Friday, 18 May 2012

The Lord Family

The Lord Surname

Lord is a term of civil dignity, a master, ruler, the proprietor of a manor, derived from the Anglo-Saxon ord, which comes from ored, a governor, with the prefix of the letter L, le, denoting the person or place.  Lord has been derived from Hlaford, which is compounded of Hlaf, a loaf, and ford, to give, - a breadgiver.  Jabez Lord was the first Lord ancestor to come to New Zealand.

Jabez Lord (31-01-1837 - 10-05-1924)

Jabez Lord was born in Sowerby near Halifax, Yorkshire, England to parents James Lord (a weaver) and Rachel Coggin.  He married Mary Ann Spencer (born 21-09-1837) on 17-11-1859 at Salem Chapel, Halifax according to the rites and ceremonies of the Methodist New Connection.  They left England the same month as their wedding and sailed to New Zealand on the Clontarf (1120 tons).  The ship sailed from Gravesend on 30-11-1859.  Captain A.W. Barclay with 3 saloon passengers and 302 government immigrants arrived at Lyttelton, New Zealand on 11-03-1860.  The journey took 105 days. 
A report in a Christchurch paper on 16-03-1860 described the journey:

"The vessel made a long passage to the equator owing to very rough weather in the Bay of Biscay.  The voyage throughout has been characterised by bad weather, especially towards the close, when constant gales and almost incessant rain were experienced.  It will be seen from the melancholy list of deaths that the passage has not been without casualty.  Indeed we have never yet had so long a list to publish.  It includes five adults, one of whom was a midshipman, of the vessel.  Of the 28 children leaving London, almost all perished from the consequences of measles and whooping cough which unhappily prevailed at the commencement of the voyage."

In the passenger list, Jabez described himself as a blacksmith aged 22.  He and his wife settled in a flax hut in Cashel Street near the Avon River.  On 15-02-1861 Jabez and Mary Ann's first son Ira Spencer Lord was born at Lincoln Road, Christchurch and Jabez was named as a labourer.  Soon afterwards they moved to the district of Courtenay near the Waimakariri River. 

In the early 1850s the Canterbury Plains used to be covered in tussock with patches of veronica (koromiko), manuka, cabbage trees, kowhai, flax and toi toi.  Their were lots of varieties of ducks and many native birds about.  The early settlers described the tussock, some of it six foot high like toi toi, on the plains and how there were no trees.  There is a story of totaras near Kirwee.  Because of the huge tussock, mothers working outside often had to tie their child to one of the tussocks to avoid them running away and getting lost!

The Canterbury plains were split into large farms called runs.  These runs didn’t have any fences at first and shepherds were needed.  This was Jabez’s job when his daughter Lucy was born in 1862—as a shepherd on the Desert Run.  The shepherds went around their sheep twice a day and drove them below a river terrace at night. They would camp there as it was a safe place from tussock fires and close to water. The sheep  became used to their own territory and would run home with a whistle from the shepherd. Eventually the runs had sod fences with gorse planted on them and in 1862 wire fencing was introduced.  This slowly became more common.  “Crows nests” were built on some plains stations which were platforms on poles or in cabbage trees, from which the shepherd could see where the sheep were with field glasses each morning.  If he could see them, he would prepare and eat his breakfast.  If not, he would go after them first.  
In the Lyttelton Times of 21-08-1872, Jabez testified in a case where two horses were shot in the Courtenay district.  The horses belonged to Mr Jason Davies, with suspects being Martin Kemp and William Kingdon.  All the testimonies in the article seem to be word for word and could possibly be used as an indication of how he spoke.  This article is interesting, as it goes into detail about people in the district.  There were still sod fences in the district at this time.  Jabez was at a meeting the night before the incident and he is actually talking about a Courtenay Farmer’s Club meeting, which was held on the second Monday night of the month at Watson’s Halfway House.  Jabez swears that he was sober after the meeting.  All the farmers would have been having a beer together.  The first minutes of this club were in the Lyttelton Times dated 14-07-1871, where Jabez was named as a committee member as was the prosecutor Jason Davies, who was treasurer. 

