Margaret Kissling ( nee Moxon )

Margaret Kissling

Margaret Kissling

Margaret Kissling was the second wife of George Adam Kissling.

The Encylopedia of New Zealand

Margaret Moxon was born on 18 August 1808 in the parish of Sculcoates, Hull, Yorkshire, England, the daughter of Margaret Heaton and her husband, John Moxon, a businessman and banker. She was well educated, and became interested in missionary work while at school. She began her career as a governess in London. On 3 July 1837 at Islington, London, she married George Adam Kissling, a widowed German Lutheran missionary with a young son. They were to have six sons.

After her marriage Margaret Kissling returned with her husband to his CMS station in Sierra Leone, West Africa, to teach at the mission school. In 1840 George Kissling suffered a severe attack of yellow fever, and the Kisslings returned to England with their first son, John. In 1841 George Kissling was ordained an Anglican priest. He was appointed to the New Zealand mission, and the family sailed for New Zealand in the Louisa Campbell, arriving at Auckland on 20 May 1842.

In March 1843 Margaret and George Kissling established a CMS station at Te Kawakawa (Te Araroa), on the East Coast. Like other missionary wives, Margaret Kissling experienced isolation and loneliness. As well as attending to the demands placed on her by her husband's ill health, the care of her children, and two further pregnancies, she started a school for Maori children, and assisted her husband with the daily running of the mission station, taking charge when he was away from home.

Margaret Moxon

Early in 1846 George Kissling became seriously ill and the family returned to Auckland, accompanied by 20 young Maori, 14 female and 6 male, from the East Coast. The Kisslings established a Maori girls' boarding school in buildings which Bishop G. A. Selwyn had purchased from William Spain at Kohimarama (Mission Bay). They hoped to train the girls 'to become Christian Mothers, and probably also help-mates to Christian native teachers.' By December 1846 there were 16 girls attending the school. By 1850 four of the senior pupils had married Maori teachers.

Early in January 1848 the Kohimarama buildings were destroyed by a fire in which Margaret Kissling nearly lost her life while saving some of her husband's papers. The school was continued in a large house in Parnell. To qualify for government grants, Maori boarding schools conducted by church organisations had to provide training in agricultural, domestic and industrial arts, as well as a formal education. To carry out these objects, and to provide financial support for the school, Margaret Kissling organised the New Zealand Female Aborigines Washing Establishment, which took in laundry from Auckland settlers.

In December 1850 a new building for the boarding school was opened by Bishop Selwyn, and named St Stephen's School for Native Girls. Twenty or thirty girls attended. In March 1854 the school received a favourable first report from the government inspectors, William Martin, Andrew Sinclair and Charles Ligar, who wrote: 'No contrast can be more striking and more pleasing than the appearance of these young women as compared with that of the girls in a Native Village.' The girls could 'generally read and pronounce English well.'

Adult male Maori attended St Stephen's as candidates for the ministry, and Margaret Kissling was responsible for the formal and domestic education of their wives and children. She was assisted by Mary Martin and Sarah Selwyn.

Common sense, energy, good health and a forceful personality enabled Margaret Kissling to organise the daily life of the residential school successfully. Her home in Parnell was a haven for visitors, and for the recuperation of the sick. Many missionaries had occasion to be grateful for her hospitality, sympathetic nature, and considerable nursing and sewing skills. Margaret Kissling also taught Sunday school at the Maori church of St Barnabas in Parnell, and assisted her husband with his clerical duties.

When George Kissling suffered a stroke in 1860, he and his wife retired to their own home, not far from St Stephen's, and continued to help with the instruction of the pupils. In December 1856 Margaret Kissling's sister, Mary Jane Moxon, had married the widowed Anglican missionary Thomas Chapman, in Auckland. For some years from 1861 Thomas Chapman, with the assistance of Mary Chapman, took over the management of the school in Parnell. After her husband's death on 9 November 1865, Margaret Kissling continued to live in Parnell with members of her family until her death on 20 September 1891.

The boarding school which the Kisslings established was the forerunner of St Stephen's School, a boarding school for Maori boys at Bombay, south Auckland.



