Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ellen (Farrer) Middlebrook

I think of this woman ( my 3x Great Grandmother, as the  matriarch of my family . It was she and her husband who chose to bring their family of 6 children to New Zealand in the 1860s to start a new life. Sadly her husband John died less than 4 years after their arrival, and how easy it may have been for Ellen at the time to return to Yorkshire to the very well established Farrer family, and yet she remained, with her children and forged a life for herself and brought up 6 children each of whom became successful in their own ways, all having children of their own.

I hope to learn more about her life but I needed to create a layout with the information I know now and hence this layout using a very small and poor quality photocopy of a portrait taken probably in her 30s  or early 40’s – maybe  before she left England.

I would love to know where the original of this is.



Journalling reads
Born Ellen Farrer, to father Benjamin (clock maker) and Ellen nee Thompson, in Pontefract, Yourkshire on August 4 ,1820, Ellen married Johhn Middlebrook, brewer of Millbrook, Leedson February 2nd 1847 . They lived in the Liversedge area of Yorkshire for the early part of their marriage and and emigrated to New Zealand with their 6 children under the assisted immigration scheme, arriving on the ship Shalimar in 1862 ,to begin a new life.
They bought land in Matakohe and Whangarei, but moved to Auckland, and when her husband died in 1866 Ellen remained living in the central Auckland area for some time but did live with her children at various times She lived till the ripe old age of 94, dying in Arkles Bay at the home of her daugther Jane, of old age. Through Ellen Middlebrook I became the 6th Generation of my family to live in New Zealand.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Wedding of Jane Thompson Middlebrook and Henry Whitnall Smith


I love this wedding photo. The fashions are glorious and the bride beautiful and the groom handsome.

This Jane Thompson Middlebrook is not to be confused with her aunt of the same name.  She was the second daughter of John and Mary Ann Middlebrook, who,  at the time of this wedding were living in Ponsonby in Auckland but later moved to Te Awamutu.


Henry Whitnall Smith was the son of Henry James Smith. According to a newspaper article I have regarding his Diamond Wedding Anniversary, he was born in Auckland around 1870 and was the first baby baptized by Bishop Cowie in Old St Pauls Church.  Henry was a well known Auckland Photographer, with studios in Queen Street for many years.  Quite a few of the family photographs I have are Whitnall SMith photos.

There was a lovely description of the wedding in the Social Sphere  column of the New Zealand Observer

The New Zealand Observer was one of a number of illustrated weekly newspapers popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was first published in Auckland in 1880 and continued, with name changes, until November 1954.

The column read

A pretty wedding was celebrated on Wednesday afternoon, March 26th, at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Khyber Pass. The contracting couple were Mr H. Whitnall Smith, of Auckland, and Miss Middlebrook, second daughter of Mr -J. Middlebrook, of St. Mary's Road, Ponsonby The Rev. G. Carver, officiated. The bride was given away by her father, and looked very pretty in a handsome trained dress of white brocaded silk, made with transparent yoke and sleeves, and trimmed with chiffon and orange blossoms she also wore a coronet of orange blossoms, tulle veil, and carried a beautiful shower bouquet presented by the bridegroom, who also gave her a dainty gold watch.
The bridesmaids were Miss Wood, Miss Wild, and Misses Edith and Ettie Middlebrook, two little sisters of the bride. The first couple wore charming dresses of fine white muslin elaborately tucked and inserted with lace, and trimmed with cream silk, white chiffon picture hats, and each carried a beautiful shower bouquet and wore a gold twin-dove brooch, presented by the bridegroom. The little girls wore dainty creme cashmere frocks, tucked, and the yokes and sashes of silk, and white leghorn hats trimmed with chiffon They carried baskets of flowers and wore gold brooches, the gifts of the bridegroom. Mr Kinnear, dentist, acted as best man, and Mr J. Middlebrook, Jr. as groomsman. Mrs Middlebrook, mother of the bride, wore a handsome black silk gown, trimmed with lace, turquoise blue and jet bonnet Mrs F. Stonex, sister of the bride, wore a pretty grey voile dress trimmed with creme guipure insertion threaded with black ribbon velvet, and the bodice trimmed with chiffon, black toque Mrs Whitnall- Smith, mother of the bridegroom, wore black Mrs Armiger, black silk tucked blouse, black skirt, and black hat. The bridal party drove to the residence of the bride's parents, where they were entertained at afternoon tea, and in the evening a party was given in the Ponsonby Hall, which was most enjoyable and successful.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Golden Wedding of John and Mary Ann Middlebrook

It seems long marriages are common in my ancestry – I found this article on Paperspast regarding the Golden Wedding Anniversary of John and Mary Ann Middlebrook which gave me more information on the family. I was interested to know that John was not initially a butcher ( a career which ran in the family- his father and brother being butchers as well as several of his sons) but was a printers apprentice to begin with.  I have little information on the early years after the Middlebrooks arrival in New Zealand so I relish every little snippet of information like this.

Papers Past has been a great source of information. I am lucky as it appears there were only 2 Middlebrook families in New Zealand in the early days so a search of the name yeilds great results.


Journalling in this layout reads

TE AWAMUTU, Thursday.
To have experienced a full fifty years of married life comes to few couples, but such a distinction has just been achieved by Mr. and Mrs. John Middlebrook, two of Te Awamutu's most respected and revered townspeople. Mr. Middlebrook came out to the colony in 1562, from his home in Yorkshire, by the ship Shalimar, while his ultimate bride-to-be had accompanied her parents to New Zealand four years earlier in the ship Spirit of Trade. As a youth Mr. Middlebrook tried his prentice hand at printing, working for some time on the old "Southern Cross" (now incorporated in the "New Zealand Herald" and afterwards taking up the trade of a butcher. In 1874 Mr Middlebrook considered his affairs had prospered sufficiently to warrant his taking unto himself a life partner, and on July 22nd of that year he was married in Newton. Auckland, by the Rev. Ward, to Miss Mary Tucker, daughter of Mr. John Tucker, formerly of the Royal Artillery. Mr. Middlebrook and his bride settled down in Auckland until early in the present century, their family growing up round them. In 1902 Mr. Middlebrook decided to remove to Te Awamutu, and he has in the interim built up the butchery business that bears his name. To mark the golden wedding anniversary the family—or as many as could attend —assembled at the old people's residence and celebrated in customary style, a feature being a repetition of the wedding ceremony of fifty years previous. Mr. and Mrs. Middlebrook were the recipients of many congratulatory messages from friends all over the Dominion, and at the wedding breakfast felicitous speeches were made and toasts enthusiastically honoured. The family consists of eleven sons and daughters, twenty-two grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Victor and Madge Middlebrook


This layout features a couple of the photographs I got copies of from the Te Awamutu museum when I visited there last month. They had a collection of over 30 photos relating to John and Mary Ann Middlebrook and their children and family.

I know very little about this photo of the wedding of Albert Victor Middlebrook to his bride Madge.
The photo was part of a collection held by Te Awamutu Museum. It states its circa 1914 and that Madge was a war bride.
There is no record of the marriage in New Zealand, so I assume the wedding took place while Victor (as he was known) was posted overseas in World War 1.
I suspect the wedding is later than 1914 though based on the ages of both Victor and Madge. Madge (who I know nothing about at all), died in 1968 aged 68, according to NZ records so she is unlikely to have married as young as 14 .Victor too was only 16 in 1914 so I believe this wedding took place later in World War 1 .
From what I have found on the Cenotaph Database Victor was part of the 15th Reinforcements of the NZ Field Artillery and his rank was that of Gunner and his embarkation date was 26 July 1916 so I suspect this wedding took place between 1916 and 1918.
Victor was the 11th of 12 children of John and Mary Ann Middlebrook. and the 4th of 5 sons. His elder brother Nelson also saw active service in WW1 .
Albert was a butcher with his father prior to being called up but by the 1930s he was farming in the Auckland region.
I have yet to discover if Madge and Victor had any children, but the only other photo I have of Madge and Victor looks to be taken in Rotorua and it does look like she may well be pregnant. Madge died in 1968 aged 68 and Victor lived a further 2 years dying in 1970 aged 72 .


I see Archives NZ holds several documents relating to Victor Middlebrook. There are 4 files regarding bankruptcy in 1930, insolvency from 1935, a consent to property purchases in 1946 and a sale in 1947  from 1947 and also his probate from 1970 . Interestingly I cant see any war records for him for his WW1 service – I can see those of his brother Nelson and several of his cousins but his name doesnt appear. The probate especially may give me more information on any children Madge and Victor may have had so this layout may need a post script after I have been out to Archives for a further look.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

John Middlebrook

Ive been really busy lately – some of the busy times were genealogy related.  I drove down to Te Awamutu Museum which had a wonderful collection of photos relating to John Middlebrook ( he was the 2nd son of John and Ellen Middlebrook- the couple who emigrated to NZ with their children in 1862 and the elder brother of my 2x Great Grandfather )

Im still discovering things about John’s life – his story is not remotely complete ( in fact I found an article in Papers Past regarding his 50th Wedding anniversary which stated he started his working life as an apprentice at the Southern Cross newspaper.

