Caroline Abraham

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Caroline Abraham
Caroline Harriett Abraham.jpg
Caroline Harriet Hudson

Died17 June 1877(1877-06-17) (aged 67–68)
Bournemouth, England
Known forWatercolour artist; writer; wife of an Anglican bishop
Charles Abraham (m. 1850)
Relatives Charles Palmer (father)
Charles Abraham (son)

Caroline Harriet Abraham (née Palmer, 1809 17 June 1877) was born in Wanlip near Leicester. She became a New Zealand artist who created a useful record of that country in the nineteenth century. She was the influential wife of a bishop and the mother of another. She put together a book, with others, supporting Māori rights.

Wanlip village in the United Kingdom

Wanlip is a small village and civil parish in the Charnwood district of Leicestershire, with a population measured at 305 at the 2011 census. It is a countryside village, north of Birstall, and west of Watermead Country Park and the River Soar. The A46 road runs directly past the village. Wanlip won the 2008 Leicester and Rutland Best Village Competition for villages with a population under 500.

Māori people Indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand

The Māori are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand. Māori originated with settlers from eastern Polynesia, who arrived in New Zealand in several waves of canoe voyages somewhere between 1320 and 1350. Over several centuries in isolation, these settlers developed their own distinctive culture whose language, mythology, crafts and performing arts evolved independently from other eastern Polynesian cultures.



Caroline Harriet Palmer was born [1] and baptised in 1809 in Wanlip, Leicestershire, England. [2] [3] She was the daughter of Sir Charles Thomas Hudson Palmer and his wife. Her father had changed his name from Hudson to Palmer in order to meet the terms of an inheritance. [1] In 1850 she married the Rev Charles Abraham and they emigrated to New Zealand shortly after where her husband wanted to work with George Selwyn. [2] They arrived in Auckland on 6 August 1850 with their servant. [4] Selwyn appointed her husband to lead a new college, St John's College, he had founded in Auckland. Her husband trained both Māori and European youths. [5]

Sir Charles Thomas Hudson Palmer, 2nd Baronet. His family seat was in Wanlip Hall in Leicestershire.

Charles Abraham (bishop of Wellington) Bishop of Wellington

Charles John Abraham was the first Anglican Bishop of Wellington. He married Caroline Palmer who became a noted artist.

George Selwyn (bishop of Lichfield) English clergyman

George Augustus Selwyn was the first Anglican Bishop of New Zealand. He was Bishop of New Zealand from 1841 to 1869. His diocese was then subdivided and Selwyn was Metropolitan of New Zealand from 1858 to 1868. Returning to Britain, Selwyn served as Bishop of Lichfield from 1868 to 1878.

Her husband was ordained to become the Bishop of Wellington whilst on a trip to England in 1857. [2] Her only son, Charles was born the same year and he went on to be the Bishop of Derby.

Charles Thomas Abraham (1857–1945) was the second Bishop of Derby from 1909 until 1927.

The Bishop of Derby is the Ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Derby in the Province of Canterbury.

Complete Abraham, Caroline Harriet 1809-1877 Panorama of St John's college.png
Panorama of St John's college Tamaki, New Zealand 1862 [6]

Abraham was a water colourist and her scenes of early New Zealand immigrant settlements are held by the National Library of New Zealand [7] and Auckland City [8] [3] They are an important source of information from this period. During the New Zealand Wars she advocated for the Māori. [2]

Watercolor painting Type of painting method using water-based solutions

Watercolor or watercolour, also aquarelle, is a painting method in which the paints are made of pigments suspended in a water-based solution. Watercolor refers to both the medium and the resulting artwork. Aquarelles painted with water-soluble colored ink instead of modern water colors are called "aquarellum atramento" by experts. However, this term has been more and more passing out of use.

National Library of New Zealand Legal-deposit national library

The National Library of New Zealand is New Zealand's legal deposit library charged with the obligation to "enrich the cultural and economic life of New Zealand and its interchanges with other nations". Under the Act, the library is also expected to be:

Auckland City Former territorial authority of New Zealand in Auckland

Auckland City is the part of Auckland urban area covering the isthmus and most of the islands of the Hauraki Gulf. The core of Auckland City is the Auckland CBD, a major financial and commercial centre, surrounded by many suburbs. It was formerly the name of a local authority district that was governed by Auckland City Council; it lay within the wider Auckland Region, which was governed by Auckland Regional Council. Auckland City was disestablished as a local government district on 1 November 2010, when Auckland City Council was amalgamated with other councils of the Auckland Region into the new Auckland Council.

