Topic: Mary Lucy Pilcher (nee Mason)

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Mary Lucy Pilcher (nee Mason) 1856-1930

Mary lucy Pilcher was born at Lyttelton May 3, 1856, daughter of George and Eliza Mason. Soon after her birth the family moved to Birchdale and when she was twelve years old they settled at Springbank. During the early 1870s, she worked in domestic service at Heathstock where her sister Elizabeth was employed at the same time.As a girl, mary was taught by her father to drive a team of bullocks, and together with her brother Charles, she would take the bullock team and wagon to the scrub, as Medbury was known amongst the earliest settlers. There they would cut and load the wagon  with manuka, sleep underneath it and bring home the firewood to Springbank the following day.

On returning from one of these trips they met a tall, black-bearded stranger planting trees at Horsley Down. At first they ignored his greeting whereupon he called out "Whoa" to the bullock team which of course stopped them in their tracks, and they were obliged to talk to the stranger before they went on their way. They found that they liked this man and when he told them that he too had been brought up driving bullock teams they had something in common to talk about. The man was William John Pilcher, known as Jack, the second son of George and Eleanor Pilcher of Te Mata, Hawke's Bay. Jack had come down to Canterbury with his horse and dogs in 1875 and taken up employment with Mallock and Lance at Horsley Down. On Jack's thirty-first birthday March 30, 1877, he and Mary Mason were married at the Road Bridge cottage in Waikari.

Soon after their marriage, the couple acquired 45 acres beside the Waitohi in what became the Medbury Settlement and there a four-room cottage was built. Jack continued working for Mallock & Lance while Mary milked a few cows and sold butter and eggs to supplement their income. She also made extra money raising and selling pine tree seedlings to local settlers. She would open the cones by placing them in the oven and then plant out the seeds. Many of the old pine shelterbelts around the district were planted with her seedlings.

Mary and Jack had six children: George was born in 1878; Eliza (Tot) was born 1880; Harry in 1883; Fred in 1884; Tom in 1887; Jim in 1889. The children attended Medbury School, walking four miles there and back around the road as they were forbidden to cross a neighbour's land. Years later Fred remembered how hard up they were when he was young. Having no shoes or boots, his feet were so hard that he could run across a riverbed.

After the break-up of the Horsley Down estate in 1897, Jack Pilcher returned to Hawkes Bay and took employment on J.D.Ormond's station where he remained until his death in 1926. Mary stayed for some years on the farm they had established at Medbury.

Her eldest son George went to Australia as a young man and never returned. Tot, her daughter was a governess on back-country stations before marrying Joe Hinchey and having four children. Harry was killed in action in 1917 during the Great War. Fred married Margaret Vance in 1931 and they had two children. Tom lived in the old family home at Medbury. He married Gladys Widdowson and they had five children. Jim lived in Hawarden and then at New Brighton. He married Nell Carey but had no children.

In 1915, Fred and Harry Pilcher bought Willowbridge, a 125 acre farm in Christians Road and sometime after that Mary left her old home and went to live at Willowbridge where she spent the rest of her life. Just as she had done at Medbury, she set out and planted a garden there, the area outside her room at the front of the house displaying fourty roses. She died at Willowbridge, in 1930 and was buried at Horsley Down near the graves of her parents and all but one of her sublings.

Contributed by her granddaughter Joan Forrester

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Mary Lucy Pilcher (nee Mason)

First Names:Mary Lucy
Last Name:Pilcher (nee Mason)
Place of Birth:Lyttelton
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Mary Lucy Pilcher (nee Mason) by hurunuiadmin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License