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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.


ENYS, John Davies



A new biography of Enys, John Davies appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.

John Davies Enys was born in Cornwall, most probably at Enys Place where the family had been established from the time of Edward III. He was the second son of John Samuel Enys and of his wife Catharine, eldest daughter of Davies Gilbert, of Tredrea. John Davies Enys came out to New Zealand with his cousin, J. B. Acland, arriving at Lyttelton on 27 July 1861. His journal and letters are as concise as possible till he writes of subjects that interest him — rocks, plants, fish, and insects. From Christchurch he went to his cousins, the Tripps, and he carefully noted that he paid £100 for a year's tuition in farming. When his younger brother, Charles, joined him they went into the Castle Hill Station together in October 1864, starting shearing immediately and also letting the farmlands to neighbours to grow oats for Cobb and Co.'s coach horses, then working on the road between Christchurch and the West Coast goldfields.

Enys, much interested in geology, botany, and biology, discovered and studied the fossil beds in the limestone of the river gorges on Castle Hill Station. He built up an extensive collection of moths and butterflies and later published accounts of them; but he is best remembered for his discovery of the one and only specimen found in New Zealand, Botrychium lunharia, common in the Northern Hemisphere and in Australia.

Enys early took an active part in local affairs. In 1870 he was elected to the Canterbury Provincial Council for the district of Rakaia and was mainly responsible for the setting aside of 100,000 acres to produce revenue for botanical and scientific research, for education, and for the support of the museum. In addition, he was a very keen fisherman, importing trout spawn with which to stock the local waters, and jotting down when he caught the fish as they increased in size.

When his two brothers died in England, Enys had to leave all these interests and return to Cornwall to take over the management of the estate, first selling the Castle Hill property after he had arranged for the presentation of the font, carved from Castle Hill limestone, to the Christchurch Cathedral.

The three brothers never married; one sister did, and her son took the name and property of the Cornish estate.

by Eva Carlisle Richards (1879–1961), Sumner, Christchurch.

  • Malvern County — A Centennial History, Popple, G. L. (1953)
  • Early Canterbury Runs, Acland, L. G. D. (1951).


Eva Carlisle Richards (1879–1961), Sumner, Christchurch.