Ethel Mildred Roydhouse

BIRTH.Roydhouse -On the 16th inst.( March1880), at Masterton, the wife of W. F. Roydhouse of a daughter.

Wairarapa Daily Times, Volume 2, Issue 415, 16 March 1880, Page 2

Ethel was the first of three daughters, including Muriel and Annie Grace, born to William Francis and Annie nee Maxton , the girls also had four brothers, Francis, Charles, Reginald and Arthur but Charles did not survive infancy.

Her education included enrolment in 1888 at Mount Cook Girls School and 1892 Clyde Quay School  in Wellington, then in 1893 at Greytown North School.

Mount Cook Infant School, Tory Street, Wellington. Dominion post (Newspaper) :Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post and Dominion newspapers. Ref: EP/1975/3057/23-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22828611


In 1897 she was witness to her cousin Gertrude drowning in a river, and just managed to be rescued herself, after snagging on branches.The Wairarapa Daily Times ( Vol xxvii,issue 7518) reported on the 22nd July, 1903:

Photo at a wedding in December,1904

She was granted a leave of absence for a month in 1908 and by the December the WDT reported that:


She is listed as living in Auckland in 1911 but by 1914 she was in Wellington.

In 1921 she was a shorthand typist with the Wellington State Forest Department, and lived in Hills Street, her permanent home for the next 18 years at least.


She remained a spinster,

On the 13th October 1942 she died in a mental hospital in Auckland.


I wonder how much an impact the drowning of her cousin had on her life and whether it contributed to her committal. She looks so sad in this second photo- or was the sun in her eyes?


Her ashes were interred in her  brother-in-law Alex Cooper’s plot in  Masterton Cemetery  with initials only E.M.R.


The Old Homestead

We don’t really have a house in our family that qualifies for “The Old Homestead”.

However, as  soon as I read the challenge title, I knew I wanted to write about Kanyaka Homestead.

I have had a fascination with the Kanyaka ruins in South Australia since visiting in 2003. Exploring the ruins of an 1850’s homestead which was located 400 kilometres from Adelaide raised many questions for me, and I imagined the harshness of such a remote life for the men , women and children who worked on this property. Many of the workers were fresh out from England, and mid-summer in the semi-desert conditions in that era would have been a difficult challenge to adapt to.

Little did I know then that I had a connection to this place, albeit a brief and tenuous one.

The property was first settled by Hugh Proby , son of an English Earl. Given the very dry country, it was both tragic and ironic that Hugh was caught in flash flooding and drowned in the Willochra Creek in August, 1852. The station was next owned by Alexander, Frederick and James Grant. James was lost in the bush on his way to Kanyaka and not found for 12 months.

Under several owners, the sheep station grew to include many cottages for workers, workshops, huts and sheds. The building material was mostly stone, due to a lack of local timbers. At its peak, Kanyaka Station employed as many as seventy families, with many children being born here in its boom-times. In 1864, approximately 41,000 sheep were shorn , but this year was quickly followed by a severe drought which lasted until 1867. With half the sheep lost, the number of workers reduced to 15 single men, and eventually the station was abandoned.

Septimus Sheen, a blacksmith and his wife Rebecca had emigrated to South Australia between July 1862 when their marriage was recorded in Monmouthshire, Wales  and April 1865, with their first son David’s death aged 13 months recorded in Blinman, 140kms north of Kanyaka.


Their second son, Thomas, was born in the middle of summer in 1866 at Kanyaka. The family is next recorded in New Zealand in 1869 at the birth of their daughter, Catherine . A further 4 children were born to this couple, including twins Rebecca and Septimus in March of 1872.

Septimus died in Featherston in 1878, and his widow Rebecca remarried the next year to a widower, David Cadenhead, my great, great, great grandfather.

David  Cadenhead and his first wife Mary were the parents of Helen Inverdale Cadenhead.

Helen married John Crawley and they became parents of Muriel.

Muriel Crawley married Francis Roydhouse and they became my great grandparents.

Walter Dunn- misfortune

William Dunn and Mary Ann( nee Young) were a London based couple who had 2 daughters , Susanna, and Anna, and 3 sons, William, Walter and John in Clerkenwell before sailing on the Birman to Wellington, New Zealand in 1841.

