William John Smith

Born 25 Dec 1837

Wexford, Ireland

Ship and Arrival 1854 Ship “William Miles”

Army BET. 1850 – 1854 55 th Regiment

Occupation Soldier, Blacksmith

Religion Roman Catholic


Issue:m 14, 12, 10, 4, 2 F 8, 6

Died 1 19 Sep 1883 Whangaroa, NZ

Sletthusus Pulmonilis-2 years

Buried 23 Sep 1883 Totara North, NZ


Sylvester Dempsey

Margaret Smith

Marriage Date/Place 15 Aug 1868 Whangaroa, NZ Catherine Mary Hayes

MDCL Dr Stregwell, Jul 09 1883

William was born sometime in Wexford Ireland in 1837.

He was a son of Sylvester Dempsey and Margaret Smith.

We believe that he was originally William Dempsey, but

changed it to his mothers name.

Sometime in his young adult years he joined the 55th

regiment in England and was sent out to fight in India. In

1853 it is believed that he deserted and ended up in

New Zealand. He may have arrived on the ship the William Miles.

Later he went to Whangaroa in North Auckland where he worked

as a blacksmith. In 1868 he married Catherine Mary Hayes,

oldest daughter John Daly Hayes, one of the first settlers

in Whangaroa.They had 6 children, one of whom died very young.

He died quite young, aged 45 on Sep 19 1883 of a heart attack.He

had been ill for 2 years, and was buried at Totara North

Cemetery on 23 September, 1883.

Letter from Capt Erik Gray

With a birthdate of 1837, William John Smith alias Dempsey probably

enlisted around the age of 18 in 1855 when the 55th foot was engaged

in the Crimea. At the conclusion of hostilities, and after a short tour

of Gibraltar, the regiment returned and took station at Dublin. It later rotated to

Aldershot, and thence to Jersey until embarking in 1863 for

service in Madras. Thereafter it served at various stations in India until

1875 when it was sent to Aden.

Providing the 55th foot is correctly stated, and your man served in

it in the name of Smith or Dempsey, it should be possible to

trace him and details of his service.



Registrar General, NZ Births Deaths and Marriages, Document, 1593\1887, .



Source Media Type: Civil Registry.


Registrar General, NZ Births Deaths and Marriages, 345/1868.


NZ Births Deaths and Marriages.


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