The Bartons were a well known family across the Wellington and Wairarapa regions in the 19th and 20th century due to their large pastoral land holdings, estates, and marriages to other runholders and business people during the foundation of the New Zealand colony.
The family are descended from Richard Barton, a pioneer runholder and one of the first settlers in the Hutt Valley and the Wairarapa. Barton is well known for settling Trentham estate in Heretaunga Upper Hutt. He arrived in Wellington on the first settler ship to depart London in 1839. He had been sponsored by the Duke of Sutherland to assist in emmigrating Scottish Highlanders and developing a new colony through the endeavours of the New Zealand Company, lead by Edward Gibbon Wakefield.
The family were associated and married into many well known business families in Wellington as well as other runholders such as the Bidwills.
The family continued farming into the mid 20th century though sold off portions of land in Wairarapa and the Hutt Valley including 48.5 hectares for the Wellington Golf Club in 1906, and 100 acres of Heretaunga and Trentham parkland to the public in the 1950's, eventuating in Barton Ave, Barton Road and Trentham Park in Heretaunga, Upper Hutt.
Today the Barton family consists of 6th generations of New Zealand born members descended from Richard Barton - with many still living in Upper Hutt, the Wairarapa and Wellington.
Richard Barton, pioneer
Richard Barton was born in Newport, Isle of Wight in 1790 and farmed throughout Hampshire before managing Mines and Quarries in Brora and later becoming Superintendent of Estates for the Duke of Sutherland in Trentham, Staffordshire. It was this time while working for the first Duke (head of the Leveson-Gower family), that he developed an understanding of managing large pastoral lands in the English style and continued working for the second Duke when his father died in 1833.
His first wife died prior to his emmigration to New Zealand, though his daughter Mary joined him on the "Oriental", the New Zealand Company’s first ship to depart Gravesend in London on the journey to Port Nicholson, Wellington in 1839.
They landed in Wellington in 1840 only a few days behind two other ships in their fleet. He was 49 years’ old and amongst the more experienced, though oldest of the pioneer settlers.
In 1841 he confirmed his purchase of a 100-acres estate in the Upper Hutt valley, which he named Trentham in honour of his sponsor, the Duke of Sutherland. Trentham later became the name of the suburb that subsequently developed in the area east of Heretaunga.
Over the next few years he grew his interests into farming across the Wairarapa, speculated on land in Nelson and the Hawkes Bay and married Hannah Butler, daughter of the Reverand John Gare Butler, in 1843. The couple subsequently built a substantial mansion on their Trentham site, which was located near the corner of what is now Fergusson Drive and Camp Street, overlooking what is now Trentham Memorial Park. It was called "Barton Manor House" and eventually the had five front doors, 6 staircases, 22 rooms and a two-seater outside toilet. Over the years their estate grew to the West towards Silverstream, North over the Hutt River and East towards the village.
By the early 1860s Barton was established as the chief landowner and magistrate of the Hretaunga/Trentham district and also served on the Provincial Council. It was also at this time that planning began for an Anglican church mission to be established in the area. Barton provided accommodation at his homestead for the missionaries and also donated funds for the church.
He died on 20 August 1866 and is buried in Upper Hutt at St John's Anglican Church cemetery.
His sons grew the family holdings, farms and estates extending to more than 19,000 acres in the Wellington region over the coming century.
To support their runs and farming business the Barton family established houses across the region to allow each member of the family a place of residence where they could manage the family interest. These included:
- Trentham, Hutt Valley
- Fareham, Wairarapa
- Fernside, Wairarapa
- White Rock, Wairarapa
- Barton House, Thorndon
- Otautu, Wairarapa