Their son Walter was born on the 27th September 1835 and baptised at Saint Leonards, Shoreditch on the 10th July 1836.

A further two sons , Edward and Henry, were born in Wellington.

The family had been in Greytown for some time, when 45 year old  Walter and his brother Henry, 35, both bachelors, boarded the morning train to Wellington on September 11th, 1880 for a day at the races.

(Walter as a younger man)

Between Greytown and Wellington lie the Rimutaka Ranges, a series of mountains with a high point of 940 metres.

The railway system that Henry and Walter travelled on used the Fell system, which provided extra braking and traction on steep inclines by means of a raised centre rail.

One section of this journey was known officially as Horseshoe Bend, but nicknamed  Siberia Curve, due to the strong cold winds which gusted around this section at 200 kmph.

This image of Siberia Curve from  is out of copyright

Two carriages were swept off their tracks that day as the train rounded Siberia Curve, falling  into the gullies. Three young children died at the scene, and a fourth of injuries later, and 13 adults were injured , five seriously.

Walter sustained severe head injuries at the time and  suffered debilitating headaches and bouts of depression from that time on.  He was one of the passengers who tried to assist 11 year old Ada Pharazyn, who had died at the scene.

On the morning of  the 1st September, 1892, almost 12 years to the day from the rail disaster, Walter was found hanging in his kitchen lifeless.

The inquest was held a few days after:

Walter Dunn was my great, great great uncle.

William Thomas Henley -friend to the Roydhouse family

The Roydhouse family were very  lucky to have William Henley

in their lives. He provided William Roydhouse with work from

1840 in magnetic instruments and telegraphic cabling. It was

his recommendation that led to the William Roydhouse family

travelling to New Zealand in 1868.

Sarah was listed as a char-woman until Thomas’s death in

1854; and by 1861 and 1871 she was noted on the census as

living in Henleys home in Clerkenwell and Plaistow as a

general servant.


William Thomas Henley was born to William and Esther in

Midhurst, Sussex.

He was baptised on the 22nd May, 1814.

William worked for the Railways as a light porter, and then

at St Katherine Docks for 6 years.

He taught himself about electricity and magnetism, and in 1836

set himself up as a manufacturer.

Over the years he built up his business with the manufacture

and laying of telegraphic cabling across England, Ireland and Wales.

(Henleys telegraphic invention)

He lived with his mother Esther until she died in 1854 at St.

Johns Street, Clerkenwell, and by 1871 was living in

Chesterton House, West Ham with a housekeeper, and two

servants, one being Sarah Roydhouse aged 76.

(Chesterton House, Balaam St)

He died on December 13th, 1882, having never married.

(Find-a-grave image Henley headstone)

His will left over 12,000 pounds to his brother, despite his

reputation for pouring all his profits back into his business.

W.T.Henley Ltd still operates today.

Sarah Roydhouse ( nee Anstiss) Strong Woman

Sarah Anstiss was born on the 28th March 1809 in Upper Street,

Islington  to William and Sarah Anstiss ( nee Pearson.)

She was the eldest of six children, and was baptised aged 5 in

December 1814 with her brother Henry at Saint Marys,


Her mother Sarah died in 1825, leaving children aged from

Sarah 14 through to Ann as an  infant

She was 22 in 1833 when her father William Anstiss also died.

Sarah, 25, married Thomas Henry Roydhouse ,18, on the

26th May, 1836 at the Old Church, St Pancras.

Martha Ann was born in October 1836, and William George in

December 1837.

The family were living at 54 Rawstorne Street, soon to be

occupied by Thomas senior and his family.

On the 11th February, 1838, William died of smallpox aged

14 months, and his sister Martha on the  25th of the same

month aged 2 years and 6 months.

On the 19th June, 1839, their third child, Elizabeth Sarah was

born at 7 Sidney Grove, just a few  minutes walk from their old


Sarahs youngest sister Ann,16, was recorded as boarding with

her in the 1841 census.

In 1845 a child Mary Ann was born in January  in Sidney Grove

and died 13 days later, Ann died age 21  on the 11th May that


Their son Henry was born on the 3rd November 1841, and

a further addition to the family was Joseph Thomas born in

April 1844.

