Happy 100th Birthday, Nanna!

My Nanna would have been 100 years old today.

She was born Myrtle Jean Louisa McGonnell on 4th April 1915 in Lepperton, Taranaki, daughter of George Tunnecliffe McGonnell and Naomi Myrtle Florey, and died almost 96 years later, on 2nd February 2011 in Paraparaumu.

George Wright and Jean McGonnell on their wedding day, 16th November 1940.

George Wright and Jean McGonnell on their wedding day, 16th November 1940.

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The Arrival of my Ancestors ~ Waitangi Day

Today is Waitangi Day in New Zealand. It commemorates the date the Treaty of Waitangi was formally agreed between the Māori tribes of Aotearoa/New Zealand and the Queen of England way back in 1840. For all the Treaty’s faults, it helped pave the way for my ancestors to emigrate and settle in New Zealand. So, I thought I’d list when each of my immigrant family members arrived and their ships, where known.

Sketches on Board an Emigrant Ship ~ The Illustrated New Zealand Herald, 9 April, 1875

Sketches on Board an Emigrant Ship ~ The Illustrated New Zealand Herald, 9 April, 1875

Arrived 8 August 1857 ~ Dinapore

George Tunnecliff(e) from Staffordshire and Elizabeth Barber from Sussex, my 3 x great grandparents, travelled on the Dinapore which left London on 13 April 1857.1 Did they know each other before they sailed, or did they meet on the ship? Also on the ship were Elizabeth’s employers from London, the Yates family. Did they pay for her ticket, and was she expected to work for them on arrival in New Zealand? In any case, George and Elizabeth married in Auckland, three days after arriving.

Arrived 12 September 1859 ~ Cresswell

Michael Gaff(a)ney, my 2 x great grandfather born in Derbyshire of Irish parents, took advantage of the assisted immigration scheme and departed London aboard the Cresswell on 27 May 1859, arriving in Lyttleton on 12 September 1859.2

Arrived around 1861 ~ ship unknown

Michael McGonnell from Co Down arrived in New Zealand around 1861, according to his death certificate. It’s unclear how he travelled to New Zealand. He had joined the Royal Navy in 1858, and did a runner from HMS Foxhound in June 1861. He later married George and Elizabeth Tunnecliffe’s daughter, Louisa.

Arrived 16 December 1862 ~ Echunga

Margaret Brosnahan, my 2 x great grandmother, and her brother John, from Co Kerry, sailed from Gravesend on 10 September 1862 as full-paying passengers on the Echunga, and landed at Timaru on 16 December 1862.3 Apparently Margaret was the first girl down the gangplank, and Michael Gaffaney took one look at her and vowed to marry her. They married a year later.

Arrived 16 February 1864 ~ Mermaid

Martin Burke and his wife Ann (Philp), my 2 x great grandparents, sailed on the Mermaid from London as assisted immigrants along with their five month old daughter, Mary.4 Martin was born in Co Mayo and had emigrated to Perth, Scotland with his family around 1850. Ann was originally from Fife, Scotland.

Arrived 18 November 1864 ~ Alfred

Edward Horne and his wife Elizabeth (Rose), my 3 x great grandparents, left Cape Town, South Africa, on 27 September 1864 aboard the Alfred, along with their six month old daughter, Annie.5 Edward was originally from Warwickshire, while Elizabeth was born in Cape Town. They were assisted immigrants, taking advantage of the Waikato Immigration Scheme.

Arrived around 1866 ~ Blue Jacket?

My 2 x great grandfather, Bartholomew O’Rourke from Co Kerry, sailed on the Blue Jacket and arrived in the West Coast goldfields around 1866, according to his obituary, although I can find no corresponding passenger list to confirm this. He may have travelled via the Australian goldfields.

Arrived around 1867 ~ ship unknown

Bridget Power from Co Tipperary arrived on the West Coast goldfields sometime around 1867. In 1869 she married Bartholomew O’Rourke.

Arrived 21 Jan 1875 ~ Avalanche

Henry Florey from Kent, my 3 x great grandfather, sailed from Gravesend on 22 October 1874 aboard the Avalanche, along with his wife Elizabeth (Byford), their son Forrest, and Henry’s son from a previous relationship, Henry John Forrest.6 Henry junior married Annie Horne in 1885.

