Monday, 15 May 2017

"Boghead" - The Story of a House and a Family on the Taieri


"Boghead" [Duddingston] as it appeared circa late 1890's
[From my own collection]

"Boghead" - or "Duddingston" as it is now known - is an attractive and historic two-storied colonial era home built on the Taieri Plains of Otago New Zealand and has held a well deserved Heritage New Zealand Historic Places Category 1 rating since 1983.

This blog is an attempt to weave together information about the house and the Oughton family who built and first resided at "Boghead" through to 1900, some of it being from published sources and some from unpublished personal and extended family records and photographs. This story also has a connection to my own family hence my holding some Oughton related photographs.

The Heritage New Zealand [HNZ] report written by Melanie Lovell-Smith in 2003 states that David Wilson Oughton, an early Otago settler, built "Boghead" at North Taieri, in 1865.

The house, being built in an "L" shape, is of brick with with dormer windows to the front and rear, decorative barge boards with finials, corrugated iron roof, and a small verandah with the rear including a lean to. The HNZ note that "The 70,000 - 80,000 bricks used to build the house were purchased from neighbouring Salisbury estate, where Donald Reid... had them fired in his own kiln and sold them to Oughton". All but the bricks on the porch have subsequently been covered with a concrete wash as a form of protection but are visible in the above 1890's photograph.

But firstly, what do we know of David Wilson Oughton? David, one of a family of ten children, was born in Roslin, Parish of Lasswade, Midlothian, Scotland, the son of John Oughton, "Vintner [Roslin Inn], Roslyn" and his wife Margaret Wilson, on the 21st October 1831. The former Roslin Inn on "College Hill" and built in 1660 is still extant, being located just a short 20 meters from the historic Rosslyn Chapel on the present day Chapel Loan.

David Wilson Oughton 1831 - 1869.
Copyrighted Photo
[Source : David & Pamela Oughton]

We next find that on the 23rd November 1851 and aged just 20 years, David Oughton arrived at Port Chalmers in Otago, New Zealand on the 597 ton "Simlah" from London via Wellington. This puts him only three years after the first organised influx of European settlers in 1848 and is acknowledged as one of the earliest European land owners on the Taieri Plains. Accompanying him were fellow emigrants "Mr and Mrs [Andrew] Todd and three children" from Largo in Fifeshire, Scotland. It would be Andrew's 20 year old daughter Jean [known as Jane] Todd that the 24 year old David Oughton would marry on the 1st November 1855. The extended Todd family also became very well known and established residents and agriculturalists on the Taieri.

David Oughton truly appears to have been the model of an ideal settler, becoming fully involved in the local community including being a member of and supporting the local East Taieri Presbyterian Church, a member of the East Taieri School and District Education Committees,  a member and later convenor of the Taieri Agricultural Societies, a member of the Otago Agricultural Society, actively supporting political candidates, representing settlers in land matters pertaining to "the Otago Scheme", representing settlers in matters of public interest and making representations on their behalf to the Otago Provincial Council, and generally supporting local social events in general. The generous nature of the settlers, including Mr Oughton, is evidenced by their often being noted as assisting new settlers with a day or two of free ploughing.

David Oughton initially lived at "Janefield" [click for link] on Factory Road, East Taieri, having built this also still extant and listed property around 1852 and naming it after his wife Jane Todd.

John & Georgina Oughton
of "Roslyn Lea", Southland,
Taken 1890's.
[From my own collection]

On the 15th November 1855 a happy reunion would have occurred when David's brother John Oughton, his wife Georgina Wallace, and their three children arrived from Scotland, eventually settling at "Roslyn Lea" near Invercargill. I have included their photo as I can see a family resemblance between John and his brother David.

But tragedy would strike David and his family in March 1860, when after only five years of marriage, Mrs Jane Oughton née Todd aged 24 years died of consumption [tuberculosis] at "Janefield", East Taieri. Jane left behind two children, James Sinclair Oughton born 14th September 1857 and Annie Todd Oughton born 10th July 1859.

