Monday, August 2, 2010

'Out of Ireland have we come...' W.B.Yeats 1865-1939

William White and Sarah Crail in New Zealand

Sarah Agnes Crail and children,

William (1889), and Edith (1892)

There is a saying that 'It is not the sins of the fathers that are passed on to the sons, it is the sorrows of the mothers'. Sadly, the story of William White and Sarah Agnes Crail is one of sorrow for the mother and for her two children pictured above who were abandoned by their father, William, after their mother Sarah died. William remarried a woman who did not want to rear the children and they were placed separately into the care of other people. William junior ran away to Australia at the age of 16, and did not return to New Zealand until 1931 when at the age of 42, he travelled there to attend his father's funeral. Neither William nor Edith knew much about their father nor their mother so very little oral history has been passed on to their New Zealand or Australian descendants. With some help from descendants of Edith White Stringleman, and a descendant of William White's second marriage in New Zealand, and with assistance from New Zealand libraries, family history groups, newspapers and official records such as birth, death, marriage certificates and electoral rolls, I have woven the threads of a story together about the lives of William White and Sarah Crail.

This, the story of Sarah Crail and William White from Northern Ireland, is for their descendants, who live in New Zealand, Australia and London, England.

Writing, scribbled on the back of an old photograph, of Sarah Crail and her children, hinted
that Sarah was from 'Ballinorhinche'. According to limited family information, Sarah was 'one of 19 children', born to a Crail or Craile family in County Down in Northern Ireland. She had left Ireland and travelled by ship to Christchurch, New Zealand, for an arranged marriage. The story proclaims that when Sarah arrived in New Zealand, she found herself jilted, her fiance having already married someone else. Imagine her distress, this young woman in her early twenties, alone in a foreign country, after travelling so far from her home in Ireland only to find herself abandoned.

After some investigation, it became evident that 'Ballinorhinche' was the mis-spelling for a town called Ballynahinch, in County Down. The record of a will probated in December 1828, for a William Crail of Ballynahinch, established a crucial link between the surname Crail and this town in Northern Ireland. By the late 1800's according to parish records, there were quite a few families by the name of Crail, living in Ballynahinch. Information from a nephew of Sarah's, provided a clue as to which family was almost certainly Sarah's. George Crail, who visited William White junior in Sydney, Australia in about 1930, told the family, that Sarah had a brother named Matthew Crail in Ballynahinch. The 1901 and 1911 Irish censuses, found Matthew Crail living in Ballynahinch, working as a weigh master and agent for London and Lancashire, and living with his wife Elizabeth (Reid). Matthew was the son of Jordan and Elizabeth Crail, and was born in 1855 in Ballynahinch. Although no birth record has been found for Sarah yet, it is estimated that she was born in around 1864 or earlier,( from the age given on her son's birth certificate). It appears very likely that Jordan Crail was Sarah's father as he was known to have around 20 children, 14 of whose births have been found to date. The seemingly unlikely story of Sarah being one of 19 children may yet be proved true! The Griffiths Land Valuation for County Down, in 1848-1864 shows the only Crail listed in Ballynahinch, as Jordan Crail. Further suggestion that this Crail family is the family of Sarah Agnes Crail, is that Matthew's brother, Samuel, (1851), named his ninth child, Sarah Agnes Crail in 1893. Two other Crail brothers, Patrick (1849) and Jordan (1842) can be found living in Lancashire in the 1881 UK census. Jordan and his wife Eliza, had a son named George Crail born in Lancashire in 1873. This birth date fits with the age of Sarah's cousin, George Crail who visited the White family in Australia and who died in New Zealand in 1945. Shipping records show the same George Crail departing Liverpool, England for Sydney NSW and New Zealand in 1907.

Ballynahinch parish records show that in 1790, a Jane Jordan (from Ballynahinch) married a James Crail (from Loughinisland). The Surname Crail does not appear in Ballynahinch records prior to this marriage. Jordan is a given name which appears in all of the Crail families in this area so it is likely that the Ballynahinch Crails all descend from the marriage between James Crail and Jane Jordan. There exists a record of a testimonial introducing the Jordan family to the Ballynahinch Presbyterian Church in November 1715. An earlier parish record for Ballynahinch shows the baptism of a Jane Jordan, daughter of William Jordan in 1701. The Jordan family are recorded as living in Ballynahinch since the beginning of the 1700's. The Irish Tithe Applotment Books (1834-37) show a number of Crail families living at nearby Loughinisland in County Down.

Across the world, in New Zealand, finding herself a star crossed lover, Sarah gained a position as a companion and household help for Mary Anne Dalzell, wife of Henry Dalzell, at their property named 'Coldstream', in the Weka Pass (pictured below right), between the towns of Waikari and Waipari on the Canterbury Plains. The 1893 New Zealand electoral roll shows Henry and Mary Dalzell living at Coldstream, however, earlier rolls show them living in the nearby town of Waikari. Henry Dalzell had been born in Newtownards County Down, in 1861 and had immigrated to New Zealand as a child. In 1887, Henry's wife, Mary Dalzell (Ewart) had four (of her eventual eight) children aged under five years, and no doubt, would have very much appreciated Sarah's help and companionship on a lonely property. In 1888, with the birth of their fifth child, Henry and Mary Dalzell showed their fondness for Sarah Crail, by naming the baby, Beatrice Crail Dalzell. A family member in New Zealand interviewed Beatrice (married name Cook) when she was quite elderly,( she lived to be 100 years of age) and she related the story proudly, of how she was named for Sarah Crail, whom her mother 'had a great fondness for'. Beatrice Crail Dalzell said in the same interview, that Sarah was 'acquainted with a William Coulthard Brideson, who also hailed from County Down, in Ireland'. 'Bill Brideson, as he was known, was a storekeeper in Waikari, not far from the farm where his friends Henry and Mary Dalzell lived in the Weka Pass and Beatrice believed that William had procured Sarah the position with the Dalzell family.

William Brideson had a partner in his store and bakery in Waikari. His business partner's name was William White who was also an Irishman, born in Shankill, Belfast, County Antrim, around 1860. From his death certificate in 1931, it can be gathered that William White arrived in New Zealand in around 1885 as it was stated that he had resided in the country for about 46 years. It as probable that William White arrived in New Zealand earlier than 1885 as he appears in the New Zealand Electoral Rolls in 1881 and 1889, as a Contractor in Lincoln Road, Christchurch, (at the birth address of his son William) and in the 1893 and 1896 electoral rolls as a shopkeeper in Waikari. According to Beatrice Crail Dalzell, (who was recounting a story told to her by her mother), William White was courting Sarah Crail at the time of Beatrice's own birth. William offered to trek across the hilly countryside from the Dalzell's farm to Waikari to fetch Doctor Little to Mary Dalzell when was giving birth to Beatrice. For this kindness and because of the family's attachment to Sarah, Beatrice was given the middle name of Crail.

