new background

Sunday, 31 January 2010

2 mystery WW2 New Zealand WAAF ladies

Last week I purchased on trademe from a second hand goods store in Geraldine, 2 framed portraits of women who were serving in the Airforce in WW2. The hat insignia looks that of the New Zealand WAAF's [Woman's Auxiliary Air Force] and the arm flying badges confirm they were in the airforce.

There appears to be no identifying information on the photos except for the second photo - however this is sparse and photo looks to be to Jack from Marge.





"To Jack with best w... from Marge[?]"



Do you recognise these women? I'd love to be able to give them back to their families.





















Thursday, 28 January 2010

William Wight SMITH,
Charles O'Hara SMITH JP,
Sergeant Major SMITH
and their father
Captain John SMITH 41st Regiment

A couple of years back I took this photo of a grave at Purewa Cemetery in Auckland and thought what interesting people to one day research.

Grave* of William Wight SMITH memorialising also his brothers Sergeant Major Sidney SMITH, Charles O'Hara SMITH and their father Captain John SMITH

Tonight I came across the photo again as I was editing on Flickr. So I decided to do a bit of a trawl on the net and thought i would add here what i've found.

William Wight SMITH
The only person buried in this grave is William Wight SMITH. William was a Commission agent of Wellington. Searches of him on National Library's 'Paperspast' site show him as the plaintiff in a claim for commission on the sale of land in 1907. He died intestate.

Sergeant Major Sidney SMITH
Williams brother Sergeant Major Sidney SMITH, is memorialised on the headstone. He was a telegraph linesman prior to enlisting and serving in the Boer War. He was awarded the Queen's South Africa Medal (Cape Colony and Orange Free State Clasps) and King's South Africa Medal (South Africa 1901 and South Africa 1902 Clasps) [3]. He was killed in action 31 January 1902. His Embarkation record and Cenotaph database record.

Captain John SMITH
Captain John Smith of the 41st Regiment is buried in the Karori Cemetery, Wellington and mentioned - along with a map indicating where he is buried, in the 'Warriors Walk' a brochure for this cemetery from the Wellington City Council. Maybe someone who lives locally would like to take a photo of his grave so I can add it to this post? Maybe i'll take another long weekend sometime to do it myself, it looks fabulous! Kudos to the Council for putting this together!

Charles O'Hara SMITH J.P.
"Mr Charles O'Hara SMITH - Auditor of Land Revenue for New Zealand, who had a good deal to do with the suppression of dummyism [practice of purchasing land for someone who is not legally entitled to] in Taranaki, is a son of Captain John Smith, late of H.M. 41st Foot, an old Crimean veteran, who holds a medal of the French Legion of Honour.

Mr. Smith was born in Malta, and educated at the private school of the Rev. J. B. Smith, Sizar and Moderator of Trinity College, Dublin. Arriving in New Zealand in 1872, he passed the Civil Service examination and joined the Treasury as a cadet. Having developed considerable ability, Mr. Smith was transferred to the Audit Office in 1879. Subsequently he was appointed an audit inspector, and for many years performed arduous duties in auditing the Government accounts and those of local bodies in various parts of the Colony. The districts which were under his charge at various times were Marlborough, Nelson, Wellington, Taranaki, Auckland City, and the North of Auckland.

Charles O'Hara SMITH [1]


It is well known that while on the West Coast, North Island, Mr. Smith was successful in detecting many irregularities, causing large sums to be disgorged, and he was instrumental in bringing many defaulters to punishment. He also discovered that frauds were being perpetrated through certain land offices by means of fraudulent scrip. In consequence of these and other discoveries, the Legislature constituted the Department of Audit of Land Revenue by special Act as a branch of the Lands Department, and the control of this branch was given to Mr. Smith in recognition of his services. The usefulness of this section of the Civil Service is becoming more apparent as time progresses, the officers being experts in their special work.

Mr. Smith was a member of the Masonic fraternity, and belonged to the Wellington Lodge No, 1521, E.C., of which he was elected W.M. for two years successively. He has also been a member of the District Grand Lodge.

