Tuesday 5 October 2021

The men of the Dunedin Volunteer Fire Brigade's stone.

In 1874 the Dunedin Volunteer Fire Brigade erected a stone of "a very handsome design" in the southern Cemetery under which to bury its members.  Not all those named on the stone are buried beneath it.  Here are the lifes of (most of) those commemorated on the stone.

Southern Cemetery, Dunedin.  DCC photo.

Robert ______, ?-24/1/?
Robert's is the second name on the now rather worn Brigade stone.  I have search extensively for his surname and, so far, have had no luck.

Charles Ackers, 1826-?/1/1865.

This funeral of Mr Charles Ackers, late a member of the Dunein Volunteer Fire Brigade, took place yesterday afternoon. It was attended by a large proportion of the members of the Brigade, and also by members of the Naval Brigade, under Captain Paterson, and of the City Guards, under Captain Fisher. At the head of the cortege was the cadet band of the Naval Brigade, under M. Fleury, and they played the "Dead March" from "Saul," during its slow passage from the Hospital to the Cemetery. A large number of spectators were attracted; and some of the shops were temporarily closed. The deceased was on duty at the fire which took place on the night of Saturday week, in Stafford street. He was of a consumptive habit, and was at the time rallying from an attack of illness; but the exposure during the fire brought on a severe attack, which led to his entering the Hospital on the l6th inst.; and he died there early on Tuesday morning.  -Otago Daily Times, 27/1/1865.

The flag on the Bell Tower was on Tuesday forenoon hoisted half-mast high, and this being correctly interpreted as an intimation that a member of the Fire Brigade had died, it was construed into a statement, and generally believed, that one of the members had lost his life through injuries at the fire. Such was not the case. The flag was so hoisted because of the death in the hospital, early Tuesday morning, of Charles Ackers, formerly a member of the Brigade, who has been for some time suffering from consumption, but who was present at the fire which commenced in the Stafford Arms on Saturday night, the 14th instant, and whose death was no doubt accelerated by the exposure to which he was then subjected. The deceased was 39 years of age. The Fire Brigade and tne City Guards Company of Volunteers, in uniform, attended the funeral, which took place on Thursday.  -Otago Witness, 28/1/1865.

James Burns, 1840-3/11/1864.



MEMBERS of the above Brigade are requested to meet at the Engine House, on Sunday, the 6th inst. at 2 o'clock sharp, in full uniform, to follow the remains of the late member, James Burns. 

By order, C. A. JEFFERSON, Hon. Sec.   -Otago Daily Times, 4/11/1864.

The funeral of the late Mr James Burns, who was a member of the Volunteer Fire Brigade, took place yesterday afternoon. The procession was a long and striking one. About 50 members of the Brigade were present, some preceding and others following the hearse; there were numerous private friends or relatives of the deceased; and the procession was closed by 30 members of the Police Force, in command of Inspector Morton. The police attended voluntarily, from a desire to show respect for the deceased, and also with a view to testify the cordial goodwill with which the two bodies have always acted together when on duty at fires.   -Otago Daily Times, 7/11/1864.

Edwin Butler, 1847-31/7/1888.

The members of the Dunedin and Suburban Fire Brigades mustered yesterday afternoon to pay a last mark of respect to the remains of Edwin Butler, who has been a member of the Dunedin Brigade for the past 10 years. The coffin was placed upon one of the Fire Brigade carriages, and was followed by the full strength of the Dunedin Brigade (under Superintendent Robinson), and detachments from the South Dunedin Brigade (under Captain Osborne), and Caversham, Roslyn, and Railway Brigades, as well as from the Salvage Corps (under Superintendent Jacobs), besides a number of civilians. The deceased, who was 41 years of age, leaves a widow and a family of five children in rather straightened circumstances. An attempt to raise funds on their behalf is likely to be made and will no doubt be liberally responded to.  -Otago Daily Times, 3/8/1888.

MRS EDWIN BUTLER begs to return her sincere thanks to the members of the Otago Rugby Union, Dunedin City Fire Brigade, Ordnance Band, and all Friends who so kindly subscribed to the Butler Fund. Mrs E. Butler.  -Evening star, 4/10/1888.

