire lass
fitted to be the helpmeet of a man going to carve his fortune in
a new and distant land.” In addition to this public farewell, the
young couple and another intending colonist were the guests of
honour at a farewell supper in the George Hotel, Kilmarnock,
arranged by a large company of enthusiastic friends, young and
old, to wish them God-speed.9

Less than three weeks after their marriage, James McKerrow
and his bride journeyed to Glasgow to board the “Cheviot”, a
speedy sailing vessel of 1066 tons on which passages to New
Zealand had been secured. As the ship was found to have been
delayed over the advertised hour of departure, the McKerrows
took the opportunity of enjoying a last stroll on Scottish soil.
Their path led past a field of turnips and James clambered over
the fence to secure one for himself and his wife. Unfortunately
at this juncture an irate farmer appeared on the scene. He
threatened to give McKerrow in charge, but a sum of money
far out of proportion to the value of the turnips pacified him,
and enabled the young couple to return to the “Cheviot” in
plenty of time before she sailed.10

On Tuesday, 23rd August, 1859, the “Cheviot” left the
“Tail of the Bank” at Greenock and with it Scotland. James
McKerrow was destined not to revisit his homeland for fortyfour
years. The “Cheviot” was a cargo vessel carrying much
foodstuff, spirituous liquors, iron goods, building materials,
far implements, as well as stud sheep, pigs and cattle.11

Thus although a ship of over 1000 tons, she was able to accommodate
only twenty-four cabin and eighteen steerage passengers.
The majority of the latter were emigrating under the
auspices of Mr. Holmes, a gentleman who had made extensive
purchases of land in the Lumsden district on which he intended
settling them. The McKerrows were in the steerage along with
sixteen other men and one other woman.12

The “Cheviot” rounded Ireland, reached Madeira on the
3rd September, the Cape Verdes on the 7th September, and
after several days of baffling winds crossed the line on 26th
September.13 From this point on the weather was reasonably
kind. The Cape was rounded on the 25th of October, a point
opposite Adelaide reached by the 18th November, Stewart
Island was sighted a week later and on the following day the
26th November 1859, ninety five days after leaving Greenock,
the “Cheviot” sailed into the Otago Harbour.14

Apart from the usual phenomena seen on such a voyage,
the passengers’ interests were aroused by such incidents as the
discovery of a stowaway, and the provisioning of a lifeboat from
a foundered vessel. Once the “nal de mer” had been conquered,
the passengers supplemented these casual interests with a series
of organized functions.
Church services and psalm singing took a prominent
place but shooting, fishing, dancing, charades, fortune telling,
ballad singing, fairday celebrations, a wedding anniversary
party, and the ceremony of crossing the line provided lighter
entertainment.15 From most of these lighter forms of amusement
James McKerrow exempted himself. His habitual retirement to
ponder over some weighty volume earned him the reputation
of a recluse and a certain measure of unpopularity among those
of the passengers more socially inclined.16

Conditions on board were often far from pleasant, and
there were frequent thunder storms, snow storms, and gales,
accompanied by ripped sails and dangerous flying blocks. Mr.
T.L. Barnhill’s entry in his dairy on the 3rd October, 1859, is
indicative of the spirit on board. “Shipped a sea which ducked
almost all the steerage passengers who were standing together
– all in good spirits owing to our making such progress.”17

Only one death occurred on board – that of a stillborn babe,
and over a dozen ships were overhauled in a swift passage.18
On their arrival the majority of the passengers, the McKerrows
included, appended their names to a letter addressed to Captain
Orkney of the Cheviot in which, after describing the voyage
as “a prosperous and agreeable one so far as it is possible to
be” thanked Captain Orkney for having done all in his power
to make the voyage “expeditious, safe and agreeable,” and
presented him with a purse of sovereigns.19

The first sight of Dunedin was quite equal to expectations. “I
was very much struck with the beautiful situation of Dunedin,”
wrote McKerrow later, “and with the clean, neat appearance of
the houses looking out spick and span from picturesque spots
in the surrounding bush. In coming up the bay and through
among the islets at Port Chalmers, I was strongly reminded of
beautiful Loch Lomond.”20

The “Cheviot’s” arrival at a time when other provinces
were pouring their surplus goods into Otago only served to
overstock the market further.21 Although the foodstuff market
was overstocked, the same could not be said of the labour market
where opportunities for employment and toil abounded. “Each
person as he arrives finds he has more to set his hand to than
he can possible find time or means to do,” warned a leader in a
contemporary newspaper. “Toil unwearied toil must be the lot
of those who emigrate.”22

The McKerrows were not slow to accept this challenge.
Mrs. McKerrow temporarily took up domestic duties at Green
Island,23 while James McKerrow applied for apposition in the
Survey Office. He explained that he was not a professional
surveyor, but thought he had a fair knowledge of their system
of procedure. Mr. Thomson’s urgent need for surveyors had
not blinde him to the realization that an additional surveyor, if
incompetent, was more of a liability than an asset. He therefore
enquired from the young applicant when he would be ready to
submit himself for a written examination. “Now,” was the reply24
and there and then McKerrow set to work on an exacting set of
problems. He soon finished, and handed in his test problems,
complete and correct, to a somewhat amazed official.25 The
quality of the work impressed Thomson profoundly, and to
this incident McKerrow attributed his immediate admission to
the surveying staff.26On the 21st December, 1859, James McKerrow was appointed
to the position of sub-assistant on the staff of the Dunedin Survey
Office at a salary of £150 till the end of the financial year on June
31st 1860, and thereafter at an annual salary of £350 for carrying
out the duties of a District Surveyor.27

