Edward Bartley's wife Elizabeth brought a wide social network with her to the marriage. One of her aunts was Emma OTTO. Emma was born in Upper Chapman St, London and baptised at St George's Chapel there on 13 October 1822. Her parents brought her out to Port Jackson on the Bussorah Merchant in 1833. After the death of her father George, she came to New Zealand in 1838 accompanying her mother and sister. (see Early Settlers Roll p126)
In Auckland Emma married Thomas Henry KEVEN. The marriage was celebrated at the Wesleyan Chapel on 23 April 1845. The Otto's had met Thomas in Port Jackson. He was also a Londoner by birth and a good deal older than Emma, being born in 1807.
Thomas first came to New Zealand in 1839. Like the Otto's he found the Bay of Islands too unsettled to instil any confidence in business prospects. He returned two years later, arriving in Auckland by the Shamrock on 1 July 1841. He stayed first in lodgings at Epsom, but ran short of funds while waiting for cash to come from Sydney. This early pattern of financial highs and lows was to hold true throughout his career.
|Daily Southern Cross 20 May 1843|
|The New Zealander 25 July 1846|
The couple rented a home in Shortland St near Emma's family. Their first two children George (1844-1908) and Alfred (1849) were born there. Business began well and continued as a successful enterprise in its own right.
Good accommodation was in short supply then too. Auckland buyers looking for a good family home in the 1840's faced a similar commitment to anyone buying there today.When the Government House was damaged by fire Sir George Grey stayed in Nathan's house on the north ridge of Karangahape Rd. Thomas purchased this property -allotments 28,29 and 30 of section 29- as soon as it became vacant, about 1852. This investment marked the start of his financial expansion.
|Image Auckland Museum Inst C14 162|
The baby Alfred died in April 1851, a sad circumstance shared by most households of the period.
|New Zealander 12 April 1851|
Emily arrived a few months later in June 1851. Rachel was born in September 1853. Esther was born in 1856 and Elizabeth in 1858. The two boys Edward (1861) and Thomas Jnr (1862) completed the family.
Meanwhile Thomas was growing his business. He made regular trips back to Sydney, buying stock and seeing to his remaining property interests there. Melbourne was also on his regular itinerary.
Political and social organisation absorbed the attention of a good many settlers in these 'establishment' years. Thomas was active there too, being a foundation member of the Mechanics' Institute. He and Emma were also active supporters of the Sunday School movement, which may be where the epithet 'Saint Keven' came from.
The house was leased out when it burned to the ground in 1857. Although the property was uninsured it was reinstated after the fire.
|Daily Southern Cross 22 Sept 1857|
Years later this property became the site of St Keven's Arcade and it is still an intrinsic part of the K Rd lifestyle in the 21st Century.
Thomas Keven had good connections in Coromandel through Emma's family. The Otto's had a strong presence around the Cape Colville area. It is uncertain whether the land which revealed gold in 1856 was part of the original Otto holding or a block which Keven purchased subsequently. Either way he was in the thick of gold discoveries at Waiau Creek.
In 1857 he advertised the sale of sections in a new gold fields development Wynyardton.
|Daily Southern Cross 15 December 1857|
|DSC 6 June 1862|
No prospecting license could be issued under those circumstances. He could not yet say he had a valid claim. Nevertheless Keven had an understandable sense of urgency and pressed ahead with his plans for a prospecting company. The Governor General wasted no time in getting to the Coromandel, arriving there on 22 June. In an attempt to establish order the public was advised to hold back from leaving home. The notices were not able to squash enthusiasm. The rush was on.
|DSC 30 June 1862|
Keven's Prospecting Company was launched and the family moved to Thames. Their fortunes as a family followed the peaks and troughs of Thomas' investments. At his peak he owned several mines and a multitude of other properties. Yet as he approached his late 60's he had over-reached. Despite his effort and good intentions he became unable to settle his accounts.
Thomas Keven died on 29 November 1877, aged 70, leaving Emma in some considerable financial difficulty. His career may have been characterised by extremes of prosperity and poverty but he had tremendous energy and high hopes for the colony.
Emma died in 1908 at Devonport, close to her niece Elizabeth Bartley and extended family. She had moved there with her unmarried daughter Rachel. In addition to her own large family Emma also fostered another six youngsters into adulthood.
More detailed information on descendants of Thomas and Emma can be found here
Research by M Bartley