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   John Bain Anderson

(ca1846-20 March 1914)






John Bain (CR) was the youngest Anderson, possibly named for his maternal grandfather. He was the first of his siblings to migrate beyond British shores. Other than being listed as son or scholar in census records until 1861, I have found nothing about his early life. However, assets in the inventory for his father’s will include a promissory note (£40/1/8, including interest) and an advance (£257/11/10) made to John, with the clear expectation these would be repaid or perhaps deducted from his inheritance. It was noted that he was abroad at the time of the inventory in 1876. It is likely he was already in Dunedin although I have found no migration records.

Certainly, he married Agnes Gardiner Horne (ca1852-1932) in Dunedin’s Knox Church in November 1878, the same year his two brothers

migrated to Dunedin. The wedding announcement says the bride and groom were both from Broughty Ferry. I have found a census record for a Broughty Ferry Agnes Horn in the 1861 Scottish records. Her mother is Margaret (a grocer), there is a boarder, Peter Fairweather, a sister, Elizabeth and a brother, George. We will return to these names when we get to John and Agnes’s children.



John and Agnes


Margaret Fairweather           John Bain          Jessie Ferrier          Elizabeth Mary

                                                       (1879-1957)                    (1880-1881)          (1889-1956)              (1891-1972)

















Back to John, there is an advertisement in the 23 June 1877 edition of

Dunedin’s Evening Star asking for a John B Anderson to collect mail from home (Dundee) but this may not be our man. I don’t know if John was in Halifax with most of the rest of his siblings before he migrated. However, his trade was dyeing, complementing his brothers’ roles in Dunedin’s burgeoning wool industry. Indeed, looking at the advertisements for Anderson Brothers, Ravensbourne, it seems that dyeing was their primary function. Perhaps their UK agent was twice brother-in-law, Donald Ramsey Edgar, drysalter and specialist in analine dyes.    

In 1881, John’s qualification for the electoral roll was freehold sections 20 and

27 in Rothesay (brother William had sections 23 A and B). I must say, I’d never heard of a Rothesay in my home town but Mr Google tells me it was one of the pretty little villages that “flecked” the district of Dunedin’s West Harbour. In 1905, the area was “a popular residential borough for city business people” – shades of Broughty Ferry’s function for the well-heeled of Dundee.

In 1911, John and Agnes were still in Rothesay, in Montague Street. Aged

around 65, he had not retired, his occupation was still dyer. He died just three years later, on 20 March 1914, aged around 68 years.    

John was possibly the most adept of the Anderson siblings at flying under

the radar, or just living a quiet, stable life. I have found no record of his or Agnes’ migration to Dunedin. There is a near decade-long gap between the births of his middle two children for which I have no explanation. He didn’t make the papers as his brothers and sister, Elizabeth, did. A search brought no probate records. There doesn’t appear to be any descendant to approach to ask about his life. As with his life, a quiet end to his story. I have found Agnes’ signature on the 1893 Women Suffrage Petition Roll. John, Agnes and infant son, John Bain A, are buried in Dunedin's Northern Cemetery. Of their other three children, none became parents.

Otago Daily Times

31 July 1878

Papers Past

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