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It is our sad duty to record in this month's summary the death of an old and valued colonist. The Venerable Octavius Mathias, Archdeacon of Akaroa, died at his house, Willow Lodge, Riccarton, about 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 18th. Archdeacon Mathias was born at Maud ham, about nine miles from the city of Norwich, on the 27th of February, 1805, and was therefore in his 60th year at the time of his decease. He was descended from a French Protestant family, who emigrated into England from France at the time of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in the reign of Louis XIV. He graduated at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, but in what year we have not been able to ascertain. He never proceeded beyond the Degree of Bachelor of Arts. Shortly after his Ordination he left England for Algeria, where the early years of his clerical life were spent, as chaplain to the British Consulate at Algiers. Being obliged after some years to return to England owing to an attack of fever, he was presented by his uncle, Admiral Stephens, to the incumbency of the parish of Horsford with St. Faith, about three miles from Norwich, which living he held for twelve years, up to the time indeed of hi 3 departure for New Zealand. Mr. Mathias, having early joined the body of Canterbury Colonists and land purchasers, was appointed by the Canterbury Association to one of the four Canonries of the Cathedral Establishment which they proposed to set on foot from the first foundation of the settlement. He left England with his wife and eight children in the Dominion, which reached Lyttelton about the end of August, 1851. On the 18th of the following month he was visited with a severe affliction in the death of his first wife. In November, 1851, Bishop Selwyn paid a visit to Canterbury, which was then part of his immense diocese, and at a meeting of the Clergy which he then summoned, his Lordship, after stating several reasons which prevented him from confirming the appointments to Canonries made by the Association, requested the clergy to choose two from among their own number whom he might appoint as his joint Commissares, when the unanimous choice of the clergy fell on the Revs. Octavius Mathias and R. B. Paul. In the February following Mr. Mathias undertook the incumbency of Christchurch, on the resignation of it by the Rev. George Kingdon, who left this settlement for Taranaki. This charge he held for about eight years. When Mr. Paul left Canterbury to reside in Wellington about the end of the year 1853, Mr. Mathias became sole Commissary of the Bishop of New Zealand, and in that capacity administered the affairs of the Church in Canterbury until the arrival of the Bishop of Christchurch, in December, 1856. He was appointed to the Archdeaconry of Akaroa by Bishop Selwyn on the occasion of his visit to Canterbury in November, 1855. He also held the office of Chaplain to the Provincial Council from the first establishment of Provincial Government till the day of his death. He was also Chaplain, and at the time of his decease, Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the Freemasons of Canterbury. Though he had ceased to hold the pastoral charge of a parish, the Archdeacon continued unremitting in the discharge of Sunday duty till within a few weeks of his death. He read prayers for the last time at St. Michael's church, Christchurch, on Trinity Sunday, the 22nd of May last. He had been conscious for some months that his health was failing; but though much enfeebled, he kept up his usual active habits, aud attended to his various public duties till the Ist of June, from which day he was i confined to his house. The Archdeacon was twice married and leaves a widow and fourteen children, of whom eleven are sons. His kindly, genial and generous disposition had greatly endeared him to all classes. "Asa leading colonist," (we quote from the brief memoir of the Archdeacon recently read at the meeting of the Church Institute) " and an active helper and promoter of all works of utility and progress, Archdeacon Mathias will be long remembered and his loss deeply felt. No man was more public spirited ; none took a warmer, deeper interest in the welfare of Canterbury ; none was more ready to help with his counsel and his purse in every public undertaking by which its welfare could be advanced .... He was the friend of all, ever ready to help in distress, large in his sympathies, bountiful and at the same time unostentatious in his charity." His remains were interred in the Christchurch Church of England Cemetery on Tuesday, June 21, an occasion which will long be remembered by those who witnessed it. The closing of the shops and the extraordinarily large attendance of all classes of the inhabitants of Christchurch and the surrounding country at the funeral manifested the deep and universal respect in which his memory is held.

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Bibliographic details

THE LATE ARCHDEACON MATHIAS., Lyttelton Times, Volume XXII, Issue 1263, 14 July 1864

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THE LATE ARCHDEACON MATHIAS. Lyttelton Times, Volume XXII, Issue 1263, 14 July 1864