David Hughes in New Zealand

David and Mary attending Harris 50th Wedding Anniversary, 1916

David Hughes was born in March 1850 in Anglesey, Wales to Hugh Hughes and Mary Hughes. Both of his parents were Hugheses. [1]

During the 1851 England and Wales census he was living in Llanddona, Caernarvonshire with his parents, four siblings and two servants.[2]

In 1861, David was seen with his parents and seven siblings: Rice, Margaret, Hugh, William, Henry, Mary and Ellen. His father, Hugh, had a 105 acre farm in Pentraeth, Bangor. The family employed two servants, who were likely farmhands. David's older brothers; Rice, and Hugh, worked as carters, while his older sister, Margaret, was intellectually impaired. To what extent, her impairment was pronounced is unknown, as the census takers were vague and only used a single word, "Idiot". David, Henry and William were receiving some education, denoted by the word "scholar", while his youngest siblings, Mary and Ellen, were about 6 and 4 years old respectively.

His obituary would later note that David went to sea around the age of 14 and he spent some of his younger years trading around ports in Australia, India and the West Indies. What motivated David to leave his family in Scotland is unknown, but perhaps he had an adventurous spirit. David's father passed away in 1869. It's unknown if David was in Wales to tend to his father's funeral.

David Hughes was the first of his Hughes' line to enter New Zealand. He disembarked the Barque Cordelia about 13 October 1874. This date was the first mention of the Cordelia having arrived at Port Chalmers, Otago, from Liverpool, England. [3]. The Cordelia may have been a trade or merchant ship, rather than an immigrant ship, which would explain why the records for it are hard to locate. Later, he spent some time on the Taieri (whether a ship, railroad, or the region, the reference to "the Taieri" is undefined). There is no official immigration record for David and it cannot be ruled out that he might have 'jumped ship', as it was fairly common back then, but it's unlikely given his eventual standing in the community.

David's settlement into Otago seems to have been quite by happenstance. He became a well known and respected individual in Portobello. David became a dairy farmer and an active member of the Agricultural society.

On 17th March 1880, David married Annie Cecelia Sinclair, in Portobello. [4]

Over the course of their lives together, David and Annie had nine children:

In his later years, David was a member on the Portobello Road board.

David passed away on 26th August 1926. His death was registered in New Zealand. [5] The local newspaper for the Dunedin region, the Otago Daily Times, noted David was one of the Peninsula Kilwinning Masonic Lodge's oldest members. As such, he was afforded a mason's funeral and was survived by 2 sons, 7 daughters and his wife Annie Mair Hughes nee Sinclair.[6]

David was buried at Portobello Cemetery in Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand.[7] His headstone shows he was 77 years old and his wife, Annie and mutual child Irene Edwards are noted. His will refers to his wife as "Annie Myers Hughes".

David's probate record is available at https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QK9V-GWG8.


1. England & Wales General Register Office, GRO Online Index - Birth (https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/ : accessed 27 February 2020), database entry for Hughes, David (Mother's maiden surname: Hughes), GRO Reference: 1850 M Quarter in Bangor and Beaumaris Union, Volume 27 Page 296.
2. "England and Wales Census, 1851," database with images, FamilySearch ( https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:SGVG-31V 30 July 2017), David Hughes in household of Hugh Hughes, Llanddona, Caernarvonshire, Wales; citing Llanddona, Caernarvonshire, Wales, p. 10, from "1851 England, Scotland and Wales census," database and images, findmypast (http://www.findmypast.com n.d.); citing PRO HO 107, The National Archives of the UK, Kew, Surrey.
3. https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ODT18741014.2.2.2
4. "New Zealand, Civil Records Indexes, 1800-1896," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:Q24V-VSTG: accessed 26 September 2017), David Hughes and Annie Sinclair, 1880; citing Marriage, New Zealand, New Zealand, Wellington; registration number 1880/1028.
5. Death registration. Citing: New Zealand DIA Births, Deaths and Marriages. ( https://www.bdmhistoricalrecords.dia.govt.nz/search/search?path=%2FqueryEntry.m%3Ftype%3Ddeaths ) Registration no: 1926/8042. Family name: Hughes. Give names: David. Date of birth/Age at death: 76. Accessed 3rd June 2019
6. Obituary in Otago Daily Times, Issue 19881, 30 August 1926 accessed at Papers Past (National Library of New Zealand)
7. Memorial #183727700 Find A Grave, database and images ( https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 29 November 2018), memorial page for David Hughes (1850-20 Aug 1926), Find A Grave Memorial no. 183727700, citing Portobello Cemetery, Dunedin, Dunedin City, Otago, New Zealand; Maintained by melodi2 (contributor 48932365) .
*With special thanks to Grace, wife of Ivor Hughes for relaying some information to me via snail mail.

Written by RJ Vincent. 27 Feb 2020