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

Source Information

  • 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 1-2 
    Booklet Section Foreword 
    Source ID S2 
    Text “Foreword

    The object of this booklet is twofold. Firstly a wish to honour those of our family who have gone before. Secondly, to put on record some of the story of those early days for the benefit of our families.

    To find these facts and little incidents entailed considerable research but, as far as possible, all have been verified.

    I would like to thank all those who helped in its preparation and the Otago Early Settlers' Association for their courtesy and assistance.

    Doocothall, or Dovecothall, the last home in Scotland of the Houlistons was a shepherd's cottage about half a mile from the village of Cochburnspath. It had a small steading, and was run independently by the farmer of Pathhead farm. Today it still exists, with Mr Wight as shepherd, under Mr White, of Pathhead. The house still stands, but is used as a store, there being a new house for the shepherd.

    In 1814 in Scotland were born Robert Houliston and Alison Wright in Lochtour, Berwickshire. In 1835, these two were married. To these were born in

    1837 Ellen Shiels Houliston at Ednam,
    1839 Agnes Houliston at Kennilheads,
    1842 Margaret Houliston at Kennilheads,
    1845 Jane Houliston at Middlethird,
    1847 Adam Houliston at Castlemains,
    1849 Samuel Houliston at Doon,
    1851 George Houliston at Spat,
    1854 Robert Houliston at Spat,
    1857 Alison Wright Houliston at Dovecothall,
    1859 Helen Houliston at Dovecothall.

    Robert Houliston was a shepherd, and according to report was "of a very independent nature and never hesitated to leave one sheep farm and apply for work elsewhere if he thought he was not fairly treated or his skill and experience not given due consideration." Thus it was that the births in the family took place in so many parishes. In 1860, Robert, his wife Alison and all his family except Ellen Shiels, who was already married and in Australia, set out for New Zealand. It was a big decision, but with so large a family there was no chance of advancement in the homeland. The fact that Ellen, their first-born, was in Australia and would join them in New Zealand, probably influenced their decision. They sailed on June 2nd from Glasgow in the 'Robert Henderson' (552 tons) which, under the command of Captain Logan, reached Port Chalmers on Monday, September 3rd, 1860. Their voyage had an unfortunate beginning as on June 7th the nine-months-old infant, Helen, died of consumption and was buried at sea. Scarlet fever later broke out on board and resulted in four deaths. On arrival at Port Chalmers the vessel was quarantined. 'Temporary accommodation was arranged at Deborah Bay, for the passengers to wash their clothes and bedding. Good weather favoured this task. On June 13th the vessel was freed and most of the passengers proceeded to Dunedin on the harbour steamer "Victoria". During the voyage there were eleven deaths and four births, one still-born. The ship carried 284 passengers, 1 case ploughs, 1 case boots and shoes, 20 boxes of tobacco pipes, 3 packages paper, and 40 packages merchandise.

    Upon landing Robert obtained work as a shepherd on Powder Hill, Mt. Allan, and there he and his family began colonial life in a hut perched precipitously on a steep hillside. All the provisions and goods had to be dragged down from the road on a bullock hide. Later they bought "Alleybank", Te Houka. Life in this newly settled district must have been a strange contrast to that in the old land. They took many of their old ways into the new life. Religion was a very real thing to them and attendance at the kirk of the Sabbath was as strictly adhered to as circumstances would allow. From "Alleybank" each Sunday Robert, his wife, and family along with daughter Ellen, her husband and family, attended Church on Inch Clutha, there being then no church at the Ferry as Balclutha was then called. The dray was yoked up and prepared by placing down one side a partly filled bag of chaff or straw. In this sat the mothers and youngest children. The men and older children walked. The girls kilted up their skirts and had their best boots in the dray ready to don later. Their route was down a ridge past Christie's farm and the present hospital site and continuing on through the town, then given over mostly to high flax and swamp, to the river slightly up stream from where the railway station now stands. They crossed the river by ferry and walked the rest of the way. The minister at Stirling was, at that time, Rev. Jas. Kirkland, and he had arranged with the Ferryman "to ferry people over to the Island every Lord's Day on which it was possible to cross the river". This arrangement continued till 1866 when a church was built at Balclutha. In 1879 Robert had an accident with his dray at Tosh's gate (at the Hospital road end) and injured his leg. This led to his death on October 5th. His wife survived him for some years, dying at the ripe old age of 87 in 1901. For some time before her death, her memory was defective and some of her doings and sayings caused merriment as well as concern to her family. She often wished to go "home", her failing memory reverting to other times and places. When this happened it was useless to counter her and diplomacy had to be used. On one such occasion when she demanded to be taken "home", she was escorted out the back door, through some paddocks and then in at the front door. She was very quiet for a while and then observed "Ednam's no the same. The folk are a' gone. And what's mair, they've ta'en a' the hooses wi' them."” 
    Linked to (8) Alison Wright Houliston
    Ellen Shiels Houliston
    George Houliston
    Helen Houliston
    Robert Houliston
    Robert Houliston
    William Moffat
    Alice Wright 

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