Monthly Archives: July 2011

Alexander Wright ~ Sunday’s Obituary (and a mystery)

How apt that today I am posting my great grandfather’s obituary – on the 55th anniversary of his death.1

Obituary of Alexander Wright, clipping from unidentified publication, 01 Aug 1956

Obituary of Alexander Wright, clipping from unidentified publication, 01 Aug 1956

OBITUARY

MR. A. WRIGHT

A prominent figure in musical and friendly-society circles for many years, Mr Alexander Wright died yesterday at Gisborne and is to be interred at the Taruheru cemetery tomorrow, following a service to be held in Cochrane’s private chapel at 2.30pm.

Mr Wright was born in London and came to New Zealand as a boy, residing first in Christchurch and later coming to Gisborne, where he commenced his working life.  He volunteered for overseas service soon after the outbreak of the First World War and suffered wounds on Gallipoli which resulted in his being invalided back to New Zealand.

Mr Wright took up employment with Ormonds Motors after regaining his health and in 1917 married Miss Elsie Nunns at Gisborne.  He then transferred to Napier and in a residence of about nine years there, became a prominent figure in the entertainment world.2

I wonder if there was more to the obituary? It doesn’t sound like it’s quite finished – unless it was published in a Napier publication, and so only included information pertinent to that locality?

The obituary answers a few questions we had about Alex, though it raises several more!

How did he get to New Zealand “as a boy”? He’s definitely in England in 1901 (with his mother Mary Jane in Deptford), and I have a postcard addressed to him when he was in the Irish Fusiliers based at Aldershot – the postmark looks as though it is dated April 20, 1911.3 (I’m no expert – but it looks similar to those I found online).  If I’m correct about the date, Alex was still in England at 20 years of age.

Postcard addressed to Private A. Wright, from his sister Lavinia
Postcard addressed to Private A. Wright, from his sister Lavinia

Postmark up close:

Postmark detail

Postmark detail

On the front of the postcard is a photograph of the sender, his sister Lavinia Wright:

Postcard sent to Private A. Wright, from his sister Lavinia

Postcard sent to Private A. Wright, from his sister Lavinia

I found a possible reference to him in the 1911 census4, with the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusliers and correct age and birthplace, but he’s listed as “Alexander Patrick John Wright”, so I’m not entirely convinced this is our Alex. The middle names look as though they’ve been added afterwards, perhaps (and there are another couple of instances of this on the same page).

1911 England census (Alton, Hampshire) - detail (image copyright findmypast.co.uk)

1911 England census (Alton, Hampshire) - detail (image copyright findmypast.co.uk)

I also discovered an A. Wright on several ship crew lists5:

  • S.S. Themistocles, sailed from London  arriving 27 Oct 1912 in Sydney, NSW : A. Wright, born London, 20, Asst Cook
  • Rangatira, sailed from London arriving 20 Mar 1913 in Sydney, NSW : A. Wright, born London, 22, General Seaman
  • Ballarat, sailed from London arriving 11 Aug 1915 in Sydney, NSW : A. Wright, born London, 23, Asst Cook

They could all be the same person, or maybe no. 2 is our Alex?  He was definitely in New Zealand by 1914, when he enlisted with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.

Sunday’s Obituary is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

  1. “Online Cemetery Record Search”,  entry for Alexander Wright, burial 02 Aug 1956; database, Gisborne District Council (http://www.gdc.govt.nz/online-cemetery-record-search/ : accessed 21 Oct 2010); MI:  “NZEF, Great War Veteran 10/800 L/Cpl A WRIGHT, Wellington Regt, died 31 July 1956 aged 65″.
  2. “OBITUARY”, obituary of Alexander Wright, clipping from unidentified publication, dated 01 Aug 1956; photocopy, original held by [NAME AND ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], grandson of deceased.
  3. Postcard addressed to Private A. Wright, sent by Lavinia (Wright) Luxton, dated 20 Apr 1911(?); digital image, original held by [NAME AND ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], granddaughter of A. Wright.
  4. 1911 England census, Hampshire, Alton, St Lucia 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers, Institution; entry for Alexander Patrick John Wright; digital image, FindMyPast (http://www.findmypast.co.uk/ : accessed 19 Jun 2011)
  5. Ancestry.com. New South Wales, Australia, Unassisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1826-1922 [database on-line]; Ancestry.co.uk (http://www.ancestry.co.uk : accessed 19 Jun 2011)