Thomson, with his customary foresight, saw to it that
inexperienced recruits of his staff were employed close enough
to the head office for effective surveillance and encouragement.
During this period in which he was for all intents and purposes
on trial, McKerrow surveyed the road from Anderson’s Bay to
Tomahawk and extended Stafford Street as far as Town Belt.28
From road surveys he graduated to the task of surveying
blocks into subdivisions suitable for occupation.29A five thousand acre block on the south side of Blueskin Bay and about a dozen miles north of Dunedin was his first scene of operations; operations which involved traverses of
roads and streams in rather difficult country. Such phrases as
“through bed of creek,” “enter stream”, “enter swamp”, “enter
bush”, “on to dry land”, “on to beach”, were frequently written
alongside notes of bearings in his field book.30
This work, completed without the assistance of any senior
officers, occupied his attentions uptill the end of June 1860. In
his report for the year ended June 1860, Mr. Thomson wrote,
“As the cost of the rural section surveys of Messrs. McKerrow,
Moran and Shanka is above average, it is due to them that I
should mention that they all entered the service in December
and January. Their operations were in very rugged country…I
have no doubt that these officers will give a better account of
themselves in the coming season.”31
The amount of section survey completed had not been
outstanding, but, as Thomson pointed out, the completion of
triangulations would make available several more surveyors to
proceed systematically with section surveys in those districts
requiring settlement of claims. Triangulation was, however, a
necessary prerequisite to accuracy in section survey; accuracy
unobtainable under the obnoxious “spotting” system.32
For the 1860-61 session it was proposed to employ three
surveyors on triangulation, five on rural section survey and
two on town sections.33 James McKerrow was one of those
appointed to rural section survey. For seven months he spent
his time in surveying five blocks in the Otokia region on the
east side of the Taieri plain, and in distinguishing bush reserves,
quarry reserves, sections previously surveyed on application or
otherwise unavailable for occupancy. Traverses of all roads were
also made.34
His next task was in the Moeraki district, where he was
required to survey a block covered by serubby bush and
including Moeraki bench and the native reserve. Soundings of
the harbour were also taken, and a summary of the rise and fall
of the tide compiled.35 McKerrow was greatly impressed with
the delightfulsituation of the surrounding countryside, one of
his favourite haunts in later years, but his subsequent purchase
of a piece of land near the harbour can perhaps also be attributed
to his shrewd business acumen. Along with others, not the
least of whom was Frederick Tuckett, he envisaged Moeraki a
flourishing port and the neighbouring countryside the centre
of North Otago commerce and industry. That Oamaru not
Moeraki should prove to be the chosen site, and that his land
would not yeild a substantial profit, was his misfortune.36
McKerrow’s forceful personality, together no doubt with his
mysterious survey instruments, made a deep impression on the
Maoris at Moeraki, and many years later when he received an
appointment in Wellington, several of the natives commented
to his relatives on his promotion.37

From Moeraki McKerrow moved to the hilly Maungatau
district on the south side of the Taieri plains. Part of this
block had been surveyed under the old system, but as so often
happened, the validity of certain clams had been questioned and
it was found necessary to cover the area in a more systematic
manner. The traverse of the Waipori river and indeed the
subsequent traverses of roads on the Taieri plains, necessitated
wading through creeks, swamps and stagnant pools.38
Mr. Thomson’s report on the state of surveys in the province
for the year ended 30th June, 1861, showed that 141,690
acres of rural survey had been completed. James McKerrow’s
contribution, 29,420 acres, represented a substantial part of
the total. He had covered more ground than his confreres and
at a lower cost. Thomson was aware that there was no adequate
standard for comparisons however, and refused to enter into
“All have done their utmost towards the services,” he
reported.39 Major Richardson, the Provincial Superintendent,
expressed his satisfaction with the service rendered. “It is with
pleasure” he said in an address to the Provincial Council, “that
I bring under your notice the systematic progress of the surveys
now being made under Mr. J.T. Thomson. I think it would
be unwise to interfere with a department which has attained
its present efficiency at some considerable cost of money and
labour…40 When you regard the amount of work done of a
permanent character, the rate at which it was done, and the
great advantages flowing from the surveys, you will, I feel
assure coincide with me in regarding the operations of this
Department as of a strictly reproductive nature.”41
Six months later Major Richardson reiterated his expression
of confidence when he asked the Council to “continue your
present heavy expenditure which may be termed an investment
payable on the sale of unsurveyed land.”42 Funds were urgently
needed if the Survey Office was to extend its services to the
additional and extended hundreds.

James McKerrow was fortunate in receiving his early
professional training under such a capable and painstaking
master of his profession as Mr.J.T. Thomson. The benefit
of this sound training, unique in New Zealand, was made
manifest during his journeys of 1862-3. McKerrow himself
was an apt pupil. The qualities of versatility, independence, and
adaptability, the hall marks of excellence in a colonial surveyor,
were developed to a high degree in the bush, hill, river, scrub
and swamp conditions of the coastal regions. Here he learnt
the practical application of the finer points of his profession,
and a knowledge of outdoor life. Survey work was indeed a
valuable preparation for exploration.-

1. Per Mrs. Ross, Invercargill. McKerrow ploughs may still be seen in this
country. One was seen years ago near Lumsden.
2. Letter to the author from Mrs. Caldwell, McKerrow’s daughter.
3. Ibid
4. Kilmarnock Standard, 22 August, 1903, also Scholefield, G.H.,
Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Vol. II, P. 30
5. Per Mrs. Ross. At least two of the McKerrow boys made use of this
knowledge, temporarily at least, in occupations in N.Z.
6. McKerrow, J., Reminiscences, Pp. 9-10, M.S.S. – in the hands of Mr.
J.A.D. Ritchie, Wellington.
7. Mennell, P., Dictionary of Australasian Biography, P. 301
8. In later life McKerrow’s beard and hair were white.
9. Kilmarnock Standard, 12 September, 1903
10. Letter to the author from Miss McKerrow, Hampden
11. Otago Witness, 3 December, 1859
12. Ibid
13. Barnhill, T.L. MSS Diary of Voyage of Cheviot – in the hands of Miss
Adamson, “Castlerock”, Lumsden
14. Ibid
15. Barnhill, T.L., MSS Diary of Voyage of Cheviot – in the hands of Miss
Adamson, “Castlerock”, Lumsden.
16. Per Mrs. Ross. Told her by the late Miss Cochrane, Invercargill, a
passenger on the “Cheviot”
17. Barnhill, T.L. Diary, M.S.S.
18. Ibid
19. Otago Witness, 3rd Dec., 1859
20. McKerrow, J., Reminiscenses, P. 10 MSS
21. Stewart, W.D., The Journal of George Hepburn, P. 187
22. Otago Witness, 3rd Dec., 1859
23. Per the Misses Todd Invercargill
24. Kilmarnock Standard, 12th Sept., 1903
25. Per Mesdames Caldwell, Ross and the Misses Todd
26. Kilmarnock Standard, 12th Sept., 1903
27. App. V. and P., Otago Prov. Council, Session XVI, 1863, Council Paper
No. 2. Otago Prov. Gaz. Vol. IV, P. 83, gives his date of admission as
the 26th Dec.
28. Field Book No. 106, Dunedin Survey Office
29. For an explanation of this see P. 27
30. Field Book No. 106. Dunedin Survey Office
31. Otago Prov. Gaz. Vol. IV, 30th Aug. 1860, P. 82
32. Ibid
33. Ibid
34. Field Book No. 106
35. Ibid
36. Per Miss Cross Invercargill
37. Per Mrs. Ross Invercargill. This land passed into the hands of McKerrow’s
brother Andrew. It is now being farmed by that gentleman’s grandson
Mr. Ross.
38. Field Book, No.106
39. Otago Prov. Gaz. Vol. IV, 11 Nov. 1861, P. 271-3
40. Otago Prov. Gaz. Vol. IV, 26 June, 1861, P. 222
41. Ibid
42. Otago Prov. Gaz. Vol. IV, Jan. 6th, 1862, P. 281.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Area of James McKerrow's survey expeditions 1861-63

I have had a few requests for mays of James McKerrow's survey expeditions 1861-63. This map shows the enormous area he covered

Wednesday, 5 November 2008


I have managed to get the whole of David Herron's full thesis typed out and here is the first chapter. Happy reading. I am currently trying to find a publisher to publish it as a book, but no luck yet.