This article written by Judith Preston Anderson from Hull is an excellent history of her life.

Margaret Kissling, Missionary Teacher 1808-1891

by Judith Preston Anderson
Church warden at St. Mary's in Lowgate.

2007 is the bicentenary of the abolition of the buying and transporting of slaves within the British Empire.  The city of Kingston upon Hull is to celebrate with a wide variety of events and the refurbishment of ‘Wilberforce House’, the birth place of William Wilberforce, the M.P. for Hull and then for Yorkshire, who spent almost all of his Parliamentary career in outing Bills before Parliament for the abolition of slavery.   The final Bill was passed a few days before his death in 1833.  Consequently, if you say ‘Slavery’ to anyone in Hull, they will respond immediately with ‘William Wilberforce’; but  I hope that by the end of 2007 at least some of Hull’s citizens will know the names of other local people who were involved in his work.

Wilberforce himself was eager to point out that he was merely the figurehead of a movement that was supported by many thousands of people and by a close knit group known as ‘The Clapham Sect’, which probably originated from meetings of like minded Evangelical Anglicans in the home of John Thornton of Clapham.  It has been said that the ‘Clapham Sect’ changed the face of Britain.  The Church Missionary Society and the British and Foreign Bible Society were just two of the groups that they founded.  John Thornton was the grandson of John Thornton, a Hull Baltic Merchant.  His nephew William Wilberforce had lived with his family after leaving Cambridge.  Wilberforce then shared a bachelor establishment in Battersea with Thornton’s son Henry until Henry married Marianne Sykes, the daughter of the Hull merchant Joseph Sykes.     The London Thorntons maintained close links with Hull   and Samuel Thornton became M.P. for Hull;  his brother Henry became M.P. for Southwark, the third brother Robert was M.P. for Colchester.  The three Thornton M.Ps were Wilberforce’s closest support team in his work for the abolition of slavery.

A chance meeting after church one evening in March 2006, when I was in Auckland, New Zealand, led me to Margaret Kissling;  the lady to whom I was introduced had a family connection to her.  Evidently Margaret was the daughter of a Hull Banker, had married a German missionary and had gone with him to Sierra Leone in 1837.  After her husband had contracted yellow fever CMS had transferred them to New Zealand where they worked with Maoris and became founding members of Auckland society.  This was just what I was looking for, someone from Hull working with slaves!

Margaret was born on 18th August 1808 in North Street, in the new Hull suburb of Sculcoates and baptised on 1st August 1809 at the parish church of St. Mary.  Her parents were John Moxon and Margaret (nee Heaton, of Doncaster).    The Moxons had lived in High St. in Hull from at least the mid 1600’s    and were established Hull merchants.  From 1767 Margaret’s great grandfather, Richard, lived at 19-22 High St., a property previously owned by the Thorntons and the Wilberforces.  . These houses on the east side of High St. had warehouses and riverside docking facilities. In the late 1790’s, his son, Richard Moxon jun, opened a Bank in Silver St.  He and his four sons, Thomas, Richard William, George and John continued to trade as Baltic merchants from High St.  On his death in 1799 he left his Bank, business, share in ships, Dock Company shares and considerable property and money to his sons.  John, with Richard William and George were to run the Bank in High St. 

John Moxon married Margaret Heaton, the daughter of a Doncaster merchant and they had at least seven children, one son and six daughters.  In the year before Margaret was born her father had been the Chamberlain to Hull Corporation and for many years he was one of the two Overseers to the parish of Sculcoates, Clerk to the Workhouse and the Bank was ‘receiver’ to the new Hull General Infirmary.    But in 1822 the Bank went bankrupt with debts of £21,000.  The Bank was sold to another company, some of the Moxon’s land was sold to pay off the debts.     Margaret’s father continued to work for the Workhouse and as a General Commercial Agent.    The date of his death is uncertain; he possibly died when out of Hull.  Her mother died on 25th December 1852 at 55 Prospect St. Hull, the house she shared with her son in law Richard Evanson, two of her daughters, Anne Evanson and Mary Jane and two servants.  The Moxon brothers and their sons continued to be involved in Baltic trading  and worked as Commercial Agents.