Surprisingly, the Toitū Otago Settler's database note that as of the 10th September 1861 David Oughton held Miner's Right No 1388 and that he was then a miner resident on the Tuapeka Gold Fields of Otago. The finding of gold at Gabriel's Gully had been made public on the 8th June 1861 and it would appear that David was keen to try his own luck. This was along with 14,000 others who flocked to the Tuapeka and Waipori goldfields. How long he spent here is unknown.

We next find that David Oughton sold his plant and stock at "Janefield" by auction on the 24th September 1862. On the 3rd October 1862 friends entertained him to a dinner "prior to his departure for the home country". In a farewell speech, David stated that "he had passed the happiest period of his life in the East Taieri" and "that he hoped, at no very distant day, to return to the Taieri, which he would always consider as his home." An obituary for his son James Oughton published in 1902 states that the latter suffered a fall (presumably from a horse) in his youth which resulted in a permanent lameness and that "His father took him to the Old Country for expert advice, but without much result".  

By February 1863 plans were afoot by David's brother in law, Mr James Todd, who advertised for tenders for erecting a barn and stable for Mr D.W. Oughton at "Boghead Farm". North Taieri. There is no earlier specific reference to the name "Boghead". Heritage NZ state that David Oughton had purchased two pieces of land along North Taieri School Road as early as 1861. It would have no doubt been 'in the rough' and I daresay the name given to the farm was in fact a reflection on the nature of much of the land in this area until adequate drainage turned it into reasonably productive farm land. The Rev William Will, the first Presbyterian Parish Minister on the Taieri, had initially only been able to negotiate the boggy land between Mosgiel and North Taieri by stepping on tussock heads in order to avoid the muddy water logged ground.

David Oughton, taken around 1863-64.
The lady on the right is believed to be his 2nd wife
Janey Hunter Oughton (with ring on hand), &
son James Sinclair Oughton. The lady on the left
could be a sister, possibly Margaret Hunter.
Presumed taken in Scotland.
Copyrighted Photo
[Source : David & Pamela Oughton]

David Oughton appears to have spent his time in Scotland back in his home Parish of Lasswade. On the 7th March 1864 David, then aged 32 years and residing at "Moat" farm just out of Roslin Village, married Wihelmina Jane Hunter (known as "Janey") aged 30 and also of Lasswade Parish. Janey was related to my own paternal family through her mother, Jane Hunter, née Cochrane. This union led to a close family friendship with the Oughtons which would endure for many subsequent years. The Oughton, Hunter and Cochrane families were all from Roslin so thus knew each other but were now additionally connected by marriage. On the 4th July 1864 David, along with his family and 2nd wife Janey, arrived at Port Chalmers, Otago, New Zealand on the 1,100 ton "Vicksburg" from Glasgow.

HNZ state that "the adjacent piece of land [on North Taieri School Road] became his under a crown grant of 1865 and he settled here and built a house on his return to New Zealand". So we can be fairly sure that the present dwelling of "Boghead" [now "Duddingston"] was constructed in 1865. There is however no published record of a tender being advertised. Meanwhile, David again continued to support political candidates to the Legislature (including the still well known Julius Vogel) as well as pursuing such interests as supporting North Taieri and Taieri Ploughing Matches and being an active member of the Taieri Agricultural Society.

On the 7th March 1865 we note the birth of their daughter Jane Hunter Oughton at "Boghead" followed in 1868 by a son, William Hunter Oughton. All seemed set for a secure future for David and his family until tragedy would strike yet again. On the 20th February 1869 David Oughton himself died of bronchitis at "Boghead", aged just 37 years, the burial taking place at the East Taieri Cemetery on the 24th. The legal Executor of his will, Mr W.B. Ogilvie of the Crown Grant [Land] Office, duly advertised for any outstanding debts to the estate.

With a young family comprising of James aged 12, Annie aged 10, Jane aged 4 and William aged 1, Janey Oughton was now faced with a difficult decision. What she decided to do was to return to Scotland with her family and lease the 87 acre property at "Boghead" including grassed paddocks and "a superior seven-roomed brick house", as well as arrange a new lessee for "Janefield", the former 183 acre property David Oughton had purchased around 1852 at East Taieri. Tender offers were to be sent to the above Mr Ogilvie, the successful tenderer for "Boghead" being Mr Robert Miller. All stock, plant and household furniture at "Boghead" were then sold by auction. Janey and the children departed on the "Rangitoto" for Melbourne on their way to Scotland on the 22nd June 1869.