Enjoy reading Chapeter One.

Bob McKerrow

James McKerrow
With special reference to Exploration, 1861-3
Code Number.17
History Honours. University of New Zealand 1948
By David Herron

EVERY country has its regions of mystery whose secrets lie undiscovered for years after the more accessible regions have been exploited. Australia had her Central deserts, Canada the unknown west.”
In Otago, it was the wild and rugged country(1)lying to the west of the chain of major lakes. Progress from eastto west brought with it ever-increasing di culties, and the last few miles immediately east of the west coast for long proved
mpenetrable. It was nearly twenty years after Tuckett had surveyed the original Otago block in 1844, that P.Q. Caples, a venturesome miner, struggled through to the west coast.
Much of the country he and later explorers bypassed (remains
unexplored to this day). In the initial work of exploration, and indeed in much of that carried out in later days, the surveyors played a major part. Danger was part and parcel of their everyday work; they found their reward in the feeling of satisfaction which comes from knowing that a job has been
well done, and not in the plaudits of the crowd. To them Otago owes a great debt of gratitude. One of the ablest of this band of surveyor explorers was Mr. James McKerrow, a young Scottish immigrant who, during a long and successful public career, served New Zealand faithfully in many capacities. His adventures in the west are worthy of consideration at length, but before a study of them can be conducted with profit, some background knowledge of Otago, its history, and McKerrow’s predecessors is desirable
Even a cursory glance at a relief map of the province is su cient to convince one of the ruggedness of its terrain. G.W. Hutton, one of the more ominant of New Zealand geologists has aptly compared the mountain system of Otago with the
extended fingers of the right hand with the palm resting on the south west portion of Canterbury.
This mountain system(2)covers the province so extensively that there are no large plains.
There are however, several small plains wedged between low ranges of wooded hills in fairly close proximity to the eastern seaboard, and it was to this area, rather than to the more central and western regions dominated by a confusion of mountain,
lake, bush, and gorge, that the earliest inhabitants of the province gravitated.
The Maori people as a whole were but little disposed to settle in territory so unlike that of their tropical homeland, and only a very few took up permanent residence in Otago or Southland (3}
Their knowledge of bushcraft and their venturesome spirit enabled and encouraged these southern Maoris to penetrate inland and on to the more confused regions lying further west.

The journeys increased in number and importance when supplies of the precious greenstone were discovered near Lake Wakatipu, and to exploit the new found riches to the fullest extent, small settlements were established. Northern tribes learned of the discovery, and sent trading parties to secure supplies either of the
precious stone, or of the finished products which the relatives of the central natives were producing at Murdering Beach on the east coast.
The Northern Maoris made full use of the West(4)Coast passes
in their trading expeditions, and as late as 1836 Te Puoho (5) traveled over the Hanst Pass, although on this occasion
6} his purpose was conquest and not trade. Even before Te Pucoho made his raid the greenstone trade had largely died out. The white man had made his appearance
around southern shores, iron had replaced greenstone and(7} the trade routes had become so over-grown from disuse that only a few of the older East Coast Maoris could boast of any personal acquaintance with their relatives in the interior. The
members of the latter had diminished to such an extent that by 1836 only around Wanaka and Hawea did hapus remain,and when in that year Te Puoho captured their pahs and drove out, took prisoner, or murdered the occupants, he terminated(8)large scale Maori occupation in Central Otago. Individuals or families still remained, but their exact location or distribution was unknown.
The Maoris at the coast soon became so conversant with
the pakeha way of life, that in time they became no more
disposed to nor even capable of venturing inland than the new
Thus, although by 1840 a reasonably accurate knowledge of the coast line was available through the activities of whalers and sealers, information concerning the interior was forthcoming only from the reports of the older Maoris, and these reports were often highly fanciful and misleading. Lake Wakatipu in the earliest maps was sketched as an oval sheet of water named “Waipounamu”, and the outlines of other lakes were equally inaccurate.
The early white explorers in Otago found this inadequate

knowledge a severe handicap. In 1843 Edward Shortland was engaged on a journey through Otago, but was unable to secure the services of any natives capable of leading him to the Molyneaux River by way of the old track. On his return journey
north however, Shortland met a chief named Huruhuru at the Waitaki river. Huruhuru had some personal knowledge of the central lakes, as well as the route over the Lindis Pass to Hawen, and all stages of the two day journey from Wanaka over the
Haast Pass to the West Coast.
He drew a sketch of the interior(10}for Shortland, and for many years the offcial map of Otago and Canterbury showed the great central lakes as reproduced
in shortland’s map in his “Southern Districts”.(11}
The early surveyors added comparatively little to the existing knowledge of the hinterland. Frederick Tuckett arrived in 1864 to choose a suitable block of land for the projected Scottish colony, but he advanced no further inland than the Tokomairiro Plains.Charles Kettle, the surveyor who came to Otago in 1846 to
direct the survey of the block preparatory to settlement, had little opportunity for exploration, but on one occasion ascended the Maungatuas and saw the Strath-Taieri Plain stretching away into the distance.
Thus when the main body of settlers arrived from Scotland in 1848 they found very limited portions of the province open for settlement. Their early activities moreover, guided by the counsel and authority of their leader Captain Cargill who was a firm adherent of the Wakefield Tents of a concentration and contiguity,
were directed more to the immediate needs of home and business than to feats of exploration and adventure. From 1848-56 the majority of artisans and tradespeople were quite content to remain in Dunedin and to leave the few practical farmers to occupy small holdings on the adjoining plains of the block.(14}
During this period of consolidation within a small radius some exploration had been going on, sporadic and unsystematic though it was.
In 1850 J.W. Hamilton of the sur vey ship “Acheron”, which had been engaged in coastal survey, made an overland journey from Bluff to Dunedin, and embodied in his subsequent report a map drawn from his own observation and from those
of Maoris slightly acquainted with the more remote lakes and
The following year Charles Kettle, in the course of a trip from Waikouaiti to the Strath Taieri and Miniototo plains, made the first entry into Central Otago.(16}
In the same year, 1851, W.D.B. Mantell, the land commissioner, traveled overland from Blu to Dunedin and marked in his own map not only his own route, but also the progress up the Aparima and Waiau valleys to Monowai and TeAnau made by Messrs. Nairn and Pharazyn under the guidance of a native from the latter district.