In boating Mr. Smith has been prominent for some twenty years; he was one of the founders of the Star Boating Club, and for several years rowed the stroke oar in both the inrigged and outrigged races. Mr. Smith was on one occassion [sic] successful in winning the sculling championship in Wellington, and possesses several trophies.

He was an enthusiastic volunteer, and served for six years in the D Battery, New Zealand Regiment of Artillery Volunteers.

In 1884 he married Miss Talbot, daughter of Mr. George Talbot, J.P., Mayor of Richmond, Nelson, and chairman of the Nelson Education Board, and has five children—four daughters and a son." [2]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Well that WAS an interesting lot. I'm glad I get so sidetracked when editing. No doubt I will find more to add!

* Headstone transcription.

In loving memory of William Wight SMITH
Died March 6th 1910 [aged 48]
also

Sergeant Major Sidney SMITH [memorial only]
6th Contingent N.Z.M.B. Killed in South Africa January 3rd 1902
and
Charles O'Hara SMITH J.P. [memorial only] - Auditor of Land Revenue
Died Bathurst, N.S.W. September 10th 1896

sons of Captain John SMITH, 41st Regiment
who died Wellington, March 10th 1899
Purewa Cemetery, Auckland, New Zealand 30 December 2007




References

[1 & 2] NZ Electronic Text Centre - accessed 28 January 2010

[3] Cenotaph database - Auckland War Memorial Museum, accessed 28 January 2010

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Grace CLULEE's family, where are you?

Last weekend my partner and I toddled off to Rotorua for the weekend.

On the way, we stopped at Paeroa and did the circuit of many and varied antique stores. At 'Arkwrights Antiques', I happened upon a small Holy Communion book [scroll down for photos] that was inscribed to Grace CLULEE on the occasion of her confirmation on 15 April 1894 at St Paul's [cathedral], Dunedin from [Reverend] J W A Melville* [interestingly enough he performed the marriage ceremony 2 months later for well known NZ barrister Alfred Charles Hanlon and his wife].

A nice thing to happen also tonight after getting it out to photograph, I thumbed through carefully and found the page for Holy Communion and there was a tiny pressed flower - what a delight! I'd like to think that this was put there on the day she was given it, but of course cannot be sure of that.

Grace CLULEE's family, if you are out there I'd love to give you this wee token of her life if she is on your family tree. It would be lovely to know what happened to her.

A search of the indexes for historical births, deaths and marriages shows:
  • Grace CLULEE born to Jeannie Comming[sic] and Alfred CLULEE and registered 1876 [1].
  • Grace CLULEE wed Angustus [sic] Nixon SCOTT c1913 [2] . If this is my Grace then presuming she was 7 or 8 at first holy communion, she would have been born around 1886 and therefore approximately 27 if this was her marriage. This then would not be the Grace CLULEE whose birth I found in the indexes, unless it was a later communion and she was 17 or 18 and this scenario also is possible.
  • There is a death registered in 1947 [3] for a Grace SCOTT dying aged 73 [thus born circa 1874]. The years are out by a couple but this is not unusual as personal information received by registrars is often only provided by relatives and can be incorrect. In the end i've found in other cases, even purchased certificates are not 100% reliable.
Searching the National Library of New Zealand's Paperspast website produces:
  • an article from Otago Witness 22 February 1894 mentioning a Grace CLULEE being recommended by inspectors for appointment [Caversham school?]
  • an article from Otago Witness 17 June 1895 mentioning a Grace CLULEE passing her annual examinations for pupil teachers.
  • an article from Otago Witness 26 March 1896 mentioning a Grace CLULEE gaining a second pass class in freehand drawing as a student at the Dunedin School of Art and Design, the Science and Art department in connection with the School of Design at South Kensington [London].
  • an article from Otago Witness 14 January 1897 mentioning a Grace CLULEE passing her annual examinations for pupil teachers with second class merits. This mentions 'Caversham' and gives the clue she possibly was teaching there?
  • an article from Otago Witness 18 February 1897 mentioning a Grace CLULEE gaining a second class pass in elementary model drawing in the London Science and Art Department's examination held in Dunedin the previous year.
  • an article from Otago Witness 2 March 1899 on a Grace CLULEE gaining a partial pass in the Otago Teacher Examinations.
  • an article from Otago Witness 8 March 1900 on a Grace CLULEE gaining a Class D pass in the teacher examinations in the Otago district.
Interestingly enough I have come across this surname one other time. Many years back I was in Kumara cemetery on the West Coast of the South Island and there is a CLULEE buried there.








