A letter presented in The New Zealand Numismatic Journal, March 1963, written by Mears' grandson, H.G. Redding, gives some details about his forebear's life:
'My Grandparents arrived in Wellington from Scotland, calling at Sydney en route in the Brig Prima Donna, 1st March 1854. Walter James Mears, Saddler, his wife, Eliza Mears, nee Campbell, opened Saddler's business opposite Noah's Ark, opposite Bank N.Z. on the corner of Willis St. and Lambton Quay, 1859. Afterwards shifted to Willis St. [in] 1866 … My parents lived on 'Mears Paddock', in Abel Smith St. The house [at numbers] 98-100 is still standing, built in 1855.'
The house on Abel Smith Street, referred to above, was Mears' home from 1878. The dates of his death and birth are unknown.
The 1855 New Zealand Almanac included an advertisement for 'J. Mears, Saddler, Collar, and Harness Maker, (opposite Noah's Ark) Lambton Quay, Wellington. N.B. Second-hand Saddles bought, sold and exchanged.' It is interesting to note that, although his grandson gaves Mears' name as Walter James, the article does not comment on the fact that his tokens were issued under the name 'J.W. Mears'. Given the date of the advertisement it seems that the chronology offered by Redding was not precise, as Redding states that Mears opened the store in 1859, four years after the advertisement was published.
Mears' first store was opposite those premises occupied by Kirkcaldie and Stains, another Wellington firm that issued tokens. Kirkcaldie and Staines occupied those premises between 1863 and 1866.
Bell, R.S. (1963). 'Mears & Forsyth Tokens.' The New Zealand Numismatic Journal. Vol. 11, No. 37, March, pp.3-4.
Advertisement. The New Zealand Almanac, 1855, unnumbered page.