College – Issue 40

BEQUESTS Henry Sewell’s lasting legacy

The strategic location Christ’s College enjoys in the heart of central Christchurch is primarily thanks to the foresight of Henry Sewell, one of the most important figures in our history. Henry (1807–1879) arrived in Christchurch from England in 1853, charged with the task of winding up the then Canterbury Association, which was originally formed to oversee the establishment of Canterbury and Christchurch. Integral to that task, he ensured Christ’s College was established and financially viable. It was due to his tireless efforts that the school’s initial land and endowment income was secured. Today, Christ’s College honours Henry Sewell with the eponymously named Sewell Society. This is a group whose members have carried on Henry’s vision to this day, providing generous gifts to the school. It’s fitting that this society

for major supporters should honour Henry’s name, reflecting a shared commitment to Christ’s College and our mission of Each boy at his best . Henry Sewell was born in 1807 on the Isle of Wight, the son of Thomas Sewell and Jane Edwards. He was educated at Hyde Abbey and became a solicitor, joining the family firm in 1826. In 1834, he married his first wife and had six children before she died in 1844. In 1848, he was introduced to the Canterbury Association, which was formed in England by members of parliament, peers,

and Anglican church leaders, to establish a colony in New Zealand. The settlement was to be called Canterbury, with its capital to be known as Christchurch. Sewell had a particular interest in reforming the English system of land transfer and saw immigration as a possible way of achieving this. After marrying his second wife in 1850, he began to make plans to emigrate. This was delayed by his appointment as deputy chairman of the management committee of the Canterbury Association, so it was another three years before he

Christ’s College Canterbury


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