Thomas O’Grady’s Career in the New Zealand Police Force
Heathcote Valley, Ferrymeade, Rangiora, Leithfield & Lyttleton Police
The following are Thomas’ police appointments over
41 years in the Police Service
Heathcote Valley Police Station 1863
Thomas in charge 1863. Heathcote Valley police station opened in 1861
and closed 1867.
Timaru Herald 11 June 1864
Supreme Court. Sergeant O’Grady was called. “On 22nd last
I was in the Heathcote Valley. I saw prisoner Williams in the bar of the
Valley Hotel about 8p. m. I asked him if he had any watches on him. He
said he had none. I took him into a room in the hotel and searched him.
I found a silver watch. No. 14,398, this corresponded with the number
of a watch stolen from Mr. Tayler’s store in Lyttelton. I then charged
him with breaking into Mr. Tayler's store and stealing. I produce the
watch I found on prisoner Williams. I also found on prisoner Williams
six silver chains, a silver Albert chain, two hair guard chains, three
gold rings, a locket, a scent bottle, a silver brooch, a watch key, and
some printed ballads”. His Honor sentenced Williams to two years'
imprisonment with hard labor, to commence from 1st June.
Ferrymead Police Station 1866
Thomas was in charge during 1866 and 1867.
Ferrymead police station and gaol – far left of photo. To the right
is the Ferrymead
Hotel and Railway Station connecting Lyttelton and Christchurch township.
Press 7 September 1864
Resident Magistrate's Court. The following evidence was taken.
Thomas O’Grady called and sworn. I am a Sergeant of Armed Police.
On Thursday 1st instant I received intimation of the wreck of the schooner
Fawn at Sumner. On Saturday last about half-past four p.m I saw a man
coming up from Sumner in a boat. I stopped him at Ferrymead. He came ashore.
I found three empty barrels in the boat. The man was prisoner Thomas.
I asked him where he was taking them to. He said he was taking them home,
and that he had picked them up in the river. I told him that they were
not his, and that I should take possession of them, as they were a portion
of the wreck.
I proceeded to a house at the Ferry road next day which belonged to prisoner
Williamson. Prisoner Thomas came in a minute or two afterwards. I asked
for Williamson. He was out. I then went to Sumner and proceeded on board
the Lizzie, where I arrested prisoner Williamson. I told him that I had
found a quantity of property belonging to the wreck of the Fawn in his
After hearing the evidence, the Resident Magistrate dismissed
the case, cautioning the prisoners that in future they should be very
careful how they meddled with property found from a wreck. They had received
the benefit of the doubt and he hoped it would act as a warning to them
and others who might be tempted into a similar error. Prisoners were then
Rangiora Police Station 1867-1870
The Rangiora police sub-district included the borough and the surrounding
settlements. The station was in Percival Street and included a concrete
seven-roomed residence and office with stables and a lock-up containing
two cells. An officer had been stationed in the district since about 1860.
Sergeant O’Grady was in charge from 1867 to 1870. From Thomas’
diary entries it wasn’t unusual for him to work seven days a week
with only the occasional few days leave of absence. He patrolled on foot
and on horseback and was required for duty at events in Christchurch such
as the races and the flower shows. He would cross the Waimakariri on horseback
as there was no bridge.
Harry was born in Rangiora.
The original police station in Rangiora
Press 5 July 1867
Inquest. Thomas O’Grady, Sergeant of armed police stationed at Rangiora
stated that from information received of the accidental drowning of Henry
Loffhagen, at eight p.m. on Monday evening, he proceeded to the ford where
the accident had happened, and found the mare which the deceased had been
riding standing in the water. He noticed one of the stirrup leathers was
missing. In company with others he examined the banks of the river, and
searched till ten p.m. without any success. Next morning he went again
with Mr Schmidt, and after searching about two hours they discovered the
deceased about a mile down the ford lying in shallow water on a spit.
