Mary Gebbie (? – ?)

John and Mary Gebbies arrived in Port Nicholson (Wellington) in February 1840 in the company and employment of William Deans. John was a very good farmer and stock-man so he was a vital employee to William. Mary who was actually pregnant at the time, was to be a housekeeper. Mary gave birth on the beach at Petone, Wellington; the family’s only home at that time was a tent.

William Deans and the Gebbies lived for 3 years in Wellington before the move down to Canterbury. Along with William, John cut survey lines in dense bush in the Wellington region, putting in hard hours; six in the morning to six at night. In 1843, the party moved down to Canterbury on ‘The Richmond’ along with the Hay and Manson families. As the first buildings were being erected at what would be come Riccarton, John remained in Port Levy to watch over the women and children of the party.

In 1845, the Gebbie and Manson families left the employment of the Deans and moved out to Banks Peninsula. The area where they farmed is now known as Teddington.

Sadly, John died of chest problems in 1851, leaving Mary with a farm and six children. The Deans brothers watched over the family as they were trustees in the estate. They encouraged Mary to get her land in freehold as soon as possible and while John was in Scotland marrying Jane, he brought Mary clothing and a cheese press.

When John Deans I died in 1854, Mary was present in his final moments, taking charge of little John Deans II. Mary visited Riccarton a lot during these dark times for Jane, being a great source of comfort. Jane too, was a visitor to Teddington many times, walking the Bridle Path to do so.

Within the life-time of Mary Gebbie, the farm was 7700 acres and had 6000 sheep. Part of the original farm known as “Burnt Hallow'” only ceased its dairy works in 2005.

John and Mary Gebbie are buried in the Lyttelton Anglican Cemetery. Although the earthquakes have not been kind, I am hopeful of finding their graves in the near future.

*Photo of Gebbie Road Sign taken by Annette Bulovic*

7 Responses

  1. Nicole Keenan says:

    Hi there,
    I know you have a bibliography list, but I was wondering what the specific references were that you used for this particular story. I am doing a design project for Petone and this story is very intriguing! I even heard a version that says that Mary gave birth while on the water and floated the baby to shore on a tabletop!!?? Would love to hear back!

    Kind Regards
    Nicole

    • Hi Nicole 🙂

      Thanks for your comment, wow, gave birth in the water and returned to shore on a table top, that’s a vision and a bit! LOL, love it tho. Most of my info on Mary Gebbie came from the books I own on the Deans; namely PIONEERS OF THE PLAINS – THE DEANS OF CANTERBURY by Gordon Ogilvie (which is the best) and PIONEERS ON THE PORT COOPER PLAINS – THE DEANS FAMILY OF RICCARTON by John Deans. I have read nothing about Mary giving birth in the water but would love to know more too! Where did you read that? I got the impression that Mary gave birth in the family camp on Petone Beach…would a woman in those days exposure herself like that? Interesting though, keep me in the loop and I will do the same.

      I am travelling up to Wellington next month to actually trace William Deans’ land and that includes a good poke around Petone Beach for any acknowledgement on the families that settled there while land orders were sorted. Can’t wait.

      • Nicole Keenan says:

        I heard this just through word of mouth, but a man doing the same course as me at uni is a descendant of the Gebbies and was telling me a bit about what he had heard. I think what he was meaning was that Mary gave birth just as the Aurora was nearly ashore possibly, not actually in the water so maybe she had no choice in terms of exposure etc… sadly I think he heard it through word of mouth too so no actual proof of this. Have a great time at Petone Beach! Go to the Petone Settlers Museum if you get a chance! It’s great! Also, Petone Library has a whole historical section worth having a look at. 🙂

        • Hey Nicole

          Giving birth aboard the Aurora could explain it, history huh, always a mystery ;p I flicked through the letters written by William Deans from Wellington to his father and brothers and he does not mention Mary Gebbie giving birth but I don’t imagine he would, that being women’s business and all…

          What’s at the Petone Settler’s Museum, I don’t have much more than a day to get around…UGHHHH! I have to handle my time carefully…

  2. Brent Gebbie says:

    I have had a look in the Petone Aurora Museum on the beach front. It has copies of the shipping and who was on it, Basically records from the ships that they arrived in. We have a family history done by someone a couple of years ago if you would like I can email a copy to you.

    • Hi Brent, thanks for your comment 😉 You wouldn’t believe it but I was standing outside the Petone Settler’s Museum just last month on one of the two days it was closed!!! While my husband Chris was in Wellington on business, I took the time to pursue the Deans and the Gebbies lives while living there. I would love to have a look at the ship records if you don’t mind.
      It’s great to touch base with a Gebbie, I have quite a few members of the Mansons that follow some of my studies so I am thrilled. Another FB page that I run where I would post about the Gebbies more regularly is http://www.facebook.com/DeansOfCanterbury just in case you are interested.

      • Brent Gebbie says:

        If you email me I will head down to the museum and see what I can get for you and email you a copy. My partner sent me this link to read and has been doing a little reading on them all Gebbie, Deans and Manson and she was thinking they may of come from the same area of Ayrshire. All may of been connected through the McIlraith’s farms either Auchenflower or the other 2 farms in the Stinchar Valley.

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