Today we continue with our Irish theme by introducing the Slattery connection.
|Matthew Slattery and his wife Mary Anne Pickford with child. Undated Image BFA, from the collection of Keith Slattery|
Matthew Slattery was born in 1824 in the village of Golden, about eight miles east of Tipperary Town on the River Suir and about 4 miles from Cashel in the other direction. His parents were Eliza Champion and Robert Slattery.
When Matthew was 14 Ireland experienced a tremendous storm which is still known today as the Night of the Big Wind. The heavy snow which fell on that night of the 5th January completely melted in freakishly warm conditions the following day. Those spared the loss of their homes in the hurricane strength winds still faced the sodden soil and loss of livestock, setting up lean times for the year ahead. Across Ireland there were 300 casualties on the night of the storm with many thousands left homeless.
A month later Matthew was in Cashel enlisting with the British Army. His family received the bounty of £2-1 allocated to his regimental number 1049. The salary for a boy at this period was 11 pence, £1-1 for a man. He was recruited in to the 58th Regiment of Foot, the Rutlandshire, also known as the Black Cuffs because of their distinctive uniform.
After a short spell in Britain the 58th was sent to New South Wales, Australia. Their route south went via Tasmania and Norfolk Island accompanying convicts being transported to the penal colonies there. Matthew was in one of the 19 detachments under Lieutenant Colonel Wynyard which departed between 1842 and 1843. They remained stationed in New South Wales on garrison duty until unrest in northern New Zealand saw them transferred to Auckland in 1845.
Matthew was 21 years of age, a solid stocky young man about 5’ in height (a slight increase on his 4’10” at enlistment) when he arrived on the North Star on 22 March 1845. It was straight into action from there. His military records list him as present as Pomare’s Pah on April 30, 1845. Battles followed at Heki’s Pah, Waikiri and Kawiti’s Pah before the capture of Ruapekapeka on 11 January 1846.
|The 58th Regiment on parade, about 1849, at the newly constructed Albert Barracks in Auckland (AWN July 15 1909)|
Once the immediate danger of battle passed, attention turned to domestic matters. A young lady by the name of Mary Anne Pickford also travelled to Auckland on the North Star in 1845. Originally from the village of Shepton Mallet in Somerset she was a daughter of Anne Dexter and Samuel Pickford. Mary Anne married Matthew at St Patrick’s in Auckland on 3 June 1846
A promotion to Corporal on 1 December 1847 was followed by the new rank of Colour Sergeant in 1848. Matthew remained with the 58th on garrison duty at Auckland until their departure for England in 1858.
|New Zealander 20 November 1858|
Several hundred men took discharge in New Zealand at that time but Matthew was only 34 and newly promoted to Quarter Master in July 1858.
|New Zealander 10 November 1858|
His growing family travelled with him to Parkhurst on the Isle of Wight, where he served until 1862 as Quartermaster 5th Depot
|About 1858-Quarter Master Slattery stands at extreme left with other officers of the 58th. Image BFA from the collection of Keith Slattery.|
In the next post we follow Matthew to India and back to New Zealand.