Symonds Street Cemetery: Edward Costley

Edward Costley

(1799-1883) Land owner and Philanthropist

Born in Ireland Costley arrived in Auckland in 1841 and purchased tracts of land at a time when it was empty bracken clad countryside.

For forty years the town of Auckland sprang up around him - to some degree on land owned by him.

Although well known as a landlord he never acquired the reputation as a hard person.

A well known Auckland personality, he lived very quietly and unostentiously.

At his death the public was astonished at how wealthy he had been and the scale of the bequests he had stipulated in his will.

Costley bequeathed to each of the following seven institutions the sum of £12,150:

The Auckland Hospital

The Costley Home for the aged poor

The Costley Training Institute

St. Stephen’s Orphan Home

The Sailors’ Home

The Public Library

The Auckland Museum.

Other organisations received smaller bequests;

The Parnell Women’s Home

The Parnell Children’s Home

The Roman Catholic Orphanages at Ponsonby and Takapuna

The Little Sisters of the Poor, Ponsonby

The Helping Hand Mission

The Door of Hope

The Prisoners’ Aid Society

and others.

It is quite likely that Costley’s bequest set an example for other Auckland residents. The period immediately following the Costley bequest saw several similar acts.

Bequests of land, money and artworks were subsequently been made to the city by eminent people possibly spured by Costley’s example.

These include; James Tannock MacKelvie, James Williamson, Dr John Elam, Sir George Grey, Sir Maurice O’Rouke, Sir Henry Brett, the Nathans, the Dingwalls, the Campbells, the Dilworths, the Hellabys, Arthur Myers, Willian Elliot John Court and the family of Moss Davis etc.

Edward costley apparently never married and he left no decendents.

His grave was disturbed by the construction of the motorway in the 1960s, his remains were interred in the vault beneath the Anglican memorial.

Unlike the Grave Markers of the other graves which were disturbed his monument was preserved. It was reerected just to the south of the Anglican Memorial.