Biography of Henry Edward Partridge 1848 - 1931

Henry Edward Partridge was one of Gottfried Lindauer’s earliest clients, and grew to be his most dedicated patron. Their professional relationship lasted almost forty years. Partridge is now best remembered for having amassed a collection of over seventy paintings by Lindauer, later known as the Partridge Collection.


Fig. 1 Unknown. Henry Edward Partridge c. 1899. Image kindly supplied by Bruce W. Graham.

1Partridge (Fig. 1) was born on 17th June, 1848 in Somers Town, London to Mary-Ann and Charles Partridge, an employee of the district Post Office.2 He had a peaceful childhood and developed a love of literature despite minimal schooling.3 At ten years of age Partridge entered the labour force and began working a ten-hour day, six-days per week.4 In 1861 he escaped this by joining the British Navy at the age of thirteen, though his Naval career soon ended when he was injured in service.5 Thereafter Partridge continued his career at sea by crewing merchant ships and once inadvertently sailed on a vessel carrying arms to the Confederate Forces in the American Civil War.6 From January 1865 Partridge began working the tea trading route between London and China.7 There was a prize for the first ship to arrive in London with the new season's tea and Partridge later revelled in telling his family exciting stories of ships racing to London's East India Docks.8


During one voyage in June 1866 Partridge's ship was wrecked and he was stranded in China.9 From there he sailed to Sydney after being attracted by news of the gold rush in Australia.10 However Partridge did not stay long there after setting his sights on New Zealand's gold fields in Buller and Otago (Fig. 2).11 Thus he arrived in Hokitika in early 186712 and two of his siblings, Jesse Adelaide and Arthur, later joined him in New Zealand.13 With little money and few possessions Partridge travelled the South Island on foot in search of gold during the winter of that first year.14 He was foiled by extreme weather which stopped prospecting and he also developed serious frostbite.15 Partridge travelled north from there and by November 1868 had reached Auckland where he met his New Zealand born future wife, Miriam Antoinette Odlum.16 Their union in Auckland on August 2nd, 1870 produced nine children, two of whom did not survive infancy.17


Fig. 3 James MacKay, b&w original negative, 1/2-018088-F, Timeframes


Again in search of gold, Partridge moved to the Waikato district and began running a small crushing plant in Moanataiari Creek, Thames.18 It was here that he brought seventeen-year-old Miriam to the home he had built.19 Partridge's acquaintance with James Mackay (Fig. 3), the influential Government Agent in the Waikato20, began here. He accompanied Mackay to Māori settlements, developing an admiration for Māori culture and the motive to develop the Partridge Collection.21 Mackay later contributed  to the  Collection, as discussed in the Partridge Correspondence.

In 1873 Partridge and his family at last settled in Auckland where he established his successful shop and business, H.E. Partridge & Co., selling tobacco with a secondary trade in sporting goods.22 The first meeting of Gottfried Lindauer and Partridge took place shortly thereafter in Auckland in 1874.23 Undeterred by the financial demands of his new business, Partridge purchased four works produced in that year. Through Lindauer's paintings, Partridge found a format for commemorating the older generation of Māori.  The affection between patron and artist grew and in 1884 Partridge named a daughter Myra Lindauer.24


Fig. 5 Call to the citizens of Auckland to donate to the Belgian Relief Fund, New Zealand Herald supplement 3rd April 1915


It is unknown where Partridge first settled in Auckland, but by 188825 the family were living in a home at 50 Grafton Road26 which overlooked the Auckland Domain.27 The house was known as 'Aropiri'  and Partridge lived in it until his death (Fig. 4). He exhibited his love of collecting here and initially displayed the Collection28 there as well as many foreign curiosities.29


A marked characteristic of Partridge's personality was his compassion for others, witnessed by his  volunteering during the aftermath of  the eruption of Mount Tarawera  in 1886.30 Partridge's greatest known act of beneficence was his donation of the Partridge Collection to the City of Auckland in 1915 on provision that its citizens raised £10,000 for the Auckland Belgium Relief Fund (Figs 5,6,7). Partridge supported this cause as he had been in Europe at the outbreak of WWI and greatly admired the Belgian stand against the German forces (Figs 8, 9).


