ILAM – J.C. Watts-Russell (1825 – 1875)

Jesse Watts-Russell sure helped his son J.C. when he purchased for him 500 acres from the Canterbury Association for the new colony of Christchurch. 10 acres of this was in Lyttelton and the rest would become known as Ilam. 1850 would be a huge year for J.C.; he married Elizabeth Bradshaw and the newly weds were among the passengers of the Sir George Seymour, one of the first four ships to Canterbury.

After building and living in Lyttelton for a while, the Watts-Russell family finally settled down in Ilam, building one of the finest homes in Christchurch. The house became the centre of the Christchurch social scene – it was there that James Fitzgerald thought up ‘The Press’ while he was dining there one evening. Unfortnately this fine home was destroyed by fire in 1911.

During the late 1860’s, the Watts-Russell’s sold off their interests in New Zealand and returned to England. They weren’t gone for long, returning to Christchurch. In 1875 after a short illness, J.C died in his home which was in Cathedral Square. In honour of her late husband, Elizabeth had a memorial window erected in the Christchurch Cathedral and at St Peter’s Anglican Church at Church Corner, Upper Riccarton. He is also buried in the graveyard there.

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