Sunday, July 27, 2014

20 Ancestors in 20 Weeks–Number One–Benjamin Middlebrook


I decided to challenge myself to a layout a week – an ancestor a week – and this would in turn help me complete my book for my upcoming family reunion. ( Hence all my 20 will most probably be from my Middlebrook branch)

For the first week I started with Benjamin Middlebrook who is the eldest son of John and Ellen Middlebrook, and the one I have no immediate contacts for – in fact I havent yet traced a single living descendant of Benjamin’s which I find quite sad.




The eldest son of John and Ellen Middlebrook, Named after his maternal Grandfather, Benjamin was born on March 21st 1850 in Millbridge Yorkshire, where his father  was an Innkeeper. He was, however baptiised in the home town of his mother Ellen, Pontefract Yorkshire, in the church of St Giles . on April 28.
Little is known of his childhood, but by age 12, along with the rest of his family, he boarded the ship “Shalimar” in Liverpool to make the long journey to a new land and a new life in New Zealand. 

It appears this voyage was most formative in his life, perhaps developing a love for the sea, as Benjamin became a ships engineer, spending the bulk of his life on the sea .
His name does not appear on the NZ electoral rolls at any time, so one would assume he left home at an early age. We find him first in 1873 departing from Manukau for Sydney on board the vessel Phoebe, aged 23, 3rd Engineer. Benjamin appears to be involved in the route between Australia and New Zealand for several years, and on one of these voyages perhaps he met his future wife Alice Lane.  He returned to New Zealand in 1875 to marry her, but they made their home in Sydney, living in Balmain by 1880 and later in Lakemba NSW.  He gained his 2nd engineers certificate ( number 36) in Sydney in 1876 . In 1878 he joined the crew of the “City of Newcastle” in early September 1878 and was unfortunate to be on board and on duty  when the ship  ran aground.
He remained a man of the sea though, joining the crew of the “Esk” which plied the waters  between Sydney and Tasmania .

Ben and Alice had 3 children, Sarah, Mary Ellen and John Farrer . Mary Ellen was known to have visited her New Zealand relatives on more than one occasion and was fond of her uncle John Middlebrook
Son, John, followed his father into Engineering, serving as an apprentice at Cockatoo Island, but didnt continue in the trade, instead he followed his artistic side, like many members of the Middlebrook family he had a love for music and he earned a living as a pianist.
Throughout his life, Benjamin, like some of his brothers, was an active member of Masonic Lodge.
Benjamin died on 11 August 1928 aged 78, of a stroke and is buried  at the Field of Mars Cemetery, North Ryde,New South Wales,
Plot: Portion: Ang Section: Sec K Plot: 200

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