There are several separate, and apparently un-related families
of the name Murrell in New Zealand. The family of which we are
descendants can trace it’s origins to Kent in England, by
way of Australia and Manapouri in New Zealand’s Fiordland.
Robert Murrell was in later years known as
‘Old Bob’, to distinguish him from his son,
‘Young Bob’. He was the first of ‘our’
Murrells to arrive and settle in New Zealand. He was born
in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England in 1818 to Robert John
and Sarah Murrell. Iris Murrell believes he spent his early
years at Victoria Terrace in Tunbridge Wells, although I
have not yet been able to establish any evidence of that.
He is known to have gone to Australia. Jack Murrell, of
Manapouri, believes he served in the household of Sir John
Franklin, who served as governor of Van Diemen's Land (now
Tasmania) from 1836 to 1843. Again, there is no evidence
advanced to verify this claim.
Victoria Terrace, Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Believed
to be the address from which Robert Murrell emigrated.
In or about 1854 he married Elizabeth Anderson. Interestingly,
there are only two known children from this marriage, Robert (‘Young
Bob’) born in 1865, and Alexander born in 1869. That indicates
there were no children born during the first 10 years of their
marriage - unusual given the absence of any effective method of
contraception at the time.
What does seem more readily verifiable is that in the early
1860s Old Bob travelled to the deep South of New Zealand. He apparently
was employed as a shepherd in western Otago or northern Southland
and spent some months here before returning briefly to Australia.
It is commonly accepted that he travelled in company with James
Scott as a companion.
Obviously part of the reason for this initial trip was to ‘survey’
prospects in New Zealand. Because Old Bob returned to Australia,
collected his wife and returned to Southland.