So how did Margaret Moxon become the wife of a CMS missionary in Sierra Leone?  At some point, as a teenager, she went to London as a governess.  Who arranged this for her we can only guess.  Her employer was a Mr. Hatchard, a publisher.  (12)  J. Hatchard was the publisher of Henry Thornton’s ‘An Inquiry into The Nature and Effects of the Paper Credit of Great Britain’ published in 1802.  Henry Thornton died when Margaret was only six years old, but his wife and his brothers kept their Hull links with Hull merchants and churchmen and William Wilberforce kept his links up to his death.

George Adam Kissling, born at Murr, Wurtemburg in 1805, was a Minister of the Reformed Lutheran Church and worked in Liberia, West Africa from 1827.  It was a difficult area to work in.  Four of his colleagues died and three including George were ill.  Slave traders were very active and posed a real threat to missionaries.  As well there were concerns for their safety, as no protection was available…  Consequently in 1831 George moved to Sierra Leone and began negotiating with CMS about working with the Society. In April 1832 he went to England to study as Islington College prior to commencing work as a CMS missionary in Sierra Leone…  In August 1832 George married Caroline  Augusta Tanner, daughter of the Inspector of His Majesty’s Paintings.   Caroline and her baby died in childbirth in February 1834.

Six weeks later George Kissling started work at Fourah Bay Christian Institution.  The work was mainly with freed slaves.  The ‘Missionary Register 1835’ quotes him:

“The behaviour of the students has been, with a few exceptions, commendable during the quarter… The branches in which they have received instruction are Singing, Writing, Spelling difficult words, Readings, Arithmetic, Grammar, Dictation from Church History, and Geography.  They have Religious Instruction morning and evening; and daily tasks…  which consist in committing to memory portions of Scripture, Hymns, Watt’s Historical Catechism, and the Collects for Sundays and Holy Days.”  He added, “Sometimes I have found it necessary to check them in their zeal for such studies by giving them more bodily exercise…  The students of the Christian Institution are employed as Teachers in the Sunday School, with Samuel Crowther, who has not only ably assisted me, but has, with much credit, conducted it himself in my absence.” 

There were 516 scholars in the Sunday School, ‘including no children but apprentices’.  The attendance averaged 377 in the morning and 330 in the evening.  Evidently the numbers were low due to an outbreak of smallpox and to the reluctance of the students to attend because they could not buy ‘Primers’.  Obviously a new supply of cheap books needed sending out from Britain.

Kissling returned to England in 1837.  Whilst he was in London he stressed ‘the need for more and better churches and schoolhouses’. 

It was at the Hatchard’s that George met Margaret Moxon.  Evidently she had developed a strong interest in missionary work from an early age.   After a brief courtship they were married on 3rd July 1837 and in November she went with him to Sierra Leone, and George resumed his work at Fourah Bay.  Their first child, John, was born in September 1839.  Margaret assisted George in his work t the school and helped him write his letters.  She either wrote or copied his report of 25th December 1838.  It includes comments on the large number of slaves brought into Sierra Leone and where they were shipped from:
“It is worthy to notice that very considerable accessions have been made to the Colony by the great numbers of slaves brought in of late – not less than 13, 000 have been registered at Sierra Leone during the last three years, this does not include the hundreds nay thousands who have been emancipated but were registered in the West Indies, nor the Negroes upwards of 200 who were brought here a few weeks ago from the British Island of Bahama and are now as free as any of the Liberated Brethren.  Such an increase of our population has of course a retrograding influence n the state of civilization and the spread of the Gospel truth in the Colony, as they naturally bring with them, and introduce, demoralizing heathenish practices.  Our labourers therefore need to be doubled, in order to preserve what good has already been done, and to extend out exertions to a wider field of labour.” 

