James LALOR was born in Co Kilkenny, Ireland, circa 1837-1838 to John and Mary Lalor.
On 14th September 1871, he married Catherine ROWLAND in the Roman Catholic Chapel, Greymouth, when he was described as a bachelor and a miner. He dwelled in Greymouth District, with a stated ‘length of residence’ of 2 ½ years.
Catherine and James had six children. Their first daughter, Margaret Jane, was born 22 August 1872, while they were residing at South Beach, and subsequent children were named John, Mary, Robert, James and Thomas.
James mined for gold at South Beach. On the Westland electoral roll of 1911 James Lalor, of Paroa, is listed as a miner, and in 1914 on the Westland supplementary roll he is listed as “6182 Lalor James, senr. South Beach, miner.”
In April 1883 James is listed as one of four men applying for a lease of 8 acres of land at South Beach, for a period of 15 years, to be worked by ground sluicing. The company formed was to be called “The Rising Sun Gold-mining Company”. One of the other company members was Robert Delaney, who had been named as a witness in James Lalor’s wedding 12 years earlier.
In 1886 when a public meeting was held about leasing of South Beach lands, James Lalor was one of those involved in the discussions, and he proposed a motion “That Document2a petition be presented to the Waste Lands Board, and a copy forwarded to the Honorable the Minister of Mines, showing that by the sale or leasing of any land within the Paroa district that the miners would suffer severely, inasmuch as their very costly dams and water-races would become valueless, which should be viewed as a calamity to be averted.”
In 1890, James applied to the Warden’s Court for four month’s protection for an extended claim at South Beach, and this was granted.
In his later years James also became a “Parliamentary Messenger”. An article in 1901 in ‘New Zealand Free Lance’ described him in favourable terms, noting that among the messengers in the recent session of the House of Representatives ‘there was one at least who bore a historic name and is a blood relation to two men who have achieved celebrity. The writer told us that James Lalor was a modest man: “Yet, Mr James Lalor, who came up from Greymouth to wear the livery of Parliament and who has just got back to the Coast this week to resume his avocation as a gold miner could boast of his family connections if he were not far too modest a man to say anything about himself at all.” The writer then said that James Lalor was a ‘full cousin’ of the celebrated Irish orator, Richard Lalor Sheil,
James was active in community affairs on the West Coast. A search of the “Papers Past” website gives many examples, recorded for the most part in the ‘Grey River Argus’.
Paroa School committee. In 1886 he was chairman of the school committee when a farewell presentation was made to a Head Teacher at Paroa school who was leaving the district. Three years later, in 1889, there was clearly a heated annual meeting at which there was a clash over whether the head teacher of the time should be retained or removed. James Lalor was elected onto the committee during that meeting, with the highest number of votes.
Paroa Licensing Committee. In 1882 James Lalor is listed as being a member of this committee at the annual meeting, which considered a request for reduced licensed fees. In 1885 we read that he was successful in elections for the Paroa Licensing Board.
Parnell collection. James Lalor clearly did not forget his Irish origins either. In 1881 it is recorded that he gave 5 shillings in the South Beach collection for the Parnell Defence Fund.
In 1992, my aunty, Edith Lemon (nee Lalor), showed me where the old residence of James and Catherine Lalor stood at South Beach. It was rather derelict, but was still standing in the midst of an industrial site on the southern end of modern Greymouth.
James Lalor died at South Beach on 3 October 1916, of malignant disease of the throat. In the Argus he was described as ‘well and favourably known throughout the West Coast’ and a ‘true and devoted father’.
He is buried in Karoro Cemetery in Greymouth, together with his wife Catherine, and two grandchildren who died as infants.
This info was compiled by Margaret Riordan in February, 2010. I haven’t included source footnotes here, but please e-mail me via this blog if you want details.
NOTE: The only info I hold about James Lalor’s parents comes from his death entry where his parents are named as John and Mary Lalor. I have seen James mother described as “Margaret Gorman’ on the MyHeritage website but don’t have any documents myself that indicate this. If you happen to know more, please contact me! I would love to search more in the Irish parish registers for James forebears, but just knowing "Co Kilkenny" is too broad a brush!