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Rev. James Preston (1834-1898)

Circuit Preacher - Primitive Landscape Artist 
South Canterbury, New Zealand

Peel Forest.  Painted by Rev. James Preston.
Jollie's House and Mount Peel (1875)
surrounded by native bush with Mount Peel (5,633 feet) towering above the homestead.  

The various owners of Peel Forest have all been men of taste and great tree planters, and the glorious views, native bush and trim gardens, make it one of the most beautiful homesteads in Canterbury. The old fourteen-roomed homestead, built about 1859, is little changed.  Built of pit-sawn timber off the property mainly white pine. Originally a 27,300 acre run, between the Rangitata River on the north and Orari River to the south, Peel Forest was taken up by Francis Jollie in 1853, license paid Oct. 1854 and stocked Jan. 1855 with 1,382 sheep. At Jollie's death in 1870 it was sold to a partnership of four, one member of which, George James Dennistoun, managed it. In 1903 he became owner of 8,000 acres of the property, which was reduced to 2,300 acres in 1913.

Rev. James H. Preston (1834 - 1898)

James was the youngest son of Margaret Moyes and Rev. William Michael Stevenson Preston, Vicar of Warcop, lord of the manor of Warcop Hall, Westmorland, England.  Educated in Edinburgh.  At the age of 18 he emigrated to Australia (1853) and onto Canterbury, New Zealand in 1854. He was working in the Hurunui district for Charles Reed in 1854 on the run 'Warlise' where J.H. Bryant, Reed's manager until 1856, assisted Preston with the farm work. Later James was at Rangiora.  James tried his luck in the Nelson district as a gold prospector at the diggings at Doctor's Creek and the Slate River and then in 1856 as a farmer at Charteris Bay, Lyttelton Harbour.  He went back to England in 1859 on the "Salem." During this trip he married Miss Ann (Hannah) Bradley 1 June 1860 in Onchan, Isle of Man. Anna was the daughter of Richard Bradley at Strathallan Crescent, Douglas, I. of M. The couple departed for New Zealand on the "Harwood" arriving in Lyttelton 14 December 1860.  They bought R.S. 3708 of 50ac and a five-hundred acres R.S. 3743 on the south bank of the Waimakariri River in Canterbury and called the farm 'Warcop'.  James was a popular man and became prominent in local affairs.  In 1870 James decided to go into the Church so sold the farm and was ordained a deacon at St. Michaels Anglican Church in Christchurch and in 1872 was ordained a priest by Bishop Harper and was appointed the curate in charge of the Geraldine parish. His parish extended from the Rangitata to Mt Cook. He rode long distances and held service in whatever buildings were available.

Lyttelton Times, 15 December 1860, Page 4 [voyage 2nd Sept. 1860 from the Downs, England  to 14 Dec. 1860 Lyttelton, N.Z.]
Dec. 14th. Ship Harwood, 462 tons, Capt. William Forsayth, from London, with cargo. Passengers - 
Cabin: Mr. and Mrs James Preston, Mr. and Mrs. Laurence Brown, 5 children, and servant, Mrs. Ivens; Misses Newman, Faber and Sparshott; Messrs. Keene, Carter, Davis, Pollock, Abbott, Richardson, Blay, Forbes, Ingham, Harwood, and Orton;
Steerage, T. Howson, R. Bowbyes, wife and daughter, G. Carter, J. Paull, J. Eskett, wife and two children.
    The Harwood brings a number of pheasants male and female, in good condition and without loss, the property of Mr. Keene, a returned colonist.

James Preston emigrated (that is, the second time he emigrated) on the smart ship "Harwood", along with his wife Anna nee Bradley. Anna was a first cousin to Agnes Caroline Bradley who had married Reginald Orton and their son, also Reginald Orton, also emigrated on the "Harwood" eventually settling in Pleasant Point.  

Miss Faber

Laurence Lawson Brown married Anne Grey Brown (nee Faber). There was a Miss Faber onboard.

Elizabeth Grey FABER married John Dobson in 1869. Elizabeth Grey Dobson died in 1894 aged 57. Children:
1871 Dobson Henry Faber
1870 Dobson William Faber
1874 Dobson Mary Trevor
1877 Dobson Edward Grey b. Nov. 9th

Lyttelton Times 26 May 1875 Page 2
Dobson May 23, at the School-house, Cust, Mary Trevor, infant daughter of John and Elizabeth Grey Dobson, aged 11 months.

