Captain James Braund and his wife Mary

A life in ships

Captain James Braund is buried near the Grafton Bridge pillar before it goes down the hill.

The colour photo is of the Braund Family visiting Captain James' and his wife Mary's grave, during the first New Zealand Braund Family Reunion in 2009. This was while the bridge was being renovated.

Captain James had quite a history in Auckland and Napier, after having landed in New Zealand in 1853 on his ship Surprise. Hi eventful life includede family tragedies. Some of his children and first wife are buried with him.

His sons were:

James Braund, sailmaker, rugby player for Ponsonby and champion Mullet Boat sailor

Albert Braund, rugby player for Ponsonby and Auckland, Commodore of the Akarana Yacht Club, Auckland Rugby Committee stalwart and champion Mullet Boat sailer. He was an engineer by trade.

Both these sons owned several yachts and boats built in the Auckland boat yards around Freemans Bay.

George Braund, furniture maker / store owner in New Plymouth

James' grand-daughter, Mavis Braund, featured in an exhibition of noted women sailors at the Maritime Museum in 2007.

Mavis provided these notes about Captain James:

"The history of many New Zealand pioneers is redolent of the sea, their only means of transport, and we may be proud of them as they set out in their little sailing-ships...full of hope and with a strong sense of adventure. Such a sailor-man was Captain James Braund. He had been invited to take part in the ill-fated Hudson Bay expedition but, fortunately for him, he migrated to New Zealand instead.

"James Braund was born in Bideford, in Devon in 1829 and qualified as a master-mariner before he was twenty-one. His first voyages were between Spain and London in the fruit trade and he was noted for his fast trips. In 1857 he bought the 100 ton cutter Surprise from England to Auckland.

"Trading to the Islands he commanded the brigantines Charybdis and Vision. In 1870 he took the Earl of Pembroke and Dr Kingsley on a cruise from Auckland round the South Sea Islands in his top-sail Schooner Albatross. On this trip the Earl and the doctor wrote the well-known work South Sea Bubbles.

"During the cruise, the Albatross was wrecked on an unchartered reef in the Ringgold group but all hands were saved and all reached Levuka and finally Auckland again. The party had to camp on a beach while the skipper rescued one of the long-boats from the wreck which he re-rigged. It is said that the whole party had implicit faith in the captain’s ability to bring them all eventually to safety. The family still possesses a silver tea and coffee service presented to them by George, Earl of Pembroke in April 1869. The schooner’s flag and log were also saved by Captain Braund when he swam from the wreck.

"Captain Braund made his home in Graham Street, which is now part of the inner city but was then a quiet cliff-top street which descended to the waterfront and Fanshawe Street. His house was close to the present airways terminal and the site is B J Balls Paper House.

"In 1858 the Captain married Mary Dennett, then aged 17 years, in St Paul’s Church. There were nine children but only five survived to grow up. The families in Graham Street were all relatives or friends and the children had access to all the houses – in fact, a spanking could be administered to a naughty child in any of several homes. The Captain was a strong, broad-shouldered man of commanding appearance and in later years, he usually dressed in morning-coat and top hat.

"It was the custom in Captain Braund’s home to keep a light burning in a front window while the Captain was away or in the harbour. On one occasion, when he returned from a voyage, he saw no light in the house and realised at once that something was amiss; this was the occasion when the small daughter Minnie was found drowned in a nearby creek. In those days the families from Graham Street used the beach, which is now the reclaimed Victoria Park, for swimming at high tide – boys in the morning, and girls (with chaperone) in the afternoons, at which time the boys were excluded.

"In 1874, after the death of his first wife, Captain Braund married Mary Ellen Horne, then 28 years of age. She undertook to rear the Captain’s five children, as well as two of her own, and this she did very well. The boys all wished to go to sea and one did so, returning later to set up business as a sail-maker. Two of the sons indulged in the sport of yacht racing, thus following their inherited love of the sea. The Captain possessed a small sailing-vessel of his own and taught all his children to sail.

"My father was another son who wanted to go to sea but the Captain, sensing early that steam was going to oust sail and noting the trends ahead, prevailed upon him to take up the new profession of engineering, so Father was articled to George Fraser and Son and remained with that firm all his working life.

"Captain Braund was a fine sailor and a devoted family man. He was for years a vestryman at St Matthew’s Church and used to shepherd all his children along to service on Sundays, saying that it would keep them out of mischief for one day. The Captain died suddenly in 1897 at his Graham Street house while up on the roof supervising repairs."

There must have been many fine sea-going captains in Auckland during the 19th century. They were men of great skill and courage, who knew how to manage their ships in rough seas so often encountered round these dangerous coasts. Captain Braund was one of these men, a real sea-faring pioneer."

The Alby Braund Cup is presented at the Auckland Regatta for the winner of the P-Class sailors.

Braund Place in Takapuna is named for the land Captain James owned there.

Several descendents of Captain James Braund are still living in Auckland.

There are many other pioneer Braunds throughout NZ who are all attached to the Braund Society.

The Braund family originally came from a small valley, Bucks Mills, near Clovelly. More information on Bucks Mills and The Braund Society can be found on these links below.

Where is the grave?

The grave is near the Grafton Bridge pillar before it goes down the hill.