“The Publican and the Sinner.”

The story of a rugby mad church cleric, his neglected wife and a widowed publican.

Read time approximately 26 minutes.

He was a widower and father of two children. She was a cleric’s wife, temporarily released from her duties as wife and mother, with the novelty of time on her hands.

In the 1880s, life for an English church minister’s wife was at its heart the same as it had been for centuries. Life centred around the needs of the husband; keeping his home and children, and supporting his parish and community work. It was no different in the fledgeling town of Christchurch than it was 1000 miles and a three-month sea voyage away. In a town called Clapton in east London, the woman and her soon-to-be-ordained husband began their married life on 29 April 1879.

John Percival Hoatson in 1877, age 20. Image: Crossley Heath School, Halifax. Source: At Play on the Fields of the Lord.

At the Hackney registry office, Kate Walker married 22-year-old up-and-coming vicar John Percival Hoatson (b. 16 May 1857 – d. 30 March 1910) [1]. This boyish-looking man of questionable health, with heavy eyelids and dark wavy hair, was formerly a student teacher and pupil at Crossley Orphan Home and School in Halifax, Yorkshire.

John Hoatson’s father had worked as a clerk at Crossley’s Carpet Works, but before that, he had been an Accountant and Sharebroker. During this earlier career, he had also served a two-month stint in York gaol in 1847 for forging the transfer of 20 shares in the Eastern Counties Railway. He’d also involved his brothers, Alexander and James.

“After a few hours’ illness”, their father Joseph Cockin Hoatson had died at the age of 50 in 1863. [2] The following year, three Crossley brothers from the wealthy philanthropic Halifax carpet-manufacturing family set up the educational college that carried their family’s name. [3] After Hoatson’s death, his children were amongst the first to benefit from their generosity.

The school’s grand edifice was built in ‘a blend of Jacobean and Italianate styles’ and cost the brothers the enormous sum of around £56,000. The oldest Hoatson boy, James (b.1855), was one of the school’s first six pupils and arrived after it opened in June. Crossley also became John’s school from the tender age of six, and he remained there through all his school years and later as a student-teacher. Sister Alice (b. 1859), his junior by two years, joined him at the school in 1870. She appears to have stayed for five years. [4]

Crossley’s School in Halifax from a hand coloured postcard

Crossley’s set the siblings up well for their futures. The school provided board and lodging, clothing, education and apprenticeships for “children who had either lost both parents or just their father.” The children were taught “reading, writing, arithmetic and bible study, … geography, drawing, basic natural science and singing. The more able boys could also study Latin, a modern language, algebra and geometry. The girls’ education, in the early days at least, emphasised needlework and other domestic skills.” [5]

With the help of a Crossley education James Hoatson followed in his father’s footsteps and became a commercial clerk at the carpet works and later an accountant. Alice became a journalist and author, and then a nurse. However, she is infamous for her part in a ménage à trois with friend Edith Nesbitt, author of The Railway Children, and her husband Hubert Bland. The ‘quiet, submissive, efficient, and home centered’ Alice lived with the couple as their housekeeper and produced two children with Bland. Nesbitt adopted the children and passed them off as her own.

John Hoatson became a cleric and noted rugby authority, his name forever attached to the early development of the game in New Zealand and Australia. Two other sisters, Mary (b.1852) and Annie (b.1861) became, respectively, a teacher and a governess. [6]

The Crossley brothers John, Joseph and Frank “were supporters of various Congregational churches”.  The Hoatson’s were the great-grandchildren of “a well-known independent dissenting minister who preached at the Lane Independent Chapel, Holmfirth, for 43 year” by the name of Reverand Joseph Cockin. It isn’t a stretch to assume these influences played a significant part in John Hoatson’s choice of ecclesiastical career. [7]

From Crossley Orphan Home John Hoatson went to New College, a Congregational college in London. There he distinguished himself as a theological student. However, ill health forced a 18 month leave of absence and a year in the “Cape Colony”. This experience left a lasting impression on Hoatson, one he would retell in print and speeches for decades to come.

The Weekly Press, Oct 16, 1886 featured an article by Rev. John Hoatson on his visit to South Africa.

Upon his return to England, Hoatson was given his first pastorate.