Oxford Observer 23 June 1894 Page 2
Dobson  June 18, at Betshanger, Rangiora, Elizabeth Grey wife of John Dobson, and third daughter of the late Thomas Henry Faber, Stockton-on-Tees, Durham ; aged fifty-seven years R.I.P.

Press 14 December 1910 Page 9 MR JOHN DOBSON
The late Mr John Dobson, clerk and surveyor of the Ashley Road Board, whose death occurred yesterday, was a native of Lancashire, and before arriving in Canterbury in 1865 by the ship Mermaid, had been engaged in railway engineering works. For eleven years he was master of the Cust district school, and for the next eleven years he held the position of clerk and surveyor to the Oxford Road Board, at a time when there was a large extent of road formation going forward. Retiring from that kind of occupation, he entered upon the auction business at Rangiora, and continued the same for the next eleven years. He then entered upon a farm at Loburn, and retiring from rural life, became the proprietor of a drapery establishment in town, which he relinquished to take up the duties two years since of the surveyorship of the Ashley Road Board.... He had been thrice married, and leaves a widow, with her son and daughter, and three sons and a daughter (the late wife of Mr T. H. Davey, M.P.) of his previous family. Mr Dobson was 71 years of age.

Miss C.R.L. Sparshott [1842-1933]

Press 25 May 1933
On May 24th, at 140 Rugby street, Charlotte Rosa Locke, wife of the late Frederick Strouts. [Buried at Linwood]

Taranaki Herald 27 December 1919 Page 2
The death occurred at Christchurch a few days ago of Mr. Frederick Strouts, at the age of 85. The late gentleman, who was well known as an architect, carried on business in Christchurch for many years. He was born at Yousea, Hothfield, Kent, England, and educated at Wye College, Canterbury. He studied as an architect in London, and arrived in New Zealand some 60 years ago. He is survived by two sons and three daughters, Mr. Charles Strouts, of Patea, formerly of the branch of the Bank of New South Wales at New Plymouth, Mr. Walter Strouts, Mrs. Mackay, of Wellington, and two unmarried daughters. His oldest son, was killed in a bicycle accident some years ago.

Circuit Rider

The first Church of England clergyman appointed for South Canterbury was the Rev. George Foster. In 1870 the area was broken up into smaller pastoral districts and the Rev. James Preston was appointed Mission Deacon of Temuka and the curate of Burke Pass. The parish, then extended from Mt. Peel Station on the Rangitata River to Mount Cook, a distance of 120 miles. Temuka and Pleasant Point became a separate parish in 1878. Once a month on a Saturday the Rev. James Preston would leave Geraldine by horseback or in his buggy, visiting parishioners on the way, would eventually arrive at Peel Forest, where he spent the night. Next morning he would take the service at St. Stephens and then go on to Mount Peel and take the evening service returning to Geraldine on Monday. He would call on any parishioner he had missed seeing on the way out holding services in whatever building that were available, visiting the settlers who were then establishing sheep runs and administering to shepherds. He held regular services at "Three Springs", just north of Fairlie, where a lay reader Dr. Frederick Kimbell lived and at Gillingham's at "Lambrook" just south Cricklewood, about six miles south of Fairlie. He travelled by horse over his large parish for twenty- eight years and made time for his hobbies - sketching and fishing. Fredrick Kimbell was a doctor but did not practice in the district but was called upon in emergencies. 

Preston's original diaries, 14 vol., covering the years 1855-1898, are held by the Canterbury Museum Archives. They are a varied collection of sketches and news cuttings mixed in with writings rather than a straight diary. The 1855 and 1860 volumes are written on board ships. Voyage of the "Gratitude" from Sydney to Lyttelton in 1855. The dairy of for the "Harwood" voyage 31st Aug. to 7th Dec. 1860 is incomplete. In 1891 Fairlie became part of the Te Ngawai curate and James on departing the meeting discussing the future of the parish said "I leave you with regret... you people have showered me with kindness. However all things are ordered by the Almighty and it is beyond my power to minister to this district more effectively." Extracts from diaries have been made by Nancy R. C. McLaughlin in 1984.

