Robert Colthart (1841-1935) of Crawfordjohn, Scotland and Sheffield, New Zealand

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Robert Colthart was born on November 10, 1841 in Shuttlefield, Crawfordjohn Parish, Lanark County, Scotland. He was the son of William Colthart and Janet Cock. In 1862 at age 21, Robert emigrated to New Zealand sailing on the ship "Queen of Mersey". He settled on the South Island where he initially worked as a road contractor on the west coast road. Around 1866 he was united in marriage to Margaret Fullerton in Christchurch, Canterbury District, New Zealand. Margaret, the youngest daughter of Edward Fullerton, was born in 1846 at Clougher, Down County, Ireland. She emigrated to New Zealand with her sister in 1863.

After the wedding Robert and Margaret settled at Kowhai Bush, Canterbury, on land which later comprised the dairy farm at Mt Torlesse Station. After selling the Kowhai Bush property Robert bought the Broomfield Estate, near Springfield, Canterbury, and accepted the position of clerk to the Malvern Road Board. When the district was later sub-divided he was appointed clerk of the East Malvern and later South Malvern Boards. Robert and Margaret had nine children: Annie (1867- 1899), Margaret (1870-1955), Agnes (1872-1957), Robert (1875-1963), William (1877-1972), Edward (1879-1955), Thomas (1881-1957), Mary (1883-1975) and James (1889-1983).

Robert and Margaret sold Broomfield in 1882 and bought the "Roecombe" property at Sheffield where they lived until their retirement. Robert was looked upon as the "father" of Canterbury Tennis. He had encouraged the game in Canterbury, importing the first tennis racquet and tennis ball. Click on the thumbnail to see a larger photo of Robert with his tennis racquet. His interest in tennis began while farming at Broomfield. He laid a full sized tennis court on his lawn, which was also used for bowls, croquet and quoits. Branches from Macrocarpa trees, which at the time were well established in the district were used in the manufacture of tennis racquets. Robert took his tennis teams' - Broomfield, the first tennis club in Christchurch - all over Canterbury seeking competition. His private courts at Broomfield and Roecombe were always available to the local residents. He played regularly until his eightieth year and still played tennis occasionally into his nineties. Click on the thumbnail to see a larger photo of Robert and his wife and youngest son James. During the South African war he joined the Malvern Mounted Rifles and for a long period was one of its most enthusiastic members. Robert died on 25 August 1935 at the age of 94. He is buried in the Waddington cemetery. His wife, Margaret, a keen supporter of the local Presbyterian church, died a year earlier on 26 July 1934 at the age of 88.

The children of Robert Colthart:
  • Annie Colthart (1867-1899) married Walter Wright on 30/6/1897 at Sheffield. They had one child: Margaret (1898).

  • Margaret Colthart (1870-1955) married David McMillan on 11/8/1896 at Sheffield. They had five children: David (1897), Annie (1899), Robert (1902), John (1904) and Graham (1908).

  • Agnes Colthart (1872-1957) never married.

  • Robert Colthart (1875-1963) married Mabel Evans, third daughter of Joe and Mary Anne (nee Birmingham) Evans of Kowhai Bush, on 17 April 1900. They had three children: Olive (1901-1981), Robert Joseph (1902-1988) and Jack (1904-1985). Robert and Mabel Colthart moved to Ruakaka, near Marsden Point, Whangarei in the far north of New Zealand with their very young family. Robert's three brothers had moved there earlier. The property Belle Vue was bought by the Colthart family in 1903. In 1916 Robert and Mabel and family returned to Canterbury. Belle Vue stayed in the Colthart family until 1935. It was a large property and a centre for the local community - games of cricket, tennis or horse racing, as well as dancing. Many weddings and birthdays were celebrated in the huge ballroom. The Coltharts' sold Belle Vue to a Mr Harvey in 1935. He built a new homestead. The old Belle Vue homestead remained empty for some years because of the expense of maintaining it. The very last use to which the house was put was that of a base for the local Home Guard during World War II. It is said the ornamental concrete gate posts at the entrance to the Harbour Board property in One Tree Point Road are from Belle Vue. Robert died at Christchurch on 6 December 1963 aged 88 years.

  • William Colthart (1877-1972) married Catherine Boyd on 1/7/1908 at Mangapi, North Island. They had no children.

  • Edward Colthart (1879-1955) married Agnes Paget on 5/11/1904 at Napier, North Island. They had one child: Robert (1905-).

  • Thomas Colthart (1881-1957) married Clementia Cox on 7/7/1908 at Sheffield. They had no children.

  • Mary Colthart (1883-1975) married Arthur Tayler on 24/4/1906 at Christchurch. They had two children: Nancy (1907) and Joyce (1912).

  • James Colthart (1889-1983) married Hazel Hindle. They had no children.

For more information on this Colthart family send E-mail to or write: Shirley and Robert Colthart, "Roecombe" 87 Fendalton Road, Christchurch, New Zealand. Additional family information is available on chart 83 of Alfred Coulthard's book "A Coulthard - The History of a Surname".

Page last updated 09/30/2000. © Copyright 1999. Terry Meinke. All rights reserved.

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