The publication that she helped create was called Extracts of letters from New Zealand on the war question and it was published in 1861. [9] She wrote it with her aunt and uncle, George and Sarah Selwyn, her own husband and Sir William and Lady Mary Ann Martin. George Selwyn was a Bishop and Sir William Martin was the Chief Justice. Abraham believed that the Māori people (then called natives of New Zealand and similar) were a proud race whose rights needed to be considered. This book was distributed privately after being printed in London. [2]

William Martin (judge) Chief Justice of New Zealand

Sir William Martin was the first Chief Justice of New Zealand, from 1841 until he resigned in 1857.

In 1862 a set of eight matching lithographs were published which were based on images created by Abraham. The images built into a panorama of Tamaki showing the site of St John's Chapel and school buildings in Auckland. The lithography was achieved by an unnamed sister of Rev. William C. Cotton. [6]

Tamaki is a small suburb of East Auckland, 11 kilometres from the Auckland CBD, in the North Island of New Zealand. It is located by the banks of the estuarial Tamaki River, which is a southern arm of the Hauraki Gulf. The suburb is between the suburbs of Point England to the north and Panmure to the south.

Chapel of St John the Evangelist, Auckland

The Chapel of St John the Evangelist belongs to St John's College in the Auckland, New Zealand suburb of Meadowbank. Built from March 1847 and consecrated by Bishop Selwyn later that year, it was registered on 23 June 1983 by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust as a Category I historic place with registration number 13. It is the oldest surviving church building in Auckland.

William Cotton (missionary) Anglican priest, missionary and apiarist

Rev William Charles Cotton MA was an Anglican priest, a missionary and an apiarist. After education at Eton College and Christ Church, Oxford he was ordained and travelled to New Zealand as chaplain to George Augustus Selwyn, its first bishop. He introduced the skills of beekeeping to North Island and wrote books on the subject. Later as vicar of Frodsham, Cheshire, England, he restored its church and vicarage but was limited in his activities by mental illness.

In 1867 Abraham and her son returned to England in order for her son to study at Eton. Three years later, her husband also went back to England as his friend George Selwyn was to be made Bishop of Lichfield. [10]

Abraham died in Bournemouth in 1877. [5]


She was the wife of a bishop and the mother of another. [2] Her paintings and sketches are held in several collections in New Zealand. One of her sketchbooks is in Auckland Public Library and this records the influence on her of classically trained, but New Zealand artists like Albin Martin and John Hoyte. [2]

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  1. 1 2 Obituary, The Gentleman's Magazine, and Historical Chronicle, Volume 97, Part 1
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Kirker, Anne. "Caroline Harriet Abraham". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography . Ministry for Culture and Heritage . Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  3. 1 2 Una Platts. "ABRAHAM, Caroline Harriet, nee Palmer c.1835–1877 | NZETC". Retrieved 13 May 2014.
  4. "Shipping Intelligence". New Zealander. 6 (450). 7 August 1850. p. 2. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  5. 1 2 W. G. D. Fletcher, 'Abraham, Charles John (1814–1903)', rev. H. C. G. Matthew, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2008 accessed 30 June 2014
  6. 1 2 Panorama, Retrieved 29 June 2014
  7. "Abraham, Caroline Harriet, 1809?–1877 :Sketchbook. [1860–1864]". National Library of New Zealand. Retrieved 13 May 2014.
  8. "heritageimages Record". Retrieved 13 May 2014.
  9. "Extracts of letters from New Zealand on the war question ; with an article from the New Zealand Spectator of November 3rd, 1860 ; and a copy of the Native Offenders' Bill [electronic resource]". Europeana. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  10. Macdonald, Charlotte (1991). The Book of New Zealand Women. Wellington: Bridget Williams Books. p. 2. ISBN   0908912048.