Ritchie's Memoirs One (see Memoirs Two)
[Transcribed by Michael Cole from typewritten copy by Nola Robertson,
Spelling of proper names has not been corrected. (?) indicates where script is missing. Paragraph spacing is my own. also see notes]
I, Thomas Ritchie of 17 Princes St. New Plymouth, present facts here of what I can remember re my two Grandfathers. The Ritchie's, Thomas and James came from Scotland to Belfast. These two brothers came to County Down through Killinchy and took up two farms at "Inch" adjoining each other, on the Finnebrogue Estate, Maxwells.
One farm was called "the Rock" through the position of the homestead being built on rock. James had a family of four sons and two daughters who were all men and women before I was born. The one that I knew and loved was called Billy Ritchie. The whole family lived at "the Rock" farm in my time and none married in my time up to 1863. I have often been with my father when the old man came to see his nephew (my Father) I was only a little fellow and was very sorry when he died.
The other brother's farm was called "the Rookery" or "the Grove" because the grounds had four or five large ash trees with a rookery of crows in them. My Grandfather, Thomas Ritchie, lived there and married Rose Hutton of the family of Hutton of "Troughlee". The Hutton issue being two sons and one daughter. The Hutton land was freehold forever.
The first of the Ritchie's born was John, my father, who later inherited "Ritchies Grove" and second, James, my Uncle who became a Land Steward at "Finnebrogue" after Thomas Leonard went to Belfast on retiring to join my Uncle James Ritchie.
The daughter, my Aunt, married James Rooney of Ballycuttle [Ballycruttle]. He died before I was born. My Aunt and their issue were alive when I left Ireland in 1863. Our old servants Jamie Copeland and Tom Taylor used to love telling me all about my Grandmother Ritchie. They had lived all their lives, from boys, as servants with my Father. They had great praise for my Grandmother and never tired of saying what a grand old lady she was and how she was loved and respected by all who knew her. Even Phill, the well known coachman that drove the coach between Downpatrick and Belfast, would always drive the coach full of passengers right up to "Ritchies Grove" whenever my Grandmother was a passenger. I have often been told how my Grandmother had all the baby clothes ready for my arrival (I being the eldest) and then went on a visit to Mrs. Rooney at Ballycuttle (my Aunt). Unfortunately she took ill there and died on the day that I was born. Through the death of my Grandmother my Father and my Uncle James never forgave their sister for keeping their Mother to die at Ballycuttle against her will - hence I never knew the Rooneys.
John Ritchie, my Father married Eliza McMurray, daughter of the far-famed
Dr. McMurray of Terminnen. Their issue, five sons and three daughters were:-
First born Thomas (myself) called after my Grandfather Thomas Ritchie.
Second Robert Hutton called after my Father's Uncle who later died in America.
Third James Hutton called after my Father's Uncle.
Fourth Sarah Ann called after my Aunt Sarah Rooney.
Fifth Martin Coates called after my Uncle on my Mother's side.
Sixth and Seventh Margaret and Rosina, Twins called after my Aunt.
Eighth William Henry called after my Uncle. William Henry was the first to die, aged 4 years.
Note:- On account of my Father's grievance with his sister, Mrs. Rooney, he said that he would not bury William Henry in the Tomb where his Father and Mother lay, but with the McMurrays at the "Inch". Then later my Father said to bury him with William Henry. My Grandfather and Grandmother lie in one tomb. My Father's first cousin, James Hutton of Troughlee, and his brother at Comber. William Perry of the Ran (father of Joe and Johny).
The Martin's (?) Jack and Bob of Inch, Joe of Tabermoney, two Martins in Downpatrick, all with no issue. One Martin at Clough, the Father of Joe Martin, that came out with me on the "Lancashire Witch". All very respectable folk. One with a large family (was a bad egg) lived near "Ritchies Grove'! All were cousins of my Father's also one called Taylor at the Ran with a family.
Frank Ritchie of Belfast and of Mt. Pottinger were full cousins of my Father's also Dr. Ritchie the great chemist, and also called Richardson. My Mother's Father (my Grandfather) was the far-famed Dr. McMurray of Terminnen. His issue was:-
The eldest son, George who inherited Terminnen.