Arrived around 1876 ~ Fernglen?

John Burton and his wife Bridget (O’Mahoney) were from Co Tipperary and Co Limerick respectively. According to family lore, they sailed with their two young children aboard the Fernglen and arrived in New Zealand around 1876. Their names don’t appear on any passenger listings or newspaper reports found so far, though the listings for the 1876 sailing may be incomplete.7

Arrived after 27 June 1902 ~ Delphic

My great grandmother Elsie Nunns from West Yorkshire travelled with her parents Sam and Alice (Cockerham) aboard the Delphic, which departed London on 8 May 1902, arriving in Wellington on 27 June. They continued on to Dunedin, disembarking at Port Chalmers.8

Arrived around 1911-14 ~ ship unknown

My great grandfather Alexander Wright arrived in New Zealand sometime between 1911 (when he deserted from the British Army) and 1914 (when he volunteered for the New Zealand Expeditionary Force). Originally from south east London, he married Elsie Nunns in 1917 after being invalided back to New Zealand during World War I.

Do you know when your ancestors arrived?

  1. “Dinapore”, transcription; YesterYears Passenger Lists, (http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlists/dinapore.html : accessed 5 Feb 2015); transcribed by 0032006 from The New Zealander, 4 Jul 1857 and The New Zealander, 8 Aug 1857.
  2. “New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Passenger Lists, 1839-1973,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FST7-NNG : accessed 5 February 2015), Michl Gaffeney, 12 Sep 1859; citing Cresswell, Ship, Arrival Port Lyttelton, National Archives, Wellington; FHL microfilm 004411505.
  3. “The ‘Echunga’ Arrives”, transcription; South Canterbury NZ GenWeb (http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nzlscant/echunga.htm : accessed 5 Feb 2015); transcribe from the “Lyttelton Times” December 24, 1862.
  4. “New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Passenger Lists, 1839-1973,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FSBF-PJF : accessed 6 February 2015), Martin Burke, 16 Feb 1864; citing Mermaid, Ship, Arrival Port Canterbury, National Archives, Wellington; FHL microfilm 004411751.
  5. “Alfred”, transcription; Our Stuff (http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ourstuff/Alfred1864.htm : accessed 5 Feb 2015); transcribed by Denise & Peter, citing Archives New Zealand Micro 5019.
  6. “New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Passenger Lists, 1839-1973,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FSB5-L6N : accessed 5 February 2015), Henry R Florey, 21 Jan 1875; citing Avalanche, Ship, Arrival Port Taranaki, National Archives, Wellington; FHL microfilm 004412892.
  7. “Fernglen”, New Zealand Bound (http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nzbound/fernglen.htm : accessed 5 Feb 2015).
  8. “The Delphic’s Passengers”, digital image; Papers Past (http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/ : accessed 5 Feb 2015); citing The Press, volume LIX, issue 11299, 14 Jun 1902, p9.

Image:
Montage of sketches depicting life on board an emigrant ship. Making New Zealand :Negatives and prints from the Making New Zealand Centennial collection. Ref: MNZ-0661-1/4-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23020604.

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Stories Untold

When I started this blog four years ago today, I wanted to share stories of my research, of ancestors discovered and places visited. So I did.

It was great to look back over the past year to remember the discoveries and highlights, and like the year before, I hope to spend the next few months telling the stories of those finds. Except, I didn’t do that last year!

Blank postcard

I have left so many stories untold. I’m not sure if I am waiting for “more time” to do a “better job”. That day will never come! Sometimes “good enough” is better than not at all.

So if you haven’t started a blog, or a family history, or writing your autobiography, just get writing. There will never be enough time, and you will never write as well as you would like. So, jump right in, the water’s warm and inviting.

And don’t forget to join the Geneabloggers community for lots of support and inspiration!

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My Genealogy Year 2014 ~ Accentuate the Positive!

Once again Jill Ball aka GeniAUS has encouraged everyone to celebrate their positives of the last year with her geneameme Accentuate the Positive, instead of focussing on all those things that didn’t quite happen.

