A Soldiers Life

The life of a British Soldier in early New Zealand

My great-great grandfather Daniel Munro was a Sergeant in the 58th Regiment of the British Army that came to Australia, then on to New Zealand in 1845, and fought in the Maori Wars from 1845 until 1858. The 58th (Rutlandshire) Foot Regiment was also known as the "Black Cuffs", a moniker due to their unique uniform at the time.


Daniel Munro with Soldiers in India

NOTE: This photo taken in India around 1870, just before Daniel's death of a brain aneurysm.

Daniel enlisted as a private in the 58th Regiment on the 30th December 1841 in Dublin Ireland. He was promoted to Corporal on the 1 February 1843. His younger brother Michael (1825-1884) also joined the 58th Regiment around the same time.

Later in 1843 it was decided that the 58th regiment should take over garrison duties in New South Wales from the 80th which was going to Madras. In July, the 58th Foot Regiment left for Australia, going out in fifteen different transports as convict guards. The first detachment embarked July 1843, Headquarters followed in May 1844, the remainder of the regiment did not leave England until January 1845. [Short History of the 58th Regiment].

Ship Lord AucklandIn records obtained from the UK National Archives, we know Daniel went abroad on the 23rd July 1844. Unfortunately we cannot relate this to a specific ship, but it could have been the Emily, Lord Auckland, Agincourt, or William Jardine. His younger brother Michael would have sailed around the same time.

Life on board these ships was not kind. William Free, also an NCO with the 58th, had his recollections of that time published in his Obituary after his death in 1818:

58th Tunic

Mr. Free was born in Country Wicklow, Ireland, on November 9, 1825, and enlisted in the 58th Regiment at Carlow, Country Wicklow, on April 15 1842. In July of the following year he sailed for Hobart Town with a draft of his regiment on the Anson, an old 74-gun ship, Captain Cochrane, as a guard over the convicts who were being sent out to Van Dieman's Land. The Anson belonged to the Royal Navy, and the ship's company, crew, guard and convicts were all amenable to naval discipline. The captain was well-known in the service as being a thorough-going martinet, and he kept up his reputation on the voyage to Australia, for scarcely a day passed but one or more of the crew or an unfortunate convict was not stretched out on the triangles and unmercifully flogged. So often was this punishment carried out that the crew and guard, in fact all on the ship, knew off by heart that portion of the "Articles of War" finishing up with "Boatswain, do your duty," which the captain read out before the unfortunate creatures were whipped and lacerated into insensibility. The horrors of the voyage were deeply burnt onto Mr Free's memory by having to witness, almost ever day, this brutal and degrading operation. The military guard on this ship consisted of twenty-five men posted night and day with loaded rifles on the poop, and twenty-five in different parts of the ship, those between decks carrying a brace of loaded pistols.
Arriving at Hobart Town, the Anson was turned into a female penitentiary. The crew were transferred to ships on the China station, and the draft of the 58th Regiment went on to Sydney to join the headquarters of the regiment, then stationed at Windsor, New South Wales.

In 1845 N.S.W. reluctantly agreed to send the 58th to N.Z. because of the unrest with the Maori in the Bay of Islands. The regiment stayed in N.Z. until November 1858 when they embarked for England, the regiment consisting of 16 officers and 194 men . Over 300 officers and men had elected to settle in N.Z. During the years that the regiment was in N.Z. some detachments returned to Australia and some took their discharge before this. In 1933, after many temporary homes, the colours were placed in their final home, the recently (then) completed Auckland War Memorial Museum where they remain.


This undated photograph of the NCO's of the 58th in NZ (probably Auckland). There is only one Corporal shown (second from the right) and it is possible that that this is W. H. Free. The rest with 3 and 4 "pips" on their sleeve are presumed to be Sergeants. Daniel Munro may be one of them. We believe he is the one third from left, based on other photos taken later in life. This photograph is on display at the Auckland War Museum.

Service in the 58th Regiment

We are currently investigating Daniel's origins. We know he was born at St Michael's in Inchicore, Dublin, on 30 June 1822, the son of Daniel Munro Snr, and Elizabeth Reynolds. Inchicore is where the barracks of the British Army were located, so possibly his father was also in the Army.  We have located an Army record that could be of his father. This would have seen Daniel Snr serve in the 90th Foot regiment from 25 December 1814 ( aged 13 years and 90 days ) until 31 December 1830, and then the 10th Foot regiment until he retired on the 27 Oct 1841. As he was so young, his first 2 years were as a Bugler. he served in America for 1 year, in France for 1 year, and in the Mediterranean for 17 years.