Id assumed he was always a butcher, as the trade definitely ran in the family.  He also appears not to be buried in the Te Awamutu Cemetery with his wife and many children – though I havent discovered where he is buried .

In any case I did a layout using one of the great photos I copied when down at the museum.

Journalling reads:

John Middlebrook was born in 1854 in Millbridge,near Leeds ,Yorkshire as were his  siblings. 5th of 8, he was the second eldest son and was named after his father John.
The family emigrated to New Zealand, in 1862, when John was aged 8 years old. .
The Middlebrook family has a long history in the butchery business and John took up this trade around the time he married Mary Ann Tucker. He owned butchery businesses in Western Springs, Newton and in Ponsonby from the 1870s to the end of the 19th Century. Around 1904 John purchased , and also leased land in Te Awamutu from Maori under a land alienation scheme set up at the time, however it appears John did not take advantage of the Maori, as he was known by the local tribes as “honest John and like his brother Samuel was a friend of the Maori . John and Mary Ann had 13  children. Several of the sons joined John in his butchery business.
John became a prominent businessman in the town and was a member of the TeAwamutu’s first Chamber of Commerce in 1911-12, and was a member of the first Te Awamutu Borough Council in 1915, and was instrumental in the development of water supply and drainage to the town.  He also helped establish a stockyard in the area which assisted the districts community and farming ventures . John lived in Te Awamutu until his death in 1939

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Bennetts


When I started on this genealogical journey I didnt know much about my Paternal line. In fact I didnt really even know much about my Grandfather, but after finding out he actually had a sister who is still alive, and getting in contact with her I learned so much more about the “Poole” side of my family.

My Grandfathers mother was Edith Bennett and the people in the layout above are her parents and the photos are courtesy of my Great Aunt Doris.

Sarah Ann Youson took a bit of research, she was born after the 1861 census, and in the 1871 census she appears listed as Susannah, – in the 1881 census she is living with her Aunt, and so I was never 100% certain I had the right family for her until I ordered and received her birth certificate from the UK General Register office .

Apart from confirming her parents the certificate also gave me the address where she was born ( and this was in fact where the family continued to live for years, but unfortunately it looks like the whole area has changed and that part of Grove Street is now a car park.

There is still more to learn about the Bennetts – I need to order the death certificates of both George West and Sarah Ann – both died relatively young , George especially, and quite tragically so, dying only 10 months after the birth of his only son.  Id like to know what happened to Sarah Ann and her children in the 6 years between Georges death and her marriage to Edwin Otter, but I probably wont ever find that out.


Journalling on this layout reads

GEORGE WEST BENNETT was born in 1859, second child and eldest son of John and Mary Bennett of Kingswood Gloustershire. Georges father John was a Carter and his mother was listed in the 1861 census as a Feeder at a Machine in a Wool Factory.
By 1881 George was working as a Shunter with the Railway in Derby and in the same year, aged 22, met and married Sarah Ann Youson.
George and Sarah Ann had 3 children before George died prematurely at the mere age of 33, on November 18, 1892, leaving Sarah Ann a widow.
SARAH ANN YOUSON, was born on 22nd February 1863, 4th child and one of at least 9 children of John Youson and Hannah Beeson originally of Leicestershire, but latterly of Derby, Derbyshire where John worked as a Striker at the Ironworks.
In 1881 aged 19 Sarah was living with her Aunt and Uncle in Burton Road Derby, and was working as a Silk Doubler as were many of the women in the area, probably at the local lace factory. Soon after, on 27th June 1881, she married George West Bennett at Christ Church in Derby.
George and Sarah Ann lived in Church Street and had 3 daughters, Florence, Edith and Alice and a son George William Bennett ( born just 10 months before the death of his father.
Six years after George died in 1892 Sarah married Edwin Otter, a Metal Borer . They had no children together but Edwin brought up the 4 Bennett children and after the children had left home Sarah now in her 40s ran a Fish and Chip business .
Sarah died in 1922 , aged 59.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Middlebrook Family

I really like this photo of Samuel MIDDLEBROOK ( my 2x great Grandfather) and his 6 children.

It tells a story more from who is  missing than who is actually in the photo.

I suspect this was taken between 1911 and 1913 – My Great Grandmother Ellen Winifred, on the far right appears to have a wedding band on her finger and she got married in 1909.

The youngest daughter Bessie ( Elizabeth Alice) would have been 13in 1911 and the girl in the photo could pass for 13 or so.

Noticeably missing is the mother of the children  and wife to Samuel , Mary Jane.

It appears from family stories and records such as electoral rolls that Mary and Samuel spent much of their marriage apart.

In the 1908 Electoral roll they are both listed in KatiKati , and in 1991 she again appears with Samuel in Rosemont Street Waihi , but by 1919 she is living with Bessie in Mira Street Ponsonby while Samuel is still in the Bay of Plenty.

Whatever the cause of their separation, ( and family rumours abound of affairs and at least one illegitimate birth) Samuel and Mary never divorced, and she continues to be listed as Married in the electoral rolls until her death.

Her death notice states .

MIDDLEBROOK-  On December 18 1936, at Auckland Hospital, Mary Jane, wife of Samuel Middlebrook, late of 52 Douglas Street Ponsonby.

( I should add here it was not Samuel that was living in Ponsonby – he was living at this time in Waihi )

Friday, November 9, 2012

James Thompson Middlebrook

James Thompson Middlebrook was the younger brother of my 2x Great Grandfather Samuel.

He lived in Matahoke ( probably on land the family had bought there in the 1860s ) and later at Opua , and was a carpenter .

At the age of 28, in 1886  he married Elizabeth Edgar, however it appears that this was not a happy union as described in the  AUckland Star of 25h August 1902 as transcribed in the layouts below


Journalling on this layout reads as follows

James Thompson Middlebrook v Elizabeth Edgar Middlebrook ( application for Decree nisi)- Mr Brookfield appeared for the applicant. There was no appearance for the respondent. Mr Brookfield said the application was for decree nisi, on the ground of desertion since 1892.
James Thompson Middlebrook, Carpenter, deposed he had lived at Opua, Bay of Island, for 17 years. He was married in 1886 but had no children, His wife left him in October 1892. Prior to that she had left him once before and returned to him. She had then written saying she had not intended to return to him. but having been ill she had time to think, and she was willing to come back again and try to do her duty. She added,”It was very wrong of me to leave you, so forgive me.” He then wrote stating that he would take her back and she returned home about 3 weeks afterwards. Afterwards she again left him in 1892. She came to Auckland, He thought she was coming home, but she wrote stating she would not return. He had occasion to speak to his wife about her conduct before she left him the second time, He wrote asking his wife to come home. She replied that she would never return He wrote again and begged of her to come home, and she again refused. After that he heard no more of his wife for some years. He wrote, but his letter was returned. He went personally to Napier to look for her, as he thought she might be with her sister. He, however got no tidings of her until about two years ago, when she telegraphed him from Wellington that she was dangerously ill. He went to Wellington to see her. He found his wife ill in bed. She asked him to forgive her which he did, and promised to take her back. She said as soon as she was out of the doctor’s hands she would return home. He left her in Wellington, but sent her money from time to time to support her and pay doctors expenses . As soon as his wife was better she went to Melbourne instead of coming home. He sent his wife about £20 to £25 while she was in Wellington. He would have He wrote, to his wife in Melbourne, but she said she would not return home. His wife had suggested that he should get a divorce. It was not by any wish of his that they lived separate. He would have taken his wife back right up to the time proceedings were commenced. By His Honor: His wife gave no reason for leaving him. She only complained that it was a little lonely and there was not enough company for her. Mrs Jane McCrae, sister of last witness, deposed she was in the habit of visiting her brother and his wife. They had a very comfortable home. The only thing his wife complained of was that the place was too 'lonely She liked more society. So far as she could see, the husband did all he could to make the home comfortable. She knew of no reason why the wife should have left home. His Honor said it was not a very satisfactory case. He would like to have had some later evidence. Still the letters showed she had no reasonable ground for leaving her husband. He would therefore grant the decree nisi.
Auckland Star, Volume XXXIII, Issue 201, 25 August 1902, Page 2
On 7 Dec 1902 James Middlebrook remarried, widow, Julia Ann Bartle Sullivan, and mother of 4. Frank Arnold born 1887 ( who went on to be killed in action in WW1, Arthur Randolf, born 1888.
James and Julia went on to have a further 4 children together. Farrar, born 1903, Nelson Bartle and Eva Rhys born 1905 and Charles Russell, born 1908. James died in 1930 and is buried next to his mother at Purewa Cemetery. Auckland

Friday, November 2, 2012

What I learned from Welsh – Canterbury Bacon


Probably before I talk about what I learned from Welsh, I need to explain who Welsh actually is, and that’s a whole very intriguing story unto itself which most definitely warrants a full blog post, but in the mean time here’s a brief synopsis.

Jane Middlebrook ( sister of my 2xG Grandfather Samuel Middlebrook) – apparently married James John McRa some time around 1868  and together they had 6 children.

It seems that at some point the marriage must have hit a rocky patch and the story is that James and Jane divorced ( though at this point we can find evidence of neither marriage nor divorce)

At the end of December 1890 Jane married James’ youngest brother Hector.