Here’s how 2014 panned out for me…

An elusive ancestor I found was Elizabeth Barber, my 3 x great grandmother. Well, I knew of her, but I had only circumstantial evidence (albeit very strong) to tie her with a particular Barber family from Brighton. Thanks to the efforts of my (now confirmed!) fourth cousin once removed and some DNA testing, we have established proof of who her family was. And I can now trace my Barber family back to the 1500s in Kent!

An ancestor’s grave I found was that of my 5 x great grandfather Nathaniel Phillip in Cockshutt, Shropshire, and it was a pretty impressive one. It’s even listed!

Grave of Nathaniel Phillips (1768-1842), St Simon & St Jude's church, Cockshutt, Shropshire

Grave of Nathaniel Phillips (1768-1842), St Simon & St Jude’s church, Cockshutt, Shropshire

An important vital record I found was the will of Nathaniel’s daughter, my 4 x great grandmother Louisa (Phillips) Tunnicliffe – not technically a vital record but definitely vital to my research!

My 2014 blog post that I was particularly proud of was my contribution to the 2014 Trans-Tasman Anzac Day Blog Challenge: Edward G Tunnicliff ~ an ANZAC all the same.

My 2014 blog post that received the largest number of hits was Who Do You Think You Are? Live, London.

A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was Facebook. This year I joined a number of genealogy-focused groups, and they have been a fantastic source of information and news.

A genealogy conference/seminar/webinar from which I learnt something new was every one that I attended! I joined the Guild of One Name Studies (GOONS) February, and enjoyed their annual conference in April and one day seminar in November. I took three very inspiring Pharos courses in 2014: One-Place Studies, Introduction to One-Name Studies, and Maps and Surveys. I also became a huge fan of Marian Pierre-Louis’s The Genealogy Professional podcasts, and attended two of her webinars.

A genealogy book that taught me something new was Colin Nicholson’s Strangers to England: Immigration to England 1100-1945.

A great repository/archive/library I visited was the Lichfield Record office in Staffordshire. The staff were extremely helpful, and very accommodating of my three children, so I was able to research for nearly two hours intead of the half hour I had envisioned.

A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was a genealogical crime mystery – Nathan Dylan Goodwin’s The Lost Ancestor, the second book in his Forensic Genealogy fiction series.

It was exciting to finally meet GeniAUS herself, Jill Ball, at a one day GOONS seminar in November. I was so thrilled to meet my geneablogging hero!

A geneadventure I enjoyed was a trip to York in November with my fellow IHGS students, organised by the wonderful Pam Smith. We got a tour of the Borthwick Archives, a ghost tour of the town, and I had time to chase up some East Yorkshire ancestors, plus have a wee look at some ancestral villages. Not forgetting much mirth and merriment with some great genie friends.

On the ghost tour, in foggy York

On the ghost tour, in foggy York

Another positive I would like to share is I submitted five (yes, FIVE) sets of assignments this year towards my IHGS Higher Certificate, and am now over halfway through the course.

Thanks again to Jill for the opportunity to share the genealogical highlights of my year. You can read about the 2014 highlights of other geneabloggers through her GeniAUS website.

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Bethuel Boyes of Great Driffield ~ Tombstone Tuesday

I’ve done my fair share of walking around graveyards in the vain hope of discovering an ancestor’s (legible) gravestone. And occasionally I get lucky!

Gravestone of George & Elizabeth Kemp, also Thomas Kemp, St John the Evangalist churchyard, Oulton, West Yorkshire

Gravestone of George & Elizabeth Kemp, also Thomas Kemp, St John the Evangalist churchyard, Oulton, West Yorkshire

(See an earlier post about finding George & Elizabeth Kemp in West Yorkshire.)

Sometimes I’ve even checked the burial registers or with cemetery staff beforehand and know for certain that a family member is buried there. And I’ve not been so lucky.

Brockley Cemetery, Lewisham, London - June 2012

Brockley Cemetery, Lewisham, London ~ June 2012

(See an earlier post on Mary Jane’s grave at Brockley Cemetery.)

