Joseph Kinsey (entrepreneur)

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Sir Joseph Kinsey
Head and shoulders portrait of a man in his fifties with moustache wearing a hat
Sir Joseph Kinsey in c. 1910
Born Joseph James Kinsey
Plumstead, England
Died 5 May 1936
Warrimoo, Merivale, Christchurch
Resting place Karori Cemetery, Wellington

Sir Joseph James Kinsey (1852 – 5 May 1936) was a businessman, collector, and philanthropist from Christchurch, New Zealand. He was deeply connected to the Antarctic expeditions of Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874–1922) and Captain Robert Falcon Scott (1868–1912).

Kinsey was born in Plumstead near London in 1852; at the time, his home town belonged to Kent.[1] He received his education at the Royal Naval School near Greenwich.[1] In 1872, he married Sarah Ann Garrard of London.[2] He taught for eight years at Dulwich College[1] and resigned in 1880[3] to emigrate to New Zealand[4] on the Jessie Readman.[5][6] They arrived at Lyttelton Harbour on 22 October 1880.[7]

Kinsey settled in Christchurch and in 1880, he set up Kinsey and Co., shipping agents and insurance brokers.[2]

Kinsey was a very close friend to Robert Falcon Scott, and some of the last things that Scott wrote in his diary were to Kinsey. The two pages in Scott's journal were of such intimate nature that they were cut out and given to Kinsey before it was sent to England.[8]

Kinsey was a collector of books; he had a personal library of over 15,000 titles.[1] When special books were published, he often bought between a half to a dozen of them, to then given them away to visitors or other book lovers.[8]

In the 1919 New Year Honours,[9] Kinsey was knighted for his contributions to the Antarctic expeditions.[2] In 1935, he was awarded the King George V Silver Jubilee Medal.[10]

Kinsey died on 5 May 1936 at his home 'Warrimoo' in Papanui Road in the Christchurch suburb of Merivale.[11] His body was brought to Wellington, where he was cremated at Karori and his ashes interred at the adjoining cemetery.[12][13][14] His wife died on 15 May 1941 at their home. Her funeral service was held at St Mary's Church in Merivale, and she was buried in the cemetery of St Paul's Anglican Church in Papanui.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d Bell, David (December 2014). "Kinsey and the Collectors: Sir Joseph Kinsey and Collecting ukiyo-e in New Zealand" (PDF). New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies. 16 (2): 121–140. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Obituary". The Press. LXXII (21775). 6 May 1936. p. 12. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  3. ^ "The New Year Honours". The Press. LV (16409). 1 January 1919. p. 6. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  4. ^ "Joseph Kinsey". Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 22 July 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Obituary Lady Kinsey". The Press. LXXVII (23330). 16 May 1941. p. 2. Retrieved 26 March 2016.
  6. ^ Brett, Henry (1924). "The Jessie Readman". White Wings. Auckland: The Brett Printing Company Limited. pp. 97f. Retrieved 26 March 2016.
  7. ^ "The Jessie Readman from London". The Star (3906). 23 October 1880. p. 2. Retrieved 26 March 2016.
  8. ^ a b "A book lover". The Evening Post. CXXI (107). 7 May 1936. p. 17. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  9. ^ "New Year Honours". The Times. The Times Digital Archive. 1 January 1919. p. 9.
  10. ^ "Official jubilee medals". Evening Post. CXIX (105). 6 May 1935. p. 4. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  11. ^ "Deaths". The Press. LXXII (21775). 6 May 1936. p. 1. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  12. ^ "Details". Wellington City Council. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  13. ^ "Details". Wellington City Council. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  14. ^ "Late Sir J. Kensey". The New Zealand Herald. LXXIII (22413). 8 May 1936. p. 12. Retrieved 25 March 2016.