Archive for the ‘Watson’ 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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Problem No. 93

While searching through the online newspapers in FindMyPast  recently I stumbled across this article printed in 1913. The article mentioned Mr George Watson, Kelty – I wondered if it was the George Watson who was my great grandfather William Watson’s brother? WATSON George draughts champs 1913A bit more searching revealed this article – Problem No 93 by George Watson, Kelty. Presumably the same George as in the article above, but was he ‘our’ George? Never having heard of any draught-playing Watsons in all our ‘family legends’ and knowing how common a name George Watson was I had my doubts.

WATSON George draughts problem 93After some more searching all my doubts had gone. The following article proved that he was, indeed, ‘our’ George, the last paragraph confirming it with the mention of his three sons, John, George and William, who ‘are resident at the other end of the world’.WATSON George obituary 1934Here’s a transcription of George’s death that I purchased way back in 1999 when I was just a couple of years into researching the Watson family.

WATSON George death 1934George’s first wife, Ann, died in 1897 while the family was living in Cowdenbeath.  This post mentions her death  and his second, Elizabeth, died in 1924.

WATSON Ann nee HODGE Death 1897WATSON Elizabeth nee ROBERTSON death 1924And finally, because I’m sure you are desperate to know, the solution to Problem No. 93!

WATSON George draughts solution




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I’ve been browsing the British Newspaper Archive and stumbled across this fantastic little article and sketch of my great grandfather William WATSON that was published in The Edinburgh Evening News on Thursday 7 September 1905.

william winner sketchI think the artist of the sketch achieved a real likeness to William. Compare the sketch to the photos below.

william winner photowilliam thane of fife

The Dundee Courier published the following article on Monday 4 September 1905.

dundee courier articleIn case, like me, you don’t know what a guinea is – here’s a description from a “British Life and Culture” website:

1 guinea = £1-1s-0d ( £1/1/- ) = one pound and one shilling = 21 shillings

1 guinea could be written as ‘1g’ or ‘1gn’.

A guinea was considered a more gentlemanly amount than £1. You paid tradesmen, such as a carpenter, in pounds but gentlemen, such as an artist, in guineas.

A third of a guinea equalled exactly seven shillings.

Why guinea?

Because the Guinea coast was fabled for its gold, and its name became attached to other things like guinea fowl, and New Guinea.

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I’ve been playing on Ancestry.com today and have just discovered this passenger list that shows William Hugh Watson leaving London on board the Moreton Bay headed for Australia in 1924. His previous address was Watson’s Buildings, Cocklaw St, Kelty. His occupation was miner.

moreton bay

Moreton Bay

(Click on the image to enlarge for easier reading.)

william hugh emigrate to ausI now question whether the newspaper article in the last blog post was correct. That article said William left New Zealand in the early 1920s for Queensland and then Rarotonga. This document would appear to disprove that statement.

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In 1960 William Hugh and Marie Watson went on a trip to the United Kingdom. They travelled on the SS Southern Cross.


southern cross passenger list


TNA_BT27_1913_02_0004_C_0031F TNA_BT27_1913_02_0004_C_0108F

Willie’s two brothers, John and George, had emigrated from Scotland – John to New Zealand and George to Australia. The following newspaper article describes the meeting of Willie and John after 43 years apart.

two meet after 43 yearsUnfortunately I don’t know when this article was published. It would have been before 1968 as John was Mayor of Westport from 1956 – 1968 and the article says that John was the present Mayor of Westport. Here’s a photo of John and Willie. Once again, I don’t know when it was taken. Looks as though Willie’s still in his pyjamas and dressing gown! Maybe he was unwell.

From left to right: Nancy Clark, William Hugh Watson, unknown, John Watson, Marie Watson

From left to right: Nancy Clark, William Hugh Watson, unknown lady, John Watson, Marie Watson. Nancy Clark is John’s eldest daughter. I wonder if the unknown lady is perhaps one of Willie and Marie’s daughters? Update: Thanks very much to Kala Marie Bailey (Willie Watson’s great granddaughter) for letting me know that the unknown lady in red is her nena Betty Bailey – Willie and Marie Watson’s daughter.

I don’t know much more about William and Marie. If anyone has any anecdotes about them please share. My mum said Willie was a lovely man. Apparently when she was pregnant with my brother Ian, Willie and Marie visited the Watson family at Whangarata. A few months later a case of oranges arrived addressed to Baby Watson, Whangarata.

William Hugh Watson died in Rarotonga Hospital on January 10th 1984. Marie also died in Rarotonga Hospital on November 2nd 2003.

willie death certificatewillie death notice

marie death noticeWillie is buried at his daughter Jean’s house. I presume Marie is there as well. The photo below was taken in 2000.

willie headstone

The website http://www.cookislands.org.uk  has the following explanation about gravestones in gardens: “Don’t be surprised to see gravestones in the gardens of homes as you travel round the island.  Islanders are often buried on family land and the graves tended lovingly.”

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My great grandfather’s brother George Watson’s first wife Ann (nee Hodge) Watson died on 4 December 1897 after being ill with typhoid fever and enlargement of liver for 21 days. She died in Elgin Road, Cowdenbeath. Mayfield House, the home of my great grandparents William and Ann (nee Balfour) Watson, is situated in Elgin Road. When Ann died she left George to care for five children, the youngest Christina Deas, born on 16 January 1897, was only 11 months old.

Nine months after Ann’s death, on 7 September 1898, George remarried. George was 37 years old and his new bride was Elizabeth Robertson, aged 42, occupation housekeeper. The ceremony took place in Parnwell, Cleish. Just over a year later Elizabeth gave birth to a son. William Hugh Watson was born at 7.45am on 30 September 1899 at Elgin Road, Cowdenbeath.