A few months ago I thought I was onto a winning formula – not only had I found a transcription of an ancestor’s gravestone, but also a map clearly showing where it was in the churchyard of All Saints, Great Driffield, East Yorkshire.

1a Near this place lie interred the remains of /BETHUEL BOYES, Esquire, who
departed this life/ August 27th 1810, aged 78 years/ Also MARY BOYES his
wife, who departed this life/ September 13th 1819 aged 80 years/ Also BRYAN
BOYES / son of the above, who departed this life/October 13th 1843, aged 70
years/ Also of BETHUEL BOYES, Esquire/ (late of Eastburn), son of the
above, who died/14th April 1840, aged 73 years/ Also of LOIS BOYES, his
wife, who died /24th July 1820, aged 47 years/ And in memory of/ JOHN BOYES
Esquire, son of the above (interred in Little Driffield Church) who died/
30th March 1847, aged 71 years.1

Also listed were the relevant entries from the parish registers:

1810 Aug 29 Bethel Boyes, Gentleman 78
1819 Sep 15 Mary Boyes, Widow, Great Driffield 80
1843 Oct 20 Bryan Boyes, Great Driffield 70
1840 Apr 21 Bethel Boyes, Eastburn 73
1820 Jul 26 Lois, wife of Bethuel Boyes, Eastburn 47
*1847 Apr 6 John Boyes, Great Driffield 71 (in Little Driffield Register)2

So, on a recent trip to Yorkshire for an IHGS students get-together, I hired a car for an afternoon and went off in search of Mr Bethuel Boyes and Co.’s final resting place.

2014-great-driffield-church
See any gravestones? No.

Where have they gone? Removed. All of them.

See that thin weedy looking plant? Underneath that, or near enough anyway, lie the remains of my 6 x great grandparents, Bethuel and Mary (Etherington), two of their sons, and a daughter-in-law.

R.I.P.

A huge thanks to the East Yorkshire Family History Society who recorded the locations and inscriptions of the gravestones at All Saints churchyard in June 1982!

Tombstone Tuesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

  1. East Yorkshire FHS (trans.), Driffield ,Great (All Saints) memorial inscriptions: East Yorkshire monumental inscriptions vol. 5, East Yorkshire FHS (1990).
  2. Ibid.
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St Mary & All Saints Church, Checkley, Staffordshire ~ Wordless Wednesday

St Mary & All Saints Church, Checkley, Staffordshire ~ April 2012

St Mary & All Saints Church, Checkley, Staffordshire ~ April 2012

St Mary & All Saints Church, Checkley, Staffordshire ~ April 2012

St Mary & All Saints Church, Checkley, Staffordshire ~ April 2012

St Mary & All Saints Church, Checkley, Staffordshire ~ April 2012

St Mary & All Saints Church, Checkley, Staffordshire ~ April 2012

My 3 x great grandfather George was baptised in this church on 19 December 1831, the son of William Tunnicliffe, farmer of Hall Green, and Louisa his wife1.

  1. St Mary & All Saints Church (Checkley, Staffordshire, England), Staffordshire Baptisms 1538-1900; digital image, FindMyPast (www.findmypast.co.uk : accessed 01 Aug 2014).
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Tunnicliffe? Tunnecliffe? Tonacliffe? ~ Surname Saturday

It’s fascinating where surnames originated and how they evolved. In April I posted about my 3 x great grandfather, George Tunnecliff. Or was it Tunnecliffe? With an ‘e’, or without? What was the “correct” surname?

My last lot of assignments for IHGS were all centred around surnames, and since we could pick a couple of our own family names to look at, I chose Tunnecliffe as one of them.

Tunnecliffe is actually a variant of the more common TUNNICLIFF(E). Reaney1, Titford2 and Hanks & Hodges3 agree that it is a habitational surname, taken from Tonacliffe in Lancashire, which was recorded in 1246 in the Lancaster Assizes as “Tunwal(e)clif”, from OE tun enclosure, settlement + wœll(a) spring, stream, + clif bank, slope, so ‘enclosure on the banks of a stream’.

