[From The Manx Quarterly, #15]




Mr Thomas Hamilton Moore
Mr Thomas Hamilton Moore

Mr J. Lowthian Wilson, a distinguished journalist on the editorial staff of "The Press", the leading daily newspaper published in Christchurch, New Zealand, has very kindly written for the "Examiner " some particulars of the career of the late Mr George Henry Moore, of Glenmark, New Zealand. Mr G. H. Moore was the father of the late Mrs Annie Quayle Townend, under whose will Mr Thomas Hamilton Moore, J.P., C.P. of Billown, Malew, has recently inherited property estimated to be of the value of £800,000. Mr Wilson says: —

Mrs Townend is the only daughter of the late Mr George Henry Moore, of Glenmark sheep station, of 75,000 to 80,000 acres in extent, and it is in North Canterbury district. I knew him personally from 1863 to the time of his death, a few years ago. " Burk's Colonial Gentry " 1891, states that Mr Moore was born at Billown, Isle of Man, 12th Oct., and was married at Ross, Tasmania, in November, 1840, to Annie, daughter of William Kermode, Esq., of Mona Vale, Tasmania. He had one son, William, born in Sydney, who died unmarried at London in 1865, and one daughter, Annie Quayle born in Sydney, married to Dr J.H. Townend in Christchurch, and deceased on May 16th. Mr Moore's lineage includes: Father, Thomas Moore, Esq. of Billown, J.P., member of the House of Keys and Captain of the Parish,, third son of His Honour Deemster Moore, who was sole judge for the whole Island; born 7th November, 1786, at Rushen Abbey; married Catherine Moore of Billown, sister of George Moore, American Consul at Trieste. According to tradition. Sir John Moore, the hero of Corunna., came into the family lineage. Philip Moore, Esq. of Douglas, born 1675, and Sir George Moore, Ballamoore, who founded and endowed two schools at Peel town, was a Speaker of the House of Keys, who married a daughter of Caesar Bacon, Esq., of Seafield, are included in the family on the side of the mother of Mr George Henry Moore, of Glenmark.

In 1856, when the Government of New Zealand — Sir Geo. Grey was then Governor — were advertising land for sale through the Australian papers, Mr Geo. Henry Moore left Tasmania. and came to Lyttelton, in Canterbury. He told me he came in a small vessel, and on landing walked in a day about forty-five miles over very difficult country to reach the block of land now known as Glenmark Station. He spent a day inspecting it, and returned to Lyttelton, where the Land Office was situated, and purchased 28,000 acres for £14,000 for himself and a partner named Kermode. This he stocked with sheep, and after a pretty hard struggle, contending against. unfriendly seasons, an outbreak of scab, and the constant trouble of having to herd his sheep up by shepherds, over some miles of his country, to allow sheep of neighbours and run-holders beyond him to pass when travelling to a market. At one time the value of sheep came down to almost a shilling a head, and in one instance he had a bad fire in the grass, which burned 10,000 head. With his partner. Mr Moore bought more land and other large runs in a. more southerly part of the country, from which, after 1875, he could transfer sometimes 2,000 and 3,000 sheep by a fast train to fresh pasture. The partnership accounts with Mr Kermode were closed in 1873, when the properties were sold by auction for a total sum of £186,574. He sold some of the lands and made Glenmark his principal station. This was brought into a high state of cultivation with English grassed and well selected sheep — merinos and cross-breds — which were noted all over the country side. The mansion house at Glenmark was a very fine residence, but in 1891 it was burned down, causing a loss, for building, plate, furniture, pictures, and tapestry, of £30,000. Mr Moore and Miss Moore then left the station, and she married Dr Townend. Mr Moore lived on till after his ninetieth birthday. He was a very fine man of business, and Mrs Townend inherited her father's abilities and judgment. When they were at Glenmark she had a wonderful garden, and kept up her love for flowers, having in Christchurch some of the finest specimens of orchids, ferns, etc., in New Zealand. Her love for animals was very pronounced. She took a delight, more than once, in showing me her pets — lambs, dogs, birds of all kinds — and a very fine swan pit was among her hobbies. When the Glenmark House was burned, and melting lead was pouring like rain over the front door, she rushed in and out to save her canaries, in spite of all warnings. About the doorway which she entered I saw one or two hundredweights of lead which had streamed down. Getting the canaries out to a Wellingtonia tree, it in turn took fire, and Miss Moore was much scorched. In Christchurch she had been a great supporter of the society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The owner of Glenmark did not rebuild his mansion, but offered the estate to, the Government under the Lands Settlement Act. The Government tried to cheapen his price of almost £4 4s per acre to about £3 5s, and not coming to an agreement Mrs Townend has now been able to sell the principal part of the land at two or three times that amount, and from the sheep, now worth 209 each, and the wool clips, the station has been a very profitable one.

