Given names: 
Given address: 
Sheet No: 241

Biography contributed by Mrs Colyn Storer, Sydney, Australia

Jessie was born Jessie Niven at Blairgowrie Scotland in 1842, daughter of David Niven and Jane or Jean nee Brodie. He was a blacksmith. 

Jessie married Thomas Keir in 1863 in Scotland where their first son David was born. Thomas emigrated to New Zealand on the Mermaid in 1864, and initially worked as a carpenter in Christchurch.

Her parents David and Jean Niven and Jessie and her young son sailed on the Victory on 16 December 1865 and arrived at Lyttleton on 24 March 1866. Jessie and Thomas settled at Rangiora where he joined Hugh Boyd in a building partnership which lasted many years.

Jessie’s extensive obituary spoke of her to be ‘numbered amongst the finest type of pioneering women.  She resolutely met the difficulties and hardships with good health and a keen sense of humour and common sense.’ She was also a loyal and helpful friend

She was part of the group of women who raised funds to establish the local library and erect the Institute Hall both in 1882.  She was at various times the Secretary or Treasurer of these groups.

All the family were members of and supporters of the Presbyterian church and the Temperance movement. She also helped raising funds to erect the church building in 1872.

Thomas and Jessie had six children, but sadly all their sons David, Thomas, Peter and James died young. Her husband Thomas died in 1911 and their older daughter Jane died in 1925.  Her father David died aged 84 in 1900 and her mother Jane, who also signed the Petition, aged 94 in 1912. Her strong Christian faith and confidence enabled her through all these sorrows.

She moved to Christchurch to live with her younger daughter Jessie in 1927. She enjoyed recalling all her wonderful memories of the early days in the Colony to the end of her long life. She died on 28 August 1939 at the age of 97. She was buried beside her husband and children at Rangiora Cemetery.


Birth, Marriage: 

In Scotland, Indexes only on Scotlands People


Family Search New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Passenger Lists

With her parents and young son, on Victory.

"New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Passenger Lists, 1839-1973," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 8 August 2017), Jessie Keir, 24 Mar 1866; citing ship Victory, Archives New Zealand, Wellington; FHL microfilm. 

BDM New Zealand:

Family Information and community Involvement

PapersPast – various




North Canterbury Gazette Volume 8, Issue 77, 31 August 1939 

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

'Jessie Keir', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 8-Feb-2019

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