Both Reaney and Hanks & Hodges give the variants of TUNNICLIFFE as: TUNNICLIFF, DUNNICLIFF, DUNNICLIFFE. The interchanging of T and D is not unusual in surnames, so the variants are not unexpected. Interestingly, there appear to be no variants of the name where the -CLIFF(E) suffix has developed into a -LEY ending, as has happened to a number of other surnames.

As with many other habitational names, the surname has become more common where an inhabitant from that place has moved or travelled away from his immediate area, which helps explain why the surname is more prevalent in a neighbouring county, rather than in the county where the place is actually located. Titford noted the name is mostly found now in Staffordshire, where I have traced back my family back to a Robert TUNNICLIFFE, whose son Edward was buried in 1821 at St Michael’s Rocester with the surname TUNNECLIFF inscribed on his gravestone. This variant spelling continued with all of Edward’s descendants researched so far, though in modern usage an E was  usually tacked on to the end.

For our assignment, we were asked to look at death registrations in England & Wales from July 1837 to December 1851 and plot the surname’s distribution. When searching FreeBMD, I wanted to look for all instances of TUNNICLIFF(E) and DUNNICLIFF(E), including any variant and deviant spellings. To cover as many alternate spellings as possible within the confines of FreeBMD’s limits, I used the search strings: tu*n*cl*f* and du*n*cl*f. I also searched using different first vowels to pick up any stray entries, and found only one (TENNECLIFF).

The variants and deviants found are listed in the table below. The dominant variants are clear to see, although it is obvious that the DUNNICLIFF(E) variant is far less common than TUNNICLIFF(E).

Death registrations in England & Wales 1837-1851
Tunnicliff(e) Deaths Dunnicliff(e) Deaths
Tunnicliff 206 Dunnicliff 44
Tunnicliffe 110 Dunnicliffe 9
Tunnacliffe 12 Dunicliff 6
Tunnacliff 11 Duncliffe 4
Tunnecliff 11 Dunicliffe 2
Tunncliff 8 Dunnecliffe 2
Tunnercliffe 6 Dunacliff 1
Tunecliff 5 Duncliff 1
Tunicliff 5 Dunnacliffe 1
Tunicliffe 5 Dunnecliff 1
Tunacliff 4 Dunneclift 1
Tunacliffe 4
Tunitcliffe 4
Tunecliffe 2
Tunincliffe 2
Tunnecliffe 2
Tunnycliff 2
Tunaclif 1
Tunercliffe 1
Tunnaclif 1
Tunnicleffe 1
Tunniclift 1
Tennecliff 1
Total 405 72

So where are all these Tunnicliffes and Dunnicliffes? From the death registration data, I mapped their distribution across England and Wales:Tunnicliffe and variants - death registrations in England & Wales 1837-1851As to be expected, the surname is mostly found in Staffordshire, and surrounding counties. Internal migration for work may have resulted in the instances found further south. Indeed, most of those counties are connected to the coast, which could suggest maritime or trading occupations.

I also wanted to look at whether there was a regional difference in the distribution of TUNNICLIFF(E) compared to DUNNICLIFF(E). Was there one point of origin for this variant, and would it be apparent from mid-19th century records?

Tunnicliffe and Dunnicliffe - comparison of death registrations in England & Wales 1837-1851The Dunnicliff(e) variant was more concentrated in Derbyshire and Leicestershire. Perhaps this was where the variant originated? However, it does appear in the South East as well, perhaps from an earlier migration of a TUNNICLIFFE family where the spelling changed, or a DUNNICLIFFE family moving recently south.

Edward Tunnecliff’s great grandson George emigrated to New Zealand in 1857 and brought with him the TUNNECLIFF(E) variant, which has now unfortunately died out there. It currently only found in very small numbers in the United Kingdom and the United States4.

