First European Child Born On The Plains – 7th January 1844

On 7th January 1844, a daughter was born to Samuel and Jean Manson, at Putaringamotu (Riccarton) on the Port Cooper (Canterbury) Plains. She was the first European child to be born on the plains and her name was Jeannie.

Just two years before, her parents had been employed by John Deans back in Riccarton, Scotland. Samuel was a carpenter by trade. Samuel, Jean and their two children (Anges and Robert) left London with John Deans for New Zealand on 25th May 1842. By February 1843, the Mansons along with the Deans and the Gebbies were settled on the Port Cooper Plains.

Little Jeannie would have taken her first steps at the Deans farm – six years before the arrival of the First Four Ships. It’s great to picture the Manson and Gebbie children playing at the edge of Riccarton Bush – these three families being the only living European souls on those vast plains.
In 1845, Jeannie and the rest of the family, along with the Gebbies (now remembered in the naming of Gebbies Pass) moved out to the Head of Bays on Banks Peninsula – now known as Teddington.

Samuel, once he had his family settled, took work at Purau with the Greenwood brothers. His own farm, which he called ‘Kains Hill’, produced fine cheeses and after the arrival of the First Four Ships in 1850, he would walk to Lyttelton around the beaches to do some selling.

Samuel and Jean had 17 children in all, the youngest being born in 1864.

The attached drawing was made on 12th September 1848 showing the Deans Cottage on the right at its original site, facing the Avon. Next to it is a bridge and track now known as Kahu Road. The buildings to the far left were milking sheds. The farm buildings were rebuilt in the 1880’s with brick and these buildings were taken over by Chch Boys High when they purchased the land in the 1920’s. Two of these heritage buildings were tragically lost to the earthquakes of 2010/2011.

For a more in depth look at the Manson family, please check out the attached link:

*Image of Riccarton farm courtesy of The Alexander Turnbull Library – Mantell, Walter Baldock Durrant (Hon), 1820-1895. Mantell, Walter Baldock Durrant, 1820-1895 :Deans. Sept 12 [1848]. Mantell, Walter Baldock Durrant 1820-1895 :[Sketchbook, no. 3] 1848-1849. Ref: E-334-014. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. *

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