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Family of Charles Downie and Sarah Ann Goodyer

Charles Downie and Sarah Ann Goodyer

Two of the known sons of John Downie and Jane Gordon emigrated to New Zealand: John and Charles. Charles was born at Dumbrettan, Annan, Dumfriesshire on 22 August 1843 and baptized on 22 October that year at the Parish Church of Kirtle. He is said to have sailed to Victoria, Australia on the "Great Tasmania" from Liverpool at the age of 19 [Grigg. J.R. (1947) MurchisonNew Zealand- How a Settlement Emerges from the Bush page 52], and to have followed the lure of gold to New Zealand in 1866, before being involved in road contracting and mining. He married Sarah Ann Goodyer in New Zealand on 30 December 1871, the bride being only fourteen years old if her entry in the Austrialian Birth Index is to be believed - certainly her gravestone in Murchison gives her date of death as 30 November 1924 at the age of 67, consistent with a birthdate of 5 October 1857. The index gives her birthplace as Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia.

Charles joined his brother John and Sarah Ann's brother William Goodyer in about 1874 where they engaged in road building and mining, before Charles took up residence in Hampden, later to be called Murchison, in 1877, according to Grigg. He continued to work on the roads but also involved himself in pit sawing, which eventually led to his setting up a sawmill. Not content with that, he took the lease of Rait's Commercial Hotel before building a new hotel, Downie's Hotel, in 1899. In 1912, he left the hotel business and established a farm on his property in Tutaki.

Charles and Sarah Ann had a large family of twelve children starting with son John who is said by Grigg to have been born in Stafford, near Hokitaka on the West coast of the South Island, in 1875. His birth has not been recorded officially but his gravestone in Murchison gives his age at death in 1948 as 73, consistent with Grigg's information. New Zealand BDM online has the birth registrations for the other eleven children, all of whom were probably born in Murchison (the free online search does not provide details of the district in which events were registered).

Golden Wedding of Charles Downie and Sarah Goodyer

All twelve of the children of Charles and Sarah Ann were still alive in 1921, when they celebrated their Golden Wedding in Murchison. It seems likely that the photograph above is of the parents and all their children but that is subject to confirmation. Certainly there is the correct numbers of males and females.

Sarah Ann survived for almost three more years before she passed away in Nelson at the age of 73 (obituary), but Charles lived on until 1939, when he died at the ripe old age of 93 (obituary).

The couple are buried together in Murchison Cemetery.

Gravestones of Sarah Ann Goodyer and Charles Downie Murchison NZ

composite of two photographs courtesy of Claire Ward

Charles left his estate in trust, the trustees and executors being his son in law Alexander Thomson, husband of his sixth daughter, Janet, and his grandson Charles Bertram Hodgson, son of Herbert John Hodgson and Charles's second daughter Agnes Jane. His son Charles was given the option of purchasing the homestead farm property of about 377 acres in Tutaki and 398 acres of leasehold land in Matakitaki along with stock, machinery and Charles's shares in the Murchison Co-operative Dairy Factory Company Limited. He left specific bequests to his eighth daughter Sarah Ann, wife of Arthur John Walter Barlett, and to his grandson William John Downie, son of his eldest son John. The residue was to be split into thirteen parts, ten going to each of his surviving children, one shared among the daughters of his eldest daughter Catherine (Kate) who had died in 1933 (wife of John William Granger), one to Lewis Dickson, son of his seventh daughter Theresa, who had died in 1930, and one to William John Downie. The value of the estate was 8 684 8s 2d, equating to just over 500 000 in 2016.