“During the afternoon and evening of Thursday 2 June 1881 special services were held at Layton Congregation Church, Grange Park Road … in connection with the ordination of Mr. John Hoatson, of New College, to the pastorate of the church.” [8]

Hoatson inherited a church dogged by internal differences. The previous incumbent had resigned the year before and the church’s affairs had become greatly disorganised. “In 1881 it was reconstituted with a membership of 56, but dissension soon broke out again and in 1886 its collapse seemed imminent.” [9]  By this stage Hoatson had expanded his family with the births of Florence Mary born at Grange Park in 1881, followed by Winifred in 1883, and moved to greener pastures.

Light variable winds and lovely weather

The Pleiades was wrecked in 1899 at Akiteo on the east coast of the North Island. Ref: 1/1-003664-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23026729

Hoatson’s ill health was also said to have played a part in the family’s move to New Zealand.

On 2nd June 1883, as the shores of their home country withered into the distance, the Pleiades, a full-rigged iron ship built 14 years earlier in Scotland, slipped her moorings for a fine run down the Channel under the capable hands of Captain Setten. “Light variable winds and lovely weather” took them across the Bay of Biscay between France and Spain. It was a long run to the Equator which they crossed on June 8th. They made the Cape of Good Hope by August 4th, before sighting the Snares/Tini Heke, a small group of uninhabited isles 200km to the south of New Zealand, on Friday August 31st. After a pleasant run of weather for most of the 96-day journey, a south-westerly gale, “thick and dirty”, meet them at Otago and escorted them up the east coast to Lyttelton. All 35 passengers arrived safely and “without any evidence of infectious sickness”. [10]

It was, however, a voyage in sharp contrast to the next.

After discharging her passengers in Lyttelton, Captain Setten turned the 997 ton barque northward to Hawke’s Bay to deliver 250 tons of original cargo, over 200 sacks of potatoes and 500 sacks of oats, and reload with wool and tallow for the ‘home’ market. The Pleiades arrived in Napier on 21 October 1883.

As the ship lay at anchor in the bay of Napier on the evening of Sunday November 11, Captain Setten and three of his men set off for shore in a ‘light gig’ to collect the first mate. There was a nasty rippling sea on the Spit Bar, but they had arrived safely and started their return. The crew’s journey was made under the watchful eye of harbour master H. Kraeft and Captain Tonkin of the barque Langstone.

When abreast of the end of Rangatira Bank a heavy break struck them broadside and the gig capsized. Kraeft made swiftly for the pilot boat and Tonkin to a boat belonging to the S.S. Weka, and in no time they were manned with volunteers and speeding rapidly down the port entrance to the struggling men.

As Kraeft approached in the pilot boat to see all six crewmen in the water, another wave rolled passed, and two of the struggling men disappeared. Capt. Setten remained clinging to the overturned boat. Apprentice Kirby secured the mast. Seaman Grey and the First Mate clung to an oar – Grey clutched it in his teeth, and swam strongly in an attempt to save himself and his companion. As the rescue boat came within a few yards of Grey, another wave swept the first mate from his grip and he was never seen afterwards. Capt. Setten had lapsed into unconsciousness just before he and the remaining two men were pulled from the water by the pilot boat. Only three men had survived: the Captain and two able seamen. On hearing of the tragedy in Lyttelton flags in the port town were lowered to half-mast. [11]

There was no time for the new family to gently ease into colonial life.

Within three days of landing Rev. Mr Hoatson, the newly appointed from England, was preaching Sunday morning and evening at the Congregational Church in Philip Street, Philipstown (or Linwood as it was also called). Later in the month he was officially welcomed at a “tea social” and public meeting at the East Belt Oddfellows’ Hall.

The Congregationalists had been established as a church in Christchurch since 1864. In May 1862 about a dozen persons belonging to this denomination met in the Lichfield street Oddfellows Hall for the first celebration in Christchurch of Divine service. The building was in an incomplete state, and contained neither chairs nor tables, and only two wooden forms. One of these forms served those early Congregationalists as a table, in the middle of which a candle stood up between two bricks – their only light. On the other form the congregation sat. “In this primitive manner they first met.” In 1873-4 the “stone church at the corner of Manchester and Worcester-streets was built, the contract for the building only being £3173.” [12]

In October 1883, just a few months after arriving in New Zealand, Rev. Hoatson travelled south to deliver an address at the Emanuel Congregational Church Annual Soiree in Dunedin’s new public Hall. He spoke on congregationalism in England and the prevailing spirit to gain more unity in Christian work. As a recent arrival he reported to the gathering that ‘at home’ the church was celebrating the jubilee of the Congregational union by subscribing some £300,000 for the extinguishing of chapel debts and generally extending the work of the church. [13 ]

