Thomas William Pursey

Thomas William and Sarah Ann Pursey Thomas William and sister Fanny Pursey  immigrated on the sailing ship "Grassmere" arriving at Lyttleton 5th May 1857. On their arrival at Christchurch it is likely that they first stayed with the Bartrums. George Stothert Bartrum had married their sister Sarah Pursey on the 29th December 1851. The Bartrums had immigrated on the "Stag" in May 1852 and settled on a farm at Ferry Road where they grew wheat and other crops to support the family. George is credited with digging the land with a spade and it is said that both he and Thomas William Pursey went to the West Coast gold fields for a time. The Bartrums were near neighbours of William Cone and his wife, Caroline and family for just one month before his death. The Pursey's father was Mr James Pursey of Street, Somersetshire. Two years later in Christchurch on the 25th August 1857, Fanny Pursey married Edward John Jones at the Avonside Church. He was a timber mershant and witnesses to the marriage were George and Sarah Bartrum and Ann Taylor. The Jones family did not stay long and it is presumed that they drowned returning to England as the ship they departed on was not heard of again. Fanny did not want to go and one day when Thomas William was out on his farm about the time that the ship may have been lost and before he knew about it, he thought he heard his sister say "Oh William, why did you bring me here? (This ship was possibly the "GLENMARK". It was a wooden ship, 953 tons and built at Aberdeen in 1864. Lbd 197.7 x 33.6 x 21 ft. Traded exclusively between London and Lyttelton, New Zealand, with an average for her eight voyages of ninety-five days. Captain Wrackmore. On her last voyage sailed from Lyttelton for London early in 1872 and was never seen again. Fifty passengers and crew, a cargo of wool and 80,000 in gold bound for London via Cape Horn were lost.)

The Bartrum family moved north to the Rangiora district in 1867 where Thomas William and Sarah Ann Pursey were living. Together they engaged in carting and both families farmed over the Ashley River.
Mr Pursey's brothers had a boot manufacturing business in England, and a sister Joannah married Mr Vinnell. Her son, Thomas William's nephew, Pursey Vinnell came to this country from Somerset some time after 1913. He worked in a boot factory in Wellington and after his marriage he set up a boot manufacturing business in Timaru. He become mayor of Timaru after WW1 and he and his son had a small boot manufacturing business in Christchurch. He stood as Labour member for Timaru before Labour came to the fore and nearly got in. He died before the next election but it was thought, had he lived, he would have surely been elected. Another sister Susan married a Mr Locke and they and their family lived in Street.
         Thomas William Pursey was on the goldfield of Gabriels Gully shortly after he arrived in New Zealand and the gold he got, he had made into a ring with a pick and shovel engraved on it and the name of the place, Tuapeka. It was given to George and was to be kept in his family. He did not  goldmine long as he had little success and it was probably from there that he went to Ashley.
Intentions to Marry - 
8th Nov 1862 - Thomas William Pursey, Batchelor, occupation farmer aged 25 dwelling at Rangiora. Time in residence 3 days; The marriage is to be solemnized at St John, the Baptist, Rangiora; the officiating minister B W Dudley - marriage  to Sarah Ann Cone, spinster, age 19; length of time in residence 1 1/2 years at Mt Grey Downs. Consent given by Sarah's brother George Cone, in the case of a minor. Witnesses to the marriage were George S Bartrum, a Rangiora farmer and Sarah Bartrum, his wife.

After their marriage 11th November 1862, Sarah Ann and Thomas first lived on the corner of the road leading to the Ashley township in a house on the land which was bought by Sarah's brother William on the 12th August 1864 and it was here that their first child Ellen Matilda Pursey  was born in November 1863. William would have had possession of this land prior to purchase date, and it is also possible that Thomas William Pursey may have worked for John McFarlane.
In 1865 they shifted across the road to a 50 acre property which Thomas leased on the 30th August from a man called Edward Rossiter (Rossiter had first leased it in 13 Dec 1861 from the very first owner Edward Louis Natham.) Again Thomas William Pursey could have been farming the property before the lease was recorded. He had bought 50 acres due north of the western 50 acre block on the 25th Sept 1865 for 305 - a very high price for those days. He must have got into financial difficulties for on the 10 November 1869 he sold it to George Cone for 156 - the original price of all that land from the Crown was 2 per acre. William Pursey  is recorded with other settlers who had farms under crop at the end of 1866.

The Pursey home at first, was just two rooms built by Rossiter - it is unknown whether they were built for himself or for the Purseys, then two more were added by Thomas William and later on, some low ceiling rooms were built upstairs.  Thomas William Pursey bought this 50 leased acres 31 July 1875 for 350 which was also a high price, and another 50 acres adjoining it for which he paid 4 an acre on 30th March 1881. It was the first farm over today's Ashley River Traffic bridge on the left side of the road going north and the Purseys lived opposite William Cone for nearly 30 years. They called the farm "Whatfield" after the name of the village where Sarah Anne's grandparents had lived in Suffolk.  Thomas William Pursey  planted the willows on the river bank as a flood protection measure. In the 1870's he carted limestone to the railway station at Rangiora for use in the building of the Christchurch Cathedral but it was found not to be satisfactory. Pursey was once before the court for driving a horse in a dray at Rangiora without reins - often done in those days. 1882 Freeholder - 100 acres at Ashley (Value 900)

The Purseys had a family of five girls and three boys, one of whom died at about 9 years. All the girls married but as neither of the boys did, the name died out. The Purseys farmed at Ashley Bank until 1906 when they retired to King Street, North Rangiora where brother-in-law George Bartrum also lived. The farm was leased to the Loffhagens up to the time Thomas died in his home on the 12th November 1909. It was then sold to Frank Lowe. Sarah found herself unable to attend her husband's funeral and Ellen Cone came and stayed with her for support. Sarah Ann died in her sleep on the 28th December 1919 aged 75 years in the same home and is buried alongside her husband in Presbyterian Cemetery nearer the road in a line with the grave of brother William. Retirement home of Thomas and Sarah Pursey, 262 King Street, Rangiora

Thomas is said to have been a great student of the bible and was in the Open Brethren. He enjoyed great discussions on spiritual topics with a neighbour, Mr Whiteside,  a Methodist lay preacher who had William Cone's farm for 14 years and then retired to Ayers Street at the end of Seddons Street. He was a constant visitor to King Street and was also intensely interested in the Church and the British Empire.
In addition to his own children Thomas William brought up Albert Arthur Frampton.  Arthur was later to marry and live at Oxford where he had a family of about 11 children. Albert had been born near London 1854 - 5 and his father was George Frampton, a cousin of Thomas William Pursey whose mother was a Frampton. It is possible that George's wife died and George and son came to New Zealand where he died 1864 in Christchurch aged 26.

Pursey children born to Thomas William and Sarah Ann at Rangiora - Ellen Matilda, Annie Louisa, Emily Ann, Frederick James, Albert Cone, Edith Amelia and Priscilla Sarah


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