Booklet titled “Here a Name - A History of the Houliston Family in New Zealand”

Source Information

  • Name Title Booklet titled “Here a Name - A History of the Houliston Family in New Zealand” 
    Author written by Caldwell, P. 
    Source Type Booklet Detailed 
    Dated 1982 
    Editor revised by E Franklin 
    Page Number pp 23 
    Booklet Section Margaret Houliston Branch 
    Source ID S5 
    Text “Margaret Houliston Branch

    Margaret Houliston was married in October, 1863, to Gilbert McKay by Dr Stuart in Dunedin. Gilbert, who was born in Islay, Argyleshire, Scotland arrived in New Zealand in the "Pladda" in 1861. For some time before and after his wedding, he was head shepherd at Mr J. B. McGregor's property, North Taieri. From there the young couple went to the West Coast diggings. After five years they returned to Otago and Gilbert became a shepherd for Mr W. Black, of Tokomairiro.

    They eventually took up "Maggiesdale" (now part of R. Christie's farm). Of this they bought 50 acres freehold and leased the rest from a Mr Waddell - a one-time school teacher at Te Houka. Here they reared a large family.

    Margaret was a kindly, hard-working woman with a wonderful sense of humour. This is exemplified in the story she herself told about her engagement. It seems that Gilbert was a very persistent suitor and carried on his wooing in the face of several refusals. He at last decided to buy the ring, hoping that the lass wouldn't be able to refuse it once she saw it! Poor man! He was turned down once more; but refusing to despair, left the ring behind. When he left, temptation to try it on was too great to be resisted. Alas, it stuck and wouldn't come off. So she decided that she might as well have the man as she has perforce to keep the ring.

    Margaret was a most hospitable woman and having a musical family, many and enjoyable were the parties held there. In their large living-room Gilbert used to play the violin and Margaret would drill the children in the sets. McKay's barn came to be the centre of entertainment for the district, and balls and dances were held there. At -these dances supper was served, as now, before midnight; but later, half oranges were brought round and later still, about two in the morning, a supplementary meal was served and the revellers got home often just in time to change into working clothes for the day's toil. People came long distances to these dances, on horseback, in dogcarts, in buggies, and on foot. Whole families came and the smallest were put to bed in the house nearby, while their parents danced the night away.

    One son of the family, Gilbert, served in Parliament as liberal member for Hawkes Bay.

    Two daughters, Alice and Mary, served with distinction in the Salvation Army. After a term in Australia, Mary returned and married Robert Porter who then worked on the river boat. Alice continued as an active officer of the S.A. until a few years prior to her death and attained the rank of Brigadier, the highest attainable by women in New Zealand.

    Of the other sons, Hugh and Alexander were farmers, Samuel and George shearers, and Adam, a railway surfaceman, was killed by a train running into the jigger he was driving. Margaret married Mr McDonald, a pilot. Florence married Jim Fahey, sexton in Dunedin. Helen married Jack Dunbar, a labourer, and Catherine married Tom Marshall, a farmer at Paretai. Angus died at the age of 4.

    In October of 1913 the couple celebrated their golden wedding at their home, "Maggiesdale". This took the form of a religious service conducted by Rev. Currie, followed by a breakfast and speeches. At night there was a dance which Messrs. S. and G. McKay and John Sheddan, Junr., supplied the music and songs were sung by Messrs. T. Maker and Willcox. At this dance Margaret wore her wedding frock and Gilbert danced a jig.” 
    Linked to John Dunbar
    James Hugh Fahey
    Thomas Marshall
    Adam Houliston McKay
    Alexander Moffat McKay
    George Houliston McKay
    Gilbert McKay
    Robert Hugh McKay
    Samuel McKay
    Alexander Murray
    Robert Porter
    Family/Spouse: Gilbert McKay / Margaret Houliston 

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