John Robertson Matheson was the youngest son of Alexander Matheson and Margaret Robertson. His parents were born in Scotland: Margaret in about 1848 and Alexander in the Highlands in about 1850. They married in Edinburgh in 1873 and arrived in New Zealand in 1881, with possibly four children. Three more children were born here, the youngest being John Robertson Matheson in 1887.
The family had moved to Highgate in Dunedin about four years earlier. Alexander was an accountant for various firms such as the Mutual Agency Co. and McLean and Co. He was a member of the Roslyn Borough Council and was mayor of Roslyn from 1907 to 1909. Alexander died in 1926, aged 76. Margaret signed the national petition in favour of votes for women in 1893. She died at her daughter’s place in Tauranga in 1922 at the age of 74.
When John signed up he was a quartz miner for Consolidated Goldfields in Reefton on the West Coast. He was overseas for more than four years, serving in Gallipoli, Egypt and the Western Front. By 1924 he was working as a government stock inspector in Tauranga. He died in 1935 aged only 49.
Family details from nzhistory.govt.nz, based on research by Helen Edwards
Military personal history file, Archives New Zealand