Dunedin Family History Group

Otago and Southland related research

Dunedin Funeral Directors


Many names of the deceased who appear in the Funeral Directors' Records will also, of course, appear in the burial register of the various Dunedin cemeteries. But Funeral Directors' Records should not be overlooked. There will be those people who died in Dunedin, but were buried elsewhere, and so will not be in the Dunedin Burial Registers.

Wynn and HopeA. J. WYNN & HOPE, Economical Undertakers, ST. ANDREW ST.,
   A. J. Wynn & Hope Undertakers in St Andrew Street, Dunedin
In 1887, Mr .John Hope, in partnership with Mr A. J. Wynn, founded the firm known as A. J. Wynn & Hope, at 36 St. Andrew        
Street, as Undertakers, Monumentalists and bing Carpenters.

Hope and Wynn addIn 1915 John Hope purchased Wynn's share of the business and took into partnership Mr W. G. Kinnaston, a builder of Roxburgh and traded as Hope & Kinnaston. In 1928 Kinnaston retired and his shares were purchased by John Hope who was joined by his sons. The firm continued to trade as Hope & Kinnaston until 1960 when it became Hope & Sons Ltd.



J Hopes


J. Hope and Sons St. Andrew Street





Hope and SonsIn 1970 the company moved from St Andrew Street to its present site in Andersons Bay Road.  
Records held on the present premises of Hope & Sons:  – Records are very brief and consist only of name and date of death.

January 1928 until threcords for each deceased person are identical to those found on a full death certificate.
Hope & Sons management would prefer a written question accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope.


It would appear that the only records to have survived for this business, which operated from Great King Street, Dunedin, are five volumes which are now housed at the Hocken Library, Dunedin. There is no restriction on access to these records. The five volumes consist of two ledger books plus three "Day Books'" – 1 May 1959 – 3 August 1961; 2 April 1962 – 25 April 1967 and 27 April 1967 – 29 March 1974.
These "Day Books"' contain full name, date and place of death,time and place of funeral and burial, ashes disposal if appropriate, to whom the account was sent, incidental charges including organist, flowers etc. and dates of payment.

Thomas (Tom) Cole, a carpenter by trade and then a cabinetmaker, was later to become an undertaker. He operated a funeral business in joint partnership with George Springer and traded as Cole and Springer of Kensington, Dunedin. Tom Cole took a keen interest in the city and, being a strong advocate for the amalgamation of Caversham with the city of Dunedin, he later became a city councilor. In 1910 he was elected Mayor of Dunedin.
It would appear that the only records to have survived for this firm are: "Death Registration" book, covering the years 7 Jan 1896 – 18 June 1898. Records for each deceased person are identical to those found on a full death certificate. Also surviving is a "Day (or ledger) Book" for the years 2 Aug 1896 – 31 Dec 1902. Details include name, date of burial, all other details regarding the actual funeral and to whom the account was sent. These records have been transcribed and indexed and can be found on the open shelf at the Otago Settlers Museum. They were originally found with the records of R. McLean and Sons and the originals are now housed at the Hocken Library. There is no restriction on access to these records.

FRAPWELL AND HOLGATE (listed as Monumental Masons as well as Undertakers)
At the time of compiling this listing no records appear to have survived.


Gillions and SoGillionsns Limited had its beginnings in 1874 when Hugh Gourley Limited was established. Charles J. Thorn, a master builder, entered the business as an undertaker in 1882. In the 1930's Thomas Leslie Gillions became financial advisor to Charles Thorn and after his death Leslie Gillions became a director and company secretary. George and Sarah Thorn, the children of Charles Thorn, held shares in the company but when they retired in 1962 their shares
were sold to the Gillions family.

The business continued to operate in Marion Street, Caversham (later renamed Thorn Street) and in August 1962, the company of Gillions and Sons Limited was formed. In 1966 it moved its premises to the former South Dunedin Fire Station in Hillside Road. In May 1973 Gillions and Sons purchased Hugh Gourley Limited who had begun business in Clark and Maclaggan streets as livery stable-keepers. The two companies operated separately but from the same premises in Hillside Road. In 1988 the company became known as Gillians Bereavement Services. Today it is known as Gillions Funeral Services.
The records for C. J. Thorn Ltd became the property of Gillians & Sons Ltd in 1962. Since then, as well as continuing to keep records as they appear on a full death certificate, Gillians & Sons also retain a copy of the death notice as it would have appeared in the newspaper of the day. Gil lions & Sons have compiled an index encompassing all their records which certainly assists access, but Gourleys records are not so easily located and require more of the staff's time. Local researchers would be advised to post their query, giving a telephone number for the staff to reply at their convenience. If you prefer to call in person, have your query written out to leave with them, if circumstances make it difficult to attend to on the spot.
A stamped self-addressed envelope for the return of written replies should also be sent.