Margaret was concerned that in writing or copying out her husband’s letters she was going beyond what was expected of a missionary’s wife.  In a letter to William Jowett of CMS in London she wrote,
“I must thank you for the kind hints you gave me in my dear husband’s letter… As regards my writing I hope I have not injured my health, and I hope the other duties have not been neglected by it; as respect copying for my dear husband I have felt that it has given him more time for other important duties and will not I hope be considered as stepping out of that path of duty which I ought and desire to observe.” 

The other duties of her husband George were the responsibility for new buildings and all that entailed, “purchasing stones, lime, timber, boards, etc, or in looking after the labourers and mechanics.”

By 1840 George was ill with yellow fever, and the couple returned to England.  He was ordained as an Anglican Deacon in December 1840 and as a Priest in June 1841.  Some of the time was spent in Hull and in October 1841 their second son George Schwartz Kissling was born in the village of Welton, near Hull, where a merchant friend had a country house.  He was baptised at the newly erected Christ Church in Hull by Thomas Dykes, the aged father of J.B. Dykes the composer of hymn tunes, who had baptised Margaret’s sister Jane 27 years earlier.

CMS decided to relocate the Kisslings to the Auckland area of New Zealand.  With their two young sons they sailed on 17th January 1842 and arrived on 21st May.  They first went to the Bay of Islands, then after a few months to Tauranga.  By the end of 1843 they had been given seven acres of Te Kawakawa at Hick’s Bay, to establish a Mission station for Maori.  All the building skills he had acquired were put into practice and soon a four bedroomed house and guest room had been built and a garden organised to provide vegetables, salads, flowers and bushes.  His work took him to the surrounding areas and great demands were made of an itinerant priest.  Margaret carried out some of his duties during his time away from home.  But being in an isolated area she had other worries, “I am quite in distress for shoes for my children, they have not a pair without holes!”  And as they arrived a Te Kawakawa she gave birth to her third son on 23rd December 1843.  This was the period of Maori wars in the north.  George Kissling wrote that he believed that regardless of which views people held on the ways that would lead to peace, nothing ‘will ever heal the wound which the cause of the gospel had already sustained.’

Within two years George Kissling became ill through an enlarged liver and Bishop Selwyn decided that they should move into the Auckland area and develop work amongst Maori in Purewa, Orakei and Kohimarama, about an hour’s ride out of Auckland.  All work by CMS missionaries amongst the Maori people was kept quite separate from work amongst Europeans.  Kissling was licensed to work only with Maoris, not with Europeans.  Problems arose over his duties as required by the CMS and the authority of the local Bishop, and these are shown in Kissling’s letters to CMS in London.  To add to their problems their flimsy house burned down and Margaret nearly lost her life in retrieving George’s books and papers.  But nothing stood in the way of the work to which they were called.  George and Margaret worked together to spread the Gospel.

George was tireless in his attempts to persuade anyone in authority to enable him to set up a school in Auckland similar to the one in Fourah Bay in Freetown.  The family bought a house in Parnell, in Auckland and by October 1848 the ‘Native Church Building’ was in progress.  He intended to have morning and evening services ‘in Native’ ‘and an English service in the afternoon’.  The church was consecrated in January 1849 and licensed for both races.  The Kissling home in Parnell had five and a half acres of land and had enough room to accommodate 15 of their female Maori students.  The school developed and Margaret sought every method possible in order to finance the school and to offer a curriculum which would attract grants.  She set up a laundry which took in washing from the European families to give the school an income.  Her aim was to train her students to be suitable and supportive wives to the Maori men who were in training as Pastors.  The new school building was opened on 24th October 1850, ‘when all the rank and fashion of Auckland were present’. Eventually it became St. Stephen’s School where men were trained as Native Teachers and Pastors.  Margaret educated their wives and children.  George wanted to have pastoral care for Maoris who had no contact with the Church.  He knew that many Maori women were ‘kept’ in Auckland households.  He visited hospitals and the Gaol.  He continued to visit all the areas where he had worked when he first arrived, and was invited to visit other areas in the North Island.  He had great skills as a translator into Maori. 
In 1860 George became the first Vicar of St. Mary’s in Parnell, later the pro-Cathedral for Auckland.  After two strokes he died in November 1865.

