The COGAR children

How fascinating I find trawling the pages of paperspast Yesterday was no exception when I became totally sidetracked from the research I was doing on one of the hundreds of graves I've photographed and picked up on a rather sad story.

This news article drew me in. The thought of these 2 wee boys alone in the world and feeling unwanted, so I thought I'd do a 'quick' search and see what I could find on them...well I should know by now that I get totally absorbed and it is NEVER a quick research *grin*.  The following  took up my whole afternoon and night but such a fascinating journey and of course more questions are posed rather than gaining all the answers.

Firstly, let's start with John and George's dilemma...

Press, Volume XLV, Issue 7018, 21 March 1888, Page 6
NEGLECTED CHILDREN. –John Vivian Cogar [sic] and George Vivian Paul Cogar, [sic] aged eight and five respectively, were charged with being neglected children.  Inspector Pender said their mother was dead, and their father was mate of a ship.  He left the children in charge of a Mrs Bevan, paying her two months in advance for their maintenance.  The man had been away six months, and Mrs Bevan not being able to keep the children had turned then into the street.  He asked, therefore that they be sent to Burnham Industrial School.  His worship made an order committing the children to Burnham,  that they be brought up in the Church of England religion.

And moving on a couple of years later… it seems Mrs Beaven had a change of heart – but things still did not end up any better for the boys…

Star , Issue 6815, 31 March 1890, Page 3
NEGLECTED CHILDREN – John COGAR, ten years old and George COGAR, seven years old, were brought before the Court as neglected children.  Their mother was dead, and their father at sea, and they had been in charge of a Mrs Bevan, who being unable to obtain anything for their maintenance, was anxious to be rid of the burden.  They had formerly been in Burnham, but had been released upon Mrs Bevan’s application.  On March 28, they came to the Police Station and said they were destitute.  His Worship committed the children to Burnham, to be brought up in the Church of England religion.

Who were the parents?

 Thomas COGAR married Margaret Waters PAULL in June 1865 in Penzance, Cornwall.

A search on the Department of Internal Affairs historical records database records the probable birth of both children to Margaret Waters and Thomas COGAR although the name Vivian is missing from their entries in that database and extra names are added*:

1880/16355 John Richard Paull [sic]

1883/8241  George Henry William Paul [sic]

Also a sibling named Edmund Paull COGAR was registered with 1876/5903 so being just a bit older than John and George he was buried 11 October 1883 in Addington cemetery Block 0 Plot 1175C aged 7 years. His grave is indicated by the yellow square on the cemetery map below.

Another child buried in Addington cemetery is Charles Paull COGAR aged 13 who was interred on 2 July 1887 

His grave is indicated by the green square on the cemetery map below. 

A Margaret M* COGAR  is buried in the Addington Cemetery, Christchurch. Date of burial 6 September 1887 aged 43 years. Block 0 Plot 1548B.  The orange square on the map below indicates her plot and from memory this section has many graves without headstones, many that are illegible and even more that are broken.

In the Auckland Star, 29 May 1875 an article states:

“[from our London correspondent.]

In the other case a clerk, named Thomas COGAR, was committed for trial for forgery of a cheque for £30, which he said he had done because he was hard up an was about to go to New Zealand that day with his family.”  Good, so now we have an immigration date.

By 1891, Thomas’ career had blossomed as he is noted as a Master Mariner at the time of his second marriage to Emily Mary  BAUER in Auckland:

Auckland Star, Volume XXIII, Issue 23, 28 January 1892, Page 8

“On December 31, at St. Sepulchre’s Church, by the Ven. Archdeacon Dudley, Thomas Cogar master mariner, to Emily Mary, youngest daughter of Jacob Bauer, cabinet-maker, late of Hamilton, Waikato – Cornwall papers please copy.”
They eventually had a child who, interestingly enough also featured Vivian in his name - Frederick Basil Vivian COGAR on 28 July 1896 at his parents residence, Wakefield street, Auckland. In 1926, Frederick changed his name by deed poll to ROCKLAND.
 Frederick served in WW1 the NZ Expeditionary Forces as a Private in the Specialist Company married Mabel Lauretta GODFREY in 1926 and he died 1963 aged 66, a retired electrician.  His ashes are interred in Waikumete cemetery, Auckland and he does have a probate available.

In 1893, Captain COGAR was censured after a marine board inquiry into the wreck of the Auckland-bound barquentine Darcy Pratt, near Rockhampton, the Court found that the vessel was lost through recklessness and negligent navigation which included not having correct sized maps. It was lost on 21 January 1893, and was on a voyage from Rockhampton to Auckland with 220 tons cargo of bones and bone dust, when she was lost off Polmaise Reef. Read story and outcome here.