The Desert Run was about 20,000 acres in size and was bought in 1851 by Captain D. D. Muter and P. L. Francis.  Afterwards, the Desert Run was bought by Archdeacon Mathias for the Rev. J Owen who never actually came to New Zealand.  His brand, a plain circle, was one of the first registered in Canterbury.  Sheep were generally branded on the nose.  Owen sent his son to look after the run, but he was not a good sheep farmer, so Archdeacon Mathias sent his own son Herbert J. Mathias to manage it with help from a co-manager Mr Matson.  In 1867 there were 6000 sheep.  The station was bought and sold a few times and then some of the land was sold off so the flock was reduced to around 3000 sheep in 1878.  This number then dropped to 1500 in 1880. 

After moving to Courtenay and working as a shepherd Jabez bought a small farm in the Courtenay district near Racecourse Hill.  This was some time between early 1863 and 1865 as Jabez is named as a farmer in Waimakariri on his son Edwin's birth certificate 01-04-1865.  Jabez engaged in contract work carrying wool from Racecourse Hill and many other noted stations.  Jabez may have bought some of the Desert Run land as it seemed to cover the area where his farm was.  The Desert Run Homestead was not far from his farm. According to G.R. McDonald’s dictionary he also had a farm at Kirwee.  After searching records I think they were only separated by a road!  It is likely his farms were in two districts because he was living on the boundary of Courtenay and Kirwee.  In the electoral roll of 1872 -1873, the position of Jabez's farms was named.  He had one freehold property (Part rural section 7051) on the West Coast Road at Selwyn.  His other farm was leasehold (Rural sections 6294, 6705) and was south of the West Coast Road and South East of Watson's hotel, Seadown.  In the 1882 and 1887-88 freeholders returns Jabez property totalled 634 acres and was worth 4586 pounds. 

A map of farms and houses in the Courtenay area can be found in the amazing book written by Vera McLennnan "A History of Courtenay".   She had a house maked "E. Lord" which was actually the house of "J. Lord" so if anyone reads it, please note this error. Jabez Lord's house was marked with an X as it was no longer present at the time the book was written.  When I visited the site of the house there was a big group of trees where Jabez house and Watson's hotel would have stood, quite close to each other.

According to a short biography of his son George Clement Lord, Jabez was engaged in cropping oats, barley and potatoes and running a few sheep and dry stock.  The Sheep Holders records state Jabez owned 800 sheep in 1879.   In 1880 he owned 110 and in 1881 he had 700.  In the Press 10-05-1883 Jabez had an advertisement for a huge clearing sale of "live and dead stock" and implements to be held that day.  Maybe he was downsizing his farm?  He was leasing land so maybe he decided to give up the lease and have a smaller farm.  The advertisement is interesting as it shows what kind of stock he had on the farm at the time.  He was selling 7 young horses, 300 merino ewes, 100 fat sheep, 60 crossbred lambs and 12 pigs.  Wheat, oats and chaff were also for sale as well as a McCormick reaper and binder and McCormick ploughs. The 1890-91 records had no record of Jabez suggesting the family had given up on having sheep and had likely moved away from the district by this time and into Christchurch.


Life in those days was quite primitive.  There was no running water to the house so it was carried from the Waimakariri River and was very precious.  It had to be used many times over.  First the water was used for drinking and cooking, then the remainder for dairy utensils, then baby had his bath; the clothes washed next, then dishes, then scrubbing and cleaning, then fed to the pigs.

Farm women were very very busy and one of the most important tasks was cooking.  The most important job of the day was bread making and it was made in a camp oven (a large iron pot with a lid on it, supported by three legs), and a fire was lit underneath to heat it.

Butter was made on the farm, the cream being skimmed off the top of the milk in shallow pans.  Mary Ann Lord won a prize for her butter at the 1871 Courtenay show and the comment was that her “colour was very good.”

Melted tallow was used to make candles on the farm, until wax was available later and then the practice stopped.

When harvest time happened the men worked hard, often from 5am to 8pm.  The women would make huge pots of porridge, chops, fried potatoes, bacon and eggs before the men went out in the morning.  Then dinners and billies of tea had to be prepared and packed and driven out to the paddock where the men were working.

