Edward McGraw also known as James Clark was my Great Great Great Grandfather.

He lived a very interesting life, even though it was very short, as he died when he was only 45 years old.

He was born in Liverpool, Lancashire England to two Irish parents, Joseph McGraw and Margaret Freel. He also had brothers and sisters born in Liverpool but Edward was the eldest.

Edward would have left home at a young age when he went to sea, as he is not recorded on the 1861 Census. He states on his Intention to Marry that he had been in Dunedin, New Zealand for only 6 months.

He married Harriet Jubber in the Roman Catholic Church in Dunedin, he being Catholic and Harriet being Anglican. The first 3 children were born and baptised under the name of McGraw.

After the death of their second child John William, family story goes that Harriet returned to England, never to return, but as she was pregnant at the time, she did return to New Zealand to continued life as a Lighthouse Keeper's wife and under the new surname of Clark.

Edward McGraw changed his name to James Clark around this time, in order to join the NZ Marine Department and become a Lighthouse Keeper. Maybe Edward had a bit of a reputation under his original name, and wanted a clean slate, nobody will know, so we can only assume.

Life continued with Harriet and the family grew, all taking on the Clark surname.

James was appointed into the Lighthouse Service on 1 May 1867 and served time manning Taiaroa Heads, Nuggets and finally Dog Island Lighthouse.

James met his untimely death by a accidental fall down Dog Island Lighthouse on the 23 May 1883.

At the time of his death, he was upset, depressed, had not eaten or drunk much in the last few days, nor slept well, since his daughter Margaret had given birth on the Island to a son in April.

This is the story of James, an upstanding man, and who some say still walk and rattle the chains on Dog Island.


The photos of Tairoa Head, Dog Island and Nugget's are my own photographs, taken on a recent trip to NZ.

My Mother has completed the painting of James and Harriet surrounded by the 3 Lighthouses for me. Harriet we believe in the photo was holding their first child.

- Edward Joseph McGraw/ Clark


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James and Harriet Clark, Taiaroa, Nuggets and Dog Island Lighthouses
James Clark c 1863