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Genealogical Data, Genealogy Events, New Zealand settlers

Searching for Remittance Men in New Zealand

Do you know about Remittance Men? Many don’t. You may even have one in your family tree, but don’t yet know it.

Remittance Men were somewhat tragic figures, strewn across British colonies, including New Zealand. Banished by their wealthy families for their wayward lifestyles or embarrassing ways, they were, in effect, paid to never return. Their name comes from the regular remittance that was sent to them. It was hoped that these men, young and old, would be ‘righted’ of their inappropriate behaviours and attitudes in their new country. It was also a good way to push the ‘black sheep’ out of the family picture.

Papers Past: Observer, Volume XIV, Issue 786, 20 January 1894, Page 3

It seems Remittance Men were rarely rehabilitated and that life in the colonies was no motivator for change. Remittance Men were renowned for their laziness and ability to purchase and consume large amounts of alcohol. Coupled with their notoriety for blagging accommodation and inability to cope with their new status in life, Remittance Men were disliked and often talked about in hushed tones.

It was obviously a huge challenge, adjusting to their new station in life. Indeed, a search for the term Remittance Man in Papers Past will throw up page after page of suicide notices.

Observer, Volume XIV, Issue 786, 20 January 1894, Page 3

I am researching Remittance Men for an upcoming article and would be very interested to know if any of my readers have such a character in their family tree. Or, perhaps you have a lone character that you can’t trace who might fit this description.

Email me at moorfnz@gmail if you have information you would like to share, or if you have someone you feel may have been a Remittance Man.

Happy Hunting!
Helen @ Hunting Kiwis

About Helen Leggatt (aka Hunting Kiwis)

PhD candidate with UC Doctoral Scholarship at University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Primary research into modern cremation in New Zealand and the wider Western world; interests in death studies, 19th century colonial experiences of death and corpse disposal, public health, and urban sanitation.


10 thoughts on “Searching for Remittance Men in New Zealand

  1. For those wishing to learn more about Remittance Men there is a great book by Nell Hartley called “Colonial Outcasts”. I found a copy on TradeMe a while ago 🙂 Rgds, Helen @ Hunting Kiwis

    Posted by hleggatt | June 10, 2012, 5:56 am
    • I have a Sketches booklet outlining the antics of a remittance man from UK in NZ with good sketches and story of his adventures? From Ak to Renwick but mainly New Plymouth,working on my GG father’s farm about 1900 he left him the booklet but there is no name with it.The drawings are very good and writing good.The re is 32 pictures relating to Maori wars and workings etc.I would dearly like to trace his name and who he was.

      Barry Gilbert

      Posted by Barry | January 29, 2017, 10:50 pm
      • Wow, I’d love to see that! Are there any clues in it that might help us trace him? Anything of his UK life/family? Or the names of the farms he worked on?

        Helen @ Hunting Kiwis

        Posted by hleggatt | January 30, 2017, 2:11 am
      • Thanks foryour reply Helen,

        No clues from where he lived in UK,but the last place he worked for was my GRAND Father’s farm out of New Plymouth that once belong to the Atkins farmily and my mother who was a”Brydon” once lived in the Richmon Cottage and farm New Plymouth.
        I am getting the booklet photostated suitable for mailing so ,if OK will send you a copy
        Barry Gilbert

        Posted by Barry | January 30, 2017, 11:11 pm
      • Hi Barry, I am also researching a chap who also did sketches and oil paintings. He lived at Ohiwa and died there is unusual circumstance. I have copies of his sketches.

        Posted by Steve | April 3, 2017, 10:08 pm
      • Hi Steve

        If you check the comments on the “A List of Remittance Men in New Zealand” you will see information there relating to the artist in Ohiwa – James Forsyth.

        Helen @ Hunting Kiwis

        Posted by hleggatt | April 4, 2017, 7:27 am
      • Thanks for that Helen. I have the book and four of his sketches. He also painted landscapes, which I have copies of.

        Posted by Steve | April 4, 2017, 8:03 am
  2. Barry, I would absolutely love a copy and happy to pay for any mailing / copying costs. If you could drop me a line at leggatt@xtra.co.nz we can swap email info. Many thanks, Helen.

    Posted by hleggatt | January 31, 2017, 8:43 pm


  1. Pingback: Archibald McAlister, Remittance Man | Macalister History2 - August 13, 2013

  2. Pingback: Archibald McAlister, Remittance Man | Today in Macalister History - August 20, 2013

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