The Swainson Family
Swainson (1789-1855) was a naturalist and artist who after his first
wife, Mary Parkes, died, remarried Ann Grasby.
In 1840 they emigrated to New Zealand on the barque “Jane” with his four eldest children.
He purchased 1100 acres in the Hutt Valley from the New Zealand Company.
Hawkshead, 1845 (the first home of the Swainson family) by William Swainson Ref A-187-047
Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand,
Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.
His eldest daughter, Mary, (1826-1854) left vivid and entertaining accounts of early Wellington in diaries and letters. She married Captain John Marshall and had three sons.
Ann Swainson (Arrowsmith) was the wife his second son, George Swainson, surveyor.
In 1869 she opened a school for girls in Wellington and in 1878, a larger boarding school in Thorndon, where she remained as headmistress until her death in 1897. (Alice and Lily Macarthur attended this school). Her daughter, Mary Jessy Swainson, continued the school and in 1920 it became what is now known as Marsden College.
Swainson (1844-1903) was the second child from his second marriage.
She married Arthur Halcombe and used her artistic skills to
illustrate the pamphlet her husband published in 1878 to promote the
settlement of the Manchester Block.
NZ born Edith had a wide range of practical skills useful to the new community; she nursed the sick and assisted new arrivals, set up community institutions and helped establish the St John's Anglican Church in Feilding.
She established a herd of Jersey cows and breeding stock she obtained contributed to the bloodlines of Jersey herds in NZ.
1881-84 Edith exhibited with the Auckland Society of Arts.
In 1890 she assisted William Fox in an ascent of Mount Taranaki.
Her oil paintings of the ascent are “vivid and lively”.
Edith was drowned, 14 June 1903, at Waitotara.
Macdonald C. (ed) The
Book of New Zealand Women
Wellington: Bridget Williams Books, 1991.
Natusch S. and Swainson G. William
Swainson of Fern Grove FRS, FLS -the anatomy of a nineteenth century
Palmerston North, 1987.
The Myers Family History -The Swainson Family
Cathy Clarke, Wellington, New Zealand
Last updated: 9 Oct 2009