Granddad’s special concoction ~ Family Recipe Friday

My father found an old notebook of his father’s a couple of weeks ago.  Inside the front cover was a list of dates and places – my grandfather had noted down when and where he’d worked during his lifetime as a livestock buyer around New Zealand.  He’d also jotted down other  notes useful to his job, including comments about wool classing.

In amongst the notes was a recipe for arthritis.

4ozs [113g] each of bicarb of soda, ground ginger, epsom salts, powdered sulphur.

Roll out and put through a sifter. Keep in a screw top jar.

Dose: 1 teaspoon mixed in a little warm water taken at night for 1 year.

My grandfather Michael Dominic Gaffaney (right), with his father Peter in Hastings, NZ 1936

My grandfather Michael Dominic Gaffaney (right), with his father Peter in Hastings, NZ 1936

I wonder where the recipe came from?  And, more importantly, does it work?

Family Recipe Friday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

The Mystery Baby and the Man in Uniform ~ (Not So) Wordless Wednesday

Last week I posted this photograph of my great grandparents, Elsie Nunns and Alexander Wright.  Except when I sent the photo to my mother to see if she knew who the baby was, she replied saying “that’s definitely not Elsie in the photo”.  (Umm, Mum, I’ve just posted it on my blog and said it’s Elsie – don’t tell me it isn’t so!)

Elsie Nunns & Alexander Wright

My great grandparents, Elsie Nunns & Alexander Wright - but who is the baby?

Okay, so after a few phone calls between my mother and me, and my mother and a second cousin (who now has the original photo), I think we’ve come to the conclusion, that yes, it is Elsie.  *phew*

What caused the confusion was the identity of the baby, and Alex being in uniform.

The most likely candidate for the baby in the photo is my grandfather, George, who was born in May 1918.   The baby looks around 12 – 18 months old (?) so if he is the baby, this would have been taken around mid to late 1919.

Elsie and Alex married in June 1917.  At that point, Alex had been discharged from the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, and that would be why he wasn’t in uniform for his wedding.   So why would he be in uniform in 1919? From checking uniform images online, it does look like an NZEF one.

The other thing is, Alex seems completely disinterested in a. the baby; and b. having his photo taken.  It doesn’t seem like a ‘Happy Family’ type snapshot!

It would be useful to get the photo dated properly, maybe by what Elsie is wearing.  The photo was in the possession of Elsie’s aunt originally – maybe the baby is one of Elsie’s cousins?  The aunt married in 1910, so it’s not unlikely. Perhaps then this was taken before Elsie married Alex, and before he was discharged from the NZEF?

Wordless Wednesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

Alex & Elsie ~ Wordless Wednesday

Elsie Nunns & Alexander Wright

My great grandparents, Elsie Nunns & Alexander Wright - but who is the baby?

Wordless Wednesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

My Heritage Pie ~ SNGF

Every Saturday night Randy Seaver sends out a Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge at Genea-Musings.  Usually I miss out because of the time difference, but this week I thought I’d just post a day late!

Our mission was to list our 16 great great grandparents, along with their birth, marriage and death dates. Then, determine their birthplaces, and (for extra credit) create a pie chart showing their countries of origin.

My magic 16 are:

Michael GAFFANEY. Born on 31 Oct 1836 in Belper, Derbyshire, England. Michael died in Arowhenua, South Canterbury, New Zealand, on 11 Jul 1911; he was 74. Buried on 13 Jul 1911 in Temuka Cemetery, Temuka, New Zealand. Occupation: Farmer

On 26 Dec 1863 when Michael was 27, he married Margaret BROSNAHAN in the Catholic Chapel, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Margaret BROSNAHAN. Born on 8 Dec 1844 in Co Kerry, Ireland. Margaret died at Belper Farm, Main South Road,Temuka, New Zealand, on 16 Aug 1927; she was 82. Buried on 18 Aug 1927 in Temuka Cemetery, Temuka, New Zealand.

