Given names: 
Given address: 
Sheet No: 248
West Coast

Information submitted by Rosemary Mercer:

Mrs Fairhall, Greymouth – aka Susan(nah) Fairhall 1828-1905

As Susan Trotman she was imported with a load of other young women to Melbourne from Gloucestershire in 1849 to help correct the imbalance of sexes. She married William Fairhall and they moved to Johnsonville, New Zealand, finally settling in Greymouth to farm in 1864 and ending up with 13 children. 

From being one of those girls whom George Grey described as 'mainly prostitutes' she became prominent in local charities and when she was dying the Grey River Argus called her 'one of nature’s ladies'. She appeared in one or two court cases and when her husband died she took eight of her children to court claiming her husband had not left her enough to live on and that she had worked for him on the dairy farm for no reward. The news that she had won the case came on the day of her death. 

She signed the Women’s Petition but in a search of Papers Past I found no mention of either the Petition, or the suffrage in The Grey River Argus, suggesting that it was not popular among Greymouth men. An independent woman.

Her daughter, Kate Fairhall, also signed the suffrage petition.

For more on Susan Fairhall see 'The Fairhalls of Greymouth' in Rosemary Mercer's book Coast Girl: a New Zealand Chronicle.

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

1 comment has been posted about Mrs Fairhall

What do you know?

Rosemary Mercer

Posted: 16 Jan 2020

Since I published Coast Girl more information had come to light about Susan Fairhall's background as one of the Trotman sisters. Despite being one of a group of girls transported to Melbourne like cattle her father had a good business and his daughters were well educated and some also became good business women. One owned a house and girls' boarding school in Hawkestone Street Wellington. Sue McLennan of Christchurch has discovered the information which we hope to write up and present to the Turnbull library. Meanwhile enquiries or more information to [email protected] or [email protected] are welcome. We do not know why Susan emigrated in that way.