Elizabeth was buried age 5 years  10 months in May 1845,

and Thomas born in May of 1846.

Sarah gave birth to six children in 10 years, and 3 died in early

childhood in that time frame.

Life was a constant struggle, as workhouse records show the

family appearing for “Day Relief” several times.

Thomas was 33 years of age when he died on the 2nd of July,

1849, the cause of death listed as ulcerated stomach and

diseased liver.

Sarah was left as a widow with 3 children aged 8, 5 and 3.

By the census of 1851, Sarah had found work to support her

family, with her occupation listed as  char-woman. Joseph and

Thomas junior were baptised by Sarah in the same year at St

Marys,  Islington, before her father-in-law died in September.

In 1858, she farewelled her son Henry, who arrived in America

aged 17 and never returned to England.

By 1861 census Sarah lives at 44 Britannia Row with her sons

Joseph and Thomas, sharing the house  with a family of 6 from



Joseph married Charlotte Pocock in 1866, and by the census of

1871 Thomas , aged 24,was the last  son at  home, both Sarah

and her spinster sister Martha who was lodging with them were

listed as char-women. 3 of Sarah’s sisters did not marry, and

were employed in homes as general servants.

In February 1874, her mother-in-law Sarah died.

Later that year, on the 17th November, Sarah died aged 65, of

cardiac disease, chronic bronchitis and  pneumonia.

Her daughter-in-law Charlotte was present at the death.

I think Sarah represents a majority of women of the time who

lived their whole  lives on Struggle Street.

Born to parents struggling to make ends meet,  in a very poor

area, marrying into more poverty, low income housing, limited

access to health professionals and the cycle of birth, infant

deaths, and dying too young themselves.

If these women were not strong, they would simply not have

survived to reach age 65 or more.

Sarah Anstiss was my great, great, great Aunt by marriage.


Where there is a will, there is a way..or How an annuity saved a family.

William Roydhouse 1766-1825                                                                                     (my 4th great grand-uncle, son of Henry)
William Roydhouse was the third child born to Henry and Ann nee Appleby. He was baptized at Percys Chapel, St Pancras on the 20th February 1766.His father declared bankruptcy in that year and the family were living in the extremely poor area of Southwark by the death of Henry in 1778 aged 48.
William had a fishmonger business in Oxford Street, London.
He married Christiana Buckland on the 24th October, 1796 at St Annes, in Soho. The couple did not have children.
In William’s will which was probated in June,1825, he left everything to his wife.

Christiana passed away on the 10th May 1830 .
Included in her will was a bequest for Thomas Roydhouse, her husband’s brother ( and my direct ancestor)for an annuity of 20 pounds for the term of his natural life.

By the 1851 census when he was almost 80 Thomas ,Sarah and William seem to have depended on the annuity to supplement any incomes earned by them.

William John Roydhouse- my Grand-dad

William[at back] Donald, Malcolm and Muriel Roydhouse  taken about  1914. The exercise  pose is because Francis their father was a Physical Education teacher, and his uncle Arthur was well known in the South Island as a travelling PE Inspector for schools.

Born in September of 1905 , first child of Francis and Muriel nee Crawley, as an adult he was known by his middle name, John. He had six brothers ( three sets of twins) and one sister. In  1919 he was recorded as attending Wanganui Technical College.

By 1928 he was a civil servant  living in Auckland , and in 1929 he married Mildred Millicent Adams. A son, Peter, was born first, then Colleen and Jill.

L: R : Colleen, Peter and Jill circa 1936

The electoral roll of 1938 shows the Roydhouse family living in Napier, and John is an Inspector of Factories. Eight years later, the family is settled in Wanganui, where John and Mildred lived in Cauis Avenue for at least ten years, before having a corner shop in Dublin Street.

In 1958, when I was 2 years old, my Mum and Dad shifted from New Zealand to NSW, and my families contact with all relatives was virtually non-existent.. Sadly, my time with Grandad was limited to two occasions once we had moved to Australia.

The first was in 1961 when Mum took 4 children to visit her parents in Wanganui, I was 5.

