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Cambridge Town

Learn about the history of town and its districts, schools and roads over the years.

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Historic Cambridge residents with ‘O’ Surnames

O’BRIEN, O’NEIL & ORUM are just a few of the family names whose living legacy still reside in our beautiful town.

O’BRIEN Charles

Charles was a son of Laurence and Mary O’Brien, born at Howick 12 August 1855. They arrived in Cambridge 1865 as a 3rd Waikato Militia family. He enrolled in the Cambridge Cavalry Volunteers in 1872 and then enrolled in the Armed Constabulary in 1873. When he married Mary Josephine Nagle on 14 February 1879 he stated he had been in Cambridge for 14 years. He remained on the electoral roll until 1884 as a labourer.


James was a son of Laurence and Mary O’Brien, born at Howick 1 February 1860. He joined the Cambridge and Waikato Reed Band in 1877 and was a trooper in the Cambridge Cavalry Volunteers in 1878 and 1879. From 1880-1884 he is listed as a constable on the electoral roll. He married, aged 44 in Wellington to Isabella Elsie Chadwick.


John was a son of Laurence and Mary O’Brien, born at Howick 1 June 1853. He was the first of the O’Briens to enlist in the Cambridge Cavalry Volunteers on 12 March 1872 . He was a trooper, regularly attending parades, drills and the occasional shooting match with neighbouring troops until 1880. He was married in the Hamilton Roman Catholic church in January 1878 to Armenella Lawson – his occupation a farmer.


O’BRIEN Lawrence

Lawrence was born about 1822 in Castle Island, Co. Kerry, Ireland.

With his wife Mary and children Johanna, Mary Ann and Elizabeth they came to New Zealand in 1852 as New Zealand Royal Fencible settlers after Lawrence had served with the British Army in India.

While Lawrence served as a Fencible in Howick four more children were born – John, Charles, Thomas, James.

On the 19 October 1863 Lawrence went to Otahuhu and enrolled as a Sergeant No 307 in the 3rd Waikato Militia. He was aged 43. In January and February of 1865 all militiamen were allotted their land. (According to all the children’s Intention to Marry entries they arrived in Cambridge in 1865.)

In October 1866, when Lawrence’s military service was up, he was given title to a one acre section number 250 in Cambridge East and an eighty acre farm – section number 117 – on the banks of the Waikato River at Pukeroro. An assessment list in 1869-70 records Lawrence with 81 acres and he also noted in 1872 on a farm map drawn by Charles Chitty in a report on the district to the Armed Constabulary commissioner’s Office.

Two sons John and Charles joined the Cambridge Cavalry Volunteers in 1872 and another son James joined in 1878.

On the 1st July 1878 Lawrence died from “Poisoning by Strychnine”. The Waikato Times records – “The late death at Cambridge.- An inquest was held on Tuesday before a respectable jury, of whom Mr S Bright was foreman, on the body of the late Mr Laurence O’Brien, when the following verdict was returned:- ‘That the deceased died on the first of July 1878 at Cambridge while in a state of unsound mind, destroyed himself with strychnine’.” His headstone records that his wife Mary died 22 December 1914 at The Home for Incurables, Buckle Street, Wellington, aged 92 years.


O’BRIEN Thomas

Tom was a son of Laurence and Mary O’Brien, born at Howick, 30 August 1857. When he married Rose Gray in the Roman Catholic church in Hamilton 24 July 1878, his occupation was a farmer.  But from 1880 to 1884 he is on the electoral roll as a constable of the Armed Constabulary.



John was born 1840 in Hinsburg, Schleswig, Germany. He was a farmer, 5′ 5″ tall, when he enlisted in the 3rd Waikato Militia, 22 September 1863 in Brisbane, Australia. He was a Private, Regiment number 519 and was granted one acre of land section 245 in Cambridge West and a farm section 42 at Ohaupo.

John is listed in Wises Directory from 1875 to 1879.


OLLARD Aubrey Chitham

Aubrey Chitham Ollard was born on 10 June 1895 and he joined the Duke of Cambridge Lodge 13 June 1911.

OLLARD George and Rebecca

George Henry Ollard, wife Rebecca and family left Colchester UK and arrived in Cambridge West in 1900. They stayed for twenty three years.

George was a clerk and elected to the first Leamington Town Board and became the secretary to the Board and the Leamington Domain Board from 1908 – 1923. He was secretary treasurer to the Cambridge West School and secretary to the Lodge, Farmers’ Club and Library.

