Given names: 
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Sheet No: 136

Esther CREWS (nee O’KANE) is believed to have been born in Randalstown, County Antrim, Ireland in April 1854, youngest child to Hannah (nee KELLY) and Edward O’KANE whose other children were Edward, Peter, John, Rose and Margaret.

Esther and Margaret O’Kane emigrated to New Zealand, leaving Glasgow, Scotland on 9 February 1872 on sailing ship Wild Deer, arriving at Port Chalmers, Otago, NZ on 9 May 1872, Esther celebrating her 18th birthday on board. 

She first worked as a housemaid in Dunedin, then for Mr Sutherland, a hotelkeeper, in Romahapa, where she met Charles William Robert (known as Bob) CREWS, a bushman and tramway layer and married him on 26 June 1876 at the Romahapa School House.

Esther and Bob lived at Romahapa, on the north bank of the Owaka River near Duttons Bridge, Owaka, before moving into a house built by Bob on their 14 acres of land on the edge of Lake Hina Hina, Owaka. They had 9 children: Robert, Lavina, Esther, Hannah, Isabella, Elizabeth, Charles Edward, George, and Violet Margaret. In 1921 Esther and Bob separated after 45 years together.

Esther died on 21 December 1938 , aged 83 at Harcourt Street, Dunedin and is buried with her husband Charles William Robert CREWS in the Owaka Cemetery, Otago, NZ.

Biography contributed by Ruth Richardson, wife of Ian Charles Richardson (great grandson of Esther CREWS) 


  • CREWS Family Tree 1613-1997 by Joyce Reardon and Eileen Vigers


Esther O'Kane in Ireland, aged 17.

Esther Crews (nee O'Kane), aged 80.

Click on sheet number to see the 1893 petition sheet this signature appeared on. Digital copies of the sheets supplied by Archives New Zealand.

Community contributions

2 comments have been posted about Esther Crews

What do you know?

Graham Crews

Posted: 09 Jan 2023

This is a message for Anna Pither
Hi Anna
I spotted your contact left at the Kate Shepparton house in Christchurch, New Zealand, about your great grandmother. Bob and Esther were my great grandparents. I have a family tree prepared by Eileen Crews, a granddaughter of Bob and Esther. That family tree establishes the New Zealand connection. Feel free to email me for further details. Regards, Graham

Anna Pither

Posted: 27 Mar 2021

Hello, I was so interested to read about Esther Crews (nee O’Kane). I have been researching my mother’s family. Esther’s husband, Charles William Robert Crews is a brother of my great grandmother, Lavinia Amelia Crews (1851-1936). Lavinia was born in Yarmouth, the Isle of Wight. (I believe Charles William Robert emigrated to Dunedin). Lavinia married William Henry Woodley. They had four children, William Henry (Harry), Rosina, Louisa, Florence and Percival Arthur James Woodley. Percival Arthur James Woodley is my grandfather, his daughter, Peggy Hettie Woodley was my mother. Lavinia had five brothers and two sisters. Their father was Theodosius Crews (dob 1810), a Coastguards Officer. Their mother was Elizabeth Crews (nee Chambers). Theodosius’s parents were Jeremiah Crews (1767-1850) and Elizabeth Crews (nee Lyde Lamb) 1772 - ). I am very excited and interested to have discovered that I have relatives in New Zealand and I would love to connect with them. Many thanks, Anna Pither (nee Martienssen).