Southerly by David Haywood

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Southerly: Who was George Hildebrand Alington—and why did he give away his “Girl child 23 months old”?

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  • Ross Mason,

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    Papers Past make fascinating reading and one discovers all sorts of family surprises ansd tragedies. These one is about my Great Grandfather’s first wife. Ne Louisa May Batt.

    They did things differently back then. Brutal, and to the point. Here is a column of suicides from the Auckland Star. The jpg are the items from her death. Note the inquest was held the next day.

    Frightening.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

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    Here is the Inquest.

    Post natal depression I think it would be classified. I think she had 4 or 5 under 6years of age by this time. She was 32.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to Lynley Chapman,

    I could not find Eliza Ann residing with Mr Alington, as his housekeeper, on electoral rolls but I did not have all the relevant data with me.

    Thanks, Lynley! I'm also pursuing this line of enquiry (will post more later tonight).

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to Petra Jane,

    Poor Eliza didn’t have much luck with the fellas. I looked for husband #2 Fred Kennard on Papers Past and it looks like he abandoned Eliza and the family in 1899

    Gosh, poor Eliza. It just seems to get worse and worse for her... what a tragic series of incidents.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to Lynley Chapman,

    In an potential “trip up your research” coincidence, the Mother of Bertie (presumably his adoptive mother) is also named Eliza.

    I know that I’m a crusty old scientist/engineer, but one thing I’ve been wondering about is the sourcing of birth, death, and marriage information in genealogy. Is there a trail of ‘references’ which leads back to someone who has definitely sighted the actual certificates?

    I’m now wondering if I should order the birth certificates for Eliza’s suspected children from BDM – could there be any possibility that they might contain new information that could attribute them to another mother? We also now have her signature from the divorce affidavit which may prove useful.

    For example: the BDM database gives us Berty Alfred Forster Webb with mother Eliza [no middle name] Webb. So his middle name is also – coincidentally – the surname of the family who adopt him? And his adoptive mother and birth mother -- coincidentally -- also have the same first name. Couldn’t another explanation be that Eliza Forster’s maiden name was Webb (when she had Berty) and that she inserted the middle name to reflect the father’s surname, and then married (or just cohabited with) the father taking the surname Forster herself? In other words, nothing to do with our Eliza Ann Webb at all?

    Apologies in advance if this is a terribly naive question – obviously I’ve never had anything to do with genealogy before (and probably will never again unless another strange letter is coughed up by our house).

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to Ross Mason,

    Post natal depression I think it would be classified. I think she had 4 or 5 under 6years of age by this time. She was 32.

    Jesus wept -- so many tragic stories! Those were the good old days, eh. The days that certain political parties (whose leader/founder's name might rhyme with Polin Praig) would have us go back to...

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

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    Have been poking around Methven today (see street name in photo above). More later...

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • SteveH, in reply to David Haywood,

    Is there a trail of ‘references’ which leads back to someone who has definitely sighted the actual certificates?

    Ideally every “fact” a genealogist is presenting should be backed by references to where it came from.

    The general wisdom is that the indexes are not reliable enough – you need to get hold of the DIA issued certificates/printouts. A certificate is the official document you normally get when you order a “birth certificate”. For genealogy it’s generally better to get a printout. This is usually a copy of an image from the actual register. Sometimes you get a transcribed printout. This can be because the original register was in such poor condition that it couldn’t be imaged or it can be because the data has officially been changed. That happens in case of adoptions – if you get a birth certificate for an adoptee it will have no indication that the person was adopted or have any information on the birth parents. I’m not sure how far back that practice goes though.

    I’m now wondering if I should order the birth certificates for Eliza’s suspected children from BDM – could there be any possibility that they might contain new information that could attribute them to another mother? We also now have her signature from the divorce affidavit which may prove useful.

    They certainly could provide new information. They should at least have the location. They usually have the age and birthplace of the parents, though birthplace is often vague for immigrants. The mother’s maiden name should also be there. The informants can be useful too, particularly if they turn out to be related.

    Since Sep 2009 • 444 posts Report Reply

  • John Farrell,

    Printouts or certificates may not have accurate information. I saw recently the birth printout of a friend's great grandfather; it had his parent's' names, and date and place of marriage. I have been unable to find any trace of the parents named, or of any marriage for them. The birth was registered almost 3 months after the event by a person who presented written authorisation from the "mother".

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 499 posts Report Reply

  • Lynley Chapman, in reply to David Haywood,

    In my experience with genealogy there needs to be a lot of source checking and seeking out a wide range of sources and then joining of dots to get confirmation that you have the right person. Even official documents, such as death certificates can be inaccurate due the informant's misinformation or individuals wanting to fudge things such as ages on marriage certificates, war attestations.

    Paying for certificates does have to happen at times. In NZ we are up against a DIA policy of expunging details such as illegitimacy off birth certificates, even dating back to the 1870s. We gnash our teeth over this policy but that is the way it is.

    Purchasing all the birth certificates that appear to pertain to Eliza Ann/e Webb may push knowledge ahead but that is not guaranteed.

    The example you offer with explanations are all possible at the moment - eliminating options is another big part of genealogy.

