Honora Higgins and John Smith Matson
Continued from Page One
Several DNA matches have lead me to believe that the woman named Honoria Higgins aged 23
who married John Smith Matson in New Zealand on 20th December 1864 was in fact my
missing Honora Higgins.
Marriage: John Smith Matson, aged 23, a Military Settler married Honoria [sic] Higgins aged
23, spinster on 20th December 1864 at St Mary's church, New Plymouth, a city on the west
coast of the north island of New Zealand. Their intention to marry states that Honoria had
been in New Zealand for 7 months, which would coincide with her release from Maitland gaol.
Honoria may have lied about her age so as not to appear older than her new husband.
John Smith Matson was born 1842 and baptised July [no date given] 1842 at Stiffkey
Norfolk, son of Edmund Matson, a coast guard and Mary Smith [married 23rd April 1879 at
1851 census: John aged 8, scholar appears to be a lodger in the home of George and Ann
Sperolot in Stiffkey Norfolk at 32 ?Wells? road. His parents reside next door at 30 Wells Road
1861 census: John S Matson, apprentice aged 19 is aboard the vessel Florence Nightingale i
n the Cumberland Basin.
Immigration to Australia: Some time between the 1861 census and early 1864 John came
to Australia. No record has been found to date.
Immigration to New Zealand: According to an article in the Taranaki Herald dated September
1912, John came to New Zealand from Victoria Australia in the barque Brilliant, arriving in
New Zealand on February 17, 1864, as personal servant to Lieutenant Gascoigne who was one
of the officers in command of the militia who were recruited in Victoria.
The Argus [Melbourne] newspaper dated 6th February 1864 reported:
Military Settlers for Taranaki. The yacht 'Brilliant,' having on board a portion of the
contingent of military settlers for New Zealand, was cleared yesterday by the immigration
officer, who expressed himself perfectly satisfied with the older of the vessel and the superior
manner in which the men were berthed, and the arrangements made for their comfort during
the voyage. This portion of the contingent is commanded by Lieutenant J. H. Clarke, to whom
and his officers great credit is due for the discipline maintained and the cleanly btate of the
vessel. All speak in glowing terms of Captain Walker, who commands the 'Brilliant,' whose
cordial assistance no doubt greatly adds to the general good order which reigns on board. The
'Brilliant ' is bound to Taranaki, and has the following passengers . Lieutenant J. H. Clarke
(in command), Lieutenant B. Gabcoigne, Lieutenant J. E. Jackson, Lieutenamt Kiiby, Mis.
Gascoigne, Mrs. Kirby and family (two), and 147 non-commissioned officers and rank and file.
The Taranaki Military Settlers, formed during the wars of the 1860s, were a volunteer force
recruited partly from the Australian and New Zealand goldfields. In return for carrying out
policing duties, they were given farms on land confiscated from local Māori.
John Matson's name appears in the "Record of Land selected by Military Settlers in Patea
and Taranaki districts. Archives NZ Wellington Reference ADZE 18319 LS-NP 5 3/5
Book 2" for the Patea district:
Number on Plan Rural:181 Order of Choice:36 Regiment or Corps: Taranaki Mil Settlers (5)
Rank:rivate Land:52a Town:Mokoia 23 Name: John Matson Record Book: 28 Jan 1864.
Isabella Mary Matson born 1865, mother Honoria father John Smith. Married Alexander
Emma Norah Matson born 1867, mother Norah, father John. Married William Gandall
Edward John Matson born 1869, mother H E, father J S. Married Selina Oliver
Julia Matson born 1871 ref 1871/25982 mother Honorah father John S. Married 1) George
William Bowater; 2) Peter Hansen
Louisa Maud Matson born 1873 ref: 1873/24484, mother Honora father John S. Married
George Amos Ledsham.
Elizabeth Ann Matson born 1875 ref: 1875/147, mother Honora father John Smith. May
have married 1) John Peter Olsen 2) Robert Dawson
William George Smith Matson born 1877 [Old ref folio 3469, 4th quarter Hokitika Disctrict
per Ancestry] Married Margaret Jane McIntyre
Eliza Norah Matson born 1879, mother Norah, father John Smith. Married Hercules Moon
1874/75 Electoral Roll at Gibson's Quay Hokitika
1878 Electoral Roll at Fitzherbert Street Hokitika
1893 - 1896 Electoral Roll, a labourer at 93 Holland Street Wellington
1911, a watchman at 198 Taranaki Street Wellington
John Smith Matson, farmer aged 74 died 8th April 1916 ref 1916/4239. Buried Te Henui
cemetery New Plymouth.
Taranaki Hereald dated 10th April 1916:
The death occurred at the New Plymouth Hospital on Saturday of Mr. John Smith Matson in
his 74th year. He arrived in New Plymouth in February 1864 with the military settlers in the
barque Brilliant from Melbourne, and after residing here for many years left for the West
Coast, where he was engaged in gold mining for 35 years. He afterwards went to Wellington,
but during the last four years has lived a retired life here. He leaves a widow and eight
children — Mesdames H. Moon (New Plymouth), W. Gandell (Greymouth), A. Good
(Greymouth), B. Dawson (Timaru), G. Ledsham (Christchurch), and P. Hansen (Rawene) and
Messrs E. Matson (Carterton) and W. Matson (Wellington)—to mourn their loss.
Honoria Matson, widow aged 81 died 20th September 1923 ref 1923/1355. Buried Te Henui
cemetery, New Plymouth.