Courtenay, where Jabez and Mary Ann lived, was a small flourishing community in the 1860s and 1870s. Halkett, which was next to Courtenay and near Jabez’s farm, was once called Yorktown as it was set up by five Yorkshire men.  So Jabez would have fitted right in.   One hundred years ago, the Courtenay area was on the busy main route to the West Coast gold fields and up-country runs, providing refreshment and hospitality for travellers.  There was a couple of shops stocked with goods to meet the requirements of residents as well as travellers.  The Old West Coast Road was an interesting road to travel along at time.  Vera McLennan wrote "There were bullock and horse wagons, spring traps, gigs, buggies or phaetons, hacks, people walking, Cobbs coaches, the parson driving his mare, the drover with his trap and dogs, large mobs of cattle, the farmer in his dog cart, boys on ponies, maybe even a few swaggers.  The runholders were often lumbered with travellers wanting to stay the night so they often persuaded one of their shepherds to open an accommodation house.  James Robertson was head shepherd on the Desert Run and he was persuaded to open the first accommodation house on the Old West Coast Road around 1859.  It looks like it didn’t stay open very long as the licence lapsed after a year." 

Jabez was not just a farmer, he was also involved in the local community.  He was musical and sang in choirs and concerts.  He was the local undertaker and was on the committee of the Courtenay Farmers Club in July 1871.  He was also a member of the Halkett School Committee in October 1872, the school which his children attended.  Jabez helped to start the Courtenay A & P Association and he won many prizes for Southdown sheep which he bred.  He was also a member of the St. Matthews Church in Courtenay.  James Robertson was vice-president of the Courtenay Farmer’s Club, so he and Jabez had a lot in common and would have known each other well in such a small community.

Jabez got into trouble a couple of times.  In the Press 27-07-1866 he was fined one pound for owning an unregistered dog.   And in the Star 16-04-1885, "for having sheep in the Addington saleyard, April 8, infested with lice," Jabez was one of a few men fined one pound plus costs for the nuisance he had caused.

According to Vera McLennan, "in 1864, Charles Watson bought 30 acres in Courtenay bounded by Woolshed Road to the south, Jabez Lord’s farm to the east, and the northern frontage on the Old West Coast Road.  He built the first Halkett and Courtenay Hotel, known as Watson’s Halfway House.  He also built a bakehouse of cob on this site.  Later, he built the wooden hotel which was demolished in late 1970.  There was a blacksmith’s forge there as well and in the Lyttelton Times of 30-05-1865 there was an advertisement for a resident blacksmith in the village of Courtenay.  On 15-09-1865, Charles Watson applied for a licence and advertised his accommodation house as open.  In 1873 the hotel was owned by S.W. Palmer who erected a general store, opposite the Courtenay school, and a butcher’s shop below the river terrace.  They also opened a bakery at the hotel itself."

Later, E. Guiney, who had conducted the shop in Courtenay, bought the accommodation house and fifty acres, which, by then, included Jabez Lord’s property on the east of the hotel, for 4 pounds per acre.  Jabez was appointed pound keeper for the Half Way House in December 1873.  He would have captured loose cattle, horses, dogs and anything else on four legs and kept them until the owner could be found.

On 01-10-1866 the Courtenay post office opened, but after the licence lapsed the post office moved to Whites' Hotel, another accommodation house.  The maps in Vera McLennan's book show where they were situated.

Courtenay became larger in population and developed into a close knit community and they used to have lots of festivities.  One event was a Courtenay Farmer’s Club anniversary dance on 19-07-1870 where a supper and ball were held. One hundred people attended and they danced until 6am. There was apparently a good attendance of well-dressed ladies.

All the accommodations houses were eventually pulled down, the shops all went and the small farms were merged into larger ones.  Today all that are left are the St Matthew's Church and the vicarage.  The railway was formed between Kirwee and Springfiend and Courtney was no longer on the mail route which basically ruined the towns business prospects.  

Religion was a big part of the Lord family's life, as it was for many families in this era.  So much so that Jabez donated the land on which St Matthew’s Church of England stands (in around 1871). The church building was consecrated in 1875 and on Palm Sunday, 21-03-1875 Jabez and Mary Ann were both confirmed by the Bishop of Christchurch at St Matthew’s.  It would not have been very far for the family to walk to church. Early church services in Courtenay were held in people’s houses.  In 1888 Jabez Lord was named as a vestryman at St George's Kirwee.  On 13-04-1905 when Jabez later moved to Christchurch he became a member of the Anglican Church in St. Albans.  Jabez's family in England were Ebenezer Primitive Methodist.   