  1. Reaney, P.H, A Dictionary of British Surnames, 2nd edition, ed. Wilson, R.M. Routledge and Kegan Paul (London: 1983).
  2. Titford, John, Penguin Dictionary of British Surnames, Penguin Group (London: 2009).
  3. Hanks, Patrick & Hodges, Flavia, A Dictionary of Surnames, Oxford University Press (Oxford: 2004).
  4. Public Profiler, World Family Names Profiler (www.worldnames.publicprofiler.org/ : accessed Sep 2014).
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At the going down of the sun and in the morning ~ Remembrance Sunday

Tower of London poppies ~ 25 Sep 2014

Tower of London poppies ~ 25 Sep 2014

This is how the Tower of London is commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red is an installation created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins with setting by stage designer Tom Piper, and has involved the help of hundreds of volunteer ‘poppy planters’. The Tower’s moat is being progressively filled with 888,246 ceramic poppies – each representing a British forces death during the war. The last poppy is being placed on November 11th, the date the Armistice was signed.

Tower of London poppies ~ 25 Sep 2014

Tower of London poppies ~ 25 Sep 2014

Every day since August 5, the names of 180 Commonwealth troops who were killed in the war have been read out at sunset, followed by the Last Post. These names are nominated by the public, and I nominated my two ANZACs, Peter Gaffaney and Edward Tunnecliff. Their names were read out on Thursday, September 25, and our whole family went up to London to hear them.

My (very short) video of their names being read out:

You can read more about these two soldiers in previous posts:

The official video of the full ceremony of September 25 including the Last Post is available on the Tower of London Roll of Honour website.

Tower of London poppies ~ 25 Sep 2014

Tower of London poppies ~ 25 Sep 2014

We will remember them.

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The Next Stage ~ GOONS seminar

Alas, my poor neglected blog! I have been racing around the last few months doing all manner of research, attending seminars and tutorials, and yes, even writing and submitting some IHGS assignments. Sadly, this has left little time for posting.

But today I was reminded how much I missed blogging, when I met one of my geneablogging heroes, GeniAus (aka Jill Ball), at a Guild of One-Name Studies event in Burgess Hill, West Sussex.

The Next Stage GOONS seminar (image: Alan Moorhouse)

The Next Stage GOONS seminar (image: Alan Moorhouse)

The seminar was entitled “The Next Stage” and the presentations were focused on taking your one-name study past the data collection stage to the analysis and publishing stages. I haven’t registered a surname with the Guild yet, but I have two in mind – for when I get a bit of spare time. So I’m still in the ‘information-gathering’ stage.

You can check out the full programme on the Guild website, and there will be videos of all presentations available online soon for Guild members. I found Sherry Irvine’s talk Context and Your Study: Threads of Reference very thought-provoking, and Dr Eilidh Garrett’s How can Demography Help your Study? presentation made me want to be a demographer! It’s perhaps a bit unfair to single those two out, as all the talks were very good. Overall, a great day and well-organised.

The Guild’s next seminar is to be held in London on 7 February 2015 and is all about Medical and Healthcare records. You don’t have to be a member to attend. And who knows who you might bump into there!

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Edward George Tunnecliff ~ an ANZAC all the same

Edward Tunnecliff (my first cousin thrice removed) was born in New Plymouth on 9th May 1886, the eldest son of George Tunnecliff (Jnr) and Alice Kine. He was living in Dover Road, Okato, with his brother Leonard, and farming land in Tataraimaka, when he was conscripted into the New Zealand Expeditionary Force Reserve in 1916. This First Division was made up of men between the ages of 20 and 45, who were British subjects, and either unmarried, or with no dependent children.

On his attestation on 18th September 1916, Edward was 30 years and 3 months old, 5 feet 7 1/2 inches in height, and weighing 158 pounds. He had a fair complexion, blue eyes, and brown hair mixed with grey. He was passed as fit, and a note made that his teeth “requires attention”.

He was posted to the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, B Company, for training at Trentham Military Camp. Within 26 days he was dead.

Overlooking the "Reinforcement" Military Camp at Trentham, in 1915

Overlooking the “Reinforcement” Military Camp at Trentham, 1915. Ref: 1/2-035323-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22693340

Trentham Camp, near Wellington, was built to house and train two thousand soldiers for World War 1. Eventual numbers reached more than 7000, and the damp, crowded accommodation saw a growing number of soliders struck down with respiratory ailments. The first few cases of measles in November 1914, escalated into an epidemic, with the camp registering over a thousand cases by the middle of 1915.