Service in the 58th Regiment

There are numerous accounts that many members of the 58th joined in Ireland. Many Irish saw service in the Army as a way out of poverty and limited opportunity. Daniel joined the army aged 19 on 30 Dec 1841 as a Private.


Service List:

Rank Date
Private 58th Foot 30 December 1841
Corporal 1 February 1843
Sergeant 2 July 1845
Colour Sergeant 3 March 1855
Quartermaster Sergeant 7 November 1858
Commissioned Quartermaster 4 December 1863


Periods of Employment:

Station At Home Abroad
From To From To
England 30 December 1841 22 July 1844
N.S. Wales 23 July 1844 10 April 1845
New Zealand 11 April 1845 21 December 1846
N.S. Wales 22 December 1846 9 July 1847
New Zealand 10 July 1847 17 Dec 1850
England 18 Dec 1850 25 June 1854
New Zealand 16 December 1854 6 Narch 1859
England 7 March 1859 31 October 1864
India 1 Nov 1864 Dec 1870



Campaign Battle, Siege, Action Date Rank Office in Chief Command
NZ Destruction of Pomari's Pa 30 April 1845 Corporal Lieutenant Col Hume
Attack on Hickis Pa 8 May 1845 Corporal Lieutenant Col Hume
Destruction of Waikadi Pa 16 May 1845 Corporal
Storming of Hickis Pa at Ohaewai 1 July 1845 Corporal
Destruction of the Rebel Pa at Ruapekapeka 11 January 1846 Sergeant

NOTE: "Hicki" was the spelling used by Daniel, and we presume he meant "Heke".

After leaving New Zealand the 58th Regiment was based in Farnborough, and later at a depot in Belfast, from whence they were despatched to India, where Daniel finally died in 1870.

We note also that Daniel's brother Michael Munro (b. 1826 ) also joined the 58th, and served as a private. It appears he stayed in New Zealand, and settled as a farmer in Mahurangi, were he also served as a the community constable.  Michael died in 1884 in NZ.


Action in NZ

In the book "To Face the Daring Maoris" by Michael Barthorp, the Regiment's action from 1945 - 1947 is captured in detail. Starting at the battles in Northland, and eventually down to Wellington and Wanganui, this book gives a soldiers perspective of the battles.


Ruapekapeka Pa

[Wynyard, Robert Henry] 1802-1864 :Ruapekapeka after taken possession of on 11 Jany 1846 - at noon / drawn by L[anc]e Sergt Williams 58th Regt from a sketch by Lt Col Wynyard C. B.

Reference Number: E-320-f-010. Object #20223
British redcoats pushing through the broken pa pallisades, with smoke inside the pa. Several soldiers and two marines firing towards the bushes in front of the pa. One dead soldier on the ground beside this latter group. Heavy bush on both sides and in the foreground, with Maori hidden and firing on the left.

In Michael Barthorp's book "To Face the Daring Maori", Daniel is mentioned ...

" Then Sergeant Speight, with Sergeants Stevenson and Munro followed by a mixed party of soldiers and sailors, burst through a door in the pa's stockade, behind which they had been sheltering, and hurled themselves at the barricade. This sudden attack was made with such dash and determination that the Maori's fell back from their defences and started to melt away into the undergrowth "

"All three Sergeants were commended in orders for their gallant conduct. In 1856, when the Victoria Cross was instituted, Speight's name was put forward for a retrospective award for his action at Ruapekapeka by Col Wynyard, then still commanding the 58th. However no awards were allowed for actions prior to the Crimean War."



Bridge, Cyprian, 1807-1885 :View of the attack on the pah of the Waikadi tribe on the morn of the 16th May, 1845

Reference Number: A-079-004. Object #17102
The British attack on Kapotai Pa, Waikare Inlet, Bay of Islands. Several armed redcoats by a clump of bushes in the foreground, other soldiers and "friendly" Maori firing from behind a line of bushes in the middle distance towards the fenced pa site set against hills. A European house outside the fencing on the right has other Maori around it.