In November, back in Christchurch, he delivered an address at the Congregational Schoolroom as part of an evening of entertainment designed to raise funds to defray the cost of the recent addition to the church building. The main entertainment for the evening was a musical programme featuring a “telephone concert” with Lyttelton. The apparatus was erected by the telegraphic department and “the distinct way in which the music was heard surprised a good many present.” [14]

By December his fellowship had grown to an extent that the building in Philip street could no longer accommodate the congregation and Sunday Services were shifted to the Oddfellows’ Hall. The less populous evening services on Tuesday remained in Philip Street. [15]

Trinity Congregational Church as drawn by architect Benjamin Mountfort and which opened in 1875. Source: Alexander Turnbull Library, Reference: MNZ-634-1/4-F.

1884 was no less busy for Hoatson, with attendances at the annual Conference of the New Zealand Baptist Union; the Methodist General Conference; and submissions to the Premier on behalf of the Christchurch Ministers’ Association (of which he was Secretary) objecting to the desecration of the sabbath. As a man of God, he campaigned against the employment of public property and public funds to operate weekly excursions for Parliamentary member in the S. S. Hinemoa on the Sabbath.

His abilities as a lecturer and elocutionist also had him delivering talks on the works of Tennyson at the Working Men’s Club alongside scientific lectures by Professors Bickerton, Hutton and von Haast. He also chaired the Anniversary meeting of the Trinity Congregational Church Total Abstinence Society and Band of Hope tea meeting and concert, and undertook many local, regional and inter island speaking and preaching engagements, congregational weddings, christenings and funerals. On top of his regular schedule of weekly sermons he also sang in and directed the church choir.

In May, just prior to his 27th birthday and after a relatively short time in the colony, Hoatson’s “christian spirit, genial disposition and attributes” were rewarded with the position of paster of the Trinity Congregational Church on the corner of Manchester and Worcester streets. A soriee was held to welcome him, with a large assembly for tea in the Trinity Hall followed by speeches and songs from the choir. The Church was “prettily decorated with evergreens and an inscription ‘Welcome’, in Gothic characters”. [16]

An old English footballer

It would seem there weren’t many days or evenings when Hoatson wasn’t attending to the needs of his church, his congregation and the wider community. What spare time he did enjoy he devoted to rugby football. As an “old English footballer” he was appointed to referee local football games (1884) and to the selection committee for the Canterbury Rugby Union (1885), becoming a well-known authority on the game. [17]

Somehow he also found time to write articles that were published in The Weekly Press, as well as give talks on his reminiscences of the year he spent in the Cape Colony before his marriage to Kate in 1879. He wrote of seeing the convict ‘Kaffirs’ at work on the Capetown docks who had been arrested after the rising on the eastern frontier in 1877-8. [18]

As a man of note, Hoatson’s historical footprint has been relatively easy to trace.  His wife Kate Hoatson, nee Walker, much less so. After all, she was just a woman, the mother of his children, manager of the household and supporter of his career. Coupled with a common maiden name and no other known family her history, she is difficult to trace. An online genealogy record suggests Kate’s father was a sea captain from Plymouth. At the time of writing this, that was all that could be found. [19]

In 1881, the year following Kate and John’s marriage, John Hoatson appears in the England census living on Median Road in Clapton, along with his widowed mother and two of his sisters. Their neighbours include a Spanish-born language translator, a retired master mariner and his Jamaican wife, and a ship’s engineer. Although John is listed as married and a “Student of Geology Scientific Pursuits”, there is no mention of his wife.

Living within an hour’s walk north of the Hoatsons, at 9 Robinson Road, Bethnal Green, is the family of Edward Hamilton Walker and Emma Maria Walker. Living with them is a married daughter named Emma Maria Hoatson, age 23, but there is also no reference to her husband.

At the time the census was taken in April 1881, Edward Walker was recorded as a solicitor’s clerk, born in Gibraltar. Traced back through previous censuses, he and his family can be found in 1851 living in High Street, March North Cambridgeshire (an early centre of Nonconformity which dated back to 1676), where he was working as a Royal Navy Superintendent of Police. On 13 August 1846, when Walker would have been around 25 years of age, he appeared on The Navy List of Great Britain as a “Clerk qualified for Paymaster and Purser“. Prior to that he was Superintendent and Clerk in the office of the chief constable of the Isle of Ely in March 1841. Was Edward Hamilton Walker the sea captain from Plymouth thought to be Kate Hoatson’s father?

And who was Emma Maria Walker?