James and Hector had another brother named Welsh. Welsh seemed to have a firm friendship with his sister-in-law Jane as evidenced in the 3 letters written to her ( and no doubt there were many  more than 3 originally) that I have transcripts of given to me by my cousin Judith.

Letters are such an amazing insight into both general  life at the time they are written , and relationships, so I feel very lucky to have these 3 letters to add to my research documents.


There are many blog posts worth of information contained within the 3 letters, and some of the information contained requires more research but for todays post we are talking bacon!

Yes bacon!

In Welsh’s letter to Jane dated 14 November 1887 he states

“Dear Jane,

Yours of the 9th to hand, and contents noted. In reply, will say, am pleased you received the beef in good condition. Sorry bacon proved fraud. Will forward some “Canterbury” this trip.. tested and proven good.”

This sentence got me wondering what was so good about Canterbury bacon so I googled Canterbury bacon 1887 and found this insightful article into the quality of NZ made products – This is so interesting as today we pride ourselves on our agricultural exports and see ourselves as providing the highest quality especially in meats and dairy products – but it seems this was not always the case.

From the Evening ( Auckland) Star Volume XVIII, Issue 84, 11 April 1887, Page 2

“The statement made by Mr F.J.Moss M.H.R in an interview with our reporter that New Zealand products are held in disfavour among the Pacific Islands because their standard of quality is low, should stir our producers and manufacturers up to renewed exertions.  The same indictment might, we fear, be alleged as a reason, in many instances, for the preference shown for imported over colonial- made goods.  It is all very well to say that this preference arises out of prejudice and pure cussedness or the vagaries of fashion.. In some instances we know it does, but there is no use in shutting our eyes to the fact that in many cases it is because quality is not sufficiently studied  by those who are catering for custom. Even within the colony we know that this is true.  For example, there is plenty of good Auckland bacon, and yet producers of first- class qualities find such a “prejudice” in favour of Canterbury bacon that they are tempted to sell their wares with Canterbury brands. Now why is it that Auckland people prefer Canterbury bacon?  Is it from a foolish love for anything that is not home made? Some people will promptly answer “yes”. but any practical provision merchant will tell them that Canterbury bacon is helped in esteem simply because the average of quality is good and can be relied upon, while Auckland bacon cannot. Wanoa cheese, for the same reason, for many years held the premier place in Auckland favour. The sooner manufacturers realise this truth and draw the moral which it teaches the more rapidly will disappear the could of so called “prejudice” which envelops the prosperity of many of our industries. Consumers are not such dolts that they cannot tell when they get a good thing. A maker whose  brands are to be relied upon rarely fails to find a good market for his wares, at the very moment  when inferior or unknown goods of similar description are being slaughtered at a loss to everyone concerned. “


The writer of the article goes on to use other industries  Timber, butter, biscuits and canned goods as being examples of NZ exports where the consistency of quality resulted in a bad reputation for the entire industry.


It seems that perhaps in regards to exports at least the lesson may have been learned at some time between the 1880s and today although the main lesson in this article that consistency of quality affecting reputation is still one that many industries could take note of don’t you think??


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The First Hautapu Rugby Team

Amongst my Great Grandfathers photographs was a wonderful photo ( on silver I believe) of the 1903 Hautapu Rugby Team – part of the Cambridge Union. He was part of this team ( played  five eighths) .
Of course he was very old as long as I knew him  so its very hard to think of him playing any sport let alone rugby but apparently he was quite a good player from what Ive been led to understand
I did a layout using the photo – ( well a scan of the photo and not a very good one because the scan reflected off the silver in the photo ) The photo itself is in pretty good condition given its 109 year life.

Here is the journalling ( information I got from the Hautapu rugby club website ) and names from the back of the photograph.
Boom times in the Waikato at the beginning of the 20th century meant an increase in population and enough good footballers to form a Union of Cambridge teams. One of those was Hautapu. The first meeting of the team in 1903 was in the bacon curing room at the Hautapu Dairy Factory .
The original colours were black and red. Jerseys were collarless , with leather bound shoulders. The team practiced on a field adjacent to the railway station. Goal posts were erected and a Jack Cowling took the role of player coach. . Apparently the team rarely won, but “always came up smiling” The photo above is the very first Cambridge Union Hautapu team 1903.
Names as per back of photo:
Back row: Jack Russell , Roy Cricket, Jack Cowling, Arthur Kelly, Gibb Watt, Charlie Shaw, Tui Rangi, Ned Hall
Front row: Arthur Healy, Cecil Ashwin, Phil Goodwin, Durhum Ashwin , Humphrey Russell ,Jack Milne ,George Beer.
My Great Grandfather Phillip Goodwin ( or Phil as he must have been known of then) is in the front row to the left of the man with the dog – no mention is made of the name of the dog!!

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Orangeman (Samuel Middlebrook)

I just love this photo of my 2x G Grandfather in his Orange Regalia - when I was a child and before I knew what it was I imagined he was someone royal or in a highly important office!
Journalling reads
The Orange Lodges commemorate and celebrate the victory of the Protestant King of England, William III of Orange, on July 12th over the forces of Roman Catholic King James II in 1690 at the Battle of the Boyne, a critical victory in William's war to take possession of Ireland. It was not until 1795 that the first Orange Lodges were set up following further unease and aggression between Protestants and Catholics culminating in a deadly battle at Diamond, County Armagh.
By the time the Ulster settlers came to Katikati there were more than 200 Orange Lodges in Ireland, 500 in England and 600 in Scotland.
Katikati's founder, George Vesey Stewart, was an Orange man and recruited many of the original settlers through the Ulster Orange Lodges. The first meeting of the Katikati Orange Lodge was held in an old shanty but by 1881 fundraising began for a hall, however unlike the Northern Hemisphere Lodges of the time this was proposed as a community hall with no sectarian limitations, and in fact both Presbyterian and Catholic churches held services in the Orange Hall. It was used for almost every social gathering , dances which began at 8pm and finished when the party goers left to milk the cows in the morning .
Katikati Lodge was designated L.O.L 30 , and the lodge remained in Katikati until 1919 when it moved to Waihi but by the 1930s there was a lodge again in Katikati.
Marches and festivities were held by the Orange Lodges on 12th July and still are to this day in Ireland however this tradition was not long lived in Katikati. In fact while old traditions died new traditions were begun in New Zealand which was the only country that allowed women to become Orange lodge members
In 1874 George Vessey Stewart arrived in New Zealand looking for suitable land to form a settlement of people from Ulster away from the religious problems of Ireland. He arrived in Tauranga and the Survey Office put at his disposal a young man named Sam Middlebrook. Together they decided on the KatiKati area of the Bay of Plenty. Stewart applied for 10,000 acres and recruited families and friends through the Orange Lodges of Northern Ireland. Samuel married the daughter of Stewart Rea, a loyal Orangeman and so this and this was the beginning of Samuel’s association with the Orange Lodge Institution.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Not a Bad Place

My (newly found) cousin Judith found this wonderful treasure. I letter or diary entry almost certainly written by her GG Grandmother and my GGG Aunt , Jane Thompson Middlebrook, detailing the family’s arrival in New Zealand.


I found the photo of the Shalimar and the photo of Auckland’s main street in 1862 on the internet. The latter, a photograph by John Kinder, being on the Auckland Art Gallery website. 

Journalling on this layout reads

This letter or diary entry was almost certainly written by Jane Thompson Middlebrook,
eldest of the 7 children of John and Ellen Middlebrook . They had emigrated from
Ledsham, near Leeds Yorkshire, as part of the New Zealand
Assisted Immigration programme.
We came out in a sailing ship belonging to the White Star Line called the Shalimar leaving Liverpool on the 23 of August 1862. We bought emigrants for Melbourne arrived there on the 15th November leaving then for Auckland December 6th and arrived in Auckland December 20th 1862. We had a very good passage but a long one and a bit rough coming in through Port Phillips head. then came to New Zealand with wool to take back. When we got here we could not get up to the wharf and had to be landed in a barge and we could not get anywhere to board where we could all be together. There was Father and Mother and 7 of us family and we began to think we should have to stay on the wharf all night. Father thought he had better take us back until someone that came int he Shalimar said we ought to get into evacuation barracks so that was our first home in New Zealand where we have settled down. Not a bad place.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Very Well Thought of Man


Todays post is about Dr Robert FARRER. He was my GGG Uncle, the brother of Ellen MIDDLEBROOK nee FARRER, and son of my 4x G Grandfather Benjamin FARRER.( the clockmaker if you remember him from previous posts).



The journalling on this layout is an except from an obituary. I do not know the publication the obituary was published in. It was stapled into a family bible page, that my new found cousin Judith sent me a photocopy of yesterday.

Clearly this was a great and well thought of man. The obituary goes into great detail about the funeral and is extremely complimentary on the life of Dr Farrer.