Arron, a Doctor, who lived at Comber. I knew him.
John with a family at Belfast. I knew him.
Joseph with a family went to Albany, America before I met him.
Eldest married Thomas Newell of Ballyclander.
Ann married Henry Coates, the far-famed Doctor of Portaferry.
Eliza (my Mother) married John Ritchie of Ritchies Grove.
Sarah (called Sally) married John Bassett of Raleigh, and afterwards of Terminnen, their original home. Their daughter married a man called Orr.
My uncle, McMurray, married Miss Cleland, no issue. After I left Ireland I heard that he went queer. After his wife separated from him and he gave my brother Martin a lot of trouble wanting him to do things and when he refused to have Terminnen, went to John Bassett of Raleigh, so Bassett took him to a lawyer and they drew up a deed etc. Hence Bassett inherited Terminnen.
Note:- Ballyclander, the house of Newells, freehold forever. I heard that Andrew Armour, a wealthy man who lived close to the Newells, kept offering to lend money to Thomas, which the old man would never accept. But after his father died, Thomas did, which caused much trouble. I learnt the above through the old man telling my father. He loved talking to my father all about the trouble with his son etc.
Issue of my uncle Henry and aunt Ann Coates:-
One son who became Dr John Coates of India.
Eldest, Jane, who married John Cole of Clones.
Second, Margaret, never married.
Third and youngest, Lizzie, who married Mr. McBurney of Belfast, after I left Ireland.
Issue of Thomas Newell of Ballyclander who married Miss McMurray my
mother's eldest sister:-
Eldest son, Thomas, married Miss Casement of Ardglass.
Second son, (?), went out to the Southern States of America, I think New Orleans. I saw him when he came home to see his Father and presented his Father with a beautiful walking stick with a large gold handle (or head).
Youngest son, Joseph, who became the Rev. J. Newell of Newton Limavady, never married.
Matty, never married.
Second daughter who married James Lawder of Corblay near Killaleigh.
Third, Emily, married a widower with a family, a tremendous big man, lived out of Portaferry.
Note;- The Summer Hill Newells, I never knew him, but there was great love between them and my Aunt and Uncle Henry Coates and my cousin Coates, (?), not the Ballyclander family.
(?)?who married my father's only sister:-
One son, John Maxwell and two daughters, but none ever married.
James Rooney and my Father loved one another (like Jonathon and David). They built a tomb to bury their dead in the Ballycuttle Churchyard sharing equally the expense (my Father told me). The tomb will be still be there I expect. The first to be laid there was my Grandfather, Thomas Ritchie. Next, my Grandmother. My Grandmother went on to visit Ballycuttle. Copeland, our old servant, told me he drove her down there and she told him to come back and bring her home again as soon as she would let him know. While she was there, she took ill and wanted daily to come home. She kept saying that she "wanted to die in her Tommy's bed". Copeland told me that the first news that my Father got was a message that my Grandmother was dead and announcing the day of the funeral. "Well," said Copeland, "on the day of the funeral, your Father, took four of us, one being Tom Taylor, all with white bands on our hats and when the hearse came, your Father walked into the house where his sister, Mrs Rooney, had her four men to carry the coffin. Your Father ordered them to stand back and we four to take the coffin into the service. We followed after to the tomb and carried the coffin there. When the funeral was all over, your Father and we four drove home and your father has never been to Ballycuttle since, but James Rooney often came to the Grove, your Father and he were the same."
My Uncle, James Ritchie, was a Land Steward for John Waring Maxwell,
Finnebrogue, (our Landlord). He has command over 100 men for years, when he
resigned to go to Belfast to join his relations there. His place was filled by
Thomas Leonard. (The same who came to Auckland, NZ).
When I came to know my Uncle James of Belfast, he had married his second wife, a widow, Mrs Spratt of Strannear, of Scotland, who owned a lot of property there. No issue.
