HENRY FRANCIS WORSLEY (1806 – 1876)

Throughout my studies of Christchurch’s history, the surname of Worsley has popped up now and again.  As there was no additional information offered with these brief references, Henry Francis Worsley had remained a question mark in my mind, that is, until this morning.  Now I know why previous historians haven’t written about him as there doesn’t seem to be a lot about him personally.  It really has been because of the efforts of his descendants that has kept him on the radar as much as he is these days.

Henry Francis Worsley and his family (including 10 children) arrived in Lyttelton on-board the Canterbury Association’s 18th ship, ‘Cornwell’, on 18th December 1851.  Sharing this historic journey were other great Canterbury names such as: Moorhouse, Bealey, Twigger and Boag – the latter establishing the farm that is now known as the suburb of Burnside. 

Henry owned 45 acres on Marley’s Hill (named after William Henry Marley, a pioneering architect/builder) as well as owning land in Hoon Hay but he appears to have settled on his ‘town’ land in Fendall Town (Fendalton) – where he quickly began to subdivide and sell. As a side note, one of these buyers was Thomas Maude – the father of Sybil Maude who established Nurse Maude district nursing.

The Worsley family must have formed a good friendship with Walpole Fendall (settler of “Fendall Town”) as two of the Worsleys were Godparents for the Fendalls.
Henry Theophilus Worlsey (1834 – 1898) was the Godfather of Walter Fendall. Tragically, little Walter wasn’t even one year old when he drowned in the Waimairi Stream.
This event was one of the reasons the Fendalls moved away from Christchurch and settled in North Canterbury in 1859.

But…back to Henry. He didn’t settle in Christchurch for long, as he moved to Melbourne around 1858.  Before relocating, he constructed a road through his Marley Hill property (that now bears his name and pictured here) that was once simply known as “Gorse Track”.  Worsley Road first appeared in print in 1919.

Known as a budding artist, he thought he would learn and be more exposed to life with his move.  Even though he starred in exhibits and wrote his own book on Art and understanding it, he never won the approval of the critics. He died in Australia in 1876.

He was married twice: his first wife was Catherine Agnes Blackden and his second wife was Caroline Cust-Peacock, a widow.  He had children with both wives, which leads to my next interesting point in this story. 

In 1862, Henry’s daughter (from his first marriage), Catherine Mary (1840 – 1936), married her step-brother Donald Hankinson (1832 – 1877), the son of Henry’s second wife from her first husband!
Donald is also remembered in history as being the first European to visit the Te Anau region in South Canterbury and served there as a politician.

Another of Henry’s children, Arthur Manwaring Worlsey (1838 – 1863) found his early death while mustering cattle in Kaiapoi.  He fell from his horse after it was charged at by a bull – he was only 25 years old. 

But the most famous Worlsey would be Frank Arthur Worlsey, who captained “Endurance”, the expedition ship of the Shackleton Antarctic Exploration party in 1914 – 1916.
As a well-recognized explorer, Mount Worlsey (U.S.A.), Cape Worsley, Worlsey Icefalls (Antarctica) and Worsley Harbour (Spitebergen) are all named after him.
Among his feats, he claimed to be the first New Zealander to step foot on Franz Joseph Land (located in the Arctic Ocean), served in both world wars and also wrote a few books of his worldly experiences

Frank Worsley died of lung cancer in 1943 after being a heavy smoker for his adult life.

A bust of Frank, created by Stephen Gleeson, was unveiled in 2004 in his hometown of Akaroa.  His ensign from commanding PC. 61 is also displayed at Akaroa Museum.

– The attached photo shows Worsley Road during the Port Hills Fire of 2017 where many residental properties became under threat.

*image courtesy of Radio New Zealand – http://www.radionz.co.nz*

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