O’Connell Coat of ArmsO’Connell Coat of Arms


A history of the O’Connell family of New Zealand

Ned O’Connell

Edward ‘Ned’ O’Connell

Ned O’Connell was baptised by the Reverend J. Buckley of Ballybunion parish on the 27 September, 1840. His sponsors were Thomas Lynch and Janet O’Connell. His name was recorded as Edmundum because the Catholic church recorded all names in Latin, his parents names were written as Jacobi (James) and Hanna (Anna). When his grandfather, Edward, was married in the Church of Ireland his name was recorded in English as Edward. Being neither Latin nor English, Ned mainly went by his Irish name. Family lore says James wanted Ned to take up a tailoring apprenticeship in Dublin and he may have done so for a time but in 1861, gold was struck in Otago and all the talk was about emigration.

The Bombay

As briefly reported yesterday, the ship Bombay, from London, arrived on Tuesday morning, having made a very satisfactory passage. From Gravesend she was 81 days out. and from the start 80½. She crossed the Equator on the 13th July, experiencing calms and variable winds for eight days in the Tropics. To the meridian of Greenwich she had a fine run, and from the Cape to 100 E. she had unusually heavy weather, with very variable winds, and frequent snow and rain squalls. Her furthest westing north of the Line was 26.40 in Lat. 15.40, and south of the Line 32.22 in Lat. 17.27. Her best days work was 304 knots; her worst 20 knots. The following are the full particulars of the vessels spoken throughout the passage: –July 7, British barque Chilian Packet, from Coquiiobo to Swansea, spoken in 8.58 N. and 25.56 W., 75 days out. July 8, Dutch ship Anna, from Amsterdam to Batavia, in 6.40 N. and 25.23 W., 27 days out. July 9, Dutch ship Eothen, from Rotterdam to Batavia, in 5.23 N. and 24.33 W., 23 days out. July 14, British barque Mystery, from Liverpool to River Plate, in 3.60 S. and 27.20 W., 34 days out. July 17, British barque Peterboro, from London to Hong Kong, in 13.33 S. and 31.12 W., 41 days out. July 18, American ship W. F. Bailey, from Bordeux to California, in 17.27 S. and 32.12 W., 46 days out. July 21, British barque Feazer, from Buenos Ayres to Liverpool, in 25.8 S. and 29.27 W., 15 days out. July 27, British ship John Chisholm from Liverpool to Calcutta, in 32.50 S., and 13.20 W., 37 days out. As mentioned, the passengers number 145, 118 being in the intermediate and steerage, and only six of the number assisted emigrants. Throughout the passage the health of all on board was excellent, and there were no casualties. The surgeon, Dr. Richardson, had made previous visits to New Zealand in passenger vessels, and to his experience and attention much of the comfort of the passage was due, while the vessel had an able commander in Capt. Sellars. Her passengers proceeded to Dunedin today by the Samson.

Ned worked on various goldfields including the Wetherstones, Hogburn, Hamilton, and Manuherikia as well as the Westcoast where he suffered a serious accident at Charleston, injuring his leg in a rockfall. He recuperated in Nelson before returning to Otago.

He married Letitia Gildea on 17 January, 1869, at St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Dunedin. Their children were:

Letitia Gildea

Ned was one of the first miners to settle in Hyde, some time in 1864. Records show that he, and two others, spent three years digging a hugh tunnel, known as the “Star of Otago”, before they found the site had been “salted” with Naseby gold.

From the New Zealand Tablet, Volume III, Issue 145, 11 February 1876, Page 11.