    Returning to the original birth record micro-fiches(held in lots of Public Libraries around the country) to check Berty's birth may offer a hint at adoption if there is a second registration number and year pencilled in next to his birth details.

    ChCh Public Library would be a good place to visit and ask for the Family History Librarian/s or the volunteers who are often far more experienced at genealogy than I am.

    I have had some great finds on the Funeral Director's records for my ancestors - they can contain a wealth of information and they are generally free of charge. There are some records that have been lost due to a company no longer existing- not for the lack of clients one would think:-)

    Finding a direct, living, knowledgeable descendant can often be the best way of finding the "real oil". So far there has been silence off the NZ Rootsweb email group pertaining to WEBB/WINTER/ALINGTON/KENNARD, bar one woman who was going to contact a distant rellie who might know something.

    Another puzzle in my head is how did Eliza Ann/e fund a divorce and lawyers for court cases when destitute. Did she have a benefactor? Perhaps the good Captain?

    Porirua • Since Aug 2011 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • Nicky McCreanor,

    Hello, I don't have any immediate answers for you, but Frederick McCreanor was related to my late father (I think a second cousin), and my father was also a friend of Bill Alington (who lives in Wellington). I do have contacts with McCreanor family in Chch who are researching family history.

    Wellington NZ • Since May 2014 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to Nicky McCreanor,

    Hello, I don’t have any immediate answers for you, but Frederick McCreanor was related to my late father (I think a second cousin), and my father was also a friend of Bill Alington (who lives in Wellington). I do have contacts with McCreanor family in Chch who are researching family history.

    Hi Nicky,

    Many thanks for posting to this thread! It'd be great if you could pass on the information in this blog to your McCreanor family in CHCH and/or Bill Alington.

    Apart from anything else, I'd like to be able to hand these documents over to an appropriate person in one of the familes -- or, at least, to seek approval for adding these documents to the Alington collection in the National Library.

    With many thanks,
    David Haywood

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    SteveH, John Farrell, and Lynley Chapman,

    Thank you so much for your very helpful comments. I can see that genealogy is something of an art -- in addition to the information science of the basic fact-finding!

    The details-obsessed scientist in me would like to see every 'fact' (dates, etc.) on a given family tree hyperlinked back to the raw data (birth certificates, etc) -- but as you all point out, in genealogy even the raw data may be unreliable.

    I shall poke around the databases (and perhaps Alington's church in Methven) a bit more before I spend actual cash money, I think.

    Thank you all for your advice/wisdom on this matter!

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to Lynley Chapman,

    Another puzzle in my head is how did Eliza Ann/e fund a divorce and lawyers for court cases when destitute. Did she have a benefactor? Perhaps the good Captain?

    Mine too (particularly as she described herself as "destitute" in the divorce papers).

    Also note that she had to travel to Wellington for her application to be heard. And, boy, you should have seen the stack of legal papers relating to the divorce -- in my experience (in today's money) that would be a hundred grands worth, easy.

    My leading hypotheses are:

    1. Eliza Ann Winters was from a rich family.

    2. Alington was funding the divorce so that he could marry her. As I said upthread, the receipt for the £20 that he paid to Eliza was to the same solicitors that handled the divorce. It also says "in settlement", which suggests a final payment that closes the account (and which may also imply previous payments from Alington).

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

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    All Saints (Anglican) Church in Mathven at the intersection of Alington and Chapman Streets.

    I'd bet $100 that this is where Alington, Rev Holland, and Captain Coleman met and signed the adoption letter.

    Mind you, it might not have had an office in those days. In which case I bet that the adoption letter was signed in Holland's study in the vicarage.

    I'm not sure that the TAB accepts bets that are caged to this degree.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Lynley Chapman, in reply to David Haywood,

    Exciting to hear from a near relative to one branch of this puzzle.

    A genealogist sources all their data for each person in the tree as Dianne had mentioned. So in some cases the scientist in you could be well satisfied but in other cases not so much due to the vagaries of human behaviour.

    The addiction that is genealogy is very much like completing jigsaws in my experience. Although even if the jigsaw appears to be complete a new piece of information can often emerge. And there are always questions forming.......

    Hold the purse strings for now.....more may yet come to light from other sources.

    As for funding legal matters - interesting thoughts from you on that. Eliza seemed to know her legal rights although sadly her two choices of husband were not positive ones.

    Porirua • Since Aug 2011 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

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    According to expert genealogist Ngairedith, Eliza Ann (nee Webb) Winter had five known siblings, one of whom was:

    * 1862 – 1934 Mary Ellen Martin Webb – married James STONE(S) in 1877, had 12 children, buried Methven

    Above is Mary Ellen (nee Webb) Stone’s grave. The red circle outlines George Hildebrand Alington’s grave only five metres away in the same cemetery (bet that’s awkward if they ever meet while haunting the graveyard).

