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Walpole Chesshyre Fendall

Walpole Chesshyre Fendall (1830-1913)

Walpole Chesshyre Fendall (1830-1913)

Born at Nunburnholme, Yorkshire on January 9th 1830, Walpole Chesshyre Fendall was the third son of Rev. Henry Benson Fendall (1795-1882) and his wife Ann Catherine (nee Johnson) (1792-1842). Descended from the aristocratic families of Bathurst, Apsley and Musgrave, his paternal great-grandmother was Lady Ann Bathurst one of the daughters of 1st Earl Allen Bathurst and his wife Catherine (nee Apsley) whilst his maternal great-grandmother was Elizabeth Musgrave, the daughter of Sir Christopher Musgrave 5th Baronet and his wife Julia (nee Chardin).
When Walpole was 6, leaving his two older brothers behind at school in England, (King’s College and Christ’s Hospital School), he along with his parents, four sisters and infant brother Charles, left England for France where they lived for at least the next five years – this despite his father still being the Vicar of Crambe in Yorkshire. By 1842 the family had returned to Yorkshire where his mother Ann Catherine having contracted Tuberculosis, passed away leaving Rev. Henry a widower with six children still at home.
Perhaps spurred on by fascinating tales that he’d been told about his great-uncle John Fendall (1762-1826) who had spent all of his working life in the service of the East India Company, and after relieving Sir Stamford Raffles of the post, was appointed the last British Governor of Java, and maybe also encouraged by his older brother Philip William who by now had left school and joined the navy of the East India Company, Walpole aged 15 signed on as an indentured apprentice in the Merchant Navy, an adventure that would take him half-way around the world to Madras and India before returning to England a year and a half later.
Who within the family first mooted the possibility of emigration to New Zealand is unknown however the idea obviously appealed for Rev. Henry applied to the Canterbury Association on behalf of the family for the right to select a 50-acre section, at £3 per acre in the new colony.
The application was approved, and it was agreed that of the boys, Walpole would make the journey. He was the logical choice – his older brother Henry Benson Jnr had, like his father, taken holy orders and entered the service of the church. (He would die in 1852, aged 27 after contracting Typhus from a parishioner). Philip William was still in the service of the navy of the East India Company. (He would become Commander of the Naval Brigade of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands before leaving the service in 1863 and joining the family in NZ). Charles Whitelocke, the youngest, was still only 15 in 1850, however he did join Walpole in 1852. And so Walpole, now aged 20, departed Plymouth on the Sir George Seymour bound for the new colony.
The 50-acre section (RS18) that he selected was bordered to the north and south by the Wairarapa and Waimairi streams respectively. It is probable that he built the first dwelling on the site that is the current Holly Lea Retirement Village. By May of 1851 he was sub-dividing and selling off some of RS18 leaving himself with 40 acres to develop. His brother Charles Whitelocke arrived in 1852 on the ‘Duke of Portland’ and together the two brothers farmed not one but two acreages for in 1854, C.J.W Cookson, another colonist, leased his 100-acre Newbiggen Farm (RS24) to Walpole. It was located approximately 3 kms west of RS18. The 1855 Electoral Roll records Walpole as ‘Gentleman – Leaseholder of 100 acres at Newbiggen and Freeholder of 40 acres at Fendall Town’. The lease on Newbiggen was advertised again in 1856 with the advertisement stating that C.W. Fendall (Charles Whitelocke) was the current occupier.

These early years also saw Walpole involved in horse racing and breeding. In 1854 at a meeting at the Royal Hotel, he moved the first resolution for the formation of the Canterbury Jockey Club. That same year, in November, Lucy Hyacinthe Swann arrived accompanied by one of Walpole’s sisters (either Jane Charlotte or Mary Eliza). She was Walpole’s fiancée, the daughter of Thomas George Swann, a solicitor and Lucy Maria (nee Wrigglesworth).
Born in 1832 at St James Clerkenwell, Middlesex, she lived with her parents, brother and two sisters at Paradise House in Islington where her mother ran a parochial school.
Walpole and Lucy were married on November 25th, 9 days after her arrival at the Church of St Michael and All Angels. Their first child Henry Thomas was born in September 1855. They would go on to have another eleven children, eight of whom survived into adulthood.

After ten years in Christchurch, Walpole made plans to leave. Family lore tells of Lucy’s distress at remaining at Fendall Town after their toddler Walter Croasdaile, aged 13 months drowned in the Waimairi stream after wandering off from where he was playing on the grassy slope near the homestead, as what prompted his decision to sell. However, the property had already been advertised by the time of that tragic event.Newspaper excerpt about the sale of of original Fendall property

The well-established Fendall Town Estate, as it was known as, sold in October 1861 for £1390 and the family moved to the Balcairn/Kowai district where Walpole had purchased a 400-acre farm which they named ‘Nunburnholme’, a nod to his birthplace in Yorkshire.