Mr Hugh Gourley estabGourleyslished his undertaking business in 1874. He appears to have operated his business from premises in Grant Street, McLaggen Street and Clarke Street, Dunedin. Although the records appear to be complete, they contain very little genealogical details for the years 1875 – 1962. From 1962 onwards, the records held for each deceased person are almost identical to those found on a full death certificate. Also available is the wording of the death notice that would have been placed in the newspaper of the day. For access to these records, see notes for Gillions and Sons.

CCharles Thornharles John Thorn, aged 28 years, with his wife, Frances Edwards Perriam, and four of their eventual ten children, arrived in Dunedin, New Zealand, in 1875. The family settled first in Mornington and then in Caversham. In March 1884 Charles Thorn established himself as a master builder and undertaker, having brought with him many recipes for embalming corpses (although he championed cremation). He represented Caversham ward on the Dunedin City Council from 1915 to 1917 and 1919 to 1921. He died at his home in Caversham on 10 March 1935.

The records of C. J. Thorn Ltd appear to be complete through the years. They contain valuable information to the genealogist: name of deceased, date of death and burial, cemetery with block and plot numbers (sometimes even the position of the coffin within the plot), sometimes the cause of death, the officiating Minister at the service and the Doctor who attended the deceased. By about the mid 1Thorns890's the records also contained the names of the deceased's children, mentioning their ages. By about 1901, the records for each deceased person resemble those found on a full death certificate. For access to these records, see notes for Gil lions and Sons.


James Manning of George Street, Port Chalmers was a cabinetmaker, upholsterer and undertaker. He established his furniture business in Port Chalmers in 1894 but it is unsure when he first began working as an undertaker. He first appeared in Stone's Directory recorded as an undertaker in 1907.

All his furniture was made on the premises and all his undertaking provisions including the hearse and for some years, the deceased bodies, were kept in his workshop out the back of his building. He later had a special room put aside as a parlour for displaying the coffins. No records appear to have survived for his business.
A photograph of James Manning appears in the Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Otago
edition page 1107.                          

It is very difficult to trace who was working as      undertakers in Dunedin because undertaking was only a side-line to other professions such as carpentery work. For example there are only four men listed as undertakers in the NZEF lists for l/#.J1 but there was a lot more eligible men in this trade in Dunedin who served in l/#.J1.

ARCHER, Alfred Stephen, 206 George Street, Dunedin, Occupation: Undertakers Manager MCGREGOR, Duncan Joseph, 170 Castle Street, Dunedin, Occupation: Undertaker SPROAT, Robert, 11 Great King Street, Dunedin, Occupation: Undertaker
THORN, George Thomas, 9 Brunswick Terrace, Kew, Dunedin, Occupation: Builder and Undertaker

You will also note here that there is only two men listed as undertakers in the 1893 electoral rolls for the greater Dunedin area. There were more men working as undertakers in Dunedin in 1893 but as you will see from the list below they did not always cite their occupation as undertaker.

COLE, Thomas, Hillside, Kensington South, Occupation: Undertaker
WYNN, Alfred, St Andrew Street, Dunedin, Occupation: Undertaker
Undertakers in 1893 listed under other
BAUCHOP, Robert, Gray Street, Port Chalmers, Occupation: Builder
GILLIES,  John,  Roslyn,  Occupation:
GOURLEY, Hugh, Clarke Street, Dunedin, Occupation: Livery stable keeper
SMITH, William, Mosgiel, Taieri, Occupation:
SPRINGER, George, Ascotvale, North East Valley, Occupation: Builder
THORN,  Charles  John,  Marion  Street,
Caversham, Occupation: Joiner  

