John Sharp 1828 - 1919


Born in Kent, England, John Sharp (1829-1919) emigrated to New Zealand in 1843 in the ship Ursula and was initially clerk to the New Zealand Company agent, Frances Dillon Bell. By the 1850s, John was resident magistrate and he was Nelson's sheriff at the time of the infamous Maungatapu Murders in 1866.  

In 1876 he took controlling shares of Nelson's largest brewery, Kent breweries and changed its name to The City Brewery. He then sold this to Harley and Little. Sharp also owned an auctioneering firm named Sharp & Sons.

John Sharp
John Sharp . The Nelson Provincial Museum, Tyree Studio Collection: 176507

John Sharp married Emma Bonnington in 1853 and they had four sons and two daughters. Sadly Emma died in a carriage accident in February 1886 and John later remarried Ivy Ann Hyde Walmsley.

John Sharp lived at 46 Shelbourne St until 1879.  He went on to build Fellworth House. This opulent 620 square metre home was designed by John (Jimmy) Scotland who went on to design many of Nelson's Victorian buildings. Made of rimu, totara, matai and kauri with an English slate tile roof, Fellworth cost 3000 pounds to construct. It is now a Category II historic place registered with Heritage NZ.

After retiring from business, Sharp took on many civic duties, representing Nelson on the Provincial Council from 1874 to 1876 and serving as MP for Nelson city from 1875 to 1879. He also served as Mayor of Nelson from 1887 to 1890, replacing Charles Fell and was succeeded by Francis Trask.

He was a fine cricketer in his youth and served with the Nelson Volunteer Fire Brigade and the Nelson Volunteer Rifles. John Sharp died in 1919 at the age of 90. He is buried in the Wakapuaka cemetery.


 February 2024

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