ALEXANDER WEBB was the son of parents ALEXANDER WEBB (b: 25 Apr 1790 in South Bersted, Sussex; occ: Aldingbourne nurseryman. He d: 04 Aug 1849 and was Bur: Aldingbourne, Sussex, England) and mother RUTH ROBERTS (b: Abt. 1794 in Oving, Sussex Sussex, England; d: 01 May 1873 in Boulogne House, Westergate, near Arundel, Sussex aged 79Y; Burial: 09 May 1873 Aldingbourne, Sussex)
Alexander and Ruth mar: 18 Nov 1818 in South Bersted and had 5 children.
Census 1841: Alexander Webb 50Y Gardener; Ruth 45Y; Susan; Caroline; John and Jane. (son Alexander is at New Shoreham, a shipwright apprentice)
In 1851 Ruth was a widow living at Westergate Common, Aldingbourne, Sussex, occ: farmer of 60 acres employing labour with youngest daughter Jane.
In 1861 Ruth now aged 68Y occ: retired nurserymans widow, living with invalid dau Susan Webb aged 37Y;
In 1871 Ruth, aged 77 residence Cottage Aldingbourne Sussex living alone; owner of land and cottages; independan means.
DEATH: On the Ist of May, 1873, at her residence, Boulogne House, Westergate, near Arundel, Sussex, Ruth Webb, widow of the late Mr Alexander Webb of Westergate Nursery, and mother of Mr Alexander Webb, Clarendon Garden, Waihola Lake, aged 79Y.
They had five children:
Alexander Webb, the eldest son in 1841 census, aged 20, was boarding with Wm Miller a rope maker at High St, New Shoreham, Sussex, and was a shipwright apprentice. At age 30, he decided to immigrate to New Zealand to Canterbury and embarked from London on the "Sir George Seymour". The ship left from Plymouth on Sunday, September the 8th, 1850 for New Zealand and arrived on 17 Dec 1850. Ship's list - Alexander's occupation given as gardener, age 30Y; Accommodation Steerage (free or assisted passage); The ship ( 850 tons) the master was Captain Goodson had 40 Cabin passengers and 23 in Intermediate and 164 travelled Steerage.
"The boat made a good run out of the channel and by the 13th was abreast of Cape Finisterre. On the 15th the passengers assemble for worship after a first week of sickness and discomfort. The weather following for the first part of the voyage was described as "delightful" and on the 18th January all had a view of Porto Santo, an island of the Madiera group which also could be seen in the distance. That same morning a fire in the afterhold had to be speedily extinguished, a peril averted. Seen the following Friday were the far peaks of Teneriffe Palma and the day following Ferro, the southern-most of the Canaries.The 26th, the ship passed St Antonio of the Cape Verds, and this was the last land to be seen for 11 weeks. On the 4th October the ship met with the "Randolph" and a passenger who had missed embarking on her, was transferred. The line was crossed five weeks after leaving on October 12 and on the day following, two infants who died the night before were committed to the deep. By the 5th November the ship was abreast of the Cape and ran rough weather. Stewart Island was was sighted on Wednesday 11th December and great was the excitement when the beautiful snowy peaks and sea beaches became visable. They rounded the Banks Peninsula and at length Godley Head and the harbour of Port Victoria opened for them encircled by hills. The "Sir George Seymour" came to anchor about 10 o'clock Tuesday December 17, 100 days out from Plymouth. After arrival at Lyttelton, on the electoral Roll of 1853 he is described as a wharfinger (one who owns or has charge of a wharf) (Alexander's name along with others whi arrived on the 1st Four ships to Canterbury, was recorded in the pioneer plaques in Cathedral Square, Christchurch. )
He advertised in the County Almanas of 1853 as a "landscape gardener & garden architect. Hort structures erected in the most approved style"and also as a wharfinger of Christchurch Quay."
Electoral roll Christchurch: 1856 - A Webb, Christchurch Quay, Wharfinger, Leasehold
Src: Oakley Book - This was Ferry Road looking towards Christchurch in 1860 and on the left is Christchurch Quay, Alexander Webb's Wharf was just below where Radley Street Bridge is now. In 1851, it was the first to be built on the Heathcote River and was also known as Montgomery's Wharf .Though some of the boats unloaded at Sumner, most of them crossed the bar and went on up the estuary to Ferrymead on the Heathcote River or carried on to Christchurch Quay which was three miles further up. It was then delivered onward by cart to Christchurch
At Ferrymead, after the death of husband William Cone, stepmother Caroline took over the care of his children William 13, Fred 11, George 9 and Sarah Ann 7. Concerned family in Whatfield invited the widow to take the children back to England. Caroline kept in touch then all correspondence stopped with the passage of time and distance. Very little is known of the next six years - the family continued to live on in the house at the Ferry. It is presumed the widow had sufficient money to carry on and as the boys got older, they went to work from Ferrymead. From their father's estate they received a team of horses, probably 2 or 3 with which they did contracting. With more immigrants arriving, their availability for cartage would have been in demand with labour required making roads.
