Journalling on this layout reads
These 4 brothers, from a family clearly steeped in family values, each having been named after an ancestor,from a family who obviously valued family ties, and yet a family far far away from their birth country,and spread far and wide within their new homeland (and in the case of Benjamin even further afield in Australia).
Despite their geographic separation it has been obvious they stayed close as a family, with regular visits (as evidenced by photos of their children together, stories of visits of their children to uncles, visits with each other over the years). Its immediately obvious these men are brothers - they are so alike in their looks.
Each of these 4 sons forged a successful and adventurous life, Benjamin, as a Ships Engineer eventually moving to New South Wales, John,as a successful butcher and prominent businessman and town councillor in Te Awamutu, Samuel being responsible for guiding George Vesey Stewart to Katikati where he would play a big part in the setting up of the worlds first planned Irish Settlement, and James as a successful carpenter and builder.
We should not forget there were originally 5 brothers, their youngest sibling Henry Cockroft Middlebrook having died aged just 15.
Though I’ve had the photo of Samuel for some time , its only in very recent weeks Ive seen photos of James John and Benjamin as young men. I first was shown the photo of John and thought while there were definite similarities to Samuel ( the nose and mouth area in particular), they didn’t strike me as all that alike – however on seeing the photo of Benjamin I was struck by how very alike he and John were – The hair type and hair line, the eyes and nose are so similar to me I may easily have thought I was looking 2 photos of the same man.
Similarly when I saw the photo of James I was struck by how alike he was to Samuel – even in their latter years the two men look so very alike .
When you start researching your ancestors and only know details of one sibling its easy to think of them in isolation, but Ive discovered through stories, letters and photos that these brothers were often together ( despite often being geographically separated from each other .
There are photos of John and Samuels sons together as young children despite Samuel living in Katikati and John in Ponsonby at the time. There are stories that Benjamin’s daughter spoke to her children of visiting her “Uncle John” in New Zealand, and there are photos of Samuel and John ( and John and sister Jane) together in their latter years
John Stewart Middlebrook ( son of Samuel Middlebrook) and John Thompson Middlebrook ( son of John Middlebrook)
John Middlebrook and Jane McRae ( nee Middlebrook)
John Middlebrook and Samuel Middlebrook