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Charles Gray

Also Known As: "Charlie", "Chas"
Birthplace: Godmanchester, Huntingdonshire, England (United Kingdom)
Death: March 08, 1918 (77)
Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand
Place of Burial: Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand
Immediate Family:

Son of Rev. Charles Gray and Agnes Gray
Husband of Lucy Sarah Gray and Emily Jane Gray
Father of Leonard Gray; Donald Camplin Gray; Agnes Sarah Blunt; Sydney Thomas Gray; Norman William Gray and 3 others
Brother of Robert Gray; Albert Gray; Agnes Hebbert; Mowbray Gray and Florence "Flo" Leakey

Occupation: Officer, Merchant Marines and Pastoralist
Managed by: Jenna Gray
Last Updated:

About Charles Gray

Charles was the second son of the Rev. Charles Gray, and Agnes Norris, of Hughenden House or Manor. Charles's grandfather was Robert Gray, Bishop of Bristol.

Rev. Charles was Vicar of Godmanchester, Huntingdonshire, from 1829 until his death in 1854, when young Charles was fourteen years of age. Charles is believed to have attended school at Huntingdonshire Boys Grammar, although he also would have been educated by the family Governess, Miss Elizabeth Butcher.

When his father died, Charles's mother, Agnes, took the family to live at No 6 Belgrave Place, Brighton, England. The family had money, due to Agnes being a co-beneficiary of John William Norris' estate. The Grays had also created wealth as Jewellers and Cutlers in Bond Street, London. Charles' grandfather was the Rt. Rev. Dr. Robert Gray, Bishop of Bristol and his uncle was Robert Gray, Bishop of Cape Town.

Charles (Charlie) attended school in Brighton and went on to a Nautical Academy; Baxter's School, Leadenhall Street, London, where he received an education on nautical studies & navigation. Charles gained extensive experience over his eleven years at sea, as an officer in the Merchant Marines starting out as Midshipman, and working his way up through officer ranks.

He served on Venus which was engaged in running the Union blockade of Confederate-held Southern Ports during the American Civil War. The ship made several runs carrying food and other supplies to Wilmington, Georgia, and stocking cotton and other exports bound for England.

Charles travelled to Australia in 1865 to spend time with his brother, Robert, who had taken up the pastoral run "Hughenden" in North Queensland, established by their cousin; Ernest Henry.

Charles gained his Master's certificate in May 1867, purchasing Gertrude, a trading brig working a route between London, Rio and New York, on which he had been serving as First Mate.

Charles met Lucy Waters, the daughter of Dr John Waters in 1867. The Waters family also lived at Belgrave Place, Brighton. The families knew each other, as close neighbours, both were headed by a matriarch, and both women had been widowed. Lucy was Irish, from Birr, then known as Parsonstown, in County Offaly. As the daughter of doctors and engineers, Lucy was well educated and very literate - her letters and journals are considered of a very standard and are historically significant. She was also an artist and recorded details of her experiences and travel throughout her life.

Lucy's father, John, had sadly died of cholera during the Irish potato famine and subsequent cholera outbreak. He succumbed to the disease at the very end of the crisis, after treating the dying and the ill and successfully protecting all of his family, apart from one daughter, Helen (aged 10), from the deadly disease. Lucy's mother, Helena, had an income bestowed on her by her father, who shrewdly protected her financial independence.

Charles and Lucy were married at St Nicholas Church in Brighton on 22 May 1868. After Lucy encouraged Charles to give up his life at sea, he took up a share of Hughenden Station with Robert. They remained at Hughenden or at Glendower, an outstation used for cattle, from 1868 to 1876. There are extensive records of the Grays in Queensland, in the form of letters and journals, which are now held in public records in Australia and New Zealand. These are known as the Charles and Lucy Gray papers. **

Robert has also written a book; Reminiscences of India and North Queensland 1857-1912, which is available online through Queensland State archives.

Lucy was suffering from poor health. After she spent some time away from Queensland, the couple decided moving away from the harsh conditions would be better for her health. After a trip back to England, a holiday through Europe, and extensive research throughout New Zealand, Charles purchased Waiohika, in Gisborne, Poverty Bay in 1877.

Charles and Lucy had been friends with Archdeacon Leonard Williams in Gisborne. Lucy was staying with the Williamses a few months before her death. She had concerns about her health, but she seems to have kept many of her worries away from Charles, who did not appear to realise the seriousness of her illness until her final days.

Lucy died in December 1879, while visiting her friend Mrs Rattray of Craig Hall in Dunedin. Charles was at her side and her unexpected death left him devastated. It was said amongst the family that she was the love of his life. Lucy kept her illness in New Zealand hidden from Charles, but either due to her sense of foreboding, or just the realities of life in Victorian times, she had often insisted to Charles (in letters) that if anything happened to her, he should remarry.

Two years after Lucy's death Charles married Emily Jane Williams, eldest daughter of Archdeacon Williams. Emily was 26 years old at the time, Charlie was 41.

Charles and Emily had eight children at Waiohika, five boys and three girls., Alfred and Mowbray Gray. Source: Gray family of Charles and Emily Gray. Back row: Camplin, Leonard, Sydney, Front: Lucy, Amy, Douglas, Essie, Norman. Source: B. Hollinrake, family collection

Biography written by Jenna Gray, Great-Granddaughter

Biography of Lucy Gray

Lucy's story is told in the Book; Castle to colony : the remarkable life and times of Lucy Sarah Gray (1840-1879) by Meg Vivers (2013). This book is available in some Australian libraries, including the National Library of Australia and from the author's website.

See more information about Charles on Wikitree

Feel free to contact me, Jenna Gray if you want to collaborate on our shared family tree


  • Census: 1851 - Port Street, Godmanchester, Huntingdonshire, England
  • Residence: Brighton, Sussex, England - 1861
  • Details of Charle's experiences running the blockades can be found in copies of his journal, kept at the Tairawhiti Museum and Art Gallery, Gisborne, New Zealand.
  • Records of the Charles and Lucy Gray papers are available to be reviewed on request from the John Oxley Library, Queensland State Library, Brisbane, and the Tairawhiti Museum and Art Gallery, Gisborne New Zealand.

GRAY— WILLIAMS.— On the 26th instant, at the Church of Holy Trinity, Gisborne, by the Ven Archdeacon Williams, assisted by the Rev. Samuel Williams, Charles Gray of Waiohika, Poverty Bay, to Emily Jane, eldest daughter of the Ven. Archdeacon Williams, Gisborne.
Poverty Bay Herald 27th July 1882
Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand, accessed Oct 20 2017

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Charles Gray's Timeline

October 22, 1840
Godmanchester, Huntingdonshire, England (United Kingdom)
October 11, 1883
Waiohika, Gisborne, New Zealand
July 24, 1886
Waiohika, Gisborne, New Zealand
November 8, 1887
Waiohika, Gisborne, New Zealand
April 4, 1890
Waiohika, Gisborne, Poverty Bay, Gisborne, New Zealand
October 20, 1891
Waiohika, Gisborne, New Zealand
March 18, 1893
Waiohika, Gisborne, New Zealand