The 1901 census shows the family living at Glow House in the village of Oakfield. Interestingly, Christina does not appear on this census. I wonder where she was?

george census 1901

postcard_upper_oakfield_kelty_1911William Hugh Watson emigrated from Scotland after WWI and ended up in the Cook Islands some time between 1928 and 1930 after working in New Zealand and Australia. He established a firm of clothing manufacturers in Rarotonga which later became United Island Traders Ltd. He was a member of the Rarotonga Island Council for seven years, a member of the Cook Islands Legislative Council for six years, and a member of the Cook Islands Legislative Assembly from 1957 to 1960.

William married a beautiful Cook Island lass, Marie Peyroux. I recall seeing this photo of them sitting on my nana’s (Jean Charlotte (nee Wilson) Watson) mantlepiece.

Marie (nee Peyroux) and William Hugh Watson

Marie (nee Peyroux) and William Hugh Watson

Here’s another photo of Willie that I found online.

Willie Watson, Rarotonga. Whites Aviation Ltd :Photographs. Ref: WA-00963-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22836068

Willie Watson, Rarotonga. Whites Aviation Ltd :Photographs. Ref: WA-00963-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22836068

To be continued …


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In 2000 when I travelled to Scotland to spend seven weeks researching the Watson/Balfour families one of my aims was to try and locate living relatives. I didn’t quite succeed but I did come close. Here’s the story about Peter Bisset Watson BEVERIDGE.

At Register House in Edinburgh I discovered that Christina Deas WATSON (first cousin to my grandfather David George WATSON and the daughter of John WATSON and Ann BISSET. John was the brother of my great grandfather William WATSON.) married Peter Bisset BEVERIDGE in Grieve Street, Dunfermline on 27 March 1914. Peter was the son of Peter Bisset BEVERIDGE and Janet MELDRUM. The address for both Peter Bisset (the groom) and Christina Deas (the bride) was 1 Forth St, Dunfermline. (Ref: Dunfermline 424/89).

A little over a year later, on 13 April 1915, Peter Bisset Watson BEVERIDGE was born at 1 Rose Crescent, Dunfermline. (Ref: Dunfermline 424/334)

I searched for Christina Deas (nee Watson) Beveridge’s death and found that she died, aged 82, on 27 September 1969 at Milesmark Hospital, Dunfermline. Her usual residence was 3 Whirlbut Crescent, Dunfermline. Christina died of bronchopneumonia, congestive cardiac failure, arteriosclerosis, diabetes mellitus – whew, it’s no wonder she died with all that going on! Her son, P B Beveridge was the informant. (Ref: Dunfermline 424/591). I then searched for the death of her son after 1969 and found this (copied from my 2000 trip notes):

pbw beveridge deathSadly I was 13 years too late to meet Peter Bisset Watson BEVERIDGE. I decided to go to 25 Whirlbut Street and see if A Rumgay (executor) was still alive. I didn’t really fancy my chances but thought it was worth going as it was a relatively short walk from where I was staying in Dunfermline to Whirlbut Street.  My knock on the door was answered by Mary Rumgay who, after hearing my explanation of why I was there, called out excitedly to her husband Andy – “Andy come quick it’s a relative of Peter Beveridge from New Zealand!!” I was welcomed in to their house and sat down for a cup of tea and an entertaining couple of hours listening to stories about their good friend and neighbour Peter Bisset Watson Beveridge.  This is what I wrote in my trip book:

pbw beveridge and christina biography

Andy then told Mary to get me Peter’s photos.  She came back with 10 photos and Peter’s passport. She said they couldn’t bear to throw them away after Peter had died and that they would like me to have them! So, here’s a selection.  The first one is a group of young boys. Andy Rumgay said that one of them is Peter but he doesn’t know which one.

pbw beveridge group childrenThe following four photos were taken on some of Peter’s trips to the continent.

Peter Bisset Watson BEVERIDGE at Hotel Semiramis, Capri

Peter Bisset Watson BEVERIDGE at Hotel Semiramis, Capri

Peter B W Beveridge and Susie at Stadt Keller Restaurant, Lucerne

Peter B W Beveridge and Susie at Stadt Keller Restaurant, Lucerne 1960

Peter B W Beveridge in Istanbul - Turkey

Peter B W Beveridge in Istanbul – Turkey

Peter Bisset Watson BEVERIDGE

Peter Bisset Watson BEVERIDGE

And one of Peter taken in Scotland.

pbw beveridge at homeHere’s a couple of pages from his passport

pbw beveridge passportpbw beveridge name passportpbw beveridge photo passport

So, that’s the story of Peter Bisset Watson BEVERIDGE. Unfortunately he didn’t have any children or siblings so there’s no chance of finding a living relative from that branch of the family. Both Mary and Andy Rumgay said he would have been absolutely delighted to know he had relatives in New Zealand. They were obviously very fond of Peter. He sounded like he was a lovely man.

Peter’s grandparents (John and Ann (nee BISSET) WATSON) had seven children so there’s still a chance I may yet find a living relative in Scotland. One of Christina’s brothers was George who died in WWI, another brother was John who also died in WWI. She had a sister Jane Rhymer who died of valvular heart disease aged 32 and single in 1916 so there’s no chance of any descendants there. There were two more sisters, Ann and Mary, and an adopted brother Robert that I haven’t managed to track yet so there is still hope of finding living Scottish relatives! I’m not sure that it’ll be easy though with names like Ann and Mary Watson!!


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