The pressed flower marking the Holy Communion page


These are the pages the book fell open at the most easily
Back cover

 
Alfred and Jeanie had other children, siblings for Grace:
George Frederick, birth registration 1878/5690
Frances, birth registration 1880/7419

UPDATE 30 March 2013:
Being a lovely day yesterday, I decided to do some cemetery photography at Purewa and came across quite by chance Grace's parents grave!
 
 
 
* Assistant at St Paul's pro-Cathedral 1893-1895 [4]



References:
[1] NZ Department Internal affairs - Births, deaths and marriages index search website
https://www.bdmhistoricalrecords.dia.govt.nz/Home/
registration 1876/10838



[2] NZ Department Internal affairs - Births, deaths and marriages index search website
registration number 1913/592


[3] NZ Department Internal affairs - Births, deaths and marriages index search websitehttps://www.bdmhistoricalrecords.dia.govt.nz/Home/
registration number 1947/30567

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Past Christchurch/Canterbury Personalities 2


Colonel De Renzie James BRETT M.L.C
1809 - 1889
Her Majestys 108th Foot Regiment

His age on his headstone is wrong. Should read 80 years.

LINWOOD CEMETERY, CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND

I took the photos of Colonel BRETT's grave because i felt it had a story to tell and it most surely does!

I find it sad that such prominent people of the past have passed in to history and the origins of their legacies are not taught or talked about in our schools. We take for granted we have the city or country we do today but too often don't stop to think [nor educate others] about those brave, entrepreneurial people who have walked and worked our soils [and other countries as well] to become the productive places they are. De Renzie James BRETT is one of those men.
  • He was one of 25 children. This probably gave him his tenacious abilities and proclivity to fight for his rights!
  • His military service from the age of 16 reads like a novel! It's a must read...see his obituary below.
  • He arrived in New Zealand in 1865 onboard the 'Greyhound' .
  • He purchased 1000 acres just out of Courtenay in Canterbury and this was developed in to what is now Kirwee a name connected to his military days in India.
  • He was a provincial Council member for the Selwyn district and a proponent for successful water race schemes that lead to arable lands in Canterbury.
His obituary from The Star, 17 June 1889 says it all really. I have copied this below.
OBITUARY.

THE HON DE RENZIE BRETT, M.L.C.
Another familiar face will be missed from the streets of Christchurch, and from the benches of the usually quiet Upper House this session. A brave old soldier has fought his last fight with the universal enemy of all men — death; and a warm hearted, impetuous, outspoken Irishman has made his last speech in that Legislative Chamber, whose serenity he was wont occasionally to disturb so terribly. Colonel Brett— as he was always called among us, though we believe he might rightfully have claimed the General's title— died shortly after one o'clock yesterday afternoon. He had seen yet another ten added to those three score and ten years which the Psalmist assigns as the- allotted span of life, and his death must be ascribed rather to collapse through sheer old age than to any other cause. Within the last few days he had taken his usual morning walk to the Christchurch Club to read the papers and chat in the smoking-room, and though his condition . was known to be very critical on Saturday afternoon, people generally were not aware that the old soldier was ailing. An old warrior he was— and looked; a man who had served his Queen and country in many climes, and who was proud of it; one of the type of fighting Irishmen, familiar enough in the pages of our novelists, and in real life in the Old Country, but rarely met out here, and as full as any of them of the strange combination of those emotional Keltic qualities which endear them to men of the colder British temperament, in spite of extravagances of thought and speech and action which they can neither emulate nor understand. Colonel Brett was born in Wexford, Ireland, in the year 1809, and two months ago completed his eightieth year. His father was a barrister, and resided at Clobemon Hall, Wexford, of which County he was Captain of the Yeomanry Cavalry. His school days were passed at Portora, near Enniskilllen. The headmaster at the time being Dr Knox, who was subsequently raised to the Episcopal Bench. Colonel Brett married at St Michael's Church, Limerick, in 1845, Harriet Baker Harris, daughter of Colonel Harris, of the 24th Regiment of Foot. He leaves three sons and two daughters, who survive him. The Colonel was one of twenty-five children the issue of the same parents.