Most of the information contained here was extracted from Wise's and Stone's DGeddesirectories. It is interesting to note that the description 'undertaker' changed to being listed in a directory as a 'Funeral Director' in 1937. Many firms began operating as undertakers long before they were recorded in the directories so the years listed are only guides as to approximate dates when businesses began to operate.
Archer A. S. & Co  219 George21 (Stones)
Avers T.  Albany Street, Dunedin  1864 (Harnotts)Bauchop 1902 (Stones)
Campbell, R & Son (late R.  Gordon Road, Mosgiel  1925-1939 (Stones)
J. Campbell & Son Ltd   
Cole & Springer  152 George Street, Dunedin  1886-1915 (Stones)
Cole, W. H. (late Cole &  260 King Edward Street, South  1923-1939 (Stones)
Son}  Dunedin  
Craig & Gillies  George Street, Dunedin  1878 (Wises), 1880-81 (Wises), 1884, 1885-86
  (Wises), 1886 (Stones)
Flynn70 (Wises)Gillies
Fraowell & Holaate  206 George21 (Stones)
Geddes, Walter G.  Octagon I Stuart Street, Dunedin  1864 (Harnotts), 1869-70 (Wises), 1871-72
  (Wises), 1872-73 (Wises), 1875-76 (Wises),
  1878 (Wises), 1880-81 (Wises), 1885-86
  (Wises), 1884-87 (Stones)
Gillies, John  18 George Street and 11 King  1887-1925 (Stones)
 Street, Dunedin  
Gourley & Lewis  George Street and Maclaggan  1875-76 (Wises), 1878 (Wises), 1880-81
 Street, Dunedin  (Wises),
Gourley, Hugh Johnston  7 later 5 Clarke Street, Dunedin  1874 (records show firm began operating),
(later Hugh Gourley Ltd)   1885-86 (Wises), 1884-1899 (Stones), 1901-
  1939 (Stones)Untitled
Gourley, James M.  Clarke Street, Dunedin  1900-01 (Stones)
Hall Harrv J.  3 Great King Street, Dunedin  1904-05 (Stones)
Hope & Kinaston  30 St Andrew Street, Dunedin  1915 (records show firm began operating),
 then 78 St Andrew Street,  1916-39 (Stones)
Inglis A. & T.  George Street, Dunedin  1884-93 (Stones)
Lewis. John  George Street, Dunedin  1884 (Stones), 1885-86 (Wises)
Manning James  George Street, Port Chalmers  1907-16 (Stones)
Martin & Son  186 Great King Street, Dunedin  1905 (Stones)
Martin & Waldren  30 St Andrew Street, Dunedin  1906-1912 (Stones)
Mclean R. & Sons  219 George Street, Dunedin  1922-1939 (Stones)
Muirhead R. (later R.  79 Gordon Road, Mosgiel  1928-1939 (Stones)
Muirhead & Son Ltd}   
Murrav. H. W.  George Street, Dunedin  1871-72 (Wises)
Pattison William S.  Great King Street, Dunedin  1900 (Stones)
Smith. William  Mosqiel  1887-1913 (Stones)
Spicer and Murray  George Street, Dunedin  1864 (Harnotts), 1869- 70 (Wises)
Spicer J. R.  George Street, Dunedin  1871-72 (Wises), 1872-73 (Wises)
Svkes G. A.  George Street, Port Chalmers  1917 (Stones)
Taylor, David  Hope Street, Dunedin  1871-72 (Wises), 1872-73 (Wises), 1875-76
  (Wises), 1878 (Wises), 1880-81 (Wises), 1885-
  86 (Wises), 1884-1887 (Stones)
Thorn, Charles J.  11 Marion Street, Caversham  1882 (records show firm began operating),
 then 29 Marion Street,  1885-86 (Wises), 1884-1939 (Stones)
Watson, John (later John  George Street, Port Chalmers  1920-1925 (Stones) 1929-1939 (Stones)
Watson Ltdl   
Weddersooon R.  Gordon Road, Mosqiel  1933-1939 (Stones)
Willocks, William  Dunedin  1850s (appears on death certificates in this
  time period
Wilson Robert  152 King Street, Dunedin  1934 (Stones)
Wvnn A. J. & Sons  36 St Andrew Street, Dunedin  1916-17 (Stones)
Wynn, A. J. & Hope  St Andrew Street, Dunedin  1887 (records show firm began operating),
  1894-1915 (Stones)
Wynn Alfred Joseph  St Andrew Street, Dunedin  1889-93 (Stones)