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
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
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,
leaving Helen with six young children to raise
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 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.
Emily Rose Jacobs
(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.)
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.