Story: Marriage and partnering

First home, 1840

First home, 1840

This small house at the Hokianga Wesleyan Station was the first home of Gideon Smales and Mary Bumby following their marriage in 1840. The couple were both devout – he was a minister and she had come to New Zealand with her dearly loved brother John, a missionary. Smales asked Mary to marry him in June, and she accepted in December. She wrote about her decision in her diary: ‘Well I have made up my mind after much consideration and prayer to become a missionary wife!!! My soul is deeply humbled at the thought of the responsibility of such a situation. But I hope the Lord will help me by his grace to discharge the duties that will devolve upon me.’ (Quoted in Frances Porter and Charlotte Macdonald, eds., My hand will write what my heart dictates. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1996, p. 236.)

Although deeply unhappy at the time because her brother had drowned, Mary married Smales in 1841, two weeks after accepting his proposal.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: E-296-q-151-2
Pen and wash sketch by Richard Taylor

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Megan Cook, 'Marriage and partnering - Marriage in the 19th century', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 6 February 2023)

Story by Megan Cook, published 5 May 2011, updated 1 May 2017