Letty and childOur Hyde correspondent writes as follows: At the deep sinking beyond Fullerton’s, and five miles from Hyde, two parties of six men each are driving might and main. The pioneer party, if I may say so, is known by the name of the “Star of Otago Mining Company.” It is registered, and has for its legal manager, Mr. John Laverty, a gentleman well and favourably known in the locality for many years. This Company is tunnelling now, having previously sunk a shaft 150 feet deep, getting an ounce and a half of gold off the bottom wash more than four feet thick, with gold of finely granulated character disseminated through it. The shaft is slabbed from top to bottom, and is a creditable workmanlike job, little or no water met with in sinking. The tunnel is more than 160 feet, driven through hard quartzose schist, and has a tramway for working trucks along its course. The rock is now getting softer, an indication of near approach to the desiderated deep ground. The men are practical Australian, Westland, and Otagan miners. Their work amply testifies to their energy and skill. The work is conducted in eight hour shifts, night and day, under the working management of Mr. Mitchell. The Company has a special claim of twelve acres. They are most sanguine of being amply recouped for all labour expended and expense incurred.
25 February 1876, Page 11:–The Star of Otago Co. is still making good headway in the rock. Quite lately the rock has become so soft, as, for a time at least, to do away with the use of powder and other auxiliary matters, which mean expense to shareholders. This will, no doubt, be good news to those who shell out in calls. The workmen are momentarily, so to speak, expecting to be quite through the rock. The Scandinavian party are sinking a second shaft, the delay, consequent on timber reaching the claim, having tended to the great injury of the one first begun. 36 acres of ground–aye 42 for the Star Co. now hold 18 acres– are already being occupied for mining on and if the Star Co’s. got gold on breaking into the deep alluvial, no doubt more companies will be started. The Star Co. is now 200 feet in thorough rock.
28 April 1876, Page 13:–The Star of Otago Company are still tunnelling night and day they have fortunately got out of the hard rock, having had to fight their way through 250 feet of it, most of it like bell metal they are now tunnelling in the alluvial, 600 feet from the mouth. I may mention the Star of Otago has to drive, in all, about 1,100 feet, before they reach their own ground.
Mount Ida Chronicle, Volume VIII, Issue 432, 26 July 1877, Page 3:–I am sorry to have to record the winding up of the Star of Otago Goldmining Company. Much sympathy is felt for the unlucky men, who have wasted so much time and labor in this tunnel. They were truly deserving of success for their perseverance and energy.
Otago Witness, Issue 2121, 18 October 1894, Page 16:–October 15. A little excitement has been created in the district through Messrs Mathewson and Mungovan having struck payable gold at the old workings known as the Deep Sinking. They sank to a depth of 120 ft and found about 4ft of wash, varying from 2gr to 1dwt to the dish. A lot of sinking was done at this place in the early gold–digging days, and some rich patches were taken out. A company was afterwards formed to bring in a race from the head of the Shag river to work this ground but, after a great outlay of money, the race proved a failure. A company called the Star of Otago afterwards attempted to work it with a tunnel, but evidently did not get on the right run of gold.
Otago Witness, Issue 2738, 5 September 1906, Page 67:–Some years after, Tom Church, a Cornish miner, who had worked there in the early days, came all the way from the Old Land and went out to try his luck, taking a mate with him. They went into the Star of Otago tunnel, and, sinking down, struck the lead and got a nice little haul to go Home with. Such is the luck of gold mining.

From the New Zealand Tablet, Volume III, Issue 156, 28 April 1876, Page 13.

Letitia and childrenThe death of Mr. O’Connell’s little daughter… as there were good reasons for believing the child’s death resulted from scarlatina, or other fever of contagious character, you can imagine what kind of panic would affect the people here, who are nearly all married, and parents of young and large families. The little girl, whose demise cast a gloom over the district, was about 7 or 8 years old. She was an engaging and intelligent little maiden, and her loss is sincerely mourned by many others as well as her almost inconsolable parents. Her funeral was largely attended as a last token of affectionate regard. The feeling of fear consequent upon the appearance of infectious and fatal disease is now entirely gone. And gone, too, with it, thanks to the merciful Lord all cause for dreading an outbreak of similar illness. No cases of sickness having happened since the melancholy one already alluded to about a month back.

Ned was very prolific in campaigning for the release of land from the larger runs into lots availiable to the smaller farmers.

From the Otago Witness, Issue 1475, 21 February 1880, Page 13.

Mr. Edward O’Connell said that land was urgently and imperatively required in the district. He said that every foot of land that the people of Hyde had got from the Government had to be dragged out of them. It was a shame that to all the memorialising and fighting of the people here with the Government for that very desirable object, they turned a deaf ear to their wants. The mode the Government of New Zealand were adopting as regards the settlement of the country might ultimately accumulate a quantity of money in the Colonial coffers, but he was sure it would have the effect of depopulating the Colony if it were persisted in.

From the Otago Witness, Issue 2166, 29 August, 1895, Page 46.