This was Ferry Road looking towards Christchurch in 1860. On the left is Christchurch Quay showing Webb's Wharf, which was just below where Radley Street Bridge is now. Though some of the boats unloaded at Sumner, most of them crossed the bar and went on up the estuary to Ferrymead on the Heathcote River or carried on to Christchurch Quay which was three miles further up.
Caroline was said to have lent £500 to Alexander Webb, who on the electoral rolls of 1856, was noted as being a wharfinger, leasehold (one who has charge of a wharf.) Caroline and Alexander married on Oct 6 1858 - the Cone sons believed that he had married her for her money. The wedding took place in a hall which was hired for the celebration and this was termed a Temporary Church, Christchurch - and the walls were decorated with red and blue paper. Daughter Sarah Ann was photographed in her new silk dress made for the occasion and Webb lived in the same house William Cone lived in.
MARRIED: Oct. 6, 1858 at Christchurch, by the Venerable Archdeacon Mathias, Alexander Webb, Esq of Christchurch Quay, eldest son of the late Alexander Webb, Esq., of Boulogne House, Arundel, Sussex, to Caroline Cone, second daughter of the late Thos. Adams, Esq., of Harkstead Hall, Suffolk.
It was said "A hall was hired for the wedding - it was quite an affair and the walls were decorated with hangings of red and blue paper. It was said: "Webb and his wife lived in style. Webb was a drinker, that drinks were served with meals and that a married couple named White were employed - the wife doing the cooking. This cook used to get Sarah Ann to open the bottles and serve the drinks. For entertainment, in the evenings, Webb would play cards and drink with his visitors and an unhappy step-daughter Sarah Ann would have to wait on them. It Webb was not much good because after he spent and wasted any money his wife had been left. He deserted her and she had a hard time"
The children now had two step-parents. After the marriage things went well for a time, the boys working for the stepfather and Sarah for her stepmother but, in 1859, the year following the marriage, the Cone boys, Caroline's step-children, William, Fred and George decided to get a house of their own and sister Sarah Ann at aged 16 left also to keep house for them.
1860 Alphabetical list of all Persons, between the ages of 18 and 60 years, residing within 15 miles from the Land Office, at Christchurch, and liable to serve as Militiamen for the year 1860-61 (ending 31st March, 1861) in the Militia District of Christchurch.
WEBB, Alexander; Christchurch quay; Wharfinger
Ref: Source Burkes Manuscript"
Travellers had initially only two options for travel from Lyttelton which was for much of the period the largest centre of the settlement for many years, to Christchurch, the intended principal settlement of Canterbury, and soon to become its dominant centre. There was a narrow winding track over a steep hill (“the Bridle Path”, still a resort of the more determined Sunday walkers), or to go by water around the coast and over a quite significant tidal bar at the mouth of the Avon river, which flowed through Christchurch.
The Ferry Road wharf, was established by one of the very early ones, Alexander Webb, and where a roaring business was done for years in the old days, when all the small craft came round to Sumner and up the Heathcote. The Home ships were lightered round in this way, and the wharf abounded at times with goods of all sorts, and it was never heard that either a small craft, or the wharf premises, went short of luxuries. In those days there was no hurry and people were not particular. Even when out of the clutches of the ship, the small craft and the wharfinger wharfinger, the distillers in the old world, then retailed his consignments of Old Tom Whisky, Beer, and other consumable articles in a part of the building, and on each day he held a leve, and you can’t imagine how many friends he had. Why they were almost as numerous as professionals at a free lunch bar. There was old Joseph Fantham, father of A.A. Fantham, the great cattle breeder. He was a knowing old card, had seen the world before he emigrated to Canterbury and knowing the story of old Twigger, the drowned man’s lands on the Lincoln road, he just took possession, and squatted, and there he rested undisturbed for some years. Then there was one of his chums Old Harry Jackson of Riccarton; a rough diamond who could polish off his beer with any man, get as tight as a ladies’[sic] glove, and yet could not be done in a bargain. There was also Westby Hawkshaw Percival, whose son is now a solicitor, then a little child at the School House on the Lincoln road, which his mother kept. There was also Mr Frank Guinness, who has since gone through the degrees of policeman of some sort, Clerk to the Bench, Magistrate &c, and has now returned to his first love, with no doubt a deal of Colonial experience; Arthur Guinness [not completed]
The old Ferry Road Wharf in the fifties was a busy place. Numbers of small craft always about. Small craft men, towline men, carters, all kept the concern alive. Alexander Webb, the wharf owner, was a fine, intelligent Englishman, then middle aged, who had been in early life gardener in a Nobleman’s Estate.
