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Fitzgerald's Town

It has been suggested

It has been suggested that the price of sections soared when the Southbridge railway line passed through Lincoln. With the passing of time prices did rise, but in many cases the increase can be attributed to inflation, the vagaries of the market, or in some cases to the addition of a house or a building. Some sections were sold in the first instance for 15 pounds, or even a bit more. These were often the smaller sections fronting the L1 on Leinster or Kildare Terraces, perhaps because the riverside frontages were attractive to buyers. Robert Mackey, a farmer living on the corner of Ellesmere Road and Lincoln - Tai Tapu Road, bought five sections from FitzGerald in Block IV – situated between Maurice Street and Robert Street – for a total of £40, well below the upset price of 12 pounds for each section. When Mackey died in 1876 his executors sold one section for 26 pounds and the others for 17 pounds 15 shillings each, all at a considerable profit for the estate. In about 1863 FitzGerald sold four sections in Block III – situated between Lyttelton Street and William Street - to James Julian and William Arthur Murray (the man who built Liffey Cottage) for 12 pounds 5 shillings. In 1877 the sections were sold for 14 pounds each and three years later Cornelius Kelliher bought them for 25 pounds. When he quit them in 1920 they were sold for 28 pounds 15 shillings each. On the other hand a section in Block IX was sold in 1877 for 50 pounds, markedly higher than the advertised upset price of 12 pounds. Sometimes a section sold for an unexpectedly high price. Thus Jemsina Eliza Sluis paid 20 pounds for a section in 1875 which ten years earlier cost 15 pounds. In 1893 she sold it for 150 pounds, suggesting that a house had been built on the section. In 1865 a property in Block III – between William Street and Kildare Terrace - was sold for 150 pounds when a year earlier it had been bought by a carpenter for 15 pounds, again suggesting that a house had been built, and when the Liffey Cottage in Market Square, was sold in 1882 to John Muir, butcher, for 375 pounds, he clearly bought a home for his family and a shop for his business. Most first buyers had no intention of living in the new township, and at this distance in time it is not always easy to separate the speculator from the settler. However, a study of the prices paid and mortgages taken out provides some clues. Although most sections had been sold within the first twenty years only a few had houses built on them and as far as can be judged from the available records there were only about thirty houses in the village by the end of the century. Most 10

were to be found on the western side of the L1 River, a trend which extended well into the second half of the 20 th century. Most bought one or two sections, some bought three or four, and there were those who bought many more. Who were they? According to LINZ records they came from all walks of life and included labourers, farmers, tradesmen, business and professional men, the clergy, and sometimes, in that male dominated world, women. Several people bought more than five sections. They included husband and wife Joseph and Jemsina Sluis, James Stark, Cornelius Kelliher and Robert Mackey. Of these, one of the most active was railway employee Cornelius Kelliher who in 1877 bought eleven sections in Block I – between West Belt and Lyttelton Street – representing nearly half of the six acres in the Block and one section in Block III – located between Lyttelton Street and William Street. He sold these when he retired in 1921, with the exception of two, one in Block I on the corner of West Belt and North Belt (now No. 1 West Belt), and the second in Block III on the corner of Lyttelton Street and North Belt (now No. 4 Lyttelton Street) which he sold in 1881. Cornelius remained active in real estate and in 1906 bought eleven sections (of which more later) in Block IX – between South Belt, James Street, Edward Street and James Street – which were sold by the Public Trustee after he died nineteen years later. Cornelius Kelliher was born in the County of Tralee, Ireland, of a farming family, came to New Zealand in about 1875, and presumably moved to Lincoln shortly afterwards. He never married, and the late Jack Greaves remembered him living in a sod house on a section in Block I (now No. 121 North Belt). Although he was sometimes described as a labourer, and a farmer, his death certificate states that he was a retired railway employee and his recorded occupation as a farmer suggests that he may have used or rented out his empty sections for grazing. Little is known of his role in village life, but in 1885 he was appointed to the Lincoln Domain Board responsible for the care of the L1 Reserve, now colloquially referred to as the Liffey or Doey. Cornelius died in Sydenham in 1935 in comfortable financial circumstances and left substantial bequests to convents in Christchurch and in Ireland. In 1878 James Stark, an Addington horse dealer, bought seven sections in Block II – between West Belt and Maurice Street - for 55 pounds, considerably less than the hoped for price of 12 11

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