New Zealand

Carolyn Forbes’ family left Rogart and established new lives in the Antipodes. This is their story.

John Campbell (1834-1922) and Elizabeth Forbes (1846/8-1922)

George Forbes and Margaret Macdonald, Ospidale

In 1863 Carolyn Ford’s Great Great Grandparents, newlywed John Campbell, a shepherd working at Davoch and Elizabeth Forbes, a domestic servant of Rovie, left Scotland for a new life down under. They had only been married one month and Elizabeth may have been only 15 years of age.

Elizabeth was the daughter of George Forbes, a shepherd of Ospidale and his wife, Margaret née Macdonald.

John Campbell was the son of Alexander Campbell and Catherine (Kate) née Macdonald of Eiden.

The couple embarked from Littleferry and they joined The Brothers Pride leaving London on 25 July 1863. The cost of the trip for a single person was £13 and six shillings. A couple would have paid slightly less than the per head amount.

Elizabeth Forbes

Arrival in New Zealand

Almost 5 months later the ship arrived in New Zealand and a report appeared in the local Lyttleton Times on Thursday, 10 December 1863.

“On Tuesday last we briefly noticed the arrival of this vessel at the Heads, and although we possess the information, since proved to be too true, respecting the amount of sickness aboard, for the sake of friends on shore, we refrained from publishing the melancholy Intelligence that 44 deaths occurred during the passage.

“In our columns will be found a list of the sufferers, as well as a number of births. We hear that Captain Sproule, on boarding the vessel, was refused the charge of the ship, and the offer of the pilot to place his boat and crew at the service of the ship to obtain fresh supplies for the sick children was also refused.”

On the Wednesday morning the ship was ordered to hoist the Yellow Jack – the signal flag ‘Q’ for quarantine.

“This peremptory order of the Health Commissioner was not appearing to suit this cavalier officer, in two or three hours the anchor was up again, and with the assistance of the light breeze from the north-east, the Brothers Pride was brought up just astern of the Lancashire Witch. We presume the authorities will not permit their orders to be set at defiance of the law treated with contempt.”

The Brothers Pride – with 44 casualties – had the worst ever casualty number of any ship arriving at the port of Lyttelton. The hapless survivors were subsequently quarantined under very primitive conditions at Camp Bay.

Life in the Antipodes

John Campbell

When John and Elizabeth arrived in New Zealand his first job was as a gardener for Sir John Cracroft Wilson at his Cashmere property. After his wife’s death, in 1880, John moved to Burwood, now a suburb of Christchurch. Here, he once again took up employment as a shepherd, in which he had been engaged before emigrating.

Carolyn Ford told us “Great Great Grandmother, Elizabeth, died soon after my Great Grandmother (also named Elizabeth) was born. There had been eight children from the marriage and John Campbell brought up the seven survivors on his own after his wife’s death.”

In Scotland John had been a member of the Free Church, but in New Zealand he was confirmed into the Anglican Church by Bishop Harper. He was a vestryman for 30 years and would walk to church twice each Sunday to ring the bell for service. Before breakfast John insisted that his grandchildren listen to him reading a chapter from the Bible, whether or not they could understand it, and said grace wherever he ate. In 1909 John laid the foundation stone for the new church.

All Saints Anglican Church, Burwood Christchurch

John was a popular character in the district and an affectionate father. He lived to bless 36 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren. There have now been six generations of Elizabeth’s and John’s descendants who have been born in New Zealand.


Elizabeth Forbes grave, Addington

Elizabeth’s life had been but a short one. She died at the age of 32 and is buried at Addington Cemetery, Christchurch. Her pink headstone was taken out to New Zealand from Scotland, by her son William.

For reasons that are unclear her mother’s name (Margaret née Macdonald) is carved as Isabella.

John Campbell’s grave, Burwood

John Campbell’s headstone (a stone that wouldn’t go amiss in St Callan’s) was also purchased by his son William and transported to New Zealand from Scotland. He is surrounded in the cemetery beside his youngest daughter Elizabeth Rowse, granddaughter Elsie Haffenden and many other descendants.

When John Campbell died in 1922, the Scottish Society sent a piper to honour their esteemed member. An appropriate flag was draped over the coffin and a sprig of heather was dropped into the grave. He had spent almost 60 years in the Antipodes but had never lost his connection with Sutherland.

The passenger list for the Brothers Pride can be seen here

More information on John Campbell and All Saints Anglican Church, Burwood can be found here.

Thanks to Carolyn Ford for sharing her family history and photographs.