Percy Nichol Kingswell
16 October 1870, Kew, Invercargill, New Zealand.
Picture to the right is of Percy in the Westcoast area - sometime before or around 1900.
Born the ninth of ten children, Percy's parents were; William Burcher Kingswell and Elizabeth (nee Bryant). Little has yet to come light of Percy's childhood other than the extra-ordinary gift the his father made him around 1885, and to his four brothers of £5,000 each. Percy being around 15-years of age had his gift invested for him.
When his next oldest brother, George Kingswell, left for Australia in 1888, Percy was then considered the next most likely Kingswell son to take over the running of the "Morningside" farm/ranch in Southland. It seems unlikely that he ever did.
The picture to the right is of Percy leaning against a Westcoast branch of the Bank of New Zealand, circa 1900.
He appears in the Westcoast Times on 29 June 1894, as a travelling agent for the A.M.P. Society.
He sues Jacob Ziman for a £339 on the loss on shares in Reefton, Westcoast. He is not successful - Taranali Herald 27 Feburary 1897.
Certainly by 1900 he was deeply involved in gold mining and dredging in Reefton. A share broker called Harman Reeves wrote a chapter about Percy in his book called In the Years that are gone. The following is most of this chapter:
"In the dredging boom he was very successful in a Company called
the Pactolus Gold Dredging Coy. Ltd., near Reefton, in which he had a
big interest, and which paid some handsome dividends. I remember his telling
me of one of his most successful mining ventures, and that was his purchase
from the discoverers of a Reef which is now known as the Blackwater Mines
on the West Coast. His story was that one evening, in Dawson’s Hotel,
in Reefton, he heard that a couple of miners had found something good
in the Blackwater district. Next morning he hired a horse and rode away
out, and got in touch with the miners who had actually found some payable-looking
quartz. After some discussion he asked them if they would give him an
option to purchase the property, and eventually the terms they agreed
to accept were £100 deposit, and six-months’ option to pay
them £2,000 for their mine and rights. Having the agreement and
option signed, he returned to Reefton and engaged a number of miners to
go out to Blackwater to open up the reef. In about a month’s time
the reef began to open up so well that it looked as if he had got on to
something really good. He then approached my old friend Mr. E. W. Spencer,
who was the attorney for the Consolidated Goldfields Ltd., of London,
and told him that he had a reef at Blackwater that might interest his
Company, and asked him if he would come out and have a look at it. Mr.
Spencer went out with him, was very much impressed with it, and asked
Kingswell what he wanted for it. Kingswell said he would give him an option
for four months, to be paid the sum of £30,000 in cash if Spencer
decided to complete the purchase. They returned to Reefton, and that night
agreements were draw up. Next day Mr. Spencer set about getting more men
to work at the Reef. It opened up so well that within three months he
communicated with Kingswell and told him he was going to purchase the
mine, and to come along and he would give him his cheque for £30,000.
Later on the reef was floated in London, and was known as the Blackwater
Mines Ltd., with a capital of £250,000. For many years it paid very
good dividends, and is still at work, but not doing as well as formerly.
Below, Bank of New Zealand, Wesport 1900.
"After making his profit out of the Blackwater Mine, he settled
in Nelson, but it was too slow in that town for a man of his activity,
so he moved to Auckland, where he became interested in the New Zealand
Portland Cement Co., now known as Wilson’s Cement, and also in the
Waihi-Paroa Gold Mining Company.
On 29 September 1898 Percy married Victoria Emily Mountney. Emily, as she was known, was the daughter of Charles Mountney, a local Hotel Keeper. At the time of the wedding Percy listed his usual place of residence as Reefton and occupation as a Mining Investor.
Around 1900 their first child, Muriel was born. Followed on around 1902 by Vera.
It is noted in the 2 March 1903 edition of the Westcoast Times that:
Percy first appears in the 1904 Wise's Postal Directory and is listed as a "Mining agent and share broker" of both Reefton and Greymouth. This listing is repeated in the 1905 edition but in 1906 he is listed only in Reefton.
On 12 December 1906 the Otago Witness has a lenght article about the Blackwater Reef and also mentions that Percy was paid £30,000 for the property.
On 25 March 1907 the Blackwater Mines Ltd is registered in New Zealand. On 15 August 1907 he is reported in the Westcoast Times as being part of a deputation to the Minister of Customs seeking the removal of duties on mining machinery.
In the 1908 Wise's Postal Directory Percy is now living in Brougham Street, Nelson.
He is reported as being elected as a directory to the NZ Portlan Cement Company - Evening Post 28 January 1908.
On 17 July 1909 the Taranaki Herald notes that Mr Kinsgwell is a newly elected director of the Taranaki Petroleum Company. This must have been a short term directorship, as on 28 October 1909, again in the Taranaki Herald, Mr P N Kingswell is noted as being a retiring director.
By 1909 the Kingswell family was established in Auckland. On 2 October 1909 Percy, who was at the time the President of the Auckland Golf Club, purchased the 'Golf House' from the Auckland Golf Club when it was decided to relocate the Club's course from the south slopes of the One Tree Domain to Middlemore. On purchasing the house he "added bay windows on both floors and the curious octagonal turret tower." He was reported in the Otago Witness 27 October 1909, as one of the new vice-presidents of the Maungakiekie Golf Club (being the name of the club taking over the One Tree Hill links).
When the house was offered for sale in 1995 it was described, at length, in the newspaper as:
Picture, right, is of the Golf-House in 1920, seen from the north-west.
Picture, right, is of the Golf-House in 1920, seen from the north-east.
In the Evening Post on 1 February 1910 he is reported as being the Managing Director of the New Zeland Portland Cement Company.
In 1912 Percy is behind the wheel in a car crash with a tramcar. The folowing is how it was reported in the Evening Post, 23 July 1912:
By 1928 financial trouble reached a climax for Percy. Reaching the point of bankruptcy he committed suicide on 4 September 1928. The following is the article that appeared in the NZ Herald:
"GAS POISONING CASE
Death of P. N. Kingswell.
A well known city company promoter, Percy Nicholl Kingswell, aged 57,
committed suicide by gas poisoning at his residence in Golf Road, Epsom,
early yesterday morning. According to evidence at the inquest later in
the day the deceased was involved in financial trouble.
Emily Kingswell sold the 'Golf House' in April 1929 and died before December 1948 (her Will was proved 9 Dec 1948 in Hawera, New Plymouth).