Isabella Hamilton BLACK came to New Zealand with her family when she was ten. The family came from Hamilton, near Glasgoe, Scotland on the ship arriving in 1866. They set up home in Nelson. Isabella married Francis Oates Irvine. While it is obvious that they had met in Nelson, the reason they elected to marry at the Wesleyan Parsonage, Onehunga, Auckland on 26 September 1878 is not so clear. It has been suggested that Isabella’s family disapproved of the marriage and that they eloped.

The building in which they were married has quite a history. It had been the original Wesleyan Methodist Mission Station house built at Mangungu on the Hokianga Harbour in 1838 by Rev John Hobbs. The second major gathering of chiefs for the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi on 12 February 1840 was held here. As time passed and population declined in Hokianga, Mangungu became a backwater of the mission field. When the Hobbs family moved to Auckland in 1855, the house was transported by barge in one piece down to Onehunga, now a suburb of Auckland, to be erected there and used as a Methodist parsonage for many years . Francis and Isabella’s grand-daughter Felica Myra Jean IRVINE was involved with the successful project in 1972 to have it transported back by road and re-erected close to its old site.

Isabella came from an extremely musical family. Her father Andrew and her brother John formed the Black Family of Musicians in the 1890s, with John later touring Australia and New Zealand with his wife Polly, and children Nell, Bert, Elsie and Doris performing as “The All Blacks of Maoriland” from about 1895 to perhaps 1910. John was later involved in the Picture Theatre business in Australia and died in Sydney in 1927. Two of his daughters also settled in Sydney, Nellie marrying becoming Mrs Prentice and Elsie becoming Mrs Garrett. The other two children having died before 1961.