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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.


GASCOYNE, or GASCOIGNE, Frederick John William


Armed Constabulary officer and Magistrate.

Frederick John William Gascoyne was born in 1837 at Cawnpore, India, the third son of Lieutenant-Colonel Manners Charles Gascoyne of the 5th Bengal Light Cavalry, in the service of the East India Company. His mother was Isabella Augusta Eliza, née Campbell, a cousin of Sir John Campbell, of Ardnamurchan, and of Sir Donald McLean. He was educated at Kumaon and in 1853 came to New Zealand with his parents, who settled at Paingatotara (now Pangatotara), near Motueka. Three years later Gascoyne started as a cadet on Sir Donald McLean's station in Hawke's Bay. He returned to Nelson in 1859, acted as a drover for a while, and then spent two years on the Nelson goldfields. In 1863 he obtained a commission in the Hawke's Bay Mounteds and, when these disbanded, joined Captain Fraser's expedition to the East Coast. He served with Fraser throughout the Waiapu campaign, being present at the capture of Pakairominui and Pukemairo strongholds, and led the Poverty Bay Scouts with Whitmore's expedition up the Ruakituri River in August 1868. In November 1868 he advised Biggs to guard two routes into Poverty Bay; and, had his advice been followed, the Matawhero massacre would not have taken place. After Matawhero he commanded the East Coast “friendlies” during the pursuit of Te Kooti and led the operations at Patutahi and Makaretu. He was present at Ngatapa; and, recommissioned as a sub-inspector in the Armed Constabulary, accompanied Whitmore to the west coast for the balance of the campaign against Titokowaru. He also took part in the Urewera campaign and was recommended for the New Zealand Cross on several occasions.

After the Maori War Gascoyne remained in the Armed Constabulary, being stationed at Ohinemutu, Tokaanu, Opepe, Tauranga, Tarawera, and Rotorua. In 1880 he took part in Bryce's expedition against Te Whiti and was given the task of returning the prisoners to their homes. On his return to Rotorua he was transferred to Hamilton where, in 1882, he arranged the meeting between Bryce and Tawhiao at Ngaruawahia. In the following year he was called upon to deal with the Maoris who had captured Hursthouse, and he arrested Te Mahuki and his whole party as they arrived at Alexandra (Pirongia). As a consequence of Atkinson's retrenchment policy in 1888, Gascoyne was retired from the Armed Constabulary and appointed Sheriff of Auckland. In 1891 he became Resident Magistrate at the Chatham Islands, where he did much to improve the condition of the people. Ill health forced him to retire in 1897 and he settled in Hawke's Bay. In 1916 he published Soldiering in New Zealand — a collection of his reminiscences.

On 25 December 1872, at Napier, Gascoyne married Marion Carr. There were no children. He died at Nelson Street, Hastings, on 13 December 1926.

by Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.

  • Soldiering in New Zealand, Gascoyne, F. J. W. (1916)
  • Hawke's Bay Herald, 14 Dec 1926 (Obit).


Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.