John Henry Gay


John Henry Gay was born on the 4th September 1844 at Motueka, Nelson, New Zealand and died 29th December 1911 in Nelson. John is buried in the Wakapuaka Cemetery, Nelson.1

Gay John

John Gay, foreman of the Volunteer Fire Brigade. Nelson Provincial Museum

John Henry's parents were John Gay (born in England about 1818) and Mary Silverhorn also born in England. They were married in England and they set off to New Zealand from Gravesend, England on the sailing ship “Bolton” on the 29 Oct 1841. They arrived in Nelson, New Zealand on 15 March 1842, after a short stopover in Wellington. John’s occupation was listed as "Labourer" on the shipping list.

John was one of the settlers involved in the Wairau Affray one year after his arrival. He was listed as unwounded.2

Gay Amy and Bertha

Amy and Bertha Gay. Nelson Provincial Museum

They had two other sons John Edward and Joseph who were both born in Motueka, Nelson.

Gay Bertha and Letitia

Bertha and Letitia Gay 1891. Nelson Provincial Museum

John Henry Gay grew up in Motueka and married Louisa Binning. They were married about 1868 and had five children, three girls and two boys:

  • Amy 1869-1907
  • Francis Binning 1870-1920
  • Letitia 1872-1949
  • Bertha Herbert 1876-1951
  • Herbert 1877-1958

Louisa Binning was born in 1844 and died in 1934 and is buried in the Wakapuaka Cemetery, Nelson.

John Henry Gay was involved in many different activities: running a livery stable, acting as a veterinarian and an active Freemason.3  He was also a member of the Volunteer Fire Brigade. The fire in his stables in 1875 may well have prompted him to join up.John served for many years in the fire brigade and was made a life member.

John owned and operated the Gay’s City Stables5 in Trafalgar Street from 1866 till his death in 1912. Herbert Gay ran the Stables after his father's death.

New St Gay stables

Gay City Stables, Trafalgar Street, Nelson. Owned and operated by John Henry Gay from 1866 to until his death in 1912. Nelson Provincial Museum.

John and Lousia lived at 21 New Street in 1887 and later moved to Halifax Street, Nelson. The home in Halifax Street was for sale in 1898.5 The home at 21 New Street still remains and is the premises of Zindels lawyers who are presently renovating the inside of the building. The building is not listed as a heritage building. The original building did not have the veranda over the lower story windows.

Letitia Gay married my great grandfather James Scrimgeour and lived in Kimbolton, Manumatu and New Plymouth where they operated a Grocer store at 77 Eliot Street for many years.

2018 (updated August 2020)

Sources used in this story

  1. Nelson City Council Cemetery records database:
  2. Allan, R.M. (1965) Nelson: a history of early settlement. Wellington, N.Z. : A.H. & A.W. Reed, p. 260
  3. Obituary (1912, January 17) The Colonist
  4. Fire (1875, March 18) New Zealand Times
  5. Commercial, Industrial and Professional in The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Nelson, Marlborough & Westland Provincial Districts]. Retrieved from NZETC:
  6. For Sale House and Land (1898, October 8) Colonist.

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