Issue by his first wife (who was long dead before my knowledge), were two sons and one daughter. The eldest son, James, a fine man. When I knew him, he was engaged to be married to his second cousin, Agnes Ritchie, daughter of Frank Ritchie, Mount Pottinger. My Uncle James Ritchie, a partner in building the Queens Bridge at Belfast, and the great Glendun Viaduct, Chushendall. A week before the wedding, when dancing at the Ball, he burst a blood vessel which caused his death. Agnes, though sought after, never married.
Second son, Thomas, called after my Grandfather, he was threatened with consumption after serving his time with Henry Black, a great grocer in Warren Street. The doctors ordered him to travel so he went to Mauritius Is. Then he started a business Greer Ritchie and Co. His health failed again and he came to Auckland, NZ. Health improved and he went home. On arriving in England, he joined the recruits going to fight Garribaldi in Italy. He was at the battle taking Salerno, was made an Ensign. As soon as his father could get into communication with the War Office, orders were given for him to come home. He came home through France wearing his uniform and received great praise etc. But when he reached home in Belfast, his father was so wrathed, he could not speak to him, and having no money, he came to my Father, his uncle, and lived at the Grove and I heard a lot about NZ.
NOTE:- The account of his death taken from the "Evening Herald" 20th September, 1907, aged 71 years and leaving a wife and seven daughters, is pasted in the large Bible.
My Uncle James's daughter Annie, married a widower who had a grown family. One of the daughters was married to Marquis Ward of the firm of Book Binders called Pretty, a wealthy man and high up in the HMS Customs. She had one daughter, Ann, who afterwards became the wife of my brother James, Dr Ritchie, Civil Service, India. He later died in the Red Sea or the Indian Ocean coming home.
I and all my brothers attended the Inch School, close to "Ritchie's Grove" under the Church Society, Master John McGlinnen, and his wife was Mistress of the Girls" Department. They were highly educated from Dublin. At Portaferry, there was a very select school (as it was called), started by the aristocracy for the young gentry. Only fourteen pupils were allowed to attend. The Master, Mr Maharg, a grand man, who could educate the pupils up to entering College. My name was down a long time before there was a vacancy. At last it came when I was about eight or nine years old. I did regret leaving home and my donkey that my Uncle Henry Coates gave me. Well, I was there during the Crimean War and the Great Comet, 1854-5. The pupils I knew best and chummed up with were W H Orr, H. Donnan, D. Lassells, two sons of Dr. Shidsons, Greer, A. Nugent, McNabb and G. Russell. Donnan's father owned ships and he would often take his son and I for a sail or a row in one of them when in Port. Mr Greer, RN, would lend us his nice little boat to go for a row to Strangford and Eastward etc. on Saturdays. It was then that I learnt my boating. My Uncle Henry was a great boatman and would take me with him outside Ardglass in the herring season. But the worst was that I would be sick and how he enjoyed laughing at me. A short time after I started this school, Mr Maharg died which was a great loss. He was a man who enthused his pupils to learn. We all feared him and yet loved him. After his death, the Masters that came in his place, were students from College whom we never loved or feared and the fact was, it was little that I learned and glad when I got away from it all. What a difference it would have made to me had Mr Maharg lived. Out of school hours, he became like a school boy with us. He would appoint a certain day for pleasure of some sort somewhere. He then gave one of us certain work to do and when that work was completed, we earned a picnic with sports and games. But woe-be-tide the boy, if his work was not done, which really never happened because of threats etc.
