A Kiwi in search of her ancestral tribes

Will of James Brosnan, 1890 ~ Amanuensis Monday

This entry is part 13 of 18 in the series The Brosnahans of Temuka

After reading John Brosnahan’s will, I was curious to know what was in his father James’s will.  I hadn’t found it on Archway when I initially looked, as I was searching under the name ‘Brosnahan’.  Remembering that John’s parents were buried under the name of Brosnan, I searched again and found the reference to James’s probate file, held at Archives New Zealand’s Christchurch office.  The office now offer to email you a PDF of the document(s) you are wanting, or you can wait for a photocopy by post (NZD20.00 charge which includes postage and up to 80 pages).  Service was speedy and friendly!

I, James Brosnan of the Levels Plain in the Provincial District of Canterbury in the Colony of New Zealand Farmer do hereby revoke all former Wills and Testamentary dispositions heretofore made by me and declare this to be my last Will and Testament  I appoint George McSheehy Gentleman of Temuka in the Provincial District aforesaid Saddler and John Fitzgerald of Arowhenua in Provincial District aforesaid Farmer (hereinafter called “my Trustees”) to be the Executors and Trustees of this my Will.  I devise my freehold sections numbered 8037  7763 and 15176 situated in the District of Timaru and section numbered 1207  on the plan of the Town of Arowhenua and all other lands and hereditaments of which I shall die possessed to my Trustees  To the use and intent that my wife Ann Brosnan may receive out of the rents and profits thereof during her life a yearly rent charge of ten pounds sterling to be paid by equal half yearly payments the first of such payments to be made six months after my decease and to the further use and intent that if and as often as the said rent charge or any part thereof shall be in arrears for twenty one days my said wife shall have the same remedy by distress upon the said hereditaments ann premises for recovering such rent charges as lessors have by law for the recovering of rent in arrears And subject to such rent charge and the said remedy for the recovery thereof In trust as to the said section 1207 for my daughter Ann Brosnan her heirs and assigns forever and as to all other lands and hereditaments of which I shall die possessed in trust for my said daughter Ann Brosnan during her life and after her decease in trust for my grandson John Joseph Brosnan the son of my son John Brosnan his heirs and assigns forever I bequeath all the residue of my property to my trustees in trust to convert the same into money and to pay thereout my debts and funeral and testamentary expenses including the costs of erecting a gravestone over my grave and out of the residue to pay to my said wife the sum of twenty pounds to my daughter Kate Gaffaney the sum of forty pounds and to my daughter Margaret Gaffaney the sum of twenty pounds and to divide the residue equally among all my children who shall be living at my death And I declare that the power of appointing new trustees conferred by the Trustee Act 1883 may be exercised without the consent of any beneficiaries under this my will who shall at the time of such appointment be infants for under any disability  In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand this seventh day of August one thousand eight hundred and ninety.

Signature of James Brosnan (1890)

Signature of James Brosnan (1890)

Signed by the said James Brosnan as his last Will and Testament in the presence of us both present at the same time who in his presence and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses

J Beri Cabinetmaker[?] Temuka
John W Salmond

There is no specific bequest to his daughter Ellen or son John – perhaps they were well set up anyway? And maybe he left his farming land to John Joseph as he was the youngest grandson, and without any land of his own?  As for his trustees, I know John Fitzgerald was a close family friend but I have no idea who George McSheehy Gentleman was.  I’d also love to get my hands on some contemporary maps that show the land sections.

James’s will is dated 7th August 1890, and he died just over a month later, on 23rd September.

Death notice, James Brosnahan, Timaru Herald, 24 Sep 1890

Death notice, James Brosnahan, Timaru Herald, 24 Sep 1890

Amanuensis Monday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.  An Amanuensis is a person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

  1. James Brosnan Will, 1890; Probate file, 01 Nov 1890, Supreme Court, Canterbury District; PDF, from original Ref [CH171, CH1974/1890] held at Archives New Zealand, Christchurch.
Series Navigation<< Thank you, Mr BrosnahanRevisiting the Brosnahans (plus two year blogiversary!) ~ Thankful Thursday >>


Thank you, Mr Brosnahan


St Mark’s church, Remuera, Auckland, NZ ~ Wordless Wednesday


  1. jan [fitzgerald] julius

    Hi, interesting photo. My mother was a Coughlan, and the daughter of Mary Brosnan[han] who married Michael Barrett. On the Coughlan side, my ggmother was Hanorah Brosnahan, married Michael Coughlan and then Jeremiah Breen. So John and Hanorah in the photograph were my ggaunt and uncle. Probably related twice over, both sides. My Fitzgerald is from Tipperary and settled in Hastings. Nice to talk to you.