He worked diligently through World War One, giving his time to the National Reserve, Rehabilitation Committee, Repatriation Board and Influenza Epidemic committee. He was involved with the formation of the Beautifying Committee and later a Justice of the Peace in 1921.

Two of their sons, Aubrey and Harry, left Cambridge with the Main Body for World War One in the Auckland Infantry Battalion.

OLLARD Henry Rogers

Henry Ollard was born on 8 August 1894 and joined the Duke of Cambridge Lodge 12 July 1910.


O’NEILL Charles

Charles was born in Drueurt, Antrim, Ireland about 1827 and enlisted in the 3rd Waikato Militia 1 October 1863 in Dunedin. His Regiment Number was Private 228 and occupation a tailor.
On the Cambridge rates assessment list for 1869-70 Charles paid 2 pence an acre on 51 acres – totalling eight shillings and sixpence. He is also noted in 1872 on a farm map drawn by Charles Chitty in a report on the district to the Armed Constabulary Commissioner’s Office.

He had a fair complexion, dark brown hair and hazel eyes when he enlisted in the Armed Constabulary on 1 April 1869 (No 464) at age 48. He re-enlisted 26 September 1872 and was discharged 31 July 1876 according to the Armed Constabulary Nominal Roll at Wellington Archives.

In 1880 he was living in Cambridge West as a carpenter and in October 1883 fire destroyed his 4 roomed house and his wife and child escaped with a bed and a box.

On 8 February 1889 he was in possession of raw tobacco and had not paid custom, so was fined £2 10/- and costs £1 9/3d.

Charles died 21 June 1904.


O’NEIL William Francis

Frank was born about 1850 in Jersey. He enlisted as a substitute soldier in the 3rd Waikato Militia, as Private 1711, on 18 June 1866 in Cambridge, his occupation a labourer.

He was aged 21 years and a farmer when he joined the Duke of Cambridge Lodge on 24 June 1871. He served as Noble Grand in 1873 and 1879. In 1874 he called on the sickness fund for a skin complaint for 14 days.

From March 1872 to May 1879, Frank was a Trooper in the Cambridge Cavalry Volunteers. Then in December 1879 he married Mary Campbell at the home of Phillip Campbell.

In March 1888 he called on the Lodge sickness fund again for a spasm in his side and in June he broke a bone in his hand. September 1891 he had concussion of the brain and a kick on the leg by a horse. In June 1893 he suffered 35 days with broken ribs and December the same year was again kicked by a horse.

Frank died in April 1896 from an accident at the Waihi gold mines.

Frank and Mary had three sons who went to the South Africa War:

James was the first to sign up – Corporal No.3217 who sailed with the 6th Contingent on the ‘Cornwall‘ 30 January 1901. He had enlisted with the 3rd Company of the Waikato Mounted Rifles on 5 November 1898 as Lance Corporal and also served in World War One. He died at Thames in 1973.

Allan Philip enlisted with the 3rd Company Waikato Mounted Rifles 13 January 1900, a farmer aged 17 years. He then enlisted for the South Africa War as Private No.5515.

Standing behind him in the enlisting queue was his brother Francis Herbert, Private No.5516. They both sailed with the 8th Contingent on the ‘Surrey‘, 1 February 1902.

James and Alan returned to the Waikato Mounted Rifles in 1904.

Francis Herbert served with the Australian Army and died in World War One, 21 September 1917.


ORUM Helworth

Helworth was born 1832 in Wiburgh, Germany. He was a merchant, 5′ 5” tall, when he enlisted in the 3rd Waikato Militia, 21 October 1863 in Dunedin. He was a Private, regiment number 839 and was granted one acre of land section 135 in Cambridge West and a farm section 25 at Ohaupo.

‘Plough of the Pakeha’ by Beer and Gascoingne recorded that Orum built a Tavern at Ohaupo in 1866 and this he sold to Edwards in 1873.


OWEN Harry Travers

Captain Owen was born about 1843. He enlisted in the 3rd Waikato Militia on 4 December 1863 and also served in the Imperial Commissariat Transport Corps.

He married Mary nee Imrie on 9 March 1870.

His one acre section was number 343 in Cambridge East and his farm sections were at Pukerimu.

In 1889 he was one of a number of Cambridge settlers who experimented with growing tobacco and was prosecuted on the 8th February for “being in possession of raw tobacco and not paid custom duty”. He, together with the others, were each fined £2 and costs of £1 9/3d.


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