Edward Costley

The quiet generosity of Edward Costley

The largess of his bequests surprised Auckland Society

Born in Ireland, Costley arrived in Auckland in 1841 and purchased tracts of land at a time when it was empty bracken-clad countryside.

For forty years the town of Auckland sprang up around him - to some degree on land owned by him.

Although well known as a landlord he never acquired the reputation as a hard person.

After a long, quiet and un-ostentatious life, Edward Costley surprised Auckland society with the size of bequests in his will on his death in 1883, at the age of 84.

On his deathbed he summoned his lawyer, and directed him to divide his wealth among the city charities, seven of these being named. His estate realised £93,000, which was divided between the Auckland Hospital, Old Men's Home, Sailors' Home, Auckland Institute, Costley Training Institute, Auckland Public Library, and the Parnell Orphan Home, each of which received £12,500.

Edward Costley apparently never married and he left no decendents.

His grave was disturbed by the construction of the motorway in the 1960s, his remains were interred in the vault beneath the Anglican memorial.

Unlike the grave markers of the other graves which were disturbed his monument was preserved. It was re-erected just to the south of the Anglican Memorial.

  • <p>The memorial for Edward Costly features a covered column - a reference to the pall - the cloth that covers the coffin during the burial. </p>
  • <p>Costley Home which was later incorporated into Greenlane Hospital, 1918. Hugely successful in business, and living simply, Costley at his death bequeathed a large ammount of money  to seven public, charitable institutions including the Auckland Hospital, olde peoples refuge, training school and the sailors home.  Henry Winkelmann, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1-W1621.</p>
  • <p>Boys from the Costley Home on Motutapu Island, in acrobatic poses, c1910.  <em>William Archer Price, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, Ref: 1/2-001068-G. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22797206</em></p>

Aerial photo location

Where is the grave?

Walk along the grass at the top of the Anglican section, just below the southbound highway onramp from Symonds Street, and past the camellia tree. Site 6 on the Hobson Walk Trail Guide.