Descendant of tenant farmers in Angus (Forfarshire), David worked in the woollen milling industry in Great Britain, in Newfoundland (where he presumably met his future wife), and (as a highly respected mill manager) in New Zealand.
David appears somewhat disguised in the 1851 Kirkden census index: "Petterson David 14" b Kirkden Book 4 Sch 16 [with parents and younger brother]; his married brother "William Petterson" was living with wife's family. Perhaps the census enumerator was unfamiliar with north-eastern Scotland accents and rendered what was probably "Pa'erson" into the "English" word he or she thought was closest.
We have found no record of him in Newfoundland, but page 26 of McLean's book says he was there, and his future wife was born there, as were many of her brother's descendants.
He was a partner in "Patterson and Law" Tweed Mills, Peebles, Scotland, but a slump was bad for their business and he moved his family to Dunedin, New Zealand, in 1882.
His last and probably greatest position was as manager of the Oamaru Woollen Factory Company's mill at Oamaru in North Otago, New Zealand, from May 1884 till January 1916. On 17 February 1916, the Oamaru Mail (as quoted in Spinning Yarns), said he was:
- "endowed with a ripe experimental knowledge of woollen factory work as a proprietor and a keen commercial faculty. ... Having invested in shares and become personally interested in the infant industry, he threw the whole weight of his vigorous capacity and technical knowledge into his operations. ... As a result the shares rose steadily in value till they were selling at a considerable premium ... and it is a pleasant duty to pay a tribute to the able management which resulted in the permanent and solid establishment of an institution which has done so much for Oamaru. ..."
Spinning Yarns also notes that around 1912 the Truth newspaper had used the company's success to criticize the Government, under the heading "Profitable Enterprise Shakes off the Overdraft":
- "Perhaps when our financial freaks are fired into darkness, some Minister of Finance may be found who will copy this little company's efforts to live within its means, and so earn fat little dividends while providing steady employment for the wage-earner too. ..."
The 1896-97 PO Directory shows him at Main North Road, as does the 1903 edition.
David was succeeded as Manager by his son David L.Patterson, and continued as a Director of the company until 1919.
James moved back to Dunedin and became a lawyer, married but childless, living with his wife near the top of Maitland Street in his last years.
William moved to Wellington and had a successful career as a banker and helped his wife produce seven children, six of whom survived childhood, gained University degrees, and had their last reunion at the marriage of the older son of William's youngest son in 1969.
Anne married Gordon McAdam and moved to Queensland, where a dozen of her son's descendants saw out the 20th century. Others were in Sydney.
Minnie did not marry. She remained in Oamaru (at 9 Ure street, South Hill) and looked after Anne's spinster daughter Winifred McAdam. In the 1929 PO Directory she was shown as "Patterson, Miss Minnie" but later entries are "Patterson, Ms Marn G".
"David L", as mentioned above, managed the mill after his father and was succeeded by his own unmarried son Brian, while his other children moved north to Canterbury, Marlborough, or Auckland, and David L's three married sons left children and grandchildren. In 1926 David L was at 43 Ouse street. From 1929 to 1942 he was at 38 Ouse Street.
In 1913, David's four surviving children presented their parents with an ornate oval hard-soldered silver tray, measuring about 550 mm by 380 mm, inscribed:
FATHER and MOTHER
the occasion of their
August 31st. 1913
J.G.P. - W.A.P. - M.G.P. - D.L.P.
That tray has been inherited by the Plimmerton branch of the family.