At the time, Granny and Grand-dad lived upstairs from their shop. I can remember the novelty of Granny hanging her washing out the window on a pulley rope to dry over the neighbours roof-top. I also remember that Grand-dad smoked a pipe and could play an accordion really well, his had a squeeze end and a bellows end and when I saw it in 1961 the keys were yellowing.

Granny and Grand-dad came to visit in 1964 when we were living in Armidale, NSW, and the baby of our family was about 6 months old. I was 8 that year, and although I can’t recall much about their visit my Grand-dad had a very special place in my heart.

My Mum’s favourite story about her Dad was set in WW2 when Grand-dad was a warden and had to go around the streets and make sure no lights were showing through windows (in case of enemy plane attack).To his embarrassment, he went past his own house one night and found Granny had left cracks of light showing.

In 1966 Mum went back to NZ to visit as her Dad had terminal cancer, he passed away aged 60 on the 24th July of that year.

Wanganui Cemetery :John and Mildred

I have a musical decanter that John and Mildred  owned. The glass dome inside the bottle allowed the dancers to twirl to the music, which I believe is called “How Dry I Am “.

I found a short video on You Tube of the bottled dancers after the key has been wound up.

Sarah Roydhouse

Sarah Louisa Roydhouse

Sarah was born in Dover, Kent, UK on the 27th April,1858, first daughter to William John and Mary Johns nee Jordan. She was named after her paternal grandmother  Sarah and her ( childless)Aunt Louisa.

Sarah was ten years old when her family immigrated from England to New Zealand on the “Asterope”.

I have chosen Sarah as my post for the theme Valentine as I am sure with her beautiful face she would have had many admirers !

In 1876 aged 22 she married William Witton a blacksmith in Carterton.

The family appears to have moved a few times, but were settled in Te Rapa by 1905.

7 children were born to this couple:

Annie Louisa     b 1879

Frederick James b 1882

Thomas Jordan   b 1883

Olive May          b 1885

William Thomas b 1887

Hetty Evelyn       b 1889

Helen Sylvia       b 1891


Sarah died on the 15th May,1909 and William in 1917.

Annie Grace Roydhouse

Annie Grace was born in Wellington on the 12th October, 1885 to William Francis and Annie ( nee Maxton). Named after her mother, it is my belief she was informally known as Grace, ( from her school enrolment records).  For some reason, I always call her by both Christian names when researching her.

In 1911 and 1914 Annie Grace was listed on the Electoral Rolls of New Zealand, 18 years after the first votes were given to women in New Zealand.

She looks like a fun-loving Aunt to Douglas Cooper in the photo below. I also see that strong wavy hair that many Roydhouse descendants seem to have inherited- my Grandad and myself included.

She married Howard Edward  Jackson, a local dentist ,on the 11th August, 1916 and they raised a son Anthony and daughter Valerie in Kent Street, Carterton.

Annie Grace died on the 24th January, 1951 aged 66 years, and her resting place is Karori Cemetery in Wellington.- Howard  remarried to Bernadette McShane in 1952 and he was interred next to Annie after living to 91 years of age in 1976.

Annie Grace Roydhouse was my great grand Aunt.

In the Census– of 1841


 1841 census Clerkenwell, England


Samuel Maxton was 21 when the 1841 census recorded him living on Spencer Street, Clerkenwell England at the family bakery. Curiously, at 18 years of age, Henrietta Burrows lived in Gravesend with her parents at that census- a long walk for a courtship!

Samuel and Henrietta married just the day before the “Birman” sailed to New Zealand in late 1841.

Susannah Dunn was aged 14 and living at No 5 Appleyard, off Seward Street, , less than 10 minutes walk away from Spencer Street. Her family also sailed to NZ on the ” Birman“. She married Samuel in Wellington, New Zealand after he became widowed in 1848.

Another 5 minutes walk away, in Rawstorne Street, Clerkenwell, William Roydhouse was just 9 years old. He was to travel to NZ in 1868 on the “Asterope” with his wife Mary and 5 children.

Thirty five years later,the Clerkenwell connection was linked when  his eldest son William  married Annie, the daughter of Samuel Maxton and Susannah in 1876,in Greytown, New Zealand.

Dunn 1841 apple yard, seward st



Roydhouse 1841 rawstorne st


 Maxton 1841 spencer st