Richard Barton

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For other people named Richard Barton, see Richard Barton (disambiguation).
Richard Barton
Richard Barton grave.JPG
The grave of Richard Barton
Born (1790-08-30)30 August 1790
Newport, Isle of Wight, England
Died 20 August 1866(1866-08-20) (aged 75)
Trentham, New Zealand
Nationality British
Known for Early New Zealand settler, Establishment of Trentham

Richard Barton (30 August 1790 – 20 August 1866) was the first European resident of Trentham, Upper Hutt, in New Zealand. He was born in Newport, Isle of Wight, England.[1]


Prior to New Zealand[edit]

Trentham Hall from Morris Seats
Trentham Hall, where Richard was Superintendent for the Duke of Sutherland

Barton's earliest profession is documented as a farmer near Newport on the Isle of Wight, before progressing to Superintendent of Estates for the Duke of Sutherland in Trentham, Staffordshire.

Barton had been Supervisor at the then Trentham Hall, a large Georgian house commissioned by the then 2nd Duke, when he was sponsored, along with a party of younger men under his leadership from this estate, by the Duke of Sutherland to emigrate to New Zealand as a means of relieving overpopulation in the region.[2]

For his work he secured a gift from the Duke for an allotment of a 100-acre section in the new colony of New Zealand.

Involvement with the New Zealand Company[edit]

In 1839, Widowed and with a daughter, Barton joined his friend Dudley Sinclair, son of Sir George Sinclair who was a Director of the New Zealand Company,[3] and family on the "Oriental", the first of the New Zealand Company's emigrant vessels to leave England, though the second of four early settler ships to reach Port Nicholson.

An early document from the Morning Chronicle describes the emigrants on-board the Oriental in the Departure of the New Zealand Colony:[4]

The emigrants on board the Oriental are of a very superior class. They are chiefly young men and women of from twenty to thirty years of age – the women looking healthy and buxom, the men intelligent and resolute. Here too are a number of Highlanders from the estates of the Duke of Sutherland: they are a fine hardy set of fellows, and capable, no doubt of fighting their way in any region of the world in which they may be placed. Great care appears to have been taken to secure their comfort. They are clad in one uniform dress - a blue jacket and cap, and tartan trousers – everything upon their backs appears to be perfectly new.

Barton became an agent for the New Zealand Company and was responsible for the Highlanders on board the Oriental. Mr. Dudley Sinclair eventually went to Australia.

Arrival in New Zealand[edit]

He arrived in Wellington in 1840 and secured his 100-acres for a farm in the Upper Hutt Valley.[5] He named his estate Trentham in honour of the Duke of Sutherland, one of whose subsidiary titles is Viscount Trentham, of Trentham in the County of Stafford. Much of his former estate is now Trentham Memorial Park, which includes the native bush remnant known as Barton's Bush.

The surrounding suburb of Trentham also takes its name from his estate. Exactly when Barton and his family began living on the Trentham estate is unclear from various historical sources. Although he appears to have built a slab hut on his purchase around 1841, the Trentham Parish histories indicate that he and his third wife, Hannah, whom he married about 1843, only settled on the estate in 1846. During the intervening 5 years it seems Barton may have assisted, perhaps supervised, the surveying the surrounding country for the Wellington Company.

The Barton homestead was located near the corner of the Main Road (now Fergusson Drive) and Camp Road (now Camp Street) and overlooked what is now Trentham Memorial Park.[6] Barton appears to have acquired more land, as his estate is described as lying to the west of the Main Road from Quinn's Post to Silverstream on both sides of the river.

Establishment of St John's Church[edit]

By 27 December 1861, Barton is described as the chief landowner and magistrate of the district. This being when arrangements were being made to establish an Anglican church mission at Trentham. Early in 1862 it appears that Barton extended his own house to accommodate the church missionaries as well as donating land for the establishment of a church.

He was chiefly responsible for establishing St John the Evangelist Church, Upper Hutt a category 2 Historic Place and one of the oldest surviving Anglican churches in the Wellington region. Through Richard and his wife, the Trentham Missionary Parochial District was formed in 1861,[7] with John Herring appointed as the first vicar. Barton actively encouraged the establishment of a church in the area, offering a home to Herring and his wife Margaret. It is also generally believed that Barton contributed money to acquire land for the new church.

St John's was completed in 1863 and was consecrated by Bishop C. J. Abraham, the first Bishop of Wellington.[7]


It is understood that in later years, Barton took up land in the Wairarapa for further farming.


Richard Barton died on 20 August 1866 and was buried in Upper Hutt at St John's Anglican Church cemetery.[8][9] The Barton family still holds a plot in St Johns Church for Richard Barton's ancestors.


  1. ^ W. M. Smallfield, p10, Our First Hundred Years . . . ., Parish of Trentham, New Zealand. Upper Hutt, 1962. Available online from Upper Hutt City Library Digital Archive item 64/14255
  2. ^ "Barton, Richard". Upper Hutt City Library. Retrieved 2015-11-12. 
  3. ^ "New Zealand Company | NZETC". Retrieved 2015-11-12. 
  4. ^ "DEPARTURE OF THE NEW ZEALAND COLONY. [From the Morning Chronicle.] » 21 Sep 1839 » The Spectator Archive". The Spectator Archive. Retrieved 2015-11-12. 
  5. ^ Upper Hutt City website, retrieved 28 Dec 2010.
  6. ^ Information Board, Trentham Memorial Park
  7. ^ a b "Search the List | St John's Church (Anglican) | Heritage New Zealand". Retrieved 2015-11-12. 
  8. ^ Upper Hutt City Library Photograph Collection P2-413-816 Richard & Hannah Barton tomb at St John's Church Trentham, retrieved 28 Dec 2010.
  9. ^ A Brief History of St John's Trentham, retrieved 28 Dec 2010.