150 Years in Farming

Luisetti Seeds wish to congratulate the Morrish Family who have been farming the same property at Springston for 150 years. To mark the occasion Luisetti Seeds recently presented the Morrish’s with commemorative plaques.

Luisetti Seeds staff present members of the Morrish family with commemorative plaques

L to R: Shane King (Luisetti Seeds), David Morrish, Chris Morrish, John Morrish, Ed Luisetti, Mark Morrish

In 1863, at the age of 24, Richard Morrish emigrated from Devon, England to Canterbury. He married Elizabeth Wright, a farmer’s daughter from Papanui. Richard and Elizabeth purchased their first fifty acres in the Lincoln
district on what is now Boundary Road for £300. Less than two years later they purchased a further 100 acres of adjoining land. A further 61 acres was purchased in 1873 for £727.

Wheat was the predominant crop on the land and an article in The Star on 26th January 1876 noted Richard Morrish for having “Good, Clean Wheat”. Richard and Elizabeth also grew oats and ran sheep.

In 1889 another 141 acres was purchased for £2750.

Richard and Elizabeth had five children. In the 1890’s they retired to Prestonville, Lincoln, leaving only son Frederick to run the farm. Other crops, including kale for seed, grass seed, clover, potatoes and peas were now grown. Produce was carted to the Lincoln railhead using a traction engine and wagon. Sheep numbers were also growing. Crossbreds were replaced with Corriedales purchased from Sir Heaton Rhodes and Southdown rams were bought from Dick Overton of Lakeside, Ellesmere.

Image of a young David Morrish 1940 standing in front of a threshing machine. Two men in the background are blurred with movement

Threshing wheat with Case L and Case Tin Mill. David
Morrish in front c1940.

The farm was given the name Cranleigh and with great excitement the first tractor arrived, a 1920 Fordson. A second tractor was then bought, a British Wallis, followed by a Case Model L.

Frederick’s son, Richard (Dick) farmed through the Depression years of the 20’s and 30’s when the price of wool, meat and dairy fell by 60%. With the commencement of WWII demand improved for all agricultural goods. Farm labour was still required, but with many men at war, the Women’s Land Army was established to meet these labour shortages.

Black and whie photograph of Dick Morrish in 1933 using farm machinery

Dick Morrish on Binder (McCormick Deering 8 Ft), Rae Edward
on tractor (first Model L Case with flat fan belt) cutting Chou
Moellier (Kale) c 1933

Help also came from the soldiers who were released to help with the harvest and potato picking.

At harvest time all meals – morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea were taken out to the paddocks for up to ten men.

The property was then handed to Dick’s sons David, Richard and John (Richard moved to the North Island to farm in 1971). David and John are farming the land today (albeit David is semi-retired) along with their sons Chris and Mark. Today, David and Chris (Morrish Farming) farm Lochhead Farm and John and Mark (Cranleigh Fields) farm Cranleigh.

Although there have been changes to the titles of the land, of the original 350 acres passed down through Frederick, and an additional 57 acres purchased by Dick, only 24 acres has been sold out of the family, plus there is an extra 403 acres now farmed under the Morrish name.

David’s wife, Margaret, has compiled a booklet of the family history (which much of this article derives from) and in May 2018 received the Queen’s Service Medal at Government House for services to heritage preservation.