The body was on its back with the arms extended and the head up. He was
quite dead when found. The body was removed to the Lion hotel. No appearance
of violence was about the body. He was about twelve years of age.
Frederick Schmidt, a farmer living at the Ashley deposed.
He knew the deceased. They were returning home on Monday and had crossed
the river. They had crossed it many times before on horseback and in a
dray. The river at the time was very high and the ford had shifted. They
had got to within a chain of the opposite bank when he saw that the horse
of deceased was swimming and going down the stream. He told the deceased
to try and turn the mare round as he could not get out. The mare was then
swimming underneath the bank. He then heard a scream but could not hear
what deceased said. He lost sight of deceased but saw the mare standing
in the water. It was dusk at the time. He went to George Cones for assistance
and sent for the police. He corroborated the former witnesses' statements
about finding the body. George Cone deposed that he had been informed
of the accident and assisted in the search. It was impossible to find
the body as the water was very high. He had known deceased some time,
and he was on good terms with Schmidt. He was quite sure it would be impossible
for Schmidt to have rendered any assistance. The jury found a verdict
that deceased had been accidently drowned."
Press 22 June 1869
Resident Magistrate's Court. Resisting Police and Rescuing a Prisoner.
G. E. Martin, J. Wheeler, and T. D. Nicholas brought up in custody from
Rangiora were charged with this offence. T. O’Grady Sergeant of
mounted police stationed at Rangiora deposed that on Saturday evening
last he went to the Junction Hotel Rangiora about five minutes past eleven
and told the barman to clear the house; he did so. All the persons went
away except the prisoners and some others who kept standing about. He
went and urged them to go away, and a man named Rule also came up and
asked prisoner Martin to go away. O’Grady told prisoner if he did
not go away he should have to lock him up. Prisoner pushed Rule down,
and also struck O’Grady in the mouth. O’Grady then arrested
him, when a number of persons set upon him and got him down with prisoner
uppermost on his chest. He afterwards got up when assistance came, and
was taking prisoner Martin to the lockup when the other prisoners kept
following. O’Grady had some difficulty with Martin, who refused
to go to the lock-up, and resisted very violently. He called on several
persons "in the Queen's name," but only a man named Burt and
the barman of the hotel, with Mr Rule would assist him. When near the
school-house a cry was raised, and the prisoners Wheeler and Nicholas
with others succeeded in rescuing the prisoner Martin. James Rule, veterinary
surgeon at Rangiora corroborated these statements. Thomas Burt stated
he was called upon in the Queen's name to assist the Sergeant on Saturday
night in getting prisoner Martin to the lock-up. The prisoner went quietly
for a bit but when near the school house he became violent, and a scuffle
with him and others, among which latter were the other two prisoners,
ensued. Burt got a black eye in the affair and a bruise on the forehead.
It was a moonlight night. Had it been dark witness thought the sergeant
and his assistants would have fared worse. Burt tried to induce persons
to assist, but they would not. Before leaving the witness box the Bench
complimented Mr. Burt very highly on his conduct in assisting the polic
especially as being an old man, and they only wished younger and more
able persons had been as ready to assist the authorities in their duty.
Another witness named Sinclair was examined.
Prisoner Martin complained about his arm being twisted
out of joint. He had one arm out of the coat sleeve.
Sergeant O'Grady—I used no violence to the prisoner.
In fact I had lost my whip, and besides keeping others away should have
got the prisoner safely to the look up if I had it. I have not been examined
by a medical man, but I believe I have received internal injuries besides
bruises from the kicking and struggling with prisoners. None of them bear
too good a character. Their conduct is generally very loose.
His Worship sentenced the trio to seven days imprisonment
with hard labour. He would make a note of the disorderly conduct taking
place in a licensed house as it ought not to occur. He would remind the
police that a penalty be attached to persons who refused to assist when
called on in the Queen's name, and perhaps it would be better to make
an example of some one of those who had refused.
