Archive for the ‘Smith’ Category

Here’s the cover of a little black autograph book I was shown on Monday. (Click on any of the images to enlarge them)

DSC05884 autograph book coverThe book belonged to Ellen Smith

DSC05885 ellen address

Ellen was the youngest daughter of Donald Moir Smith and his wife Helen (nee Watson). She was born at Picton in 1913.

DSC05631 ellen birth register

The autograph book has entries from many members of Ellen’s family. Among the entries are these two from her mother.

DSC05887 mother autograph

DSC05886 helen autographThe second autograph is actually part of a poem (Ilka Blade o’ Grass Keps its ain Drap o’ Dew) written by James Ballantine – a Scottish poet and glass artist. See more about him here.

Ellen’s grandmother, Ann Mitchell (nee Balfour) Watson  wrote the following:

Love many

Trust few

Always paddle

your own canoe


DSC05899 Ann autograph

Ellen’s Uncle David (my grandfather, David George Watson) added these two autographs.

DSC05891 david george autograph

DSC05889 david george autographEllen’s cousin Jean Watson (William Balfour and Josephine Maud Watson’s daughter) added these.

DSC05902 jean autograph

DSC05896 jean autograph 2

William Hugh Watson was visiting from Australia and added this one:

DSC05894 willie rarotonga autographAnd finally, this autograph was written by Ellen’s Aunty Julia. Julia was 30 when she wrote this.

DSC05898 Julia autograph

The current owner of Ellen’s autograph book is her son Barry Wilson. Barry was kind enough to invite Levonne and me to his house so we could see Ellen’s photos and other memorabilia.


DSC05772 ellen in chair

Ellen Mitchell Watson SMITH

In 1936 Ellen married Allan James Halley Wilson. Allan and Ellen had two children, Barry and Raewyn. Allan died on 6 May 1983 and Raewyn died on 3 April 2012. Interestingly, Allan was born on 19 May 1910 – about a month after Halley’s Comet appeared in April 1910.

The 1910 approach, which came into naked-eye view around 10 April and came to perihelion on 20 April, was notable for several reasons: it was the first approach of which photographs exist, and the first for which spectroscopic data were obtained. Indeed, on 19 May, Earth actually passed through the tail of the comet. One of the substances discovered in the tail by spectroscopic analysis was the toxic gas cyanogen, which led astronomer Camille Flammarion to claim that, when Earth passed through the tail, the gas “would impregnate the atmosphere and possibly snuff out all life on the planet.” His pronouncement led to panicked buying of gas masks and quack “anti-comet pills” and “anti-comet umbrellas” by the public. In reality, as other astronomers were quick to point out, the gas is so diffuse that the world suffered no ill effects from the passage through the tail


DSC05638 marriage cert

DSC05703 raewyn ellen barry

Ellen Wilson (nee Smith) with her two children, Raewyn and Barry. Photo taken in 2003.

Ellen lived until she was 101 years old.  She died on 13 January 2015. The following article was published in the Central Leader on July 30 2014.

DSC05632 ellen 101My thanks to Barry for sharing his mum’s photos and memorabilia with Levonne and me.


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Happy New Year

a wee drapHAPPY NEW YEAR

I thought this postcard was appropriate for New Year’s greetings. Hopefully you didn’t partake of too many “wee draps” in your celebrating.

Here’s the reverse of the postcard. It was actually a birthday greeting sent to someone from Edie. I’m not sure who it was sent to – my guess would be to Edie’s nephew George WILSON.

a wee drap reverseTranscribed:

Just to wish you many happy returns of your birthday & many wee draps to gang the same way to celebrate it. What what? Love from Edie

While still on the subject of “a wee drap” – here’s an interesting photo I was given recently (Thanks very much Barb). This is Donald SMITH (Barb’s grandfather) behind the bar at the Terminus Hotel, Picton. The photo would have been taken some time between 1908 and 1913. Donald was married to Helen Mitchell WATSON, eldest daughter of William and Ann (nee BALFOUR) WATSON. (Click on the image to enlarge it.)

Donald SMITH behind the bar at the Terminus Hotel, Picton

Donald SMITH behind the bar at the Terminus Hotel, Picton

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The Lucas Family

Helen (nee WATSON) and Donald SMITH had four children – Annie, Barbara, Alex and Ellen. Barbara married Les LUCAS and they had three children – Graham, Barbara and Murray.