By 1853 a thin stream of explorers and pastoralists were pushing into the interior. Nathaniel Chalmers, guided by a Maori, followed first the Mataura and then the Clutha until he arrived at Lake Wanaka, but was too exhausted to continue
over the Lindis Pass to the Waitaki River.(18}
When Mantell journeyed south once more in 1854, he was accompanied by prospective squatters who had been crowded out of Canterbury, and were in search of pastoral country. Some of these men found the pastures they desired on the Maniototo
Plains; others settled round Lake Te Anau and were still there when James McKerrow surveyed that district. (19}

y 1856 more general interest was manifest in land outside the Otago block, and Captain Cargill and the Provincial Council, prodded into action by Mantell, were forced to make a tardy recognition of the place of the pastoralists as well as the
agriculturists in the progressive realization of Otago’s potential wealth. Their change of front produced one great practical boon. The capital required to buy sheep runs and stock them had been beyond the means of the great majority under the old land laws, but under the exceedingly liberal land laws
promulgated and passed in 1856, even a humble settler might become a landowner. Rural sections in the old Otago block, now divided into eight instead of three hundreds, were on(20}sale at ten shillings per acre on condition that thirty shillings per acre should be expended on improvements within three
years. Outside the actual block, 600,000 acres were o ering in lots of not less than 2,000 acres at a price of ten shillings per acre, and depasturage licenses were available to those who would venture still further afield.(21}
The effect of these land laws was immediate. Scores of people took the opportunity to procure cheap land. But diffculties arose almost at once. The Survey O ce possessed little date on unsurveyed land, and when the balance of available land
had been snapped up, it was at a loss to obtain information for settlers’ guidance.
At this critical juncture, when the journeys of Kettle represented the only exploration of more than thirty milesinto the country west of Dunedin,and with her Lands and Sur vey Department hopelessly disorganized, Otago was indeed fortunate in securing for the post of Chief Sur veyor
Mr. J.T.Thomson, an intelligent worker with a wide colonial background of practical surveying, and a remarkable facility for adapting his methods to meet each fresh problem.

His(23)influence on New Zealand surveying was to be profound. Staying in Dunedin only long enough to remedy some of the more outstanding abuses in his headquarters, Thomson plunged into the task of exploring and sur veying as quickly and as accurately as possible, those tracts of land required so
urgently for settlement.
Starting from 1857, within four months Thomson had completed a survey extending from the Waiau Gorge, north to the Dome Mountains, south to the coast, and east to the Mataura river; an area of two and a half million acres. He
crossed and recrossed the country in every direction, passed over plains and through rivers and swamps, and covered 1500 miles on foot.
The report derived from this survey was so(24} encouraging that within twelve months the Dunedin Survey was inundated with applications for land to the extent
of three to four million acres.(25}

In October and November 1857 Thomson made another Reconnaissance Survey, this time over the Horse Range to the Shag Valley, and from thence by the Pigroot to the Maniototo Plains, Ida Valley and the junction of the Manuherikia River
with the Clutha.(26}

In December of the same year a further expedition took himto the upper Waitaki valley, and from some hills he subsequently descried the Lindis Pass, Lakes Hawea and Wanuka, and the course of the upper Clutha.(27}

In February 1858, Alexander Garvie, one of Thomson’s assistants, was instr ucted to explore and survey the basin of the Clutha as far north as the junction of the Clutha and
awarau Rivers.
Enterprising runholders, among them the(28}Brennan brothers, had examined this area the previous year, but Thomson’s firm belief in the wisdom of survey before settlement prompted him to send out Garvie to explore the south-eastern (29}portion of the province and to link the Reconnaissance surveys already completed in the south and north-east of Otago.
The reports derived from these sur veys gave concise summaries of the agricultural and pastoral potentialities of land remote from the coast, and were eagerly scanned by prospective settlers. They revealed that of the 15,047 square miles sur veyed, apart altogether from the 11,23 square miles as yet untouched no fewer than 12,516 square miles were suitable for pastoral purposes and 4,200,000 acres of this were capable(30}for producing corn and vegetables. (31}
The combined effect of the 1856 land lawsand Thomson’s optimistic forecast was to change the whole character of the province. In the first eight years of its existence Otago had made little progress. Mr.J. de la Condamine Carnegie in 1851 wrote home saying that he believed less than forty immigrants had arrived during the previous twelve months. (32} “The settlement was in a statement stated,” wrote Thomson describing conditions in 1856. “The pilgr im father s
were dissatisfied with ill success and poverty discontent reigned.”(33}
After 1858 optimism and confidence were characteristic, and engendered vitality, growth and prosperity. Stock owners were attracted from all quarters, and with the help of the new maps had no di culty in finding and occupying r uns. Settlers
from less prosperous provinces helped to swell the numbers of assisted immigrants. The number of sheep in the province increased from 75,000 to 300,000 within four years, and the value of wool exports showed an increase of from £16,000 to £107,000 in a similar period.

Otago was on the crest of a (34} minor boom; a boom which two years later was to be absorbed in the greater one resulting from the discovery of gold.
Mr. J.T. Thomson’s contribution to this prosperity was outstanding. Although enjoying indi erent health he persevered
n tackling a task of inherent di culty and great responsibility,
and actually carried out operations beyond the terms of his
engagement. (35}