HIS MILITARY CAREER.
Colonel Brett entered the Indian Army on May 6, 1825, when he was gazetted as Ensign to the 31st Madras Light Infantry. In this regiment he served for twenty four years, nine of them as Adjutant of the regiment, and for some time as Fort Adjutant of Bellary. In the Coorg campaign of 1834 he was under General Waugh, commanding the Northern column. During this service, when a Lieutenant, he was frequently in command of one or two companies, under heavy fire in extended order, covering the front and flanks of the advancing column. On one occasion he commanded the rear guard and repulsed several attacks made by the enemy, who were endeavouring to capture the military cash chest and commissariat stores. Finding the bullocks of the carts conveying the cash chest shot dead, he broke open the chest and distributed the bags, each of which contained 2000 rupees, to his men, taking down each man's name and general number. Two casks of spirits which were with the cash chest, he emptied into large leather water bags and thus succeeded in bringing into camp the whole of the money and a large quantity of spirits. For this valuable service he received the personal thanks of his General. Another affair at which the Lieutenant was present was the capture of the Cassinhully stockade, which was gallantly defended by the Coorgs. Lieutenant Brett was subaltern of the storming party of the Bakh stockade, situated in a very strong position on the summit of a high hill, surrounded by a dense forest and thick wood,. The desperate character of this assault can be estimated from the fact that his regiment lost six out of eight officers, and forty-seven out of sixty men killed and wounded, while H.M. 55th Regiment had seven out of nine officers and ninety-eight out of one hundred men killed and wounded. William IV., on opening Parliament, expressed his admiration of the gallantry displayed by this small force, and his regret for the unprecedented loss it had sustained. In de Warren's "History of India" honourable mention is made of Lieutenant Brett's gallantry during this campaign. In one page he is spoken of as that " heroic Brett," and in another as " the bravest of the brave." The few remaining men of this force were compelled to retire, and on their rejoining the column, below the hill, Lieutenant Brett received the thanks of his General in the presence of the whole force. The expedition was, however, successful in capturing the Rajah in his own capital, and the Lieutenant's share of the prize money was £800. Shortly after this the Lieutanant was promoted to a Company, and returned for a time to Ireland. In 1853 he had obtained a majority, and in the second Burmese war he served as a volunteer, and second in command of the Thirty-fifth Madras Native Infantry. In this position he commanded a post on an island of the Irrawady River, near Prome, five hundred miles in advance of the army, and beat off several attacks made by the enemy, for which, services he received the thanks of Admiral Austin, with whom he was cooperating. He also commanded the flank companies of the 35th Regiment at the taking of Prome. Major Brett for several months commanded a wing of the same regiment at a post two or three miles from Prome, where he repulsed several night attacks of the enemy, for which he received the thanks of General Sir John Cheap, K.C.B. Major Brett received a medal and clasp for this war, and a small sum as prize money. When the Crimean war began, the Duke of Newcastle, then Minister of War, applied to the East India Company's Directors for Major Brett's services, and appointed him to the command of four regiments of the Osmanlie cavalry, with the rank of Brigadier. On his joining the force he was immediately sent to Syria to raise a regiment, six hundred strong, of Albanian cavalry. He accomplished this mission within three months, with the assistance of only an interpreter. Major Brett embarked his new force at Alexandretta in two large transport steamers, and they reached the Dardanelles without the loss of a single man or horse. Subsequently he marched, in command of seven regiments of Osmanlie Cavalry, over the Balkans to Shumla. In recognition of the services of Brigadier Brett, and at the recommendation of the British Ambassador, the Sultan created him Leva Pasha (with the rank of Major-General) and a Knight of the Medjidee of the third class. At the close of the Crimean war he was ordered home to give evidence on the trial instigated by General Beatson, and when a few months later, intelligence of the Indian mutiny reached England, he after but twenty-four hours' notice left England to join his regiment in India. Immediately on his arrival at Madras he was ordered to join a flying column at Kurnool, and was placed on the personal staff of General Whitlock, commanding. Subsequently this force was augmented by Colonel Brett's regiment, the 3rd Madras European, when the force set forth to the relief of Delhi and Lucknow. The Nabob was defeated in a general engagement, and his fort and treasure were captured; and Colonel Brett was appointed President of the Court, whose duty it was to apportion the prize money. Sir George Whitlock led his forces on to Kirwee, where there was a strong fort in possession of a mutinous Rajah which was captured without any great resistance, the Rajah being taken prisoner, with a treasure exceeding three-quarters of a million sterling. The General gave over the command of the fort and the custody of the Rajah to Colonel Brett, who subsequently took the prize-money, under the protection of a strong escort, to Allahabad. In recognition of this service, Colonel Brett received the command of a regiment of Irregular Cavalry, with instructions to join the regiment immediately. In command of this regiment, with two guns and two companies of Europeans mounted on camels and elephants, he was for nearly two months in pursuit of the rebel chief, Tatiatopee, who, however, managed to escape capture. This duty terminated, the Colonel retired on full pay. He returned to England, there to prosecute the claim of Sir George Whitlock's column, as the actual capturers of the Banda and Kirwee booty, and, with the assistance of others, carried the case to the Admiralty Court. For his services in India, Colonel Brett received a medal and clasp, and some £5000 in prize-money.

