College – Issue 36

general expenses fund, 20 shillings for the emigration fund, and 20 shillings for the ecclesiastical and educational fund. So that no purchaser was disadvantaged, and so that absentee landowners did not acquire all the best land before the colonists actually arrived “a ballot system was devised. Prospective purchasers filled in an application form that was sealed in an unmarked envelope and delivered to the Association’s London office along with the necessary payment”. On 1 July 1850 the envelopes were opened in random order. The first envelope opened, which happened to be that of Maria Somes, received Order of Choice Number 1. This meant that when the purchaser, or in this instance an accredited agent, arrived in the settlement they had the first choice of a Rural Section or any one of the 1177 Town Sections in Christchurch or 341 Town Sections in Lyttelton. On 17 February 1851 the purchasers or their agents gathered at the Land Office in Christchurch to make their choices. Rural Section 1 and Lyttelton Town Section 1 were chosen. But even getting to this point had proved to be fraught. There was an exchange of letters from September to December 1850, between HF Alston, the Secretary of the Canterbury Association, and Edward Saxton, a London solicitor and Maria Somes’s brother, concerning the actual Land Order and Power of Attorney. Saxton claimed the Land Order should have been sent to him, but it had already been sent out to Canterbury with Jackson under Jackson’s Power of Attorney. He also queried why his brother John Waring Saxton did not have Power of Attorney with Jackson. He also wished to have the previous land orders revoked and new ones issued. Alston insisted he could not issue a counterpart (duplicate) and Saxton replied that he was legally

entitled to one. On 3 December Alston capitulated and wrote that fresh orders would be issued following Maria Somes’s authority to cancel the previous Land Order. He then wrote to Thomas Jackson on the same date, summarising the whole exchange: “Sir. I am directed by the Committee of Management of the Canterbury Association to enclose you copies of a correspondence which has passed between them and Mr Saxton Mrs Somes solicitor on the subject of her Land Orders. In consequence of that gentleman’s insisting on the issue of new Land Orders, the committee have been under the necessity of complying with such request and have issued fresh land orders accordingly. Mrs Somes has signed an authority to the Association to cancel the former orders, which authority has been

transmitted to Mr Godley. I have therefore to request that you will be good enough to hand over the original.” Alston also wrote to John Robert Godley in New Zealand with the same information and asked him to obtain and cancel the Land Orders that were sent out with Jackson. He added that if the allotment had already been chosen and Maria Somes was dissatisfied with the choice, then a fresh choice from the unappropriated lands should be made. The Christ’s College Board of Governors, from their very first meeting on 25 May 1855, were aware of the gift of land. They appointed Henry Jacobs, James Edward Fitzgerald and Henry Barnes Gresson as a committee to communicate with Mrs Somes to

Detail of Rural Section 1 and Town Section 1. Extracted from Deeds Book 5D/391 Dated 19 August 1857 Christchurch Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Ka ¯ wanatanga

College Issue 36 2019


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