Robert Farrer was born on the 1st December 1822, and had before his death,  just attained his 72nd year. He was the son of the late Mr Benjamin Farrer, of Pontefract, and of a numerous family only one brother and one sister survive him. Vis,. Mr Benjamin Farrer of Pontefract, age 79 years and Mrs Ellen Middlebrook, Auckland New Zealand, age 75 years.  Robert Farrer received his early education at Pontefract Grammar school and afterwards studied a the Leeds School of Medicine, and also at University College London. In 1846 he qualified as a licentiate of the Apothecaries Society, and four years later as a licentiate of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow.  He became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons England, in 1852.,a licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh in 1856 and was admitted a member of same in 1872. After qualifying in 1846, Dr Farrer was appointed home surgeon to the Halifax Infirmary, a position he held for five years. During those years he endeared himself to all connected with that institution and on severing his connection with the Infirmary in 1851 he was the recipient of a very handsome testimonial.

It was in the latter part of the year 1851 that Dr Farrer came to Brighouse, to start a practice on his own account, and thus commenced that connection with the place with which is name and that of his family will long be associated.
A young man, devotedly attached to his profession, Dr Farrer was not long in making his mark in the sphere in which he had settled down and he soon gathered round a large number of friends and had the satisfaction of seeing that his efforts and work as a medical man were rewarded with the growing confidence and respect of an increasingly large number of patients.  On the death of Dr.  Rowbotham in 1853 Dr Farrer was appointed the certifying factory surgeon to a large district including West Vale and Elland as well as Brighouse and Rastrick. He was also surgeon to the Low Moor Iron Co., poor house medical officer and public vaccinator to various areas during his career.  In all public matters he took a lively interest and for a time occupied a seat on the Brighouse local board . To a devotion almost amounting to an enthusiasm for his profession he united a kindly presence and a cheerful temperament. And his visits were always welcomed to every  home. No call for his services were ever unresponded to and no urgent call even in the night time or however distant was by him every unregarded.  For a period of more than thirty years he worked unceasingly almost day and night and had he not been blessed  with a sound physique and a strong constitution he must have broken down under the strain. Few men could have stood the strain for so long a period.
In 1852 he married Miss Fanny Piercy, second daughter of the late Mr George Piercy of Halifax of which marriage was issued with  four  sons and five daughters of whom three sons and four daughters survive . Mrs Farrer also survives her husband. The marriage proved singularly happy and blessed, and for his wife Mrs Farrer always found a loyal and willing help, and Mrs Farrer is a woman of  kindly instincts and generous sympathies , as the poor of Brighouse know to their benefits.  An infant daughter died in 1862, but for a period of thirty- two years there was no break by death in the family circle. In March of this year  the first break in the family during that long period was caused  by the death of Dr Farrer's eldest son Mr Benjamin Piercy Farrer who died in Scarborough and whose remains were brought to Brighouse for interment in the family vault. At Brighouse  Parish Church. Two other sons- George Albert and Robert were brought up to the medical profession and in 1886 Dr Farrer decided to retire from activities in his profession  and leave his large practice to his sons. This he did in the year named when he took up residence at Eawood Lodge Scarborough where during the last 8 years he has been able to enjoy a well earned rest and to pass the eventide of his life in peace and tranquility.
The funeral of the deceased gentleman took place on Tuesday afternoon at Brighouse Church in which churchyard the family vault is situated. The remains were conveyed to Brighouse from Scarborough in a special N.E.R. Carriage and accompanying the remains were all the members of the family with the exception of Dr Robt. Farrer  Previous to leaving Scarborough a choral service had been held at St. Martins Church . The train was due to reach Brighouse at two minutes past two o'clock, but it was a few minutes after that time before the train steamed into the station. The following were the mourners. - Dr and Mrs Geo. A Farrer, Dr and Mrs Robt.  T Farrer, Mr Charles H Farrer, Miss F.E.Farrer, Miss A.L Farrer, Miss F M Farrer, Capt. Jobson ( Scarborough)  and Mr Geo. Higham.
The funeral cort├Ęge  comprised hearse and three coaches and three private carriages sent by Alderman R Kershaw, Crow Nest; Miss Ormerod, Borthroyd and Mr C Blackburn, Browlee. Preceding the hearse were the following gentlemen,  most of whom met the funeral party at the exit from the railway station:- Messrs W, Boothroyd, H Hirst, W.J. Chambers, Charley Jessop, W.H Newhouse, J.E.B. Howe, W. Laxton, Dr Brown, L Ayton, M Wood, C Blackborne, Alred Stott, Joh T Goodall, Jas. Dybad, E, Dale and E. Stott.  The coffin was of oak with massive brass mountings, the large brass plate containing the following inscription:-
Born 1st December 1829
Died 15th December 1894

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Woman’s Work is Never Done

We often think on how stressed and rushed our lives are, and the pressures on women to have a career and raise a family and to be “someone” , and yet if we really think about our lifestyle – we are incredibly lucky to be born into an age where our lives have been made incredibly easy in some ways in comparison to those of our ancestors.

I’ve been sitting here reflecting on this today as I thumbed through the tattered remains of one of my Great Grandmothers recipe books. – Most of the pages are long gone and those that are left are  torn, and some hand written recipes have printed recipe clippings glued on top of them but this recipe glued to the inside cover really bought to light the fact that my life is really a bit of a doddle compared to that of my Grandmother and  Great Grandmother. 




In case you cant read it – the recipe is actually instructions on Laundering  Linen Collars .

To Launder Linen Collars ( in reply to M.H. “N.I..,” 28/3/31) – The collars must be steeped, washed, boiled, rinsed, blued and quite dry before starching.  Dip into cold water starch, squeeze out, and rub the starch well into the folds of the linen.  Roll up in a clean dry cloth.  Rub with a dry rag before ironing to remove any starch which, lying on the surface would make brown specks when ironed. Stretch the machine stitching to pull out creases and iron the wrong side lightly.  Iron right side heavily to make linen as smooth and glossy as possible; then iron right and wrong side alternately till dry. Them with a damp rag rub evenly all over the right side.  Put linen on a hard surface, and polish with a hot clean polishing iron.

Curl and air or the polish will pass away. The best time for ironing is about two hours after the starching. The top edge of the colour should be next to the  ironer, so that any fullness can be pushed down to the bottom of the collar,  Borax improves the starch very much.  The following is an excellent recipe for cold water starch; 1 tablespoon white starch, 1/2 pint cold water, 4 drops turpentine, 1/2 teaspoonful borax ( dissolved) . Put starch into a clean basin, add very little cold water, mix with the fingers till free from lumps, add the turpentine which mixes more easily than if added later, pour in remainder of water and, lastly dissolved borax.  The borax is dissolved in a tablespoonful of water ( boiling) If not properly dissolved it is apt to make yellow marks.. If making a larger quantity, only two drops of turpentine should be added to each succeeding pint of cold water .


My, haven’t we come a long way in the 80 years since this was written.  Times were simpler in many ways but each generation has its own trials to suffer, and I for one am glad Starched Linen Collars aren’t one of the trials of my life.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Introducing… My 4x Great Grandmother

Yesterday I was visted by some cousins of my mother, who, interested in the research that I had done came around to “compare notes”.

They bought the photos that they have and we were able to swap. Some of the photographs are just photocopies of the originals, with notes written by an elderly relative some time ago but they were good enough quality copies to be really able to see into the past.

Whats more I was able to identify some people in other photos I now have who I previously couldn’t and this made it all the more exciting.

Not only were there 2 small copies of portraits of Ellen ( nee THOMPSON) and Benjamin FARRER, but there was even a photo of Benjamin – in fact it was a photo I had already received from another cousin but we had no idea who it was until yesterday.  ( I will be posting those photos soon)

As I was making this layout today I sat and wondered what this woman born back in the 18th century in Pontefract Yorkshire, would make  of her descendants interest in her life – we are becoming quite a little group now – I hope I can gather more Middlebrook descendants to share history with so we can piece together what appears to be a tale that could rival some of the best epic novels.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Four Brothers Goodwin?

My trip to the Wellington Archives resulted in some wonderful discoveries but also some more questions.

Ive felt ( though Ive yet to get any firm proof) that my William Henry Goodwin ( also known as Henry Goodrum/Gooderham/Goodram) had a brother Charles.

His marriage was witnessed by a Charles and I did find out that there was a Charles also in the 58th Regiment of Foot who discharged in New Zealand.


While looking for more information on the life of William Henry, I decided to see if there were any records on Charles in Wellington and hit the jackpot so to speak


It seemed that Charles made a land claim on behalf of his brother… but that brother was Not William nor Henry, but George Goodrum.

Apparently George died in a battle between the 58th Regiment and Hone Heke’s tribe in Northland in 1845 and Charles must have thought that perhaps he had a shot at getting the land that might have been given to George should he have survived.

In support of his claim was this letter


The transcript of this letter reads:

This is to certify that I joined the 58th Regiment of foot at Richmond Barracks Dublin on 10th May 1842.

I had three brothers in the said regiment, the eldest being shot during the Bay of Islands war in 1845.

I served in the same regiment then legally discharged at Britomart Barracks. I am drawing a pension from the Imperial Government and I have three good conduct rings and received twelve months pay for good conduct the day I was discharged

Charles Goodrum .

So another Goodwin/rum mystery – If I am correct and Charles and William Henry are brothers, and now George was a third brother, who was the fourth?? – More research is definitely warranted.

