HERITAGE Benjamin Thornton Dudley
Benjamin Thornton Dudley – the College Years 1851–1856 and beyond
Benjamin Thornton Dudley, number 16 on the College List 1 , arrived in Lyttelton on 27 December 1850 with his brothers, Charles Thornton and Henry Thornton, his sister Frances, his mother Mary Frances (nee Thornton) and his father Benjamin Wooley. 2 His father had accepted a position as Chaplain on one of the Canterbury Association ships, the Cressy. 3 This ship was the fourth to arrive at Port Cooper, also known as Port Victoria, and later named Lyttelton in honour of George, Baron Lyttelton. Benjamin Thornton Dudley had turned 12 years old on board. 4 The family was first housed in Immigration Barrack C Room 7 with Mr Phillips and his family, who had arrived on the Sir George Seymour. 5 Built on Reserve 34, which stretched from Norwich Quay north along Oxford Street to London Street, the barracks provided immediate temporary shelter, cooking facilities and water wells, once accommodation on the various ships ended. Dudley was enrolled at the Grammar School on 10 March 1851. 6 Dugald Macfarlane recalled in 1900, “I now, with my brother, went to school in one of the barrack rooms. I think the roll call started with four pupils. Mr Toomath was master, while Dean Jacobs was head and took the divinity class.” 7
Henry Jacobs described the space for both the Upper Department and the College as, “A room in the emigrants’ barracks, about twelve feet square, very roughly whitewashed, with a small table and a few wooden stools, as far as I can remember, for its only furniture, was the first College Lecture-room. A similar room of somewhat larger dimensions was allotted for the Grammar School.” 8 Benjamin Dudley obviously lived with his family while he was attending College in Lyttelton. Initially the house provided in lieu of a parsonage was close to the waterfront in a house vacated by Reverend John Raven. 9 It was in an unsatisfactory location as the bank behind it subsided, threatening to choke the well and block up the back entrance. By 1853 they were at Highland Cottage, although its precise location has been difficult to establish. 10 In 1858 the Christ’s College Board Minutes state that it was in the Somes Estate and it was necessary to arrange a lease as the Dudleys were vacating it for Auckland. 11 They were to leave behind a £350 dwelling.
Figure 1 – An advertisement in the Lyttelton Times.
Horticultural Society’s Exhibitions. A 4th for cut flowers, a 2nd for sweet williams and commended for gooseberries in 1855, was followed in 1856 by a 1st for cherries, 2nd for cut flowers, 1st for Sweet Williams, 2nd for hollyhocks and an extra prize for a collection of picotees. 13 The substantial house is described in more detail in 1861 in an advertisement of a later assignation of the lease. Not only was it watertight, there was an entrance hall, dining room, drawing room with a handsome bay window, three bedrooms, a dressing room and kitchen. A list of the furniture and effects indicates that it was well- supplied with everything ranging from French and iron bedsteads, telescope and clocks to a shower bath complete with curtains. 14
An advertisement in the Lyttelton Times (Figure 1) provides more information. 12
Dudley’s father certainly made use of the associated land, which was planted with cherry, plum, peach and other fruit trees. He won prizes at the Lyttelton and Port Victoria
Christ’s College Canterbury
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