James Galbraith, 1840-4/3/1872. 

Sudden Death. — A painfully sudden death occurred in Princes street a little before half-past nine o’clock this morning. Mr James Galbraith, painter, in the employ of Messrs Fish and Son, as he was about to enage in his work at the Oriental Hotel, was observed to cross the street rapidly, as if making for Dowling street. On one of his fellow workmen going over to see what was the matter with him, he found blood issuing from his mouth. Before the poor fellow could be conveyed across the street he was a corpse, rupture of a blood vessel being the cause of death. A few minutes before he was apparently in the best of health; and his case is another terrible instance of the proverb, “In the midst of life we are in death.” The deceased was a member of the fire brigade, 32 years of age, born at the Water of Leith, near Edinburgh; and had some sisters residing in Ballarat, Victoria.   -Evening Star, 4/3/1872.

An inquest was held at the Oriental Hotel yesterday, before Jas. Murison, Esq., on the body of Mr James Galbraith, who died suddenly on the previous day. It appeared that Thomas Robinson, a fellow-workman of the deceased, and who was engaged with him in painting the Oriental Hotel, went with him about ten o'clock that morning to bring trestles from the premises of Messrs Scanlar. On leaning them against the wall of the Oriental, the deceased turned away and ran across Dowling street. A boy remarked to Robinson, "Your mate is sick." and on going to his assistance he found him stooping, and blood oozing from his mouth and nostrils. Robinson asked him what was wrong with him. He appeared to be conscious, but did not reply. Constable Coffey was soon on the spot, and believed deceased to be then dead. He got water and washed his face, and removed him into the Hotel. Dr Reimer, on being examined, gave it as his opinion that the cause of death was the rupture of a blood vessel in the chest. The jury returned a verdict in accordance with the medical testimony. The deceased, it appeared, had been in this Province for at least the past six or seven years, was a native of Scotland, was about 28 or 29 years old, unmarried, and generally seemed to enjoy good health. He has relatives in Ballarat, Victoria.   -Otago Daily Times, 6/3/1872.


FUNERAL NOTICE. MEMBERS are requested to meet at the Fire Engine Station, To-morrow, THURSDAY, at 3.30 p.m. sharp, in full Working Uniform, to follow the remains of their late Brother Fireman, James Galbraith, to the place of interment. By order, ISAAC SOARES, Hon. Sec. 

Honorary Members and Friends are respectfully invited to attend.   -Evening Star, 6/3/1872.

Funeral. — The funeral of the late James Galbraith took place to-day, and was largely attended by the fire brigade, of which deceased was a member. The coffin was exposed to view in the hearse, and was covered with the Union Jack, the deceased’s working uniform being placed on top.   -Evening Star, 7/3/1872.

Peter Scrymgeour, 1848-25/12/1871.

Peter is commemorated on the Brigade's stone but is buried in the family grave nearby.  He died in a boating accident a few years before the memorial was erected.