Bridge, Cyprian, 1807-1885 :Sketch of the action at Mawe, New Zealand, on the 8th May, 1845 by the forces under command of Lt Colonel Hulme 96th Regt. Composed of Head Quarter Division of 58th. Details &c of 96th - a few Marines & Sailors of H. M. Ships N

Reference Number: A-079-008. Object #36329
Shows the battle of Puketutu (or Mawai) at Lake Omapere, near Okaihou, between the Bay of Islands and Hokianga Harbour, with Royal Marines in the right foreground firing a Congreve rocket, ranks of soldiers, Maori in the distance, the pa surrounded by the smoke of gunfire in the background at the foot of wooded hills and the shore of the lake to the right. The man in the top hat standing alongside the rocket is thought to be Lieutenant Edgerton, R. N., with sailors from HMS North Star.



Bridge, Cyprian, 1807-1885 :View of the attack on the pah of the Waikadi tribe on the morn of the 16th May, 1845

Reference Number: A-079-004. Object #17102
The British attack on Kapotai Pa, Waikare Inlet, Bay of Islands. Several armed redcoats by a clump of bushes in the foreground, other soldiers and "friendly" Maori firing from behind a line of bushes in the middle distance towards the fenced pa site set against hills. A European house outside the fencing on the right has other Maori around it.



Daniel married Sarah Waters in Auckland in the St Mary's Catholic Church in 1846, and again in the Church of England on 7 September 1847 by Rev S. Churton. We understand that this second marriage would have been required by Army regulations.

Sarah was the daughter of Thomas and Mary Waters, and was only 15 years old at the time. However this was not uncommon, and may have had something to do with the Army ceasing to support children once they reached the age of 15 years.

Sarah had one sister Mary, and a brother Thomas Joseph. The brother had been Chief Clerk at the Crown Lands Office.


Marriage record, in Latin, of Daniel Munro and Sarah Waters, held at the Auckland St Mary's Church Library. The priest was French, writing in Latin, and hence the spelling is a little awry.


From her Sister's Death Certificate we understand that her father was Thomas Waters, and mother Mary Byrne, born in 1803 in Wexford, Ireland. Her grandmother's name was Doyle.

Thomas Waters, aka Thomas Watters, was a storekeeper/grocer in Auckland.



So it appears that father in law Thomas Waters (Watters ?? ) was also in the 58th Regiment, but elected to stay on in New Zealand in 1858 when the Regiment returned to the UK. There are some articles in newspapers that he also had some shareholdings in gold mining companies, and also a Stationery printing business. As the daughter Mary died quite well off, we presume he did quite well for himself and family.


Children in New Zealand

In 1856 a son William Henry Munro was born. We understand he died at age 3 months. Daniel is recorded in the Birth Certificate as having the rank of Colour Sergeant. This is of note as the Colour Sergeants were appointed usually on their record of bravery. Upon the laying up of the colours in 1860, the regimental flags were presented to the people of the New Zealand colony. For 70 years these flags were on open display in various public buildings in Auckland. The picture to the right is of the 58th's flag, currently preserved at the Auckland Museum. Click on the flag to see more details.

Wikipedia has this to say:

Historically, Colour Sergeants of British line regiments protected Ensigns, the most junior officers who were responsible for carrying their battalions' Colours  (flag or insignia) to rally troops in battles. For this reason the Colour Sergeant rank was considered a prestigious one given normally to courageous Sergeants who had attained accomplishments in battles. This tradition continues today as Colour Sergeants form part of a Colour Party in military parades.

Colour Sergeants are referred to and addressed as "Colour Sergeant" or "Colour" ("Colour Sergeant Bloggs" or "Colour Bloggs", for instance), never as "Sergeant". Unusually, NCOs with the rank of Colour Sergeant who hold the appointment of Company Quartermaster Sergeant are still addressed and referred to by their rank, not their appointment.

This latter comment would have applied to Daniel Munro upon his return to England where he held the rank of Quartermaster. ie "Colour Sergeant Munro".


In 1849 another son Robert John Munro was born. And in 1857, just prior to leaving to England, Sarah have birth to a daughter Mary Cecilia.


Life in Auckland

Albert Barracks

The 58th Regiment were stationed in Auckland at the Albert Barracks. This is where Albert Park is now.

Soldiers outside the Albert Barracks Buildings.

View over Albert Park after the barracks had been demolished


The current state of the walls around Albert Barracks. The walls of the Baracks are still visible.


