Archibald Banks (c.1826 – 1871)

You may not have heard of Archibald Banks, and there is not much reason you should have, but now is your chance.

He, like so many other Scots from this period, had quite a mobile life leaving his home first for the opportunities in East Lothian and then to try his luck in the Antipodes – in particular New Zealand.

Archibald Banks, generally known as Archie, was born in North Leith, Edinburgh, to Isabella (nee Lindsay) and Robert Banks, a cooper, in about 1826.  Following in his father’s footsteps, Archie became a cooper’s apprentice at 15 in 1841.

In June 1851, he married Alexa Pattullo.  In the 1851 census, she is listed as being a lady’s maid at Ormiston.  Together, the couple sailed for New Zealand sometime in 1851.  It is presumed that Alexa must have been pregnant when she arrived, as she gave birth to a boy in Wellington in May 1852.

By 1853, the couple were well established in Nelson, where Archie was a cooper, a brewer and a publican of The Thistle Inn.  Two more children were born during these years.  Sometime after 1860, however, the couple separated.  Alexa and the children moved to Brightwater, where they remained.

Archibald BanksArchie did not fair well after the separation.  His descendants believe that the money used to establish the family in New Zealand was, in fact, Alexa’s. When he died in 1871 of ‘Consumption’ (Tuberculosis), his will apparently indicated that he had not retained much of a fortune after the separation.

He is buried in the Ogilvie Family plot in Nelson as his sister, Isabella, also moved to New Zealand with her husband, James Ogilvie.

We have this photograph of Archie taken by Haddington photographer Robert Conquer, which given the arrival of Archibald in New Zealand in 1852 and the marriage to Alexa in 1851, would place it taken around this time.

We gratefully received this image and his life story from one of his descendants still living in New Zealand, and wanted to highlight one of the many stories of Scots Émigrés heading out to far-flung parts of the globe to make a new life for themselves and their families.

The story of Archibald Banks is that of the global Scots diaspora and we hope that this reaches other people who have similar stories to tell. If you are interested in finding out more about the history of emigration from Scotland please take a look at this Research Guide.

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