My family originated in Keith, Scotland, a small town on the banks of the Isla River. The oldest part of the town dates back to around 1180 and the first appearance of the town in written records was in 1195 in the charter of King William the Lion. The lands were eventually granted to the Ogilvie family who held them for over 200 years. The oldest existing building is the Milton Tower, part of a large castle built in 1480 by George Ogilvie as the seat of the Ogilvie family. The family was often involved in the textile
industry and was also prominent in the Church.

One of the most important figures in Keith’s history was John Ogilvie, son of Walter Ogilvie of Drum. Born in 1579 of a Calvinist family he was sent to Europe for his education, and in 1596 entered the Scots College of Douai, and later the Jesuit College at Olmutz in Bavaria. Here he became a Catholic and, in 1610, a priest. He returned to Scotland disguised as a soldier, and began to preach and spread Christianity in secret, as after the Scottish Reformation in 1549 it became illegal to preach, spread or otherwise endorse Catholicism. In 1614, he was betrayed, caught and arrested in Glasgow, Scotland, and taken to jail in Paisley. For refusing to admit the King’s Authority in matters of religion, a crime termed “Constructive Treason“, he was subjected to 6 months of unremitting torture including being kept awake for eight days and nine nights. After a biased trial he was finally hanged on 10 March 1615. As a martyr of the Counter-Reformation he was beatified in 1929 and canonised on 17 October 1976, becoming the only post-Reformation saint from Scotland.

My ancestor John Ogilvie and his wife Isabella McIntosh emigrated to Australia and later moved on to New Zealand. They left Sydney and arrived in Auckland between 1850 and 1855. John was described as a Tailor and established a drapery business on the corner of Queen St and Victoria St.

They had 3 sons and 2 daughters, including William Phoenix Ogilvie who ran the drapery business. William “Phoenix“ was so named to commemorate his birth in a burning hotel while one of the worst fires in Auckland’s history was raging. The fire started at midnight on 7 July 1858 and aided by a high north-easterly wind quickly spread, destroying 50 houses and other buildings. Mrs Ogilvie had to be hurriedly moved to the Auckland Hotel in High St. William Phoenix was born while the roof of the hotel was burning and at one point the curtains of the room were alight.

The eldest son was Alexander Neil Ogilvie, my great great grandfather. He was born in Dumfermline, Scotland in 1846, a few years before John and Isabella left for Australia. He married Jane Bugby Cooper, the daughter of a London family who settled in Port Albert on the shores of the Kaipara Harbour. Her family later moved to Auckland and Jane’s younger brother, Sir Theophilis Cooper, became a well known High Court judge.

Alexander and Jane’s eldest son, also Alexander Neil Ogilvie, was born in Kawakawa in 1878 but the
family moved to Coromandel where Alexander Snr became a gold miner. While there they had 3 more sons and a daughter. Alexander Snr went on to become mine manager and Alexander Jnr also became a miner.

In 1894 Jane died from influenza. Alexander Snr remarried to Mary Gillard, the daughter of an Auckland doctor. They later moved to Western Australia leaving Alexander Jnr to rear his siblings.

After leaving the mines, Alexander Jnr worked for many years for NZ Railways in different parts of the country. In 1905 he married Mary McKenzie, daughter of a family of Scottish migrants living in Oamaru. They had 3 children, Alexander, Alan, and Horace, who was killed in World War 2. Alexander Jnr spent many years working for the Railways but eventually went farming. After moving from Tokomaru they purchased a farm in Bainesse, Manawatu in the early 1920’s. Unfortunately, like many young farmers, they lost their farm in the Depression of the 1930’s. They moved to Glen Oroua to milk cows for the Farmer family and eventually they took up a share-milking position for the Amon family on their
property “Paparata“ on Milner’s Line. They stayed there for many years until their retirement to
Wanganui, and later they moved to Palmerston North.

Alexander Jnr’s youngest son Alan, initially worked in the PDC Department Store, a large store in Palmerston North. He married Millie (Birdie) Wheeler, daughter of George and Annie Wheeler, from
another local farming family. The two then went working on a farm belonging to the Lowry family of
Turakina, and later on the Poupard family’s farm in Glen Oroua. Eventually they took up share-milking for the Amon family too, farming the half of the Amon property not farmed by Alexander Jnr. After 14 years they went on to purchase a small block from Bob and Ivy Mudford opposite the Amon property where they milked and ran a poultry farm. Later still they purchased half of the Amon property and
finally retired to Fielding.

Alan and Birdie had 3 children, Melvin, Vyne, and Alan Bruce. Bruce, as he is known, worked with his
father on the block opposite the Amon property. He married Avril and the two lived in a house on the farm. He continued to work with his father until 1963, when the farm was sold and his parents moved on to Fielding. This was followed by 10 to 12 months driving trucks for Glen Oroua Transport which was owned by Avril’s parents.

On 1 June 1964 they moved to their first farm, 82 acres of Crown lease property in Te Awamutu. They sold this property in 1972 and purchased their first freehold property in Kawakawa, coincidentally, the same town in which Bruce’s grandfather, Alexander Jnr, had been born. There followed many years of successful dairy farming on successive properties until the final sale of their land and stock in May 1990. Several relocations followed this including 2 years in Waihi, a gold mining town in the Coromandel district, not far from the town where Alexander Snr and Alexander Jnr had lived.