Angus MacKay & Christina Taylor
Angus MacKay, Auchinduich, 1832
Angus MacKay was born at Auchiduich near Lairg in Sutherland on the 20th January 1832. His parents were crofters on the estate of the Duke of Sutherland.
Emigration, 1860
In 1860, Angus emigrated to New Zealand on the Henrietta, which left Glasgow on 30 May 1860 and arrived at Port Chalmers in Otago, New Zealand on Monday, 24 September 1860 after a protracted journey of 115 days due to bad weather.

Angus's emigration was sponsored by the Otago provincial government.

Isabella, his mother died about the same time he left Scotland. This may have been a trigger for his emigration to New Zealand.

The MacKay, Matheson and Munro families, Sutherland and Taieri
Before we continue with Angus's history I will skip forward to the 1870s and introduce a number of other families from Sutherland who lived near him in the Taieri and whose stories are intertwined with his.

The families are:

While the names MacKay, Matheson and Munro are very common in Sutherland, it seems likely from memories in the MacKay family that these families were all related. We know that most of them were from the Dornoch area of Sutherland and that they settled together in a newly opened block near Berwick in the Taieri plain, just south of Dunedin in the 1860s

From "The Taieri Plain, Tales of the years that are gone" by Margaret S. Shaw and Edgar D. Farrant, p52:
  • ".....William Munro and Thomas Matheson, the two latter from Skelbo, the Highland farm of the Duke of Sutherland....."

  • "......East of the Waipori river some of the earliest settlers were Alexander Kinloch, William MacKay, William Hamilton, Angus and James Mackay, John Sinclair, Donald Munro and Neil Ross....."

And from the Cyclopaedia of Otago and Southland, 1999, Vol 1, p538:

  • ".....Maungatua was first settled by Thomas & Catherine Matheson from Dornoch, Scotland settled in Berwick 1856, later farmed at Otokaia....."
Gold?, 1860 to 1868
Apart from Thomas Matheson, who was living at in 1861, there is no record of any of the families between about 1860, when they arrived, and 1867/68 when they reappear owning farms at Berwick.

As the sons of crofters it is unlikely that any of them would have had much money, and yet only about 7 years after arriving they could afford farms and the MacKay brothers had erected an expensive gravestone on their parent's grave back in Scotland. Where did they earn the money?

In the 1860s, the population of Otago was excited with the news of the discovery of gold. The first find was in the Lindis River early in 1861, before the much better known discovery in Gabriel's Gully at (west of Berwick) in May 1861. In July there were about 150 men at work in Gabriel's Gully and by September 1861 about 6,000 people in total were on the diggings. Many of these people had deserted their work, homes and families in search of fortune. Otago became a scene of social turmoil.

Rich finds in the Dunstan (Cromwell Gorge) further fueled gold fever in Otago. The rush to the Dunstan started in August 1862, and by November of that year, miners had worked their way up into the Arrow and Shotover Rivers.

In 1863 gold was discovered at (on a few kilometers north-west of Berwick). A nugget weighing 27 ounces was once found at Post Office Creek, north east from Waipori.

Berwick (where they eventually settled) was on the then main road between Dunedin and the Waipori, Lawrence and the Cromwell workings. By road from Berwick, Waipori is only about 10km and Lawrence 50km.

It is tempting to speculate that the Sutherland boys spent these missing years as gold miners, making sufficient money to settle down near to where they had been mining a few years later.

Given that a large part of the male population of Otago did just that, this is probably a reasonably good theory.

Farming on the Taieri, 1868
In 1868, the electoral roll shows the MacKays, Munros and Mathesons all living in the Taieri district with farms in block 2 of the Maungatau district, see the map below. William MacKay had two properties.
Berwick Settlers
Map of "Block No2. Maungatau District"
The block of land where they settled was first opened up in 1861 and a map of the district shows that Thomas Matheson was living there then. The 1868 roll is hard to read and two pages are missing, but no others seem to have been living in block 2 in 1868.

for a map of the area today.

Marriage, 1 May 1868
The next sighting we have of Angus is at his wedding to Christina Taylor on the 1st May 1868. The wedding took place at the house of William Munro and was officiated by the Rev William Gillies. The witnesses were William MacKay and William Munro.
Angus & Christina Mackay
Angus and Christina MacKay
We don't anything about Christina, yet. There is a possibility that she came to New Zealand via Australia.

The notice of intention to marry on the 23rd May 1868, shows that she was living in Waipori and had been in residence in New Zealand for 6 months, meaning she arrived here ca. October 1867.

She was born ca. 1843 in Scotland, probably (from the IGI records and other evidence) to William Taylor and Margaret Ross of Dornoch on 23 2 1842.

She must have lived with Angus from the time she arrived in New Zealand (a normal practice at the time - see below) which probably means she came to New Zealand to marry him.

I have some information to suggest that she was born in Achavandra near Skelbo north of Dornoch. If so, she may have known the Munro or Matheson families.

Family, 1868 to 1882
Angus and Christina had at least 9 children, born between August 1882 and March 1882. The birth of their first child on 7 August 1868 was only about 10 weeks after their marriage. This practice, where marriage was postponed until the wife became pregnant, was not unusual with Scottish Presbyterians and was continued, at least initially, in New Zealand.
G4 Angus MacKay (1832-1897)
= 1868
Christina Taylor (ca 1842-?)
G3 Margaret
- )
- )
- )
- )
David Shaw
- 20/2/1952)
- )
- )
- 29/9/1960)
- )
Apart from the third son (James) the Scottish naming patterns were closely followed:

Perhaps James was the 4th son and a son called Angus died? The 4th son should have been named after the father's eldest brother, which fits with Angus's brother James.

Notes & References