The Royal New Zealand Fencibles including Rex's family members:

Michael McMullen, John McPike, Henry Mitchell, Charles Moore, William Murphy, Andrew Scallon and George Smith (links under Family Members Information & at bottom of page)


During 1845-1846 there had been some unrest between the Maoris and European settlers in North Auckland. This led Governor Fitzroy and later Governor Grey to request troops from the Colonial Office in England. After much debate if was agreed that a group of retired soldiers was to be recruited and sent to New Zealand. This group was to be known as the Royal New Zealand Fencible Corps. Conditions for enlistment were posted in every camp in the British Iles where pensioners were stationed.

The men so recruited had to be of good character and industrious habits, under 48 years of age (later reduced to 41 years) and with a minimum of 15 years service. Physically, they had to be over 5 ft 5 inches in height, of robust frame and medically fit as required by military duties.

They were to receive 1/3d per day in addition to their pension. They would receive free passage to New Zealand for themselves, their wives and families. On disembarkment they would receive an advance of three months pension together with an additional one month's pension for each child.

They were to receive a cottage of two rooms with one acre of land. The men were required to attend military exercise on twelve days in each year, and on every Sunday attend muster under arms at church parade. They were also required to keep their cottages in good repair.

After seven years service the cottage and allotment of land became the absolute property of the pensioner, providing he had fulfilled his conditions of service, and no further military duty was required.

The officers were subject to separate conditions, some of which included a house consisting of at least four rooms, more acreage of land, cabins on the voyage out to New Zealand, as well as extra advantages on the termination of their service.

All of these conditions would have been very appealing especially to the older soldiers. Economic conditions were very harsh at this time in Britain and Ireland, and the prospect of owning their own land would have had a great influence. The pensioners who enlisted had served in many regiments in many parts of the world, including India, East & West Indies, Gibraltar and Canada. The men were used of harsh conditions, and their wives and families were used of following the army around the world with few possessions and no fixed home of their own. The long trip to New Zealand would not have been a drawback.

The pensioners embarked at various ports including Gravesend, London and Belfast. The left the British Isles during 1847-1852 arriving in ten ships. Most made the journey in three months, although the Berwick Castle took six months, and the Ann seven months as they both stopped at Falkland Islands and Tasmania.

In all 721 pensioners, 632 women and 1228 children were listed by the War Office as embarking on the ten ships. Many of the children were in fact teenagers and young adults and were later employed as servants, shop assistants, schoolteachers, and cooks etc. Each ship had a medical officer. As well as this a schoolmaster was appointed by the passengers to entertain and school the children.


69th Foot

18th Foot

54th Foot

4th Foot

3rd Foot

57th Foot

58th Foot



~ Ramilles ~

The Ramillies was the first of the Fencible Ships to arrive in New Zealand. The ship left Tilbury Port on 14 April 1847 and arrived in Auckland on 5 August 1847. On board were 67 Pensioners, 57 Women and 123 Children who eventually settled in the village of Onehunga. (Passengers included John McPike and Charles Moore and their families)

~ Minerva ~

The Minerva left Gravesend, England on 1 July 1847 and arrived in Auckland on 8 October 1847. Passengers included 80 Pensioners, 67 Women and 145 Children. On the journey six children were born, and one woman and six children died. The families mostly settled in the village of Howick.

~ Sir Robert Sale ~

The Sir Robert Sale brought 74 Pensioners, 69 Women and 142 Children to Auckland. The ship left Cork, Ireland on 4 July 1847and arrived in Auckland on 11 October 1847. There were five births and twelve deaths on the journey, including one of the newly born infants. As no location had been set for the arrivals the passengers remained on board ship until 22 November. During this time the men were employed unloading the goods brought out on the ship.

~ Sir George Seymour ~

The fourth ship, Sir George Seymour left Gravesend, England on 12 August 1847 carrying 78 Pensioners, 63 Women and 114 Children. It was the largest of the ten ships at 867 tons and arrived in Auckland on 26 November 1847. There were 14 deaths during the journey, nine of which were children under 5 years of age. The last of the pensioners and their families dis-embarked on 16 December and followed the other families to Howick.