Sergeant O'Grady. I intend, your Worship to summon them
but there has not been time.
The Evening Post. Monday, April 13, 1868
The peaceable inhabitants of Rangiora were aroused, a day or two ago,
by the intelligence that four members of the criminal class has arrived
from Christchurch. It appears that after a few unsuccessful attempts to
induce storekeepers to supply them with goods, they tried the public houses.
Selecting the Plough Inn they ordered tea and a quantity of grog, which
they distinctly refused to pay for stating that they did not intend to
pay anything in this ‘expletive’ place. A little caution was
administered by Sergt. O’Grady and the fellows left for Oxford at
an early hour next morning. A man named Mead, who is at the head of the
gang swore they would not leave the plains without something. It may be
well for station owners and farmers to look out for these men as they
are supposed to be armed. On their arrival at Rangiora the storekeepers
and publicans were put on the alert by the police. Lyttelton Timer.
Thomas’ other responsibilities
Press 3 July 1867
A Provincial Government Gazette issued on the 1st instant contains notices
of the following appointments: Sergeant Thomas O’Grady to be inspector
of slaughter houses for the Rangiora district.
Star 19 May 1871
A Provincial Gazette, issued yesterday, contains a notification to the
effect that the following are places where dogs may be registered. The
Police Stations at Christchurch, Lyttelton, Akaroa, Kaiapoi, Rangiora,
Leithfield, Hurunui, Oxford, Bealey, Selwyn, Malvern, Ashburton, Arowhenua,
Timaru, and Waimate. The following are duly authorised to perform the
duties of registration…Thomas O’Grady…
Press 23 March 1871
In connection with the police department, we hear that Sergeant O’Grady
lately stationed at Rangiora is removed to Leithfield.
Leithfield Police Station 1871
Sergeant O’Grady was in charge from 1871 to 1874.
While in Leithfield Thomas also held the positions of Secretary and Treasurer
of the Leithfield Cricket Club at some time.
Press 22 November 1872
Larceny. Thomas Russell was charged with stealing a ham from Mr Baldwin’s
smokehouse at the Royal Hotel on the 20th instant, value 20s. It appeared
from the evidence that Russell was seen in the garden at the back of the
Royal Hotel and about thirty yards from where the ham was taken. He was
lying amongst some broom with the ham on the ground about two yards from
him. Mr Baldwin sent for the police and the offender was locked up. Accused
called Sergeant O’Grady as to character, who stated that Russell
was always looked upon by him as an honest man but a very foolish man
when in drink. The Bench dismissed the case with a strong caution to accused
as to his future conduct.
Star 18 May 1874
A champagne luncheon was given at Baldwin’s Royal Hotel, Leithfield
on Saturday evening last, to Sergeant- Major O’Grady who for a number
of years was stationed at Leithfield but who recently has been removed
to Lyttelton. There were about sixteen persons present, and advantage
was taken of the occasion to "present" Mr O’Grady with
a handsome silver tea and coffee service which had been purchased by subscriptions
collected in the district. Mr W. A. Benn occupied the chair and made the
presentation on behalf of the testimonial committee: He tire w attention
to the fact that Mr O’Grady had, through his obliging and gentlemanly
conduct, earned the respect and esteem of all the residents in the Leithfield
district whilst he resided amongst them and held the office of Sergeant
of Police for so many years. Mr O’Grady had been promoted to the
rank of Sergeant-Major a few months ago and was removed to Lyttelton,
but his old friends were determined to show their appreciation of him
by asking him to visit them on the present occasion for the purpose of
receiving the testimonial which he now had the pleasure of presenting.
Mr O’Grady returned thanks to the chairman, and the gentlemen who
had subscribed to the handsome testimonial which he had that night received.
It was certainly more than he ever expected at their hands, but it would
remind him of his old friends in the North, and the many pleasant days
he had spent amongst them. He hoped the district would continue to prosper
as it had done, and he could assure those present that nothing would give
him greater pleasure than being again stationed in the Leithfield district.