The bodies of five of the young men drowned by the upsetting of a boat on Monday last were recovered yesterday. It may be mentioned that on Tuesday evening Mr Webb lifted one of the bodies to the top of the water, when it broke off the hook and sank again. A buoy was then placed there to mark the spot. The first body was lifted between 11 and 12 o'clock yesterday, by a dredge worked from the boats of Mr Webb and Mr White, of the Peninsula, and was that of Alfred Prictor. Soon after, that of James Drew, the younger of the two brothers lost, was lifted by the Police boat. The drag worked from Messrs Webb's and White's boats was the next to bring up a body, which proved to be that of the youngest Scrymgeour. The Police boat's dredge next raised Bruce's body, and the last body recovered — that of the elder Drew — was lifted at about one o'clock by Messrs Webb and White's boats. As a gale rose shortly afterwards, operations had to be suspended for a time. The space within which the whole of the bodies were recovered was not more than 20 yards square, and was round the buoy laid down on the previous night. On this buoy being lifted and the bottom under it being dragged, there was found the body of the elder Drew, in the trousers of which was the hook that came off Mr Webb's drag on the night before. The bodies, as fast as they were lifted, were taken ashore. The eyes were eaten out by crabs, and much blood ran from the sockets, but, otherwise, the features were easily recognisable. On the Peninsula's downward trip to Port Chalmers, Sub-Inspector Thomson informed the master of the finding of the bodies, and requested him to call for them at Macandrew's Jetty on the steamer coming back, which he did. The bodies were placed on board, and brought to town — the steamer arriving at 6.30 p.m., and having her flag hoisted half-mast high. The police had conveyances in waiting for them, and they were sent to their friend's houses. It may here be remarked that Bruce has no relations here, but has a widowed mother residing in Edinburgh. The bodies that have yet to be got are those of John and Peter Scrymgeour. We have heard from one of their acquaintances that both of them could swim, and from another that one was a particularly good swimmer. The boat sank at about 150 yards from highwater mark, and it was high tide at the time of the accident. Two swimmers — most likely those two brothers — were seen by Mr Edwards as near as 30 or 40 yards off the shore. They were then swimming across the tidal current, and making for the nearest point. When they left the boat they were not more than ten feet from one another, and all the time they were observed they kept as close as that, or closer, to each other. Mr Edwards lost sight of them in running for the boat, and on again looking at where he had last seen them they had disappeared. It has been supposed that on one coming to the assistance of the other on his getting exhausted, both were drowned. All the movable articles belonging to the boat — the rudder, pump, side seats, and two ash paddles — have been picked up on a point about half-a-mile below where the accident occurred.  -North Otago Times, 29/12/1871.

The Late Accident — The police boat this afternoon recovered the body of Peter Scrymgeour. It was very much decomposed, and was found within a few yards of the spot where the boat went down.   -Evening Star, 3/1/1872.

Funeral —The remains of Mr Peter Scrymgeour, who was drowned by the upsetting of a boat in the harbor on Christmas Day, were interred in the Southern Cemetery to-day. The funeral started from Fire brigade Station a little after three p.m., the bell tolling every minute. First there was the hearse, the pall-bearers being six members of the Hook and Ladder Carriage Company, of  which the deceased was a member, then the relatives, the Fire Brigade, the members of the Battalion Band, and the private friends of the deceased. The Rev. Mr Stuart officiated at the grave.   -Evening Star, 4/1/1872.

Thomas Weekes, 1837-20/2/1884.


Dunedin Volunteer Fire Brigade. MEMBERS of Port Chalmers and Suburban Fire Brigades, Salvage Corps, and honorary Members are respectfully invited to attend the funeral of Mr Thomas Weekes, late Member of the Dunedin Volunteer Fire Brigade. Muster at Main Station, Octagon, 1.30 p.m. Full Working Uniform. 

By order, ROBT. ROBERTSON, Hon. Secretary.   -Evening Star, 22/2/1884.

The funeral of Mr Thomas Weekes, late member of the Dunedin Volunteer Fire Brigade, took place yesterday afternoon. The helmet, axe, and belt of deceased, together with his Forester's regalia, were placed upon the coffin, also several wreaths of flowers; and a long procession followed the remains of the deceased to the Southern Cemetery. The order was as follows: — North Dunedin Rifles' Band; the manual engine, bearing the coffin; members of Dunedin Volunteer Fire Brigade, under Captain Murphy; the Port Chalmers Volunteer Fire Brigade, under Captain Mitchell; United Volunteer Fire Brigade, under Captain Mathie; Roslyn Volunteer Fire Brigade, under Captain Washer; Salvage Corps, under Superintendent Carmalt; Caversham fire inspecors (three); life and honorary members of Dunedin Fire Brigade, total 65; mourning-coach and immediate friends of deceased; the Foresters' Lodge, of which the deceased was a member, numbering 55. Previous to the procession leaving the deceased's residence Mr Torrance read the burial service and offered up a most impressive prayer. At the grave Chief Ranger Morgan read the usual prayers in connection with Forestry. The deceased was buried in the ground belonging to the Dunedin Volunteer Fire Brigade.  -Otago Daily Times, 25/2/1884.

Southern Cemetery, Dunedin.

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