~ Clifton ~

The Clifton left Gravesend, England on 8 August 1847. Further passengers boarded at Galway, and on 26 September 1847 the ship left for New Zealand. It arrived in Auckland on 23 January 1848. During the journey there were forty-six deaths which was the largest number of deaths among the ships. Passengers included 79 Pensioners, 72 Women and 161 Children. These families eventually settled in Panmure

~ Ann ~

The Ann left Gravesend, England on 5 October 1847. The ship left Belfast, Ireland on Christmas Day, 25 December 1847 and arrived in Auckland on 16 May 1848. Onboard were 74 Pensioners, 70 Women and 153 Children. The majority of these families settled in Otahuhu. (Passengers included Henry Mitchell, Michael McMullen, William Murphy and Andrew Scallon)

~ Berhampore ~

The Berhampore left London, England on 7 March 1849 and arrived in Auckland on 16 June 1849. She carried 80 Pensioners, 67 Women and 101 Children who settled in the village of Onehunga. As well as a medical surgeon, a hospital assistant and a nurse were employed on board. There were seven births on the ship during the journey.

~ Oriental Queen ~

The eighth ship Oriental Queen left London on 16 May 1849 with 71 Pensioner, 62 Women and 108 Children aboard. There were five births of the journey. She arrived in Auckland on 18 September 1849 and the families settled in the village of Onehunga.  

~ Inchinnan ~

The Inchinnan left London on 14 January 1852 and left Portland 14 days later on 28 January 1852. Passengers included 78 Pensioners, 68 Women and 113 Children who arrived in Auckland on 27 May 1852. As well as a medical surgeon the ship had a hospital assistant. There were 10 births on the journey and 22 deaths, mostly children who contracted measles and children pox. The men and their families were settled in empty cottages around the four villages and not settled collectively as a unit as the earlier detachments were. Many of the men were firstly involved in repairing the roads around the villages as well as the road between Howick and Otahuhu.

~ Berwick Castle ~

The last and smallest (at 342 tons) of the Fencible Ships the Berwick Castle left London, England on 13 June 1852, left the Falklands on 13 October 1852 and arrived Auckland on 13 December 1852. Onboard were 40 Pensioners, 37 Women and 68 Children. There were six births and nine deaths on the journey. Most of the families settled in Otahuhu and Onehunga though some were sent to Howick.


~ Michael McMULLEN ~

Michael was born in 1793 in Rathfriland, County Down, Ireland. He enlisted in 1812 underage for 4 years with the 80th Regiment then transferred to the 69th Regiment in 1819 aged 22 years, and served a total of 12 years 50 days. His height was 5 ft 7 and he had brown hair, hazel eyes, and a swarthy complexion. He was a labourer.

He served in the East Indies from 1814-1824 and was discharged with chronic liver and asthma contracted from service in the East Indies. He left from Charlemont for Otahuhu with wife Ellen McELVOY and four daughters, Mary born 1825, Margaret born 1826, Rose Anne born 1832 and Ellen. The arrived on the ship Ann on 16 May 1848. They lived in Otahuhu township and had a small farm as well.

In 1859 Michael, a farmer, died of pleurisy and enteritis aged 62 years at Otahuhu. Ellen died in 1864 aged 57 years also at Otahuhu.

~ John McPIKE ~

John was born in 1798 at the town of Ballynameen, County Derry, Ireland. He enlisted at Belfast in 1818 into the 18th Irish Regiment and served his time around Ireland. His height was 5 ft 6 and he had brown hair, blue/grey eyes, and a pale/fresh complexion. He was a sawyer and weaver.

He served his time around Ireland. John married Mary DUNN and their six children were born in Belfast. The family came to Onehunga on the ship Ramillies arriving on 5 August 1847. The children were John born 1820, James born 1828, Mary born 1830, Margaret born 1832, Catherine born 1835 and Ellen born 1836.

He made a donation to the Catholic Schoolhouse in 1848. He held 42 acres in Onehunga as well as one acre in the centre of Onehunga during the 1850's. He obtained a De-pasturing Licence for Onehunga in 1853. During the 1860's he farmed 40 freehold acres at Little Muddy Creek (Wiri, South Auckland). The family were occupied in farming and pit sawing. In the 1870's he lived at Onehunga and attended St Mary of the Assumption Church.