To the columns of " The Press " (Christchurch, N.Z.), of May 30th, Mr Wilson contributed the following reminiscences of the late Mr G. H. Moore : —

Familiar and yet unfamiliar, Glenmark has been a household name for an estate and a landowner, both of a high rank. Thousands have passed the celebrated station by road through the charming Weka Pass, either on foot, as many did to the West Coast diggings in 1865, or by coach, motor-car or railway. Its features — plantations of wattles, pines and other trees, well-grassed fields and wonderful limestone outcrops — are well known, being backed by that frowning range known as the "Black Hills." The eighty thousand acres of Glenmark, from the Waipara into the Waikari Valley and on to the Hurunui river with lesser blocks were originally owned by the Duke of Manchester; by Mallock and Lance. Horsley Downs; by G. Mason, North Waipara ; by T. Sanderson, Greta Peaks : by Greenwood Bros., Teviotdale; by C. E. Mason, Hurunui ; and in the direction of the large Cheviot block, Clifford and Weld, while in the nearer distance J. Macfarlane was laird at Mount Grey. In the " Southern Provinces Almanac," of 1855, is the following: — " About the end of February a gentlemen named Moore from Van Dieman's Land, purchased 28,000 acres of public land at Double Corner for £14,000." Double Corner, as a place name, is now seldom heard, Glenmark, Teriotdale, and Waipara being more commonly used. Simultaneously with Mr George Henry Moore's arrival. Sir Cracroft Wilson reached Canterbury from India, and became owner of Cashmere. At this period the stock returns for the infant province were: — Sheep. 115,000, horses, 596; cattle, 6,363: goats, 400; pigs, 4,000.

Mr Moore arrived in New Zealand, as he informed the writer, by a. small sailing vessel. In Lyttelton he was waited upon by those who had blocks of land to sell or else had them "spotted" upon Government maps as ready for sale. To avoid them. on the second morning after his arrival he disappeared from Port so early as to be reported mysteriously missing. With a woollen plaid around his shoulders, a stout stick, and a. little food in his pockets, the future owner of Glenmark had reached the top of the bridle path before the sun, and was leaving the mast-line behind him at the rate of from five to six miles an hour. Before noon a Maori woman, with a canoe, had put him over the Waimakariri river, and, journeying on, he passed through Woodend. and waded the Ashley river and Saltwater creek. He obtained some food at an out station near Leithfield, then crossed the Kowai, and pushed on to the Waipara river, which he crossed about sunset. On the future Glenmark side his sleep was in a bushy, 3ft. tussock. The tussocks are seldom seen so big now, the Omihi then was a dense mass of tussock, with patches of flax. Next day was spent in making the first flying survey of Glenmark, and the next in making a return journey to Lyttelton, where, at that time, all the business of Canterbury was transacted. An application for the land on the north bank of the Waipara, at Double Corner, was put in, and the cash paid. Here it will be as well to explain that all land in the Canterbury Association's block was selling at £2 per acre, but Sir George Grey (the Governor) was advertising Government land for sale in the Australian and Tasmanian papers at 10s per acre, which was the means of bringing not only the subject of these notes but the Hon. W. Robinson, who acquired Cheviot, and others, who obtained lands in the Nelson province on equally favoured terms. En passant, it may be added, that the ready cash by land sales was then, and for many years later, cordially welcomed by those had their labour to sell.

From the advent of Mr Moore to Glenmark till the present, there has been a refusal to encourage the scribe to say anything about it, and, though Glenmark is familiar, it is unfamiliar, and few its history. The owner had to do much to plough an area that was a little kingdom and put it under grass. Scab, prevalent in all flocks, more or less, imposed burdens not only in heavy fines, but in cost of fencing. Dips had to be constructed and sheep washed in a composition of boiled tobacco, spirits of tar, and sulpher. In the early 'sixties, to get rid of the risk of infection from sheep travelling through Glenmark, great expense had to be incurred in fencing. Up to that time owners from Kaikourn and runs intervening gave Glenmark notice when they intended to pass sheep on to the south. The Glenmark hands had all to be mustered to clear a wide track across the run for the travelling mobs to pass through the home flocks, sometimes for a whole week no station work could be done. The eradication of scab, after years of anxiety and worry, was accomplished. In the efforts to get clean flocks and clean country, thousands of sheep were boiled down, and more than one large mob was driven into the sea. and drowned. From time to time bad seasons had to be reckoned with, and in a fire in high tussock in the Omihi Valley, in March, 1886, ten thousand sheep were destroyed.