    Given that they were in Methven at the same time (Wise’s New Zealand Post Office Directory lists both Alington and Mary’s husband, James, as residents of Methven 1885-1899 – James was the tobacconist and Alington a clerk and librarian) and attended the same church (they were both in the Anglican section of the cemetery) then you can guarantee that Alington and Eliza Ann Winter’s sister would have met at church nearly every week for many years.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Lynley Chapman, in reply to David Haywood,

    BTW Chapman Street has no connection to my husband's family - an illegitimate baby and an "adoption" within the family in a very suspicious set up saw Chapman become the surname.....if only someone could find some documents in the wainscoting in a house in Dunedin and confirm my hypothesis on what really happened back in 1874...

    Porirua • Since Aug 2011 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • SteveH, in reply to David Haywood,

    The details-obsessed scientist in me would like to see every ‘fact’ (dates, etc.) on a given family tree hyperlinked back to the raw data (birth certificates, etc) – but as you all point out, in genealogy even the raw data may be unreliable.

    That's pretty much what I do, as far as possible. I use mediawiki (the software that runs wikipedia) to store it all. A lot of other people (saner/more practical people?) use dedicated genealogy software for it.

    Since Sep 2009 • 444 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to SteveH,

    I just realised that Bill Alington who Nicky McCreanor mentioned above (hello Nicky), and I know of as a significant modernist architect in Wellington, and as the husband of the late Margaret Alington historian, is actually William Hildebrand Alington b 1929 in the Turnbull records. So, David, you need to ask him about adding the records you have. He should be easy enough to find.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3229 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Here is his Wikipedia page. One of the PA readers must know him, or one of his children. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Alington_(architect)

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3229 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

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    I daresay that if you like graveyards (I don't) then you would think Methven's cemetery a particularly beautiful one. It is surrounded by high hedges and separated from the road by a copse of trees -- making it feel very isolated and serene.

    Without the assistance of Emma Hart (girl detective) I had to crunch around on the frosty grass looking at every single headstone -- before concluding that the single completely unreadable headstone in the cemetary must be Alington's.

    My trusty Leatherman came to the fore in fashioning an lichen-scraping tool from a fallen bough; the image above is the headstone after 10 minutes of elbow grease. The inscription reads:

    In Memory

    George Hildebrand Alington
    who died Nov 30 1905
    Aged 53 years

    Just as I am thou wilt receive
    Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve
    Because thy promise I believe
    O Lamb of God I come

    I don't want to make too much of it, but it seems that Alington's headstone -- in comparison with the surrounding graves -- has a very reserved message. There are no "beloved husband and father, much missed" or anything similar. The messages on his neighbours' headstones (from the same period) are far more effusive.

    One can imagine the stonemason talking to Alington's wife: "Well Mrs Alington, we have some lovely Victorian sentimentality available for headstones of a beloved departed [then noticing the wife's facial expression] --- or, on the other hand, if your feelings are more ambiguous, then we have a lovely poem about being pardoned and cleansed from sin."

    One could speculate about an unwelcome deathbed confession (or, indeed, some unwelcome revelations during married life). The inscription seems a bit pointed.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    I just realised that Bill Alington who Nicky McCreanor mentioned above (hello Nicky), and I know of as a significant modernist architect in Wellington, and as the husband of the late Margaret Alington historian, is actually William Hildebrand Alington b 1929 in the Turnbull records. So, David, you need to ask him about adding the records you have. He should be easy enough to find.

    Thanks Hillary -- I'll follow that up...

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to David Haywood,

    That cemetery is freaking amazing. An ex's family has a compound up there: what a gothic place to rest up for eternity: howling summer norwesters, freezing in winter. And always the withering wind.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to David Haywood,

    A hypothesis explodes:

    My leading hypotheses are:

    1. Eliza Ann Winters was from a rich family.

    2. Alington was funding the divorce so that he could marry her. As I said upthread, the receipt for the £20 that he paid to Eliza was to the same solicitors that handled the divorce. It also says “in settlement”, which suggests a final payment that closes the account (and which may also imply previous payments from Alington).

    Right – Hypothesis 1 is now exploded.

    I’ve been poking around the Wises’ directories and Electoral Rolls: these offer some backup to Ngairedith’s research on the Webb family…

    1. At various times all the family members on Ngairedith’s list (including Eliza Ann Winter and her supposed mother Susan Webb) are present at Caledonian Road (Left side from North Belt, between Edgeware and Holly) – this is about 800 metres from where the Colemans lived, incidentally.

    2. The exception to this is Eliza’s supposed sister who lived in Methven. But the 1893 roll places her supposed mother Susan Webb in Methven. Thus I would connect the dots and say they’re all related.

    3. Eliza’s male relative at Caledonian road (perhaps father, brother, uncle, or cousin), Thomas Fredierick Webb is listed as a painter in Wises’; Eliza’s supposed mother is listed as a nurse. Eliza’s supposed brother-in-law in Methven was a tobacconist with 12 children.

    Conclusion: no money in the family for big legal cases.

    I’m using “supposed” since I found this death notice that relates to the Webbs in Caledonia Road:

    August 31 [1887], Mary Ann, relict of the late Thomas Webb, and mother of Mr Thomas F, Webb, Caledonian read, St Albans, aged 67 years. Deeply regretted.

    She’s the 67-year-old offspring of the late Thomas Webb and the mother of Mr Thomas F. Webb. I’m still thinking about that.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

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