William White ( pictured below) was the son of James White and Anne Jane (Annie) Houston. James, a pawnbroker, married Annie in a civil marriage ceremony on April 24, 1854 in St Anne's Church of Ireland, Shankill, Belfast, in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The couples' address was 75 Nelson Street Shankill after their marriage. Annie was born in the townland of Knockbreda in County Down, and her age being given as 19 when she married James White, places her year of birth around 1835. Her father, Thomas Houston was a clergyman. Parish records for the Knockbreda Reformed Presbyterian Church show that Reverend Thomas Houston was buried in the church's graveyard on February, 20, 1886 aged 75 years. According to the certificate of marriage for James White and Annie Houston, James' father was John White, a farmer of County Down. The Griffith's Valuation for County Down (1863-64) show both the Reverend Thomas Houston and John White ( farmer) residing at Ballylenaghan, Knockbreda, Co Down, Northern Ireland. In the 1861 Griffiths Valuation, James and Anne Jane White appear in Shankill, Belfast owning properties which they leased, in Cromac Street, Henrietta Street, Edward Street, Stanhope Street, Carlisle Terrace, and Coronation, York and Verner Streets. James' father, John, had joined his son, James, in Shankill, Belfast and was also working as a pawnbroker, before his death. His will states: 'Effects under 800 Pounds. The Will of John White, late of Shankill Road, Belfast, Pawnbroker, deceased, who died 14 June, 1878 at Ballylenaghan, Co Down, was proved at Belfast by the oaths of Henry White of Ballymaconaghy (Newtownards), Farmer and William White of 7 Newtownards Road Ballymacarratt (Belfast), Pawnbroker, both in Co Down....' It appears that William was also employed as a pawnbroker, like his father, before leaving Ireland for New Zealand.

William White and Sarah Crail had two children. William Leonard (pictured below) was born 0n June 1, 1889. His birth place was recorded on his birth certificate as being Lincoln Road, Christchurch. Edith was born three years later in 1892. A birth certificate has not been found for Edith, however on her death certificate in 1938 (she died suddenly at age 46 from a brain aneurism walking home from church with her family) it states that she was born in Netherby, which is a town on the Canterbury Plains, not far from Christchurch. Beatrice Crail Dalzell (Cook), in her interview with a descendant from William and his second wife, was most emphatic that William and Sarah were married, but attempts to locate a marriage certificate have been unsuccessful. On William Leonard's birth certificate, it states that William and Sarah were married in Melbourne, Australia on March 12, 1888, however, there is no record of a marriage in Melbourne, and no marriage record has been found in New Zealand.

It is not known exactly when William and Sarah parted company, however it is known that Sarah found herself with a rival for William's affections after the birth of her second child, Edith in 1892. Bessie Marchbank Little, one of the daughters of James Little of Allendale, near Waikari, 'set her cap at William', according to Beatrice Crail Dalzell. James Little was a very successful sheep farmer and is known to this day as the 'founder of Corriedale sheep' in New Zealand. Although James began life on the Canterbury Plains as a shepherd, he was, by the time Bessie made eyes at William White, a wealthy man. No doubt, William found Bessie's attentions most flattering. Bessie became extremely jealous of Sarah, according to Beatrice, who insisted that at this time William and Sarah were still together ( and it has be said that 'no one dared argue with Beatrice!). Life for Sarah became quite unbearable with Bessie determined to have William for herself. Although family accounts describe William White as a 'softie', there is no accounting for his actions. William sent Sarah and the children away, to live in Christchurch. Sarah does not appear with William on the 1893 electoral roll in Waikari so it is possible that they were separated by then. A broken hearted Sarah took ill, some time afterwards and died. No death certificate has been found for Sarah under the names White or Crail, however her death can be placed before July,1899, as William and Edith were admitted to the Christchurch East School on July, 9, 1899 and were in the care of someone other than their mother. The school admission records show that the children attended this school until December of 1900 when they were separated. William was sent to Ashburton at the age of 11 to work, (his father named as his guardian), while 8 year old Edith went to Dunedin to live with a Mrs Hammond and later to Wellington to board with a family named Canner.

How Sarah Agnes Crail died, the exact date and place, all remain unknown. Sadly, where she is buried also remains a mystery, and any persons who may have known, are long since gone. The family will continue to search for more information about her.

'A mother's love is like no other in the world,
and she has the most wonderful memories of a little boy and girl.'

After Sarah had died, William married Bessie Little. The marriage took place on January, 18, 1900 at Allendale (pictured right), the home and sheep property belonging to her f

ather, James Little. After the marriage, Wiliam and Bessie lived at a property called Littledale, not far from Allendale, which James Little bought for his daughter. William Brideson had already married Bessie's sister Mary and the two Williams gave up the store in Waikari, (White & Brideson's), in the early 1900's. The shop building was moved to Littledale where it still stands today, known as 'the red shed'. Bessie was referred to by William's children as the 'she devil' and sadly, she refused to have anything to do with William's children, Edith and William. Edith told her children that Bessie, on her deathbed, in January, 1932, apologised for sending the children away from their father, however not even this admission of guilt could have erased the pain William and Edith endured in their very unhappy childhood, after the death of their mother, Sarah.
William White had three children with Bessie, James Little White born in 1901, Mary Telfer White, born in 1906 and Bessie born in 1910 (pictured below with William amd Bessie). This family portrait was taken in 1910. When the photograph was taken, William, aged 21, was living in Australia and Edith would have been 18 years of age. It is known that both children endured unhappy lives in foster care. As soon as William reached the age of 16, he left New Zealand to make a life for himself in Sydney, Australia, where he married and had a family. Edith later married Edwin Sydney Stringleman and had a happy life with Edwin and their four children. Tragically, however she died suddenly at only 46 years of age. Pictured below right, is Edith Stringleman (White) with the two eldest of her children, Moira and Brian.

Pictured left, is William Leonard White in his World War 1 army uniform in Sydney, Australia.
In 1927, with her sister Ellen (Nell), Bessie, her husband William White, and their two daughters, Mary and Betty (Bessie) travelled to Sydney Australia for a holiday. At the conclusion of their trip, William senior, visited his estranged son, William, his wife Mary Jane (Jean) MacDonald and their children, William Brian (Brian), Lorna and Shirley. William senior presented his son with a handsome Mantel Clock which is still in the family. William, Bessie, Mary, Betty and Nell left for New Zealand on November 3, 1927, aboard the ill fated mail steamer, 'Tahiti' (pictured below). Off Bradley Heads, inside the harbour, the ship collided with the Watsons Bay bound passenger ferry, 'Greycliffe' Still considered to be one of the worst Maritime disasters on Sydney Harbour, this accident killed saw 40 people aged between 2 and 81 swept to their deaths and many more injured.

William junior, did not see his father again after the 1927 visit. William White senior, died on March 13, 1931, of Broncho Pneumonia. His last place of abode was 29 Clissold Street, Christchurch. He was 71 years old. Bessie White died the following year, whispering her regret and sorrow to Edith that she had treated her and her brother William so thoughtlessly. At her father's funeral, Edith became friendly with her half sister, Betty and they remained firm friends until Edith's untimely death 7 years later. William junior, returned to New Zealand for his father's funeral, seeing his birthplace for the first time since he had left at the age of 16. After the funeral, William, unemployed, because of the Great Depression, remained in New Zealand for a year, travelling around the South and North Islands by car with Sarah Crail's cousin, George Crail and a friend, Tom Miles, the three, selling manchester. Photos that William junior brought back with him, are a record of his trip and include images of the tragic earthquake which destroyed Napier in February, 1931. Sadly,William White left nothing for the children born to him by Sarah Crail. The photographs which appear here were sent to William junior by his sister Edith and by her daughters Moira, Gwen and Patricia and sons John and Brian, who remained close friends with their Australian cousin, and his family for the rest of their lives.
Pictured above, is William White senior, seated, holding one of his grandchildren with his wife, Bessie beside him. The White family tree is a work in progress and we hopefully one day will know more about the ancestors of William White and Sarah Crail, from County Down in Northern Ireland.