Bartholomew O’ROURKE. Born abt 1844 in Co Kerry, Ireland. Bartholomew died in Station Street, Napier, New Zealand, on 13 Nov 1923; he was 79. Buried on 15 Nov 1923 in Old Napier Cemetery, New Zealand. Occupation: Carter, Miner.

On 2 Sep 1869 when Bartholomew was 25, he married Bridget POWER in the Roman Catholic Church, Charleston, West Coast, New Zealand.

Bridget POWER. Born in 1846 in Clonmel, Tipperary, Ireland. Bridget died in Napier, New Zealand, on 18 Jul 1914; she was 68. Buried on 19 Jul 1914 in Old Napier Cemetery, Napier, New Zealand.

Martin BURKE. Born in 1840 in Co Mayo, Ireland. Martin died in Nazareth House, Sydenham, NZ, on 27 Nov 1918; he was 78. Buried on 28 Nov 1918 in Sydenham Cemetery, Christchurch, New Zealand. Occupation: Farmer.

On 2 Feb 1861 when Martin was 21, he married Ann PHILP in St John’s Catholic Church, Perth, Scotland.

Ann PHILP. Born in 1840 in Ceres, Fife, Scotland. Ann died in Burnham, NZ on 13 Mar 1895; she was 55. Buried on 15 Mar 1895 in Darfield Churchyard, Canterbury, New Zealand.

John BURTON. Born abt 1826 in Co Tipperary, Ireland. John died in Redwoodtown, Blenheim, New Zealand, on 29 Jun 1897; he was 71. Buried on 30 Jun 1897 in Omaka Cemetery, Marlborough, New Zealand. Occupation: Carter, Labourer.

On 17 Jan 1859 when John was 33, he married Bridget MAHONEY in Galbally, Co Limerick, Ireland.

Bridget MAHONEY. Born abt 1843 in Galbally, Co Limerick, Ireland. Bridget died in Blenheim, New Zealand, on 22 Nov 1900; she was 57. Buried on 24 Nov 1900 in Omaka Cemetery, Marlborough, New Zealand.

Ephraim WRIGHT. Born on 8 Jan 1860 in Polstead, Suffolk, England. Ephraim died in South Eastern Hospital, Deptford, Kent, on 26 Nov 1894; he was 34. Occupation: Labourer, Engine-Fitter.

On 13 Mar 1882 when Ephraim was 22, he married Mary Jane CLARK in St Stephen, Lewisham, Kent, England.

Mary Jane CLARK. Born abt 1856 in Co Monaghan, Ireland. Mary Jane died in Greenwich, Kent, England, on 12 Feb 1932; she was 76. Occupation: Laundress.

Sam NUNNS. Born on 8 Feb 1874 in Rothwell, Yorkshire, England. Sam died in Auckland, New Zealand, on 5 Apr 1945; he was 71. Buried on 4 Oct 1945 in Taruheru Cemetery, Gisborne, New Zealand. Occupation: Borough Employee, Stone Mason (journeyman).

On 11 Jan 1896 when Sam was 21, he married Alice COCKERHAM in Oulton Church, Oulton, Yorkshire, England.

Alice COCKERHAM. Born on 9 Mar 1878 in Oulton, Yorkshire, England. Alice died in Gisborne, New Zealand, on 17 Jul 1954; she was 76. Buried on 19 Jul 1954 in Taruheru Cemetery, Gisborne, New Zealand.

Michael McGONNELL. Born abt 1840 in Newry, Co Down, Northern Ireland. Michael died in Waiongana, Taranaki, New Zealand, on 5 May 1929; he was 89. Buried on 7 May 1929 in Te Henui Cemetery, New Plymouth, New Zealand. Occupation: Signalman, Farmer, Boatman.

