Discovering a whole new branch of my family tree rates among one of my bigger discoveries in my family history research journey.
The find came about with a chance search of the entire passenger list of the Merope, the ship in which Elizabeth Lennie( nee Brodie) and her family sailed on to New Zealand from their previous home in the Orkney Islands. I was surprised to see another passenger with the name Brodie. Jessie Brodie, aged 19, Dairy Maid travelled as a single woman on the same ship. I suspected there must be a connection between the two women , but how to prove it?
I started by researching the name Jessie Brodie in the Scottish Census records and quickly discovered Jessie's story.
Jessie Brodie , born in 1851 was the daughter of Andrew Brodie and Eliza Sandison .
At the time of the 1851 census she was 7 months old and was living in Rothiesholm, Stronsay with her parents and her half brother James Petrie, aged 3. However by 1861, Jessie and James are no longer living with their parents, but are working for the Stevenson family at Kirbist Farm ,on the tiny island of Elgisay as servants, aged just 13 and 10 .
Some hours of research and many emails later I made contact with Eddie Sinclair, who turned out to be a 4th cousin. Still living in the Orkneys he had a family tree with links yet unknown to me.
He confirmed the relationship between Elizabeth and Jessie as first cousins.
Andrew Brodie was the youngest son of William and Betsy ( Miller) Brodie and Elizabeth's father , John, Elizabeths father was the first son of the same couple.
Eddies family tree had much detail on Jessie's family right down to current generations the same age as my children, and through the names on that tree I was able to make contact with another “new to me ” cousin Ian, who is a Great Great Grandson of Jessie Brodie and lives here in New Zealand.
I learned from the new information I received that Elizabeth and Jessie were not the only Brodies to make the long journey from the Orkneys to New Zealand , William, Jessie's younger brother also joined them in New Zealand. He worked as a blacksmith , married but had no children. He returned three times to the Ornkey Islands during his lifetime. It was perhaps on one of those visits he convinced his brother Andrew to emigrate. Andrew arrived around 1881 . Andrew didn't marry and died at Sunnyside in 1906 of Pneumonia.
Jessie's half brother James Petrie also emigrated on the Merope with Jessie and Elizabeth . I'm yet to research his life in New Zealand.
There are many other Brodies who settled in the South Island and I suspect some of these may be other relatives of Elizabeth and Jessie who followed them to a new life at the bottom of the world.
What struck me immediately was how alike Jessie and Elizabeth were in their looks. What we discovered was a definite Brodie “look” - with many of the Brodie descendants having the same heavy brow and deep set eyes.
So far Ive found no evidence that Jessie and Elizabeth had much contact after their arrival in New Zealand. Elizabeth and her husband John Lennie settled in Pleasant Point, near Timaru and Jessie initially worked for the Hay family in their home Annadale in Pigeon Bay , Canterbury before marrying George McKay and joining him on the family farm also at Pigeon Bay Canterbury.
Elizabeth suffered several tragedies during her life in New Zealand. with her first husband John Lennie dying prematurely in 1876.
She remarried William McClellan in 1877, and moved at some point in the 1890s to Woodville where her second husband also passed away in 1894.
She spent her latter years living with her daughter
Lizzie in Wellington. Elizabeth died in 1924 aged 86.Jessie died 2 years later aged 75.