Clare County Library
Clare People
Home | Search Library Catalogue | Foto: Clare Photo Collection | Search this Website | Copyright Notice

Sergeant Major Thomas O'Grady: Father of the New Zealand Police Force
by Ann O'Grady

Retirement and Death; Acknowledgements and references

Thomas retires from the Police Force, Oamaru 1901
Thomas retired from the New Zealand Police Force in 1901 aged 62.

New Zealand Tablet 8 April 1909
Mr O’Grady or as he is more popularly known, Sergeant O’Grady retired from the public service on April 1. Since the inception of the Labor Department about twenty years ago Mr O’Grady has watched over its interests in Oamaru (says a local paper). But it is by his connection with the police force that Mr O’Grady is most widely known. He joined the police department in 1861, and served in Christchurch, Lyttelton, Kaiapoi, and Rangiora. While at Lyttelton he received promotion to the rank of Sergeant Major. In 1880 he was transferred to Auckland, where he was in charge for eighteen months of the North of Auckland district, Russell being his headquarters. From Russell in 1883 Sergeant O’Grady transferred to Thames, and had charge of that district for three years. From Thames he went to Greymouth, where he remained in charge for another three years, afterwards transferring back to the North Island and making Napier his headquarters for three years. From Napier Sergeant O’Grady transferred to Oamaru where he has resided since. At the time Oamaru and Timaru formed one police district under Inspector Thompson, and after Inspector Thompson's retirement Sergeant O’Grady assumed charge of the district and retained control until the time of his own retirement from the force on superannuation in 1902. Sergeant O’Grady was ever a popular official, and his career as an officer has been marked by many a stirring adventure.

Herald, 5 October 1901

Newspaper clipping

The death of Thomas O’Grady Oamaru 15 June 1913
Thomas O’Grady died in Oamaru on 15 June 1913 aged 73 of duodenal ulcer and peritonitis at the Nurse Stronach’s Private Hospital Oamaru. (Death certificate in Oamaru courthouse ref 1580). Thomas is buried in the Oamaru Cemetery with his wife Frances Jackson O’Grady and his eldest son Thomas William O’Grady Block 158 Plot 7.

Tombstone of Sergeant Thomas, Frances Jackson O’Grady and Thomas William O’Grady, Oamaru
Tombstone of Sergeant Thomas, Frances Jackson O’Grady and Thomas William O’Grady, Oamaru

From Thomas’ obituary in the Oamaru Mail 17 June 1913 in the Oamaru museum:
Thomas was a prominent member of the Roman Catholic community and in the counsels of the church organisation his opinions were regarded with respect and esteem. Sergeant O’Grady also held strong political opinions on the Liberal side and although a good fighting man in tines of political stress he was never offensive. The late Sergeant O’Grady had attained the age of 73 years. He is survived by Mrs O’Grady, four sons and three daughters to whom the sympathy of the community will be extended to their bereavement.

The headstone was erected from a bequest of Georgina (Tottie) O’Grady who was Thomas and Frances’ daughter. The inscription reads “Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away RIP.”
Thomas’ funeral mass was held on Wednesday 18 June at 9 am at the Catholic Basilica in Oamaru.

Thames Star, 26 June 1913

Newspaper clipping

“Sergeant O’Grady was ever a popular official, and his career as an officer has been marked by many a stirring adventure”.

Acknowledgements and references:
Desmond Joseph O’Grady
Petina Danenberg
Rangiora historical museum
Oamaru historical museum
Lyttelton Police Station
Oamaru Police Station
Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand.
Heritage Images Collection - Christchurch City Libraries
Thomson, Barry & Neilson, Robert. (1989), Sharing the Challenge, History of the
Christchurch Police District. J C Rowe and the Christchurch Police District History Book Committee.

Bay of Islands
Sergeant Major Thomas O'Grady