Annie Maxton was born on the 4th of August, 1855 in Wellington, New Zealand to Samuel Maxton and Susannah Martha nee Dunn. She had 4 sisters and 2 brothers, as well as 2 half-sisters and 2 half brothers.
Her father Samuel was a baker, and they lived in Lambton Quay, Wellington before moving to Greytown where he set up a bakery with business partner , William J. Roydhouse senior .
Annie married Williams son, William Francis Roydhouse at St Lukes Church, Greytown on the 8th November 1876.
7 children were born to the couple:
Francis 1877-1943; Charles 1879-1879;Ethel 1880-1942;Muriel 1882-1962;Reginald 1884-1957;Annie 1885-1951; Arthur 1886-1974.
In 1897, Annie took her 5 teenage children and their visiting cousin on a picnic to the Ruamahunga River.
WAIRARAPA DAILY TIMES, VOLUME XVI, ISSUE 5531, 12 JAN 1897
The deceased, Miss Gertrude Coulson, who was a niece of Mrs. W.F Roydhouse, went on Saturday forenoon in company with Mrs.Roydhouse, Ethel Roydhouse, Grace Roydhouse, Muriel Roydhouse, Ella St.George, Harold Halse, Reginald Roydhouse and Arthur Roydhouse for a picnic down by the Ruamahunga. Before lunch some of them had a bathe where there was a nice shingly beach. After lunch, when they were going to bathe again, Mrs Roydhouse warned them not to go towards a certain spot known as “The Willows” which she knew was dangerous. They went, and she went on reading a book where they had had lunch.
Ella St. George was sitting on the bank reading near the willows and being able to see the bottom, which unfortunately only ran out for a short distance and then there was a sudden drop, called out to Ethel and Muriel Roydhouse and Gertrude Coulson to come and bathe near her as she could see the bottom.
They started to come, Ethel Roydhouse leading, then Muriel Roydhouse and then the deceased. Ethel had not gone far before she found herself out of her depth and turning to the deceased she said “Oh, Gertie”.
Ethel then sank and Muriel who could swim a little went to her assistance. Twice she sank with her sister who, thinking that she might drown her sister, let go her hold of her and after sinking once again Muriel made towards the bank and managed to catch hold of some willows where she hung on till she was able to get out with the aid of a rope.
In the meantime Ella St. George had run to Mrs Roydhouse informing her that they were all drowning. Mrs Roydhouse hastened towards the bank where she could see only Ethel bobbing up and down, the deceased having gone under in the meantime, with quick precision Mrs Roydhouse off with her skirt, calling to her sons who had been bathing higher up and who had been attracted by the noise, to fetch the tether rope from the horses, she plunged in and managed to get hold of Ethel, but they both sank and were carried along to a snag which Mrs Roydhouse managed to catch hold of with one hand and hang on to till the rope was thrown and made fast, when Ethel was pulled to the bank by Ella St. George and Reginald Roydhouse, Mrs Roydhouse being next pulled ashore.
The next thing to do was to rescue Muriel, who was hanging on to the willows, and with the aid of a rope she managed to climb to the bank.
All this time not a sign had been seen of the deceased, and there is no doubt that when Ethel cried out “Oh, Gertie”, that the deceased tried to go to the rescue and sank, was caught in a snag and never even came up to the surface again til the body was found on Sunday afternoon.
Search was kept up til dark on Saturday night and started again Sunday morning, it being after two in the afternoon when Mr T. Ingley, who was in a canoe with Messrs Roydhouse, Varnham and Maxton felt the body with a pole and got it to the surface, from whence it was taken to the homestead.
The deceased, who was only fourteen years and eleven months, was highly accomplished and a fine girl, over five feet tall.
The inquest lasted until about quarter to six, when the funeral started for the Greytown cemetery, the father of the deceased wanting to attend his daughters burial, and has to be back on his ship today as it leaves Wellington at noon today. The verdict returned by the jury was “Accidental Drowning” and that there was no blame attachable to anyone. They also added a note recording their high appreciation of the plucky behaviour of Mrs Roydhouse in gong to the rescue n the manner she did.
(The newspaper clipping is courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand, with the full article hereJ
Sadly, many people lost their lives in New Zealand rivers due to a lack of understanding of the dangers underneath the surface and not being able to swim.
The Roydhouse family lived in several places in Wellington and around the Greytown district but by 1900 when Annie was 45 her husband William had bought the local newspaper The Wairarapa Observer ( later Wairapara News, author photographed the building in 2005 in its present incarnation as a Hotel)
Annie is pictured in 1910 with 3 of her 28 grandchildren, William John aged 5 and the first of three sets of male twins -Donald and Malcolm.
Annie died aged 71 on the 14th September 1926.
She was my great,great, great grandmother.