Copper one penny token issued
by William Jarvey Pawnbroker.
During the early colonial years, there was a shortage of official British currency within New Zealand.
Paper promissory notes and letters of credit circulated alongside a large variety of coinages brought in by passing ships, and when they weren't available, the old barter system was implemented, which was often a highly dubious way of trying to conduct business.
This 'uncertainty' saw the introduction of Penny (Trade) Tokens, which were issued in New Zealand from 1857 to 1881 by various commercial houses. Forty-eight retailers such as merchants, grocers, drapers and milliners issued their own penny and half-penny tokens.
A copper One Penny Token (pictured here) was issued by William Andrew Jarvey, a Pawnbroker based in Hobart.
William Jarvey arrived in Hobart in 1844, and good family connections saw him appointed a Police Constable for the district. In 1849, he obtained permission to marry Catherine Jane Shaw, a 25 year-old Irish convict (there was a shortage of 'suitable' ladies) and the following year he became the Schoolmaster at the Cascades, outside Hobart. In 1854 he left the school and established himself as a Clothier and Pawnbroker during good economic times.
He later made it to New Zealand having convinced the owners of the steamer Titania that he was a suitable captain for their ship (he had been in the Water Police), which was supplying mining communities in New Zealand.
The gold rush in Otago saw Dunedin flourish as a port city and Jarvey, now based there, was earning good money. With his wife in Australia, he was seen in the company of a younger woman and in April 1864, Catherine Jarvey (realising he was not going to return) with their five children, followed William to New Zealand. In August, the relationship was not good, she accused him of adultery and he severely beat her unconscious. Things were about to get worse.
The following month he purchased some rat poison from a chemist (he said 'to get rid of rats on his ship'), and according to the published versions of the trial, Catherine Jarvey was taken ill with 'fits' within a few days of the purchase. On the evening of 26 September, Jarvey administered a fatal dose of strychnine and his wife died of an epileptic fit. At the insistence of Catherine's 18 year old daughter, the police investigated and after two trials, Jarvey was found guilty of his wife's murder. He was hanged on 25 October 1865 and it is reported that Jarvey shook hands with his gaolers and then calmly walked onto the scaffold and that his last words to his executioner were "God bless you, Sir!".
He was the first criminal to be executed in the Province of Otago, New Zealand.
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