Old St Paul’s maintains a real hold over the descendants of those who have been involved with the church, and I have also greatly enjoyed meeting and corresponding with those who have recently become aware of their connection.
Recently I was contacted by a descendant (a great great great granddaughter) of William Aitken, one of the carpenters who built Old St Paul’s, who now lives in the United Kingdom, although her family members still live in New Zealand.
Aitken came to New Zealand from Scotland, and first settled in Melbourne, where he married and had children. After six years there his wife died and he came to Wellington, where he lived the rest of his days. With John McLaggan he formed a building partnership and the firm built Old St Paul’s, and other notable buildings such the BNZ on Lambton Quay. His second wife drowned in Wellington harbour, and he died nine years later, in 1895. His name is on the secret panel hidden in the church.
At the 150th anniversary service held recently I met some of the descendants of Bishop Charles and Caroline Abraham, at the 150th anniversary of the consecration. Charles and Caroline’s only had one son, Charlie, when Caroline was already 47 or 48, and the family later returned to the United Kingdom. Charles and Caroline donated the windows behind the altar, and Charles also sent back from the UK the cross and candlesticks which sit on the altar from the UK. Their three descendants, who had travelled from all over New Zealand to be at the 150th anniversary service, came to live in New Zealand from the UK, without really knowing the strong connection between New Zealand and their family. It was a pleasure to meet them.
Furthermore, I have met many other descendants while working on the history of Old St Paul’s – including the descendants of Charles Decimus Barraud (who painted the illuminated panels) and his family, Richard John Seddon and Louisa Seddon, for whom the pulpit and the processional cross (now at the Cathedral) are memorials, the Shirtcliffes, whose family members are memorialised with a stained glass window and many brasses, George Swan, a vestryman who was a vocal advocate for the church in the 1960s who has a brass in the church, and many others. Many of these people are still actively involved in the church, including active involvement in the Friends of Old St Paul’s.
If any other descendants are reading this, please feel free to contact me on the contact form below. Your name or contact details won’t appear on this site, and I can contact you via email. Regards, Elizabeth