She can be traced back to her birth on March 29, 1858 when the family lived at 10 Lark Row, Bethnal Green, Middlesex. She seems to have disappeared after appearing as the married Mrs Hoatson in the 1881 census.

The Hoatson surname could simply be an error on the census. No marriage record for Emma Maria Walker seems to exist in England to anyone with the surname Hoatson, or similar.  And there seems no fathomable reason by Emma Maria would call herself thus in the census and Kate on her earlier marriage certificate.

The threads of Kate Hoatson’s life are more easy to follow for a short period after her arrival in New Zealand in August 1883.

The family lived in Latimer Square, next to the Canterbury Club in September 1884, then in early 1885 they shifted to a six roomed house at 213 Cambridge Terrace near the Madras street bridge. In October 1886 she gave birth to the couple’s only son, John Percival junior. Her household responsibilities included employing and overseeing domestic staff – including one named Caroline Emily Cane who left the Hoatson’s employment in early 1884 after a brief period of unsatisfactory work to get married. She was subsequently brought up before a magistrate for stealing a tumbler, jug, two flower pots and a vase from a grave at the Church of England Cemetery. [20]

Bewildering… works of skill and novelty

Kate also worked behind-the-scenes raising funds to reduce church debt. At a time when the women’s suffrage movement in New Zealand was on the cusp of changing the face of politics forever, Kate Hoatson was vice-President of the Trinity Congregational Church Ladies Association when Kate Sheppard was General Secretary. The honorary position of President, ex officio was held by Rev. Hoatson. One of the most notable endeavors Kate Hoatson took on in this role was the Swiss Bazaar – a large-scale event, eighteen months in the making, for the purpose of extinguishing the debt of £2400 incurred when the new church was built in 1875. At 3pm on the afternoon of 1 December “the Orphanage Band struck up the National Anthem and His Excellency Sir William Jervois, the Governor of New Zealand” entered the Oddfellow’s Hall, which had been transformed into a Swiss street, to open the event which would run over two days.

The interior of the hall had been transformed by scenic artists into a Swiss town, having copied the “peculiarly quaint architecture of the lower stories of Swiss houses”. The effect of the scenery and stalls was enhanced by the costumes of the ladies who ran the stalls, who were “veritable Swiss villagers”, every detail of the national dress having been faithfully reproduced. For a time at least, a portion of Switzerland had been transferred to Canterbury. Stalls lined each side of the hall, including the fancy goods stall run by Mrs Hoatson and Mesdames Greenwood and Malcolm. The Rev. Hoatson took His Excellency round the various stalls and the business of the bazaar began in earnest, with crowds gathering to buy from amongst the ‘”bewildering… works of skill and novelty”. An orchestra played a number of choice selections and the minstrel troupe  ‘The Dunstable Black Straws’ had a good “house” for their entertainment”, which provoked plenty of laughter. A stage had been erected in the large room at the back of the Hall so that amateur performers such as the “Ethiopian Serenders” could delight audiences over the six days the bazaar was open.  By the time a temporary loan was repaid and expenses deducted, this bizarre Bizarre had contributed to reducing the mortgage by £500. [21]

Six Weeks in Australia

In 1888 London was in the grip of the Whitechapel murders; Melbourne was in the midst of a five year land boom; and the Hanmer Plains was booming to the sounds from Earthquakes. John Hoatson set sail from Lyttelton on 2 October on board the s.s. Te Anau for Melbourne. He was representing Canterbury at the Victorian Congregational Jubilee Intercolonial conference where he would stay with Rev. Jacob John Halley at ‘Irwell’ in Camberwell. [22]

S.S. Te Anau
The S.S. Te Anau. Wood engraving published in The Australasian sketcher. March 13, 1880. Source: State Library Victoria SLV Source ID:1656592

Whilst some delegates took their wives, Hoatson “arranged that his wife and family should stay at a cottage at Governor’s Bay for four weeks, and then return to Christchurch.” Kate and the children were accompanied by their 21 year old female servant Annie Seed.

The family would have taken the train to Lyttelton then transferred to the steam launch Canterbury or the Governor’s Bay Royal Mail Coach for the trip to Governor’s Bay, where they could thereafter spend their days bathing, hunting for ferns or shell gathering.