John died in 1874 aged 76 years and the following year his wife Mary died aged 77 years.

~ Henry MITCHELL ~

Henry was born in Putney, Surrey, England on 24 September 1812. He enlisted at the age of 13 years in the 54th Regiment. He served 16 years and 3 months including 14 years in India. His height was 5 ft 10 and he had brown hair, grey eyes, a sallow complexion. He was a labourer.

He was discharged in Dublin in 1844 then came to Otahuhu from Belfast, Ireland. He became a founding pioneer of the settlement of Otahuhu. Henry had no family on board the Ann but soon married Mary McMULLEN in Onehunga on 16 July 1848, and they had one son, Henry, two daughters and numerous grandchildren. A most upright man respected by all.

Henry died on 25 August 1901 aged 88 years at his son's residence in Otahuhu. It was claimed he was the last of the Otahuhu Fencibles to have lived there continuously.

~ Charles MOORE ~

Charles was born in Oughteragh, County Leitrim, Ireland on 2 October 1799. He enlisted 1813 underage with 30th Reg. as a Drummer. He was with the 4th Reg. from 1817. He served 27 yrs 8 mths, including France 3 yrs, West Indies 6 yrs 346 days, Portugal 1 yr 3 mths, NSW 5 yrs 9 mths, East Indies 2 yrs 92 days. Discharged at end of his service 1840 at Isle of Man with 3 good conduct badges, a very good industrious character, occupation carpenter, height 5 ft 8, light brown hair, grey eyes, fair complexion.

Charles married Isabella (Elizabeth) CANNEL (b 1807), at Essex in 1832 and they had 6 children. They lived on the Isle of Man, their home called Ivy Cottage, and Charles was the publican. They left from Chatham with 5 children, Charles, Sarah, Robert, Albert and Henry and arrived on the 5 August 1847 on the ship Ramillies. They settled on Onehunga and Charles held a De-pasturing Licence for Onehunga 1853. He was elected warden for the Hundred of Onehunga and was a committee member in the Provincial Council. He worked as a carpenter and with his sons worked together putting in tenders for carting. He owned 40 acres freehold at Little Muddy Creek 1865.

Charles died at Onehunga on 16 February 1873 of cancer. Isabella lived until 1885 and died at her sons residence in Thames on 24 November 1885.

~ William MURPHY ~

William was born in 1805 in County Armagh, Ireland. He enlisted in the 3rd Regiment. He served 22 years 5 months and gained a medal for Arva. His height was 5 ft 10 and he had sandy hair, grey eyes and a fresh complexion. He was a labourer.

He married Jane MURPHY on 6 June 1844 and they had 4 children. They came to Otahuhu with two children from Armagh, Ireland on the ship Ann, arriving on 16 May 1848.

William died in hospital in 1865 aged 60 years. His son, James, born in 1844, grew up on his father's grant of land at Otahuhu, and later donated a section for a park in 1932.

~ Andrew SCALLON ~

Andrew was born around 1790 and was the second husband of MARGARET BROWN. He served with the 57th Regiment of Foot. Andrew and Margaret together with Margaret & Roberts three sons came to New Zealand on the ship Ann arriving 16 May 1848. Margaret had earlier married ROBERT McLARNON in Ireland (Robert had served as a Sgt. 45th Regiment of Foot, British Army before his death about 1832).

~ George SMITH ~

George was born in Theberton, Suffolk, England. He married ROSE ANNE McMULLEN on 24 August 1858 and they had six children. George served with the 58th Regiment of Foot. He died on 22 September 1910 in Otahuhu, Auckland.




This village was the first to be designed and established for the first detachment of Fencibles and their families. They had arrived in Auckland on the Ramillies on 5 August 1847 but for the next three months were housed in the Albert Barracks in the city as a decision had still not been made by the Government as to the location of their village. Onehunga was eventually chosen as it was in a key position in the military and naval defence of the western perimeter of Auckland.

When the Fencibles moved to their new settlement on 17 November 1847 there were still no cottages were ready for them and instead two 100 foot long buildings housed the men and their families. Shortly after this in December 1847 a ballot was held for the allotment of the first ten cottages. The cottages were all detached and erected on 10 acre allotments. Thirty-four allotments were originally planned. The remaining families were able to move into their new homes by April 1848. The Fencibles were soon growing wheat and vegetables, erecting fences and assisting with the many building projects. Some were employed on neighbouring farms and others helped to build roads.