1. Sutherland, Miss L.E., The Settler and Surveyor Explorers of Otago, P.
76. Unpublished Thesis, Public Library, Dunedin
2. Durward, Miss E., The Maori Population of Otago, Pp. 6-7.
Unpublished Thesis, Hocken Library, Dunedin.
3. Gilkison, R., Early Days in Central Otago, P. 18
4. Park, J., Maori and Early European Explorations in Western Otago,
Pp. 4-6, Pamphlet, Hocken Library, Dunedin
5. Ross, A., The Puoho And His South Island Raid, pp. 87-98.
Unpublished Thesis, Hocken Library, Dunedin
6. Durward, op cit, P. 18.
7. Ross, op cit., pp.98-103
8. McClymont, W.G., The Exploration of New Zealand, P. 75.
9. Shortland, E., The Southern Districts of New Zealand, pp. 205-6
10. McClymont, op cit. P. 78
11. Thus the original Otago block was confined to a comparatively narrow
strip of land on the east coast.
12. Hocken, T.M., Contribution to the Early History of New Zealand,
Appendix A, Pp. 203-25, being a copy of Tuckett’s Diary
13. Kettle, C.H., Letter to Col. William Wakefield, 13 April 1847, M.S.S.
Hocken Library, Dunedin
14. McClymont, W.G., op cit. P. 112
15. Ibid. Pp. 90-91
16. Cowan, Miss J.C., A History of the Maniototo County, Pp. 10-11.
Unpublished thesis, Dunedin Public Library
17. McClymont, op cit. Pp. 114-115.
18. Beattie, H., Pioneer Recollections Vol. II, P.54, Letters from Chalmers
19. McClymont, op cit. P. 117
20. “Hundreds” was the name given to the new districts which from time
to time opened up for settlement by the Provincial Council.
21. Hocken, T.M., op. cit, P. 167
22. McClymont, op cit., P. 113.
23. Hocken, T.M., op cit., P. 169
24. Thomson, J.T., Survey of the Southern Districts of Otago, passim,
Pamphlet, Hocken Library
25. McClymont, op. cit., P. 119
26. Otago Prov. Gazette, Vol. III, 22 Sept. 1859, Pp. 270-73. Thomson’s
27. Thomson, J.T., The Exploration of Otago and Recent Travel in other
Parts of New Zealand, Pp. 75-81, Pamphlet, Hocken Library
28. Otago Prov. Gaz., Vol. III, 22 Sept. 1859, Pp. 276-281, Garvie’s
Report. Garvie’s Diary can be found in the Survey O ce, Dunedin
29. McClymont, op cit., P. 122
30. Byars, Miss F., John Turnbull Thomson Early Surveyor, P 88,
Unpublished Thesis, Hocken Library
31. Thomson, J.T., The Exploration of Otago, P. 82.
32. Cowan, Miss J.C., op cit. P. 12
33. Thomson, J.T., The Exploration of Otago, P. 75
34. Ibid. P. 82.
35. Ibid, P. 75. also Byars, op cit., passim

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

McKerrow Coat-of- Arms

I have been searching for a McKerrow Coat-of-Arms for some time. I have finally found it. Not that impressive ?

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Plucking Turnips - James McKerrow-

James McKerrow was born on 7 July 1834 in Kilmarnock, Scotland, with a genealogy that can be traced back to King James the Vth. [1]
His Father, Andrew McKerrow was a famous ploughmaker of Beansburn, Kilmarnock, who manufactured patent single furrow, ploughs and back delivery reaping machines which gave him the means to provide his sons an adequate education. James was a bright young student and frequently was top of his class and had a great love of mathematics, and after a good grounding in both pure and mixed aspects of the subjects under Mr. Thomas Lee of Kilmarnock Academy, he studied these subjects further at Glasgow University. Like all his brothers, James did an apprenticeship in implement making as his father believed that having a trade ‘prove a safe standby in times of need, and would often open the door to numerous other occupations.’[2] During his apprenticeship, James showed more interest in surveying the paddocks in the neighbourhood and gaining knowledge of surveying.
James was the eldest of ten children, nine brothers and one sister. When James was five, his sister Jean was born but she died before the age of one. His brother John, born when he was three, died at the age of 21, the year before James left for New Zealand. He was the first to leave for New Zealand, and later, 6 of his brothers emigrated
James McKerrow married Martha Dunlop at Fenwick, Ayreshire Scotland, on 5 August, 1859. Three weeks after their marriage, James and Martha traveled to Glasgow to board the Cheviot, a ship with a reputation for speed, weighing 1066 tons.
Unfortunately the Ship’s departure was delayed some hours so James and Martha, decided to fill the time in by having their last walk on Scottish soil. As they were strolling through the countryside, they passed a field of turnips, and feeling the pangs of hunger, James climbed over the fence, and plucked a turnip. As he was climbing back over the wall, a farmer appeared and threatened to get the police and take charges against him. James quickly produced a sum of money and paid an exorbitant price for a miserable turnip, and they quickly scurried back to the ship, before any other misfortune came their way.[3]
The cargo vessel ‘Cheviot’ set sail on Tuesday the, 23 August and left ‘The Tail of the Bank’ at Greenock and with it Scotland. The ship was heavily laden with foodstuff, spirituous liquors, iron goods, building materials, farm implements, stud sheep, pigs and cattle.[4] Being a cargo ship, it was only able to accommodate twenty-four cabin and eighteen steerage passengers. The majority of the steerage passengers were emigrating under the sponsorship of a Mr. Holmes, who had made large purchases of land in the Lumsden district where he intended to settle them on his holdings. The McKerrows were in the steerage cabins together with sixteen men and one woman.
The Cheviot rounded Ireland and then reached Madeira on 3 September, passed close to Cape Verde on 7 September, and after confusing winds, crossed the equator on 26 September For the next leg of the journey, the weather was good and they rounded Cape Horn on 25 October and a point, south of Adelaide reached on 18 November.

The trip had been eventful with the discovery of a ‘stowaway, the death of a still born baby, the provisioning of a life boat from a foundered vessel and condition were tough at times with cramped quarters, snow and thunder storms, gales force winds and ripped sails, and near misses from flying blocks. The dairy of one of the passengers, Mr. T.L. Barnhill, on 3 October 1859 shows the spirit on board. “ shipped a sea which ducked almost all the steerage passengers who were standing together- all in good spirits owing to our making such progress.” [5]
James and Martha got their first look at New Zealand a week later when they sighted Stewart Island and the next day after ninety five days at sea, they entered the Otago Harbour.
‘ I was very much struck with the beautiful situation of Dunedin and with the clean, neat appearances of the houses looking out spick and span from picturesque spots in the surrounding bush. In coming up the bay and through the islets of Port Chalmers, I was strongly reminded of beautiful Loch Lomond.[6]

James McKerrow was 85 when he died in 1919 at his Ghuznee Street home in Wellington.
[1] Andrew Kennedy McKerrow, Your Folk and Mine – The story of the McKerrows, private circulation, Edinburgh, 1990
[3] David G.Herron, James McKerrow –SURVEYOR, EXPLORER AND CIVIL SERVANT- With special reference to Exploration, 1861-3, Presented for History Honours, University of New Zealand.1948
[4] Otago Witness, 3 December, 1859
[5] Barnhill, T.L., MSS Dairy of Voyage of Cheviot. Read by D.C. Herron, 1947.
[6] Mckerrow, J., Reminiscences, p.10 MSS

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand 1868-1961

Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand 1868-1961

Search Results
Your search for "james mckerrow" found 116 results.

