Capt William Tinney


Capt William Tinney (1860 - 1930):  Nelson seaman and Patea Harbour Master   

Captain William Tinney, was born in London, in May 1860 , son of Fredrick Tinney.

While working in Nelson, New Zealand, he met and subsequently married Emma Whiting in Nelson's Congregational Church. The Whiting family had arrived as early colonists from Alton, Hampshire, via London into Nelson in May 1856, on the Barque Inchinnan. Emma's father, Henry, was a local Blacksmith in Nelson.  William and Emma moved to Patea after their marriage.

Captain William Tinney. Photo supplied by author

William Tinney went to sea, in 1871, in the training ship Warsprite, and, after serving three months, joined the Navy, where he remained for several years. Arriving in Nelson in the ship Chili, in 1874, as an ordinary seaman, he obtained employment in the coastal and inter-colonial trade, first as ordinary seaman, then as mate, and finally as master of the schooner Sisters. After that he had charge of the steamer Elsie trading between Nelson and Riwaka for three and a half years.

In 1889, he entered the employ of the Anchor Company in Nelson, as second mate of the S.S. Waverley, and eighteen months later was made first mate, which position he filled for three years. He plied the coastal waters of New Zealand over the turn of the century as Captain and Master of the Aorere, a 82 foot 72 ton Screw Steamer build in 1886 in the Port of Nelson and operated by the Anchor Company. This vessel was wrecked at Rangatikei Beach on 23 May 1920. 

On 31 March 1899, Captain Tinney of the S.S. Aorere, was fined 15 Shillings and costs for employing a seaman without entering into an agreement with him.1

He served as harbourmaster in Patea and retired due to poor health after 24 years. William died November 10 1930 aged 74 at Patea and is buried at the Old lawn Patea Cemetery (north west section) plot 431 next to wife Emma (nee Whiting) and son George.


William Tinney and his wife Emma had several  children 

  1. Daisy Valentine (married Edwin Henry Davidson)
  2. George (1894-1913)
  3. Percy Henry  (1888-) married Florence Lily Smith Pilling (1919)
  4. Norman (married Lilly)
  5. Emma (1892-1972) married Henry Findlay
  6. Mabel
  7. Elsie (1997-) married Louis Thorburn (1901-) 

Henry Whiting (1830 - 1902) Blacksmith 

Henry married Emma Lewis, 1 December 1852, at Bethnal Gardens in London.

He arrived in Nelson, New Zealand, late May 1856, aged 24 on the Barque Inchinnan, which departed  from  Catherine Dock's, London on 10 January 1856. He became a labourer and then established a Horseshoers & General Smiths in partnership with a Benjamin Cordery. A  partnership which dissolved 31 December 1866. In 1865 he purchased a property in Brook Street Nelson, then later Nile Street East, Nelson.

From 1868 Whiting operated his Blacksmith and forge at Bridge Street, Nelson. He was granted a New Zealand pension on April 27 1899, aged 67. He died aged 72, surviving his wife Emma by four years. He was buried 9 July 1902 in family plot 132 Block 01 (Baptist section) Wakapuaka Cemetery, Nelson.

2011. Updated May 2020

Sources used in this story

  1. New Zealand Marine Department. (1899) Annual report. Abstract. p.5

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