    • Maggie

      Hi Jan, thanks for your comment. I have recently received some more information about the Brosnahan family, and will be in touch by email.

      • Jan Julius

        Hi, me again. After reading my last contact with you I see I made a mistake. Put it down to age. Michael Barret and Mary Brosnan/nahan were my great grandparents. Mary was a daughter of James Brosnan and Annie Collins. She died in 1879 so would not appear in the will. Her husband died 3 months later and they left 6 orphaned children, including my grandmother, Catherine Barrett who married John Coughlan. I am puzzled over who brought up those orphaned children. Catherine Barrett COUGHLAN, my grandmother also died early. My mother did not remember her so never knew the history of her mother’s family. The girls all married local sth canterbury men, Angland, Driscoll so I guess they never moved too far away. Anyway, this message was just to clarify my error. Regards. Jan.

        • Maggie

          Jan, thank you for commenting again – I’ve just realised the importance of your message, after reading Seán Brosnahan’s book on the Kerrytown Brosnahans. Your great grandmother is the missing “fourth child” from the ship’s passenger list! And the story behind your grandmother and her siblings is one that is just crying out to be discovered and told. I’m hoping you find out what happened.

    • Sue Suthers

      Hi Jan
      Would you be interested in helping me with the Fitzgerald family of Youghalarra, Tipperary?
      I an working on the family tree of my grandson whose grandmother is Elaine Mary Rawson.
      Regards Sue

      • Frances Anderson

        Hi Maureen
        I am the great great grandaughter of Michael Collins and Julia Collins( nee Barrett)
        Julia was the youngest daughter of Michael Barrett and Julia Barrett (nee Lounie) and came to NZ with her Mother and Father and brother Dan on the Star of India in 1873.
        I would love to know more about the Barretts and the Collins family history from Ireland
        Thanks for your fantastic information
        Frances Anderson

  2. George Mc-Sheehy GENTLEMUN died 12 May 1914. Note the spelling
    Probates in the District Court, Timaru are held in Archives NZ in Christchurch. Family Search has placed the images on line.

    The index is on Archways. Series 3155

    • Maggie

      Hi Olwyn – thanks so much for your comment. I didn’t realise FamilySearch had the images online, what a fantastic resource!


      Hi Sue, have just seem your message. I am a first cousin of Elaine. Her mother, Ella, and my father ted, were siblings. Glad to help although the Fitzgeralds are quite elusive. regards. Jan

  3. Maureen

    Hi Maggie
    Jan great grandmother was born in New Zealand. Catherine Barrett that married John Coughlan was daughter of Michael Barrett and Mary Brosnan who married in New Zealand in 1866.

    Michael was second son of Michael Barrett and Julia Lounie that arrived on the Star of India in 1873. With there son Daniel and daughters Julia (later Mrs Collins) and Mrs Catherine Lynch née Barrett who married in 1861 to William Lynch. Also Catherine and William had three children with them John, Mary (later Mrs Breen), William who appear in Sean Brosnahan book as he married Annie (Hannah) Hoare. After they arrived in New Zealand they 4 more children.

    John Lynch is my Great Grandfather. He lived on Lynch Road, Levels Plains. On land his father originally owned. His mother on 25 June 1919.

    There was a least three more children of Michael Barrett and Julia Lounie in New Zealand before they arrived John Barrett, Dennis Barrett and Mary Barrett who married Simon Coughlan in 1871. There is posible there could be at least one child here too.

    The spelling Lounie is seen many way Lowney or Louney. I’m using way it was Julia’s baptism record in Ireland. I have seen spelt many ways as I have found most if all children baptism and one grandson too with in same area of Kerry, Ireland. Also in these record is daughter Catherine marriage.

    I hope this help to explain about the 2 Catherine Barrett’s and how they fit into picture.
    There a lot confession out there about them as one was married in Ireland and the rest family was married in New Zealand.

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