The muster rolls for the 58th regiment are on microfilm at Auckland Museum – I think I may have to pay a visit there.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Confirmation of my Research


Remember back in these posts on Henry Goodrum/William Henry Goodwin and again here and then again here. In trying to work out who Wiliam Henry Goodwin actually was I had pretty much decided that he had been called Henry Goodrum and was ex the 58th Regiment of Foot.  He had pensioned out here in 1857 then later joined the 4th Waikato Militia Regiment as a replacement.

Well today on my way down to Wellington ( to check out what I am hoping are his war records at Archives here, I stopped at the Old Ngaruawahia Cemetery and found the grave of William and his wife Jane. – Its in row 1 – closest to the road and is quite hard to photograph front on because of a large dense bush in front of the grave but I surely was excited to find them in such good condition 


What excited me even more though I didnt even see at first till I leaned in to get a close up of the text on the gravestone – and as you can see – my theory seems to be confirmed


I took photos at a couple of angles to get the clearest view of the words on the gravestone and enhanced this one just a bit to make it as clear as I could – it definltely says – of the 58th Regiment. !


Im making that trip to Archives tomorrow – Now Im sure Im looking for the right man its even more exciting.

Saturday, October 6, 2012



I remember that when I heard talk from my older relatives it seemed like everyone in New Zealand must be my Great Grandmothers cousin, she seemed to be related to so many people at the time . ( Not that there were any vast family “get togethers” of the MIDDLEBROOK family during my lifetime, its just that I recall her saying,” Shes my cousin” or “He’s my Cousin you know” so often, to the point that it became a bit of a family joke that when we saw someone, one of us might say –” oh thats Nanna’s cousin”.

Well now that I’ve got involved in family history research I do realise that Nanna did in fact have lots of cousins, because the MIDDLEBROOK family seemed to have a propensity to have many children.

Nanna had 2 Aunts and 3 Uncles ( 2 of that generation had died in childhood leaving 6 children of Ellen and John MIDDLEBROOK)

Her Uncle James Thompson MIDDLEBROOK  had from what I can gather 4 children, her own parents had  6. her Uncle John MIDDLEBROOK and his wife Mary had at least 12 children . Her Aunt Elizabeth and her husband George Hardy had 10 children that I’ve discovered, and her Uncle Benjamin in Australia had at least 3.

Her eldest Aunt Jane Thompson MIDDLEBROOK had 7 children with her first husband James John McRA(E)

Last Friday I met up with a cousin of mine. – Well at 3rd cousin once removed in fact- a descendant of Jane Thompson MIDDLEBROOK  and Judith and I  had a great morning sifting through records and comparing names and dates and even a few photographs.

EllenMiddlebrooklateteens copyJaneelizabethmcrae

On the left is my Great Grandmother Ellen MIDDLEBROOK, and on the right is her cousin Jane Elizabeth MCRAE . I have several photos of Nanna but I chose one here where both girls appear to be about the same age.

Ellen’s childhood was spent in KatiKati and Jane’s in the Bay of Islands so I have no idea if they knew each other or met at any time in their youth, or indeed if they ever met each other at all ,Jane, being born in 1880 would have been 7 years older than Ellen who wasn’t born till 1887.

The both carried family names, that were duplicated many times within their generation.  Ellen was named after her Grandmother Ellen MIDDLEBROOK (Nee FARRER), who in turn was named after her own mother Ellen FARRER( nee THOMPSON), and there were at  least 3 other Ellens within her own generation of cousins.

Jane, being named after her Mother Jane Thompson MIDDLEBROOK, was one of 2 Janes in her generation.

As a matter of interest there were 5 Johns within their generation of cousin ( I imagine named after their Grandfather John MIDDLEBROOK)

The name FARRER is used ( usually as a middle name)  at least 6 times, and there are 2 Nelsons ( though I have no idea where that was just coincidence or if there was a familial reason for it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Layout Prompt: Journey

This weeks Layout prompt for our family history chats at DSP was journey. Ive already done one journey layout this week but decided to do another.

This layout features the journey of the Middlebrook family aboard the Shalimar in 1862 .

It sounds like a much more prestigious vessel than ships that some of my other ancestors came out on and I love the description which is taken from The Shipping gazette and Sydney general trade list. Volume 12, Number 560 (29 January, 1855) Page 28


Journalling on this layout reads as follows

he Arrival of the Shalimar
The White Star Ship “Shalimar, JG Harley Lieut. RNR Commander arrived in harbour on Friday night 19 December 1862, eleven days out from Melbourne having sailed from Liverpool for this port via Melbourne on the 25th August . Arrived of Port Phillip Heads November 12 70 days out. . The Shalimar brings 112 passengers from Liverpool for this port.

Among the passengers were John and Ellen Middlebrook and 6 of their children,all who made successful lives in New Zealand and Australia amongst the early settlers. The family bought land in Matakohe and Whangarei before moving to Auckland. John died in 1866 leaving Ellen a widow until her death over 50 years later. She is a handsome looking vessel—always a recommendation—neatly rigged, her bow ornamented with a well executed female figure, and her stern enriched with a tasteful design in giltwork. Her arrangements on deck comprise a topgallant forecastle for the crew, a large, well-built house amidships, and a full poop aft with a commodious structure built on that, which includes the chief cabin entrance, and a very comfortable smoking room, with stained glass windows. She has plenty of deck-room for passengers to promenade, and her high bulwarks will shelter them in heavy weather. The appearance of the deck arrangements is very compact and tasteful for the houses are finished in an ornamental style, and painted blue and white. The chief cabin in an elegant apartment upholstered in dark polished woods, mahogany, rosewood and walnut, with a rich head-work of satinwood marking the panels. In the cornice-decorations the "white star" is conspicuous on a red ground. There are berths for a dozen passengers, with baths and every other sanitary comfort attached. Although the first impression which strikes us is its limited size, a more close examination shows that a much more than usual space is bestowed upon the state-rooms and berths.
The forward part of the poop is fitted to accomodate thirty second-cabin passengers, and twenty of the same class are located in the house amidships. In these apartments the improved plan is adopted of making the meal-rooms apart by themselves, and placing the state-rooms, with their sleeping berths, along corridors attached ; and the cabins are, by the aid of numerous windows and spacious skylights, cushioned seats, convenient tables and rich paperhangings of chaste and tasteful designs, rendered as light and airy, and agreeable as could be desired. In the deck-house are more bathrooms and the whole forward part of it is occupied with a large "kitchen," divided into two cooking galleys, one for the passengers, the other for the crew. It is fitted in berths of two, with a large family berth on each side of the centre division. In the aft and forward ends of the deck-house, and in front of the poop, are covered companion-ways, leading to the 'tween decks below, which have a height of eight feet in the clear. Here, as in every other part of the ship, the cabins are well finished, and unusually spacious, and light is secured by means of large ventilating shafts, skylights, deck lights, and other appliances. The midship portion is appropriated to first-class passengers in berths of two, arranged on each side of a passage way, and the fore and after ends to intermediate passengers. The general arrangement is on the ordinary plan, with the state room ranged along either side of the vessel ; but there is observable a useful novelty in the intermediate portion of the ship, which consists in several of the state-rooms being fitted with berths for eight or ten people, made on the telescope principle, so as to slide quite out of the way, and give great room in the apartments when not required for sleeping purposes.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Good Bit of Detective Work


Here in New Zealand have an advert where a man talks about being the family detective in his genealogical pursuits. I think that advert is so true to life and I get a real thrill when I find a clue that helps me unravel a little ( or sometimes not so little ) puzzle.

Today I had one of those little thrills .

So to the beginning of the story. I have this fantastic photo of my Great Grandfather William McClellan in a brass band .



As you can see its not really been carefully cared for, being stuck into an album with tape!- so I did a bit of restoration on the photo which is something I really enjoy doing. Its very satisfying work I think


Satisfied with my restored image I really wanted to know more about it. What band is it ? – The details written on the photo by the photographer I felt werent going to give me much of a clue

Heremai Garden Fete This isnt a place name that Im aware of – Heremai Im sure here is a misspelling of a  Maori Greeting term Haere mai – so no help there.

No name of the band – it just says “The Band” so again no help and the date is illegible, but I did have a few clues from other information I have on my Great Grandfather.

A newspaper article published at the time of his Golden Wedding Anniversary stated “ He was an early conductor of the Central Mission Band Wellington, of the Hawera Band and of both the men’s and women’s choirs in Hawera.

So it appears Im either looking at the Hawera Band or the Central Mission Band Wellington. I tried a google image search to see if i could find a photo of either of these bands but that was to no avail.

It appears though that the photographer DID in fact leave me a clue – The name Zak Photo proved to be the clue I needed.

Joseph Zachariah was known as “Zak” was a photographer who used his portable camera to produce postcards, stereocopic views and photographs for publication in the Wellington area.

So I can thank Zak for now being able to caption this photo as the Wellington Central Mission Band .

Papers Past has yielded a wealth of articles in the form of advertisements for the Methodist Mission mentioning the band and My Great Grandfather such as the 2 below.




I’m sure I still have more to learn from this photo – they are a great documentation of life at the time they were taken .