I was assisted by many people with my research into the lives of William White and Sarah Agnes Crail. Thankyou to you all. Thankyou to Robin Pawsey, (a descendant of William White through his second marriage to Bessie Little), for his enthusiastic assistance.

Of particular interest was information provided by John Harper of the Waipari Historical Group, who was contacted by the Christchurch Library on my behalf. John was able to help me with some of this story. By sheer coincidence, Henry and Mary Ann Dalzell's property 'Coldstream' is situated directly next to his own property between Horsley Down and Mason Flat. By another amazing coincidence, the chimney from James Little's property, Allendale, is now sitting in John's home! I am grateful to John for his help.


The Christchurch Library
The Canterbury Historical Society
The Society of New Zealand Genealogists (of which I am a member)
New Zealand Historical Births Deaths and Marriages -
The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]
New Zealand Electoral Roll 1881, 1889, 1893, 1896 [CD] &

Sunday, July 25, 2010

'Get the place and wealth, if possible, with grace:If not, by any means get wealth and place.' Alexander Pope 1688-1744

Marwell Hall

Marwell Hall, Image by permission Siobhan White  ©

Before I continue the intriguing story of Rex Morley Hoyes (last blog), I would like to write something of the history of Marwell Hall, the historic British, Grade 1, Listed home, which my great uncle, Rex, bought in 1934 with his second wife, Patricia Blackader (formerly Lady Waleran). When I first searched the 1934 UK phone book for Rex M Hoyes' address, I had no idea of the surprise which lay in wait for me. The name Marwell Hall Estate sounded charming enough, however, as soon as I saw the magnificent manorial home, pictured above, I was more than curious to discover the history of the home and the surrounding estate. When I discovered that the original house had been built in 1320 and that in the 16 th century, King Henry VIII had granted Marwell Hall to the Seymour family, this amateur historian embarked on yet another exciting journey i
nto the past. As I have conducted my research from Australia,I acknowledge that this account of the history of Marwell Hall is only as accurate as my sources, which I will acknowledge at the conclusion of my story.

Marwell Hall Estate is now a Zoological Wildlife park. Situated in the parish of Owslebury, Hampshire in the south of England. Marwell Hall is about 9.6 km from Winchester, on the Roman road from Winchester to Portsmouth.(see map below right). Evidence of settlement in Owslebury, has been found, dating as far back as the Iron age and the Romans. In the ancient Saxon times of King Edgar the Peaceful, Owslebury was pronounced as oselbryg. In around 964 AD, King Edgar granted land at Owslebury, to the Bishop of Winchester. The Domesday Book, of which I have a well read copy, shows land at Owslebury held by the Bishop of Winchester, prior to and after the Norman Conquest (William the Conqueror). Much of the land which became the Marwell Hall estate, was used as parkland by the Bishop for hunting, grazing cattle and timber getting. The area where Marwell Hall stands was known then, as Twyford with Marwell. Local legend says that the name Marwell comes from, mere meaning water and well meaning a spring. There are several natural springs in the grounds of Marwell Park and Fisher's Pond is about 2 km away adding credibility to this story. In the 1100's, the Bishop of Winchester, Henry de Blois established a College of Secular Priests, where a number of buildings including a chapel were built, on a moated site at Lower Marwell.

Owslebury, Hampshire Image Wikipedia ©©

In the early 14 th century, the Bishop of Winchester was by then, a Henry Woodlock (1305-1316), who granted land at Twyford with Marwell to a Walter Woodlock, (believed to be a relative of Henry Woodlock). Walter Woodlock was granted a licence to enclose the land at Marwell in about 1310, and paid rent for the property to the Bishop. The Manor or Country Estate became known as Marwell Woodloke or Woodlock. The original home which Walter Woodlock built at Marwell between 1314 and 1320, was a timber framed construction called a base cruck which was 8 metres by 13 metres in size. A base cruck construction was common in Hampshire and other parts of England in this period and was defined by the cruck blades or timbers which rose from the ground up to a tie-beam or collar-beam which supported a separate roof construction.

Cruck Framing Image Wikipedia ©©

By the early 16 th century, the Bishop of Winchester, Bishop Fox, granted use of Marwell Hall to the Corpus Christi College at Oxford and revenues from the estate helped to fund the college. In about 1551, the Bishop of Winchester surrendered Marwell Hall Estate and all of its land to the Crown in return for a fixed income of 2000 marks. King Henry VIII granted the estate to Sir Henry Seymour whilst he was courting his sister, Jane Seymour (who became wife number 3). Henry Seymour at the time, already held Twyford Manor adjoining Marwell Woodlock (Marwell Hall). Legend tells us that at the precise moment that Anne Boleyn was beheaded, King Henry and Jane Seymour were married in a secret ceremony at Marwell Hall prior to their official public marriage. Whether or not this tale is true, there is no doubt that the story lends a certain air of romance to Marwell Hall's history. What is known, is, that King Henry VIII spent time at Marwell Hall after his marriage to Jane Seymour. Henry and Jane's son, Edward VI is known to have visited Marwell Hall on a number of occasions and the Royal Arms and
initials ER can be seen carved in a stone panel above the fireplace in the Great Hall. The Seymour Crest (pictured left) can still be seen today in the library, now known as the Seymour Room. Much remodelling of the house was done by Sir Henry Seymour and the medieval Great Hall still remains the central core of the building today (pictured above above). A square dovecote, which survives today, was built during the time that Sir Henry Seymour owned Marwell Hall. This building, which was converted to a dairy in the 1800's, has walls 1 metre thick built of brick and flint and is thought to have housed around 700 bird's nests. In the middle ages, doves and pigeons were a valuable source of meat and only manorial lords were permitted to keep the birds. Most dovecotes were built from stone and were round in shape. When a dovecote was timber framed, it was usually square as is the one at Marwell Hall or rectangular in shape.

A rectangular Covecot Image Wikipedia ©©
Sir Henry Seymour's descendants, including Sir John and Sir Edward Seymour, occupied Marwell Hall until around 1638, when the family fell out of royal favour and were reduced to poverty. Sir Henry Mildmay, a friend of King Charles I, took possession of Marwell Hall and the adjoining Twyford Manor. They were occupied by his descendants, until the 19th century,beginning with his grand-daughter, Letitia. Marwell Hall Estate was the stage for some interesting happenings and escapades in the 1600's. During the English civil war (1642-1651), Marwell Hall was the site of a skirmish, when a drunken party of Royalists moving from Winchester, took on a party of 60 Roundheads who were staying at the Hall. The Roundheads won the battle despite being outnumbered( being sober helped!). During the late 17 th century, King Charles II is known to have visited Marwell Hall on a number of occasions making the hall a very royally frequented estate.

