Richmond Family

This plot caught our eye as the headstone was placed to the side rather than head of the plot, which seemed unusual, especially in a double width plot. We presumed there were a number of burials here. But there is only one occupant of this plot: James Wilson Richmond, assistant engineer, NZ Railways.

James was born in 1865 in Nelson where his parents had fled to from the New Zealand Wars. He was the son of James Crowe Richmond and his wife Mary Smith. James senior was born in London and had trained as an engineer, working three years for Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

He came with his brother to New Zealand in 1850 before returning to England in 1854. He married Mary and returned to New Zealand in 1857. The Richmond, Hursthouse and Ronald families of New Plymouth all intermarried and became known as ‘the mob’. His sister Maria Atkinson was the first pakeha woman to climb Mt Taranaki in 1855 (she was invited along to be the cook).

James senior became a member for parliament and also the editor of the ‘Nelson Examiner’. He was  a talented artist. Mary died in 1865 having never fully recovered from the birth of James junior. Her husband was left with five children who were farmed out to various relatives.

In 1890 James first appears on the electoral roll living at Waterloo Quay and working as an engineer.  In 1897 he was assistant engineer of the Public Works Department on the West Coast before acting as District Engineer in Napier which had suffered from terrible floods. It was estimated that £40,000 would be required to repair the railway section alone including repairs to river embankments, bridges and culverts. The loss to the Hawkes Bay region was estimated to be £250,000.

He then transferred back to Wellington to the Railway Department in June 1897. In January 1898 his father died and then in April, after a week’s illness James died from peritonitis. His funeral was held on 1 May at Karori Cemetery.

He was a ‘much respected in the civil service, of which he was a faithful member’.

James died intestate and his two brothers and two sisters were the beneficiaries of his £3500 estate. Maurice was a lawyer, Anne (who married Edmond Atkinson), Dorothy Kate was an artist and Richard a dentist.

Dorothy Kate Richmond (known as Dolla) was encouraged by her father to develop her artistic skills. James senior took his eldest three children to Europe from 1873 – 1881 where Dolla studied at the Bedford College for Women in London and also the Slade School of Fine Art. She exhibited at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts from 1885. The death of her father made her financially independent and she travelled to Europe to paint. She died in 1935 and was cremated at Karori Cemetery.

Plot: *Ch Eng/O/2

Read more about the Richmond family:
James Wilson Richmond headstone
James Wilson Richmond plot