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.

    Monday, September 3, 2012

    What’s in a Name–RALPH


    I’ve known since I was a child that my mothers family was rife with “family” names. Names that have been passed down through the generations, Surnames that became middle names, or even Christian names and while I wasn’t given one, nor did I  chose any for my children, I now really love that tie to the past that those names deliver.
    What I didn’t realise was that my fathers name was indeed a “Family” name as well.  The name Ralph appears to have been in the family since 1807.
    Ralph Deakin, A Coal miner from Dawley, Shropshire, was the fifth son of Thomas Deakin, ( also a collier) . I imagine after 4 previous sons, he and his wife had run out of family names and named their son Ralph.  This is the first instance of the name that I can find in the family .  Ralph also had a son named Ralph, but it was through the marriage of his daughter Jane Ellen to Richard Glazebrook Poole that a line of Ralph Pooles was born.  Their eldest son took the name of Jane’s father and was christened Ralph Poole ( with no middle name) . He married Mary Garbett, and at that point they nearly broke the chain, for whatever reason, none of Ralph and Mary’s 3 sons were named  Ralph, but their eldest son Samuel chose to re-establish the name and his eldest son carried the name Ralph Poole ( no middle name) . That Ralph, my grandfather named his only son Ralph Poole, also with no  middle name.
    My parents also passed on the name Ralph, but as a middle name to my brother, and my fathers Aunt also named one of her sons Ralph.


    Sunday, September 2, 2012

    A Death in France ( or Belgium)



    How is it that a life was valued so little that even when fighting for his country records cant even state the country that a young man died. Such I assume was because of the vast waste of life that the “Great” War of 1914 – 18 was.


    He’s not the only member of my ancestral family of course to die in the “Great War” which took the lives of most of a generation of young men of the time, but George Ernest Allington seems to me to be such a good looking man, and it was a bit of luck that his war records were available to be downloaded from the NZ Archives.

    George Ernest was the son of George ALLINGTON  and Phoebe ALLINGTON ( nee Abbott). Phobe was the daughter of Sarah Ann Abbott who I have posted about before.

    ( as a side note its interesting Phoebe married a man named Allington as this was her Mother’s maiden name. One wonders if there is more of a connection than cooincidence – Allington is hardly a common name!.

    Anyway back to poor George Ernest Allington. I must say what hit me the most when reading his military records was how little information they contained. If I was the mother of a young man fighting for his country I would want more details than are listed in the reports. Im sure times have changed markedly and a life given for the country is much more highly valued now.

    From his records – compressed into a mere 2.3 MB pdf file ,it appears he spent some time in a base hospital after being “unsuccessfully” vaccinated for typhoid. I’m not sure what effect an unsuccessful vaccination would have but he it appears he was in the Base hospital in Cairo for over 2 months between September and November 1915 .

    He rejoined his Unit from hospital in January 1916, and then in April embarked for France.

    On July 22nd he was promoted to Lance Corporal and then in January 1917 promoted again to Corporal , though in May of that year he once again was sent to hospital, this time only spending a week before rejoining his Battalion in France on the 12th of May.

    On 16th June he was promoted to Temporary Sergeant (one wonders if he was replacing someone else who had died that day, and in fact on that very same day he was promoted,the report simply lists “Killed in Action”. No more detail than that – just another casualty,  and in fact – even the country he died in seems to be unknown. Under Place it says “ In the field, FRANCE or BELGIUM

    Posthumously decorated with the 1914- 15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal – not much of a victory for his Mother.



    The NZ Wargraves Project has a memorial at Messines Ridge – Maybe he did die there, or maybe not – his records really dont tell us – Interestingly the wargraves project has a date of death 2 days earlier than his records too, and the page for the wargraves website states : There are no stories for this casualty. – isnt that pretty much the story of most of these men. It really seems like it was a reflection of how the troops on the ground were valued about as much as some replaceable commodity.