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Professor John (Old John) Shand
C.M.G., LL.D., M.A.
1834 - 1914

Premature Announcement

The Marlborough Express of 7th October 1910 (page 4) reported that at least one English publication had announced prematurely the death of John Shand:

 

It is not often that a man is able to read his own obituary record, but that experience has befallen our respected townsman Dr. Shand (says the Dunedin Star).

On August 17th the Standard of Empire published this extraordinary cable from its Wellington correspondent:-

'A great loss has been suffered in New Zealand scholastic circles by the death of Dr. John Shand, professor of natural philosophy in the University of Otago, who had been accidentally burned to death. The manuscript of a Maori dictionary of the greatest interest and value, on which he was engaged at the time, was also destroyed. Dr. Shand, who was 76 years of age, came to New Zealand forty years ago.'

The Standard of Empire has confused Dr. Shand with the late Mr Alexander Shand, who was burnt to death recently at the Chatham Islands.

 

Even such an august publication as The Scotsman, published in Edinburgh, was taken in. On 18th August 1910 (page 4) we learn of the supposed Death of a New Zealand Professor:

 

A Standard Wellington message says :-

A great loss has been suffered in New Zealand scholastic circles by the death of Dr John Shand, Professor of Natural Philosophy in the University of Otago, who has been accidentally burned to death. The manuscript of a Maori dictionary of the greatest interest and value, on which he was engaged at the time, was also destroyed. Dr Shand, who was seventy-size years of age, came to New Zealand forty years ago.

 

The error was compounded in the edition of 20th August 1810 (page 8) which says:

 

Dr John Shand, Professor of Natural Philosophy in the University of Otago, who has been accidentally burned to death, was 76 years of age, and was a graduate of Aberdeen University, graduating M.A. at King’s College in 1854.

He went to New Zealand forty years ago. In 1889 his Alma Mater conferred on him the degree of LL.D. Dr Shand was a native of Morayshire.

 

A retraction, of course, had to be printed later. The edition of 17th November 1910 (page 6) carried better news of Professor Shand:

 

On the 18th August The Scotsman reproduced from the Standard, a telegram from its Wellington correspondent stating that Professor Shand, Dunedin, had been burned to death as a the result of a fire in his house.

Friends of Professor Shand in Edinburgh have received letters by the latest New Zealand mail containing the gratifying announcement that he "is alive and very well."

The erroneous report, the publication of which we regret, appears to have originated from the fact that a Mr Alexander Shand, of the Chatham Islands, had met with his death through burning of his house.

 

 

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