The Gray Family

I spent quite a long time researching for the first owner of the house. There had been so much information published as to who built Braemar and when, I was astonished to find that all of it was incorrect. In fact because of the number of discrepancies to earlier published “information” I checked and rechecked all my sources to corroborate what I had found.

John Russell GRAY was the Scotsman for whom Braemar was built. John Russell Gray was born in Lanark, Scotland, on 20th November 1836 of parents Andrew Gray and Margaret Russel(5). He married Annie Kempt and together they brought their seven children from Rutherglen to New Zealand, on the Patrick Henderson ship “ Canterbury”, leaving Clyde on September 28 th 1877 and arriving at Port Chalmers on December 29 th 1877. The paying passengers list of the ” Canterbury” in September 1877 (6) lists the family together with their servant (dates of birth from the International Genealogical Index):

Index of Ships, Index of Passengers, compiled by the NZ Society of Genealogists , on microfiche at the Auckland Public Library.

The Canterbury was an iron passenger clipper(7), first launched May 1874, and was the last word in emigrant accommodation, the settler with a little money also given much better quarters. By all accounts shipboard life was made very pleasant and the food much improved from earlier times,(8)

The Otago Witness of Jan 5 th 1878 records the arrival on Dec 30 th 1877 of the Gray family as saloon passengers on the ship “Canterbury” and the issue of Jan 12 th records their departure on Jan 7 th 1878 to Auckland on the steamship “Wanaka”.


January 5 th 1878

Shipping Arrivals Port Chalmers ( Dunedin) December 30 th 1877

Canterbury , ship,1250 tons, Leslie, from Glasgow, Russell, Ritchie & Co, agents.

Passengers, saloon – Mr and Mrs J R Gray, Mr and Mrs H S Melville, Mr and Mrs McAuley, Mesdames F F Colson and Grant, Gibson and servant, Misses Gray (2) Masters Gray (4), Melville (2), Messrs R G Walker; A Gray, and 279 nominated and assisted immigrants.

January 12 th 1878

Shipping Departures Port Chalmers ( Dunedin) January 7 th 1878

Wanaka, s.s. 277 tons, McGilivray, for Auckland, via the East Coast. Union Company, agents. Passengers: For Lyttelton – Mesdames Tracey and child, Reid and son, Mr and Mrs Smith and 2 children, Mr and Mrs Piggott, Mr and Mrs Hanmer, Mr and Mrs Elmes and family, Messrs Jso&son, Jamieson, H J Ainger C Davis. For Wellington – Mr and Mrs Burcher and 3 children, Messes Limber, Nancarrow. For Picton – Misses Watts, Kerr. For Auckland – Mr and Mrs Gray and family (5), Mr and Mrs E Sanders, Dr Scott, Messrs J Bathgate, jun, Norman, Gittens, and 10 steerage.

The New Zealand Herald of Jan 14 th 1878 reports that on January 13 th 1878 the s.s. Wanaka arrived in Auckland.

Wanaka, s.s., McGillivray, from East Coast and Southern Ports. Passengers: – Saloon: from Dunedin – Mrs Gray and 7 children, Messrs Bathgate, Gitern, Robinson, Scott, Gray. From Lyttelton – Mrs Sheath, Messrs Overton, Lilly. From Wellington – Mr Gossel, Signor Nobili. From Napier – Misses Elliott, Symonds, Harris (2), Mease, Messrs Dyer, Nealem Jerrome, Kinsell. Rev Mr Marshall. From Gisborne – Mrs and Miss Crawford, Mr and Mrs Hargreaves, Master Browne. From Tauranga – Mrs Lee, Mrs Griffiths, Messrs Edgcumb, Hall, Brown. Six in steerage. – Henderson and MacFarlane, agents.

Mr Gray set up in business in Auckland as a dental importer,(9) and in 1882 his business was located High Street(10) , but by 1898 his business had moved to 63 Shortland Street.(11) . His private residence at that time was in Arney Road, Remuera and his children were educated at the Remuera School, where in 1888 George Gray aged 11, William Gray aged 13yrs 1mth and John Gray aged 14yrs 8mths all passed their school examinations.(12) In 1882 his land holdings were valued at ₤2020, comprising ₤1800 for land in Eden and ₤220 for land in the Bay of Islands (13)

In March 1898 he sold his business to Charles Robert Chapman (a solicitor and former Mayor of Dunedin)(14) on behalf of a company to be formed known as The New Zealand Consolidated Dental Company Limited for a sale price of ¦ 9,000.0.0.(15) In March 1901 certificate of title 102/83 was issued to Mr Gray on an application made by the Kenderdine estate.(16) The consideration for the purchase was ¦ 475.0.0. According to the Auckland City Valuation rolls, Braemar was built during the year of 1901(17). Although the Valuation rolls are sometimes incorrect, this date ties in with the NZ Herald article of March 13 th, 1900, which reported the burning down of the old wooden Kenderdine residence on the site.(18) This is also in contradiction of many references I have found to the house being built in the 1880s for a Mr Wrightson. Photographic evidence also shows the wooden Kenderdine house on the site in the 1880s and as it wasn’t burnt down till 1900, its patently obvious that Braemar couldn’t have been built until after that. The mythical Mr Wrightson has had me foxed, but I think it’s a misreading of the name of the second owner, Mr Bridson, that is mentioned in Vera Ziman’s letter. (see later).

An advertisement in the Medical Directory of the NZ Post Office Directory of 1902 lists GRAY BROS., Wyndham Street as Auckland Agents for the NZ Consolidated Dental Co Ltd and successors to John R. Gray.(19) In the same directory, John R Gray (Gray Bros) is listed as resident in Grafton Rd, Auckland, however by 1903 the listing changes to Jno R Gray (G Bros), Eden St, Auckland.(20) The New Zealand Observer records the change of the business from John R Gray to Gray Bros in November 1900.


New Zealand Observer, Sat Nov 3 rd 1900 P.4


New Zealand Observer, Sat Nov 10 th 1900 P.10

The death of Andrew GRAY on 21 st August 1937 was recorded thus in the (?):


The death has occurred of Mr. Andrew Gray, aged 72, a well-known resident of Auckland and a prominent member of the business community. He was born in Rutherglen, Scotland, and came to New Zealand at the age of 13 with his parents, the late Mr. and Mrs. John R Gray. He began his career in the business founded by his father, probably the pioneer company in the Dominion specialising in supplying dental goods, and was managing-director from about 1900 until 1912, when he became a partner of the late Mr.R.H.P.Cockroft in a brokerage firm. He was a director of several firms.

Mr Gray took an active interest in politics and was for many years a member of the head executive of the Reform Party. He was also treasurer of the Auckland Branch. In his younger days Mr. Gray was an enthusiastic yachtsman, and with this younger brothers, Messrs J.R. and D.K. Gray, who now live in Vancouver, owned the well-known yachts Coterie and Rainbow. He is survived by his wife and two sons, Messrs. J.R. and A.C.Gray, of Auckland.(29)

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