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JohnJohn Pearce

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John PEARCE was born Sep1822, the son of George PEARCE and Jane VICK, in Stonehouse, Gloucester, England. Christian names like George, Sarah, Benjamin, Hepzhibah, Anne, John and Elizabeth appear in each generation.

John was the only family member not to be employed in the Woollen industry. He joined the 58th Regiment - The Rutlands - on 26Nov1840 as a Private, Military number 1393, when he was 18. The Regiment was under the command of Colonel Robert Henry Wynyard (Sydney's Wynyard Railway Station is named after him).

In 1844 the Regiment sailed from London on the "Hydrabad" on 4Oct1844 arriving in Sydney on the 6Mar1845 after a five month journey. The regiment was intended for Garrison Duty in N.S.W., but after only a month in Sydney, were dispatched to New Zealand on the "Slains Castle" arriving Auckland on 22Apr1845 to quell notorious "Hone Heke" Rebellion. (This Maori Leader liked chopping down British Flag Poles - he did it 3 or 4 times).

John was discharged at his own request from the Regiment to settle in the Colony of New Zealand on 28Feb1853 aged 31. He had served 12 years and 94 days.

Soldier of the 58th Regiment

John was a sawyer and worked felling timber for building materials. He was tall and thin with a beard. John received many letters from his family in Gloucester from the early 1850s - albeit a one-way communication. His sisters Sarah Harper, Ann Merrett, Hephzibah Ford, his brother-in-law James Harper and neice, Louisa (Louie) Gabb, who lived in and around Stonehouse were among the letterwriters - there are 53 letters. John only replied about a dozen times in over 50 years. John didn't reveal much of himself to his family in England. A letter written by Louie in 1926 says "I am the only one left of all the PEARCEs in England...I am quite alone in the world except for my own family".

The family in England craved for information on their other family far across the sea - John was very reticent about his "wife" prior to their marriage in 1864. He hinted that life was quite difficult in the colonies with an evergrowing family trying to eke out a living the best way he could. The PEARCEs in Gloucester were mostly involved with the weaving industry and were quite successful. One brother, Benjamin, was a Wholesale and Retail Ginger Pop Merchant making 100 dozen bottles of ginger beer a week, exporting all over the world in the 1860s.

John PEARCE died 2Oct1890, aged 68, of chronic bronchitis. He was the second person to be buried in Waikaraka (Maori word meaning 'place where karaka trees grown by water) Cemetery, Onehunga ( the first was only a few days before him). There is a PEARCE Family Plot marked by a beautiful Scottish granite stone. One hundred pounds was paid for the stone. It was all his widow, Elizabeth had and the family decided to use it to buy the monument for the grave. It had been brought out to N.Z. for another family who had decided not to take it, and so the PEARCEs purchased it.

There is a PEARCE Street (originally Commerce St) in Onehunga and a John PEARCE Park in Parau.

John PEARCE in the 1880s


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