The size of his parish necessitated constant travelling and this is well documented in the diaries. There is a press cutting book, 1870-1880, about Geraldine parish, and a parish book, 1871-1891, which contains lists of confirmations, church officers etc. created by James Preston. There is also a marriage banns book, 1875-1897.

His account of his day October 19th 1879:

"Took Bony and rode over to Raincliff Station on my way to Burkes Pass.  Held evening service for the benefit of McKay's family. Got up at 5.00 am and after some trouble caught my horse, saddled it, and rode 20 miles to Ashwick Station (got there at 8.30. am). Found Mr Gray at home.  Had breakfast at 9.00 am. and as my horse was lame borrowed another from Gray to ride to the Pass township to celebrate marriage between John Thomas Burgess and Sarah Smith Nixon.  The horse bucked when I got on but I stuck on all right.  Brown said it would be quiet after the first start. Got up to the Pass at 10.45.  Found Mr Barclay there ready to perform the ceremony if I did not appear.  Got everything arranged and performed the ceremony.  The church was full of people, about 60 partook of the breakfast.  It was a grand affair for the Pass.  I mounted my horse again and was disagreeably surprised to come in for a regular bucking match.  Men shouted "Stick to it", dogs barked and surrounded me and the horse. I stuck to him but was awfully knocked about.  After the battle was over and I recovered myself and my hat which had fallen off, I felt I had damaged my arm a little (it was painful for some days after) it was no doubt good fun for the Burkes Pass people to see a parson sitting a buck jumper and getting knocked about but it was all on one side I thought to myself." The day ends with him staying the night with Mr. Cooper at what is now Rivermead.

Paintings

His landscape paintings, are a record of his experiences, and are considered quaintly naive, an untutored style, but form an interesting historical record and remain a source of delight.  The doll-like people and structures in his paintings and the simplicity of topographical features create the primitive illusion. His conceptual style did not change through his lifetime.  It was a style that describes rather than depicts and finds wit and beauty in the commonplace and record moments of Preston's life which had significance for him, places which he saw during his activities as a minister and earlier.  The majority of his known work are in watercolours copied from pencil sketches. One of his sketch books contains a number of pencil sketches of Maori rock drawings at Opihi.  James died suddenly on 4 October 1898 while fishing on the banks of the Rangitata with friends. He is buried at Geraldine. The funeral was large. About 500 people attended. The titles listed below are watercolours can be found at the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch which has the largest collection of Preston's drawings and paintings. The dimensions in inches unless otherwise stated.

Watercolour on card 227 x 300 mm
Preston, James, 1834-1898. Watercolour. [Cricklewood, South Canterbury. 1883 or later]. Ref: A-123-004. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, NZ.

Shows Cricklewood homestead and farm buildings with three horses in the foreground, fences, farm carts, two men attending to another horse, a carcass-hanger and a train in the background. The homestead is surrounded by a hedge of young conifers. The Cricklewood homestead was reputedly burnt down, possibly in the 1880s. The watercolour was given its title by comparison with an almost identical painting reproduced in: Oakley, John. Paintings of Canterbury 1840-1890 (Wellington, 1969) p. 59. There was a large sheep station called Kingsbury alongside Cricklewood Railway Station by 1911, and this view may show Kingsbury Station. Dating: trains did not run through the Cricklewood area until 1883, giving an earliest date at which this watercolour could have been done. Albury Station Homestead, c1885, was situated on the nameless road that runs north off Rockwood Rd, Cricklewood. Odd place for it, considering its on the north east boundary of the station. It was built c1860 and was burned down in the early 1890s, replaced and re-sited on the intersection of Cricklewood, Richardson's and Limestone Valley Roads. Note the railway engine heading to Fairlie and the Tramway Creek Gorge in the background.

1 Camp near the Hurunui Gorge
 1854 watercolour 9 x 11
Bryant and myself at dinner.  James stayed in the bush for three days by myself cutting posts. Bryant came occasionally with bullock for a load.
1a. The Gorge of the Hurunui. watercolour. V shaped hut. Two men around a campfire. Gallows with a leg of mutton hanging. A stack of firewood, three axes, a maul and wedges. 1854.