Interesting to note also, is that when Emily died in 1931 aged 62 her name then was Emily Mary ROCKLAND.  It seems that Frederick’s mother [and Thomas’s wife] also changed her name.  It appears the marriage ended to Thomas and thereby taking another name? I have not found an entry for any second marriage.   Her death notice in the Auckland Star states:
On April 30, 1931 at her residence, 22 Arabi Street, Sandringham, Emily Mary, relict of the late William Alfred ROCKLAND, beloved mother of Basil and Sister of Fred and William BAUER, of Auckland. Funeral will leave the above address Saturday, at 2pm for Purewa.
A bereavement acknowledgement notice in the Auckland Star , 9 May 1931 states:
“Mr and Mrs ROCKLAND and niece wish to thank all those who sympathised with them in the loss of their dear mother and aunt (specially Mrs Reid); also for telegrams, cards and floral emblems received.”

William Alfred ROCKLAND whose probate is available is noted as being a tramway inspector, died in 1920 aged 40 and is buried in Purewa cemetery, Auckland, Emily is in the same plot.  Being born in 1880, he was much younger than Emily, who was born in 1869.  They were ‘married’ by the time Frederick enlisted in the Army as his next of kin is listed as Mrs Emily Rockland [mother].  Emily’s also has a probate available and she is noted as a widow.

I’ve found no death entry for Thomas COGAR and it may be possible he was lost at sea?

So, what happened to the two abandoned boys? 

Subsequent records show that both boys survived childhood.

A news article from Press on 13 April 1895 states that:
“a boy named Cogar, an inmate of the Burnham Industrial School was brought to the Hospital on Thursday morning suffering from a broken leg.  He tripped over a stone while playing, sustaining a simple comminuted [sic] fracture.”

John [noted as John Richard Vivian in the Department of Internal Affairs historic marriages] married Mary SHEPPARD in 1908. 
1911: NZ Electoral Roll living at Lincoln Road, Ellesmere with his wife and is a labourer
1914: NZ Electoral Roll living at 292 Tuam Street, Christchurch with wife and is a labourer
1917 he is in the WW1 NZ Army Reserve Rolls 2nd Division as Orchard Worker, 31 Hawke Street, New Brighton, Christchurch.
1924: John is registered as having died aged 43.  Was his death due to war service if he actually served?  I can find no record of him in either Archives NZ WW1 military records nor Cenotaph database.

George [noted as George Henry William Paul in the Department of Internal Affairs historic marriages] married Mary Jane MARSHALL c1909 and had children Henry Vivian COGAR 1909 [died 6 July 1982 buried Timaru cemetery] and Alice Marshall COGAR c1911.  A daughter Ellen Mary died 1 October 1924 aged 12 and is also buried in Timaru cemetery.
1911: NZ Electoral Roll living at West Melton with his wife and is a farm hand
1914: NZ Electoral Roll living at West Melton with his wife and is a farm hand also
1914: NZ Electoral Roll living at “Oakwood”, Glen-iti, farm labourer and Mary is noted as c/o Gladstone Robinson, Gleni-iti, married.
In 1917 he is in the WW1 NZ Army Reserve Rolls 2nd Division as Store Assistant, Fairlie, South Canterbury.
1919: NZ Electoral Roll living at Gorge Rd, Fairlie with his wife and is a labourer
1928: NZ Electoral Roll living at Buchanan St, Fairlie with his wife and is a taxi proprietor
1935: NZ Electoral Roll living at Bridge Road, Fairlie with his wife and is a taxi proprietor
1938: NZ Electoral Roll – as for 1935
1946: NZ Electoral Roll – as for 1935
1949: NZ Electoral Roll – as for 1935
George died 6 Dec 1960 and Mary Jane died 4 May 1950 aged 70. They are buried in Timaru and there is a photo of the grave on the Timaru Cemetery database . 

Surprisingly during the research of the 2 neglected boys, I came across another newspaper entry for an Eliza COGAR.
Star , Issue 4321, 28 February 1882, Page 3
“Christchurch, Tuesday, Feb 28 before R Beetham Esq., R.M.
NEGLECTED CHILD – Eliza Cogar was charged with being a neglected child within the meaning of the Neglected and Criminal Children’s Act.  Detective T. Neil said that the girl, who was about 14 years old, had been brought to the Police Depot by the matron of the Armagh Street Depot, where she had been living with her mother.  The girl had recently developed a wandering disposition, sleeping away from the Depot at night and being entirely beyond the control of either her mother or the matron.  Ordered to be sent to the Industrial school for twelve months, to be brought up in the Church of England religion.”

A search of Census on shows 1871 Surrey, Camberwell, Peckham, District 24 entry for:
Thomas COGAR, 29, Commercial Clerk [illegible word following], born Cornwall, St Ives.

Margaret M COGAR, wife, 26, born Cornwall, St Ives

Thomas COGAR, son, 5, scholar, born Cornwall, St Ives

Eliza V COGAR, dau, 2, born Cornwall, Redruth

Susan A COGAR, dau, 1, born Surrey, Peckham [died second quarter 1874 and death registered in Camberwell, London]

An Emma BAKER aged 14 and a servant was also living with them.