In 1940, a firm of solicitors who had acted for the Mildmay family for many years, handed 22 boxes of family records to the British Records Association. Many of these records were related to Marwell Hall and in 1972 these were sent to the Hampshire Archives, where, now catalogued, they provide a wonderful source of information about the estate. Meticulous records were kept by the Mildmay family which date back to 1447 and they include lists of tennants at Marwell Hall as well as expenses and sundries, journals and events. These records provide an irreplaceable source of information about Marwell Hall. Information regarding these documents can be found at the following link:

According to several sources, William Long purchased Marwell Hall and occupied the estate from 1798 until around 1839. William Long wh was a prominent surgeon at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London, made major alterations to the house between the years 1812 and 1816. He rebuilt the upper storeys and was responsible for remodelling Marwell Hall to appear as it stands today. The huge Cedar tree which still stands on the lawn at the rear of Marwell Hall, several hundred years old, with a girth of almost six metres, is believed to have been planted by William Long.

Marwell Hall, Hampshire Image Wikipedia ©©

By the middle of the 19 th century, the owner of Marwell Hall was John Gully, an MP for Pontefract and a race horse trainer from Danebury. John Gully was reputed to have had two wives and 24 children!

Marwell Hall was purchased in 1882, by Rowland Standish, whose family occupied the estate until the last of his descendants, William Standish, died in a car accident in 1933.
No manorial home is complete without at least one resident ghost. Marwell Hall is well known for the spirits which haunt its rooms. Jane Seymour is said to haunt the corridors of Marwell Hall. Another spirit to frequent Marwell, is King Henry's previous wife, Anne Boleyn. Anne's ghost reportedly wanders the corridors of the mansion plotting her revenge on Jane Seymour! The most famous of Marwell Hall's ghost stories is that of the Mistletoe Bough. According to this ghostly tale, during a party, that was held one Christmas Eve for a young newly married couple, it was decided that the guests would play a game of hide and seek. The bride was the first to hide and after a while the guests discovered that she was nowhere to be found. Although they searched all night long and into the next day, there was no trace of the girl. Many years later, the young woman's skeketon was discovered, by workers, in an old chest in a room at Marwell Hall. By her side was a piece of Mistletoe. She had become trapped in the chest when the lid had closed tightly, turning the chest into her grave. The young bride has been heard wandering through the corridors of Marwell Hall. Details of ghosts that have been investigated and detected at Marwell Hall can be found at .

Along with its distinguished, Royal and ghostly past, in July 1934, Marwell Hall went to auction and was purchased for 5750 pounds, by my great uncle, Rex Morley Hoyes and his wife Patricia (nee Blackader and formerly Lady Waleran). Whilst Marwell Hall was in the possession of Rex Hoyes, the estate became very much involved wartime activities. A secret airfield was built in the grounds of Marwell Hall and operated there from 1941 until 1944. The airfield was an important site for the conversion of Spitfires to Seafires and of American bombers and fighter planes for use by the British RAF. Rex was Managing Director of Cunliffe-Owen Aircraft Ltd from 1937 and the company moved part of its operation to Marwell Hall where their aircraft production and conversion would be safe from enemy bombing at Southampton. This dispersal airfield, as Marwell was known, was a highly kept secret, well camouflaged amongst the woodland on the estate. So well hidden was it that many of the test pilots, most of whom were women (another well kept secret), overflew the airstrip on more than one occasion. One of the aircraft hangars that was built on the grounds, during this period, is still standing today and is heritage listed. At Marwell Hall, Rex entertained such distinguished guests as Lord Mountbatton ( whom he called 'Monty') and Winston Churchill. Rex and Pat were known to entertain the War Cabinet at Marwell Hall for weekends during the war years. It is not known exactly when Rex sold Marwell Hall. There has been some conjecture that he sold the estate whilst Pat was overseas opening Malcolm Clubs (for servicemen) during the war and that she returned to England in 1948 find it sold. Rex had remarried in 1848 but the details of the sale are unknown. ( read more about Rex Morley Hoyes and the secret airfield at Marwell Hall in the next blog). (Pictured above is the location of the Marwell Airfield in the grounds of Marwell Hall).

The London Times reported an auction of parts of the Marwell Hall Estate on October 26 1959. 'In a recent auction held by Mssrs James Harris & Son, parts of the Marwell Hall Estate, near Winchester, which was recently purchased by Sir John Blunt, Lower farm, extending to 179 acres was disposed of for 23,000 pounds.'

In September, 1963, the London Times once again reported the auction of Marwell Hall Estate. By now much of the original estate had been divided and sold off and the remaining 348 acres was for sale. 'The well known first class Agricultural, Residential and Sporting MARWELL HALL ESTATE, Owlesbury,Nr, Winchester, comprising, A beautifully equipped Country House of Tudor origin: 3 reception rooms, study, billiards room, 6 principal bedrooms, 2 dressing rooms, 4 bathrooms, 7 secondary bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, oil fired central heating, main electricity, private water supply, garage and stable block, well timbered grounds and parklands together with 9 well modernised cottages, a first class Dairy Farm extending to about 200 acres with well equipped modernised and attested farm buildings.Valuable woodland extending to about 130 acres. Extensive shooting rights available. In all about 348 acres'

In 1969, John Knowles purchased the Marwell Hall Estate with plans to turn the estate into a Zoological Park focusing on endangered animals.
In 1972, Marwell Zoological Park opened to the public with endangered species such as the Siberian Tiger and the Scimitar-Horned Oryx.

Since then, the Zoo has gone on to open an education centre and has helped to save many species of endangered species of animals from all over the world. Many of the endangered animals from Marwell Zoological Park have been re-introduced back into their native environments in places such as Brazil and Tunisia.

The stately home at Marwell Zoological Park, once the home of the Seymour family, and visited by King Henry VIII, and King Charles II, is available for functions such as weddings and conferences, offering the Seymour Library Room (capacity 40 people) which bears the Seymour Coat of Arms, The Long Room (capacity 80 people) named after William Long, the Woodlock Room (capacity 40 people) which is the medieval hall and the Tudor Rose room which features a grand entrance, high ceilings and an ornate staircase.

Wedding at Marwell Hall

Another pleasant feature at Marwell Hall is the Formal Garden which includes some ancient trees and is located near the back lawn of the Hall. These three gardens, the Knot garden, the Parterre garden and the Kitchen garden, represent garden styles of the 16 th and 17 th centuries and and visitors can explore the ancient historical and ecological importance of the garden.

London Times Online

Detail in the Great Hall at Marwell Hall

Thursday, June 17, 2010

'The greater the wealth, the thicker will be the dirt.' J K Galbraith1908 -: The Affluent Society 1958

Warrior II Image ©©

REX MORLEY HOYES: An Extraordinary Life - Part 1

This story would not have been possible without my fellow researchers, friends and cousins, Len and Jan who have joined me me on a captivating journey into the past. It is together, that we tell the amazing story of our uncle, Rex Morley Hoyes. This story will be of particular interest to those people who have contacted me through my blog, seeking information about Rex and his steam yacht 'Warrior', pictured above in a painting [1] commissioned by the yacht's first owner, American millionaire, Frederick Vanderbilt.[2] The true life story of Rex Morley Hoyes is an extraordinary one. It is a tale which seems too astounding to be true, but it is as factual an account as I know, of the sensational life of an ordinary but extraordinary man. It is a story which embodies suspicious implications, a secret airfield, a millionaire's yacht, illegal gun running, criminal trials, MI5, spies, excentric name changes and not least of all, the curious title of Vicompte.

