Jones family of Masterton – journeys

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)

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Common People

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

Family history and genetics

granny allsworth 4 generations

Four generations: my g-gran, gran, mother and eldest sister; c. 1940, Masterton.

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

Histories of objects

DSC07455Books discussing the history of things or objects have become a popular genre. Neil MacGregor’s History of the World in 100 Objects (2010) spawned many similar books, for example, Jerry Brotton’s History of the World in 12 Maps (Penguin, 2012), MacGregor’s Shakespeare’s Restless World: A Portrait of an Era In Twenty Objects, and two recent New Zealand examples, The Lives of Colonial Objects, (eds A Cooper, L Paterson & A Wanhalla, Otago UP, 2015) and Holding on to Home: Stories and Objects of the First World War, by Kate Hunter and Kirstie Ross (Te Papa Press, 2014). But there have also been books on single things, such as Mauve, by Simon Garfield, 2000; categories like Victoria Finlay’s Colour: Travels through the Paintbox, (2002) and Bill Bryson’s history of objects in his nineteenth century home, At Home (2010) – and many, many more. On the whole, it’s a genre I enjoy reading. Continue reading

Jones family of Masterton

One set of great-great-grandparents, Henry and Mary Jones, came to New Zealand in 1842 on the ship London. They arrived with three children – another, their youngest, Mary had died on board ship. But a year later (on 4 Sep 1843) another girl was born and christened Mary. Hers was the first Methodist christening in the village of Karori (now a suburb of Wellington).

A little bit of background about Henry and Mary Jones: Henry was born in 1811 in Northamptonshire, England. His parents were James and Susannah. James was from the village of Preston Capes and Susannah from Greatworth. Henry was born in Wappenham, and at four months old was sent back to Preston Capes with his parents on a Settlement Order from the Overseers of the Poor for Wappenham, dated 27 Jan 1812. So we’re not talking of wealthy people here! In 1832 Henry was a farm labourer and he married Mary Willett who was born in 1814 in Steeple Aston, Oxfordshire. Continue reading

Growing up in Masterton in the 1920s-30s

My last post on the 1942 Wairarapa earthquake used some information from an interview I did with my mother, Nella Morrell, nee Jones. I didn’t just talk to her about the earthquake, so I thought I would use some more of that material. I asked her about her childhood in the 1920s. I had also interviewed both my parents in 1995 and so I have interspersed some of that material where relevant.

mum and art feeding horse

Mum: I lived on the [Jones family] farm of course and we had a playground in the back yard. Swings and slides and what do you call those long swings that seat three or four and go side-to-side … a boat swing as we called it. And we had a tennis court. We never used it as I got older. This was the old farmhouse, down the bottom of Kuripuni Street.

(Mum and her younger brother, Arthur c. 1925)

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The 1942 Wairarapa earthquake

Photo source:[1]mast earthquake 3

“Earthquakes were the last thing on most people’s minds on 24 June 1942. The country was at war, and many households had their men in camps in New Zealand – soldiers were at Carterton, the Opaki racecourse and Solway Showgrounds.

The Wairarapa was shaken by a sharp earthquake at 8.17 p.m. but much worse was to follow at 11.16 – the earth growled and rumbled and the sky was lit by flashes of light coming from high-tension wires. Inside, furniture was rolling around rooms, and bric-a-brac was being thrown from walls and mantelpieces to the floor. Masterton was the worst affected town, much of the central business area being badly damaged in the shake.”[2] Continue reading