Hi! I am trying to solve the mystery of Peter Moray alias Wilson - or Peter Wilson alias Moray.

According to his children’s Australian birth certificates, he was Peter William Wilson, born in Rotterdam, Holland.  Married in 1856 to Mary - one has her surname as Connor, the other, formerly Davis but both as born in Cork, Ireland..

In Court records he is Peter Moray alias Wilson.

On his daughter Sophia’s birth certificate, in Dec 1861, it shows him as deceased...

They travelled to New Zealand as Moray’s in 1864 and Sophia died that same year.  Her death certificate refers to her as being the daughter of a Waikato Militia Man.. 

Another child was born in 1864 Peter Henry Moray - aka as Harrison.  But we cannot find his Birth Registration.. His Death Certificate gives Mary Davis and Kerry Moray as his parents, although she must have remarried to George Harrison.. and Harrison was the name he used.

The other daughter born in 1858, Catherine Wilson on her birth Certificate, but Catherine Moray when they came to New Zealand, married my great grandfather, Thomas Benjamin Short.

if anyone can shed some light on this very elusive family, I would be most grateful. Particularly how they came to use either Wilson or Moray as their name...

Views: 128

Reply to this

Replies to this discussion

There doesn't appear to be a marriage for Peter and Mary in Australia, so she married for the first time in NZ under her maiden surname:



George Helmerick HARRISON

Peter Henry's birth in NZ:


MORRIE, Harry Peter

Parents: Mary & Peter

Hi Debra,

oh that is wonderful! I didn’t think to look under the name Davies...even though these people were the kings of using different names... So much valuable information ...  Thank you so much!



I take it back about there being no marriage, I think the 'MORAY' name has come from Mary:


457 / 1856

MARA, Mary
WILSON, Nels Peter

That marriage cert should give you some good information about both of them and hopefully they had no reason to tell fibs at that stage in their relationship.

What do Catherine and Sophia's birth certificates have for 'previous issue' of Peter and Mary?  Some births that may be relevant:

1857 Sandhurst

Francis (mother MORROW)

1860 Happy Valley

Mary (mother DAVIS) died as an infant

1861 Inglewood

Peter (mother MARAI) died as an infant

1863 Inglewood

John William (mother MARRAY)


Hi again Debra,

I have looked at these 2 so often and wondered if that may be them.. I’m really hoping it is... I think the next step will be to purchase the marriage certificate.. 

Catherine’s Birth Cert - Born 20 February 1858, shows her mother as Mary Connor  Born County Cork, Ireland - M. Peter Wilson  29 September 1856. Miner, Happy Valley, Sandhurst.

Sophia’s Birth Cert - Born 12 December 1861, has her mother as Mary Wilson, formerly Davis. Born Cork, Ireland - Married Peter William Wilson (miner)  29 September  1856 

It lists -

Peter William - Deceased.

Catherine 3 3/4yrs

Mary - Deceased

i have since found Mary - Born 1860 - Died 1861

There are still court cases in the name of Peter Moray alias Wilson in 1863 - so I’m not sure how Peter is listed as deceased - which he obviously wasn’t.  

They certainly don’t make it easy... Thanks so much for your help!


I wonder if you are reading the certificate correctly?  There are two columns for the father - the first is name, profession, age and birthplace, and the second column is when and where married and issue living and deceased.  Sophia had two deceased siblings, Peter and Mary, and one living, Catherine, so the 'deceased' should refer to her brother. 

Do you know the circumstances of their immigration to NZ?  The Swiftsure had recruited military settlers and their families onboard and you can see the conditions of their enlistment in this Argus advertisement in 1863:

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/6488265 (first column)

Basically they were given town allotments and farms in return for providing their service as militiamen in the NZ Wars for three years.

There is a long and comprehensive article here:


If you search Trove and Papers Past  you will find lots of articles using the words military settlers and swiftsure settlers and narrowing your dates to 1863-1864.

Further research:


Thank you! And you are right! I didn’t realise there was another child called Peter William Wilson... (They keep surprising me! )..B. 1861 - D 1862...

I can’t figure the Marriage yet...  according to the marriage certificate - married 28 February 1856... Nels Peter Wilson is Swedish B. 1833 - was 24 yrs old when married &  D. 1873 —— Mary Mara is Born 1830 in Kilkenny aged 21 yrs.at marriage  — They appear to have a couple of children called - John William Wilson B. 1863 & Francis Wilson B. 1857. ( They did not travel to NZ, so I’m almost convinced this is not the same couple I am looking for.) 

I found someone’s Family Tree who had also included our Catherine,  B 1858 & Peter,  B. 1861 into Nels Peter Wilson children...  both John & Francis grew up and married..

On Sophia & Catherine’s Birth Certificates -  their parents married 29 September 1856 - Peter Wilson B. 1831, Rotterdam, Holland, aged  27 ? (Should be 25) & Mary Connor - Mary Davis B. County Cork, Ireland in 1836 - aged 20 years...

So entirely different, but so similar!

Thank you for all the info about the Govt. Deals for the Waikato Militia Men.. very informative and interesting... yes, I did know Peter had volunteered under the name of Peter Moray. All it had on Sophia’s Death Cert was - Daughter of a Waikato Militiaman.

Thank you for your help and support.


© 2020   Created by National Archives of Australia.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an issue  |  Terms of Service