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OBITUARY.

THOMAS CASS.

To some of the present generation the name of Cass is associated only with a river and a halting place on the "West Coast Boad, but to those whose memories carry them back to the sixties or earlier the name awakens reminiscences of the days— stirring days, in many respects— when Canterbury and the colony itself were in the making. So completely, however, had the bearer of that name passed out of sight that some, even Of those who knew him intimately, may learn with surprise that ie was only yesterday that he passed away from earth. About noon yesterday Thomas Cass . died, in his seventy-eighth year, at the residence of his stepson, Mr C. Hood-Williams, with whom he had lived since the death of hiß wife in 1887. During that time he waß practically confined to the honse, and for the last few yeara was unable to leave his room. Asthma was the principal ailment from which he suffered, and this was, doubtless, aggravated by the hardships which he underwent in his younger days. He had a bad attaok of the asthma last Friday, from which he never rallied, although yesterday the end was not expected to be so near. Though his life, for the last twenty years, was uneventful, hia earlier days were full of adventure and hardship. Born in Yorkshire in 1817, he was educated at Christ's Hospital— lhe famous Bluecoat Sohool— and was for fonr years on the Boyal Mathematical Foundation of that institution. When a youth he went to sea, and served for three years in the East India trade. He was afterwards educated as an architect and surveyor, and wbb then employed sis assistant in the Tithe Commission Office, Somerset House. Early in 1841 he was appointed by the late Lord John Bussell/ then Secretary of State for the Colonies, assistant surveyor in the newly-founded colony of New Zealand, at a salary of £200 a year. He left England in the ship Prince Rupert, whioh four months after hat departure was wrecked at the Cape of Good Hope. He lost a great pottion of his outfit in the wreck, and did not arrive in New Zealand till the end of 18.1, nine months after ho had left the Old Country. He waß employed in laying out part of the city of Auckland, and was afterwards occupied for some time in surveying for the Land Commissioners* Court at the Bay of Islands and in the district to tbo - north <of it. He also surveyed the town of Kororarika, now Bussell, and explored the country to the northward for lines of road to Hokianga and Whangaroa. He was subsequently employed in surveying the North Shore of Auckland, and again at the Bay of Islands until near the end of 1844. 'After two years and four months' service he was suddenly. - discharged on the reduction of the Survey Department. . His , experience at - sea now proved useful to him, and he became second and afterwards ohief mate of the Colonial Government brig Victoria. While in . hejr- he served against the Natives at the destruction of Kororarika' in 1845, and afterwards in the Cook Strait war of 1846, againßt Bauparaha and Bangihaeata, of Wairau massacre notoriety. He also ; had the task of conveying to the North , Island tho first bushrangers who infested what ia now Canterbury. These scoundrels, three in number,. had stuck up and robbed Messrs Greenwood's station at Purau. They then went to the plains to stick up Messrs Deans Bros.' place at Biccarton, but. Messrs ... Dean Bros, were warned by the Messrs Greenwood, and stood a siege for three days, at the end of whioh the robbers decamped. They were pursued j one met his death and the others were arrested, In 1847 Mr Cass returned to England to urge on the Colonial Offloe a claim for compensation for the loss of his position as surveyor. Whether, as the result of thiß application or not, is not clear, but next year he waa appointed assistant to Captain Thomas, agent and chief surveyor for the Canterbury Association, and arrived at Port Cooper, in December, ,1848. He was a kind of second in command of that band of pioneer., including Messrs S. Hewlings, E. Jollie, John Boys, CO. To.lesse and Gollan, by whom the early surveys of this part of New Zealand were oarried out. Of that band Mr Hewlings iB now the sole survivor. After conducting sundry explorations on the plains and making a survey of Lyttelton harbour, he waß engaged in making the trigonometrical and topographical survey, of. the country preparatory to the arrival of the "Pilgrims." The only homestead in those days was that of the Deans at Biccarton; and ' the explorers endured toils and hardships such as are scarcely dreamed of now. In January, 1851, Mr Cass succeeded Captain Thomas as chief surveyor, and held that office, with the title of chief surveyor of the province, until March, 1867, when his health, undermined -by hardships, gave way, and he retired on- a pension. The extent of his work as surveyor and explorer is shown by the number of times his name recurs in the nomenclature of the district- — a river on the Weßt Coast Boad, a peak in the Port Hills, and a bay in Lyttelton Harbour, have all been named after him. He. took a prominent part in the politics of old provincial days, and was returned aa one of the members for Christchurch in the first Provincial Council of 1857. He belonged to the Executive Counoil, under Mr William Sefton Moorhouse, and aleo under Mr Samuel Bealey. He was a member of the Canterbury Waste Lands Board for a period of ten years. In 1867 he visited England, and while there succeeded the late Mr Crosbie Ward as immigration agent for the provinca. In July, 1868, immigration was for a time suspended by the Provincial Government, and he returned to Canterbury, where for another three years he served on the Land Board. He was a member of the Chmch of England, and was many years ago one of the churchwardens of St Michael's parish. After hia final resignation from the Land Board, and especially since the death of his wife, he lived in retirement, but esteemed and cherished by a circle of old friends, that included Mr S. Hewlings and Mr John Marshman, and many others. He was of a most kindly and charitable disposition, and kept up hiß benevolence till the end; a donation of hiß to Mr Heriick's Home being acknowledged only the day before he died. He married, in: 1856, the widow of an early settler, Mr David Theodore Williams, but leaves no ohildren. As showing how few lives are required to link us with a remote past, it ib of interest to note that Mr Cass waa acquainted, in the early daya of the colony, with a very old Maori of Mercury Bay, who asserted that, when a boy, he had seen Captain Cook, and who supported bis claim with a detailed description of the great navigator's appearance, dreas and astronomical observations.

[Fbb Pbess Association.] AUCKLAND, Ar bil 17. Mr Atkin, senior member of the City Council, is dead. He was one of the pioneer settlers of Albertland.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/TS18950418.2.6

Bibliographic details

OBITUARY., Star, Issue 5233, 18 April 1895

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1,213

OBITUARY. Star, Issue 5233, 18 April 1895

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