George Wyeth

W_George_R_ Wyeth.jpg (47976 bytes)

George Wyeth

(Click photo for larger image)

William George Runnalls Wyeth (George) was born in Petone, then known as Britannia, on 27 April 1841. He was always said to be the third child born in New Zealand of Parents married in New Zealand. If we limit ourselves to the settlers arriving in Wellington in the 1840's it is quite likely correct. He is however without doubt the first child born to Robert and Jane (nee Runnalls) Wyeth. 

William George Runnalls Wyeth was confirmed at Christs Church Taita on 1 January 1856. William was educated in Wellington. In later life William was commonly known as George to the extent that his will made no mention of his other names, but it is not known when he became known as George.

George was engaged in bushfelling and other pursuits around the Hutt Valley including driving the mail coach from the Hutt to Upper Hutt for many years, and then had a business in Upper Hutt.

1883 - Masterton

In 1883 he crossed the hills and joined his family in Masterton. On the 30 July 1886 George was appointed postmaster of Kuripuni Masterton[1].  

1884 George is appointed Evening Post Agent (Click for news item). List of Agents

November 1886 ? - Wairarapa Daily, page 3, col 2. (Burgess??)(Burgess Roll is the list of people able to vote in Municipal elections pursuant to the provisions of the Municipal Corporations Act, 1884)

In 1889 George joined the Salvation Army in Masterton

1891 George elected to Waiohine River board W.D 8/1/1891 Page 2 Col 5 

12 Sep 1893 a fire broke out in the Kuripuni Store, the origin was unknown.  While George was insured for 150 pounds he suffred a heavy loss (Click for news item). 

On 2 May 1894 he purchased a section in Kuripuni Rd Masterton for 135 being Pt of section No 1 Manaia Block (Conveyance 66268.)  The land is situated on the corner of Kuripuni and Main Streets, Masterton. It was on this land that he operated the Kuripuni Store for many years. The property (211/373) was later sold to William Robert Nesbet for 615.

30 April 1896 George's shop at Kuripuni burglarised and a quantity of silver removed (click for News item.)

1896 - Marriage

On the 14 June 1896 a happy event for the Wyeth family the last of Robert and Jane's children to be married. At the age of 55 George Wyeth, Bachelor, of Kuripuni, Masterton married Mary Horsfall, daughter of David Horsfall and Grace Horsfall (nee Leech), spinster, also of Kuripuni, Masterton and also aged 55. The wedding took place not in a Salvation Army Church; George had been a Salvationist since 1889, but in the Theatre Royal in Masterton. The witnesses at the event were Thomas Wyeth Sawmiller Opaki; and Sophia Jane Annie Harris Domestic Opaki. George's occupation was recorded as Storekeeper and Mary's as Domestic. 

The marriage was a well publicised event.

Wairarapa Daily Times

At the Theatre Royal on 14th, June 1896, Mr. George Wyeth to Miss Horsfall, ceremony performed by Staff-Captain Edwards, Salvation Army.

New Zealand Mail

"A Salvation Army wedding was celebrated here on Sunday afternoon, the contracting parties being Mr George Wyeth of Kurupuni and Miss Horsfall. The ceremony was performed in the Theatre Royal and was witnessed by nearly 1,000 people."

Salvation Army "War Cry" 27 June 1896 P5.

A considerable amount of excitement in the town and district of Masterton was caused by the announcement that a prominent Salvationist was to take unto himself a wife. By the time the event came off, things were at white heat, and it is therefore not surprising that the theatre was packed to the doors. Staff-Captain Edwards, who had arrived on the Saturday night, conducted the bridal party to the front, the soldiers volleying and the crowd cheering. "There's a golden day" gave us a good start. Captain Wansbone treated us to a solo, and the Masterton Musical Company sang "Wedding Bells" with musical chimes as an accompaniment. The Staff-Captain read the "Articles of Marriage," and called upon the happy pair to stand forward. The flag of blood-and-fire waved above them, the ceremony was gone through; and while the crowd of 800 persons stood, as an expression of their best wishes for the happiness and prosperity of the two comrades, the Staff-Captain pronounced Brother George Wyeth and Sister Mary Horsfall man and wife. The bride gave a very original speech. She said, "My dear friends, you must excuse my nervous sensibility, for of all the trying positions I have been in, I have never been in one like this before. Some three years back I was going to the Old Country, when a friend of mine said to me, `Are their no men in New Zealand, that you must go Home for a husband?' I went to the Old Country, but I couldn't find a husband their, I crossed over to America, but he wasn't their, and I returned to the colonies to find that he had been in New Zealand all the time; and I think you will agree with me that he was well worth looking after. I have found another friend, who sticketh closer than a brother; He's a friend I can well recommend; come to him and blessing and peace will be yours." The bridegroom gave a striking testimony, declaring his fidelity to God and the Army. It was a merry time, and if in this life Brother and Sister Wyeth receive the fulfilment of every blessing expressed, theirs will indeed be a happy and useful life.