2 Camp at Collingwood, 1856   7 x 10 Diggers Campground Burnt Hill. watercolour.
3 Plumbers' Hut, Charteris Bay, 1856 9 x 12
4 Sheepyards at Charteris Bay 9 x 12 watercolour . Depicts six wooden buildings , two with chimneys, a burn pile of logs in foreground, six people, two of them ladies, and two children. All wearing hats. Pine trees in behind the buildings and a hill rising sharply in the background circled with two rings of rocks with a deep gully to the left. There is also  a Pencil Drawing, Charteris Bay, Sept 10 1861, Plan and Sketch of house.
5 House with Circular Path  7 x 11
6 Rangitata Hut 5 x 7
7 Rangitata Mouth  6 x 11
8. Fishing Rangitata  9 x 13
9 Rocks at Martins Gap. Trinidad, seen from the ship Salem 1859 Pencil and Wash 8 7/8 x 73/8
10 Crossing the Line in the ship Harwood 1860. Four watercolour drawings 4 x 7
11 Lake Rotoura
12 House with its back to the lake
13 Thermal Landscape with band rotunda
14 Rotorua. watercolour
15 Otahu homestead 1861

Pencil, watercolour, Chinese white 245 x 348 mm 
Shows a slab two roomed hut with a shingle roof and a chimney by trees to the left, a woman with a horse, a larger storage shed in the centre, a fence in the background, with a carcass-hoist and a flax-bush on the right. Otahu Run is in Southland, and by 1861 was owned by brothers John R. Cuthbertson and Robert F. Cuthbertson. 
16 Cottages back of Ashwick Station  7  x 11 (Book 12).  watercolour
17 Looking down Burkes Pass 9
x 13 1/8  watercolour. Red sky, hotel beside stream. 6 people in scene, one white horse and a dog. Rocks in foreground. A few plantations of tress near riverbed. Hills climbing steeply and snow capped.
17a Burkes Pass A red sky with the snow capped alps in the background, with a stream on the right, a road on the flat rounding a rocky hillside on the left and the Pass Hotel in the centre surrounded by pine trees. Two men walking south and another riding in front on a white hosre.
18  The Pass Hotel. 188-? Oil on board 230 x 308 mm  5 7/8 x 7 7/8 
A naive work attributed to James Preston on stylistic grounds showing a wooden building with a sign "Pass Hotel", (probably 'Three Creeks Hotel'), a woman feeding hens, a man with a dog, a person at the door of the hotel, a telegraph pole and line, and four horses pulling a coach along the road. Pigs, ducks, geese, cow, sheep. The topography is exaggerated. This pub was established in 1861 and was situated on the west bank of the Rollesby Stream. It was replaced c1868 because of either flood or fire or inadequate. The replacement was built behind the stables facing the road on the right (heading up the pass to Burkes Pass). 
19 Road beside River 7 x 10 
20 The Pig Hunt  7 x 10
20a Pig hunter's Camp. watercolour.
21 Waterfall and rocky Gorge  7 x 10
22 Foot of the Glacier 7 x 10
23 Three figures on a Glacier 7 x 10
24 River from an Ice-Cavern 7 x 10 
25 The Snow Slide 7x 10  watercolour
26 Mt. Cook  8 x 11 & Glacier  watercolour
27 Opawa Station Albury Rutherford's. 9 3/8 x 12 1/8  watercolour.  Two storey homestead  with a red roof and smoke coming out of two chimneys with two two storey out building to the left. Five paddocks fenced. One with a hay stook. Two men in forground with walking sticks walking. Steep hills in the background and Mt Cook. same angle
28 Limestone  9 x 11 
29 Farm buildings and locomotive near Cricklewood. Watercolour on card 227 x 300 mm  8 7/8 x 11 Shows the 'Cricklewood' homestead and farm buildings with three horses in the foreground, fences, farm carts, two men attending to another horse, a carcass-hanger and a train in the background. The homestead is surrounded by a hedge of young conifers. Burnt down, possibly in the 1880s.  ATL
30 High Country Landscape  8 7/8 x 11 watercolour
31 Sherwood Downs 9 x 11

32 Sherwood  9 x 11 inches watercolour
33 Clayton Station 
8 x 11 c. 1875 

Clayton Station and the low 'Claytons'
Clayton station. Watercolour.

