Agnes Carmont or McDonald, of Buittle and New Zealand

The Old Parish Registers of Buittle record the marriage, on 5th October 1826, of John Carmont of Buittle with Elizabeth Caven of Urr. These records also show the death of a child, James Carmont, aged 1 year, at a farm called Allan Bank, not far from the church. The Carmont's had a large family, none of which appear in the baptism records of local churches. It is known that the Caven families of Dalbeattie were mainly Roman Catholic which may account for this.

The 1851 census for Urr parish has John Carmont living in the High Street, Dalbeattie. He is 57 years of age, having been born in New Abbey. His occupation is given a butcher. His wife Elizabeth is present (aged 44 years, born Urr parish) and seven of their children, viz; Mary Ann (20), Jane, (19), John, (16), Margaret (16), Alexander (10), Allan (9) and Catherine (4). Another daughter, Elizabeth (14) is in Dumfries parish, living with an uncle, Robert Sharpe, farmer.

Shortly before the time of the census their eldest daughter, Agnes, who was brought up by her uncle Dr McCartney in Glasgow, had been engaged as a ladies' companion by a Mr & Mrs Clifford who farmed the huge Flaxbourne estate in Marlborough, New Zealand. She sailed on the Phoebe Dunbar and arrived in Wellington in November 1850.

In 1954, in Wellington, she married a fellow Scot, probably from the Isle of Bute, who had gone to New Zealand with his parents around 1818 and had worked on whaling ships and carried on a coastal trade in New Zealand. After they were married they leased 12,000 acres of coastal land and ran cattle and sheep.

Wilst living with her uncle in Glasgow, Agnes gathered a considerable amount of medical knowlege, which she used to help the local Maori population, notably during the influenza epidemics which devastated the region throughout the 1860’s, when she was credited with using iodine as an effective treatment for scrofula. In 1878 Hector McDonald died,  and Agnes became postmaster at Horowhenua (1883 – 1894).She died at Opaki, near Masterton, on 28th November 1906 aged 77 years.

As well as bringing up her own family of ten children she also adopted a son of her husband's from a previous marriage to a Maori lady.

There are several accounts of the life of Hector and Agnes available on the Internet. The major source is in a book, written by their son Rod. McDonald, "Te Hakenga; early days in Horowhenua," published in 1920, which is a history of the area in which they resided. For this, and other links, see below.


External Links