Cricketing Colonists: The Brittan Brothers in Early Canterbury

Cricketing Colonists: The Brittan Brothers in Early Canterbury

by Geoffrey W. Rice, Frances Ryman


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John Robert Godley, Edward Gibbon Wakefield, James Edward FitzGerald – these are the names that usually come to mind as the founders of Canterbury. But there was a fourth vitally important individual, arguably equal in importance to FitzGerald, whose story remains largely unknown. William Guise Brittan led the first Canterbury Pilgrims, chaired the Society of Canterbury Colonists and controlled the Land Office in early Christchurch. The ‘bell-wether man’ of the Canterbury project, he was the first to pay for land in the settlement, inspiring others to follow his example. William Guise Brittan was also known as ‘the Father of Cricket’ in Canterbury and established three churches in Christchurch. His elder brother Joseph, who joined him in 1852, had a significant influence on local politics and he, too, was a cricket enthusiast. The Brittan brothers were leading figures in the Canterbury settlement, and made substantial contributions to the province, yet they were unpopular, both their careers ended in failure and disappointment and they have been mostly forgotten. This timely and fascinating account seeks to explain why, exploring their work and family lives (and their bank accounts), and along the way providing a richly detailed panorama of life and politics in early Christchurch.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781927145685
Publisher: Canterbury University Press
Publication date: 11/01/2015
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Geoffrey Rice is Adjunct Professor of History at the University of Canterbury, where he lectured in European history for nearly 40 years until his retirement in 2012. His recent books, all about Christchurch and all published by Canterbury University Press, include Victoria Square: Cradle of Christchurch, Christchurch Crimes and Scandals, All Fall Down: Christchurch’s Lost Chimneys and Christchurch Changing. Frances Ryman taught classical studies at Burnside High School for over 20 years and won awards for restoring William Guise Brittan’s sole surviving Christchurch residence, Englefield, in Fitzgerald Avenue, only to see it wrecked by the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements 7

Chronology 10

Brittan Family Tree 14

Maps 16

Introduction: The Father of Canterbury Cricket 19

1 West Country Brothers, 1806-35 23

2 The Chandler Sisters, Englefield and Sherborne, 1835-49 32

3 The Brittan Brothers and the Sherborne Cricket Club, 1842-49 38

4 Joseph Brittan and the Sherborne Mercury, 1842-51 45

5 William Guise Brittan and the Canterbury Association, 1849-50 58

6 Founding the Canterbury Settlement 80

7 Family, Friends and the Land Office, 1851-52 100

8 The Demise of the Council of Land Purchasers, 1852 123

9 William's Triumphs and Defeats, 1853 142

10 William and 'the Battle of the Seal', 1853-55 160

11 Joseph Starts a New Life, 1852-55 175

12 The Canterbury Standard and Provincial Politics, 1854-55 189

13 Joseph as Provincial Secretary, 1855-57 210

14 The Fooks Scandal, 1857-60 228

15 The Rail Tunnel and Joseph's Decline, 1860-67 240

16 William at Halswell, 1860-70 254

17 Last Years and Notable Descendants 268

Epilogue 281

Endnotes 291

Bibliography 315

Index 321

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