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John (Sperry) Sperrey (1829 - 1890)

John Sperrey formerly Sperry
Born in Yorkshire, England, United Kingdommap
Son of [father unknown] and [mother unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married 1857 in Geelong, Victoria, Australiamap
Husband of — married 1858 in Geelong, Victoria, Australiamap
Descendants descendants
Died at age 60 in Wellington, New Zealandmap
Profile last modified | Created 4 Feb 2015
This page has been accessed 210 times.
This profile is part of the Sperry Name Study.



John Sperrey

Early life

The following is largely taken from one of his obituaries. [1]
As a young Yorkshireman he entered a London banking house, perhaps in those days the most rigid school in the world and gained his experience in figures.


About 1848/1849 he took ship for Australia, and landed in Geelong, a few years before gold digging broke out in 1852, when he left for Ballarat. He ventured into Jones' Creek and Mount Kerang where he joined in a "determined stand for their rights by a legitimate body of workers". On retiring from mining life Mr Sperrey returned to Geelong, where he acquired a timber business.

Marriage 1

In 1857 John Sperrey and Christiana Trembath Nicholls were married. [2]

She died in the same year, aged 21.[3]

Marriage 2

In 1858 John Sperrey and Eleanor Maunder were married. [4]


On 31 August 1859 they had a son. [5] On 1 September 1859 their infant son died [6]

On 1 September 1860 they had another son, John Haywood . [7] On 27 January 1861 John Haywood, the infant son of John and Eleanor Sperrey, died aged 5 months.[8]

On 7 January 1862 they had a daughter, Eleanor Katherine [9]

New Zealand

In 1864 he moved from Geelong, Victoria, Australia to Dunedin, New Zealand.

They had two more children born in New Zealand, John Herbert (Mar 1863 - Jan 1864) and Clara Maunder (Jul 1864 - Sep 1877).

In Dunedin he was engaged in the sub-treasurer's office as a clerk, then appointed as the Provincial Treasurer's Assistant.

The abolition of the provinces having taken place in 1876, Mr Sperrey's services were retained by the General Government, and he had to shift his headquarters to Wellington. When Sir George Grey's Government passed the Land Tax Act, Mr Sperrey was selected for the onerous and responsible position of Land Tax Commissioner. This was in November 1878[10]
LAND TAX COMMISSIONER. Mr. John Sperry has been appointed Land Tax Commissioner, at a salary of £700 a-year.


On 17 September 1890 John Sperrey passed away, aged 61. [11]


He is buried with his daughter in the Bolton Street Cemetery, Wellington.
Gravestone : Here rests John SPERREY, born 25 November 1829, d. 17 September 1890, a. 61, also his only daughter, Eleanor Kate, wife of Gilbert MAIR, born 7 January 1862, d. 23 April 1893, a. 31.

Obituary 1

Evening Post [12]
It is with the deepest regret that we have to record the death of Mr. John Sperrey, Property Tax Commissioner. The deceased gentleman was a native of Yorkshire, and emigrated as a young man to Victoria, where he spent some time on the goldfields, Mr. John Lillie Gillies, Secretary to the Otago Harbour Board, being one of his mates. He was afterwards in business in Geelong, and we think also in Melbourne. He and Mr. Gillies arrived in Otago about 1850, and he received an appointment as chief clerk in the Provincial Treasury. Subsequently, when Sir Julius Vogel was Provincial Treasurer, Mr. Sperrey succeeded Mr. C. Street as Sub-Treasurer, and singularly enough served in that office under his old friend, Mr. J. L. Gillies who was for a time Treasurer. Mr. Sperrey sustained serious injuries from falling over or down some Corporation street works in Dunedin which were left unlighted, and these left permanent effects in the shape of lameness. He subsequently recovered heavy compensation from the Corporation. In 1875 he paid a prolonged visit to the Home country, and soon after his return was appointed Land Tax Commissioner in connection with the land tax introduced by the Grey Government. When this was changed to the property tax Mr. Sperrey became Property Tax Commissioner, the duties of which office he has since continued to perform with rare ability, and to the entire satisfaction of all concerned. Mr. Sperrey was a great accountant, possessing a rare mastery of the science of figures, and he was also an admirable organiser. He speedily made his department a model one, and, his kindly, genial nature endeared him to his subordinates, and even made him popular with the public, although his duties towards them were often of an unpleasant character. The public service of the colony sustains a severe loss by Mr. Sperrey's death, and a very wide circle of personal friends in this colony and Victoria will mourn his death. He leaves one daughter, Mrs. Gilbert Mair, who is well-known as an accomplished artist. Mr. Sperrey was for many years in the Commission of the Peace. He was a hereditary sufferer from gout, and it is to this disease that he succumbed yesterday. A few days ago the gout rose from his limbs until it apparently affected his brain. He became delirious, and seemed to suffer great pain, for the alleviation of which morphia had to be freely used. The funeral takes place at 4 30 to-morrow afternoon.