Thursday, September 27, 2012

An Immense Voyage

I did a 2 page journalistic style layout today about the voyage of my Great Great Grandmother Mary Goodwin nee Gleeson, who sailed on board the Brodick Castle in 1875-76 aged just 17

Here is the journalling from this layout which I took from White Wins Vol II Founding of the Provinces and Old-Time Shipping. Passenger Ships from 1840 – 1885

What an immense voyage it must have been for 17 year old Mary Gleeson , travelling alone from Dublin to Auckland. We know little about Mary’s early life. and of why she decided to travel to the other side of the world to meet up with her Uncle. The voyage from London to Auckland was aboard the Brodick Castle. The Brodick Castle was a magnificent iron clipper ship of 1,775 tons, belonging to the Castle Line (Messrs. Skinner and Company), and chartered by the Shaw, Savill Company. Built by Wingate at Glasgow, and launched in 1875, she was on her maiden voyage when she sailed from London on October 7 of that year for Auckland, in command of Captain Thyne. When lying at Gravesend, ready to sail, she broke away from her moorings, but no damage was done. In the Bay of Biscay the encountered a terrific storms, and she was dismasted, narrowly escaping total wreck. Fortunately a steamer picked her up and towed her to Falmouth, where she arrived on October 20, and was subsequently sent to Plymouth for repairs. After the repairs were effected there was still further delay owing to the difficulty of settling the salvage claim of the steamer that towed her to Falmouth, so that it was December 14 before the ship was on her way again to New Zealand.
After leaving Plymouth, the voyagers were favoured with good weather for their second attempt at the stormy Bay of Biscay, and Madeira was sighted on Christmas Day. On that day the crew were ordered to send aloft the top-gallant yards, which had not been sent up before, and they flatly refused, as Christmas Day at sea is one that the sailor used to consider peculiarly his own. There was some trouble, but eventually the work was done by the ship's officers. The equator was crossed on January 13, 31 days out, and the meridian of the Cape of Good Hope on February 12. Here the vessel was becalmed for nearly a week. Cape Maria van Diemen was made on March 16, and Auckland was reached on March 23, after a passage of 99 days.
But the ship's troubles were not yet all over. As she was beating up the harbour on the young flood she was suddenly taken aback while in stays about 500 yards from the Bean Rock light-house, and she was carried stern first on the reef. She lay there, hung up, for about 20 minutes, when with shift of the wind to the south-west and the rising tide, she floated off.
The police flag was flying when the ship came up the harbour, and several of the ship's crew who had behaved mutinously during the voyage after the incident of Christmas Day, were taken ashore and afterwards dealt with at the Police Court. Three deaths occurred during the voyage.
Mrs. E. Oldfield, of Takapuna, who was a passenger by the Brodick Castle, tells an interesting story of the voyage out. "Our ship," she says, "narrowly escaped disaster before ever she left the Thames. In a sudden squall she dragged her anchor, and was only saved by several small tugs coming to her assistance and towing her back to her moorings. The gale in the Bay of Biscay was a very trying experience. The wind blew with terrific force. For seven days and seven nights the ship was rolling about helplessly, the passengers being battened down, and for three days they were unable to get any food. The fore and the main mast, with their mass of yards and sails, went overboard, and the end of one yard-arm smashed a hole through the deck just over the compartment where the single women lived. At every roll of the vessel water poured in on these unfortunate girls, everyone of them being then battened down; and to add to the terror of the girls, the store-room walls gave way, and two large casks of flour went rolling through. The ship was rolling so heavily that three casks were smashed, and the flour mixing with the water made an indescribable mess, adding to the terrible state to which the poor girls were reduced.
"When superintending the cutting away of what was left of the mizzen mast, which was considered to be dangerous, the second officer had his leg severely smashed by the falling spar. The ship's doctor, with the help of two passengers, successfully amputated the limb. During the storm we also lost two sailors overboard, and one was killed by a falling spar. We were drifting about for seven days, helpless in the trough of the seas. At night rockets were sent up, a blue light was kept burning, and minute guns were fired.
"It was a terrible time for the passengers, many of whom never expected to see dry land again, and you can imagine our joy when a large steamer hove in sight and answered our signals of distress. She took us in tow and brought us into Falmouth.
"We were taken ashore at Falmouth, and went on by train to Plymouth, where we were lodged in barracks. Every kindness was shown to us. Those of the married people who could afford to do so, were allowed to take lodgings in the town. A few of the passengers left us at Plymouth, having decided that they would not renew their acquaintance with the Brodick Castle.
"For nine weeks we waited at Plymouth, and then, at last, on December 14, we re-embarked for New Zealand with a new crew. Things went well until we reached the Tropics, where the vessel was becalmed, and we had trouble with the sailors over the sending up of the topgallant yards on Christmas Day. Before things resumed their wonted calm, the captain had to go down and bring up his revolvers. For their disobedience the captain refused to give the men their extra Christmas rations. There was great resentment at this, and the disaffected men bringing their tubs of rice and salt meat, flung them down outside the door of the first mate's cabin, singing:
"''Tie Christmas Day, and we've salt horse for dinner;
Our meat's as green as any grass, and tough as any leather;"
"Owing to this disturbance with the crew the customary ceremonies connected with the crossing of the Line were omitted on our ship. Nothing very unusual occurred during the rest of the voyage to Auckland, where we ran on to Bean Rock Reef, but happily we soon floated off again."
Despite the rough start to her New Zealand life ,Mary did make a successful life for herself in the Waikato, where she met and in 1880 married James Goodwin andr aised a large family. Unfortunately James died prematurely in 1898 and she was left to run the family farm and raise her family singlehandedly

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Great Grandfather – JOHN LOWE

Now that Ive done the two group layouts of my Great Grandparents I thought it was a good time to do some individual layouts about each.

I started with John Lowe, my Fathers Grandfather.  I only became aware of him in the 1990s when my father must have been given a photo of him in his Drummers Uniform of the Sherwood Foresters Batallion   by my Grandmother r on a visit to the UK. I never really thought to ask about the photo, but the uniform always intrigued me.

The smaller photo inset in the text looks so much like my father looked ( without his glasses) that its quite uncanny.


The Journalling on this 2 page spread reads:

John Lowe was one of 7 sons of Samuel George Lowe and Mary Jane Boam. By the age of 15 he was working as an Iron Moulder at an Iron foundry. The family including his widowed mother lived at 29 Drage Street in Derbyshire,a 3 bedroomed terraced house where his family had lived since 1898. With Mary Jane now a widow, she and 6 of her children lived in this house with 2 lodgers.
At the age of 16 on the 16th April 1902 John signed up to the UK Territorial Forces as part of the 1st Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters, ( Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment) Part of the Derbyshire Yeomanry , and was a Private during this period.
In 1908 on April 21st he married Susan Wheatcroft, the first of his children, Donald being born in October of that year.
It was that year he reenlisted with the Yeomanry moving to a Mounted Unit of the the 5th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters, completing the required training every year . He was promoted to the rank of Bugler and continued to re-engage every year finally attaining the rank of Corporal.
His brother Herbert had also joined the Derbyshire Yeomanry and both John and Herbert were shipped to the Middle East and fought in Egypt,and Gallipoli Turkey. Unfortunately Herbert was not to survive that battle, being killed in action on 21 August 1915.
In November of that year John was discharged from the Force after serving his 14 years voluntary service and continued his job as an Iron Moulder.
John and Susan went on to have 8 children and John became the drummer in the Orchestra at the Grand Theatre in Derby. John died in 1938 .

When war was declared in 1914, the Sherwood Foresters consisted of eight battalions and a Depot in Derby. During the war the Regiment expanded to 33 Battalions of which 20 served overseas. Altogether 140,000 men, nearly all from Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, served in the Regiment. 11,409 of them did not return.
John Lowe received the 1914-1915 star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his service to his country.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My Grandmother’s Wedding

I did another family history layout today at our Speedscrap event at DSP.
The design of the inspiration leant itself well to a large landscape photo and this gorgeous photo of my Grandmothers Wedding in 1936

I had a newspaper clipping which describes in detail the event and so I used that for my journalling which reads :
The wedding which aroused considerable interest in church and musical circles, solemnised recently at Trinity Methodist Church, New town, was that of Bettie Grand, younger daughter of Mr, and Mrs. W McClellan, Wellington South, and Trevor Owen, eldest son of Mr and Mrs P Goodwin, Kilbernie. The church was tastefully decorated by friends of the bride. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. Walter Parker, Mis Thornley officiating at the organ. The bride who was escorted by her father, wore a graceful gown of heavy pearl satin cut on classical lines, and falling into a full train. The beautiful veil was of silver embroidered tulle flowing from a hand plaited silver halo. She carried an arm sheaf of cream roses, carnations, sweet peas, pale pink azaleas and maidenhair fern. The bridesmaids were the Misses Pauline Grant (cousin of the bride) Phyllis Lindsay, Joan Holmes and Jean Affleck of Dannevirke. They wore dainty gowns of blush pink georgette over pale pink satin , the skirts being inset with frilled godets and the necks finished with tucked medici collars. The sleeves which were very full, were pin tucked from shoulder to wrist, while muffs and shepherdess hats, were of handmade pink silk velvet flowers edged with frilled tulle. The bridegroom was attended by Messrs P A Goodwin( best man, S.W. Robinson W.B. Goodwin and K.B. McClellan. During the singing of the register a pleasing solo was sung by Mrs Wilfred Andrews and as the bride left the church she was presented by little Miss Donna Pengelly with a silver horseshoe. The reception was held in the Orange Hall, the brides mother receiving the guests and wearing a black lace and oatmeal cloth ensemble, a black picture hat with a large pink flower, and carrying a shower posy of pink carnations, roses and azaleas. She was assisted by the bridegrooms mother who work a navy blue crepe de chine ensemble and blue halo hat. Her shower posy was of salmon pink roses and begonias. There were about 150 guests present, who attended a delightful dance after the wedding breakfast. At the reception Mrs Pengelly contributed a solo and Miss Katie Joseph a humorous monologue. When the bride and bridegroom left for a motor tour of the north the bride was wearing a smart brown costume and hat with pink accessories

Great Grandfathers

As soon as I had finished the page on Great Grandmothers I realised I just  had to do a matching layout for the Great Grandfathers- so here they are..