As we researched Rex's life and his story unfolded, we travelled from New Zealand to England, Spain, Japan, America and France and to remarkable and exotic places such as Hyderabad and Tangier, Morocco. We encountered among Rex's personal friends, Lord Mountbatton and Winston Churchill and among his associates, General Peter El-Edroos, Sidney Cotton and Agent Zig-Zag as was known the infamous World War 2 double agent, Eddie Chapman (pictured below). Rex's associations escorted us into the world of British nobility, Leaders of State, Ministers of Government, the rich and famous, common thieves, numerous wives and many other colourful characters. Over the course of our journey, we, the Hoyes descendants, were obliged to ponder whether Rex Morley Hoyes was a brilliant entrepreneur, or a charming rogue, an unscrupulous fellow or a man of principles beguiled by the world of affluence and grandiosity he perceived in England. There is a saying that 'actions speak louder than words' but these proceedings occurred more than seventy years ago so we are left with mere words. We are optimistic that our words will bear sufficient witness to past deeds, for as Rudyard Kipling said 1923, ' Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind'. So in our own words, here is the story, as we know it, of a most colourful character, Rex Morley Hoyes.


Rex Morley Hoyes was born in Auckland, New Zealand on March 30, 1902. His father, Leonard Cuthbert Hoyes was the youngest son of English born parents, James Berry Hoyes and Elizabeth Morley (pictured below), who had immigrated t

o New Zealand as part of the famous missionaries, the Albertlanders [3] , on the ship Gertrude in February, 1863. [4] Born in Nottinghamshire, in England, James had turned his back on his family tradition of weaving, and learned the trade of milling in Houghton, Lincolnshire under the guidance of William Morley, the grandfather of his future wife Elizabeth. Elizabeth was the daughter of a strict Methodist, Thomas Morley, in the parish of Houghton, Lincolnshire. [5] James Berry Hoyes was the choirmaster at the great Gonerby Church where Elizabeth Morley and her family were also parishioners [6] and where James and Elizabeth were married. Once established in Auckland, New Zealand, James Berry Hoyes was regarded as a gentleman. In addition to his occupation as a miller, James had various other lucrative interests which included owning shares in silver and gold mines. [7]

Rex's mother, Elsie Violet Wood, was also born in New Zealand, to Enoch Wood and Martha Spragg. [8] Enoch Wood was a butcher whose business was in Symonds Street, Newton, Auckland, not far from where the Hoyes family lived in Rose Street. [9] According to The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, Mr Wood was the organist at the Newton Congregational Church for thirty years. [10] It is possible that the two quite religious families attended the same church in Newton as it was not uncommon for Methodist and Congregational parishioners to meet in one church even prior to the formal establishment of the Uniting Church..... Leonard Hoyes and Elsie Wood married in 1900 [11] and two years later, their son Rex Morley Hoyes was born.

Rex's middle name of Morley was given in honour of his grandmother, Elizabeth, as it was her maiden surname. The name Morley was to feature significantly in Rex's later life. When Rex was 4 or 5 years old, his father, Leonard, an amateur opera singer, left New Zealand and travelled to Sydney, Australia, where he obtained a number of jobs before joining a small travelling opera group. [12] It is thought that Rex's father, Leonard left New Zealand in about 1906 as the 1905 Auckland Post Office Directory shows him to be living with his family in New Zealand and working as a furniture manufacturer at the address of Mt Roskill Road, Mt Eden, Auckland. It is possible that when Leonard settled in Australia, he intended to send for his wife Elsie and son Rex since he lived with Elsie's sister, Eva and her husband, Helier Harbutt, when he first arrived in Sydney. [13] For reasons known only to Leonard Cuthbert Hoyes, he disappeared from his son's life and Rex was left to grow up with his mother in Auckland. His grandfather, James would most likely have been a positive influence in young Rex's his life, but tragically, he was killed accidentally in 1910, when he stepped off a tram and was hit by a bicycle. [14] The New Zealand newspaper, The Evening Post, which carried the story on December 24, reported that James had been on his way to buy his wife, Elizabeth a bonnet for Christmas when the accident happened. At the age of 8 years, Rex had lost his father and grandfather. It is believed that James Berry Hoyes provided well for the education of his grandson, Rex, as he was enrolled in the most prestigious boys school in New Zealand. The King's College, situated in an affluent area of Auckland, known as Remuera, was established in 1896 and offered all the subjects required for entry into the University of New Zealand as well as Military Drill and Gymnastics. [15]

King's College Remuera

In 1909, at the age of 7 years, Rex began his education at the King's College in Auckland in Form 1, his register number: KR721. [16] Young Rex's grandfather, James Berry Hoyes and his mother, Elsie, must have been proud of him, as he set off on his first day of school in the military style uniform of the King's College. Records from the College Archive show that he attended the King's College until 1912 when, according to archive records, he left the school, to move overseas. The King's College crest bore the Latin words Virtus Pollet which mean 'Truth Prevails', [17] however, as Rex's life story unfolds, it may become apparent that Rex, in his later life, let slip from his memory, his old school motto.

Shipping records show that Rex, at the age of 12, travelled to Sydney with his mother Elsie on board the Makura in 1914. [18] The ship had originated in Vancouver but its route to Sydney, Australia, was via Auckland. There is no way of knowing whether Rex and his mother began their journey in Canada or in New Zealand. This trip, was most likely, a visit to his Aunt Eva's home in Turramurra, Sydney, NSW, Australia, where his uncle Helior Harbutt was a well respected builder of substantial homes on the North Shore of Sydney. [19] Little is known about Rex's childhood years including whether he lived for a period outside of New Zealand. Elsie Hoyes divorced Rex's father, Leonard in 1911 citing that she had been deserted. [20] It is possible Elsie took her young son overseas for a few years to complete his schooling. Perhaps, alternatively, the year 1912, when Rex left the King's College, corresponds with the death of his paternal grandmother, Elizabeth. [21] It may have been that the Hoyes family were contributing to the College fees and with the death of his grandmother, Rex was forced to leave the prestigious King's College. Rex probably grew up with little contact with his father Leonard Cuthbert Hoyes, although we know from Rex's only surviving half brother who lives in Australia, that Leonard did return to New Zealand a number of times, over the years, to see his family, even living in Auckland for about a year in the 1920's with his second wife Florence Morrison and his eldest son Ian from his second marriage ( two younger sons, Leonard and Lawrence were left in Australia with their maternal grandparents). It is unlikely, given that his father deserted his mother and himself, that the young boy Rex, enjoyed a close relationship with his father.
In 1921, aged 19, Rex travelled to Chicago, via Canada to study, sailing on the S.S.Makura and arriving on the 3rd of March. Shipping records state that he was a student. It is believed that he studied engineering in America in Chicago or in Seattle, Washington. [22] The 1966 Kelly's Directory [23] states that he was educated at the King's College in Auckland, New Zealand and in America. It is an interesting insight into Rex's character that he describes his religion as aethiest which he boldly printed on his alien card pictured left. Perhaps the religious beliefs of his grandparents had not been passed on to Rex or quite possibly he was a typical teenage student, about to embark on an adventure and eager to throw off the shackles of home.