His address was recored as : McKerrow, James, F.R.A.S., 142 Ghuznee Street, Wellington

Taken from the above website with deep appreciation.
The Search for Land
As pastoralism spread in Canterbury, would-be runholders became explorers as they searched for ungranted land. Thus in 1851 M. P. Stoddart explored the upper Rakaia and Lake Coleridge region, and in 1855–56 J. B. A. Acland and C. G. Tripp went well up both the Rangitata and Ashburton Rivers. The author Samuel Butler was notable in this phase of exploration; in 1860 he explored the headwaters of all the great Canterbury rivers, saw the pass later known as Arthur's Pass but did not cross it, and, in company with the surveyor-speculator J. H. Baker, crossed the main divide via the Whitcombe Pass before J. H. Whitcombe. They were forced back while following a stream which flowed west. By this time, however, the mountains had been crossed by people other than Maoris, who, in fact, passed their information to the first European explorers. E. Dobson, in 1857, followed the Maori route up the Hurunui and over Harper Pass to the upper Taramakau River. Later the same year, L. Harper and S. Locke followed this route to the mouth of the river.

The search for grazing land also took men south. In 1861 Baker, with E. Owen, explored the region around Lakes Tekapo, Ohau, and Wanaka, and reached the top of Haast Pass. Julius von Haast was engaged to make a geological survey of the Canterbury province; urgency was soon given to his task by the hope of finding gold, prompted by the 1861 rushes in Otago. In 1862 he and A. D. Dobson went into the upper Waitaki River and past the lakes (Tekapo and Pukaki) to the peaks and glaciers beyond them. He named Mount Tasman, and also the Hooker and Mueller Glaciers, and saw the Murchison Glacier from the Mount Cook range, and attempted to cross the Sealy Pass to the West Coast. He also explored the Dobson and Hopkins Rivers from Lake Ohau. In the same year from the Wanaka-Hawea region, he crossed the Haast Pass to the West Coast. He found no gold, but caused some stir in European scientific circles by the evidence he found of extensive early glaciation.

The sheepmen were also important in opening Central Otago. Penetration to the lake country from the south began by C. J. Nairn and C. J. Pharazyn in 1852 who journeyed, with a Maori guide, from Invercargill via the Aparima and Waiau Rivers to Lake Te Anau. In the following year a runholder, Nathaniel Chalmers, similarly guided, went up the Mataura River to near present-day Cromwell and then by the Clutha to Wanaka and Hawea. Instead of pressing on to Canterbury via the Lindis Pass, as had been his intention, he returned down the Clutha River.

In the mid-1850s the Otago Provincial Government began to encourage pastoralists, and the pressure increased. The chief surveyor, J. T. Thomson, first attended to Southland, and then turned to Central Otago. In 1857, by way of the Shag Valley, the Maniototo Plain, the Ida Valley and the Waitaki River, he reached Omarama, and went from there to the peaks north of Hawea and Wanaka, naming one of the country's best-known peaks, Mt. Aspiring. Then he passed to Lake Ohau and the west side of Lake Pukaki. The sheepmen took up this country quickly; some had been there at the same time as Thomson. Their reach extended to the southern lakes by the end of the 1850s. D. Hay, an Australian, rowed a raft around Wakatipu in 1859 and explored the shores, learning of the existence of its northern arm. In the same year a large party including W. G. Rees reached Wanaka from Oamaru, followed the Cardrona River and the Crown Range south, and reached Queenstown via the Shotover and Kawarau Rivers. They went past the head of the lake to the Dart and Rees Rivers. D. McKellar and G. Gunn, two years later, explored the country between Lakes Wakatipu and Te Anau. The exploration conducted by the sheepmen was hardly systematic or accurate; they were more concerned with grazing land than with map-making. Between 1861 and 1864 James McKerrow followed them with an accurate survey.
Runholders' curiosity failed when they passed, as they inevitably did in pressing west, out of potential sheep country. But no country was unpromising to the gold seeker. After Gabriel Read's find in 1861, a series of rushes took men across Otago and into the mountains beyond. As well as gold, men looked for a west coast port with access to the interior, for quick communication with Australia. The north head of Wakatipu promised the best fulfilment for this chimerical hope. Charles Cameron in 1862 found a way across by the north branch of the Routeburn, and in 1863 P. Q. Caples went over Harris saddle to the Hollyford River. Later he followed the Hollyford to Martins Bay. In the same year James Hector went up the west branch of the Matukituki and over Hector Col to the Arawata and the coast near Jackson Bav. while Haast, following a Maori account, crossed the Haast Pass and followed the Haast River to the coast.

Meanwhile, during this period, boat parties were exploring south-western sounds and creeks for access to the interior. The Aquila party led by Captain Alabaster went from Milford to Martins Bay and the Hollyford River, discovering Lakes McKerrow and Alabaster. From Lake Howden, the party saw the rivers flowing east. A. Williamson with the Nugent, also in 1863, went up the Arawata from Jackson Bay and prospected without success around Haast and Cascade Rivers. Hector, using the Matilda Hayes, explored the Martins Bay – Hollyford – Lake Howden – Greenstone route, unaware of previous trips. There was enthusiasm in Queenstown, but the route west and the port remained unestablished. Nor was gold in workable quantities discovered in this wild region; the diggers who penetrated it had to rest content with extending the boundaries of knowledge.

The West Coast and its connections with Canterbury were almost all that remained. In these areas, explorers had to build upon the foundations laid by Brunner in the 1840s and Harper in the 1850s (as well as by some anonymous shipwrecked Americans who, with Maori help, walked from Jackson Bay to Nelson in 1857). In 1860 James Mackay opened up a direct Nelson-Greymouth route, using the Buller, Maruia, and Grey Rivers. A year later, J. Rochfort, following the course of the Grey, Ahaura, and Waiheke Rivers, crossed the divide to Doubtful River, a tributary of the Waiau. In 1862 there was a bridle path along this track; a year later it was used by sheep.

Gold in the mid-1860s stimulated Canterbury interest; in particular a serviceable route across the island was needed. This was discovered by Arthur Dobson in 1864, when he went up the Waimakariri and Bealey Rivers to cross the divide by Arthur's Pass, a route known to the Maoris but no longer used by them. The next year the West Coast gold rush set in; men poured over Harper Pass, and a bridle path and then a coach road were established over Arthur's Pass. The gold fever moved south, and prospectors with it into the remoter parts of South Westland, as far as northwestern Otago.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Mt. McKerrow - Antarctica

I have finally located the coordinates of Mount McKerrow in Antarctica which was named after James McKerrow, Surveyor-General of New Zealand.

