I am reading David Johnson’s book Wellington Harbour (Wellington Maritime Museum, 1996) for my evening course on Wellington’s architectural history. In a post of – almost exactly – two years ago I wrote about my great-grandparents in Wellington – this was some research I also did for my evening class so it’s not surprising it is the same time of the year. Johnson includes a painting and some information on the ship they arrived in Wellington on – the St Leonards, and some background information on 1880, the year they arrived. Continue reading
This past weekend I went to a family reunion of the Jones family (my mother’s surname) – it was the 175th anniversary of their arrival in New Zealand aboard the ship ‘London’ – leaving England on 1 January 1842 and arriving in Wellington on 1 May 1842 – with no stops along the way. Perhaps I should have called this post ‘keeping up with the Joneses’!
I have already written something about this family here. And about my mother who grew up on the Jones family farm in Masterton and helped with the family milk delivery business at times.
Apart from meeting up with first, second and third cousins – most of the latter two groups I hadn’t met before – I also found interesting photos and memorabilia. This, for example, in an album belonging to one of my cousins, Keith Jones, (with a detail)
Since setting up this website I have received a few queries mainly relating to family history (this is in addition to comments on specific posts). A recent one led me to do some more research on one of my great-grandmothers who came to New Zealand in 1880. The query was:
“Hello, I have just read an article on line about my great uncle Stanley Austwick who died on the Somme in 1916. It mentions that a relative was Mrs S Morrell of Miramar. Are you related to this person? I ask because my mother says Stanley was engaged to a girl in New Zealand. We would love to know who she was and what happened to her.”
In the 1861 English census, John Tankard was a whitesmith who employed two men and four boys. He lived in Woodhouse Lane, Leeds in the parish of St John the Evangelist. John and his wife Frances had five children – a daughter aged 10 and four sons aged 8, 6, 4 and 1. Elizabeth Tankard was a visitor. By the 1871 census they were living at 1 Woodland View, Chapel Allerton (now a suburb of Leeds), and he employed two men and one boy. Two of his sons were whitesmiths, so they may have been two of their father’s employees. John’s nephew Ebenezer Tankard was also a whitesmith in Leeds in 1871.
These people were my ancestors, although not direct ones; but I’ll come to that later. Firstly, I was intrigued to know more about a whitesmith. Most people will have some idea what a blacksmith does – or did – but I wasn’t sure about a whitesmith.
This is the title of a book by Bronwyn Labrum, published in 2015 by Te Papa Press. Well illustrated, it brings to life what New Zealanders wore, the houses and furnishings they lived with (or aspired to), cars they drove, what children played with and did at school, and many other topics, arranged in ten chapters.
I recently went to a talk the author gave for the Friends of Te Papa about the book, which was followed by a ‘show-and-tell’ of objects from the period some friends had brought along. The book stems from Bronwyn’s personal interests. She grew up with Crown Lynn (a New Zealand firm) crockery – a particular cat plate featured prominently in her childhood and she also likes the ‘semi-Scandinavian’ modern furniture of the period, some made in New Zealand like the chair by Don Furniture of Lower Hutt that she showed an image of. Her previous research also touched on various aspects of these decades – the welfare state and the importance given to home ownership; the urbanisation of Maori in the post-World War Two period; and a previous book she wrote about clothing in New Zealand (Looking Flash: Clothing in Aotearoa New Zealand (2007)). Continue reading
I have just finished reading Alison Light’s 2014 book Common People: The History of an English Family (Fig Tree, Penguin Books). Someone recommended it on the family history course I did – and I would agree that it is well worth reading, whether you have ‘common’ ancestors or not! Most of her family branches had members who were poor, some who spent time in a workhouse – or its pauper equivalent, the lunatic asylum, as ‘pauper lunatics’. Some members of her ‘Light’ ancestors were wealthier – they built some of the buildings she grew up among – but they were Baptists and her grandfather had rejected them. He joined the navy and had nothing to do with his family – she knew very little about these ancestors until she did her research. This is a different kind of history from the more common ones that discuss famous (or infamous), wealthy, or powerful people. Continue reading
I am currently doing a free online course via the University of Strathclyde (on Future Learn) called Genealogy: Researching your family tree. Last week we were introduced to the potential usefulness of DNA tests for family historians. I was surprised at how this polarised learners. We seemed to divide into about four groups: those who have had the tests and found relatives and as a result were enthusiastic; some have had the tests but been disappointed they haven’t (yet) found relatives; some hadn’t had the tests but were interested in learning more, and those who haven’t had a test and thought the topic was a waste of their time. Continue reading