Topic: Mary Anne Eliza Lance

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Mary Anne Eliza Lance (nee Mallock) 1842 - 1923

Mary Anne Eliza Mallock was born at Ealing, London in 1842, daughter of Thomas Mallock, a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, and his first wife Editth Styles Peterson Goddard. The Mallocks were an old Devon family and it was at Axminister in that country that Mary grew up. Her mother died when she was a young child, her father's second wife Henrietta acting as a mother to her and her siblings. They lived at Hill Cottage in Lyme Road, Axminister, next door to the somewhat larger Hill House, then occupied by her grandfather Rawlin Mallock.

It appears that the Mallocks were on friendly terms with the Reverend John Edwin Lance and his family who lived about twenty miles north of Axminister at Buckland St Mary in Somerset. From there, the second son, James Dupre Lance went off to India with the East India Trading Company army. In 1856, he came to New Zealand on sick leave and stayed at Heathstock before being recalled when the Indian Mutiny broke out the following year.

He returned to Canterbury and purchased Four Peaks but sold it about 1860 to Lancelot Walker who had been a part owner of Heathstock. Lance, together with his brother Henry, then went into partnership with John Willoughby Mallock and his brother George Arden Mallock in the Heathstock station to which was added Sidey's Waitohi run, better known as Horsley Down. John and George Mallock were first cousins of Mary Mallock. In 1861 James Lance went home to England where he was engaged to Mary Mallock. According to Douglas Cresswell's account, she was fired by the young squatter's stories of social life in aristocratic Canterbury, where the best bullockies swore in Greek and the climate was warmer than the Riviera. So they were married at Torquay early in 1962 and immediately returned to Canterbury where a large brick homestead was in the course of construction at Heathstock. Mary probably lived in Christchurch until its completion.

Mary and James had four children: Thomas Henry(1863-1922); Frederick(1864-1955);Herbert(1865-1866);Edith Marian(1868-1905), the sons being born at Ilam, near Christchurch and Edith in London.

The Lances lived at Heathstock until 1866, when after a buggy accident in which James dislocated his neck, the entire family travelled to England where he received treatment. They then leased a farm in France where they and their children remained for thirteen years. While travelling in France, Mary became seriously ill and was nursed back to health by the nuns. So impressed was she by their love and kindness she decide to become a Catholic, not an easy move in those days, especially for a woman whose father-in-law was a Church of England parson and whose husband was an equally devout Anglican.

After their return to Canterbury in 1879, Mary became a leading figure in the local Catholic Church, teaching catechism at her house and becoming the first woman to serve on the parish lay committee. When, in 1889, the first resident priest moved into his cottage near the church in Hawarden, Mary Lance offered to furnish this for him. She also saw to it that he was provide with firewood and a cow. In her later years she more or less insisted on being a Godmother at many baptisms. It was also due to her that part of the cemetery at Horsley Down, which had been consecrated a Church of England burial ground in 1883, was transferred to the Catholic Church.

In 1889, the Heathstock homestead was destroyed by fire and a new homestead was built at Horsley Down. Mary Lance was a very hospitable person and one of Canterbury's leading hostesses. The entertaining that had been such a feature of life at Heathstock not only continued but increased at Horsley Down, where as the wife of a member of Parliament, Mary held receptions, dinners and house parties. These were enjoyed, not only by members of Canterbury families but also by visiting dignitaries including the Governor, Lord Onslow and Lady Onslow who made a vice-regal visit to Horsley Down in the early 1890s.

Edith Lance's marriage to James Northcote of Highfield in 1893 was an example of Horsley Down entertaining at its best and Mary would have been in her element. The wedding in the Oddfellows' Hall at Waikari (there being no Anglican church at the time) was followed by a lavish wedding breakfast enjoyed by a large number of guests. In the evening, James and Mary gave a dance held in a large marquee for all the local people, about 300 attended.

Horsley Down was also a welcome retreat for the sisters of the Little Company of Mary, to whom Mary Lance donated a house in Bealey Avenue, Christchurch, adjacent to her own town house, these properties becoming Lewisham Hospital, now Southern Cross.

After the death of James Lance in 1897, Mary went to stay for a time with her daughter and her family at Highfield but after Edith's early death in 1905, she returned to live her life at Horsley Down with her son Harry and his family. Tragedy struck again the following year when her grandson Edwin Lance was drowned in the fountain at Horsley Down. She also lived to see the death of her elder son Harry in 1922. A widow for twenty years, she was helped by her devoted friend and companion Emily Laffin. Maru Lance died in Christchurch in 1923 at the age of 80.

Contributed by John Harper

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Mary Anne Eliza Lance


First Names:Mary Anne Eliza
Last Name:Mallock/Rance
Place of Birth:Ealing, England