Topic: Andrew James and Mary Ann Whyte

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Andrew Whyte was an early Foxton hotelier who did much for the advancement of Foxton.

Andrew Whyte was born at Cork, Ireland, in 1841 and immigrated to New Zealand in 1863.  He was landlord of the “Old Coach and Horses” in Manners Street, Wellington and later moved to Lower Hutt.


On July 1865 he married Mary Ann Taylor, daughter of James and Rachel Taylor of Tawa Flat.  The Taylors, William aged 44 and Rachel aged 39 arrived in Wellington on the “Martha Ridgway” on 8th July 1840.  Their children were Mary, James, George, Frederick, William Henry and Richard.  James worked on the “Martha Ridgway” as captain’s boy.  The family lived first at Pauatahanui and later moved to Tawa Flat in the early 1850s.


In 1870 the Whytes moved to Foxton with their family.  In 1871 Andrew took over the hotel on the site in Avenue Road now occupied by the “Manawatu” Hotel.  After five years he gave up the licence and took up residence locally.  Very soon he decided to build an hotel in Main Street and thus the first “Whytes” Hotel, then the largest accommodation house on the coast came into being on 7th November 1876.  He remained Proprietor until his death and then his wife carried on the licence.  Bed and breakfast could be had for one shilling and sixpence.  The original building was destroyed by fire in 1919 but was rebuilt by Mr F.S. Easton who changed the name to “Easton’s Hotel” but the name “Whyte’s” was too well entrenched and “Whyte’s” it still is today.  The name “Easton’s” may be seen painted out near the roof of the building.


Andrew was always ready to help in promoting the interests of the place in which he lived and did much for the advancement of Foxton.


He was one of the businessmen who put up a guarantee to establish Dr. Rockstrow in a practice in Foxton.  He took a great interest in racing and was one of those involved in establishing the course on the land provided by the “Foxton Racecourse Act” of 1869.  His son, John was President for the 60th year of racing in Foxton.


He purchased the steamer “Jane Douglas” which carried goods and passengers between Wellington and Foxton and the Manawatu area.  It also provided a service between Wellington, Kaikoura, Wanganui and Hokitika.  It was an unlucky ship and was stranded at least nine times and finally sank when she struck the Saddle Rocks off D’Urville Island on 22nd January, 1912.  At this stage she was owned by Mrs C.A. Keech of Kumara.  Because of her shallow draught the “Jane Douglas” was a very useful vessel, able to enter the small ports of the west coast with their dangerous sand bars.



Andrew Whyte died at the very early age of 41 and his wife carried on at the hotel, bringing up a young family of seven – three sons and four daughters.


After leaving the hotel Mrs Whyte built a two-storied house opposite the Railway Station in Harbour Street.  Later this was used as a boarding house by Mrs Walter Symons and was burnt down about 1920.  Another house built for Mrs Whyte was on the corner of Clyde Street and Harbour Street.  This one is still standing.


Mrs Whyte was a staunch worker for All Saints Church, Foxton, was President of the Ladies Guild and did a lot of work for their annual sales of work.


Mary Ann passed away at Foxton in October 1908 aged 63.


The family were:


Agnes who married John McMillan – they had a drapery store on the corner of Park Street and Avenue Road.


Andrew James who farmed at Tokomaru – he married Ada Startup who was born in Australia.  She moved to Wellington with her parents and is believed to be the first woman to serve in Hannah’s Bootshop.


John Russell who farmed at Tokomaru, married Ann Charlotte Cook.   After her death in 1928 he remarried a Miss Kelly.  He died in 1961 aged 91.


Ann Rachel who married Walter Edward Barber – they farmed at Motuiti.


Jane married Edward Cowles.


Kate married Ernest Smith.


James did not marry and lived with his mother.  When she died he lived with his brother Andrew.


Compiled from information supplied by granddaughter Mrs Elsie Bartosh and the files of the Foxton Historical Society.

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