MY EARLY DAYS
By Ellen Shephard Tripp
"We lived at Mortimer, in Berkshire, until 1856, when my father (Bishop Harper)
was made first Bishop of Christchurch. My father, mother and ten children, left
for New Zealand on 10th September, 1856, in the sailing ship Egmont,
leaving my two brothers, George and Paul, at Eton. My elder brothers, Leonard
and Charley, had gone to the Colony two years previously with Bishop Selwyn.
"We had a splendid passage, and landed in Lyttelton on December 23rd, 1856,
walking over the Port Hills by the Bridle Track. We girls each carried small
bundles containing our best bonnets and finery. My mother and the youngest girl
rode the same horse. My father, Bishop Selwyn, and my brothers walked, pushing
and pulling a handcart, on which was our bedding, etc.
"On arrival at Heathcote Valley we were given a delightful lunch of strawberries
and cream, and then were driven into Christchurch by Archdeacon Mathias and Mr.
Fitzgerald, the first Superintendent of Canterbury. Mr. Fitzgerald drove a
wonderful dogcart of his own make, with enormous wheels like a spring dray. He
called it his "Circulating Medium." He drove a tandem of unbroken horses, and
the road was very rough. But, in spite of all, we arrived safely, and were
deposited at a small cottage in Cambridge Terrace. which was to be our future
"Christchurch then consisted of a few odd houses, a few shops, one bridge across
the Avon, a very shaky foot-bridge, and old St. Michael's Church.
"Later I was married to Charles George Tripp, my sister Mary to Charles Blakiston,
on the same day. My wedding gown of white silk, and the bridesmaids' white
tarleton and little straw bonnets, trimmed with ribbon, were all bought at the
general store, also the wedding ring. I had to come down the steep ladder
backwards in my finery, and Mary's room downstairs was so small she stood on the
bed to dress.
"On 27th October we began our journey on horseback to our future home at Mt. Peel,
staying at Selwyn, Rakaia, Ashburton, and Shepherd's Bush. From there we crossed
the Rangitata, and soon arrived at our newly-built cottage, consisting of a small
sitting room and a bedroom. A lean-to behind was divided into kitchen and
servant's room. Mr. Tripp had purchased six chairs from a ship, and as most people
had only boxes to sit on in their houses, we thought we were very grand.
"During my first years at Mt. Peel I was very lonely, and as my husband was busy
and out most of the day, I was afraid to walk far from home alone, as wild pigs
were numerous. A great deal of damage had been done by a wild boar, which the men
were trying to End. One Sunday Parson Andrew was holding a service in a tent, when
suddenly in the middle of his sermon, he shouted, 'There goes the pig,' and the
whole congregation disappeared from the tent, led by the parson, to give chase."
Source: Brave Days - Pioneer Women of New Zealand, 1939
Converted to electronic form by Corey Woodw@rd