Mary was the daughter of David and Grace (nee Leach) Horsfall. Mary's father was a Spinner by trade, as may be expected from this Mary was born in West Yorkshire in a town named Thornton in 1841. Thornton is a village located about 12 miles west north west of Bradford. 

1897 - Cyclopedia of NZ [Wellington Provincial District] published.  Page 976

Wyeth George, Grocer and General Storekeeper, Kuripuni Store and Post-office, Kuripuni, Masterton. Telegraph address, "Wyeth, Masterton." Bankers, Bank of Australasia. Mr. Wyeth was born in Wellington in 1841, and is the son of Mr. Robert Wyeth, of Masterton, who arrived in Port Nicholson on the 3rd of January, 1840, by the New Zealand Company's survey vessel "Cuba." Mr. Wyeth was then a single man. Among the passengers by the "Duke of Roxburgh," which arrived on the 7th of the following month, was a single lady passenger named Miss Runalls. Though the young people had never previously met, they soon agreed to make a home in the new land, and were married two months later, and in the following March their son was born. Educated in Wellington, Mr. Wyeth soon gained experience of country life, engaging in bush felling and other pursuits in and around the Hutt Valley until 1883, when he removed to Masterton and established his present business. Mr. Wyeth's is the only store in Kuripuni, and being well liked in the neighbourhood, he does a good steady trade. Mr. Wyeth was married in 1896 to Miss Mary Horsefall, formerly of Yorkshire, England, but more recently of the South Island.

21 May 1898 the War Cry reported 'Treasurer Wyeth is not very well in body, but his numerous friends can rest assured that his soul is healthy. He and Sister Wyeth are devoted Warriors.

Late 1901 or early 1902 George obtained a Local Officer's Commission in the Salvation Army. 

Mary died 16 November 1911 aged 70 years her funeral service was conducted at the Salvation Army. 

Death has been very busy here of late. Prominent residents have been removed from our midst, and many a solemn procession has been witnessed wending its way to the last resting place. But now it is our duty to place on record the fact that Sister Mrs Wyeth has laid down the cross and taken up the crown. Contending for a long time with bodily weakness, she still kept a brave heart and lived a godly, consistent life. Though seventy years of age, she possessed the spirit of a child, and while unable to be at the front, her influence was felt in many ways. Removed from her home to the hospital, she was visited by some of the comrades as opportunity afforded. On the Thursday morning it was seen the end was very near. Those who were at the bedside during her last hours were comforted by the fact that her testimony was " All is well." As her husband knelt and prayed, she responded as well as her strength would allow. Mrs. Avenell spent the last few hours at her side, cheering and encouraging, until at 12.20 the call came. The funeral ceremony was conducted, in the presence, of a large crowd of relatives and citizens by F.G. on Saturday afternoon. The memorial service on Sunday evening was a most impressive time, when Sister Mrs L Davenport spoke of our late sister's influence and life. Some favourite songs were sung, the bereaved husband spoke, the F. O. finishing up with words expressive of an Officer's appreciation of long and faithful service. The ungodly were faithfully dealt with though none would give in. Our Comrade, is being sustained in a most remarkable way by the hand that is Devine. May God be with him. W Avenell, Ensign,
Salvation Army War Cry 9 December 1911 page 6.

From 1 December 1911 to November 1912 Pete Petersen was operating a general store at Kuripunui.  This would tend to suggest that he took over George's store for a year after Mary died.  Pete's account book includes Mrs G.R. Sykes; Mrs J.L.Murray; Mrs A McLeod, Cole St; Mr Thos Wyeth; Mr Edward Welch; Mr F. Calvert, as customers.

George on 8 July 1916 aged 75 years.

George and Mary are buried in Masterton Cemetery.