After completing his studies, Rex Morley Hoyes returned to New Zealand, where in 1925, at the age of 23, he married Muriel Bates Philcox. [24] [25] After the death of Muriel's father, Harry Bates Philcox in 1930, Muriel's sister,Vivienne journeyed to London in 1931 with her mother, Anne, to pursue a career as a dancer. [26] With her mother and sister both living in England, there is no doubt that Muriel would have been excited at the prospect of accompanying her husband, Rex on a business trip to London in 1933. [27] Rex and Muriel Hoyes left New Zealand, bound for London, on board the MV Rangitane, arriving on the January 26, 1933. Rex was 32 years old and a Company Director, according to the ship's passenger records. This trip to London would change Rex and Muriel's lives in ways that they could never have foreseen. There can be no doubt that Rex believed he was destined for great things in life and possessed a resolute desire for both wealth and influence. Unfortunately for Rex, it was a charge of bribery and corruption ( of which he was later acquitted), which afforded him the most notoriety, especially in the London Times. Rex's penchant for the good life was undisguised amidst his flamboyant lifestyle in London, his relationships with diplomats, politicians, royalty and dalliances with exotic people and places. There is no doubt that some of Rex's associations were of a dubious and questionable nature, however his life was undeniably fascinating from the moment he arrived in London.

Rex and Muriel quickly moved into influential and diplomatic social circles in London. On February 5, 1933, only weeks after her arrival in London, Muriel was presented at the Royal Court to the King and Queen, by Lady Wilford, as part of presentations made in the diplomatic circle. [28] The London Times gave a detailed and descriptive account of the presentation. Life must have seemed wonderfully exciting for the young New Zealand couple. Lady Wilford's husband, Sir Thomas Wilford was the New Zealand High Commissioner in London. [29] Encouraged by Sir Thomas, Lady Wilford, had formed the New Zealand Women's Association in London, in 1930 which invited wives of diplomats to socialise and to meet members of British nobility. Sir Thomas and Lady Wilford were actively involved
in horse racing, both in New Zealand and in England. Rex, also, had racing connections in his home country, so it was perhaps, through the Wilfords that Rex was introduced to high society and people of influence in London.
Rex appears to have had found employment on arrival in London. The British Phone Book for 1933, listed Rex's profession as a Stockbroker and his address as 190 Piccadilly, W1, Regent. There has been a suggestion that Rex made a large amount of money on the stock market through an association with Sir Alfred Butt, a Baronet and member of parliament. Sir Alfred was also a keen horse racegoer and race horse owner and a flamboyant figure in London theatre circles. Sir Alfred was charged with prospering from a serious leak regarding government budget secrets and although there was no trial, in 1936, Sir Alfred resigned as a member of parliament over the affair. [30] The story of a connection between Rex and Sir Alfred has been passed on verbally, from a contact in England however, given, that in the following few years, Rex, quite publicly enjoyed life as a millionaire, it is quite likely that the story is credible.
The 1966 Kelly's Handbook is a window into Rex's intriguing professional life. According to this well respected 'who's who' directory, Rex held the following positions: Chairman of the Southern Board, Minister of Production 1942-45; Vice Chairman of the Southern Board Emergency Services Organisation (M.A.P.) 1940-45; formerly Managing Director of Cunliffe-Owen Aicraft Ltd., formerly Director of British and Foreign Aviation Ltd., Marwell Shipping Company Ltd., European Aviation Company., Aircraft Inventions Ltd. and Eagle Star Insurance Ltd, ( Southern Board); Air Advisor to the H.E.H. Nizam of Hyderabad and Govt., Deccan-India 1947. [31]In August of 1933, 8 months after arriving in London, Rex Hoyes travelled to America on board the luxurious liner, RMS Aquitania, arriving in New York on the 1st of September. Travelling with him, were Lord William George Hood Waleran and his young wife, Lady Margaret Patricia Waleran nee Blackader. From an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, dated Saturday, 2 March, 1935, [32] we know that Lord Waleran, lived in New Zealand from 1927-1930, when he was the second Secretary to the then Governor General, Sir Charles Fergusson. It is entirely speculation that Rex Hoyes met Lord Waleran in New Zealand before he arrived in London, however, what is clear, is that the New Zealand connection played an important part in the unfolding events of Rex's life in England. The journey to New York, was presumably for business purposes as Rex is listed as a Company Director on the passenger list. Rex travelled to New York on the Aquitania without his wife Muriel which was to be a decision that Muriel would come to deeply regret and one that within a short period of time would change the course of her life.

The Aquitania Image Wikipedia ©©
The RMS Aquitania, launched in 1913, and sister ship of the Mauretania and the Lusitania, was one of the most of the most revered of the Cunard Line ships. No other ship boasted such exquisite and luxurious interiors as the Aquitania. Her elegant accommodation and size would have assured Rex and his companions, a most pleasurable journey. It is easy to picture Rex relaxing in the oak panelled smoking room or dining with Lord and Lad
y Waleran in one of the restaurants, beautifully decorated in Louis XIV or Jacobean styles. [33] From her maiden voyage in 1914, the Aquitania was used for regular transatlantic crossings and amidst the festive and opulent surroundings on such a crossing, in 1933, the young Lady Waleran and Rex Hoyes obviously discovered a mutual attraction. Perhaps it was whilst strolling around a moonlit deck or whilst dancing to the music of a band after dining that the romance began.

Aquitania First Class Dining Room Image Wikipedia ©©
However discreet Rex Hoyes and Lady Waleran (or Pat as she was known), attempted to be, evidence shows that Lord Waleran became aware of the affair between his wife and Rex in late 1933. In March of 1934, newspapers in London and as far as Sydney, Australia reported the news that Lord William George Hood Waleran ( Walrond), 2nd Baron, was seeking a divorce, citing adultery as the cause and naming New Zealand businessman, Rex Hoyes, as co- respondent. In May of 1934, a decree nisi was granted to Lord Waleran and undoubtedly,to Muriel's public humiliation, the London Times carried the story of the divorce, stating that, 'It was alleged that the respondent and the co-respondent had committed adultery at a flat in Bury Court, Jermyn Street, W, in November, 1933.'[34]