Taken from the supplement to the Auckland Weekly News 17 MARCH 1910 p002. Image: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19100317-2-3

Ann Wilkinson Seed was the eldest daughter of Henry Seed and Elizabeth Hannah Wilkinson. In February 1889 Rev. Hoatson would marry her to Oxford man Maurice William Edwards at the Congregational Church. In 1905, at the age of 64 and in a ‘state of insanity’, Annie’s mother drank rat poison and killed herself after “feeling ill and miserable for a long time”. However, as the young Hoatson family took up residence at Governor’s Bay, this tragedy lay some 17 years in the future. [23]

Three weeks into the family’s stay at Governor’s Bay, Annie Seed saw Kate go out for a walk with the proprietor of the Ocean View Hotel, Irishman John Gilpin. At the end of the fourth week [30 October 1889 according to Supreme Court documents], when the family were presumably expecting to return to Christchurch as arranged, Kate “went to live at the hotel.” Kate and Gilpin were witnessed behaving intimately; they occupied rooms next to each other, and Kate apparently left her door unlocked “for fear she should be taken ill in the night.”

The Ocean View Hotel was owned by the Standard Brewery and was a popular holiday destination. Large groups of employees from some of Canterbury’s biggest companies, such as the Champion Boot Factory, Kaiapoi Woollen Factory, the Jobbing Department of the Lyttelton Times, and the Christchurch Railway Fire Brigade, held their annual family picnics there. They’d gather at Christchurch Railway Station and take a “special train” to Lyttelton then board the steamer launch to Governor’s Bay for a day of games and sports, country dances and brass band music.

Ocean View Hotel in 1902. Source: Tourist’s Guide to Canterbury, New Zealand. Image: CCL-83338-074

Ocean View Hotel boasted “pleasure gardens” large enough to accommodate big groups and a dining room able to take the overflow of tourists who decide to dine out rather than take their own picnic lunches. It was a handy half way refreshment stop for the Pioneer Bicycling Club to make on a trip from Summer via Lyttleton to Governor’s Bay, then back home via the new road. [24]

John Wilson Gilpin had come to New Zealand from Northern Ireland, arriving in November 1862 on board the “fine new A1 Clipper Ship Chrysolite” with his brother Dynes. The farm labourer from county Armagh took the opportunity offered to most new settlers to better themselves and had worked his way up to become a publican, taking up the license of the Ocean View Hotel in December 1884.

On 1st July 1885 Jane Johnston, his Irish born wife of one year, died at Sydenham at the age of 25, leaving behind a newly born son and a two year old daughter fathered before she married Gilpin.[25] She was buried at Addington Cemetery where, in 1910 at the age of 64, her husband would also be buried. [26]

Kate in a troubled state

Hoatson returned from Melbourne on November 29th on board the s. s. Wairarapa via Hobart, Bluff and Dunedin. He travelled in the company of Rev. James Maxwell formerly of the Port Chalmers Congregational Church but at this time he was a Presbyterian minister in mid Canterbury.

Lyttelton 1880s
Lyttelton waterfront and wharves, 1880s. Ref: PAColl-7266. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23096449

Kate meet her husband at Lyttelton Station in a troubled state. She had in her possession a letter addressed to a Mr. Gilpin at Governor’s Bay. When the Hoatsons returned to their home in town, Kate “burst into tears as she entered the house”. Hoatson “asked her what the matter was”. She said she felt “done up” that she had stayed at Governor’s Day “four weeks longer than had been arranged.” Her odd behaviour continued and Hoatson’s suspicions were raised further when he found a scrap of a letter in the bedroom which Kate got hold of and destroyed.

The next morning she told him she was going out to meet some friends at Riccarton and would return by the half-past one coach. However, she didn’t return until half-past six in the evening when Hoatson meet her at the door of the Trinity Congregational Church where a tea meeting was about to take place to welcome him back and “hear his account of the Congress and the share he took in its work”. Hoatson “taxed her with something being wrong, and she refused to have anything to say.” After the meeting she made the shocking revelation to Hoatson that she had been back to Governor’s Bay and that she had “been seduced by a man”.

The following morning, a Saturday, Hoatson left home to arrange a passage for her to return to her parents “by the next steamer” – presumably to remove her from temptation. When he returned home he found that she had already gone out. Before she left the house she had pleaded in tears to Annie to “be good to the children whatever happened.” She admitted she had “done a very wrong thing” and tried to reassure both herself and Annie that it “wasn’t altogether” her fault alone.

Kate arrived back home in the early evening and told her husband she had met with Gilpin “and was going to live with him.” Hoatson tried to persuade her to stay but she would not listen. She left the family home for ever that night, effectively closing the door on her marriage of ten years and her three children: Florence Mary aged seven years, Winifred aged five years and John Percival aged two.