Margaret and George had seven sons, at least four lived to be adults.  Margaret continued to live with her family in Parnell until her death on 22nd September 1891 aged 83 years.  Her obituary in one of the Auckland newspapers said that she had remained active working for the Church until five years before she died.  It also said that Bishop Samuel Crowther, the first Black African Bishop (of the Niger) had met her granddaughter in London and expressed his affection for Margaret and thankfulness for her work in Sierra Leone when he was a young man.

Her sister Mary Jane left Hull after their Mother died in 1852 and went to live in Auckland.  In December 1856 she married a widower, the Revd. Thomas Chapman, a CMS missionary, and they became the much loved Aunty and Uncle Chapman to Margaret and George’s family.

George Schwartz Kissling born at Welton, Hull in 1841, became a Banker and a prominent member of the financial, sporting and Church circles of Auckland.  He died in 1920.


Judith Preston Anderson

Recognition for Margaret Moxon

Streets ahead

A winner has been found in the competition to name the streets of the soon-to-open £200 million St Stephen's development.


Judith Preston Anderson on the soon-to-be completed street linking Park Street to Ferensway.
Her suggestion to call it 'Margaret Moxon Way" in honour of the Hull missionary beat hundreds of entries in a Hull in print competition

It's going to be one of Hull's busiest streets with about 360 bus movements every hour – and it's going to be called 'Margaret Moxon Way.'
Hundreds of entries were submitted to Hull in print's competition to find a name for the street which winds through the heart of the St Stephen's development, linking Ferensway with Park Street.
Entries included names in honour of local heroes such as Flash Flannigan Way after the rugby league legend, Lil Bilocca Street after the trawler safety campaigner and Beautiful South Boulevard after Hull's world-famous pop group.
But the entry which was chosen as the winner is the name of a lesser-known local hero.

Margaret Moxon (1808 – 1891)

A mother-of-six, she was the only Hull-born person of her generation to work with freed slaves in Sierra Leone, and also carried out missionary work with Maori families in New Zealand.
Born in North Street, in the parish of Southcoates, she was the daughter of businessman and banker John Moxon, whose family lived in High Street, next-door-but-one to Wilberforce House.
She began her missionary work after travelling to London to work as a governess where she met her husband the German missionary George Adam Kissling.


Competition winner


Judith Preston Anderson (left) and Mavis Burnham, who suggested the name 'The Milky Way' for a smaller street in honour of the Northern Dairies depot once at the site

The name 'Margaret Moxon Way' was suggested by Mrs Judith Preston Anderson (68), of Coltman Street, who is the church warden at St. Mary's in Lowgate.
Mrs Preston put forward the name because of the link with Hull's Wilberforce 2007 programme, but also because the Moxon family originally owned the land on which St Stephens is built, and because there used to be a 'Moxon Street' and a 'Moxon Square' on the site many years ago.
Also fitting is the fact that the missionary school Margaret Moxon helped set up in New Zealand was also called 'St Stephen's.'
"Margaret's descendants still live in New Zealand and they'll be delighted to think that she is still being remembered like this," says Mrs Anderson. "And next year will be Margaret Moxon's bi-centenary!"

The Milky Way

A smaller new street within the development, which links Colonial Street to Spring Street, will be called The Milky Way, in recognition of the Northern Dairies distribution depot which once stood on the site. The closure of the dairies, about 10 years ago, triggered the St Stephen's development opportunity.
The name was suggested by Mavis Burnham, of Summergroves Way, Hessle High Road, who says: "I worked in the Park Street Dairy for many years. This would be a good memory for all the people who worked there."


Judging was carried out by Hull City Council's highways team, Hull Citybuild and St. Stephen's developers.
"We knew the post office wouldn't approve of some of the suggestions because they were too similar to other streets," says Graham Hall, highways and transportation manager at Hull City Council, who deals with the operational side of naming streets in the city.
"We expressed a preference for names with a historical connection with the site. It's also a tradition that streets honour people who have died before honouring the living."