Mr Moore, with iron will, surmounted all obstacles. His strong constitution was evident in that he occasionally walked from Glenmark to town in a day. He has been met on the Port Hills before the day of the railway, making his way to look after the shipping of wool, obtaining his station supplies, and attending to other business. The station supplies were sent from Lyttleton to Saltwater creek, and drawn by bullock teams to Glenmark, and the wool from the station, to the extent of over 1,500 bales in the season, reached home-going wool ships in small vessels and steamers from Saltwater creek and Kaiapoi. In July, 1856, with his partner, Mr Kermode, 29,360 acres were taken up at the mouths of the Rakaia and Asbburtan. In February, 1858, 36,000 acres at the Hinds and other blocks were added to their holdings. From time to time, after the opening of the railways, thousands of sheep from these runs, north and south, were exchanged by means of long stock trains. Glenmark was once offered for sale as a going concern. This was in March, 1873, at Miles and Co.'s wool stores, the occasion being to decide the partnership account between Messrs Moore and Kermode. The sale attracted the largest gathering of stock and station owners ever seen before, and some from Australia. Messrs Matson and Co. were the auctioneers, Mr H. Matson having allowed time for " the fortification of the inner man," as stated by the " Illustrated Press," proceeded to business. The first lot submitted was Glenmark. consisting of 35.781 acres of freehold and 11,500 acres of leasehold, with 25,400 sheep. After a bid from Mr Moore of £65.000, there was some lively bidding between him and the Hon. W. Robinson, of Cheviot, till amid much applause, it was knocked down to Mr Moore at £85,000. The neat lot, Deans Peaks, consisting of 4,099 acres of freehold and 7,50b acres of leasehold, with 5,000 merino sheep, started at £7,000 from Mr Moore, and after a sharp contest reached £13,500, the purchaser being Mr Frank Courage. A block of 3,959 acres at Waipara was bought by Mr Moore for £6,500. The Black Hills, 34,670 acres, held under depasturing license, and 12,500 sheep was neat put under offer, and was acquired by Mr Moore for £13,500. The Doctors hills, 32,306 acres, under lease and 84 acres of freehold, with 12,500 sheep, after fast and furious bidding was also secured by Mr Moore for £14,750. Fifty acres at Weka Pass he secured at 309 per acre, and one hundred acres at Saltwater creek at £10 10s per acre. The Ashburton station provoked much competition; 7,000 acres of freehold and 66,000 acres of leasehold land with 4,000 sheep, were secured by Mr More far £52,000, who outbid Mr R. A. Rhodes. Messrs Kermode and Moore's properties at that sale realised £186,574. The Glenmark station appointments, as times improved with its progressive order, became the beet in Canterbury. Great energy was shown in regard to cultivation, tree planting, water supply, and subdivision, and the ideas of a gentleman who had lived a rough and strenuous life, as time and opportunity served, developed in the erection of a palatial house, with garden and artificial water worthy of a highly refined ambition. When the capital valuation of Glenmark reached £326,000, it included a house which, with furnishings, had cost £30,000. The stately edifice, complete in every way, formed a great attraction to a few privileged visitors, but it had only been in existence a comparatively few years before it was burned down. This occurred on Friday, January 24th, 1891. The valuable furniture, plate, pictures, tapestry, and cabinets of treasures were all destroyed. There was no insurance, and when asked whether he would build again, Mr Moore quietly said " No." " Well," said the writer, " will you do as Cheviot owners have done — sell to the Government?" After lunch, in the manager's house, with Mr Wynn-Williams and Mr Withnal, of Miles and Co., Mr Moore produced a copy of the offer which was then made, tendering the Government the whole of Glenmark, minus the homestead block of 4,000 or 5,000 acres, at a very reasonable price — about £4. Mr Moore left the station and came to live at Park-terrace. Subsequently the Government valuators placed a less price on the land than the owner cared to accept. While the Government missed its chance of acquiring one of the finest estates in New Zealand at what is now an extraordinarily cheap price, the owners of Glenmark have sold most of the land at considerably over the offer to the Government, and persons who purchased have received large offers for the resale of their blocks.

Glenmark will be known all over the world among museum authorities for the large find which Mr Moore made in the 'sixties of moa remains, which have gone to enrich the principal museums with examples of the giant wingless birds of New Zealand. The remains were found in a stream on the Glenmark estate in a hallow of the post-pliocene alluvium skirting the hillside. The remains included different species of the Dinornis. Both in the swamp and in other parts of the estate remains were found. Skeletons of each species of the moa were found, as is proved by reference to the Canterbury Museum.

A very different slant is given in later reports.


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