Wellington Hospital filled up with infected soldiers, and a nearby old fever hospital was taken over. Soon, this too was overflowing, and some kind of accommodation was required for those soldiers not quite sick enough for hospital, but still requiring a period of isolation before rejoining their unit. A residential home close to Trentham was offered by its owner Mr C.J. Izard for accommodating up to 25 soldiers1. After a storm demolished one of the camp’s “measles marquees”, Messrs Levin and Co. offered a large three-storied store at Kaiwarra, free of charge to the Health Department, for hospital purposes2.

Provision has been made at Kaiwarra for the recreation of the convalescents, and, as announced elsewhere, a billiard table has already been given them, but people anxious to make the isolation of the soldiers less tedious can yet find scope for their generosity. All kinds of games, such as deck-quoits, also books and magazines, will be received with gratitude.
Evening Post, 17 Jun 1915, “MEASLES EPIDEMIC”3

The general public rallied to help support the sick soldiers. Around the country, the newspapers were filled with articles and letters to the editors decrying the appalling conditions at Trentham.

World War I soldiers outside tents at Trentham Miltary camp, Upper Hutt, Wellington

World War I soldiers outside tents at Trentham Miltary camp, Upper Hutt, Wellington, 1914. Ref: 1/1-017536-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23074704

TRENTHAM HOSPITALS

Sir, – I feel it is my duty to let the people of Auckland know the condition of the soliders at Trentham as regards medical situation. The outside public know nothing of how the medical portion of this camp is mismanaged and neglected. There are at the present time over 600 cases in the hospital at Wellington, mostly measles or serious chest and lung complaints. The accommodation there is shockingly inadequate. Measles are sweeping through these long huts with great rapidity. The following is the monotonous routine:- A man feels ill and his chest is one mass of measles. The orderly corporal takes him, together with 10 to 12 others, down to the medical tent at 8.15am. Outside this small marquee the whole of the sick men from all the camp must wait. No matter what the weather is, no matter how ill they are, there they must stand, in mud often over their boot-tops, until their turn comes to see the doctor. I have myself seen men waiting thus in pouring rain for two whole hours. Worse than this, I have seen them faint with sheer exhaustion at such a trying ordeal. The invariable remedy, no matter what the complaint, is two pills, plus “excused from duties for the rest of the day,” or in the case of measles they are hurriedly rushed off to a hospital in Wellington. There they remain for three or four days until the infectious stage is over, and back to camp they are bundled again, weak and ill – to hang about on “light duties for a week.”
Yesterday (Friday, June 26) 650 men “reported sick” and some of them had to stand outside in the rain from 8.15am until after 11am. On Wednesday there was no doctor in attendance at all, and after a two hours’ wait the unfortunate men were forced to return. Three men died of measles last week, and there will be many more ere the winters is out unless the medical side of so large a camp is properly managed. In every tent and hut sick men are lying – some in high fevers, and all with wet coats and clothes hanging around, and some with wet clothes actually on their sick bodies. They report sick and are sent back again. The hospitals in Wellington are taxed to the utmost, and can take no more. The people of New Zealand, as long ago as last February, subscribed a more than generous amount for a permanent base hospital here in camp. Although the matter is of much urgency, and all these months have gone by, we are absolutely without a hospital except two ordinary sized marquees, holding not more than 20 beds. The public will be told that their hospital is “in course of erection.” It is, and in another two or, perhaps, three years it will be ready. Meanwhile we are pegging along in the utmost discomfiture, and God help the unfortunate who get ill! The camp authorities certainly will not.
A TRENTHAM SOLIDER.
New Zealand Herald, 29 June 1915 “LETTERS TO THE EDITOR”4

Eventually, after a visit to the camp from Prime Minister William Massey, the decision was made to relocate the majority of the soldiers in July 1915, and additional training camps were established at Waikanae and Palmerston North. Around 1300 soldiers stayed at Trentham.