Mount McKerrow SCAR Gazetteer Reference No 9303

Feature Types Dome, Mesa, Monolith, Mountain, Platform, Rise,
Location Latitude: 81° 45' 00.0" S (-81.75°)
Longitude: 159° 48' 00.0" E (159.8°)
Confidence in position:

SCAR Composite Reference 9303
Original Source
of Name AUS
Other Names Mount McKerrow - USA

Date Created
Named for A peak in the Surveyors Range, 6 km south-west of Mount Hotine. Discovered by the New Zealand Geological and Survey Antarctic Expedition (1960-61). Named after J. McKerrow, a former Surveyor-General of New Zealand.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

McKerrow family and Robbie Burns

Caption: The Globe Inn today is packed with Burns artifacts and memorabilia

If someone were to choose the ideal situation for the commemoration of Robert Burns, for the recitation of his poetry and the singing of his songs, it would have to be in Dumfries, in the Globe Inn, or, as it was in his day, the Globe Hotel. This interesting old hostelry, popularly called 'Burns Howff', is situated in the High Street, along a narrow close opposite Assembly Street. It was near the Poet's house and was 'the tavern to which the Bard gave preference' while he resided in the town. Many a jolly hour he spent there, as have, over the past hundred years, the members and friends of the Howff Club, in captivating surroundings and convivial company.

In Robert Burns's day, the Hyslop family were proprietors of the Globe, and its associations with the Bard have brought world-wide fame to this little High Street hotel, so, when she fell heir to these associations from the Hyslops, Mrs Jane Smith considered it her bounden duty to preserve them. Since the time of Mrs Smith's death in 1927, the Mill family and, at present, the McKerrow family, have religiously followed her lead and example. During the first forty years of its existence, Mrs Smith, 'the genial hostess', was held in the most affectionate terms among the members of the Howff Club, and became known as 'the Mother of the Club'. She took a prominent part in the annual celebrations on the 25th, and it was her invariable custom to fill the Burns punch bowl and place it before the President, by whom the contents were dispensed with Burns's toddy ladle. On the centenary of Robert Burns's death, Mrs Smith was made an Honorary Member of the Howff Club along with her niece, Mrs Grierson. Mention must also be made of another genial hostess, Mrs Elizabeth Brown, or, as she was affectionately known, 'Ma Broon', who was employed with her husband John, to manage the Globe Inn, by the McKerrows. Both endeared themselves to Howff Club members during the war years and thereafter.

The courtyard outside The Globe Inn
Robert Burns brought many of his cronies to the Globe, including William Nicol, the High School teacher whom Burns met in Edinburgh, 'kind-hearted Willie,' of 'Willie brewed a peck o' maut.' Along with Nicol, Robert Burns had met Allan Masterton, writing master in Edinburgh High School. In 1789 Nicol had travelled down from the capital to holiday in Moffat and, while there, was visited by Robert Burns and Masterton. Together they had 'such a joyous evening' that, on their return to Dumfries, Burns wrote the words and Masterton the music of the song. No doubt the scene of the Bacchanal was re-enacted at the Globe on many occasions during Nicol's holiday. The first verse of the song mentions each of the three:

'0, Willie brew 'd a peck o 'maut,
And Rob and Allan cam to see.
Three blyther hearts, that lee-lang night,
Ye wad na found in Christendie.'

At the Globe Hotel, Robert Burns made the acquaintance, among others, of Helen Ann Park, the barmaid and niece of the landlady, Mrs Hyslop. Burns immortalised young Helen when he wrote 'Anna wi' the Gowden Locks'.

The bar at the Globe today - a popular stop for visitors and locals
There is a story which relates that when he omitted, on one occasion, to order dinner at the Globe, Robert Burns was fined by having to give something new by way of grace. The Poet instantly, with appropriate gesture and tone, delivered this little gem:

'0 Lord when hunger pinches sore,
Do Thou stand us in stead,
And send us from Thy bounteous store
A tup or wether head!'

When the meal was over, Burns, in returning thanks, just as promptly said:

'0 Lord since we have feasted thus,
Which we so little merit,
Let Meg now take away the flesh,
And Jock bring in the spirit.'

The room off the Globe kitchen, known as Burns Room, remains today as it was in his lifetime, much of the furniture and fittings having been carefully preserved. In addition, Robert Burns literally left his mark on some of the Globe windows, and, on one of the upstairs rooms, one finds the following lines scratched by the Bard:

'0 lovely Polly Stewart,
0 charming Polly Stewart,
There's ne 'er a flower that blooms in May
That's half so fair as thou art.'

and again, on another window:

'Gin a body meet a body
Coming through the grain;
Gin a body kiss a body,
The thing's a body's ain.'

Polly Stewart's father, incidentally, was factor on the Closeburn estates.

The Globe Inn today is packed with Burns artifacts and memorabilia
Dumfries Burns Howff Club have the good fortune to hold their annual Anniversary Dinner and other main functions, together with their regular Committee meetings in this Inn/Hotel hallowed by Robert Burns. At the celebrations on the anniversary of the birthday of the Bard, they continue to carry through timehonoured ceremonies. What is now known as the Club Room or Mystery Room, and which is now used for all Club meetings and receptions, was gifted in 1949 by Mr M.H. McKerrow, a Howff Club Past-President and President of the Burns Federation from 1937 to 1943. During this time, he was proprietor of the Globe. The 'Mystery' tag arises from the fact that the room was only 'discovered,' in 1937, when Mr McKerrow employed an architect to look over the Hotel following purchase. The architect was puzzled by two extra windows on the north side, and, after investigation and the breaking down of a brick wall at the top of the stairs, found a room - the 'Mystery Room' - still with the original panelling and in an excellent state of repair. When and why was it bricked-up? No one will ever know! The following extract from the Minutes of 6th April, 1949 details in full the handing-over ceremony by Mr H.G. McKerrow:

'Following upon the Executive Meeting, a very pleasing and pleasant function took place in the new Room so kindly set aside in the Globe Inn by Mr McKerrow as a Club room, when the official opening and housewarming was carried through. Members of the Executive Committee along with Mr McKerrow, Mr James Denniston, Mr W. Black and a number of Club members were present.

Burns' Chair in the bar of the Globe
Mr E. K. Byers, President, occupied the chair and called upon Mr H.G. McKerrow to officially hand over the room. In his remarks, Mr McKerrow said that he had long felt that a room where the books and records of the Howff Club could be kept and where the members could meet, should be set aside for their convenience, and, on behalf of his father (Mr H. McKerrow) and himself, he had great pleasure in asking the President to accept the Room with their best wishes for the future prosperity and success of the Club. He also asked the President to accept a gift of books from the Dumfries Burns Club, and he hoped that the close Bond of Fellowship which at present existed between the clubs, would long continue, to the mutual benefit of both.

