After looking at the various places in New Zealand that the Middlebrook family purchased land, there seemed to be a definite trend to areas that held a Wesleyan Mission. This could well have been cooincidence, the family may have bought land there because they were areas of known settlement, but at least one story has John Middlebrook leaving the UK because of his staunch Wesleyan views . The truth of this may never be known but I feel its worth more research and so I shall be visiting the Methodist Church archives very soon in order to see if they hold any clues for us.
Journalling on this layout reads:
At first glance the wedding of Elizabeth Middlebrook and George Douglas Hardy seems to be a rather insignificant affair, held as it was at the home of Elizabeth’s mother Ellen Middlebrook, in Duke Street Auckland, however on closer reflection it appears to be a far more impressive occasion and gives us an insight into the religions background of the Middlebrook family.
Historically the family had been Anglican for hundreds of years, but in the early 19th century with the formation of the non-conformist Wesleyan church in Yorkshire , the family appears to move to Methodism . While there was a “foot in both camps ” approach in the latter years of their time in Yorkshire, one theory is that John Middlebrooks staunch Wesleyan views were the crux of his decision to move his family to a new land.
James Wallis, the Officiating Minister at Elizabeth’s wedding was no mere local parish representative.
He had been one of the earliest missionaries to New Zealand , leaving the UK in 1834 to join the Wesleyan missionaries here who numbered just two! He set up missions at Waiangaroa, and Kawhia and spent much time in the Hokianga area ( quite possibly near where the Middlebrooks had purchased land after their arrival in New Zealand.
He moved to Auckland in the 1860s and retired from the Ministry Circuit but remained preaching part time and it was at this time he was called upon to officiate at the marriage of the young Elizabeth Middlebrook in her marriage to George Douglas Hardy.