My uncle, James Ritchie of Belfast, prevailed on my Father to send my brothers Robert H. and James H. to school. They attended the "Belfast Institution" to be educated and they lived with my Uncle at Seaview, Antrim Rd (see notes). Every quarter, my Father sent me with the money to pay their schooling fees. I usually went by train but when required, I took the Cart with a sack of oatmeal for porridge and a sack of wheatmeal for bread, and groats and a goose etc. All this was when I came home from Portaferry and was looking after the men on our two farms, The Grove and Terminnen. In fact, my Uncle James felt under an obligation to my Father who paid all fees and for their clothing. My Uncle gave them a good Home and he enjoyed them for company for his wife was very deaf. In fact, everyone had to write everything down on a small white porcelain slate with a lead pencil attached to it. When I was there, I had to write down all that I saw and did that day, and when Uncle tried to tell me what to say, she would watch his lips in her Scotch way, would say "No you tell him". She would tell me a great lot about my brothers, Robert and James. She would say to me Robert is a nice lad, but that James is fire, in his Scotch way. I was a great favourite with her. I drove her about when she visited the Grove. There were two servant girls at Seaview, Sarah, the cook, and Charlotte Hull, the Lady's Maid. They had been there for years and were like part of the family. What a lot of fun. They would tell me all about the Old Lady. At the cottage by the Entrance Gate, lived Robert Hull, Gardner and Coachman, (in livery), who drove the phaeton and took the Old Lady about for years. He had been there for years and Charlotte was his daughter. In the establishment, there were never any servants - they all belonged as one family. What a lot of fun there was. There was eleven acres of land all in a large orchard, a gooseberry garden, and all fenced off by a high stone wall, also a large vegetable garden. They also kept two or three cows. It took a long time to walk around the many paths, seats, etc. My cousin Tom, as mentioned, came to Ritchie's Grove, until his father's wrath was over about going to fight for Garribaldi. He had never ridden a horse so I was delighted to teach him as I was a good horseman and had broken in all our young horses. He told me about his life in Auckland. How he and some others took a contract to cut a road through the bush in the Waikato, their camp life, living on ducks that they had shot, also the Maoris etc. I then made up my mind to come to NZ. When he went back to Belfast, his sister Mrs Pretty and her little girl came to Ritchie's Grove. I did like her to come as I had to drive her around everywhere.
News came that cousin Tom was off back to NZ and to meet him at Crosgar Station as he was coming to say "Goodbye." So I met with the car. I sat on the Dickey seat and left him and his sister to talk together, but I could not help hearing every word he said. He related how he went to Belfast and saw Dr Ritchie and told all about his father's anger and coming to live with his uncle, my Father. Dr Ritchie asked him what would he like to do? He said he would like to start a business in Auckland, NZ. He was offered by Dr. Ritchie, 6,000 Pounds. When he told his father this, he was delighted and supposed it was to get him away from marrying Eleanor Carson of the great firm of Carsons, Belfast, whom his father did not like although he had never seen her. He also said how he was going to get a machine made to scutch the NZ flax land a great lot of goods ordered etc.
Well, my cousin Tom Ritchie went to NZ in the ship "William Watson" (little Hood of the Chathams was cabin boy). Thomas Hall, of Belfast, lived in Auckland and was in business there, so they became partners, starting the firm of Hall Ritchie and Co., Hall in Auckland and Ritchie in Lyttleton, so my cousin sent home for my brother Robert to come out to him. My brother Robert Hutton left Ireland for Auckland as a cabin passenger with T. Bullock, Willie and Judgeson. Robert got 40 acres of land from the government according to law. This was the beginning of the year 1863.
Before and after Robert sailed, I often used to ride into Downpatrick and attended a dancing class with my sister Sarah Ann for two quarters. One quarter taught by Professor Gordon, and the other by Professor Smith, Belfast. The Gilchrist family attended these classes, and a great number of townsfolk. It was held in the top story of the "Old Market House" (where all public affairs were held). H. Gilchrist, had two shops adjoining each other in town, but when his brother-in-law, John Gray, of Inch, died, he inherited his farm adjoining our farm (Ritchie Grove) and came to live there, leaving his shops in town to Robert Martin Adair, as Manager over a big staff. At the back of these shops, there was a big yard with Stables, where I used to leave my horse, when in town. Mr Adair lived on the premises and my mother gave R. M. Adair charge of me when I. was in town attending Balls etc. and I had to obey him, as he was old enough to be my Father. I told Adair all that I knew about NZ and that I attended to follow Robert (my brother) to NZ. Adair made up his mind to come with me. Adair talked to Hay, Martin, Ferguson, (all in business in town) and they all made up their minds to go to NZ in the same ship, and Johnny Nelson also joined them. Of course, they would stick together and go as steerage passengers. I got my mother's consent to go, but not my Father's. My Mother had such faith in Robert Adair, she wanted me to go with him, but I made up my own mind that I would not go without my Father's consent. So on Sunday, when going to the Rev. S. C. Nelson's Presbyterian Meeting House, my Mother asked him after church to talk to my Father and get his consent for me to go to NZ. On the next day, Monday, my Father ordered me to drive him into town, and to my great surprise, went to Gilchrist's shop, and saw Adair and told him that as wanted to go to NZ with him, he wanted all the clothes that I needed to take. Adair sent out for a tailor, and got all the material for the suits required. After getting all the clothing, even a bell-topper hat. Then he told me to drive to Johnson and Perry's Timber Yards and got timber to make me two boxes with hinges etc. Our old carpenter, C. Gennings, made my boxes. I sold my horse for 25 Pounds. I was delighted with the turn of things. My Father left the getting of my passage etc to Adair, who arranged everything etc. much earlier than wanted. We had not heard of the arrival of my brother in NZ. Our ship was the "Lancashire Witch".
