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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.


TURNER, Charles Wesley


Canterbury shipowner.

Charles Wesley Turner was born in Tasmania in 1834, son of the Rev. Nathaniel Turner, a pioneer missionary who landed at the Bay of Islands on 23 August 1823. He was educated at Hobart and Sydney and entered the service of the Union Bank of Australia. He married in 1857 and in that year came across to Lyttelton and was in charge of the branch there till he returned to Australia in 1858. He was back in New Zealand in 1861, this time to open branches of the Bank of New South Wales.

He inherited, no doubt from his father, a strong religious strain and he preached on Sundays as vigorously as he dealt in the markets on weekdays; and his speculative ventures led him to peaks of success and through troughs of failure. He and another young man called Beverley Buchanan bought the business known as Peacock and Co. in 1862; this included Peacocks Wharf at Lyttelton, a fleet of small trading vessels, lighters, warehouses, and other property; and they leased the Government Wharf as well. In 1867 they were bankrupt and the figures for the time were staggering; their assets stood at £215,039 and their liabilities were £226,025. Turner was soon on his feet again and within months was auctioning sugar and tea.

When the New Zealand Shipping Co. was floated in 1873, he was selected for the responsible and difficult task of founding a London office and securing a fleet of ships. Within 16 months he had opened the office, made the company's name known, chartered 37 vessels and bought four more, and made preliminary arrangements for building the company's fleet. He was elected to the board on his return. He built up another fleet of vessels and then turned his attention to flourmilling. It appears that he made an attempt to corner the flour market of Canterbury. He bought in turn the City Mill, Christchurch, the Canterbury Mill, Ashburton, Allens Mill, Timaru, and a share in the Belford Mill, Timaru. By this time the disastrous nineties were too much for him and he was bankrupt again.

On 16 June 1857 Turner married Emily Susanna Reece, daughter of Lancelot Iredale, of Surry Hills, Sydney. He died on 25 October 1906, aged 73.

by George Ranald Macdonald, Retired Farmer, Kaiapoi R.D.

  • Old Christchurch in Picture and Story, Andersen, J. C. (1949)
  • Lyttelton Times, 26 Oct 1906 (Obit).


George Ranald Macdonald, Retired Farmer, Kaiapoi R.D.