Les and Barbara Lucas with their children Murray, Barbara and Graham

Les and Barbara LUCAS with their children Murray, Barbara and Graham

Murray, Graham and Barbara LUCAS

Murray LUCAS, unknown neighbour and Barbara LUCAS

Les Lucas with back Graham Murray and Barbara

Les LUCAS with Graham (at back), Murray and Barbara

On Saturday 26th October I met two of those three children. Murray LUCAS and Barb TAHAN (nee LUCAS) were on a visit from Australia and had a few hours to spare so we met up at my aunt and uncle’s house in Ngaruawahia.

Jock Watson, Barb Tahan, Murray Lucas and Sandra Brasell

Jock WATSON, Barb TAHAN, Murray LUCAS and Sandra BRASELL

We spent a lovely couple of hours talking about family and looking at old family photos (some of which I will share in a future blog post).  After lunch (thank you Von) Barb and Murray went with Jock and Von to meet their cousin Helen AVERY in Huntly. It was great to meet both Barb and Murray and hopefully in the future we will be able to organise another family get together so more members of our extended families can meet.


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William and Ann (nee BALFOUR) WATSON’s second child and eldest daughter was Helen Mitchell WATSON. At least that’s what I always thought until I looked at her birth entry  – now I’m not so sure. [Click on the image to enlarge.] I can’t decide whether the registrar has written Hellen or Nellie.

As the first daughter of William and Ann she was named after Ann’s mother, Helen (nee MITCHELL) BALFOUR. It was customary in Scotland to name the firstborn son after the father’s father and the second born son after the mother’s father. The second born daughter was named after the father’s mother.

Twenty four years later, in 1903, Helen/Nellie married Donald SMITH at Mayfield House, Cowdenbeath. She signed her name as Nellie Mitchell WATSON.  She had been witness to a disposition in 1897 (see the Mayfield House post) and signed her name on that document as Nellie Watson. We can presume then that she was known as Nellie to family and friends. Nellie is an often used variant of Helen, as is Ellen. Interesting to note the registrar wrote Ann WATSON’s maiden surname as MITCHELL not BALFOUR. Wonder why he made that error?  Nellie’s sister Annie was one of the witnesses.

Nellie and Donald emigrated to New Zealand with the rest of the Watson clan in 1906. Their eldest daughter, Annie, was born in 1906 in Scotland. Two more daughters and a son were born in New Zealand. This photo shows the four Smith children with their granny, Ann Watson.  From left as you look at the photo: Annie, Alex sitting on grass, Ann Watson holding Ellen, and Barbara.

Here’s the reverse of the photo – love the handwriting, especially the fancy ‘a’ and capital ‘E’ in Ellen’s name. See how they wrote ‘and’ four times and each one was different. I wonder which child wrote this?

And here’s a photo of the Smith family taken a few years later. Looks like it was a Christmas postcard, possibly taken to send back to family and friends in Scotland.

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I wrote about the Corinthic passenger lists previously and included some poor photocopies of the lists. I have stumbled upon some more Corinthic passenger lists held by the National Archives, London. They are much easier to read than the previous lists I posted, plus they are in colour!  [Click on the image to enlarge.]

These copies give the contract ticket numbers. They also show that the Watson/Balfour/Smith/Robb parties were contracted to land at Auckland, yet on the previous copies I posted Wellington was shown as the destination.

I am off to Palmerston North tomorrow on a genealogy hunt and won’t be back home until late Friday so this will be my only post this week. Regular posts resume next Monday.

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Party of 24

The Corinthic in Wellington harbour - Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, NZ; John Dickie Collection, Reference Number: G-2010-1/1-

Among the 389 passengers boarding the Corinthic on 31 May 1906 was a group of 24 people from Fife, Scotland. Known as ‘the Watson party’ they were:

  • William WATSON age 49
  • Ann (nee BALFOUR) WATSON age 49
  • John WATSON (William and Ann’s son) age 27
  • Euphemia (Effie) (nee EWAN) WATSON (John’s wife) age 24
  • William WATSON (John and Effie’s son) age 3
  • James WATSON (John and Effie’s son) age 1
  • Helen (nee WATSON) SMITH (William and Ann’s daughter) age 27
  • Donald SMITH (Helen’s husband) age 25
  • Ann SMITH (Helen and Donald’s daughter) age 5 months
  • Annie WATSON (William and Ann’s daughter) age 18
  • William WATSON (William and Ann’s son) age 14
  • David WATSON (William and Ann’s son) age 12
  • Julia WATSON (William and Ann’s daughter) age 8
  • Archibald (Archie) BALFOUR (Ann (nee BALFOUR) WATSON’s brother) age 41
  • Jessie (nee SCOTT) BALFOUR (Archie’s wife) age 38
  • Jessie BALFOUR (Archie and Jessie’s daughter) age 17
  • Helen (Nellie) BALFOUR (Archie and Jessie’s daughter) age 13
  • Elizabeth (Beth) BALFOUR (Archie and Jessie’s daughter) age 8
  • Julia BALFOUR (Archie and Jessie’s daughter) age 3
  • William ROBB age 27
  • Annie (nee ROBERTSON) ROBB age 27
  • Annie ROBB (William and Annie’s daughter) age 6
  • James ROBB (William and Annie’s son) age 2
  • Mary ROBB (William and Annie’s daughter) age 7 months

Corinthic passenger list showing BALFOUR family

Corinthic passenger list showing ROBB and SMITH families

Corinthic passenger list showing WATSON family

Did you notice that William WATSON put his occupation down as farmer and the SMITH and WATSON families gave their nationality as English and not Scotch. (The passenger list said to state whether English, Scotch or Irish – interesting to see it written as Scotch as my mum always used to tell me that Scotch was a whiskey and that people were either Scots or Scottish! She really didn’t like it when people suggested she was Scotch.)

Nine children aged eight or under – what a scary thought travelling on a ship for seven weeks with that many children. How would you entertain them and how on earth would you keep the little ones in clean dry nappies??? I should really investigate what ship-life was like back then.

So, next question – who was William ROBB and why do I think he was part of the ‘Watson party’?

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The Corinthic in Wellington harbour - Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, NZ; John Dickie Collection, Reference Number: G-2011-1/1 -

Exactly one hundred and five years ago today, on 2 June 1906, the Corinthic departed from Plymouth, England headed for Auckland, New Zealand. She had left London on May 31.

This article appeared in the New Zealand Herald, Thursday 19 July 1906

The Shaw Savill & Albion’s Company’s fine steamer Corinthic, Captain H F David, RNR arrived from London, Capetown and Hobart at 1pm yesterday, and after undergoing the usual medical and customs inspection she was granted pratique and berthed at Queen Street Wharf. The Corinthic has a large number of passengers for New Zealand, of whom 117 are for this port. she has also a large quantity of cargo for Auckland. Of the passage from London Mr R L Barker, the purser, reports: The Corinthic left London on May 31 and called at Plymouth, departing from there on June 2 in fine weather, which prevailed to Teneriffe, which was reached on June 7. A stay of a few hours was made, enabling the passengers to enjoy a visit on shore. Proceeding on the voyage gentle north-east trades were encountered in 24.53 degrees north latitude and 17.19 degrees west longitude, the equator being crossed on June 13. From thence moderate south-west winds generally prevailed to the Cape, arriving there on June 23. The usual stay was made in Table Bay landing and embarking passengers, mails, etc., and the voyage was continued the same day. Hobart was reached on July 12. The voyage to Auckland was resumed on the following day. From Hobart strong south-easterly winds and a high southerly swell were experienced. Captain David has with him the following officers: Mr W Hug, chief; Mr SS Richardson RNR, first; Mr A Coles, second; Mr C Cartwright, third; Mr E Cormack, fourth; Mr RL Barker, purser; Dr G Travis, medical officer; and Mr J Campbell, chief engineer. The Corinthic leaves for Wellington and Lyttelton about Monday.

(Dictionary definition of ‘pratique’: permission or license granted to a ship to carry on commerce with a port after passing quarantine or showing a clean bill of health.)

On 30 May 1906 a party of 24 people had left Cowdenbeath Railway Station and travelled to London to board the Corinthic for the journey to New Zealand. According to ‘family legend’ William WATSON had paid the fares for the entire party, some of whom were to repay him once established in New Zealand.

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