Topic: John and Susannah Buxton and Family

Topic type:

Well known early Christchurch residents

John Buxton was the fourth son of Joseph Buxton of Ellastone. He served his apprenticeship as a saddler. He married Susannah Shirley from the small neighbouring township of Waterfall, and established himself on the turnpike road to Ellastone in the hamlet of Wootton. By 1849 they had seven children: Anne (aged 18), Joseph (16), Mary (13), Harriet (11), Martha (5), Elizabeth (5), and William (baby).

Joseph Shirley Buxton, John and Susannah’s eldest son and his wife Louisa, Sailed to New Zealand from Gravesend on the Westminster on 13 October 1857. They had only been married for a few days. Joseph, like his father and some members of his mother's family, was a saddler by trade. He had served his apprenticeship with his father at Wootton, and was 24 years old when the couple set sail. 

The Canterbury colony must have been acceptable, for other members of the family followed rapidly. In September 1859 Joseph's sisters, Anne and Harriet, sailed on the Roman Emperor. On the same voyage was Samuel Butler. They arrived in Lyttelton at the end of January 1860. The remainder of the family, John and Susannah, Mary, Martha, Elisabeth, and William all followed on the Mermaid in late 1862, arriving at Lyttelton on 6 December. Sadly Martha died on the voyage out as a result of epilepsy. Immediately after the final contingent of the family had arrived, the youngest son, William, died aged 14 years.

Less than five years after arriving in the colony, John's wife Susannah died at the age of sixty one. John and Susannah were staunch Methodists, and on her deathbed Susannah Buxton requested her son Joseph Shirley Buxton, donate land for a new Methodist Church. This he did and as soon as the building of the church got underway, the question of its name arose. Susannah Buxton had been a Miss Susannah Shirley, and it was considered fitting that her dying request be honoured by naming the church after her maiden name Shirley, and the district took the same name.

John and Susannah were well known residents of the area, and while Susannah’s maiden name became the name of the suburb, John's surname was also honoured, but in a less attractive locality. John's surname was given to a reserve consisting of waste sand hills that straddled New Brighton Road and divided the infant suburbs of Burwood and Shirley. The reserve became known as Buxton's Corner, and was suggested as a site for a slaughter house but, instead became a rubbish dump. Before the depression, the Christchurch Unemployment Committee sought in vain to have potatoes planted at Buxton's Corner. As a rubbish dump it became an eyesore so the Council agreed to subsidise funds to transform it into a recreation ground. In 1929, the Depression arrived in earnest and work began on the recreation ground to help relieve unemployment.

Unfortunately, the Burwood Progressive Association, with no appreciation of history, pressed for the abandonment of the name ‘Buxton's Corner’ . Their preferred alternative ‘Burwood Park’ was adopted by the council in 1930.

John Buxton, a genial old chap, lived well into his 80s. He lived in Shirley Road and had an acre of land where he grew flowers, fruit, and vegetables, and lived in a cottage.

John Buxton, born at Ellastone, Staffordshire 1804, died at Shirley in 1887, aged 83. Susannah, born at Waterfall, Staffordshire 1807, died at Avonside in 1868, aged 61 Both are buried in the Barbadoes Street Cemetery. They are buried in the Anglican section despite the fact that they were staunch Methodists.


Further Information

Shirley Methodist Church



Greenaway, Richard. Church on a Sandhill:All Saints Burwood, 1877 - 1967. Copycraft. Christchurch. 1967.

The Mermaid arrives in Lyttelton. 2009

Shirley Methodist Church. http://www.buxton 2008

Staffordshire Origins. http://researcharchive. 2011

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John and Susannah Buxton and Family

First Names:John
Last Name:Buxton
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