In the North Otago Times dated 09-03-1886 there was an article about Jabez Lord which shows his life was not without trouble:

“March 8, A stable and shed with a quantity of agricultural implements, belonging to Jabez Lord, at Kirwee was burned down.  The premises were insured in the South British Office for 200 pounds”

In the Star on 21-09-1890 Jabez was working on the Lyttelton wharves with other men when he was assaulted.  He must have sold the farm by this time and moved back to the Christchurch area.  The article read that Jabez was "knocked down and pretty well stunned."  He was called a free labourer at the time and the "scrimmage" lasted about two minutes between the group of free labourers and a group of other men.  The free labourers took refuge in a ship to avoid getting punched more. It appeared that some men were doing work for free, maybe because the other group were on strike.  It says, "It was no doubt very galling for the accused to see other men doing the work they were accustomed to."

In 1892 Jabez was named in an add of shopkeepers who were closing their premises at 1pm on Sat 29 October to make sure the half-holiday was a success.  I'm not sure what this half holiday was.  When Jabez's son John Lord got married in 1893, Jabez gave his occupation as grocer, living in Ferry Road.  In the 1893 electoral roll he was listed with wife Mary Ann and son Thomas (listed as a baker) as living at 97 Lower High Street, Christchurch.  In 1897 Jabez and Mary Ann Lord were still living in 97 Lower High St, which is now called Ferry Road.

In the 1911 electoral roll, Jabez was living at 175 Cranford St., which is probably his son Fred Lord's house.  Apparently Jabez lived with Fred and his family in his old age.

Jabez and Mary Ann had 10 children including 8 boys and two girls.

Ira Spencer Lord (15-02-1861  - 06-03-1943)                                   
Lucy Emma Lord (08-10-1862  - 03-06-1947)
Edwin Lord (31-03-1865  - 17-07-1944)
John Cogan Lord (16-02-1867  - 27-06-1928)
Charles Lawrence Lord (08-02-1869  - 05-08-1945)
George Clement Lord (05-10-1870  - 29-01-1948)
Thomas Priestley Lord (06-05-1872  - 20-10-1936)
Frederick William Lord (28-01-1876  - 03-08-1942)
Francis Jabez Lord (11-01-1880  - 10-04-1945)
Ellen Mary Lord (02-02-1882  - 25-09-1960)

Jabez's wife Mary Ann died in Lower High St. on 12-05-1897 at the age of 59.

We know very little about Mary Ann except that her father was John Spencer (a wool scourer in Halifax) and her mother was Mary Priestley.  Mary Ann’s sister, Sarah Ellen Spencer who married Thomas Anderton also came out to New Zealand.  Sarah and Thomas never had grown children.  They also lived in Courtenay and apparently they brought up Edwin Lord.  This may have been because the Lord family was so large. Maybe it was to give them a child of their own to look after with his parents only just down the road.

Jabez died on 10-05-1924 at the age of 87 of valvular disease which he had for 30 years as well as heart failure.  Four of his sons Edwin, John, Thomas and Fred were pallbearers at his funeral.  According to his obituary in the Christchurch Press dated 14-05-1924, in his last 20 years he had lived a “somewhat retired life.”  He is buried in Linwood Cemetery with his wife Mary Ann and daughter Ellen.

19_Jabez Lord

Coaching days and Accommodating Ways - Vera McLennan
A History of Courtenay - Vera McLennan
Birth, death and marriage certificates for the Lord family
G.R. McDonald Biographies, Canterbury Museum - The Press, The Lyttelton Times, The Star
Lord Family Bible
Biography for his son George Clement Lord 

Pictures of Jabez Lord's gravestone before and after the Christchurch Earthquakes

48_Jabez & Mary Ann & Ellen Mary Lord_tombstone


  1. Any relation to the lords in wellington,eric and shirley lord?

  2. Any relation to the lords in wellington,eric and shirley lord?

    1. Hi Shane. Can't find these people on my family tree. You would have to go back a generation or two to find the connection. Find their parents or grandparents and get back to me! The Lord family is a big family, so they could be related. Bel

  3. Do you have a William Lord on your family tree. He came into New Zealand up at Kororareka and was a shop keeper in the early days. He married a maori woman, Kotiro.