Journalling reads :

You lived quite different lives, two both born in New Zealand and yet lived a pioneer life and 2 on the opposite side of the world, in Derbyshire in the UK. Three of you lived through two world wars and saw incredible change in your lifetimes. None of you were people of great monetary wealth but you leave a legacy in your family that Im proud to be part of.

Great Grandmothers

Id like to get a book completed before I attend the Family History expo in Christchurch in a few weeks so Im trying to get a few layouts done each week.
Today I realised I had photos ( albeit not great quality of one)  of all 4 of my Great Grandmothers and that might make a nice layout – to see the photos of them side by side.
I grew up knowing one of my Great Grandmothers very well as she didnt die until I was in my late teens . I knew of another and had seen a photo, but she died before I was born. The other two ( on my fathers side) I had absolutely no knowledge of at all and Im only now just learning about them.

Journalling on this layout reads :
Most of you I never knew, and some of you I never even knew of. You are all four beautiful strong women who faced adversity and a changing world. You may never have known each other , and yet you are indelibly connected, because you are each my Great GrandMother
Ellen Goodwin, nee Middlebrook    Annie McClellan, nee Grant   Edith Poole nee Bennett  Susan Lowe nee Wheatcroft

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Farrers of Pontefract- Watch Makers

Our prompt for creating a layout this week was Occupations. I have several that Id like to do a layout about but I chose to start with the Farrers of Pontefract because, well I thought that being Watchmakers might be easier to find out something about their work than some of my ancestors who were Agricultural Labourers or other less interesting professions.

But in actual fact I really had quite a bit of trouble finding out  much specific about the Farrers watch and clock making business  ( except I did find a bankrupcy discharge notice for Joshua Farrer from 1831.

I notice it says here his real estate will be sold – I must investigate what he owned and where he went after this.



Anyway back to my layout. It came together quite quickly and Im quite happy  with this layout even though I have no photos of Benjamin nor Joshua Farrer at this point. I used my Secret Desires Value Collection and a few other clock themed embellishments from other kits – and used the Census and a photo of  a Benjamin Farrer watch that I found on google to illustrate this layout.

My journalling here reads:

The earliest watches were made before 1600, but they were driven by weights and not particularly practical for carrying, and were not particularly accurate either. The was no precise way to cut the gears and so that the art of watchmaking was not particularly accurate. - however the popularity of the time piece grew and watches became more of a jewellery piece and were engraved, enamelled and pierced decoratively. These pieces which could be quite ostentations were worn as a pendant or a pocket watch. The original cylinder design changed to the circular hinged domed cover device . By 1625 though with the Puritan Movement the unadorned watch became more popular for men .
Gradually accuracy was increased with the introduction of balance and spiral springs and because of this increase in accuracy, a minute hand and dial subdivided into minutes was added.
It was by the late 1700s that watches became accurate enough to be significantly useful and by 1800 the pocket chronometer was a readily available accurate time piece.
Benjamin and Joshua Farrer were part of a family of watch and clock makers based in the Pontefract region .The family had been making time pieces since as early as the late 1600s. It is understood that there was an Abraham and a William Farrer who could have been brothers or father and son who were highly proficient clock makers based in Pontefract. by 1690. - Charles Farrer who was born in 1761 and based himself in Doncaster, was making beautiful, ornately painted long case clocks .
Benjamin and Joshua born 1788 and 1790 respectively were brothers both listed in various trade directories in the early 19th century as Silversmiths, watch and clock makers, and at least one son of Benjamin carried on the family business

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Loss of a part of a Generation of Allingtons

I’m still really interested in one particular branch of  my family and that is the ABBOTT Family. ( Ive posted before about Sarah Ann Abbott).
One thing that interested me was that one of her daughters, Phoebe, married a George ALLINGTON. This is interesting because Sarah Ann’s maiden name was ALLINGTON.
Sarah Ann ALLINGTON n was the fourth child of John and Mary ALLINGTON , and was born in Stretton on Dunsmore, Warwickshire.
Sarah Ann and her husband Henry ABBOTT emigrated to New Zealand in 1874 aboard the ship “Tweed”
I started to wonder if any  of the other members of the ALLINGTON family emigrated to New Zealand as well. A quick search of the NZ Immigration Passenger Lists records at gave me the information I needed.

Indeed 2 of Sarah Ann’s male relatives  bought their families to New Zealand in 1874. Both nephew Charles, and his wife Hannah, and brother George and his wife also named Hannah, and their children Emily, Elizabeth, George and William arrived in New Zealand aboard the ship Crusader in 1874

and sister Lucy and her husband James WEST, and their children George,Edward and William arrived on the Tweed with Sarah Ann and Henry

The other two daughters may well have emigrated here as well but I have no evidence of that at this time.

Anyway on with my story. – Of course  my first thought was that Phoebe may have married her first cousin George Allington ( second son of George and Hannah Allington) – but it doesnt pay to make assumptions in family history, and I would have been wrong because in the Chistchurch Star on Friday 14th April was posted the following

Friday  14 April  1893
Marriage  - 
ALLINGTON  -  BRISTOW  -  George,  2nd son of Geo. Allington,  of Warwickshire,  England,   to   Nellie Bristow,  nee Keeble,  3rd daughter of Geo.                        Keeble,  of Essex, England.
More research of the Allington name bought up some rather sad and disturbing news.
You will remember my post earlier about George Earnest ALLINGTON( son of Phoebe and her husband George)  who was one of the many casualties of WW1. Well it turns out he wasnt the only ALLINGTON casualty of WW1.
I found the following information from the Cenotaph Database
Died in 1916 of Wounds, he fought in France and Egypt
  • August 1915 Samuel Allington falls ill in Dardanelles and is admitted to H.S Ulysses, and transfered to hospital at Abassia, Egypt.
  • 5 December admitted to NZGH, Cairo, suffering from influenza.
  • 20 January 1916 fell ill and spent time at Pontak Koubbeh Hospital, and NZGH, Cairo, and at the base depot at Ghezireh. (Church, p.67)
    • Private Allington was the son of Charles and Hannah Allington, of 4, Leinster Rd., St. Albans, Christchurch, New Zealand.
    • On 27 September Samuel Allington received gunshot wounds to his right shoulder and chest while involved in the Battle of Morval in the Somme.
he is buried at Brokenhurst Churchyard Hampshire England , Plot A Row 2 Grave 8, and
ALLINGTON – William George

Son of Mrs. Nellie Allington, of Richardson Rd., Mount Albert. Auckland, New Zealand.
Last Unit Served Wellington Infantry Regiment
Place of Death Ypres, Belgium
Date of Death 4 October 1917
Age at Death 30
Year of Death 1917
Cause of Death Killed in action
Cemetery Name Tyne Cot Cemetery, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium
Grave Reference XIII. E. 12.
The Allington name certainly has did  their country proud, giving 3 young men  to the madness of WW1.

Monday, September 17, 2012

An Historic Vessel–The history of the Phenella , built by Samuel Middlebrook

Samuel Middlebrook, my 2x Great Grandfather was a fairly well known identity in Katikati which he had a hand in founding, by being the one to lead George Vessey Stewart into the area with his group of Irish Settlers. He remained living in the area until not long before his death and for many of the latter years of his life lived aboard his boat the “Phenella”

Here is a layout that recounts the history of the boat, both during and well after Sam’s death.


