top of page

The Hannay family

Hannay/Macarthur women, 1889

Family group photo taken in 1889 by G.W. Shailer*

From left: Mary Lilias Louise Macarthur (nee Hannay)

her eldest daughter Alice Ethel Macarthur,

her mother Lucy Hannay/Stuart,

her second daughter Lily Louise Macarthur,

her sister Ida Stuart Owen (nee Hannay),

Front: her youngest daughter Ida Maud Macarthur


*George Shailer and his wife, Septuagesima, and four daughters were some of the early settlers in Feilding. They arrived an the "Ocean Mail" in 1874. He was a stone mason by trade but after a back injury he started a photography business in Palmerston North. He left a legacy of unique photographs that record early Palmerston North and Feilding from 1882-1894. The Shailer collection is now in the Palmerston North City Library. (Source: Smith V., Saga in Sepia, Palmerston North: Dunmore Press, 1979).

I am indebted to Ana Gray-Doughty who supplied me with the information and photographs for this page.

​James Montgomery Hannay was born in Antrim, Ireland, about 1832. His parents were John Hannay and Elizabeth Montgomery, and are buried in the Clifton Street Cemetery, Belfast (page 12 of Lower Ground Graves pdf). He emigrated from County Kerry arriving in New York in 1849, destined for Ohio. He was joined by Hugh H Hannay in 1857 (born 1837 - presumably his brother). He possibly married Louisa (Lucy) McEwen in Toronto. Their first daughter, Mary Lilias Louise Hannay, was born in Toronto about 1857, where James worked as a clerk in a newspaper office. In 1860 the Hannay family of James, Louisa, Lilla (aged 3) and Hugh appear in the census in Covington, Kentucky where he is working as a reporter. Their second daughter, Ida Stuart Hannay, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1864, but in 1865 James Hannay absconded with his elder daughter and appeared in Takaka, New Zealand. Mr James Hannay and Miss Lilly Hannay arrived in Auckland 11 June 1866 on the Queen of the North from London after a voyage of 112 days. They stayed 12 years in Takaka where, for a time, Hannay was engaged as the sole teacher at Lower Takaka School.


An extract from "Speaking a Silence" by Christine Hunt, A.H Reed, Wellington, 1981:
The next master at the school was Hannay, he was a Yank, and like the others he lived behind the partition at the end of the school room. But you know what? Hannay nailed his bunk across the end nearest the school and bored a hole through the partition, so he could look into the school. Then about once or twice every three months he'd line the kids up and get them into school, then he'd say to Dad's older brother, "You take th'arithmetic, I've got tickdollaroo* this morning." That's what he'd say. Dad never knew what it meant, whether he had diarrhoea or whether he was tight with whisky or what. But anyway then the kids would be at school, old Hannay would go off into his room and then there'd be a great disturbance with kids throwing things at each other. And you'd see a bloodshot eye, full of whisky, looking through this hole in the partition. He'd be back on the booze out there.
Dad also said old Hannay had his desk in the corner and next to it was a box of sawdust. He was a great chewer of tobacco, old Hannay, and he'd spit out into this box. But he'd miss and hit the wall instead - there'd always be bits of tobacco stuck on the wall.
And he had a whitlow on one finger, it used to go blue. I suppose it was sore, but if he bumped it he'd blame a kid and belt him. It was rough, but that was the schooling in the old days.
* Tic douloureux (trigeminal neuralgia) is a medical condition that causes intense facial pain, for which whisky was probably the only effective relief in 1860's NZ.

The Nelson Provincial Museum has two photos of his daughter (Mary Lilias Louise Hannay) probably taken in her teens at Takaka:


Mary Lilias Louise Hannay

Hannay also spent some time as a gold prospector in the Collingwood/Golden Bay area.
In 1875 his daughter, Mary, married Douglas Hastings Macarthur and moved to Feilding.

His wife, Lucy, and youngest daughter, Ida, arrived in NZ by steamship from San Francisco in 1880. Ida lived with the Macarthurs in Feilding until she married Frank Owen in 1883. She died in 1948.

There is a family story that Lucy had a dreadful temper and that she and James Hannay got together again when she visited NZ but parted after only 10 days, Hannay saying that her temper was still foul after 20 years. Their marriage is recorded in Sydney on 26 April, 1892.

The next record found is his death in Palmerston North, NZ, on 25 Jul 1898. He had been in NZ one year and certificate states also known as "Paul Leigh", occupation; engineer. The Feilding Star reports “Mr Paul Lee Hannay, whose daughters are Mesdames Sherwill and Owen, of Feilding, died from an attack of bronchitis at the Palmerston Hospital on Monday morning.” The whereabouts of James Hannay from 1880 - 1898 has not been established.

