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DEATH OF OLD COLONISTS.

The ranks, of the early settlers who still remain among us are growing thinner and thinner as one after the other passes away. To-day we have with deep regret to record the death of two old identities, who for many years had been closely connected with the city, and whose familiar figures will long be missed in the community. The Rev. Dr. Purchas and Mr. S. Luke, who died yesterday, were widely known and respected. The former had been a resident in the district for over sixty years, and the latter for nearly half a century. Both were men of many sterling and estimable qualities, and their demise will be deeply and sincerely regretted by a very large circle »f friends and acquaintances.

DR. A. G. PURCHAS. Dr. Arthur Guyon Purchas, one o Auckland's oldest and most highly-esteemet residents,* died at an early hour yesterday morning. Deceased, who was in his 85ti year, left AucKland last Sunday week accompaned by his eldest daughter Mrs. Seth-Smitb, on a visit to the south ern'portion of the North Island, arid whili travelling by rail between Wellington Line Napier contracted a chill. Leaving tin train at Hastings he was seized at mid night, on Sunday by acute bronchitis, anc two hours later passed away, in the pres ence of his daughter. The late Dr. Pur ellas, who had been associated with Auck land as a clergyman and medical majr foi upwards of 60 years, was a man of 'sink ing personality, and was one of the fast disappearing type of colonist that lias laic so well and faithfully the foundation ol all that is good and true in the social lift of this colony. His devotion to the Cliurcl was whole-hearted, and shown in a thoroughly practical ay by many years oi cheerful service for the good of his fellows. As a medical man he combined the skilled surgeon with the trusty friend and confidant, and his disappearance from the ranks of truly Christian workers will leave a gap that it will be very difficult to fill. It may be mentioned that when he was in practice as a medical man he treated large numbers of indigent persons, without pecuniary consideration, and frequently kept them at his house for long periods for treatment and observation, even till late in convalescence, and never mentioned anything that would suggest a fee. Born in 1821, at St. Arvans, in the valley of the Wye, Monmouthshire, Dr. Purchas was the eldest son of Mr. R. W. Purclias. He was educated privately, and at the age of 18 years went to Guv's Hospital, where he became, clinical clerk to Dr. Addison, and was a pupil of Dr. Bright, medical men celebrated respectively for their discovery of Addison's and Blight's diseases. He remained at Guy's for three years, taking his diploma as a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons, England, about a month before reaching the age at which it could be conferred upon him2.lst year. Deceased then went to Liverpool, having been Appointed a resident surgeon of the Southern and : Toxteth Hospital, now known as the Royal Southern Hospital. After spending 12 months there, lie left, in October, 1844, for New Zealand, in the barque Slains Castle, of which vessel he was in medical charge, arriving in Nelson on January 26, 1845. Dr. Purchas came on to Auckland by the Slains Castle, the vessel reaching port the day after the sacking of Kororareka. Returning to England at the end of the year, he was married at Liverpool, and after spending a few months in the Old Country came back to New Zea. land, by way of Sydney, in the barque Penyard Park, accompanied by Mrs. Purclias. Reaching Auckland from Sydney by the brig Man kin in October, 1846, deceased went almost immediately to St. John's. College, and was there for some two or three years in charge as resident surgeon of the first- hospital built in Auckland. He was closely associated withBishop George Augustus Selwvn in his missionary work in New Zealand, and was ordained by the Bishop as a deacon in 1847, and priest, in 1853, at St. John's College. Shortly after his ordination as deacon he was inducted to the. first charge of St. Peter's Church, Onelnmga. At lliat time Onehunga was a wilderness, and the first duty of tjie clergyman in charge was to found the parish and build the church in which he subsequently ministered until 1875. Prior to the erection of the parsonage, Dr. Purchas walked— horses were then practically unknown here -from St. John's College to Onehunga, where he conducted services, and thence on foot proceeded to Little Muddy Creek, where he performed his ministerial duties among the scattered dwellers in the whares in that locality. During the stirring and troublous limes of the Maori war his assistance was frequently sought in healing the differences between the natives and Europeans. His intimate knowledge of the Maoris and their love for and faith, in him enabled him to do much to pacify the rebellious tribes, and bring about- a better understanding between, the two races. He retired 'from, the charge of St. Peter's to devote himself to the medical profession, but from then onward to the present day he gave all bis spare time to church work, and, in fact-, while in charge of St. Peter's, Onehunga, he did a great deal of medical work, which, 'ike his church work in later years, was entirely gratuitous. He took a great interest in church music, and was one of the compilers of -the New Zealand Church Hymnal. He was a member of the General Synod from its foundation, also the district Synod. In 1895 he was appointed an assessor of the Bishop's Court, which, pesi, he retained until the time of his death.

From the time oi its inception, Dr. Purchas actively interested himself in the welfare of the inmates of the Blind Institute, and attended there regularly to give music lessons. He did much to brighten the live* of the sightless inmates, and his memory will be long cherished by them. He was one of the founders of tie Auckland Institute, and on several occasions its president, and was also a member of the Auckland Scenery Preservation Society. • Although deceased did not aspire to public positions, he. was ever interested in the welfare of his adopted land, and in Ins quiet unostentatious way did much for the benefit of early Auckland and its citizens. He actively interested himself in procuring a water' supply for Auckland, and scut the first, samples of coo.l from the colony— Waikato coal, from .Waahi —to the great exhibition of 1851. In conjunction with Captain Ninnis he patented the first . process for the dressing of flax, and erected a mill neai Waiuku, subsequently destroyed during the Waikato war. He was a man of mechanical adaptability from his father—and worked out and patented an oil engine in 1837. At that time he, in the course of conversation with his son, Dr. A. C; Purchas, informed the latter inat the

time was not far distant when vehicles, pro pelted by internal combustion engines, wpuld come into use. Deceased hud 14 children, of whom nine survive him, five daughters and four sons. The- daughters are Mrs. Seth-Smith (wife of Judge Seth-Smith), Mrs. C. E. Cooke, Mrs. F. Brookfield, Mrs. H. Roach, and Mrs. C Kissling. The surviving sons are Mr. George Purchas (Melbourne), Dr. A. Challinor Purchas, Mr. Claude Purchas, and Dr. F. Maurice Purchas (New South Wales). ,

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NZH19060529.2.71

Bibliographic details

DEATH OF OLD COLONISTS., New Zealand Herald, Volume XLIII, Issue 13189, 29 May 1906

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DEATH OF OLD COLONISTS. New Zealand Herald, Volume XLIII, Issue 13189, 29 May 1906

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