On 28 May 1888 when Michael was 48, he married Louisa TUNNECLIFFE in New Plymouth, New Zealand.

Louisa TUNNECLIFFE. Born abt 1858 in New Plymouth, New Zealand. Louisa died in Waiongana, Taranaki, on 26 Jun 1926; she was 68. Buried on 29 Jun 1926 in Te Henui Cemetery, New Plymouth, New Zealand.

Henry John Forrest FLOREY. Born on 1 Oct 1862 in Pembroke Place, Chatham, Kent, England. Henry John Forrest died in Te Araroa, East Cape, New Zealand, on 5 Oct 1913; he was 51. Buried on 6 Oct 1913 in Te Araroa, East Cape, New Zealand. Occupation: Cook, Tobacconist, Billard Maker.

On 10 Mar 1885 when Henry John Forrest was 22, he married Ann Elizabeth (Annie) HORNE in Auckland, New Zealand.

Ann Elizabeth (Annie) HORNE. Born abt 1864 in Cape Town, South Africa. Annie died in Newton Road, Auckland, on 9 Mar 1907; she was 43. Buried on 12 Mar 1907 in Remuera, Auckland, New Zealand.

Country of origin
Ireland: 8
England: 5
Scotland: 1
South Africa: 1
New Zealand: 1

My great great grandparents' birthplaces

And as an added bonus for readers, here’s a pie chart showing final resting places.

My great great grandparents' resting places

Note: Source citations available on request.

Turning a mountain into a molehill ~ Sorting Saturday

This is the current state of my filing system (and I use the term “system” very loosely).

Filing mountain

Filing mountain

I have been so busy researching, making exciting discoveries, ordering certificates, and printing out census and electoral roll images, that I’ve neglected my hard copy filing, and also inputting all the data into Reunion (my genealogy software program). Something must be done!

Other things on the go at the minute:

  • Yorkshire and Suffolk field trips coming up in August
  • Opportunity for some Dublin research at the end of August
  • The seemingly never-ending biography of my paternal grandfather,  my assignment work
  • Possibility of attending a family reunion in New Zealand next January

In short, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. And I had great plans today to tackle lots of sorting and filing and citing and generally being a Miss Genie Goody Two Shoes.  Then I posted a query on the Trade Me Genealogy forum, hoping to figure out a puzzle that’s been bugging me.  But once I’d posted my query, I couldn’t let it rest – I started digging around in electoral rolls and NZ BDM records, and before I knew it, several hours had passed.

So, the mountain of filing is still there, waiting.  Perhaps I’ll have a Sorting Sunday instead?


Sorting Saturday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

Alexander Wright & Elsie Nunns ~ Wedding Wednesday

Alexander Wright & Elsie Nunns wedding - 7 June 1917

Alexander Wright & Elsie Nunns wedding - 7 June 1917

L > R:  ? Nunns, Jack Burgess, Violet Nicholson, Alexander Wright, Elsie (Nunns) Wright, Alice (Cockerham) Nunns, Sam Nunns.

A returned soldier’s wedding took place at Holy Trinity Church yesterday afternoon, when Corporal Alex Wright, of Gisborne, was married to Miss Elsie Nunns, eldest daughter of Mr S. Nunns, of Gisborne.  The bride, who was given away by her father, wore a becoming frock of crepe de chine, with the customary veil and wreath of orange blossoms and carried a shower bouquet.  Miss Violet Nicholson, who wore an embroidered voile dress and black velvet hat, and also carried a shower bouquet, was bridesmaid, and Mr J. Burgess attended the bridegroom as best man.  The ceremony was performed by the Ven. Archdeacon H. Packe, who afterwards played the wedding march.  Subsequently the bridal party repaired to the Trocadero tea rooms, where the wedding breakfast was partaken of.  On their arrival there they were greeted by the Poverty Bay orchestra, with appropriate music.  Amongst the many beautiful presents received was a handsome three-tier cake from Mr and Mrs Findlay.  The usual toasts were proposed and congratulatory speeches were made and the happy couple departed amidst showers of good wishes.