Fig. 8 Left hand side of leather-bound, hand illustrated thank you letter presented to Henry Partridge. Donated to the archives of the E.H. McCormick Research Library, Auckland Art Gallery by Valerie Hill (RC 2009/5).



H.E. Partridge & Co grew as tobacco consumption in New Zealand doubled between 1888 and 1898.31 By this time Partridge & Co had a popular shop at 20432 Queen Street (Fig. 10) and boasted of being New Zealand's largest tobacco company.33 Partridge's business later incorporated warehousing and bonding and as it stabilised and grew he travelled overseas often.34 This business brought Partridge wealth and the security he desired, but he lived a private life despite being well known due to his business.35

After WWI, Partridge found the principles of the business world changed36 and he retired in 1920 at the age of 72.37 In retirement, Partridge built a family beach house at Glendowie38, Auckland where he stayed during the summer months.39 His wife Miriam died in May 1931 followed shortly by Partridge's own death at his Grafton home on September 12th, in the same year .40 He was buried in Purewa Cemetery in Meadowbank. Partridge was survived by six children who warmly remembered him as a loving, hard working and civic-minded man.




Stephanie McKenzie, Marylyn Mayo Intern 2009, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki 

  1. The Partridge Collection is held by the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki:
  2. Bruce W. Graham, Personal interview, 11 March, 2009.
  3. Bruce W. Graham, Personal interview, 11 March, 2009.
  4. Eileen Clayton, Grompy: The Story of a Pioneer, (Eileen Clayton, 1959), p 8. Copy available at the E.H. McCormick Research Library, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki.
  5. Clayton, Grompy, p 8.
  6. Clayton, Grompy, p 8.
  7. Clayton, Grompy, p 9.
  8. Clayton, Grompy, p 9.
  9. Clayton, Grompy, p 10.
  10. Clayton, Grompy, p 10.
  11. Clayton, Grompy, p 10.
  12. Clayton, Grompy, p 10.
  13. Bruce W. Graham, Personal interview, 11 March, 2009.
  14. Clayton, Grompy, p 10.
  15. Clayton, Grompy, p 10.
  16. Clayton, Grompy, p 12.
  17. Bruce W. Graham, Personal interview, 11 March, 2009.
  18. Clayton, Grompy, p 12.
  19. Clayton, Grompy, p 12.
  20. Clayton, Grompy, p 18.
  21. Clayton, Grompy, p 18.
  22. Clayton, Grompy, p13.
  23. Sources differ over the date when Partridge and Lindauer met. Leonard Bell’s Dictionary of New Zealand Biography entry about Lindauer states that the meeting was in late 1875 or early 1876. However newspaper articles from April 1915 give the meeting date as being 1874. Eileen Clayton’s Grompy also gives 1874 as the time of contact.
  24. Myra Lindauer Partridge is the subject of Lindauer’s Portrait of a Little Girl referenced in Una Platts, Colonial Auckland: A Collection of Paintings, Drawings, and Prints by Early Artists (Auckland, NZ: Auckland City Art Gallery, 1959), p 51.
  25. Bruce W. Graham, Personal interview, 11 March, 2009.
  26. Bruce W. Graham, Personal interview, 11 March, 2009.
  27. Clayton, Grompy, p 20.
  28. Clayton, Grompy, p 19.
  29. Clayton, Grompy, p 22.
  30. Clayton, Grompy, p 14.
  31. ‘The Tobacco Trade’, Auckland Industrial and Mining Exhibition : opened December 1st, 1898 : Official Handbook and Catalogue (Auckland, NZ: Geddis and Blomfield, 1898), p 161.
  32. The address of Partridge’s shop is believed to have been at number 204 Queen Street.
  33. ‘The Tobacco Trade’, Auckland Industrial and Mining Exhibition : opened December 1st, 1898 : Official Handbook and Catalogue (Auckland, NZ: Geddis and Blomfield, 1898), p 161.
  34. Clayton, Grompy, p 14.
  35. Observer, xxvii, no 13 (15 December 1906), p 25.
  36. Clayton, Grompy, p 29.
  37. Clayton, Grompy, p 15.
  38. Clayton, Grompy, p 29.
  39. Clayton, Grompy, p 32.
  40. Clayton, Grompy, p 35.
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