Part of Janey's plan involved her step-son James being sent to "Hillend" to learn farming. At the age of 20, and with sufficient farming skills, James Oughton returned to New Zealand on the 1,702 ton "Dunnottar Castle", departing from Gravesend, London on the 29th January 1879, arriving at Port Chalmers, Otago on the 8th May 1879 after a 98 day port to port voyage.

But accompanying James on the voyage out as his travelling companion was my 28 year old paternal Grandfather who appears to have been swayed to come out to New Zealand instead of Canada after no doubt hearing first hand accounts of the country from the Oughton family. My Grandfather, who had also learnt his farming skills in Scotland, later worked for a short time for Mr William Todd at "Willow Acre", East Taieri and later with another of their relatives at Tuturau so the extended family connection by marriage was certainly put to good use whilst agricultural work was scarce during the general economic slowdown.

James Sinclair Oughton,
taken after 1879
[From my own collection]

Upon his return to Otago in 1879 James Sinclair Oughton then took over "Janefield" farm, the house and property having been specifically left to him in his late father's will upon him reaching the age of 21 years and with a life rent payable annually to his mother Janey of fifty pounds, "Boghead" would remain leased. Upon David's other children reaching the age of 21 years. David had directed his trustees to sell his other remaining property and to distribute the funds between his children but excluding James who of course would inherit "Janefield". But it appears no sale took place until 1900 when "Boghead" was eventually sold although the estate may have come to some prior arrangement. Under the will Janey would also receive no further benefit other than the £50 pound annual payment from James.

Meanwhile, and in May 1879, Janey moved, along with her family and her 80 year old mother Jane Hunter (my relative as above), to "Avenue Cottage" in Juniper Green, a pleasant leafy suburb out of Edinburgh. The 1881 census confirms two children as still attending school, travelling into Edinburgh by train for their schooling. Janey's step-daughter, Annie Todd Oughton, then aged about 19, acted as one of two witnesses at the marriage of my Grandfather's sister Ann (who lived nearby) to Mr Robert Lawson in a local Church on the 19th June 1879 which again demonstrates the close connection with my own family.

But a letter from a family relative in London to his sister in Nelson New Zealand dated the 21st February 1881 includes a worrying reference to Mrs Oughton :

Mrs Oughton, that is Jane Hunter, is still at Juniper Green, and is I believe very well, but says her mother is getting very feeble and doited [faculties impaired by age], she just sits by the fireside and never goes out… I believe Mrs Oughton has suffered some loss lately by the defalcation [mis-appropriation] of one of her trustees at Otago, for which I am very sorry.”

I can however find no published reference to this "defalcation" but all of David Wilson Oughton's original trustees would appear to have been fine upstanding members of the community, (1) Mr William Ogilvie, for many years Chief Clerk of the Dunedin Land Office; (2) Church Elder and farmer, Mr Robert Somerville of "Riccarton", East Taieri; (3) and David's own brother in law, Mr Robert Todd of "Johnstone" farm, Mosgiel. But I do note that Mr Ogilvie lost his legal position when the Otago Provincial Government was abolished in 1876 and thereafter sought "station life" on the Maniototo. Additionally, Robert Somerville died in May 1879. So two new but unknown trustees must have been appointed after 1876 or 1879 but the trail has unfortunately gone cold as to who was specifically responsible for the said misappropriation.

A grainy image of Janey Oughton sitting knitting on the
porch at "Boghead", most likely with her granddaughter
Annie Oughton (a daughter of William and Mary).
Taken circa late 1890's
[From my own collection]

Mrs Janey Oughton, along with her family returned to New Zealand on the 1,196 barque "Embleton" from Glasgow, arriving at Port Chalmers on the 24th September 1883, her elderly mother apparently having died prior to this date. By January 1885 Mrs Oughton is noted as residing back at "Boghead". Over the ensuing years she appears to have farmed it with her son William Hunter Oughton. The latter married Mary Jane Shaw, also of North Taieri, in August 1895.