Dear Dot, I live at the Rock and Pillar, and go to school at Hukinga. We had a holiday on Friday, when we planted 500 trees in the school grounds. I have a black kitten please give me a name for her. Yours truly, Mary O’Connell (aged 7½ years). Rock and Pillar, August 15.
[Call her Arbour, Mary, and then she will remind you of your day at tree–planting. Dot.]

From the Otago Witness, Issue 2728, 27 June, 1906, Page 54

GILDEA.– On the 23rd June, at the residence of her sister (Mrs E. O’Connell), Rock and Pillar, Mary Gildea, in her eightieth year. R.I.P.

From the Otago Daily Times, Issue 15121, 19 April, 1911, Page 5.

The death was announced on Saturday of Mrs. O’Connell, of Strath Taieri, and the intimation will be received with regret by a large circle of friends. Mrs. O’Connell, then Gildea, arrived in New Zealand in the early (sic) sixties. She was one of three sisters who became well known and respected in Hyde, and was the last to survive. A large part of Mrs. O’Connell’s life was spent in Hyde, but in her later years she resided at Strath Taieri. She was distinguished for the kindliness and cheerfulness of her disposition. Mrs. O’Connell is survived by her hushand and a family, of whom Mr. James O’Connell, chairman of the Waihemo County Council, is the eldest son.

From the Otago Daily Times, Issue 16388, 20 May 1915, Page 4.

LahardanThe residents of Ngapuna and friends from the adjoining districts of Hyde and Strath–Taieri gathered on Friday evening to bid farewell to Mr. Edward O’Connell, who is retiring from farming and taking up his residence in Dunedin. Mr O’Connell is one of the oldest pioneers, and has been identified with this part of the country for a period of 50 years. In the early days he was engaged in gold mining, but when the first large block of land was cut up in the Hyde district he became a settler. A few years later he removed to Rock and Pillar, where he has been a prosperous farmer for many years. Ten years ago he bought another farm at Ngapuna, where he has resided until his retirement. Mr Moynihan, on behalf of Mr. O’Connell’s many friends, presented him with a case of pipes and a tobacco pouch, a token of the high esteem in which he is held in the district, and in a few well chosen words referred to the keen interest he has taken in the social and general welfare of the community. Mr. O’Connell feelingly replied. Miss O’Connell, who will accompany her father to the city, was presented with a neat dressing case. Musical items were rendered by the following:–Mrs. Carruthers. Miss E. Toms. Miss M. O’Connell, Mr. T. Pugh, Mr. M. O’Connell. Mr. M. Kenny, Mr. H. Moynihan, and Mr. P. M’Fadyen. After supper dancing was indulged in until the small hours of the morning, when a most enjoyable function was brought to a close by the singing of “Auld lang syne.” The social took place at Mr. O’Connell’s residence.

From the Otago Daily Times, Issue 17913, 19 April 1920, Page 6.

Edward and Letitia (Ni Gildea) OConnell One of the pioneers of the province, in the person of Edward O’Connell (Dunedin), late of Hyde, died on Thursday evening at the residence of his son, Mr J. E. O’Connell, Frankton (wires our Queenstown correspondent). The deceased arrived in the district the week before Easter on a visit, and shortly afterwards became a victim to influenza. This was followed by bronchitis, to which he succumbed. The late Mr O’Connell, who was in his eightieth year, was born at Listowel, (Lahardane) County Kerry, Ireland. In his early manhood he embarked for New Zealand in the ship Bengal (sic), (Bombay) arriving in Otago in 1861. The gold fever attracted him to several of the well–known fields, including Wetherstones, Hogburn, Hamilton, and Manuherikia; he also found his way to the West Coast in 1867. Mr O’Connell settled in Hyde. There he still engaged in mining pursuits. Subsequently he went in for farming at Rock and Pillar, where he also had a sheep run. About a year ago he retired and went to live with his daughter (Mrs Casey) in Dunedin. The other members of the family are Mr James O’Connell (Macraes), Father D. O’Connell (Oamaru), Messrs R. and M. O’Connell (Central Otago), and J. E. O’Connell (Frankton). Mrs O’Connell predeceased her husband exactly nine years ago. The remains were conveyed on Friday evening to Hyde, where the interment took place.

Ned O’Connell’s Grave

Top of Page