Depicts tussock in the foreground with a line of young conifers as a wind break for three cottages all with smoke coming out of each chimney.  The woolshed on the flat in the centre of the painting has a  gallows for hanging carcasses. Farmers for the next one hundred years always killed their own old wethers for meat for the household and dog feed.  The woolshed has long been pulled down and its modern replacement is over the other side of the Clayton Road.  Perhaps the woolshed resembles something of reality of the time, but the hills are far from actuality.  Rev. James Preston does not do justice to this particular subject!  He has made the background so dramatic one almost has to use one's own imagination to recognised the scene!! It is meant to depict Fox Peak [7,604 feet] and the "Lilydale" country and in the foreground, what is known as the "Low Claytons". 
34 Road through Peel Forest Pencil 7 x 10 5/8
35 Going to Mt Peel Pencil 7x 10 5/8
36 "Underwood" Peel Forest 9 x 13 3/8 A. Hawdon, Esq.
37 Underwood Peel Forest 9 x 11 watercolour. Red sky with a sharp peak mountain snow capped. A two storey house with a wing out the back and another building in close to it. Newly planted shelter belts. Nice flat green grass paddock in front of house.
38 Dennistoun's House Peel Forest   9 1/8 x 11 
39 Crossing the River Bed Pencil 9 1/8 x 11 (Geraldine?).
40 A Picnic  in the snow. 10 x 13 watercolour
41 A Picnic 9 x 11 7/8 riverside.  watercolour (an another similar)
42 Camp in the Bush at Orari Gorge 1880  9 x 11 Red sky with hills in background. Three men in grey trench coats and white trousers boiling a billy over a smoky campfire. Palm trees and toi tois around canvas tent. One horse with head in feed sack. Campsite just above the river on a terrace.
43 Fishermen Resting 6 x 10
Ink, watercolour & Chinese white on wove paper 142 x 193 mm  
Fishermen at dawn on the South Canterbury coast, on William Rolleston's property at the mouth of the Rangitata River. Between 1881 and 1898. A seaside view at sunrise, with a horse grazing in a paddock, a man seated on a hillock in the foreground, a tent and caravan and four men with fishing gear standing outside a weatherboard shed. Two further men are fishing on the right. Compare Preston's watercolour "Rangitata Hut."  This shows the same hut, caravan, tent and horse, somewhat differently disposed. 
44 Fishing Orari Gorge 1893 7 x 11 1/8 watercolour
45 Entrance to Orari Gorge 1893 9 x 11 
46 Mr Hughes, Myself, and Arthur Fishing in Orari Gorge, 1893 8 x 13 1/8

47 Camp at the edge of a Forest 7 x 10 Trees clear cut in front. V shaped hut with a chimney made from wood. Timber slabs coming together at covering a canvas tent. Gallows with a leg of beef hanging.  A large  red blanket on a clothes line made from two timber stakes with a cross beam. Another line has two blue shirts drying. Three men in the painting, one wearing a blue shirt is carrying two buckets of water and the other two framing a small square on the ground.
48 Old Walter's Hut  P. Forest. 1897 7 x 12
49 "Hawkesview", watercolour.
50 Fishing from jetty. Watercolour.
51 "Hut on the Hurunooey." watercolour.
52 Watercolour, Family picnic, Kahu; Studholmes; Koln (German.)
53  Watercolour, River crossing (Geraldine?)
53 Ink Drawing, Bridge to Mt Peel through Peel Forest.
54 Ink Drawing, Road passing farm buildings.
55 Pencil Drawing, Rutherford's Opawa Station Albury.
56 Watercolour, Bridge in Peel Forest.
57 Watercolour, Rangitata?


ATL. Pass Hotel.

References and sources: 

Canterbury Museum 
The Canterbury Museum holds a number of watercolours and drawings by Preston. Also his original diaries are in the collection of Canterbury Museum and I hear those diaries are fantastic and filled with sketches.

Sketchbook No. 1.
Sketches: Four Peaks, Pleasant Valley, Charteris Bay, Stables Waihi.

Sketchbook No. 2.
Sketches: Rock & houses, Kakahu Bush. Fox's Peak. Peel Forest, Forest, Acland's Cutting, Postlethwaite's Bridge, Fishing at Rangitata Mouth.

Sketchbook No. 3.
Sketches: Mt Peel Church, Burke's Pass, Raincliff, Opihi and Opaha [sic] Rivers

Sketchbook No. 4.
Ink Sketches: Maori rock drawings, South Canterbury, Alpine, Opihi.