There can be little doubt that for Muriel Hoyes, 1934 was a wretched year. The distress she must have felt due to her husband's infidelity could only have been worsened by the tragic death of her sister, Vivienne in March of 1934. A much publicised inquest into the death deemed due to an accidental overose of slimming pills, (the first such death recorded)was closely followed by the London Times. [35] Following this, only two months later, Muriel was forced to endure the public embarrassment of the Waleran divorce. For Muriel, the new and exciting life in London, which began in early 1933 with her presentation to the King and Queen, ended a year later in heartbreak and tragedy. Muriel Hoyes returned home to New Zealand with her mother Anne Philcox, on the ship Orama which departed England on June 22nd,1934. [36] Once back in New Zealand, Muriel petitioned for divorce and a decree nisi was granted in March 1935. [37]
With a divorce from Muriel finalised, Rex Hoyes was free to marry Pat Blackader, formerly Lady Waleran. It is a testiment to his overt charm that Pat, aged in her early twenties, had discarded the title of Baroness for the New Zealand businessman who had appeared on the London social scene only a year earlier. The couple announced their engagement in the social pages of the London Times and were married in a civil ceremony in Westminster, Middlesex, in April 1935. [38]
Prior to their marriage, on July 13, 1934, the couple had purchased, at auction, the stately Marwell Hall [39] Manor Estate, once owned by King Henry VIII. This opulent new home for Rex and Pat Hoyes, Marwell Hall, reportedly sold for 5750 pounds. [40] The UK Phone Book for 1934 listed the address for Rex M Hoyes, as Marwell Hall Owslebury...6, South Lodge...6, Estate Office...6 and Hurst Common...6. This would indicate that Rex, and possibly Pat, might have been living at Marwell Hall prior to their 1935 marriage.
Marwell Hall, near Winchester, Hampshire was built in the 14th century for Walter Woodlock, a relative of the Bishop of Winchester. It was later owned by King Henry VIII who presented the Estate to the Seymour family prior to his marriage to Jane Seymour. It is rumoured that Henry married Jane at Marwell Hall at the precise moment that Anne Boleyn was beheaded. Despite, changes being made over the centuries, to Marwell Hall, the Medieval hall remains the core of the building. Jane Seymour's son Edward VI is said to have visited Marwell Hall and with the Royal Arms and the intitials ER carved above the fireplace in the great hall [42] (pictured below right), Marwell must have been an impressive home for Rex Morley Hoyes and his new wife Patricia.

In a eulogy, delivered by a close friend of Pat's (then Patricia McCarthy), at her funeral in September, 2002, [43] it was said that the marriage was not a happy one however it is probable that the couple were in love in the early years of their relationship. It appears that they embarked on a long honeymoon following the marriage in June of 1935. On January 24, 1936, Rex and Pat arrived in Southampton aboard the S.S. Potsdam [44] having cruised to Yokohama, Japan from Palma in Spain, according to the ships passenger records. The couple, Rex aged 36 and Pat aged 22 travelled first class through ports that included Barcelona, Shanghai and Colombo. Rex's profession was given as a merchant and the couple's country of residence as Spain. This may have been an error on the ship's records or possibly the couple spent some time residing in Spain before returning to Hampshire to take up residence in their stately home, Marwell Hall.

Marwell Hall Estate (left) is now a large Zoological Wildlife Park and three of the beautiful reception rooms are used for receptions, conferences and seminars. [45] Image Wikipedia ©©

In the next Blog - Rex becomes Managing Director of Cunliffe-Owen Aircraft Ltd, The wartime years at Marwell Hall reveal a secret airfield, Rex is charged and goes to trial for corruption and bribery over a government deal to convert spitfires, Rex buys the steam yacht 'Warrior', Wartime activities attract the attention of MI5, Illegal gun running, The Nizam of Hyderabad and much more....




  3. New Zealand Electronic Text Centre. 'The Albertlanders; Brave Pioneers of the Sixties' Sir Henry Hook

  4. New Zealand Society of Genealogists: Shipping Database




  8. New Zealand Births deaths & Marriages

  9. New Zealand Electoral Rolls

  10. Encyclopedia of New Zealand


  12. Sydney Morning Herald

  13. Sydney Morning Herald






  19. Australian Electoral Rolls

  20. NZ Archives



  23. Kelly's Handbook of the Titled, Landed and Official Classes 1966



  26. London Times Online

  27. Sydney Morning Herald

  28. London Times Online


  30. London Times Online

  31. Kelly's Handbook of the Titled, Landed and Official Classes 1966

  32. Sydney Morning Herald


  34. London Times Online

  35. New Zealand Archives




  39. Marwell Life Maureen taylor

  40. Hampshire Archives

  41. Marwell Life maureen Taylor

  42. http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb/ Descendants of Sir Philip Skelton
  43. http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb/

Friday, May 14, 2010

'Truth is the property of no individual but is the treasure of all men.' Ralph W Emerson, Poet 1803-1882

A treasure
of information -
how newspapers
told me a story
about the life
of an ancestor.

The National Library of Australia has introduced a wonderful website called Trove ( ) where it has made available, searches of digitalised newspapers from all around Australia as well as diaries, pictures, journals, magazines and other archived materials. The wealth of valuable information that has been made easily accessible, is not only interesting, but has particular importance for family historians.

Through searches of the newspaper articles which I found on the Trove site, I have been able to tell a detailed story about my 2 times great grandfather, John Morrison. I have been researching my Morrison forebears for some time and had discovered that the family had arrived in Melbourne, Australia in 1878 on the ship 'Kent' from Northumberland in England, with four children. I had found the Australian births of five more children in Newcastle and Sydney, NSW and the death of a son, William John a year after their arrival. I knew that the Morrisons had, for some reason relocated, from NSW to Queensland between 1894 and 1905. (These are the same Morrisons that I spoke of in a recent blog, whose gravestone my husband and I cleaned in Cooroy, Queensland - posted January 25, 2010).

From birth, death and marriage records, I knew that the Morrison family had lived in Newcastle and Sydney,after arriving in Australia and that John was a builder. The Australian Electoral Rolls, showed that the family's Sydney address was Morwick Street, Burwood. I knew that this was the address where the family had remained until sometime after 1894. John and Hannah Morrison and some of their grown children then appeared on the 1905 electoral roll in Ipswich, Queensland, Between the years 1894 and 1905, the Morrison family seemed to disappear until they turned up in South East Queensland. From the Queensland electoral rolls I found that John had later managed the Stewart River Sugar Mill in Queensland and lived in the town of Cooroy. I had to assume that John had found work wherever he could and that this had been the reason for the family's move from Strathfield in Sydney to Ipswich and then Cooroy in Queensland. With no oral family history at all about the Morrison family, I was left with a bare skeleton of a story, and nothing extra-ordinary, until I discovered a wealth of information through the National Library of Australia's Trove website. The value of online, easily accessed information in newspapers became apparent, as I read article after article, as well as advertisements in The Sydney Morning Herald, the Brisbane Courier Mail. Many enlightening newspaper items which I discovered written between the years of 1884 and 1933, enabled me to sew together, colourful threads of information, into a wonderfully informative account of John Morrison' life in Australia.

The first search of Trove for 'John Morrison', resulted in my finding a Tender advertisement in the Sydney Morning Herald, August 7, 1884, which called for the delivery of 120,000 bricks and 100 tons of sand to an un-named building site and which advised the tenderer to 'Contact, John Morrison, Builder, Burwood.' This was a substantial amount of building material, obviously intended for a large project. If this was indeed my great great grandfather, I deduced that he must have been a builder of considerable note. My curiosity intensified as I read other Tender advertisements for things such as a '3 ton jib crane, 60 feet jib, John Morison Contractor, Burwood.' I wasn't certain that this builder was my John Morrison, but I had a certain 'hunch' that urged me to continue to follow this trail. Another Tender requested 900 perch of Stone to be delivered to the site in George Street. I was confident that this building project was significant, and now I had an address for it as well. More importantly, the last Tender gave the address of the Contractor, as John Morrison of Morwick Street, Burwood so I knew without a doubt that the builder was my 2 times great grandfather. With much enthusiasm, I went in search of what it was that he was building, widening my search to 'John Morrison, George Street'. I was quite excited when I found what I was looking for, in an article written in the Sydney Morning Herald, on November, 27, 1885 entitled, 'The Chapter House at St Andrew's Cathedral' which described the new addition to the well known Sydney Cathedral, George Street, Sydney, which was designed by architects Blacket Bros, and built by John Morrison for a price of 7,600 pounds, pictured below and right.

