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Christchurch
in
Canterbury, New Zealand

Mary Thompson's reminiscences mention the "Minerva" arriving at Lyttelton on 1st February 1853, but the Lyttelton Times reported the arrival as being on Wednesday 2nd February 1853. Mary's recollection is most likely one day out; not too bad considering her reminiscences were written over fifty years later. The "Minerva" probably arrived off Godley Head, which marks the north-western side of the harbour entrance, late on the afternoon of 1st February after making slow progress beating into a strong north-east sea breeze while rounding Banks Peninsula from the south. On a dying sea breeze, the captain most likely decided to anchor the vessel off Camp Bay just inside the harbour entrance on the south-east side, and await a steady breeze in the morning before making for Lyttelton township.

The township of Lyttelton is built on a rather steep hillside facing to the south. In fact the location is an extinct volanic vent - one of many which now form Lyttelton and Akaroa Harbours on Banks Peninsula. In 1853, following the arrival of 25 ships bringing settlers for the Canterbury Association, the berthage facilities and supporting township are rapidly growing. Christchurch, the destination of the passengers onboard the "Minerva", is located 6 miles (10 Km) to the north-west of Lyttelton on the flat alluvial plains of Canterbury. Mary Thompson makes no mention of the weather on the day they disembarked and commenced an all-day trek, firstly on foot over the Port Hills via the Bridle Path to the Heathcote River, then by horse and dray on to William Bray's house "Avonhead" by the source of the river Avon west of Riccarton - about 12 miles (19 km). One can only assume that it was a moderately warm summers day with the slightly cooling affect of a north-easterly sea breeze in the afternoon.

Frederick Thompson taught mathematics at the Rev. Henry Jacob's Grammar School (Christ's College), resigning in 1859. Thompson then in partnership with Arthur Dudley Dobson (a prominent Engineer and Surveyor) during the 1860s ran a brown stone quarry in Heathcote Valley on the hillside east of the Heathcote Domain, also another above the Bridle Path Road near the existing Heathcote Quarry. It was from this quarry that Frederick Thompson provided the original foundation stone for the Christchurch Cathedral. The stone was laid with great ceremony on the 16th December 1864, in very wet weather, but work on the new cathedral languished for the next decade and it wasn't until a change of architect that construction of the cathedral finally got underway in 1873. The whereabouts of the original foundation stone is unknown, though possibly it is buried somewhere beneath the cathedral.

Helen Thompson, who was born in Corfu in 1837 married John Bealey a prominent and wealthy landowner at St. Michaels church in Christchurch on 6 March 1856. John died following a short illness on 13 June 1867 at the age of 50,
Helen Bealey
Helen Bealey
née Thompson
leaving Helen with six young children to raise 'Christ - Act of Benediction', mosaic donated to the Christchurch Cathederal by Helen Bealey. Photo G.B.Carlson 2006 but also a small fortune to assist her in that task. Helen Bealey and her children migrated to England shortly afterwards (she had been to England previously for a few weeks when a teenager) and ensured the children all received a good education. Helen visited Christchurch in 1881-1882 and during the course of that visit she donated to Christchurch Cathedral the first of the Mosaics depicting 'Christ's Act of Benediction' which is located above the aisle immediately below the Rose Window on the western portal of the cathedral. Helen also donated, through the Cathedral Guild, the carving in the tympanum archway above the cathedral's west entrance depicting "Our Lord in the Act of Blessing."

Helen Bealey's eldest daughter, Helen Gardner Bealey, married John Lidderdale (Halliday) Scott in Cheltenham, Gloucester on 18 January 1883 and they returned to New Zealand shortly afterwards. Professor John H. Scott was the first Dean of the University of Otago Medical School in Dunedin.

With Helen Bealey now spending most of her time in England it is possible that Mary, her elder unmarried sister, decided to migrate to England following the deaths of both their parents and elder brother Frederick William, to be closer to her remaining family. Helen was in the fortunate position to provide for her less well off sibling's families, and Frederick William Thompson's widow Brunhilde and her children were certainly in need of help when Frederick died in 1889.

The youngest daughter of Frederick and Mary Ann Thompson,
Emily Rose Jacobs
née Thompson
Emily Rose Thompson, married the Very Reverend Henry Jacobs (1st Dean of Christchurch Cathedral, and Archdeacon of Christchurch) and a little is known of her life. A memorial seat to Emily Rose Jacobs is located at the top of the Bridle Path between Lyttelton and Christchurch, overlooking Lyttelton Harbour, and is maintained by the Christchurch City Council.
(Note: The seat pictured was demolished by a car in 2006, but the Council staff recovered the remains and it will be reinstated when remedial work is done on the adjacent carpark late in 2007.)
Her grand-daughter, Helen Garrett (only daughter of Nancy Jacobs and Robert James Coates) was herself a Christchurch City Councillor and has written and published a biography of her grandfather, "Henry Jacobs, a clergyman of calibre", which describes in colourful detail the man, the events, and the people that surrounded his life.

page revised 3:30 p.m. 3 February 2007