Biography

JOSEPH SPARROW

Burial register ID: 14894
Surname: SPARROW
First name: JOSEPH
Middle names:
Gender: Male
Age: 88 Years
Cause of death: Unknown
Burial type:
Date of death: 01-Jul-1930
Date of burial: 02-Jul-1930

Block: 38
Plot: 4
Inscription:

On the front of the monument:-

IN LOVING MEMORY OF

JOSEPH SPARROW

ENGINEER,

DIED 1st JULY 1930

IN HIS 89th YEAR.

ALSO

HIS BELOVED WIFE

ROBINA

DIED 5th NOV. 1943

IN HER 99th YEAR.

AT REST

SPARROW

On the right side of the monument:-

IN LOVING MEMORY OF

WILLIAM FRASER

BELOVED SON OF

J. and R. SPARROW

DIED 18th MAY 1911

AGED 34 YEARS.

ALSO THEIR FOUR CHILDREN

DIED IN INFANCY.

Bio contributor: Jill Allport

Joseph Sparrow (1842-1930)

Joseph Sparrow was born in 1842 in Dumbarton, Scotland, the youngest son of William Sparrow, a labourer, and Agnes (née Spiers). He served his apprenticeship in Denny & Co.’s Leven Ship Yards on the River Clyde and then spent five years with Mitchell, Armstrong and Mitchell at Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Joseph married Robina MacKay there in 1864 and on 1st June 1869 they sailed from Glasgow for Port Chalmers on the William Davie.

Joseph first worked for his older brother Robert, but by 1879 had established his own foundry, the Victoria Ironworks, on the corner of Rattray and Willis Streets. At first he employed six men to assist him, however by 1900 he employed more than 300, and turned out enormous quantities of work each year. Joseph’s firm built many Central Otago bridges (notably the Clyde bridge), gold dredges which formed the major part of the firm’s business (many of the largest dredges in New Zealand with many being exported), and steam engines designed for marine use. For over 20 years they did much repair work for the Union Steam Ship Co. and also Shaw, Savill and Co. and other large shipping companies. They manufactured iron and brass castings and constructed the extensions for the Roslyn tram system. A small steam boiler built by the firm took first place in the New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition 1889-90.

Joseph and Robina had 17 children, 13 of whom survived to adulthood. Two of the sons went into Joseph’s foundry business and kept it a going concern until it was taken over by Fletcher Steel in 1952.

Joseph and Robina attended the Methodist Church for 50 years and Joseph was a trustee at North East Valley, Mornington and finally Trinity Church. He was also a Justice of the Peace and served as a borough councillor on the North East Valley and Mornington Councils, as well as serving for six years as a member of the Mornington School Committee and as a member of the Manufacturers’ Association.

Joseph Sparrow died on 1st July 1930 at the age of 88 years. He predeceased his wife Robina by 13 years. They are buried here in the family plot with their sons William MacKay, Robert Spiers, Joseph and William Fraser Sparrow, and their daughters Ada and Ada Smalley Sparrow; many of their descendants still live in New Zealand.

Details from:-

Sparrow, Ellon. ‘Joseph Sparrow (1842-1930)’, Southern People: a Dictionary of Otago Southland, Longacre Press

Papers Past website, Otago Daily Times 23rd April 1900.


Joseph Sparrow
Source: Jill Allport


Joseph and Robina Sparrow’s Diamond Wedding Anniversary, November 1924
Source: Jill Allport

There are 8 Interments in this grave:

Surname First names Age Date of death Date of burial
SPARROW ADA 6 Weeks 05-Feb-1885 07-Feb-1885
SPARROW ADA SMALLEY 91 Years 12-Jun-1977 14-Jun-1977
SPARROW JOSEPH 88 Years 01-Jul-1930 02-Jul-1930
SPARROW JOSEPH 7 Months 01-Feb-1876 06-Apr-1880
SPARROW ROBERT SPIERS 3 Months 28-Oct-1874 06-Apr-1880
SPARROW ROBINA 98 Years 05-Nov-1943 06-Nov-1943
SPARROW WILLIAM FRASER 34 Years 18-May-1911 24-May-1911
SPARROW WILLIAM MCKAY 2 Years 23-Sep-1874 06-Apr-1880