Topic: Charles Merton

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Charles Merton, 1821-1885

Charles Murton was born in Haughley, Suffolk, in 1821 to parents James and Susan Murton. By the time Charles married Charlotte Street in 1847, he had changed the spelling of his surname to ‘Merton’.

In 1856 Charles Merton decided to move to New Zealand, encouraged by for former vicar of Stoke-by-Nayland, Charles Torlesse, who was a member of the management committee of the Canterbury Association (Charlotte had been the Torlesse family nurse). Charles, Charlotte and four children sailed from Gravesend in the Egmont, arriving in Lyttelton on 23 December 1856.

On arrival in New Zealand Charles Merton worked as a shoemaker, until he was appointed assistant master at Christ’s College in January 1858. Charles had considerable musical ability and quickly became involved in community music-making. He started a brass band which led the procession to lay the foundation stone of the new Canterbury Provincial Government Buildings in 1858. In July 1858 he was appointed conductor of the Christchurch Harmonic Society.

In 1860 Charles Merton was appointed master of the new Church of England School at Rangiora, built on land belonging to Charles Torlesse. As district schools became established near Rangiora the numbers in the Church of England School declined, so Charles resigned in 1870. He then set up his own day and boarding school for boys at his farm on Oxford Road, ‘Melford’.

During his time in Rangiora, Charles Merton founded the Rangiora Horticultural Society in 1874, was a founder and president of the literary institute, served on the committee seeking borough status for the town, was an active player and president of the local cricket club, and took a very active part in musical activities. His concert parties provided popular entertainment in town and country halls, and raised funds for many worthy causes.

In 1881, after a disastrous season on his farm, Charles Merton sold up and returned to Christchurch. He took up a position at Bromley School in June 1882, and joined the cathedral choir as a senior lay clark.

Charles Merton died at Christchurch on 31 December 1885.

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Charles Merton


First Names:Charles
Last Name:Merton
Place of Birth:Haughley, Suffolk, England