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Last updated: 24 January 2010

Shennan family: Business and family papers relating to Watson Shennan and the Shennan family

Collection | Ref # ARC-0317 | Held by Hocken Collections - Uare Taoka o Hakena

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Shennan family: Business and family papers relating to Watson Shennan and the Shennan family


Shennan family

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Watson Shennan was one of the first and most influential runholders in Central Otago. He was born in Scotland in 1835, the son of Robert Shennan. At the age of 22, in 1857, he arrived in Otago on the 'Thomas and Henry' with his brother Alexander and set out to look for land in Central Otago. Watson and his brother Alexander took up two runs, named Galloway and Moutere, in the Manuherikia Valley. By 1859 they had the first stud of merino sheep in Otago and the next year imported the first Scottish long wool sheep to the province. They were eventually sold and in 1869 he took over Puketoi Station in the Maniototo, where he developed a prize-winning merino flock. In 1878 he left Puketoi under management and moved to Conical Hills Estate at Tuapeka. In 1885 Watson travelled to Scotland and married Grace Burnet, a minister's daughter, and they had a family of three children. Watson Douglas Shennan was born 1887, Grace Burnet Shennan in 1889 and Lancelot Stuart Burnet Shennan in 1891. In 1904 he retired to a large mansion in High Street, designed by R.A. Lawson, and continued to administer his estates from there. Watson Shennan died on 14 December 1920.

His daughter Grace became Mrs Garth Gallaway. Her son is Iain Gallaway. Watson junior served in Europe during World War I with the Royal Engineers. Stuart farmed at Linnburn Station in the Maniototo. The station was bought for him on his 21st birthday by his father.

Scope and contents:

The collection includes correspondence, particularly from Watson Shennan to his wife Grace. There are also letters relating to Rev. William Burnet and Robert Shennan. Also included are papers relating to Galloway Station, Threave, Puketoi, and Linnburn Station. There are also sheep station diary notes and Conical Hills settlement plan.

Dates covered:

1847 - 1997

Access conditions:

Not restricted.

Finding aids:

Listed on the 'Hakena' archives and manuscripts catalogue.

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Associated with:


Conical Hill (Otago) · Galloway (Otago) · Maniototo · Puketoi (Homestead, Otago)



Settlers · Runs · Runholders · Farmers

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