‘Nunburnholme’ homestead at Balcairn in the Kowai district

‘Nunburnholme’ homestead at Balcairn in the Kowai district

The following twenty-two years see Walpole and Lucy immersed in the farming, ploughing, church, and civic communities of the Kowai district. For ten years he was Chairman of the Kowai Road Board and served on the Board of Education, as well as various other district committees, and held a magisterial role. Twice he stood for election – firstly in 1879 for the seat of Ashley and then again in 1881 for the seat of Cheviot losing on both occasions.

Lucy’s mother, Lucy Maria, now a widow, and sister, Elizabeth Margaret arrived from England in 1870 to join the family. Just two short years later however, Lucy Maria passed away aged 71. She is buried at St Paul’s churchyard in Leithfield together with Catherine Grace, Walpole and Lucy’s youngest daughter who dies at just 5 months of age.

In 1882, as a direct consequence of his losing the Cheviot election, Walpole determined to leave the district and thus sold ‘Nunburnholme’ for £3400. Moving south he purchased two holdings – both in the Timaru district. A 454-acre property called ‘Hazelburn’ in the Totara Valley and a 63-acre property in Pleasant Point with a 14-room house on it. It is not known which he purchased first, or perhaps he purchased both at the same time, however given he and Lucy still had children at home together with Lucy’s sister Elizabeth, it is logical to suppose that the 63-acre holding was the property they resided in, given it had the larger residence.
Anecdotally, the 5-room stone house at ‘Hazelburn’ was supposedly built by Walpole and given the name of ‘Fendall’s Folly’. Perhaps it was built while the family resided at the smaller holding initially.

By 1888, Walpole, Lucy and the family are spending a lot of time on the West Coast due to their son Frederick Philip, now a clergyman, having the parish that extended from Ross to Jackson’s Bay and so a decision was made to move there permanently.
Having previously advertised ‘Hazelburn’ for sale unsuccessfully, this time Walpole advertises it for lease along with the Pleasant Point property for sale. He resigned from his various positions held in the district giving the reason of ‘owing to living so far away’.
Pleasant Point was sold and the ‘Hazelburn’ lease was taken up by Mr Owen Blackler. (Walpole advertised ‘Hazelburn’ for sale again in 1893 after the expiration of Blackler’s lease).

Early 1889 sees Walpole and the family settled in Hokitika and he announces a newly opened accountancy and general commission agent business. Just as he had when in Canterbury, and typical of his community mindfulness, Walpole offers himself for public service. He is elected councillor to the Borough of Hokitika, sits on the committee of the Westland Institute where is eventually elected President and assumes a position of Magistrate in the district also.
In 1892, together with several other gentlemen, he establishes the Westland Tourist Committee whose purpose was ‘to take steps to promote visits of tourists to Westland’. The honourable Richard Seddon offered his assistance and it was resolved to have Mr Seddon assist in securing the widening of the Bowen-Okarito road ‘in order to make the mountains, lakes and glaciers of the locality more easily accessible’.

Lucy Hyacinthe Fendall (née Swann) (1832—1897)

Lucy Hyacinthe Fendall (née Swann) (1832—1897)

Lucy’s health is reported to be in a precarious state in 1895 and Walpole makes several trips back to Christchurch presumably preparing for their return to Canterbury which they undertake by mid-year. She passes away in September of 1897 at their Matson’s Road (now Matson’s Ave) address in Papanui. She was 65. Their daughter Ella Constance, now aged 29, continued to live with her father after her mother’s death.
In the years following Lucy’s death, Walpole and Ella spent two years in Auckland where his eldest son Henry Thomas and family lived before returning to Canterbury in 1900. Following his retirement from the bench in 1906, he once again spent time in the North Island before returning to Christchurch permanently.



On April 5th 1913, after spending nearly 63 years in New Zealand, Walpole passed away in his 84th year. He was laid to rest with Lucy at St Paul’s cemetery in Papanui. His surviving shipmates from the Sir George Seymour published the following in the Lyttelton Times:

Walpole’s date of death is incorrect on the plaque on his grave at St Paul’s in Papanui. This was a replacement installed in the late 1990s and has been incorrectly inscribed with a date of 13th April 1913. He passed away on April 5th. Also Lucy’s age on the plaque is given as 66 – she was 65.
In addition, both the gravestone plaque and a plaque at St. Barnabas church, record that Lucy is of Tideswell, Derbyshire. This is not correct either. Lucy’s paternal grandfather Thomas Swann (1774-1821) and generations prior to him were from Tideswell in Derbyshire, however Lucy and her father were both born and raised in Middlesex, the historic county encompassing greater London.

Author: Janine Fendall
Text and pictures kindly supplied by Walpole’s great-great grandaughter, Janine Fendall

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