Elizabeth Knox

An enduring legacy

Elizabeth Knox and her husband Charles were known for their generosity to fellow settlers.

Elizabeth Knox died in 1908. She and her husband Charles (who died much earlier in 1871) gained a reputation as philanthropists, who generously assisted fellow settlers. They came from Northern Ireland in the early 1840s.

They are buried beneath a large obelisk of Scottish granite in the Presbyterian sector near Symonds Street. In her will, Elizabeth left £91,500 of which £44,000 were earmarked for various charities including the Sailors Home, the Veteran’s Home and others. The Press newspaper 22 October 1908 had a headline: “Munificent bequests to charity.”

Money was also stipulated for a Home for Incurables and a Night Shelter for the Homeless to be set up.

Paramount was the creation of the Elizabeth Knox Home for the Elderly, an institution still in existence. Originally located in Glen Innes, since the 1960s the Elizabeth Knox Home has been situated in Ranfurly Road in Epsom. The Knoxs left no children, their nearest surviving relative being George Russell, a nephew.

The granite headstone looks much newer than the date suggests. This is because polished granite is the hardest, most impervious stone material for outdoor memorials. On the Measure of Hardness Scale (MOHS), where diamonds are rated 10, natural granite is between 6 and 7.

Marble, which was commonly used in 19th century headstones, has a MOHS rating of 3. (By comparison, hard plastic is 2.)

Marble was used because it was less expensive to cut, polish and carve with the tools of the time. Salt in the air, and hydrocarbon and sulphur dioxide pollution contribute to the decomposition of the calcite structure in marble, so it erodes much more quickly than marble.

  • <p>Elizabeth Knox, c1908. <em>Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19081029-14-1.</em></p>
  • <p>The memorial for Elizabrth Knox in the Presbyterian burial ground has one of the few remaining wrought iron fences.</p>
  • <p>Mrs Knox's modest house in Symonds Street, c1908. <em>Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZG-19081028-29-2.  </em></p>
  • <p>The late Mrs Knox's funeral cortege passing up Symonds Street from her residence to the Symonds Street Cemetery, 28 October 1908. <em>Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZG-19081028-29-3.</em></p>

Aerial photo location

Where is the grave?

Enter the Presbyterian section at the Symonds Street entrance, The grave is near the intersection of the two paved paths. Site number 9 in the Rose Walk Trail Guide.