Another tender notice in the same newspaper in August, 1885, which advertised for a large amount of stone and sand to be delivered to Newtown prompted me to search futher until I discovered that John Morrison had also been contracted to build a large Presbyterian church known as St Enoch's in Newtown ( pictured below right), which was completed in 1887. St Enoch's was a beautiful stone building of Gothic design by the same architects Blacket Bros who had designed Chapter house and were the sons of the well known colonial architect, Edmund Blacket. The large church seated over 600 people and housed one of the two largest pipe organs in Australia. Unfortunately it was demolished in the 1960's when many Presbyterian and Methodist churches became redundant with the uniting of these denominations with the Congregational church. Few pictures remain of this significant stone church.
Tender notices and other advertisements in the Sydney Morning Herald between the years of 1884 and 1889 informed me of the many building projects which John Morrison undertook as a contractor. He built a number of churches, mostly in the Gothic style of architecture, including the Presbyterian Church at Burwood, as well as large villas and homes designed by prominent architects, in Manly, Woolwich and other affluent suburbs of Sydney. One particular Tender notice which interested me, invited tenders for plasterers and concretors for 'Municipal Buildings' in Strathfield. Further searching revealed that John Morrison had built the Strathfield Council Chambers ( pictured below, right). This was especially significant as it was where my husband's grandfather had spent much time as a member of parliament and as a mayor. As each building that my great great grandfather had built, became known to me, I visited the sites to take photographs. I am from Queensland and must admit that since marrying, and living in Sydney, have never really felt quite the same 'connection' to this city as I have done to my home town of Brisbane, Queensland. With the discovery of my new heritage, I experienced a considerable sense of new pride, as I realised that important contribution my ancestor had made to the built fabric of of Sydney, NSW.

Next, I read an interesting Tender notice from October, 1887 in which John Morrison invited offers to advertise on a ' large railway frontage at Strathfield Junction'. I assumed that since Morwick Street, Burwood where John lived, bounded the railway line near Strathfield Station, that he was advertising his building contracting business. Further searches revealed that between 1889 and 1890, John Morrison's Tender advertisements for building materials ceased. Then I discovered several articles written in the Sydney Morning Herald between April and June of 1890, which explained the significance of the 1887 'railway frontage' advertisement. Intrigued, I read the following words, from the Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday, April, 19, 1890 'The Railway Commissioners yesterday took delivery of the second chain of railway carriages built by Mr John Morrison of Strathfield ...', and ' railway carriage factory, Strathfield'. I wondered if could this possibly be my John Morrison. My challenge was to discover whether a builder of churches, homes and council chambers could turn his skills to the industry of carriage building. As I searched the advertisements in the Sydney Morning Herald from 1887 to 1890, it became evident that John Morrison , builder, and John Morrison, carriage builder, were one and the same man. Through further searches of the advertising section of the Sydney Morning Herald, I discovered that John had a large tram and rail carriage works adjoining Strathfield Station on the site where the Tafe College now stands. The business began its operations in 1889 and was located directly adjoining his address in Morwick street, on the other side of the rail line. John Morrison would only have had to step out of his home and walk across the railway line to his workshop.

With pride, I read article upon article, which praised the quality of the fine rail carriages built by my 2 times great grandfather, the first of which was in service in 1889 on the suburban railway lines in Sydney. Through these news items I became aware that John Morrison was at one time, one of the six largest providers of rolling stock for the Australian government. My desk overflowed with printouts of news stories, photographs and advertisements for John Morrison's rail and tram carriages from 1889 to 1993. My great great grandfather, was clearly a very wealthy and prominent business man. The question remained as to why he had left Sydney and moved his family to Queensland, when he had built up several successful businesses. A large notice in the Sydney Morning Herald, in March, 1894, under Auction Sales, provided the answer I was seeking.

With dismay as I read, I realised that that due to a cancelled government contract for 180 rail carriages 'J. Morrison Carriage Builder' had lost everything he had worked so hard to achieve. A large advertisement which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, in 1894, advertised an auction sale of all of John Morrison's household goods to be held on Friday, July, 9, at 11 am at 'Myella', Brooklyn Street Burwood. The auctioneers announced with regret that, 'the furniture was not displayed to its best advantage due to it having been suited to the Morrisons' previous much larger home', which John had obviously lost due to his unfortunate circumstances.

Part of the advertisement read: 'Favoured with instructions from Mrs John Morrison.... the auctioneers will sell the whole of her exceedingly Handsome, modern and substantial furniture and household effects...Dining, Drawing, Breakfast and bedroom suites... Seven grand carpets, all bordered...Magnificent Overmantel and mirrors, Really splendid water colours by Huddlestone, Fletcher Watson and other artists of great ability....two pianofortes... ' On and on went the list of beautiful things that my 2 times great grandparents were forced to part with. 'Expensive jewelery, designed by well known craftsmen, Ladies riding equipment' As I read, I found myself thinking about the great wealth that John Morrison had obviously built up for his family and the even greater loss this family had sustained. I felt the pain of how devastating this tragedy must have been for them as they sold all of their possessions, ' now for sale owing to the terrible losses sustained by Mr John Morrison and family, owing to the cancellation of Government contracts and consequent closing of the carriage-building shops at Strathfield station.'

From the searches of the Sydney Morning Herald on the Trove site, I learned that John Morrison had remained in Sydney after losing his rail carriage business, until 1907, once again working as a builder, contracting his building services to architects and the contruction of homes. I found the addresses of many of these homes in Mosman, Cremorne and Potts Point through Tender notices. Finding no further information regarding John Morrison in Sydney, I turned my attention to the Queensland newspapers. An article entitled 'Overland Passengers' in the Brisbane Courier Mail, on Saturday January 27, 1900 informed me that Hannah Morrison, wife of John, and several of their daughters had left Sydney bound for Ipswich by rail, the previous day on January, 26.
On Saturday, September, 3 1910, a story appeared in the Brisbane Courier Mail under the heading; 'Carriage and Wagon Shop - XII, by W.B.D', in which John Morrison was mentioned as the carriage works foreman. Finally, I knew why John and his family had relocated to the town of Ipswich in south east Queensland. In the photograph at the top of this page, also from the Brisbane Courier Mail, John is pictured standing fourth from the right in a white suit. This is the only known photograph of my 2 times great grandfather. Pictured below, also from the Brisbane Courier Mail, is the Ipswich Carriage Workshop where John Morrison remained as foreman for some years before moving to Cooroy.

Queensland newspapers told the next chapter in John Morrison's life, after leaving Sydney, until his death in 1927, however, that tale is for another time. I have now personally seen three of the carriages which my great great great grandfather built. They are housed at the State Rail Musuem at Thirlemere. I have visited many of the buildings which he constructed and felt admiration for this man who I never met, but feel that I know through his wonderful craftsmanship. This story would not have been possible but for the enormous project undertaken by the National Library of Australia in digitalising so many of Australia's leading and regional newspapers.