Journalling on the layout reads:

Built on the Uretara River in the early 1900s by Sam Middlebrook with help from his friends William Mulgrew and Noble Johnston, the 28 foot long Phenella was a well known vessel in the Kati Kati area. It was Sam Middlebrook's second boat, the first having been wrecked by a stray kauri log in a flood on the Tuapiro River. It was built as a houseboat and in fact Sam did live on the boat for more than 20 years in the latter part of his life. Most of the hardware on board including the “Union Engine” was salvaged from the wreck of the previous boat, the Monuwai. It was fitted with a Mast and Sails and often was sailed on the harbour.
Sam used Totara for the hull, and Kauri for the upper works of the boat.
Sam was an excellent and experienced boatman with an expert knowledge of the Tauranga Harbour; and on one occasion was responsible for saving the lives of a party of excursionists caught by a storm on the harbour. When Sam “retired” to Waihi, the boat was sold to a Mr Blomquist, the Chairman of the Tauranga Harbour Board who renamed it the “Whanganella”. During World War II it was designated a rescue craft in case aircraft flying off the Mount Maunganui aerodrome crashed into the harbour, but it was only once called out due to its mooring on the Uretara River and it could only get out to the harbour on the high tide. On one occasion one of the RNZAF planes made a mock dive bombing attack on the Whanganella when it was out on the harbour.
When Mr Blomquist died the boats ownership was passed to a Mr Claude Hume. By this time age and years had caught up with the old vessel, but its totara hull was still sound , though the kauri upper-works had to be entirely rebuilt by a professional boat builder.
Mr Hume kept the boat for 20 years on the harbour near his home at Matahui, and he cruised in it extensively, going as far afield as the Bay of Islands. He renamed it the Kotuku and then this name was retained when the boat was once again sold to a Mr Lomas who took ownership in 1971.
When Mr Lomas had a minor collision with a wharf, the boat builder who repaired the boat said the hull was as sound as the day it was built over 50 years before.
In fact the timber in the hull where two planks needed repairing was so hard that he could not saw out the damaged pieces, and they had to be burned off.
I wonder if the old boat is still sailing now. It certainly would have some stories to tell .

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

An Interesting Character–William McClellan


One of my most interesting family branches is the McClellan/Brodie branches.

My maternal Grandmother was a McClellan, and it is her grandparents that form the basis of a MOST interesting story. I still am in the throes of researching and Im sure it wont be a quick job but what Ive learned so far would make for a great family saga novel!!

We can start the story in Stronsay, in the Orkneys in the far far north of Scotland .

One Betsy BRODIE ( born about 1838 ) daughter of John and Eliza BRODIE married one John LENNIE, a blacksmith in July 1841.

They had 3 children, David, John Gorrie and Catherine and in 1870 when Catherine was not yet 2 they made the long voyage far south to New Zealand, aboard the ship “Merope “



Its a little hard to distinguish but the notation on the side indicates they were heading for Kowhai Pass, but for whatever reason they settled in Pleasant Point.

They had a further 2 children, in 1871 and 1875 and then sadly in July 1876 John Lennie died aged just 42, widowed with 5 children, it appears Betsy Brodie didnt waste time and in February 1877 she married William McClellan, a fellow Scot, from the Isle  Wighorn. ( She married as Elizabeth  Brodie not Lennie)

In July 1877 she had a further child, also named William McClellan ( my Great Grandfather) .

From this time onwards their life is a bit of a mystery which Im still researching. It appears Willliam took the children as his own, some of them even used the McClellan surname later in life.  John Gorrie died aged 17. Catherine married at age 16 to a man 17 years her senior and had 12 children in the subsequent 18 years before dying in childbirth.

William ( and it appears John Lennie before him)  was a member of various lodges in Pleasant Point including the Independent Order of  Good Templars.

This testimonial though from the Salvation Army “War Cry” gives you a wonderful insight into the man who appears to have been quite the character.

“ A sinner, saved by grace through the instrumentality of the Salvation Army, an old man-of-war’s man, a hard smoker and chewer of 43 years, at one time a terror to the Army,but now a Salvation Soldier”


Sometime after  their marriage, the family moved from Pleasant Point, near Timaru, to Woodville in the South Hawkes Bay/Manawatu area. 

Quite a strange move for those days I would say, and I’m not sure of the reason but it appears they became boarding house keepers, managing the Post Office Temperance Hotel in Woodville which came up for sale in 1887


You can see an old photo of the hotel from the Alexander Turnbull Library Archives here. The building in fact is still standing – currently the Atmosphere Gallery.


Sadly though , in 1894 Betsy was to be widowed for a second time, when William died , aged 56 of Cancer of the Stomach



There were several small notices in the Woodville Examiner regarding Williams death.

The Woodville Examiner Friday December 14 1894

We regret to record the death of Mr McClellan, of the Post Office Temperance Hotel. Deceased was for many years a seafaring man. About six months ago his health began to fail, and it was ascertained that he suffered from cancer of the stomach, the disease gaining head way till resulting in his death yesterday afternoon. Deceased leaves a widow and son. The funeral will take place on Sunday at 2pm.

and then over the next couple of weeks the following items were printed

“Mr Sandel has kindly undertaken to have raffled a large picture worked in wool by the late Mr McClellan, the proceeds of which will go the widow and family. There are 48 tickets of 5s each, and there are still about 20 tickets to be taken up. The permission of the Colonial Secretary has been obtained to the disposal of this picture in the above manner. As soon as the remaining tickets are taken up the date of the drawing will be duly notified.”


Drawing for Picture by Late Mr McClellan

As the list of members for the raffle for the large picture worked in wool, is now filled up, all interested in same will please attend at the Masonic Hotel, on Wednesday, the 26th inst., at 8 pm, when the said picture will be raffled for.

On the evening of Boxing Day about twenty assembled at the Masonic Hotel to take part in the lottery for the large wool picture worked by the late Mr McClellan, and the proceeds of which, amounting to about 12 pound, will go to the aid of the widow and family. Mr Haggen was the successful drawer and handed the picture over to Mrs McClellan as a memento of her late husband. Mr Sandel generously went to a lot of trouble in organising and carrying through the drawing.


Elizabeth ( Betsy) moved to Wellington not long after and remained a boarding house keeper. William was married by the Salvation Army in 1900 – forming a connection with the Grant and Abbot families – both lines of my family strongly involved in the Salvation Army Church.

Elizabeth lived until 1924 and is buried in Karori Cemetery in Wellington.

I’m sure there is much more to this family story- Im yet to find Williams naval career records, and cant pin down  with complete certainty his parents and whether he had any siblings or a previous marriage, and Im aware there is definitely more to the story of the Lennie children, so I’m determined to delve deeper!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Family Story Proven False

A few posts back I mentioned the family mystery regarding our link to the Archbishop of Canterbury Frederick William Farrar.

I mentioned in that post how many years ago ( 38 years ago to be exact) my Great grandfather had written out a family tree story of sorts explaining this link, but that at least 8 years ago this letter had become misplaced.

Well last week I was cleaning out some old cookbooks to give to charity, and blow me down, what was underneath one pile, but the letter from my Great Grandfather



The letter goes into some detail about the life of the Archbishop, details of which I can only assume my Great Grandfather got from an encyclopedia, because he certainly didnt get it from any personal connection with Dean Farrar.


On the second page of the letter near the top he says, and i quote “ The Deans Sister Ellaen Farrar married one, Middlebrook in England and came to New Zealand about the year 1860, This union produced Samuel Middlebrook “ Palou” and his daugther Ellen Winifred became your Nana and Great Grandmother.”


Well the one grain of truth here is that Ellen Farrer did marry John Middlebrook in England. They did come to New Zealand in 1862 and the union did produce Samuel Middlebrook and then his daughter was Ellen Winifred my Great Grandmother, however that is where the truth ends and I must respectfully put my Great Grandfather right.

Ellen Farrer was NOT the sister of Dean Frederick William Farrar Archbishop of Canterbury. She was born before the Dean, and it would appear as far as I can establish that Frederic William Farrar had no older sister at all!

From the marriage of Charles Pinhorn Farrar and Caroline Turner there were the following children, Henry Jeffreys Farrar, Frederic William Farra and Vernon Farrar. All three born, not in England but in India!

Charles remarried and had two further children, Charles Ernest and Mary.

My research is that Ellen Farrer ( my 3x Great Grandmother ) was in fact the daughter of Benjamin Farrer, and Ellen Thompson clock and watchmaker of Pontefract.


This fact is further proven by the names of several of her her children including the name Thompson as a middle name.

And the transcription from the English Marriage register lists

  • First Name  -  ELLEN
  • Last Name  -  FARRER
  • Collections from  -  United Kingdom
  • Country  -  England
  • Record set  -  England & Wales marriages 1837-2008
  • County  -  Yorkshire
  • Year  -  1847
  • Spouse Forename  -  JOHN
  • Spouse Surname  -  MIDDLEBROOK

    So I can now with as much certainty as I can muster say that my Great Grandfather was wrong. Where the story originated I don’t know and probably never will. ( He was not part of the Farrer family at all but married to Ellen Winifred Middlebrook my Great Grandmother.)

    There is a remote chance that several generations back there may be a link between teh two families.

    Charles Pinhorn Farrar’s Grandfather was John Farrar of Doncaster ( 1735- 1825), and there was a branch of the Farrer clockmakers family in Doncaster before the mid 19th Century .

    Charles Farrer was born about 1761, probably at Pontefract though we do not know his father. He married in Doncaster in 1790 to Ann Cookson. He died suddenly at Pontefract in 1817 at the age of fifty six, probably on a visit to his family. His widow lived on at Doncaster till 1842, when she died aged 76. Joshua Farrer, born at Pontefract about 1771, also worked in Doncaster and was probably the brother of Charles. Joshua died in 1838, his widow in 1845.

    Whether either of these two Farrers are related to the John Farrar of Doncaster who was the Great Grandfather of Frederic William Farrar I dont know at this stage, but if I ever prove a link I will be sure to toast my Great Grandfather who with his “letter of fiction” started me on my genealogical journey.