The Report of the Trentham Camp Commission5 tabled in the House of Representatives on 27th August 1915, found that several causes had contributed to the spread of sickness:

  • aggregation of so many men in a confined space, first in tents and then in larger groups in huts, often in wet clothes
  • bringing into an already infected camp of large numbers of fresh troops
  • wetness of the ground because of inefficient surface drainage
  • no provision for drying clothes and boots
  • deficiencies in the hutment design, and their overcrowding
  • unnecessary exposure during sick parades, causing fatigue
  • inadequate provision for dealing with a rapidly increasing number of sick
  • the specially infectious character of the diseases
  • lack of sanitation

Due care and efficient measures were not always taken to prevent or minimise sickness or mortality, and there was no efficient system for the treatment of the sick, and no hospital accommmodation at the camp.

Testimony was given “as to the uncomplaining patience with which the sick men and the men generally faced the conditions arising not only from their ailments but from the inclement weather and the discomforts that ensued“.6

Later newspaper reports expounded the new measures that were being implemented, including the provision of a permanent camp hospital, to ensure the health of soldiers at Trentham. Unfortunately, cases of measles continued to appear, though the peak of the epidemic had passed. The following year, Edward Tunnecliff began his training at Trentham on 19th September. Just eight days later, he was admitted to the camp hospital, where he died on 14th October at 11pm. The cause of death was measles.

I’m not sure what would be worse for a parent – knowing your child had died needlessly in a local military hospital, and having to bury him less than a month after he’d left home; or knowing he’d died violently, in a battle on foreign soil, with possibly no known grave.

Edward takes his place on the New Zealand Honour Roll, along with 504 others who died while in training. He is buried at Te Henui cemetery, New Plymouth, alongside his parents.

Grave of Private Edward George Tunnecliff (1886-1916), Te Henui Cemetery, New Plymouth, NZ

Grave of Private Edward George Tunnecliff (1886-1916), Te Henui Cemetery, New Plymouth, NZ (Image: NZ War Graves Project)7

 

At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

This post is my contribution to the 2014 Trans-Tasman ANZAC Day Blog Challenge.

  1. Evening Post, vol LXXXIX, issue 135, 9 June 1915, page 8; digitised version, PapersPast (http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/ : accessed 22 April 2014).
  2. Evening Post, vol LXXXIX, issue 140, 15 June 1915, page 8; digitised version, PapersPast (http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/ : accessed 22 April 2014).
  3. Evening Post, vol LXXXIX, issue 142, 17 Jun 1915, page 8; digitised version, PapersPast (http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/ : accessed 22 April 2014).
  4. “LETTERS TO THE EDITOR”, New Zealand Herald, volume LII, issue 15956, 29 June 1915page 10; digitised version, PapersPast (http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/ : accessed 22 April 2014).
  5. “TRENTHAM CAMP COMMISSION’S REPORT”, Dominion, vol 8, issue 2552, 28 August 1915, page 6; digitised version, PapersPast (http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/ : accessed 22 April 2014).
  6. Ibid.
  7. New Zealand War Graves Project, in association with AucklandMuseum.com, digital image, (http://www.nzwargraves.org.nz/casualties/edward-george-tunnecliff : accessed 24 April 2014).

Sources:

Archives NZ. “TUNNECLIFF, Edward George – WW1 33480 – Army : Military Personnel File”; digitised file, Archway (http://www.archway.archives.govt.nz/ : accessed 05 Nov 2010).

Kohn, George Childs. “New Zealand measles epidemics, 1915–1916 and 1938.” Encyclopedia of Plague and Pestilence, Third Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2007. Modern World History Online. Facts On File, Inc. (http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
ItemID=WE53&iPin=ENPP469&SingleRecord=True : accessed 21 April 2014).

Ancestry.com.New Zealand Army WWI Reserve Rolls, 1916-1917 [database on-line] (http://www.ancestry.co.uk/ : accessed 22 April 2014); New Zealand Expeditionary Force Reserve – 1916-1919. Microfiche 1-23.

Ancestry.com. New Zealand Army WWI Roll of Honour, 1914-1919 [database on-line] (http://www.ancestry.co.uk/ : accessed 22 April 2014); The Great War 1914-1918, New Zealand Expeditionary Force Roll of Honour. Microfiche, 3 rolls.

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