The Gillies Branch of the Family

Researched and Contributed by Frances Hudson

map of Skye The Gillies are known to have lived in Sleat on the Isle of Skye during the 19th century.
The Isle of Skye is the largest of the Inner Hebridean Islands in the Atlantic Ocean just off the West Coast of Scotland and covers an area of about 535 sq miles.
Sleat (pronounced Slate) is a peninsular at the southern end of the island and is separated from the Scottish mainland by 3 miles of water known as the "Sound of Sleat".
Skye is traditionally the home of the McDonalds, who have lived there since the thirteenth century and possibly earlier. Other Clans (family groups) generally associated with the Isle of Skye are MacKinnon, McLeod and MacDonald. The Gillies are from Clan MacPherson.

During the 18th and 19th century, many Scots were leaving the country of their birth in search of education and adventure, others left as soldiers. Often they were driven abroad by economic necessity. Large groups of families were emigrating to the colonies as they were convinced that a better life awaited them there.

The first three ships with Scottish emigrants for New Zealand left Scotland during 1839/1840, arriving in Wellington in 1840. This was about the time of the establishment of the Colony of New Zealand. A number of other Scottish emigrants followed, and Scottish settlements were established in Dunedin in 1849, Invercargill in 1857, Waipu (in Northland) in 1860, and Christchurch about 1873. There were also many other Scottish people who went to England first and came to New Zealand from there. Others went to Australia, America or elsewhere before coming to New Zealand.

The family that we are interested in, starts with Peter and Annabella (nee McKinnon) Gillies. Their known children are:

Marion Gillies, born about 1816, was christened on the 30th Sept, 1816 in Sleat.
John Gillies, born about 1826, was christened on the 6th Aug, 1826 in Sleat. In the 1881 census for Great Britain, John is married to Margaret and living in Sleat. Margaret's maiden name would appear to be Buchanan. John and Margaret have one daughter (Mary Ann) and five sons (John, Peter, Daniel, Angus and Lachlan) living with them, and other records from the I.G.I. indicate that there were three other daughters (Ann, Annabella and Margaret) born to them.
Archibald Gillies, born about 1829,was christened on 31st Dec, 1829 in Sleat, Isle of Skye. Archibald married on the 20th March, 1855 in Sleat, Ann Mcdonald who was born about 1832 in Sleat. Ann was the daughter of Hugh McDonald and Christy (Christina) Cameron, who were married in Sleat on 24th December, 1824).

The known children of Archibald and Ann are:
Mary, born on 29 Dec 1855 in Sleat.
Margaret (Peggy), born on 21 Oct 1857 in Sleat.
Peter, born on 14 April 1859 in Sleat.
Lachlan, born on 14 Feb 1861 in Sleat.
Christina (Chrissy), born on 15 Feb 1863 in Sleat.
Norman, born on 16 Dec 1865 in Sleat.
Ann, born on 4 Nov 1868 in Sleat.
John, born on 12 Jan 1873 in Sleat.

What prompted Archibald and Ann Gillies to emigrate to New Zealand is not known, but with their 8 children, they sailed from Glasgow on the 4th June 1874 aboard the 'Canterbury' and arrived in Lyttleton (near Christchurch) on the 1st September 1874. The 'Canterbury' was a clipper ship of 1242 tons, built in 1874 for Patrick Henderson, and this was her maiden voyage. She had 484 soles on board, 184 males over 15 years of age, 160 of whom were Scottish, and 164 females aged over 15, 43 of whom were Scottish. Four ships arrived in Lyttleton about this time, bringing 1780 immigrants into the area.

Upon arrival in Lyttleton, some immigrants were accommodated in barracks in Lyttleton and some in Christchurch. Others probably had relatives to go to, and still others rented properties in nearby areas. Perhaps the Gillies family moved to Kaiapoi about this time.
New Zealand

Another son was born to Archibald and Ann Gillies two years after they arrived in New Zealand:

i. Hugh Gillies, born on 19 Oct 1876 at Kaiapoi.

At the time of Hugh's birth, Archibald's occupation was given as a labourer. Ann registered the birth and signed the register with an X, indicating she could not read or write. The family appear to have lived in Kaiapoi since their arrival in New Zealand. Kaiapoi is a small town about 20 kilometers north of Christchurch on the banks of the Kaiapoi River. The township originated in the late 1840's as a ferry station. In 1868 Kaiapoi was declared a borough. At the time Archibald and Ann arrived in 1874, the population was only about 1000. There would have been plenty of labouring work for Archibald, with the development of roads and railways. The Kaiapoi Woollen Mills and the flour and flax mills would also have offered employment. Exactly what type of work he was doing is unknown. Archibald appears on electoral rolls as a labourer living at Kaiapoi until his death in 1910. Ann died in East Gore on 8th September 1912.

Of Archibald and Ann's children:
Mary may have married Hugh Elder in Kaiapoi in 1878. Margaret may have married James Clothier in 1880. Christine may have married John Cameron in 1890. Annie appears not to have married and may have died in 1917. No marriage records for Peter, Lachlan and Norman have been found.

John Gillies , who was aged 1 when he arrived in New Zealand, was to meet and marry Rose Ellen Elizabeth Woollett (the eldest daughter of Lewis and Florence Woollett) in Invercargill in 1905.

Hugh married Rose Hammond in 1907. Hugh and Rose Gillies appear on the electoral roll as living in Kaiapoi in 1908. Hugh's occupation at this time, is given as an engine driver. Both Hugh and John, with their wives and families, moved to the North Island after the death of their mother as they are on electoral rolls living in or near Ohakune through the 1920's and 1930's. Hugh Gillies died in Auckland in 1940, and John died in Taumarunui in 1955.

A History of Canterbury - Volume II, Edited by W.J.Gardner
In Search of Scottish Ancestry by Gerald Hamilton-Edwards
Skye by Norman Newton
NZ Electoral Rolls
NZ Births, Deaths and Marriage records
National Archives Wellington, shipping records

If you can help with any more information about this branch of the Gillies family or have any queries about this family please E-mail Gordon

This page last updated 1st November 2000

[Tracked by Hitmatic]