By June 1849 life was settling into a regular pattern and the 7th Detachment of Fencibles arrived on board the Berhampore. Terms of service were different from the first group in that these men could be relocated. Their land was to be occupied for seven years and then given up to the Government for land elsewhere. The Government was not bound to erect housing, but in lieu of this the men were entitled to the sum of fifteen pounds which allowed them to obtain a raupoo house and leave a small amount for fencing and improvements. The 8th Dettachment, the final group of Fencibles to be settled in Onehunga, arrived on the Oriental Queen on 18th September 1849.

By 1850 Onehunga had a population of 867. Three Wardens were elected annually to administer the Crown lands. This included the management of stock grazing. Owners of cattle paid de-pasturing licenses of 10/6 per annum, together with a fee of 8d for each head of great cattle which included horses, oxen, bulls, dairy cows, heifers and asses. A fee of 1d per head was payable for small cattle (sheep and goats). The first list of licensees included about one third of the men who had arrived on the Ramillies which indicated that they had earned sufficient money to improve their homes as well as buying livestock which provided fresh milk and meat, as well as income if the animals were sold.

During this time transport was mainly by foot, horse and cart, or boat. Early roads were sometimes mere tracks or ruts and they became very muddy during winter months. A ferry service was started between Onehunga and Mangere in the early part of 1848. The first school opened in July 1848. There were 31 male children and 23 female children attending. During the winter of 1851 St Mary's Catholic Church was built with contributions from the congregation. Around 1854 a small wooden school was established next to St Peter's Anglican Church.

From 1854 onward the Wardens had a wider range of responsibilities including the development of roads, bridges and community projects. The construction of a wharf was begun in 1857. Road improvements were on-going and those who could not contribute with a cash donation often volunteered their labour. The first bus service from Auckland to Onehunga started in 1858 and the first railway in October 1873.

Little now remains of the Fencibles and their families in Onehunga except for a few headstones in the cemetery, the old churches of St Mary's and St Peter's, and a few street names eg. Princes Street, Church Street, Arthur Street and Captain Springs Road. However one original cottage has been restored and can be seen at 111 Victoria Street.


This was the largest of the Fencible settlements. The village was called Howick after the third Earl Grey (1802-1894) who was formerly Viscount and Lord Howick. He had been largely responsible for the formation of the Fencible Corps. The settlers mainly arrived on the Minerva, Sir George Seymour, Inchinnan and the Berwick Castle.

As with the Onehunga settlement, cottages were not ready for the settlers and two temporary sheds were built. They were 100 foot long, with earthen floors and leaked in heavy rain. Some moved into temporary native houses (raupoos) until their wooden cottages were built. By 22 December 1849 fifty-one cottages were completed and the remaining cottages for the 2nd and 3rd detachments were ready by May 1851.

The first European building in Howick was All Saints Church of England church and the first service was held on Sunday 21 November 1847. The Sunday School started on 21 November 1847. The Roman Catholic Church was completed in 1848 and by 1851 there were 154 children enrolled at the two church schools.

The first shops where provisions could be bought were in the village hotels. Some pensioners also sold provisions from their cottages. There were also bake houses and a shoemaker. A General Store was opened in Wellington Street in 1851 and the Courthouse was in use before May 1851 that year.

Most of the men were employed building roads, clearing the acre allotments, and helping with fencing, drainage and building bridges. Many took up the option of obtaining extra land. In 1849 thirty-one Fencibles held De-pasturing Licences and two years later that number had increased to forty-one. Holding a De-pasturing Licence allowed the men to vote for members of their first local government, who could then make decisions how the funds would be spent. Wardens were elected as in Onehunga.

In 1867 an Anniversary Dinner was held to commemorate the landing 20 years earlier. In 1897 a reunion was held which included a luncheon, a sports day, and a dinner and ball. At this time there were only two original Fencible settlers living in Howick.

Today there are many reminders of the Fencible influence in Howick including Fencible Drive, Fencible Court, and the Fencible United Associated Football Club. The Howick Historical Village in Bell's Road, Pakuranga contains a Fencible Village which presents life as it was for the Fencible families.