A number of songs were sung during the evening, and the company thoroughly
enjoyed themselves. The testimonial was purchased at the establishment
of Messrs Peterson and Co. Christchurch
and the following inscription is engrave upon the tray- To Sergeant Major
O’Grady from a few of his Northern friends in token of their friendship
and respect. Leithfield Canterbury 16 th May, 1874.
What else was going on in Christchurch in 1872?
Press 12 April 1872
Lyttelton Police Station 1874 -1880
Lyttelton Police Station, New Zealand's oldest working Station completed
now damaged in the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes and closed/demolished.
Press 16 June 1875 Lyttelton
Lydia Mondolosua, arrested by Sergeant-Major O’Grady was charged
with drunkenness. The sergeant stated he found prisoner in front of the
Saxon Hotel surrounded by men, and incapable of taking care of herself.
Prisoner said she had had a bad cold, and had taken some brandy as a remedy;
she promised to leave the town at once if discharged. Case dismissed.
Fined 10s and costs.
Press 26 October 1876
Lyttelton Cricket Club—a meeting of gentlemen interested in forming
a cricket club in Port, was held at the Mitre Hotel, Lyttelton, on Tuesday
night. About twenty gentlemen were present, Mr W. H. Byes occupying the
chair. Messrs F. Ward and Sergeant-Major O’Grady both of whom have
taken great trouble in this matter, spoke at length of the possibility
and advisableness of establishing a club, stating that nearly forty gentlemen
had promised to join, and there was every prospect of being able to obtain
suitable ground at the Heathcote Valley or its neighbourhood.
It was then proposed—"That a Cricket Club be formed, to be
called the Lyttelton Cricket Club Carried. Messrs F. Ward, W. H. Eyes,
and Sergeant Major O’Grady were then appointed a preliminary committee
(Mr F. Ward to act as hon secretary pro tern.) for the purpose of ascertaining
particulars re ground and transit to valley, and also to prepare draft
rules to report to a meeting to be held at the Mitre Hotel on Friday,
27th instant. An adjournment then took place
Press 29 March 1875
Star 25 April 1879
Auckland Star, 13 May 1880
Star 6 May 1880
Star 26 February 1878
Press 22 May 1880
Several friends of Sergeant Major O’Grady who has been in charge
of the Lyttelton Police District for some years, met yesterday afternoon
to present him with a souvenir on the occasion of his leaving for the
Bay of Islands district. Mr Thomas Merson was selected to make the presentation,
which consisted of a very handsome clock and a purse of sovereigns. Mr
Merson, in making the presentation, referred to Mr O’Grady’s
long connection with the police force of Canterbury, and to the just and
impartial manner in which he had at all times carried out the duties of
his office without any undue harshness. He regretted his removal from
Lyttelton, where he had made many friends, and he trusted that Mr O’Grady
would be able to look back with pleasure on the time he had spent amongst
them. In the name of the subscribers he begged his acceptance of the present
and hoped they would help, if help were needed, to remind him that he
left Lyttelton with the hearty good wishes of many friends for his future
prosperity. Mr O’Grady in acknowledging the handsome present thanked
those friends who were present on the occasion and those who were absent.
He assured them that he should ever remember with the warmest feelings
of gratitude the many acts of kindness and courtesy he had received at
their hands. He much regretted leaving Canterbury, where lie had he know
many friends, but he hoped at some future time to be able to return. He
should value the present given him most highly and assured them that it
would be handed down as an heirloom in his family. Others present having
made some suitable remarks on the occasion, the proceedings terminated.
The clock which was purchased from Messrs Peterson and Co., is a very
handsome and massive one, framed in black marble, relieved by grey marble
columns at the sides. It bears the following inscription: Presented to
Sergeant Major Thomas O’Grady by his Lyttelton friends on his leaving
the district. May, 1880."