HIS CAREER IN NEW ZEALAND.
Colonel Brett arrived at Lyttelton in the Greyhound in 1865, and soon afterwards purchased the Kirwee estate, at Courtenay, where he took great interest in local matters. In 1872 he was elected a member of the Provincial Council for the electorate of the Selwyn district, and before the Abolition initiated the Malvern water-race scheme, of the success of which he was justly proud. Since 1871 Colonel Brett occupied a seat in the Legislative Council, to which he was appointed by Sir William Fox. In the Council a couple of years ago, in moving the Address- in-Reply, he gave an eloquent panegyric on Her Majesty's Jubilee, in which he displayed the enthusiastic loyalty which was his most striking quality, and concluded with the following words, "I must solicit the indulgence of the Council for having trespassed so long on their attention, my only plea being my well-known devotion to my Sovereign, whom I have faithfully and loyally served for sixty-two years of my life." In connection with this speech it may be mentioned that Her Majesty's nephew, the Prince of Leiningen, sent the Colonel the following autograph letter : — "Admiralty House, Sheerness, "June 15, 1887. "Dear Colonel Brett,— l am much obliged to you for your kind letter and the copy of Hansard, which contains a report of your speech, and which I have read with great interest. Indeed it is a long time since we last met, and I am delighted to find you are well and occupying a high position at Wellington. My time is drawing to a close here, at Sheerness, as I haul my flag down early in July on promotion to full flag rank, which I suppose means the end of my naval career. Wishing you every happiness.— -I remain, very sincerely yours, " Leiningen." "Our successors, in the latest Burmese war, have bad plenty of fighting and rough work."
THE FUNERAL. The Hon Colonel Brett will be buried tomorrow, with military honours, and those who read the above record of his services will admit that seldom have such honours been better merited. The hour appointed for the funeral, to leave his late residence in Chester street East, is 2 p.m.
END
De Renzie James BRETT's death notice in paper:
http://tinyurl.com/yjz8mu4