The village of Panmure was situated besides the Tamaki River which was a major route for trading. The majority of it's settlers arrived on the Clifton. Only two of the families were from England, the rest coming from Ireland. At this time Ireland was gripped by the potato famine in which over one million people died and over four million immigrated. Of the 312 passengers there were 432 cases of disease reported including typhoid fever, measles, smallpox and scurvy. The Auckland settlers were concerned that quarantine regulations were too lax, but despite their concerns no diseases were brought to shore.

Two months after arriving the lieutenant governor was shown the proposed site. The soil was volcanic and the area was free of trees but with much fern and brush. Water was in abundant supply from streams. The immigrants originally sheltered in huts which they built themselves from tea-tree and raupo. The first wooden cottages were not built until April 1848 and the government paid the local Maori to supply raupo cottages in the meantime. These were not waterproof and were highly flammable.

By November 1850 seventy of the seventy-five allotments had been allocated. The volcanic soil was more easily cultivated than that around Onehunga and Howick and that land was soon cleared of fern and brush. The Fencibles were encouraged to bring their tools of trade with them and in 1853 their occupations included farmer, blacksmith, carpenter, shoemaker, tailor, postmaster, basket-maker and labourer. Many found employment in public works.

Churches were quickly established along with schools. As most of the children were from Irish descent the first school was the Roman Catholic School which was opened in 1849. The Church of England school and chapel was opened in 1852.

In 1848 the cutters Alert and Thetis provided a boat service to Auckland two or three times a week. The Wonga Wonga screw steamer made trips in 1854. Many Panmure residents used to walk to Auckland as it was cheaper.

By 1860 Fencibles in Auckland owned 230 horses, 988 cattle, 2179 sheep, 458 pigs, 252 goats, and 4699 poultry. Many had become respected farmers. Milk and butter from Panmure was sold to the Auckland markets.

Today five private cottages previously owned by Panmure Fencibles survive. A single cottage and a double cottage can be seen at MOTAT (Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland). Three cottages are located at the Howick Historical Village.


This was a last village to be settled and probably the most planned. The northern border was sited by the Otahuhu Creek and the southern border was by the Tamaki Inlet which was a good means of transport by boat to Auckland. To the east were Panmure and Howick villages, and to the west the village of Onehunga. The land was surveyed and ready for the settlers who arrived on the Ann but once again there were no houses or facilities. It was the beginning of winter when they arrived and at first they were taken to quarters at Potters Barn in Epsom.

Most of the men onboard the Ann were labourers and they were quickly employed on public works building roads and bridges. The first of these bridges was built over the Otahuhu Creek. Many years later in 1866 a toll gate was operated on the bridge which raised funds for the maintenance of the main road to Auckland, Great South Road.

The population figures of 1849 show an equal division of membership to the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church as well as a small number of the Presbyterian faith. The Church of England's first church was a wooden structure. The cemetery was beside the church and is all that now remains. The first church on the Roman Catholic site was a whare. A wooden church was built in 1856.

By 1851 the first church school had been established. The first public school was opened in January 1873. During this time the Roman Catholic Church also opened schools.

Provisions were expensive to buy as all goods had to be carted out from Auckland. Bread in particular was hard to buy and most housewives baked their own. Maori traders who travelled through the district, or who canoed up the Tamaki River, sold or traded pork and fish to the villagers. Many products were made at home such as candles and soap. The men soon developed their skills and trades such as carpenters, blacksmiths, cabinet makers etc. As with the settlers of the other villages, the Otahuhu Fencibles served as Wardens responsible for controlling de-pasturing licences. By 1853 the list of licensees totalled 24 and of these 19 were men who had arrived on the Ann.

Today there is little evidence of the Fencibles in Otahuhu and although most of the roads were built by them, there are few with a Fencible name. However there is Fencible Place and McGee Street (named after Alexander McGee), as well as Murphys Park. The park includes an acre of land granted to Sergeant William Murphy in 1848. The east windows of the Anglican Church were also gifted by James Murphy in memory of his mother.

Main Source of information from The Royal New Zealand Fencibles 1847-1852 first published 1997.

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Gather ye the fragments that remain that nothing be lost