I traveled to the Northland of New Zealand recently and visited Kawakawa Cemetery where my great-grandparents John and Isabella Parsons were buried. Sadly I could not find their actual resting place, but it is set on a hill just out of the town, and is well maintained.
( Kawakawa Cemetery)
My great great grandfather, John, was born to Henry Charles Parsons and Elizabeth Mary (Napier) on the 21st July 1868.
He trained as a saw doctor in Sydney and in 1894 married Alice Maud Rock in Auckland. The marriage was very brief, a son John was born back in Sydney, and he took his stepfathers surname of Facey.
In 1896 when he was 28 years old he appears on the electoral rolls as a saw doctor in Aoroa.
By 1902 his brother Hughie ( mill hand) and he were working at Tatarariki for Northern Pine Sawmills, and in 1903 the Donaldson family also lived in the town, with Albert and Frederick working as mill hands. Their father David Donaldson is listed as a cook.
These two brothers had an younger sister Isabella, born on the 23rd August 1886. Their mother Selina had died in 1892 when she was just 33, and her children 9,7 and 6 years of age.
Isabella registered the birth of a son Robert Donaldson in 1903.
John and Isabella married in 1904, and had 5 children; Marjorie, born 1906, May 1910, Henry 1912, John 1914 and Margaret, born June 1918.
The year their son John was born they are recorded living at Whangapara, with John still employed as a saw doctor.
By 1918 the family was living in Kawakawa, a small timber town, 212 kilometres north of Auckland.
Isabella died on the 8th of December then on the 26th of the same month, John also died.
Both were victims of the Great Influenza epidemic.
The children were fostered out to various family members , with my Nanny being the eldest at age 12, and the baby just 6 months old.
Isabella Parsons (nee Donaldson) 1886-1918
The Great Influenza epidemic impacted on New Zealand, and did not spare cities or small communities, affecting adults in their prime years. In Orauta, near Kawakawa: 14 deaths from just 3 families were recorded and as a national statistic children losing both parents to the epidemic numbered 135, with a further total of 6,415 losing one parent.( NZIS 2018 symposium findings)
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[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.
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.
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.
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.
The ancestor I would most like to invite to dinner is my great x 5 grandfather, Henry.Surely over a glass of wine and a platter of cheese hewould tell me exactly where his father Thomas was born in Yorkshire!
Henry Roydhouse was christened on the 14th of December, 1730 at St. James, Westminster.His parents were Thomas and Elizabeth. They came from Yorkshire to London after they married.Thomas died before 1750, Elizabeth’s will identified her as a widow at that time.
On the 31st August, 1749 Henry married Ann Appleby, of Beenham, Berkshire at Fleet according to the Rules of the Prison. It was at that time a debtors prison.If you owed more than 100 pounds you were forced into debtors prison until your debts were paid off. I believe Henry speculated with buildings and property at this time—you had to have money to lose it!
No children were recorded for this marriage until 1760, perhaps reflecting the length of time it took Henry to pay his debts off.
Elizabeth was christened on the 30th July 1760 at Hertingfordbury, Hertfordshire.
James was christened there in 1763..James married Mary Ann Smiths in 1792 and died in 1827. Mary remarried Walter Mapperley. No children found.
William was christened in 1766.He married Christiana Buckland, was a butcher with own shop on Oxford Street, they had no children. He died in 1825.Christiana left an annuity for her brother-in-law of 20 pounds per annum for the term of his natural life.
Ann was christened on the 28th April 1767 at Westminster, and died in 1769.
John was born before 1768, married Mary Graynes in 1788.
Henry was a carpenter, and in partnership with William Richmond leased land and built houses on a street in Percy Street, Camden, London from Francis and William Goodge. They were granted leases on the south side in 1764 and the north side in 1766, with 14 homes to their credit.Unfortunately for Henry, this enterprise left him declared bankrupt in 1768.(reported in :The London Magazine, or Gentleman’s Monthly Intelligencer Volume 37 July 1768)
Joseph was christened on the 16th March 1770 at St Pancras, and died on the 17th march 1772.
Thomas was christened in 1772 at Hackney. He married Sarah Clark 13th Nov 1809 at Shoreditch, St Leonards. He died on 16th Sept 1851.
Harriott was christened on the 15th August 1777 at Lambeth, Surrey. She died as a young baby.
Henrys death at age 48 is recorded in Southwark in 1778, at that time an extremely poor area.
His wife Ann appears to have drowned in the Thames 30 September 1792.