In addition to my 25 pounds, my Father gave me 50 pounds. R. Adair did everything re arranging with the agents, paying a deposit and remainder in London. Travel expenses to London, even our lodgings in London, for the six of us. We all travelled together. Little was left for me to do, all helped one another and I felt as though I was leaving on a pleasure trip.
Before leaving home, I had to go to Adair's Father near Kilough, where I met his brother Jim, afterwards (Capt. Adair), T. Hay, took me to his Father's home at Ballyclough, Thomas Newell (the lawyer) Joseph Perry and his Sister Mary Perry and many others, came to The Grove to say Goodbye to me. John Nelson, who was Mary's groom, told me that J. Nelsen did not like NZ and that I was to tell my Cousin and get him to send him back, that she would pay all the expenses.
Tom, Newell, also Joe Perry, were very hard on me, for coming away, as they looked forward to me filling my Father's place and helping at the A. and P. Society Shows etc.
I left Ritchie Grove, on Friday 26th of June, 1863, accompanied by the Gilchrist boys and a few neighbours, to say Goodbye at Crossgar Station. The train took my brother James R. Ritchie to Belfast, where James was a student, at the Belfast College. On arriving at Belfast, we saw the family of Wylie, returning from Spain. At Ballychinch, Mr Wylie was the Bursar of the Belfast "Queens College" where my brother James was a student. Mr Wylie had a son who went out to NZ on the "William Watson". With my cousin and I and my brother Robert, promised to go and spend an evening at their home, adjoining the College. Arriving at "Seaview" house, found Uncle James and Aunt and cousin Mrs Pretty, and her little Annie, all very well.
[Start of diary of voyage.]
Sat 27th (June, 1863)
Went to Mr Plimmer's and had photo taken, returning to "Seaview" for lunch and found Uncle, who had come home with Robert Adair. After lunch, James took Robert A. and I to spend the afternoon at the Wylies. Went through their garden and my Brother took us through the College Museum, and up the tower, then on to return to Seaview.
All went to hear Scott Porter and sat in my Uncle's pew, next to Harlands, (of Harland and Wolfe) a great friend of my Uncle's.
A very busy day and our Departure. Adair and I went to Co Down Station, to meet our companions, T. Hay, Joe Martin, H. Ferguson, and Jonny Nelson. After the luggage was deposited, took them to Plimmer's to have the photos taken. Oh, I met my cousin Jane Cole in the street, on her way to "Ritchie Grove." She asked me to call on Miss Harper, who was leaving to marry Jane's brother in India. I waited at the gate. She went to the door, a servant came and went and came again. Oh, I was sorry for her, she came to me in tears. I asked her to come to the train, to see me off, as I was going to NZ. She said "I am going to comfort your Mother, you naughty boy, to go and leave her." I left "Seaview" at 6pm accompanied by my Uncle, Mrs Pretty, and little Annie and my brother James, to see me off on the boat for Morcombe. The boat left at 7pm. A very calm sea, and a good night, and I was not sea sick.
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