The picture above is the destination of most of our ancestors – Koputai or Otago Harbour showing Dunedin in its early days!

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa

Welcome, whanau, to this site! It outlines the genealogy of the the Sargison, Dick, Alan, Rylance, Moss , Cunninghma nad related families in Otakou (Otago), New Zealand, from their roots in England and Scotland to Aotearoa New Zealand.
The whakapapa (family tree) starts with Dr Patricia Sargison nee Rylance and myself, Allan Sargison.
The site has some 13,700 people listed in the last update of 2 December 2019. The 10 most numerous surnames are Allan, Dick, Rylance, Cunningham, Sargison, Adams, Kirk, Smith, Moss and Reid in that order. 50 names have more than 20 occurrences. The names button at the bottom of this page will take you to the analysis and maps.
It is very much a work in progress and any input welcome: just email

One name study
A superb site for the origins and background of the Sargison families by Joan Reid

Introduction to the Families
First look at people

The Taieri Allans

The Allans were a very large family. Their history has been written up twice. The most significant work is The Taieri Allans by John Thompson Allan which is available on this site under histories.
Agness Allan & John Allen (the Allans) were from families of weavers and small farmers, so were doubtless affected by these upheavals. In 1842, therefore, they emigrated to New Zealand with their four sons and three daughters.They were religious dissenters and had attended the Burgher Kirk, in Kilmarnock, one of many sects that split from the Church of Scotland during the 18th century. On 4 July 1842, John and Agness and the children sailed from Cumbrae on the barque New Zealand, arriving in Nelson on 3 November 1842. John apparently had a small property at Richmond. They moved on to Otago in 1844, over three years before the official settlement began. This was largely as a result of difficulties with land title in Nelson, challenging economic conditions and the so-called Wairau Massacre. The Allans initially lived at Andersons Bay but in 1850 moved to the Taieri where John built a house on the farm he called Bellfield. He became the first elder of the East Taieri Presbyterian Church and in 1854 a member of the first Otago Presbytery. He died in 1863.
The picture is of his son, James H Allan and his wife Jane Sutcliffe.

Stonemason Dicks

The first Dick arrived on 26 December 1849 aboard the Mooltan. This was Mary Dick, aged 18, a servant. Little is known about her. She married Archibald Barr, a seaman on the Mariner voyage in 1850. It appears she died before 1858. It is possible that he was related to the Barr family who were also on board the Mooltan or that she was related to the Barr family and Agnes Barr who later married James Allan. The descent line in NZ starts with Jane (Jean) Gray who was born on 18 December 1818 in Fort Augustus, Inverness-shire. Her father, John, was 29, and her mother, Jane, was 35. She married Robert Dick, a stonemason in Carnock, on 7 December 1835 in Boleskine, Inverness-shire. Robert Dick was born on 2 June 1809 in Perthshire. His father, William, was 29 and Robert and Jane Dick, along with their sons, Simon, Alexander, Robert and James, arrived in Dunedin aboard the Robert Henderson in 1862, joining their older sons, William and John, who came out in 1860. Robert died on 4 July 1876 in Dunedin, at the age of 67, and was buried in Portobello. Jane died at Sandymount on 25 October 1892 at the age of 73 and was also buried in Portobellos mother, Mary, was 28. William and his brother built the exterior of Larnach’s Castle. The photograph is of a Dick wedding at Pukeri at the top of the Otago Peninsula.

Blueskin Sargisons

The Sargisons were relatively late settlers, arriving on the Wellington in Dec. 1874. The ship, incidentally, was of 1,250 tons, new and built for Patrick Henderson which later amalgamated with Shaw Savill. This ship was approximately twice the tonnage of the Philip Laing, Such was the demand for emigration and the advancement of technology! Aboard were Henry (Harry) Griffen Sargison , born in December 1856 at Parson Grove, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire and his elder brother, William George Sargison, born in 1852. They each purchased land in Waitatiti – Merchiston. The descent line is through Henry Harry Griffen Sargison who was born in Parsons Drove, Cambridgeshire in December 1856; his father, Michael, was 26 and his mother, Jane, was 29. The Griffen in his name came from his mother’s surname but why it was spelt differently (but not consistently) is unknown. Multiple spellings of names were not unusual. On 15 May 1876, Harry married Mary Ann Horne from Leverington in Cambridgeshire. Harry and his brother, and the Horne family had all emigrated to Otago aboard the same ship the previous year.

James Henry Sargison & Georgina Cunningham wedding.

The Varnish Rylances

The Rylances were the last of our primary families to arrive in New Zealand in the early 20th century. Coming from Lancashire, they settled in Dunedin and Christchurch, Frederick was a paint manufacturer along with his two sons John and Thurstan. Frederick, daughter Muriel and sons John and Thurstan arrived in Dunedin about 1911. Father and sons established a paint/varnish company mirroring their former English operation.
Thurstan married Mary Clapham Moss in 1915 shortly after she arrived in New Zealand after the death of her father. She was a weaver by trade.
The wedding photo shows Mary in mourning for her father, Thurstans’s father Frederick holding Kathleen M rylance then aged about 18 months.

The Waitaki Cunninghams

The Waitaki Cunninghams

The Cunningham line came (via Australia) to Otago in 1861, first to Tuapeka (Lawrence) and then to the Waitaki Valley. Their son, James who was born in Tuapeka in 1861. Robert was a shopkeeper and undoubtedly benefited from the gold rush at nearby Gabriel’s Gully where gold was found in 1861. James became a large landowner. 
One of Robert’s children was George Cunningham whose daughter was Georgina Betson Cunningham (1878-1912) . Her father died in the Waitaki River before her birth Her mother, Annie Jack, died when she was only 5. She married James Henry Sargison, a school teacher. Tragically, she in turn died when her son Eric Duncan Sargison was only 4.

The Whare Flat Jollies

The Whare Flat Jollys

Robert  Jolly (1819-1896), married Mary West (1819-1894) on 7 August 1840 at Forncett St Peter in South Norfolk.
Two of Robert and Mary’s sons, John and Robert, born in 1847 and 1850 respectively, emigrated to New Zealand.
Robert arrived on 27 October 1875 at Port Chalmers aboard the Auckland. He was listed as a machine maker. John was clearly in Dunedin 1870 when his son, Robert James Jolly, was born.

In the photo opposite  Mary Hannah Havard is on the left with her daughter May Elizabeth Jolly and in turn her daughter Mavis Doreen Dick in the middle on the occasion of the latter’s 21st.