Obituary 2

Christchurch Star [13]
John Sperrey.

He was the Property Tax Commissioner. Nevertheless, he was the most popular of all the Government officials. A sturdy Yorkshireman, he carried into the Service some eight and twenty years ago all the toughness and fibre that is required in that country of mingled Anglo-Saxon and Danish blood. To the Yorkshire natural quality, Mr Sperrey had added a great experience of men — which is sometimes more valuable than the experience of cities — picked up, that experience was, on the great stage of the goldfields' dramas of Bendigo and Ballarat. The combination he placed, with a great knowledge of accounts, at the service of the Otago Provincial Government, and that Government found that "it was good." That verdict made him Land Tax Commissioner after the Abolition of the Provinces, and from the Land tax Mr Sperrey became the nonpolitical Father of the Property tax. Justice and truth, independence and courtesy, geniality and cheerfulness were the leading features of the work that he did for the State. The regret of a large circle of friends, and the conviction of many of the leading men in New Zealand, that John Sperrey's loss is irreparable, is all that is left of him in the land of his adoption.

Obituary 3

Otago Daily Times[14]
Not included here, for brevity. Extracts are above.


  1. Otago Daily Times, Issue 8924, 1 October 1890, Page 6 (Supplement)
  2. Marriages
    Event: marriages
    Registration number: 2474/1857
    Family name: Nicholls
    Given name(s): Christiana Trembath
    Spouse's family name: Sperry
    Spouse's given name(s): John
  3. Deaths
    Event: Death
    Sperry, Christiana Trembath
    Mother: Elizabeth Trembath
    Father: Henry Nicholls
    Born: CORN
    Husband: John Sperry
    Age at death: 21
    Year: 1857
    Reg. No. 6644/1857
  4. Online marriage search
    Event: marriages
    Registration number 3563 / 1858
    Family name: MAUNDER
    Given name(s) Eleanor
    Spouse's family name: SPERREY
    Spouse's given name(s) John
  5. Family Notices (1859, September 15). Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1859 - 1929), p. 3. Retrieved March 5, 2021, from
  6. Family Notices (1859, September 3). Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1859 - 1929), p. 2. Retrieved March 5, 2021, from
  7. Family Notices (1860, September 5). Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1859 - 1929), p. 2. Retrieved March 5, 2021, from
  8. "Family Notices" Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1859 - 1929) 29 January 1861: 2. Web. 5 Mar 2021 <>.
  9. Family Notices (1862, January 9). Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1859 - 1929), p. 2. Retrieved March 5, 2021, from
  10. Taranaki Herald, Volume XXVI, Issue 2975, 14 November 1878, Page 3
  11. NZBDM deaths 17/9/1890 1890/3587 Sperrey, John, 61Y
  12. Evening Post, Volume XL, Issue 69, 18 September 1890, Page 2
  13. Star (Christchurch), Issue 6973, 30 September 1890, Page 2
  14. Otago Daily Times, Issue 8924, 1 October 1890, Page 6 (Supplement)
  • New Zealand, Cemetery Records, 1800-2007 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014. John Sperrey; 17 Sep 1890; Burial: Wellington, NZ.

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