She made her way to the Ocean View Hotel on Sunday December 2nd and stayed the night. The next morning the housekeeper Sarah Wilkinson went into Gilpin’s room, presumably to make it up, and noticed that he had not slept in his bed. According to Wilkinson, the next day Kate admitted to her that she “was in trouble because her husband had heard how she had been carrying on.”

Whilst Hoatson was dealing with this turmoil in his family life, it was still necessary for him to continue his ministry. Rumours must have circulated but the only one to make the papers was about his having been “offered a pulpit in Victoria”, however, this rumour was quickly and publicly quashed. His lectures on his “Six Weeks in Australia” “concluded with a few words important to New Zealanders” wrote the Ashburton Guardian:

From all that I could gather and learn,” said Mr Hoatson, ” we here in New Zealand have the best of the bargain, taking the Australian colonies all round. In the matter of scenery, of climate, resources, general prospects for the  future— in the matter of all things that are wanted to make a really sound, healthy community and give really sound, healthy private individual life— we in New Zealand are in a position which cannot be beaten or cannot be approached by even Victoria, which is acknowledged to be the best of the Australian colonies. In fact there is no place like New Zealand.” [27]

On 10 December 1889 Hoatson began divorce proceedings, signing a petition which would be filed two days later in the Supreme Court of Canterbury. The citation was served by bailiff Daniel Falvey on Kate and Gilpin at the hotel in Governor’s Bay where the couple were living together. The two had admitted to Thomas West, a master printer with the Lyttelton Times who had gone to Govenor’s Bay to “induce Mrs Hoatson to leave the hotel”, that they had done a “great wrong” by John Hoatson. Kate told him she had “committed a very great sin with Mr Gilpin, for which she was very sorry.”  What West’s connection was to the Hoatsons is unknown.

On Tuesday 22 January 1889 “before his Honor Mr Justice Ward and a Special Jury of four”, solicitors’ clerk Harry Beswick appeared for Hoatson in a suit for dissolution of his client’s marriage to Kate Hoatson, naming John Wilson Gilpin of Governor’s Bay, hotel-keeper, as co-respondent. Neither Kate nor Gilpin filed any objections or made any appearance, and a decree nici was granted with costs awarded against John Gilpin. It became a decree absolute three months later, on Wednesday, 10 July 1889. [28]

Hoatson no more

And from that point on Kate Hoatson disappears – or at least her path becomes difficult to trace.

Hoatson remarried on 16th May 1892 to 25-year-old Christchurch born woman Mary Maude Budden (b. 20 April 1867). [29]

Rev. John Hoatson – in his later years. Source: At Play on the Fields of the Lord (Image courtesy of of Westminster College, Cambridge / Congregational Year Book of 1911).

Despite his earlier assertions that “there was no place like New Zealand”, Hoatson eventually headed back to Melbourne in pursuit of a pulpit. He returned briefly to marry Budden, then took her and his children back with him to Melbourne where he had accepted the “pastoral of Canterbury and Baldwin Church Melbourne”, a new pulpit in the suburbs about eight miles out of the city. [29] He made his final address at the Linwood Congregational Church on the 28 May, and took his leave onboard the s.s. Waihora on 30 May with a “purse of sovereigns” and “a chaste silver inkstand and case” “presented as a mark of appreciation for the valuable services rendered by him to Rugby football” at a farewell function at Warner’s Hotel. The assembled crowd cheered when it was acknowledged that “no one had done so much for football as he had.” [30]

Whilst in Melbourne, Houtson remained in contact with Kate Sheppard and ushered in support for the women’s franchise movement within the Woman’s Christian Temperance Movement of Victoria. [31] He also continued to umpire football matches, and was instrumental in setting up the Victorian Rugby Union. [32]

In 1893 Hoatson and Mary produced their only child, Stanley Budden Hoatson.  Two years later the family moved to Carlton, Victoria so Hoatson could take up the vacancy at the Carlton Church. In 1900, after returning to the ‘Old Country’ in November 1899,  he was “invited to the pastorate of the Church at Leek, England” where he remained until his sudden death in 1910 at the age of 52 – only two years older than his father had been at his death. [33]

In 1903 he wrote to a friend from Staffordshire, England, and in the letter said: “I still hope to get back to New Zealand some day. I have never lost my love for it. It is the finest country I know, and I have travelled in three continents. My advice to all New Zealanders is, never leave your country to live elsewhere.” [34]

When Kate Hoatson’s son John Percival entered the war in August 1914 as a Private in the Canterbury Mounted Rifles his military record listed Mary Hoatson as his mother and next-of-kin. He had been working as a farmer at Russell’s Flat for Sealy Edmund Rutherford, proprietor of Grasmere station, 34 miles west of Springfield.  His service record described him as 5 foot 10 inches tall, with blues eyes, brown hair and a trim frame, and having served in Egypt and Gallipoli before his discharge in 1919. [35]

John Gilpin

Within two months of John Hoatson’s death, John Gilpin – the man who had caused the breakup of Hoatson’s first marriage – also died.