Mr George Wyeth, an old and highly respected resident of Masterton, passed away this morning. The deceased gentleman, who was 75 years of age, was born in Petone, then called "Britannia Town." His father came out to New Zealand in the "Cuba" and arrived at Wellington. His mother came out in the "Duke of Roxburgh." The late Mr Wyeth was the third child born in this Dominion of parents who were married in New Zealand. He drove the mail coach from the Hutt to Upper Hutt for many years, and then had a business in the Upper Hutt. About 35 years ago he came to Masterton, and started business in Kuripuni. From a boy he has always worked in good causes, and in 1889 he became a member of the Salvation Army in Masterton, holding a local officer's commission for fourteen and a half years, and was a most devoted comrade, and was loved and esteemed by all. He was the eldest of a family of nine, four daughters and five sons, the other sisters and brothers being Mrs Gorringe, Mrs Walter Harris, Mrs A. McLeod, Mrs J. L. Murray, Mr C. Wyeth (Southland), Mr T. Wyeth (Lansdowne), Mr J. Wyeth (Upper Hutt), and Mr J. Wyeth (Foxton).


The deceased, who was born in Wellington in 1841, engaged in bush felling and other pursuits in and around the Hutt Valley until 1883, when he removed to Masterton and established a general store at Kuripuni which he conducted for a great number of years. The late Mr Wyeth, whose father arrived at Port Nicholson in 1840 by the survey vessel "Cuba" was the third child born in the Dominion whose parents were married in New Zealand.

BRO. G. WYETH, Masterton.
It is with deep regret that we have to report the death of Bro. G, Wyeth; which took place on Friday July 7th. He has been a most faithful soldiers for 27 years, holding a local Officers Commission for 14 years. Our deceased comrade who was 75 years of age, was born in Petone, then called "Britannia Town." His father came out to New Zealand in the "Cuba," and arrived at Wellington. His mother came out in the "Duke of. Roxburgh." He was the third child born in this Dominion of parents who were married in New Zealand: He drove the mail coach from the Hutt to the Upper Hutt for many years, and then had a business in the Upper Hutt. About 35 years ago he came to Masterton, and started business in Kuripuni. He was beloved by everybody, and was a man who was never ashamed of his colours. He was ailing for a few weeks, and when Sister Mrs Devenport visited him he was very unwell, but said "I will sing you a song, and so sweetly he sang two verses of 'Jesus, Lover of my Soul.' " I visited him very often, and although not able to speak plainly, he gave many assurances that all was well. A heavenly smile used to light up his countenance and at three in the morning of the day he died he called his brother Charlie, and pointed Heavenwards saying, "It's wonderful!" We could see that he was sinking, and at four o'clock he called his other brother, but could not speak at six- thirty, and at 7.15 our comrade breathed his last, absent from the body to be present with the Lord. On Monday the funeral took place. There was a short service at Mrs McLeod's home, where Captain Watkins and the Rev. Mr Halliday took part. Then followed the long procession, headed by the Band, which played beautiful music, and although it rained hard yet the streets were lined with people to see the last of a man so well respected. At the graveside there was a most impressive service, with crowds round. The Rev. Mr Halliday took part and after the Service we marched to the Barracks, feeling although our Corps and the Masterton Town is the poorer, yet heaven is the richer. On Sunday Captain Foster conducted the Memorial Service. The platform was nicely draped, and although it rained there was a splendid congregation, many friends and relatives being present, and one of his own sisters occupied the seat in which Brother Wyeth always sat. - A. N. Rowlands, Adjutant.
Salvation Army War Cry.


Solicitors Hollings and Pragnell, Masterton;
Date of death 8 July 1916
His estate was sworn under a value of 1000 pounds.
The executors of George's estate were John Lincoln Murray and Thomas Wyeth.
In his will dated 23 February 1912 he made a bequest 100 to David Ackroyd of 11 Gill Ave Methuen Massachuetts, and left the residue of his estate to be divided equally among his sisters,
Maria Ann Gorringe,
Elizabeth McLeod, wife of Alexander McLeod, farmer
Mary Ellen Murray, wife of J. L. Murray
and my brother
Thomas Wyeth.
Probate was produced and recorded for the transfer of his property Cnr Main St and Kuripuni Sts Masterton to his executors.

[1]Wairarapa Daily, page 2, col 5. 11