Article in the Dictonary NZ Biography [with photo]:
http://www.dnzb.govt.nz/dnzb/default.asp?Find_Quick.asp?PersonEssay=2B38



There is a Harris De Renzie BRETT who fought in the Boer War on Cenotaph database is this his son [mentioned in the online tree further below? However on that tree it states his son was De Renzie Harris BRETT b1857.] De Renzie Harris BRETT is also mentioned on the following website as being in the 8th NZ South Island Contingent http://alh-research.tripod.com/Light_Horse/index.blog/1928466/boer-war-new-zealand-8th-new-zealand-south-island-contingent/ it seems likely that Cenotaph has the wrong information or that it has been wrongly transposed and then transcribed.
His military personnel files can be ordered via Archives NZ here
[please see the comment from JAMIE in the comments section]
She is buried in the grave with her husband [1]


REFERENCES: [1] http://librarydata.christchurch.org.nz/Cemeteries/interment.asp?id=21185

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Christchurch Volunteer Fire Brigade 1881 - competitors


Whilst browsing around Ferrymead Heritage Park at the end of December, i just couldn't help myself on discovering old framed photos just propped up against display cases in the 'Hall of Flame' museum at the park.

Armed with my digital camera i just had to take individual photos of the fellows in at least one of the fabulous momentoes, you never know who may be researching them and not have a photo of them as yet! So here they are. The names are underneath the photo and in correct order.


For larger and downloadable photos, see this set on my flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/porkynz/sets/72157623019060571/
some of these men have more information on flickr.

Paperspast article mentioning the games http://tinyurl.com/yhzw5uj

Competing teams of the Christchurch
Volunteer Fire Brigade
At Friendly Societies Fete December 26th 1881
(for Engine Competition)


Larger photo at top of the 16 men - Superintendent E SMITH


No 1 team [winners]
Time 41 4/5 seconds


Foreman E SMITH
Engineer J FRASER
Branchman P M JOHNSTON
Branchman J ANDERSON
A ANDERSON
Treasurer C D MARSH
A HALL
A EMPSON

No 2 Team
Time 42 2/5 seconds


Engineer A PILLOW
Asst Engineer A W HILLIER
W HISCOKE
A H KELSEY
A WATT
W HARRISON
W CONDON
H WEST

Past Christchurch/Canterbury Personalities 1

Sali MAHOMET
'Ice cream Charlie'

1866 - 1943


As a child, one of my favourite memories from the 1960's and '70's was the treat it used to be when dad would come in the door after work now and then with a large brown paper bag full of small cartons of 'Vanilla ice' from the 'Ice Cream Charlie' van. Scrumptious and drizzled with cream and a delicious diluted version of homemade raspberry jam filling the gap that had been punctured in the top with the serving spoon after it had been scooped into the carton.

It is only after becoming an adult I can appreciate how Sali Mahomet alias 'Ice cream Charlie' had created if not a Kiwi icon, then at least a Canterbury Icon. I still enjoy an 'ice cream Charlie' if i get the chance to have one when i'm in Christchurch.

It was fortuitous to have happened upon his icecream cart at Ferrymead Heritage Park when I visited there over Christmas. I took some photos with the intent to write up a post about him, so imagine my surprise when I went to Linwood Cemetery, Christchurch a few days later to look up a few graves and I walked right by his grave also!


The information board beside his original ice cream cart states:
"Mystery surrounds Sali's history. It is believed he was born in 1866 in Central Asia. He travelled with his father to Australia, then Dunedin [New Zealand]. Together they worked as 'hawkers' selling goods around the South Island.

In 1903 Sali arrived in Christchurch, a bustling Edwardian city with entrepreneurial opportunities. He set up his ice cream business, operating it in Summer. Sali not only sold ice cream, he made it too.

Sali's original ice cream cart
Milk and cream came from the Tai Tapu Dairy Company. Rising before dawn he created ice cream in a hand-operated churn. In later years he used a Westinghouse machine producing four batches a time.

Sadly in 1943 ill health meant Sali could no longer continue as Ice Cream Charlie. He died that year in October. The Ice Cream business, however, continues to this day."