PERCY STREET, CAMDEN TOWN
Francis Goodge and William Goodge granted building leases of land on the south side of Percy Street in1764and on the north side in 1766, in 1770 28 houses were complete. A lease for 63 years was demised to William Richmond and Henry Roydhouse in 1764.A partnership between them and William Franks and J Pritchet developed the following 14 properties between 1764 and 1770:
All buildings are described as terraced houses with multi coloured stock brick, stucco ground floor with plain bands. They have a slated mansard roof with dormers. The buildings have 3 storeys with 3 windows at each level.
The plans of all the houses in Percy Street seem to have been alike, the ground floor having a front room and an entrance hall, east or west of it, with an archway leading to the staircase behind and a back room narrower than that in front. The stairs are not all exactly alike; they are of doglegged type and mostly have cut strings with brackets carved on the end of the steps. Many of the houses have had modern shop-frontage installed and a few now include a 4th storey also.
I chose my great-grandmother Muriel for this post about longevity mostly because I am using this year and the Challenge to thoroughly document the Roydhouse family. Next year I will work more on my Dads side of the family, where under this topic I would have two ladies to write about.
Muriel Blanche Crawley was born on the 25th September 1883 in Carterton, New Zealand, the eldest daughter of John and Helen [nee Cadenhead].
She attended Belvedere School, Carterton between 1888-1890, and then Carterton School until 1896, with her four brothers Bertram, Rupert ,John and Harold and sisters Mary and Alice.
In May 1905 she married Francis William Roydhouse at St Marks in Carterton, New Zealand.
Their first child ,William John, was born later that year.
The first of three sets of male twins were born next:
Donald & Malcolm December 1909, then Muriel Blanche, the only daughter was born in 1910.
Rupert & Cedric followed in 1914, with Howard (Chick)and Frank in 1916.
The photo below is taken on the Ruamahanga river near Greytown 1914/1915 :
L-R river side : Francis; Malcolm; Muriel jnr; Donald; William
L-R background: Pram contains either Rupert or Cedric; Muriel Blanche sitting, and mother-in-law Annie Roydhouse holding the 2nd twin.
Between 1914 and 1919 as a result of a Physical Education Instructor teaching appointment for Francis, the family moved to Wanganui, 3 hours north-west of Greytown on the coast. The family lived at a few different addresses in the Wanganui area before Francis died in 1941.
Sometime between 1938 and 1946 Muriel moved to a house in Tinirau St, Wanganui , and lived there until her death on the 2nd of November 1973.
Muriel was my great grandmother, and lived to be 90 years, 1 month and 7 days old.
Muriel and Francis are both buried in Karori Cemetery, in Wellington.
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.
My mothers Great Uncle John was born in Wellington,New Zealand in 1869 to William and Mary Johns Roydhouse nee Jordan.
When he was a year old his family moved to Greytown, where his father tried various occupations before returning to journalism and newspaper ownership.
John was a keen sportsman, and participated in walking races and hurdles, and played cricket and football for local teams. He was also a member of the Fire Brigade in Greytown.
It is believed that he travelled to South Australia with a team-mate to play rugby, and a double wedding was celebrated in December 1891 with the Thomas sisters.
His work in Adelaide was poorly paid, and with a wife and two children to support he decided to follow the gold rush to Kalgoorlie. He had a wooden barrow and he walked the 2,000 kilometres, which included crossing the Nullabor Desert. He spent a few weeks looking for gold, but with no luck , so he walked to Perth in search of work in his trade as printer.
He gained work at the Government Printing Office, and by 1902 had his wife and family of three sons in Subiaco, West Australia.
Photos: Grace c 1895; John c 1925
John and Grace had three sons:
Jack, b 1892 Adelaide, South Australia
Alan, b 1894 Adelaide, South Australia
Noel, born 1902 Perth, West Australia.
In the 1903 electoral Rolls John is entered as living in Rokeby Road, Subiaco, Perth, and his occupation as compositor/printer.
In 1912 the family built a 4 bedroom house in Townsend St, Subiaco.Their eldest son Jack enlisted in WW1 and was Mentioned in Dispatches and completed his service as a Captain. The two younger sons saw service in WW2, in the Army and Air Force.
L-R: Jack,Noel, Alan
John held a seat on the Subiaco Municipal Council for many years and became Mayor of Subiaco for a period of three years between 1926 and 1929. It was for this service he had a street named after him in Subiaco, Perth.
John was 62 when he died on the 3rd of July, 1931.