Married Ann Carter 1839
There is not much to help us in piercing together the early life of James. With Reverend John placed in the church, James was apparently put into commerce. Whatever his early life, by the time we have any record there is evidence of his long absence from the family and strong hints at some possible estrangement. Thomas, upon arrival in Auckland in 1849, had doubts as to whether he would know James. The children he had not seen before. Eliza requested early information of her grandchildren. We have some family stories to account for James' early departure and the consequent difference with the family. It is recounted that his marriage with Ann Carter was opposed most strongly by John Macky. Ann was a Roman Catholic and is reputed to have been in a station of life not acceptable to the father. Hearing of the attachment and the actual time of their elopement he boarded the vessel at Londonderry to stop the runaways.
There he had the female passengers parade before him. Ann, forewarned of the visit, appeared dressed as an old woman and bluffed John. Whether they were married at the time of his incident is not known.
James and Ann went to America. They must have returned to Londonderry, for Elizabeth Jane, their first child, was born in Derry in 1839. This is the only relevant date by which their marriage can be fixed as probably 1838. Whether a reconciliation then took place is not known. Ann is unquestionably known to the family. Thomas writes that she is "greatly changed for the better".
James' stay in Londonderry could not have been of long duration. John Thomas (November 3, 1841), James (December 4, 1843) and Sophia (July 19, 1845) were born in Sydney. He probably came from there in 1841 and entered into business with Captain Ranulph Dacre with whom he was to be associated for some years.
By 1845 at latest and possible earlier, James came to Auckland on behalf of the business in which Captain Dacre and he were partners. There he quickly became established and by the time Thomas arrived in 1849 he was represented as having the largest business in Auckland. A perusal of the New Zealander for the years 1845 and later, discloses numerous advertisements of ships sailing or arriving for which James is agent. Of some of them he was part owner with Captain Dacre. The nature of the business was general merchandise and entirely wholesale.
By this time (1849) James had also purchased land at Epsom "on the road to Manukau". This land was about 88 acres in extent, but so far, the writer cannot trace its whereabouts.
Upon Thomas' arrival James' family had increased to five, the last two, Robert Graham and Sophia, having been born in Auckland. The results of an indulgent father are referred to by Thomas with some feeling.
His welcome to Thomas was thoroughly genuine and we must conclude that whatever had occurred in relation to his marriage, James had been in correspondence with his family for some time and had induced Thomas to come to Auckland.
From the time of Thomas's arrival we find James prospering. Firstly, there was the business which had developed between Auckland and the goldfields in California.
Captain Dacre and James sent Thomas there in the place of the former as was originally intended. For the episodes and events of this venture the reader is referred to Thomas's letters, written from San Francisco. The loss which threatened the venture by reason of the lumber and houses, was ultimately converted to a gain of £1,000. Thomas bought a barque, the Daniel Webster, for Captain Dacre and James, and returned home.
The business with San Francisco was then considered very doubtful and James must have thought himself lucky to have got out of it so well. However, this business association with San Francisco was maintained for some years.
With the internal prosperity of the country being on the up-grade, James continued to expand. Captain Dacre made periodical visits to Auckland and the combination continued for a few years. Thomas became a member of the firm although the two founders remained in control.
Love of the soil must nevertheless have been deeply implanted in James. There is no record of when he disposed of the Manukau Road property. In 1851 he purchased No 31 of Manurewa Farms at East Tamaki for his father which was ultimately to become Salem.
It was at this time that Thomas urged James that the time had arrived for him to make his home in the country for the sake of the children and to live more in keeping with his position in the town. He was then living in a small house in Swanson Street and their place of business was where the New Zealand Insurance Building now stands. The home and the business premises abutted on each other.
Part owner with Captain Dacre of the barques Helen Page and Daniel Webster their business had extensive ramifications.
Further land was bought on the South Road connecting up with Section 31. These lands comprised Sections 30, 32, 33, 40 and 53 and the whole farm comprised some 420 acres. This was not all; in 1853 he bought Sections 1, 2, 3, 11 & 107 of the Waiwera Parish. This property comprised some 383 acres and is that land which lied to the left of the road as it drops down to Waiwera and extends up the south bank of the river. This was almost certainly a timber venture. Finally in 1854 he purchased 440 acres, being Section 54 of the Parish of Opaheke and situated in that very good high country between Bombay and Pukekohe Township. Thomas, perhaps, was thoroughly justified in saying, "I do not think there are any of my relations so well off".
Well esteemed by his fellow townsmen and open handed in his dealings with his fellow men, James, with Thomas as his aide, prepared an atmosphere of welcome and respect of the name, which for others of the family who followed, was a distinct asset. Be it that Thomas thinks James' open manner, "leads him into too much company", nevertheless it is to be remembered that James was in Auckland to make it easy or difficult for those of his name who should follow.
It was in such a state of comfort and optimism that he was able to welcome his brother, William, when he arrived on the Cashmere on the May 10, 1853, and later his father and mother, the Reverend John and the others of the family, when they landed from the same ship on August 21, 1854. In 1852 he had been elected a member of the First Legislative Council of New Zealand, a signal mark of his standing and respect. This was the first elected body in New Zealand. However, the constitution was soon abrogated.
We are only left with our imagination to picture the continued success and prosperity of James. This stage occupied some ten years until 1864 and about this period much should be written and would make better reading than that which follows. But there is a dearth of records in all prosperous times.
New Zealand had know its bad times but one of the worst was the 60s. Business entirely collapsed. James was forced to mortgage all his properties for £5,000, to the registrar of the Supreme Court as security for payment of his debts.
The transactions with the properties for the next few years were very numerous but all indicated a hard-pressed man fighting for the retention of his land. The original mortgage was discharged "with the assent of 3/4ths in value" of his creditors. The reprieve was not sufficient and the same process was repeated. James assigned his properties to J S Macfarlane and Alfred Buckland as trustees for his creditors. Power of sale was interdicted until default was made in payment of the stipulated yearly payment of £500. This was staved off until 1874 with the commencement of the disintegration of the farm. In 1875, Section 53 was sole of J Ferguson, Section 30 to J Stoddard. Again in 1876 Section 33 was sold to William Aicken. Finally, in 1878 the Waiwera land was parted with and Section 40 was sold to T Rogers. The property at Pukekohe had many years previously (1858) been sold to Martyn.
James, divested of all his lands, moved home to the city. There still remained to him many years of activity. The business was dissolved and Thomas Macky commenced on his own account. James joined in the rush to the Thames, became an agent and finally a member of the Stock Exchange. At one time he went to Australia and successfully floated a gold-mining company and is reputed to have made a lot of money on this occasion. But he never regained his supremacy in the city. An estrangement between himself and the others of the family, especially Thomas, arose out of the business failure. This breach was subsequently mended and we find the family remembering what James had meant to them in their earlier struggles.
Ann, his wife, had, unobtrusively, been his companion throughout these ups and downs. To members of the family visiting the home she was seldom visible. Just as unobtrusively, she departed this life August 1, 1893.
Of their six children, Elizabeth Jane, John Thomas, James, Sophia, Robert Graham and Josiah, Josiah died at the age of four in 1854. Sophia died on the September 3, 1879 and John Thomas on April 30, 1888. The remaining children lived to within the memory of the writer.