A fuller and very good biography on Sali is accessible
here He had rather a sad ending.
The cart below is a later version probably used by his "successor".




At this juncture I'd like to commend the work done by Alexandra Gilbert of Christchurch and the Friends of Linwood Cemetery Trust**. Their hard work upgrading the cemetery, reassembling broken headstones and 'having a heart' for the past relevance of people - both the ordinary person and others of historical significance buried in this cemetery, has made it a relaxing, open and friendly place to wander around. Below is Sali Mahomet's grave with an obvious later repair.


In loving memory of
Sultan Mahomet
1836 - 1905
Sali Mahomet
(Ice Cream Charlie)
1866 - 1943
Florence Wylie
(nee Mahomet)
1916 - 1998


**Since this post was written, I have become a volunteer researcher for the The Friends of Linwood CemeteryTrust



Sunday, 3 January 2010

Gunner H H TELFER 239095 Royal Field Artillery

On my Christmas break in Christchurch I caught up with my aunt and uncle. The conversation turned to things historical as they do!

My Uncle brought out to the kitchen the British War and Victory medals his Uncle Harold had earned for being a soldier in the ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY serving at the Ypres Salient. These had been put on a swing mount and had a metal name bar to sit above the medals. Engraved on the bar was H H TELFER. I asked my uncle what Harold's full name was and he didn't know, so I presumed it must be something akin to Harold Henry...how wrong I was!

H H Telfer's medals on his bible


My uncle also brought out Harold's wallet with hand embroidering; his bible; a newspaper clipping about him retiring after 42 years as a butcher [see further down]; a couple of his uniform embellishments and a letter dated 1920 written to Harold by a nephew. Out came also, a photo of Harold outside his butcher shop in Hexham, Northumberland, Christmas 1924...



We chatted for a while about Harold and I suggested I try to learn more about him as my uncle didn't know a lot. Harold was married to my uncles mothers sister and they lived in England, whereas my uncle was born and lives in New Zealand.

After returning to Auckland from Christchurch last night, I got stuck in to finding more about Harold. After 5 hours research I had amassed quite a bit of information on him from the free BMD website; ancestry.com for census records; National Archives UK and various other sites.

I now have the following basic information, but most importantly I discovered from his medal card his name was Hodgson Harold TELFER!...he was...
  • Born 1884, Bellingham, Northumberland. Seems he was known as Harold rather than Hodgson.

  • A Butcher by trade from at least the age of 16 according to the 1901 census .

  • His father was James TELFER born 1842 and baptised at Birdhope Craig Presbyterian Church, he to was a butcher of Bellingham and Hexham

  • Harold [or Hodgson's] mother was probably Eliza Anetta or Johannah nee HODGSON [this would certainly explain Hodgson's unusual forename]. These two are sisters who married at the same time in September 1881, possibly a double wedding. One of them married James, the other married a Roger SMITH. Both these women died within a year of each other - I suspect Hodgsons mother is possibly Johannah, as Hodgsons youngest sister Johanna was born 1889 around the time of death of both these women, so possibly named after her mother who may have died in childbirth or shortly thereafter. The Hodgson sisters were the daughters of William and Elizabeth HODGSON. William according to the 1871 census was a farmer and Innkeeper of the Black Bull Inn at Bellingham.

  • Harold married Margaret GOWANS date unknown, although Harold was single at the time of the 1911 census. I have searched up until 1930 for his marriage but haven't found it...i'll have to hunt again, probably easily overlooked.

  • His siblings were William Stanley b1882 and Johanna b1889.
  • [Hodgson] Harold Telfer died 1967 aged 82 in the Northumberland West district [Vol 1b page 441].

Newspaper clipping of Harold's retirement

So yes, I'm quite pleased with the amount of information I have already. It's a great start! Upon seaching google I happened upon a fellow in Hamilton, New Zealand who is an agricultural journalist and was born in Bellingham just like Harold was! He has given me a few contacts I can persue. What a small world it certainly is :-)