In February 1889, the month after the Supreme Court had granted a decree nisi on the Hoatson’s marriage, Gilpin gave notice that he was transferring the license “in respect of the house and premises situated at Governor’s Day known as the Ocean View Hotel” to Margaret Berti, who had preciously run the British Hotel on Oxford Terrace.[36]  It was transferred to her temporarily at a meeting of the Port Levy Licensing Committee in March and advertised “To Let” by Scarlett and Co on behalf of the Standard Brewery. [37] Margaret Gordon Clark, formerly of the White Horse Hotel in Tuam street, took over the running of the 12 room hotel in June. [38] 73 acres 3 roods 17 perches of land adjoining the Hotel, the property of John Gilpin, was offered for a three or five year lease in November. [39] It appeared that Gilpin was quitting the area.

In March 1898 a number of newspapers reported the apparent suicide of John Gilpin describing that “during the passage of the Corinna from Wellington John Gilpin, a wharf lumper of Lyttelton, committed suicide by jumping overboard. He was at one time landlord of the Governor’s Bay Hotel. The ship stopped, and a boat was promptly lowered, but Gilpin was dead when the body was picked up.” This was incorrect as the man was, in fact, a Wellington wharfie by the name of William John Gilpin. [40]

John Gilpin’s family remained strongly connected to Governer’s Bay. His son Malcolm and his wife ran the post office for a time until her ill health forced them to give it up. Malcolm became head gardener at the Edmonds Factory, and passed on his love for gardening to his son Huia Gray Gilpin who became director of the City Council’s Parks and Reserves. Gilpin’s track on the Port Hills is named after him, a lasting testament to his love for this part of the great outdoors.


  1. Divorce Petition of J. Hoatson filed 12 Dec 1888 in the Supreme Court Canterbury. Source: Archives NZ, Christchurch Office.
  2. Leeds Mercury (Leeds, England), Saturday, August 1, 1863, Issue 7895
  3. The Crossley Heath School: Crossley and Porter School History
  4. Old Crossleyans: Crossley and Porter list of Pupils. 
  5. childrenshomes.org.uk: Crossley Orphan Home / Crossley & Porter Orphanage, Halifax, West Riding of Yorkshire
  6. 1871, 1881 and 1891 England and Wales census records.
  7. Huddersfield Exposed: Rev. John Cockin (c.1782 -1861)
  8. Wednesday June 8, 1881. The Stratford Times and Bow and Bromley News, page 7
  9. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/essex/vol6/pp223-233
  10. Papers Past: THE PLEIADES., Press, Volume XXXIX, Issue 5607, 7 September 1883.
  11. Papers Past: NAPIER BOATING ACCIDENT., Hawera & Normanby Star, Volume IV, Issue 648, 13 November 1883
    FATAL ACCIDENT ON THE SPIT BAR, NAPIER., Timaru Herald, Volume XXXIX, Issue 2852, 13 November 1883
  12. Illustrated Guide to Christchurch and Neighbourhood, M. Mosley, published 1885, Page 45, Congregationalists
  13. Papers Past: CONGREGATIONAL SOIREE., North Otago Times, Volume XXVIII, Issue 3446, 18 October 1883
    Page 3 Advertisements Column 2, North Otago Times, Volume XXXIII, Issue 3446, 17 October 1883
  14. Papers Past: NEWS OF THE DAY., Press, Volume XXXIX, Issue 5662, 10 November 1883
  15. Papers Past: Page 1 Advertisements Column 5, Press, Volume XXXIX, Issue 5686, 8 December 1883
    Page 1 Advertisements Column 8, Press, Volume XXXIX, Issue 5608, 8 September 1883
    Page 1 Advertisements Column 8, Press, Volume XXXIX, Issue 5624, 27 September 1883
  16. Papers Past: NEWS OF THE DAY., Press, Volume XL, Issue 5815, 3 May 1884
    NEWS OF THE DAY., Press, Volume XL, Issue 5856, 20 June 1884
  17. Papers Past: ATHLETIC SPORTS., New Zealand Herald, Volume XXIII, Issue 7692, 17 July 1886
  18. October 15, 1886, The Weekly Press. Christchurch Libraries, Aotearoa New Zealand Collection Centre
  19. geni.com/people/Kate-Walker/4385496. Viewed 9/6/2018.
  20. Papers Past: MAGISTERIAL., Lyttelton Times, Volume LXI, Issue 7211, 9 April 1884
  21. Papers Past: The Swiss Bazaar., Star, Issue 5482, 2 December 1885

