Given names: 
Given address: 
Sheet No: 324

Biographical information provided by Barbara Mulligan for the He Tohu exhibition:

Three of the women who signed page 324 of the NZ Women’s Suffrage Petition in 1893 were closely related to Kate Sheppard. They were Marie Beath (nee Malcom) – Kate Shepherd's older sister – her niece Margaret Hamilton Beaven (nee Beath), and Alice Fanny Malcolm, her sister-in-law (married to Kate’s brother, Frank Souter Malcolm). The Malcolm family maintained close relationships throughout their lives, including purchasing adjacent properties in Riccarton, and socialising and working together constantly.

Marie Beath was Kate’s older sister, born in September 1846, to Andrew Wilson and Jemima Crawford Malcolm in Islay, the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides of Scotland.  In 1866, aged only 20, Marie set off from Scotland, on her own, to marry George Low Beath, a man 19 years older than her whom she had met several years previously in Dunfermline, Fifeshire. How they met, and developed a relationship which was then sustained for two to three years while George travelled first to Melbourne, Victoria, then on to Christchurch, is unknown.  By the time Marie left Scotland in late 1866 George had set up a small drapery shop in Christchurch in partnership with Oscar Kirby which had quickly prospered. Marie arrived in Lyttleton on the 6th of January 1866, as one of nine 1st class cabin passengers on the clipper Mermaid, chartered by Shaw Savill and Coy, under Captain Rose. The journey had taken 81 days.  

Exactly one month later on the 6th February 1867, she married George at St John’s Anglican Church, Latimer Square. By the end of 1867 their first child had been born and four more were born during the next 15 years. Their only son, George Malcolm, and their oldest daughter, Laura Christian, died only two weeks apart in mid-1881, when they were nine and 14 years old respectively during one of the many epidemics caused by poor drainage which plagued Christchurch during its earlier years.

Marie’s mother Jemima and siblings Kate, Frank, Isabella and Robert, joined her in Christchurch two years later, arriving as 1st class cabin passengers on the Matoaka on 8th February 1869.

George had purchased a freehold property – Rural Section 145 – on Riccarton Road and had a large and comfortable house built, which he called “Leslieville”, after Leslie in Fife, Scotland, his place of birth. As the wife of a successful businessman Marie had servants to tend to the work a large household required, and a gardener to develop and maintain their large garden and orchard. The family were musical and artistic, and were active participants in the Congregational Church, the YMCA, and the YWCA. Marie seems to have been supportive of the work of her sisters in the temperance and suffrage movements, but played no active part in the associated organisations

Marie was 83 when she died in January 1930. She was interred in the family grave in Addington Cemetery with her two children Laura and George, and her husband who had died in 1914. Close by is the grave of her sister Kate, in the same plot as their mother Jemima who died in 1881.

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

4 comments have been posted about M Beath

What do you know?

M. Wheelan-Lammont

Posted: 25 Feb 2020

according to Maria Beath's wedding notice, published in 'The Argus' newspaper (at Melbourne, 12 Mar 1867), her father (A.W. Malcolm, esq) was of Dublin


Posted: 10 Feb 2019

Marie Malcolm was Kate Sheppard’s elder sister. Their mother was Jemima.

Kim Wilson

Posted: 02 Jul 2012

I am currently researching Katherine (Kate) Beath (1882-1979), Kate Sheppard's niece. I have found Marie Beath who lived in Riccarton Road at the time of this petition was Kate Beath's mother and the sister of Kate Sheppard (nee. Malcolm). The sister’s mother was Jemima Malcolm.

Barbara Mulligan

Posted: 10 Jun 2012

Marie Beath was Kate Sheppard's mother.