Newspaper clipping from unknown publication, 8 June 1917

Alexander and Elsie are my great grandparents, and married on 7 June 1917 in Gisborne, New Zealand.

Wedding Wednesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

The Nunns from Yorkshire

Sam Nunns and Alice Cockerham, my great great grandparents, were from the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Sam was born on February 8th, 1874 in Rothwell, to Henry Nunns and Tamar Dickinson.1 Sam became a stone mason.

Alice was born on March 9th, 1878 in Oulton, to Alfred Cockerham and Sarah Ann Kemp.2 She worked as a domestic servant.

Sam and Alice married on January 11th, 1896 in Oulton Church3, and on November 27th that year, their first child, Elsie, was born.4

What prompted them to sail to the other side of the world?  Whatever the reasons, they sailed aboard the Delphic in 1902 and disemarbarked at Port Chalmers, Dunedin, New Zealand.  Also travelling with them was Sam’s brother Charles.

The family settled in Lawrence, then Ashburton, and had six more children, before moving to Gisborne on the East Cape of North Island in 1914.  Sam and Alice’s first grandchild, George Alexander Wright (my grandfather) was born just three weeks before their last child, Harry, was born.5 6

  • Elsie NUNNS (1896 – 1985)
    • m. 07 Jun 1917 Alexander WRIGHT7
  • Gordon Eurwin NUNNS (1903 – 1964)
    • m. 1925 Elsie Adelaide SHERWOOD
  • Hector NUNNS (1905 – 1990)
    • m. 1927 Elsie Elizabeth WILLAN
  • Hazel Alberta NUNNS (1906 – 2001)
    • m. 1924 Thomas RHODES
  • Charles Dickinson NUNNS (1907 – 1995)
    • m. 1930 Kathleen Marguerite REILLY
  • Margaret Annie Gwendoline NUNNS (1910 – 1990)
    • m. Robert SHULTZ
    • m. DOWNEY
  • Norman Eric NUNNS (1913 – 1994)
    • m. 1938 Mavis MARSHALL
  • Harry NUNNS (1918 – 1997)
    • m. 1942 Mauville BIRKETT

A lot of the information I have about the family is from research done by a first cousin twice removed and her husband. They are currently working on a book about the family, so I don’t want to steal their thunder by posting some of the stories on here. Can’t wait to read the book!  They also kindly supplied the photo of the family, seen here in a recent Wordless Wednesday post.

  1. England, birth certificate for Sam Nunns; 07 Feb 1874, Rothwell; citing Mar 1874 [quarter] Hunslet 9b [vol] 338 [page], General Register Office, Southport.
  2. England, birth certificate for Alice Cockerham; 09 Mar 1878, Oulton; citing Jun 1878 [quarter] Hunslet 9b [vol] 349 [page], General Register Office, Southport.
  3. England, marriage certificate for Sam Nunns and Alice Cockerham; 11 Jan 1896, Oulton; digital image, from original held by [NAME AND ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE]; citing Mar 1896 [quarter] Hunslet 9b [vol] 363 [page], General Register Office, Southport.
  4. England, birth certificate for Elsie Nunns; 27 Nov 1896, Rothwell; photocopy, from original held by [NAME AND ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE]; citing Mar 1897 [quarter] Hunslet 9b [vol] 303 [page], General Register Office, Southport.
  5. [NAME FOR PRIVATE USE], Nunns Family Tree, GEDCOM file supplied 2011.
  6. NZ Dept of Internal Affairs, “Birth Search,” database, Births, Deaths & Marriages Historical Records (https://www.bdmhistoricalrecords.dia.govt.nz/search/ : accessed Jun 2011), entries for Gordon Eurwin Nunns (1903/591), Hector Nunns (1905/12247), Hazel Alberta Nunns (1906/22306), Charles Dickenson Nunns (1908/4031), Margaret Annie Gwendoline Nunns (1910/24707).
  7. New Zealand, marriage certificate for Alexander Wright and Elsie Nunns; 07 Jun 1917, Napier; citing 1917/3264, Birth, Deaths & Marriages, New Zealand.