Staying or going?

In 1858 the 58th Regiment left Auckland to return to Britain. Some of the soldiers elected to leave the Regiment and stay on living in New Zealand. Daniel elected to return to Britain.



Back In England

The 58th (The Rutlandshire) Regiment of Foot returned from New Zealand in March 1859. It was serving at Aldershot in 1860. The regimental depot was at Birr in Ireland. They moved to Newcastle later in 1861, and then in 1862 spent two years in Ireland before leaving for ten years in India in July 1864.

Daniel was commissioned on 24 December 1863.

In 1860 a daughter Martha Lavinia Munro was born in Farnborough, UK. Daniel is recorded as being a Quartermaster Sergeant, or "Q" as we know from the James Bond books. They were responsible for all provisions and maintaining armaments.


Service in India

Daniel Munro and son Robert

The troops were despatched to India in 1864 for service in Bengal. They departed Queenstown, Ireland for Calcutta on the troopship "Albert". The UK National Archives has a reference to the Ships Logbook for that journey at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/a2a/records.aspx?cat=059-msseur_2&cid=-1#-1.

The Regiments location is mapped in this report about the Medical History of service in India. Essentially they arrived in Calcutta in 1864. Benares in 1865, moved to Darjeeling in 1867 and then to Allabahad in 1869, and then Lucknow and on to Sialkot in 1870. After Daniel's death in 1870 they moved to Nowshera in 1873 and then returned home to the UK in 1874 after nine years of service.


Sealkote Fort

In 1870 Daniel died in Sealkote (aka Siakot), India of an aneurysm.


Daniel Munro and wife Sarah


Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXVII, Issue 4283, 6 May 1871, Page 2

The family had been living with their father in India. My uncle, Athol Stace, remembers Martha teaching them some Hindi language when they were children. After their father's death the family returned to Belfast, Ireland, where we believe Sarah had family connections.

Two years later in 1872, Sarah Munro died in Lavinia St, Belfast.

Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXVIII, Issue 4629, 25 June 1872, Page 2


The HydaspesDaniel and Sarah had five children, Robert John, Michael Thomas, Mary Cecilia, William Henry, and Martha Lavinia.

  • Robert John Munro, b. 1850 New Zealand
  • Michael Thomas Munro, b. 1853, Jersey
  • William Henry Munro, b. 1856 Auckland. d. 1856 ( 3 months old )
  • Mary Cecilia Munro, b. 1857 Auckland.
  • Martha Lavinia Munro, b. 1860 Aldershot, UK.

After Sarah died, it was arranged for Martha and Mary to be sent back to New Zealand to be looked after by her "Aunt Polly", Mary Waters (Sarah's sister), who was living in Parnell in Auckland. The travelled on the ship Hydaspes arriving on the 19th October 1873. They travelled Saloon Class (top of the range!!). The ship carried in excess of 200 passengers.

What became of Robert John Munro is not known. After his mother's death in 1872 he was appointed the administrator of his mother's estate, valued at less than £200. His profession was listed as Medical Student. We presume that he did not complete his medical studies. The 1901 Irish Census records his work as a Sexton at the Church of Ireland Church in Dalkey, Ireland. His wife is recorded as Maria, and a daughter Alice born in 1886, however it appears Alice was born to a previous wife. In the 1911 Census Robert is recorded as a General Labourer, with no record of Alice. She either married or had died.

Lavinia Street in BelfastThe Waters family were Catholic, the Munro's we do not know, however indications are that they were Church of Ireland. The Benner's were Protestant, and Martha's marriage to Albert was obviously not approved of, and consequently she was written out of her Aunt's will, and received little of the substantial property that Thomas and his son Thomas Joseph has accumulated.

Sarah's older sister Mary married an Australian widower William Bull, who had a son Frank. Mary died in 1896, and to our knowledge did not bear any children.

Martha became a teacher and taught and lived in Auckland where she met and married Albert Benner, a local Postal Inspector, in the Registry office in Helensville in 1882. Shortly after they moved to Maketu in the Bay of Plenty.

Mary Waters died in 1918, leaving the bulk of her considerable estate to the local Church.


Family Tree (partial)

NOTE: Click on Image to download detailed view.



Austen Family History:  http://www.austenfamily.org/WH_Free.html

NZ National Library:  http://mp.natlib.govt.nz/search/?f=corpnameid$3854&l=en