    Congregational Church., Star, Issue 5553, 26 February 1886

  22. LYTTELTON., Star, Issue 6359, 3 October 1888 and
    Victorian Congregational Jubilee, 1888. 1888, Victorian Congregational Jubilee, 1888: Intercolonial conference October 7th to 18th : programme of public meetings, services, &c., selection of hymns, list of intercolonial delegates , [Melbourne? viewed 9 June 2018]
  23. Papers Past: INQUEST., Star, Issue 8233, 4 February 1905
  24. Papers Past: BICYCLING., Star, Issue 5438, 12 October 1885
  25. Papers Past:  DEATHS., Star, Issue 5351, 2 July 1885
  26. heritage.christchurchcitylibraries.com/Cemeteries/
    There is another Gilpin buried in Addington, an unnamed stillborn child, buried on Saturday, 19 October 1889 whose next-of-kin is recorded on the Church Register card index at Christchurch Library Aotearoa New Zealand Collection as Mary Gilpin. No birth or death record for this child appears on the NZ BDM site.
  27. LOCAL AND GENERAL., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2073, 26 February 1889
  28. Papers Past: SUPREME COURT., Lyttelton Times, Volume LXXI, Issue 8698, 23 January 1889
    SUPREME COURT., Lyttelton Times, Volume LXXII, Issue 8842, 11 July 1889
  29. Papers Past: BIRTHS., Press, Volume XI, Issue 1390, 23 April 1867
    MARRIAGES., Press, Volume XLIX, Issue 8181, 25 May 1892
  30. YESTERDAY’S TELEGRAMS., South Canterbury Times, Issue 6850, 31 May 1892
    PRESENTATION TO THE REV J. HOATSON., Press, Volume XLIX, Issue 8186, 31 May 1892
    Latest Locals., Star, Issue 7272, 3 May 1892
    SHIPPING., Lyttelton Times, Volume LXXVII, Issue 9740, 1 June 1892NEWS OF THE DAY., Press, Volume XLIX, Issue 8169, 11 May 1892
  31. WOMAN’S FRANCHISE., Lyttelton Times, Volume LXXX, Issue 10221, 15 December 1893
  32. OUT DOOR SPORTS, Observer, Volume XI, Issue 752, 27 May 1893
  33. PERSONAL ITEMS., New Zealand Herald, Volume XXXII, Issue 9935, 26 September 1895

    CONGREGATIONAL. (1900, August 18).The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 10. Retrieved June 9, 2018, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article14331372
    OBITUARY., Press, Volume LXVI, Issue 13732, 13 May 1910

  34. NEWS & NOTES., Waikato Argus, Volume XIV, Issue 1531, 15 April 1903
  35. HOATSON, John Percival – WW1 7/348 – Army (R18048457) Archives New Zealand
  36. Page 1 Advertisements Column 6, Lyttelton Times, Volume LXXI, Issue 8726, 25 February 1889
  37. Page 1 Advertisements Column 4, Press, Volume XLVI, Issue 7254, 9 March 1889
  38. Page 1 Advertisements Column 3, Press, Volume XLVI, Issue 7313, 18 May 1889

    Page 8 Advertisements Column 6, Press, Volume XLVI, Issue 7391, 17 August 1889

  39. Page 1 Advertisements Column 6, Lyttelton Times, Volume LXXII, Issue 8963, 29 November 1889
  40. A FALSE ALARM., Otago Daily Times, Issue 11067, 22 March 1898

    ACCIDENTS AND FATALITIES, Evening Post, Volume LV, Issue 70, 24 March 1898,


One Comment Add yours

  1. Wendy Perry says:

    I was fascinated by your account of Rev Hoatson and the Trinity Congregational Church, especially reading to the reference to Caroline Emily Cane. I am compiling a family history. Caroline Emily Cane is my great-grandmother.
    I wonder if Rev Hoatson left diaries that can be publically accdessed? There could be further references to Caroline, how she came to be with the family etc.


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