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??