Given names: 
Arabella J.
Given address: 
Sheet No: 105

Arabella Valpy was born in 1833 in India, where her father, William Henry Valpy served as a judge with the East India Company. He retired to England in 1837 and then decided to come to New Zealand, hoping to recover his health.

Judge Valpy, his wife Carolyn (nee Jefferies) daughters Ellen, Catherine, Arabella, Juliet, a son, William Henry Junior and a household of servants sailed on the Ajax and arrived in Dunedin, New Zealand on 7 January 1849. Judge Valpy was attracted to the Otago settlement by its religious character. He died unexpectedly in 1852.

Arabella was brought up in a wealthy pioneering family with godly convictions and her generous nature was well founded. Unlike her married sisters, she remained single. She read avidly – kept in touch with evangelical work in many countries and enjoyed reading in the English newspapers of the work of General William Booth and The Salvation Army. She was so deeply dismayed at the crime, immorality, poverty and unemployment in her own city of Dunedin, that she wrote a letter to William Booth.

Dunedin, New Zealand, 5th April.

Dear Mr Booth, - Can you see your way to send to the rescue of perishing souls in this highly respected and favoured city? Herewith please find draft of two hundred pounds. The Lord reward you and yours.

‘A Wellwisher’.

The draft was in the names of Miss Arabella Valpy, now 49 years old, her widowed mother, Mrs Caroline Valpy, and Mrs Rachel Matthews.

Booth responded by sending Captain George Pollard and Lieutenant Edward Wright to pioneer the Salvation Army’s work in New Zealand. Miss Valpy, the Army’s Wellwisher, was no doubt in the crowd at the first Salvation Army’s gathering at the Fountain, Dunedin on 1st April 1883. She was present at the laying of the foundation stone for the Dunedin Fortress Corps on 6 August 1891. Arabella Valpy was an auxiliary subscriber of one guinea per year to The Salvation Army and also to the War Cry, right up to the time of her death in 1910.

The full story of Arabella Valpy’s spiritual influence on the lives of others and of her generosity to those in New Zealand and overseas will never be known. But it is well-known that The Salvation Army in New Zealand owes its beginnings to this woman’s initiative and generousity.

Abridged from - Captain Barbara Sampson, Women of Spirit, 1993

Submitted by Mavis Millar

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

How to cite this page

'Arabella J. Valpy', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 16-Nov-2018

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