The President said he had great pleasure in accepting the gift of the very fine Room on behalf of the Howff Club and its members, and thanked Mr McKerrow and his father for the great interest they had always shown in the welfare of the Club and its members. He also thanked the Dumfries Burns Club for their kind gift of books, and hoped that the members of the Howff Club would take full advantage of the new Club Room and its Library.

Mr W. E. Boyd, one of the oldest members of the Club, said he would like to associate himself with the remarks of the President, and, on behalf of the members, expressed thanks to the McKerrow family for the great interest they had always taken in the Burns cult. Mr A.I. McElvogue, as a young member of the Club, also expressed thanks to Mr McKerrow, and said it was a very encouraging gesture, and would be a great help to the members and all lovers of Robert Burns.


M. H. McKerrow, John Burnie, Neil Little, Tom Waugh, Tom McCrorie, Tom Laidlaw, Tom McConnell, Dan Constantine, I. Maxwell Gray, John Marshall, John Brown, David Millar, L. Bell, H. G. McKerrow,
D. Langlands Seath, John McKenzie, James Sheridan, A. Campbell, G. S. Bennett.

This Room in the Globe remains to this day the official headquarters of the Dumfries Burns Howff Club.

It is here worthy of note to mention the fascination that this ancient hostelry, with all its historic connections, holds for guests of the Club. The prospect of addressing the members unquestionably thrills them in a mysterious way, and the atmosphere within grips them, to their obvious delight. If one can quote, for example, the Rev. John Nivison of Orkney:

The Howff Club is still very much part of the Globe Inn today
'I have come a long way to be present with you in this old howff of Robert Burns, and I cannot voice my sense of the honour that is mine, as I stand before you now. In life, many events, experiments and conditions seem to be the natural product of plans and effort, and we take the expected as our due, but, on the other hand, the realisation of desire and the fruition of hope are, at times, so little short of marvellous, that we must pause and wonder. One of my ambitions has always been to stand where I am tonight. Ambitions are not the offspring of ability, nor are honours the proof of merit.'

'That to speak of Robert Burns in this town whose streets he walked, in the very howff where that deep, rich voice was heard in song and laughter, and sometimes in heart sorrow - this, indeed, might make the proudest humble.'

These are the thoughts of only two speakers who have delighted the Club with their presence over the century, but they are exemplary of so many who feel that the Globe can never lose its atmosphere and drawing power.

People who have visited the hostelry are legion and the Visitors' Book contains such names as Lord Rosebery, Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, President Wilson, T. P. O'Connor, Andrew Carnegie, Lord Balfour and J. M. Barrie.

Lord Rosebery said of the Hotel, in his centenary speech of 1896:

"You have in this town the Globe, where we could have wished that some phonograph had then existed, which could have communicated to us some of Robert Burns's wise and witty wayward talk."

These sentiments can only be re-echoed.

For more information about The Globe Inn Dumfries visit their own web site.

They were wrong, Poets were indeed surveyors.

John Morrison (1782-1853): Land-Surveyor, Artist, and Poet
John Morrison, the son of a small farmer, was born in the Parish of Terregles, Galloway, in 1782. As a boy, he attracted the interest of the philanthropist Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk, who paid for his education in Dumfries and Edinburgh. The Earl believed that emigration to America was the only means to relieve the poverty of many of his countrymen. He had Morrison trained as a land-surveyor with a view to employing him on the settlements that he would found on Prince Edward Island (1803) and the Red River (1812-16). While in Edinburgh, however, Morrison also studied painting under the landscape and portrait painter Alexander Nasmyth, and was to remain torn between his profession and his artistic ambitions throughout his working life.

The Sydney surveyor and poet R D Fitzgerald (1902 - 1987) played a major role in leading Australian writers out of the era of the balladeers to achieve maturity and poise in the world community of letters. He enjoyed a long career from the roaring twenties to the swinging sixties, and during the 1930s he shared with Slessor the mantle of "the leading poet in Australia".

And, the final comment is, let us begin with a truism. It is universally admitted that poetry, like each of the fine arts, has a field of its own. To run a surveyor’s line accurately around the borders of this field, determining what belongs to it rather than to the neighboring arts, is always difficult and sometimes impossible. But the field itself is admittedly “there,” in all its richness and beauty, however bitterly the surveyors may quarrel about the boundary lines. (It is well to remember that professional surveyors do not themselves own these fields or raise any crops upon them!) How much map-making ingenuity has been devoted to this task of grouping and classifying the arts: distinguishing between art and fine art, between artist, artificer and artisan; seeking to arrange a hierarchy of the arts on the basis of their relative freedom from fixed ends, their relative complexity or comprehensiveness of effect, their relative obligation to imitate or represent something that exists in nature! No one cares particularly to-day about such matters of precedence–as if the arts were walking in a carefully ordered ecclesiastical procession. On the other hand, there is ever-increasing recognition of the soundness of the distinction made by Lessing in his Laokoon: or the Limits of Painting and Poetry; namely, that the fine arts differ, as media of expression, according to the nature of the material which they employ. That is to say, the “time-arts"–like poetry and music–deal primarily with actions that succeed one another in time. The space-arts–painting, sculpture, architecture–deal primarily with bodies that coexist in space. Hence there are some subjects that belong naturally in the “painting” group, and others that belong as naturally in the “poetry” group. The artist should not “confuse the genres,” or, to quote Whistler again, he should not push a medium further than it will go. Recent psychology has more or less upset Lessing’s technical theory of vision, [Footnote: F. E. Bryant, The Limits of Descriptive Writing, etc. Ann Arbor, 1906.] but it has confirmed the value of his main contention as to the fields of the various arts.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Surveyors are not Poets

The Otago Guardian of 14 July 1877 reports a dinner in honour of James McKerrow, prior to his departure for Wellington, at the City Club Rooms. The spacious dining room of the club was tasefully decorated with flags, and a company of between 70 to 80 Gentlemen

Mr. Robert Gillies, vice President of the club, made mention to poetry and surveying not mixing. He said, "Surveyors are not poets. He only knew one subaltern who attempted it. He caught him one day reciting poetry at a trig station and told him, "it would never do."

His reply was -

Blow, blow thou winter wind
Thou art not so unkind
As man's ingratitude

Mr Gillies went on to mention that "the subaltern only lasted a few weeks."