Sketchbook No. 5.
Sketches: Mt Peel, Rangitata Valley, Orari Gorge.

Sketchbook No. 6.
Sketches: Rangitata, Peel Forest, Sawmill buildings.

Sketchbook No. 7.
Sketches: Raincliff, Mt Dobson, Fox's Peak, Burke's Pass, Mt Cook.

Sketchbook No. 8.
Sketches: Lime Works, Opihi. Rocks near Wigleys, Opihi. Ashwick, Rollesby, Stations Four Peaks, Mt Egmont.

Sketchbook No. 9.
Sketches: Camp and picnics Rutherford's etc. All pencil sketches, all unfinished.

Sketchbook No. 10.
Sketches: Mr Tripp's wool shed. Four Peaks, Raincliff Rd. Road to Mt Peel. Mt Peel village. Charteris Bay. Burke's Pass.

Sketchbook No. 11.
Sketches: Ancient Maori Rock Drawings near Opihi River 1884. Rock Drawings. Opihi.

Sketchbook No. 12.
Sketches: House, Charteris Bay, 1884. Rock drawings, Dendroglyphs, Maori hut, Ashwick Station, Charteris Bay.

Sketchbook No. 13.
Sketches: Four Peaks Station, 1884, Mt Peel & Mt Rolleston's village,
Peel Forest Fishing, Rangitata Mouth, Quail Island, Lyttelton "Old Walter's hut."

Sketchbook No. 14.
Pencil Sketches: Fishing: Orari Gorge, Christmas 1883, Mr Hughes, myself and Arthur. Also: Rangitata Mouth huts, Mt Peel Church.

Auckland City Art Gallery James Preston: a colonial primitive: August 1959 Pelorus Press 16 p, 4 p of plates. 18 cm. Introduction written by Hamish Keith. Pamphlet.

Blackley, Roger Two Centuries of NZ Landscape Art ACAG,1990

Collins, R.D.J. Through Fifty Years : the early decades of the South Canterbury Art Society Dunedin: Hocken Library, 1983

Docking, Gil  Two Hundred Years of New Zealand Painting Wellington: Reed,1971

Dream Collectors: One Hundred Years of Art in New Zealand Wellington: Te Papa Press, 1998

Gardner, W.J. A History of Canterbury vol.2:cultural aspects 1850-1950/ ed. Whitcombe & Tombs,1971

Goodwin, George St Stephen's Anglican Church Fairlie One hundred years 1896-1996

Oakley, John Paintings of Canterbury 1840 - 1890 published Wellington : A. H. & A. W. Reed, 1969. Black and white pictures - Clayton Station, Cricklewood, Peel Forest, Camp in Orari George area.

Simpson, Philip Dancing Leaves : the story of New Zealand's Cabbage Tree, ti kouka. Christchurch : Canterbury University Press, 2000 col. illus.

Wolfe, Richard All our own work: NZ Folk Art Viking, 1997 -biog. notes

The paintings of James Preston
Date: 1984 By: Woodward, Joan
The Parochial District of Geraldine was for many years the parish of the Rev. James Preston. His collection of pencil sketches and watercolours is held at the Canterbury Museum.
In 1984 Joan Woodward was in charge of the Pictorial Collection at the Canterbury Museum.
Source: The Press 1984 Feb. 24

The Reverend James Preston (1834-1898)
Feeney, W F [?Feeny]
Art New Zealand, Spr 1989; n.52:p.84-87 [Held at Canterbury Museum]
Challenges the definition of Preston as a colonial 'primitive', isolated from his contemporaries. Discusses his life and work, arguing that his perceptions reflect his experiences and role as an English settler, colonist and clergyman.

