John and Jane Smith

John Smith – draper and racehorse owner

John and Jane Smith are buried in the Anglican section of the cemetery.

John Smith died on 15 August 1882, aged 49 years, after an eventful life. Jane died on 18 July 1890 aged 56. Theirs is the biggest remaining memorial in the cemetery.

John came to Auckland in a warship when he was about 10 years old. Apparently he and others deserted from the ship and lived among Maoris until the ship left New Zealand. Later he went to Australia during the Victorian gold rush, and was present at the Eureka Stockade confrontation concerning gold miners rights in Ballarat, Victoria, in 1854.

Soon after that he returned to New Zealand, arriving in Dunedin where he started a café.

He then moved to Auckland with his wife Jane and infant daughter, and opened a small drapery shop in Grey Street. He became a well-known local tradesman, and moved his shop to bigger premises in Queen Street in 1875, after he had been on a grand tour of the USA, Canada and England. The Auckland Star obituary says that “Successful speculation at the opening of the Thames goldfields enabled him to accumulate considerable wealth, with the assistance of which he extended his business.”

He also also gained prominence as a result of owning a successful group of racehorses, among them Tim Whiffler, Maid of Honour, Trafalgar, Lady, Xantippe and Toi. “His name in racing circles was the synonym for straight and honest dealing, and his horses not only ran on their own merits but made others do so, ” says his obituary in the New Zealand Herald.

The Herald obituary continues, “His probity, sterling worth and benevolence , although covered with rough outer crust, proved him to be the rough diamond, the character in which he was appreciated by his friends… Lacking education, he has by force of character been able to push himself into a position of comparative affluence.”

He built “an elegant house on a leasehold procured from the City Improvement Commissioners in Princes Street, Albert Park.” It was there that he died from bronchitis and inflammation of the lungs.

The Smith’s clothing business was sold to become part of Smith & Caughey.

  • <p>The Smith memorial is the largest in the cemetery.</p>
  • <p>The home of John and Jane Smith is still standing in Princes Street Auckland. Photo TImespanner Blog.</p>

Location of the grave

Symonds St Overbridge, Auckland 1010, New Zealand