The largest vessels for some years were 5 and 600 tonners such as the old Oriental, [eg Captn Macey], and their cargoes were unloaded into barges for the Lyttelton trade and into small craft for Christchurch, the latter going round over the Sumner bar, up the Heathcote, to what was then Webb’s wharf, and has lately been a Soap Factory, on the Ferry road. Now and then one found its way up the Avon to the Bricks wharf, near the Cemetery.
One of the Tow men, with horses and a line bringing up the small craft from the Heathcote ferry to Webb’s was Hugh Stace, a brother of John. He had a tongue, a Bargee tongue – “My Noble”, that was his peculiar familiarity. But, his language was, well, ornamental. Then there were the Lingards, Johnny Scorings and others I forget. John C. Aikman, also had a wharf in the curl of the River; Jones had one; he and his party left for Figi [sic] and were never heard of. Mr Langdowne had to do with the River Trade with a schooner called the Mary Lucy Taylor owned by Capt. Taylor. She lay under embargo at Webb’s wharf for six long months. Mr Barracky Smith knows that. Once there was a “gay old time” at the wharves about ’59, when John Colin Aikman, a nice fellow, and at that time apparently a prosperous one took unto wife one of the daughters of Mrs Williams – It was lively – Poor Aikman, like more, he went down.
It was thought by some that the Avon could be utilised and goods brought up nearer to Christchurch than by the Heathcote, and with that view, a sum of money was voted by the old Provincial Council for cutting a passage through the horseshoe bend about the year 1858, and a strong party of Irishmen, good beer and whisky men, took the job, and let the river through. It has not turned out as expected. Of course times were changing. Small steamers for the Heathcote trade were put on. The first railway was opened to the Heathcote wharf at the old Ferry, and the river trade was killed. The nest of Wharves at the two mile peg, Webb’s, Aikman’s and others, lost their glory and for some years were valueless; and for a long time no one foresaw the present aspect of the district. Gorgeous villas were still undreamt of. Fabulous prices for suburban sections unknown. Things were in embryo.
Later politicians came on the scene. Mr Montgomery, for example, whose first introduction to Canterbury was at the Ferry Road wharf, established by one of the very old ones, Alexander Webb, and where a roaring business was done for years in the old days, when all the small craft came round to Sumner and up the Heathcote. The Home ships were lightered round in this way, and the wharf abounded at times with goods of all sorts, and it was never heard that either a small craft, or the wharf premises, went short of luxuries. In those days there was no hurry and people were not particular
Webb was not a strict business man. Things got into confusion and he went under. The writer afterwards saw him, with his then “mate”, as diggers, poor old Joseph Fuchs, on the Otago gold fields rush. Webb, true to his wharf instincts, for years worked the “Waihola” Lake, about Tokomairiro on the gold fields road as Ferryman and Wharfinger. Again he got into litigation. Now he is dead and gone. ... "
Litigation in the early years of the Canterbury settlement 1852-1861. Jeremy Finn; Associate Professor of Law; University of Canterbury. This paper was presented at the Australian Social Sciences Association workshop on
Litigation, Adelaide, 2001
(One of the recurrent features of the entire period was the frequency of actions against flour millers – and in particular against one miller, Joseph Fantham, who was sued by thirteen different plaintiffs in his individual capacity in the years 1859-1861;) in the number of individual cases brought against him, Alexander Webb, a Christchurch wharfinger, came close with nine, and the total sums claimed from Webb may even have surpassed Fantham’s total
The advent of the railway line put paid to Alexander's business of river freight, but it is known that he visited family in Rangiora years later.
Otago Waihola Electorate: 1865 Clarendon, Bruce County Electorate: 1867/68 Clarendon Gardens,
1874 Bruce Herald, 2 January 1874: CLARENDON GARDENS. CAUTION to the Parties who have been very free with the fruit in my garden at Clarendon, during this last fortnight—a watch will be kept, and all Parties found trespassing will be prosecuted. Much fruit has been gathered and taken away, and a great deal has been destroyed by being trampled under foot, and by other wilful damage. ALEXANDER WEBB. December 29 1873
1876 Timaru Herald, 21 January 1876: The case of Alexander Webb (Trustee) v. National Bank of New Zealand, an action to recover £7000 for alleged wrongful seizure and sale of goods, was brought to a close last evening. The jury returned answers to all the issues in favour of the plaintiff, and awarded £3000 damages.
April 4th 1865: Died-on the 23rd of December at
Clarendon, Waihola Lake New Zealand, Caroline, wife of Alexander
Webb and daughter of Thomas Adams of Harkstead Hall, Suffolk.