The Museum of New Zealand - Te Papa Tongarewa

Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand
'Fishermen at dawn on the South Canterbury coast, on William Rolleston's property at the mouth of the Rangitata River. Between 1881 and 1898.'
Ink, watercolour & Chinese white on wove paper 142 x 193 mm A seaside view at sunrise, showing a horse grazing in a paddock, a man seated on a hillock in the foreground, a tent and caravan and four men with fishing  gear standing outside a weatherboard shed. Two further men are fishing on the right.
Other Notes : The artist met his death while he was fishing in Geraldine, suggesting a great love of the sport. William Rolleston took up land at the mouth of the Rangitata River where he lived for most of his public life, from the 1860s. James Preston was appointed Anglican Minister to the Geraldine district from 1872. Compare Preston's watercolour "Rangitata Huts" in Canterbury Museum's collection - black and white photo held in photo file. This shows the same hut, caravan, tent and horse, somewhat differently disposed. Provenance : Rolleston family papers, MS Papers-0446-147, transferred to Drawings & Prints, October 1994.

Extracts from diaries, made by Nancy R C McLaughlin 1984 [Held at Canterbury Museum]
This is a full transcript of Preston's diaries for the period 29 Dec 1870 to 28 Dec 1879. In 1870 James Preston was appointed Mission Deacon of the Parochial District of Geraldine, Temuka and Fairlie. In 1878 when Temuka became a separate church district, Preston became Vicar of Geraldine and Curate of Burkes Pass.
A surname index has been included with the transcript.

The Star Thursday October 6 1898 page 2 and Timaru Herald page 3

Geraldine Oct. 5. 1898
The Rev James Preston, Vicar of St Mary's English Church, Geraldine, died suddenly at the Rangitata mouth on Tuesday evening. He was fishing with several gentlemen, and while returning to the hut in the evening he said that he felt very ill, and shortly afterwards dropped dead. The deceased had been feeble for some time, but he practically died in harness. He leaves a widow and a grown-up family. The funeral will leave the Parsonage, Geraldine, tomorrow at half past two.

Timaru Herald Thursday Oct. 6 1889 page 2
Death. Preston - Suddenly, at Rangitata, on the 4th inst., the Rev. James Preston, Vicar of St Mary's, Geraldine; aged 64 years.

Timaru Herald Friday 7th Oct. 1898 page 4 Obituary 
The late reverend gentleman leaves a widow and a grown-up family of two sons and three daughters to mourn their loss. One daughter was recently married to Mr Nalder, of Woodside, Gapes' Valley.

The Dundee Courier & Argus (Dundee, Scotland), Wednesday, December 07, 1898; pg. 7;
Sudden death of a native in New Zealand. Rev. James Preston, vicar of St Mary's Geraldine, NZ., son of the late Mrs Preston, of Lumbenny, Achtermuchty, and brother of the Rev. C.M. Preston, vicar of Warcop, near Penrith, who officiated in St. James' Episcopal Church, Cupar, in the absence of the rev. C.E. Cooke, and uncle of the Rev. C.W.A. Preston, now vicar of Offenham, Worcestershire, who conducted services in the summer of 1897 at Achtermuchty, Newburgh and Strathmiglo. Rev. E. Barklie [sic Blakely] , Bishop of the Diocese, who preached the funeral sermon of deceased spoke of his twenty eight years faithful service in the parish of Woodbury, in the diocese of Geraldine. he said his work was quiet, steady and faithful - the work of a man knowing the responsibility that was on him. At the grave the Bishop said 'Farwell, dear old brother. We shall never see thy kindly face again. dear man, faithful pastor, dear priest of God's Holy church, God give thee rest and peace. God give grace to fellow in thy steps. Amen. He hath left the world in which he moved than he found it."
 

Geraldine Cemetery. Five hundred attended his funeral. The population of Geraldine in 1900 was 950.


In loving memory of James Preston for 28 years Vicar of Geraldine. Died Oct. 4th 1898. Aged 64.
Also Anna his wife died Nov. 5th 1908, aged 73.
Also Mary Helen child of the above born Jan 8th 1875, died April 27 1875 [death is not in the DIA database online.]

He is not a God of the dead but of the living, for all live unto him. St. Luke XX38.

Press 6 November 1908 Page 1
PRESTON - On November 5th at 52 Andover street, Anna, widow of the late James Preston. Aged 73.

Temuka Leader 7 November 1908 Page 2
Friends of the late Mrs Anna Preston, widow of the Rev. James Preston, are invited to attend her Funeral, leaving St. Clarys Church, Geraldine, THIS DAY. at 3.30 p.m. E. PROUTING, Undertaker.

South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project

Clayton Station
Part of: Series: Real estate
The Press, 2000 Jan. 15, p. 41
From: Christchurch City Libraries