Another family tragedy occurred when Janey's 33 year old step-daughter Annie Todd Oughton died at "Boghead" on the 29th March 1893, the funeral service being held at the house before departing for the East Taieri cemetery.

James Sinclair Oughton with his wife
Jeanie Couper and children.
Copyrighted Photo
[Source : David & Pamela Oughton]

James Sinclair Oughton, who continued to farm the 150 acre "Janefield" property, married Jeanie Couper, a teacher of "Rosebank" East Taieri, in September 1887. In April 1899 he offered it to the Government for "close settlement purposes" under the 1892 Land Settlement Act, the sale price being £4,888.34 James thereafter moved to "Monte Cristo" at Wright's Bush in Southland with the intention of developing this new and larger property. But fate would soon deal another unfortunate hand.

Just the following month, Wilhelmina (Janey) Oughton died at "Boghead" on the 15 May 1899 aged 66 years. Her death was then followed on the 22nd December 1902 by her step-son, the above James Sinclair Oughton, who died at Wright’s Bush in Southland after a short period of ill health at the age of 45 years and leaving behind his wife Jeanie and nine now fatherless children. Janey's own daughter, Jane Hunter Oughton, who remained a spinster, died in April 1941 aged 76 years. All are buried in the family plot in the East Taieri cemetery, including both of David's wives which I find rather touching. The headstone is fairly weathered but legible close up.

Sale of "Boghead",
2 June 1900
[Source : Papers Past"]

On the 2nd June 1900 David's youngest son, William Hunter Oughton, finally sold "Boghead" to an adjoining landowner, Mr Robert Smellie, a native of Lanarkshire, Scotland, the former having purchased a larger farm. I note that the house then comprised of seven rooms, with a laundry, scullery, and dairy attached. A "men's house, stable, barn and byre" were included in the sale. The Smellie family would subsequently own the property for over 80 years.

It was after this sale that "Boghead" was renamed "Duddingston" after Duddingston Loch in Edinburgh, no doubt being considered a more appropriate name than a reference to a local peat bog! William Hunter Oughton, the last surviving child of David and Janey Oughton, died on the 16th December 1942 aged 74 years, his wife Mary having died in 1917 aged 49 years. Both are buried in the Calcium cemetery in Southland,

"Duddingston" [previously known as "Boghead"],
taken 1998 with the kind permission of the owners.
[From my own collection]

Today, "Duddingston" is a very attractive and well cared for colonial era home set in pleasant wooded grounds, being partially visible from the road but easily missed. According to historian and writer Lois Galer, the home includes original interior features including exposed pit sawn kauri beams in the living room (formerly the kitchen), with all woodwork and doors also being of kauri. The original pantry survives, complete with one inch thick slate shelves. I have myself been inside the house which I remember was modernized in places but I could still feel the sense of history that went with this now very historic and much loved home.

The Gravestone of David Wilson Oughton
and Family in the East Taieri Cemetery
[From my own collection]

Copyright : Unless otherwise stated, all images are from my own personal collection but may be freely copied for academic and non-commercial use provided this site is acknowledged. Commercial reproduction is prohibited without my specific written approval. Any reproduction of images owned by the Oughton family will require their specific approval.

Sources :

- Family papers and photographs (held by the writer)
- The late Helen Whelan, Nelson
- Pamela & David Oughton, Titahi Bay, Wellington
- "Houses and Homes", by Lois Galer, 1981
- "The Cyclopedia of New Zealand" (Otago and Southland Provincial Districts) [from my own collection]
- "Old Roslin", Roslin Heritage Society, 2003
- Papers Past [National Library of New Zealand / Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa]
- Heritage New Zealand / Pouhere Taonga
- Toitū Otago Settler's Museum Archives Database (compiled by Bob Matthews)
- Archives New Zealand / Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga
- Dunedin Public Library / Ka Kete Wānaka o Otepoti
- Hocken Collections / Uare Taoka o Hākena
- Scotland's Places website
- Scotland's People website

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