So if this is the parents and more siblings of our original 2 neglected boys it is sad indeed.  

In the Otago Witness 7 January 1882 at the Port Chalmers Police Court on Tuesday of that week, before Messrs W. Elder and A. Thomson, J.P’s, Thomas COGAR was charged with stealing a silver watch, the property of John White.  The prisoner, a boy, pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to seven days’ imprisonment, with hard labour.
Could this be Thomas who is the 5 year old son mention in the 1871 census above?  He would have been 16 in 1882.

Although I have researched in great detail there is always the possibility some research may contain errors. Any information to amend or add to flesh this out would be fantastic, don't hesitate to contact.  They are not my family but the research may help others.

Further connections to research in the future:
T COGAR connected to the Jubilee exhibition relating to lighting


*Over the years, my research has tended to find many errors in both the DIA historical database and CCC cemeteries database both due to transcription errors and dependant on the informants information.

Archives New Zealand [Archway]
Cenotaph database – Auckland War Memorial
Christchurch City Council Cemeteries online database
Department of Internal Affairs historic record database
Paperspast via National Library New Zealand website
Purewa cemetery online database
Waikumete cemetery online database

©2012 Magna_Quies


  1. The past yields the ultimate detective stories... great sleuthing!
    Interesting pathways people have, particularly when they move around - and great list of places worth searching for history facts.
    I have been researching my birth mother - spent many hours working out the lives of the neighbours where she is supposed to have lived (off birth certificate) in London to find their current ancestors in case they knew anything - led nowhere but fascinating!

    1. Thanks so much Fi. It's all absorbing isn't it and they aren't even any connection to me. Everyone has a story to tell I feel that's why i love researching those who appear just ordinary folk also.

      Never give up with your researching! It's amazing what ends up on the net. Only just recently I managed to place together a family line that had brick walls for over 20 years....great joy!

      Yell out anytime if I can be of help. Genealogy/historical research has this bizarre way of crossing others lives.


  2. To whom this may concern,

    I am a descendents of Thomas Cogar!

    1. WOW! Do feel free to write up what more history you can add about them :) I hope it may have also helped you learn a bit about your ancestors too!

    2. He was my great great great grandfather from my dads maternal side of the family. My last name is Lawson. My uncle gave me a family tree that is still a work in progress. I don't know much about my family but I would love to. I'm a 20 year old male from Sydney.

  3. Eliza Cogar (middle name Vivian) married Ernest Charles Mills in 1886. I'm doing some research on the after lives of the kids at Burnham Industrial School which so far is pretty depressing as so many went on to continue criminal careers, dysfunctional families etc. One girl being there for eleven years and still couldn't read and write as although officially she had schooling 3-4 hours a day, she spent her life in the laundry working her guts out. Thanks for a great post

  4. Hi Gayle!

    Thanks for commenting. Yes so depressing isn't it. These poor kids - I can't imagine being turfed out onto the streets at such a young age. There are great photos of the Burnham Industrial school on the Christchurch City Libraries website - you've probably already seen those.

    My own relatives spent time in both the 'Christchurch Receiving home' and Te Oranga Home and subsequently G grandfather went on to stay in the Burnham Industrial School which I touch on in my blogpost and which raised my awareness of the institution.

    Are you compiling a book on the subject? Would be most interesting!


    1. I'm not sure if it will get to that but at present I'm consumed by interest! At present I've got a huge spreadsheet with details and checking through paperspast etc for the ones with stories. I just read your blog on the Kennedy parents - how fascinating and sad - not much quality of life there. At present I'm concentrating on pre 1882 records and the Kennedy's are not listed but when I get to them I will add your links as they are great reading. Many kids are not registered on BMD - seems many got away without registering them and often they may have been registered under a different name - different fathers etc and then often used aliases later in life so finding stuff can be problematic to say the least. If I ever get to book stage, I'll let you know! Keep up the good work

    2. You, like me have the passion and are obviously spotting the connections within your research! You will do well Gayle :o)

      Looking forward to seeing the outcome in whatever form! Giving these people identification rather than being anonymous is what it is all about!

      Good work

  5. I have stumbled upon your page and have enjoyed reading about the Cogar family. I bought a photo a while ago of a young WW1 soldier with the name of Rockland written on the back. I think that he is Frederick Basil Vivian Rockland, previously Cogar.

    1. Hi Marion
      Thanks for your comment.
      How interesting!
      He is the only Rockland that is currently on Cenotaph database so wouldn't be surprised at all if it is him.

      Going back through some information, I see his father William is noted as being born in America so it may be that Emily married him overseas which would account for no marriage registration here.

      Length of time in NZ for parents seems to have been inadvertently transposed as Emily who was born in Auckland has "22 years" and William ROCKFIELD has "since birth".
      Frederick's military records are available online to read:

      The mysteries never end!
      Cenotaph database now allow members of the public to add information so If you find out it is definitely him it would be fabulous to have a face to a name!

      Again, thank you for contacting :o)


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