The First Four Ships Court Unveiled – 1975

In 1975, the First Four Ships Court was unveiled in the South West corner of Cathedral Square.

Around four separate ceremony trees and gardens are numerous plaques not only listing the names of our first Canterbury Association settlers but also information on the First Four Ships (Charlotte Jane, Randolph, Sir George Seymour and the Cressy) themselves. Close by, also on plaques, are acknowledgements to Canterbury’s pre-European history and its iwi and to those Pre-Adamites (a term used for those Europeans who arrived before 1850) who were first to ‘break ground’ here.

From December 1850 till May 1853, twenty eight Canterbury Association ships brought over three thousand settlers to Canterbury. The Canterbury Association was founded by Edward Gibbon Wakefield and John Robert Godley who wished to establish a Church of England settlement in New Zealand.

Many of those who arrived on these celebrated First Four Ships still have their influence on our lives every day. Here’s is a very select and brief look of some of them, hopefully enriching your daily historic view of Christchurch.

*Edward James Fitzgerald – Canterbury’s first Superintendent, founder of ‘The Press’ newspaper.
*Dr. A.C. Barker – made many of the first sketches and photographs of early Christchurch.
*Hamilton Ward – owned the brewery that eventually produced what is now known as Canterbury Draught (CD).
*Stephen Fisher – named his farm Beckenham and Fisher Ave was the site of his farm’s main hub.
*Benjamin Woolfield Mountfort – designed iconic buildings such as the Canterbury Provincial Chambers, the Art Centre, Addington Prison and the Canterbury Museum.
*Mary Grubb – the Grubb Cottage is Lyttelton’s oldest building.
*William McCormack – remembered in the naming of McCormack Bay, Reserve and Causeway.
*Thomas Smith Duncan – founded the law firm of Duncan Cotterill.
*William Dearsley Wood – his flour mill business can still be seen in the burnt out ruins on Wise Street, Addington.
*Chaney Family – now remembered in the naming of Chaney’s Corner, Belfast. Two members of this family worked as stone masons on the Christchurch Cathedral.
*William Free – with Stephen Brooker, they unwitting became part of the story behind the naming of New Brighton with fellow First Four Ship Settler, William Guise Brittan.
*John Stanley – gifted the land for St James Anglican Church and Harewood School. Were the first orchard growers and are remembered in the naming of Stanleys Road, Harewood.
*Walpole Fendal – with the quick subdivision and selling of his 50 acres, the area became known as Fendall Town – Fendalton.
*J.C. Watts-Russell – owner of the farm of Ilam.
*Henry Washborne – Washborne Creek at Little Hagley Park acknowledges the 9 months this family camped there before getting land of their own. Brockworth Place, off Deans Road was named after their property there.
*Stephen Corlett – after a cold deadly winter by the Avon, the Corletts moved to their own land in Upper Riccarton. Their old driveway is now the misspelt Curletts Road.
*Arthur Dudley Dobson – the young surveyor behind the naming of Arthur’s Pass.
*Daniel Inwood – first to open a Mill in Canterbury (at Carlton Corner). Mill Island on Oxford Terrace, near Hereford Street is the site on his second milling business.

*Image taken by Annette Bulovic *

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