Louisa McEwen

His wife Louisa (Lucy) McEwen (pictured left) was born in Glasgow,

Scotland, parents; Alexander McEwen (right) and Janet McLean.

She arrived in New York in 1853 with her parents, sister Agnes

and brothers William and Benjamin.

After her husband left she styled herself Lucy Stuart, widow, and

gives her employment history to the Seattle Post Intelligencer in

1901 as follows:

Alexander McEwen 1879

New Matron for Y.W.C.A.

Mrs Lucy Stuart, who has had thirty years' experience in like work, is chosen.

A life full of varied experiences has been that of Mrs Lucy Stuart, who has come to Seattle to assume the position of matron of the Y.W.C.A. and who is now superintending the fitting up of the association's new headquarters in the Curtiss building on Second avenue, near University street. Mrs Stuart has for more than thirty years been engaged in practical charitable missionary and philanthropic work, and has served as matron of several large charitable institutions in United States and New Zealand, where she spent ten years of her life.
Mrs Stuart was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, but came with her parents to New York when 7 years of age, and was reared and educated in that city. She was married when quite young, and a few years later left a widow. Soon after the death of her husband she entered into active religious and charitable work. Her first experience was in San Francisco, where she was for eight years city missionary with the First Presbyterian church.
In 1874 she resigned that position, and with her little daughter went to Idaho, which was then almost a wilderness, to become matron of the government Indian school at Lapwai, on the Nez Perce reservation. She remained there until 1877, when she, with the other government employees on the reservation, was compelled to flee to civilization to escape massacre at the hands of Chief Joseph and his warriors, who took the war path in that year.
From Idaho she returned to San Francisco and a few months later became matron of the Good Templars' home for orphans at Vallejo, California, remaining with that institution four years. On leaving Vallejo she went to New Zealand to visit a married daughter, and there became matron of the Dunedin Female Refuge, a reformatory institution many of the inmates of which were fallen women of the most hardened type. After five years there she became matron of the Alexandria home, a charitable institution for women at Alexandria [sic], N.Z., and spent five years in that capacity.* Mrs Stuart then returned to California and became a professional nurse. In 1897 she removed to this state, and prior to coming to Seattle was a resident of Everett.

*This was probably the Alexandra Home for Friendless Women in Newtown, Wellington where Mrs Stuart was matron from about 1887- 1892.


Lucy Hannay's death occurred 28 Oct 1911, aged 74 years at the Mental Hospital, Porirua, NZ from "cerebral apoplexy".She had been admitted on 22 August 1910 suffering from senile dementia. She is buried in the Feilding Cemetery.


ALEXANDER MCEWEN married JANET MCLEAN October 24, 1824 in Glasgow. Occupation: Hat manufacturer


                i.             JANET MCEWEN, b. November 06, 1825, Falkirk, Stirling, Scotland; d. March 22, 1909, Toronto.

                ii.            CHRISTINA MCEWEN, b. August 05, 1827, Falkirk, Stirling, Scotland; d. August 03, 1828, Glasgow.

                iii.           ANNE MCEWEN, b. June 13, 1829, Glasgow; d. August 18, 1831, Glasgow.

                iv.           CHRISTINA MCEWEN, b. April 24, 1831, Gorbals, Lanark, Scotland; d. August 26, 1831, Glasgow.

                v.            ALEXANDER MCEWEN, b. November 11, 1832, Glasgow, Lanark, Scotland.

                vi.           JOHN MCEWEN, b. October 25, 1834, Glasgow, Lanark, Scotland; d. November 17, 1905, 371 Littleton Ave, Newark, USA.

                vii.          LOUISA (LUCY) MCEWEN, b. November 12, 1836, Glasgow, Lanark, Scotland; d. October 28, 1911, Mental Hospital, Porirua, Wellington.

                viii.        AGNES MCEWEN, b. February 19, 1839, Glasgow, Lanark, Scotland; d. June 09, 1884, San Francisco, California.

                ix.           ISABELLA MCEWEN, b. August 03, 1842, Glasgow, Lanark, Scotland; d. April 05, 1846, Glasgow.

                x.            FREDERICK JAMES MAXWELL MCEWEN, b. November 14, 1844, Glasgow, Lanark, Scotland; d. December 04, 1847, Glasgow.

                xi.           WILLIAM KING MCEWEN, b. June 30, 1847, Glasgow, Lanark, Scotland; d. November 28, 1888, Yonkers, New York.

                xii.          ARTHUR BENJAMIN MCEWEN, b. January 27, 1851, Stranraer, Wigton, Scotland; d. 1907, Hamilton, Bermuda.

bottom of page