Archive for the ‘William’ Category

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.


Read Full Post »

Here’s the will of my great grandfather, William Watson.

william will envelopewilliam will page 1 william will page 2I love how William took care of his daughter Julia Minnie Balfour Watson by giving her two sevenths of his estate. I’m guessing he thought somebody would need to take care of her and this was his way of ensuring it happened.

The two witnesses were William Henry Newman, Accountant and Llewellyn Pugh, Builder. I wonder if they were friends of William? Looks like Llewellyn signed in the wrong place! I did a search for him on PapersPast and discovered that in 1912 he was, along with his brother Thomas, declared bankrupt.

pugh bankruptpugh bankrupt 2

Read Full Post »

The Watson Cup

The Watson Cup

I discovered this fine silver trophy at the Cowdenbeath Bowling Club in Scotland back in 2000 when I was researching my great grandfather William Watson and his family. The inscription on the cup reads:

Presented to

Cowdenbeath Bowling Club


W. Watson Esq Vice-President

for annual competition


Here’s a photo of me holding the trophy on 20 August 2000. The trophy is very heavy –  a magnificent piece of work. It is apparently the most coveted trophy in the Cowdenbeath Bowling Club’s trophy cabinet and is played for annually in the men’s singles competition.

sandra and cup

I learned that William was a bowler when I stumbled across this article that was published in The Dunfermline Journal on 1 April 1905 page 3. I’ve transcribed it for easier reading.


The annual general meeting was held in the Masonic Hall on Tuesday – Councillor Hodge, president. The Secretary gave a report of last year’s work, which was adopted. The following office-bearers were thereafter elected for the ensuing season:- President, Councillor Hodge; vice-president, Mr W. Watson; treasurer, Councillor Shand; members of committee, Messrs J. R. Lawson, W. Duncan, D. O. Duff, P. McIntosh, D. Traill, J. Thomson, and Bailie Barclay. The secretary, Mr Butters, intimated that he could not see his way to accept re-election, but agreed to act as interim until the next meeting. Skips for the season are Messrs A. R. Dick, Hugh Kelso, H. G. Smith, Geo. Terris, Dr Craig, Councillor Hodge, J. Stevenson, W. Hodge, J. Linn, W. Watson, J. Thomson, Bailie Barclay. Considerable discussion took place as to the desirability of reducing the number of matches to be played. It was eventually left in the hands of the committee, but the feeling of the meeting was that the number be reduced. It is expected that the green will be opened on the first Wednesday of May, and the prospects of the club for the season appear very bright. A considerable number of new members intimated their intention to join.

The Dunfermline Journal 1 Apr 1905 page 3

The Dunfermline Journal 1 Apr 1905 page 3

The following year, this article appeared in the West Fife Echo. Partially transcribed below:


The Cowdenbeath Bowling Club Ltd, opened their green for the season on Wednesday afternoon. Mr Hodge, president, in presence of a large company of members after declaring the green open, intimated that Mr Paul had presented the club with a pair of bowls for competition. Mr William Watson, who is leaving for Australia, had intimated by letter his intention of presenting the club with a silver cup for competition, and asked them to kindly accept it as a trophy to be played for annually. A special vote of thanks was accorded Mr Watson for the splendid cup he had so graciously provided. Mr Paul then three up the first jack, and an interesting game followed between the president and Vice-President. The game resulted in a win for the President, the score being President 38,  Vice-President 31.

West Fife Echo, 16 May 1906 page 3

West Fife Echo, 16 May 1906 page 3

I don’t know where the “leaving for Australia” came from. That’s the second newspaper reference to Australia I have come across. Maybe William and family had initially thought of emigrating to Australia – I’m glad they chose New Zealand though. In my humble opinion it’s a much better country!!

Fast forward six years to 2006 and I was in Scotland again, this time with my Uncle Norman and my sister Lorrie. An event was being held at the Cowdenbeath Bowling Club to honour the members of William Watson’s family who had travelled from New Zealand. Unfortunately I never made it to the event as my mum died and I came home for her funeral. However, Norman, Lorrie and Lorrie’s sons David and Matthew went and by all accounts a great evening was had by all. No sooner was a glass emptied than it was refilled! These photos may or may not have been taken before too many refills! Perhaps Norman can tell us?

Norman Watson being presented with a bottle of whisky by the president of the club

Norman Watson being presented with a bottle of Scotch whisky by the president of the club

I do believe that bottle of Scotch whisky is still waiting for a very special occasion before it is consumed.

From left to right - Matthew Kurth, David Kurth, Lorrie (nee Watson) Kurth, Norman Watson and the president of the Cowdenbeath Bowling Club.

From left to right – Matthew Kurth, David Kurth, Lorrie (nee Watson) Kurth, Norman Watson and the president of the Cowdenbeath Bowling Club.

If ever you happen to be in Cowdenbeath then do go to the Bowling Club, in Bowling Green Street, Cowdenbeath (love the name of the street!) and tell them you’re a descendant of William Watson. I’m sure they’ll welcome you just as they did me. Of course, you can always just check out their Facebook page  if you don’t think you’ll make it to Cowdenbeath.

Read Full Post »

22nd December 1923

A couple of weeks ago I received a lovely photo and letter from a relative in Australia who is a descendant of Helen (nee Watson) and Donald SMITH – Thanks Barb.  The photo is of William, Ann, David George and Julie WATSON.

from barb tahan watson family1923 front

William, Ann, David George and Julie WATSON

On the reverse of the photo the date was written – 22nd Dec. 1923. This confirms for me that the Watson family was living in Whangarata by the end of 1923. I wonder what type of trees those are – fruit trees maybe? I believe this photo was taken the same day as these other photos.

dg julie william ann and unknown 1923

The photo above was given to me by a descendant of the Helen (nee Watson) and Donald SMITH family.  Family members have confirmed that the house is the original Watson house at Whangarata.

william ann dg and julie 1924

This photo was in my grandmother’s (Jean Charlotte (nee Wilson) WATSON) album. Once again, same day I believe. Love how William, Ann and Julie are all holding flowers.

Read Full Post »

What do you make of these two articles found on the Find My Past website recently?  Thanks to Joy for the tip about these.  It seems as though William Watson was cautioner (guarantor/surety) for Archibald Balfour (his brother-in-law) who was renting a farm at Glenvale, Portmoak, Kinross. The first article is dated 16 May 1906 – that’s just a couple of weeks before William and Archibald left Scotland for New Zealand. I’m a little bit confused as the article says Archibald was ‘willing to remain on the farm’ yet we know he emigrated to New Zealand with William and their families on the 31st May 1906.

Dundee Courier, Wednesday 16 May 1906

Dundee Courier, Wednesday 16 May 1906

The Courier, Wednesday August 1 1906

The Courier,
Wednesday August 1 1906

Read Full Post »

Julia Mina Balfour WATSON was William and Ann (nee Balfour) WATSON’s youngest child.

She was born November 28th 1897 in Elgin Road, Cowdenbeath.  Elgin Road is where Mayfield House is situated so I imagine that she was born in the family home.

Julie was born with Downs Syndrome.  I was told by a family member that Ann and William believed she was born that way because Ann had been under a lot of stress in the year prior to Julie being born.  Now we all know that stress is not a cause of Downs, but back in 1897 I guess there wasn’t the same knowledge that we have now so it’s quite probable they believed it.  I wondered what stress she might have been under so did a bit of research and discovered that on 28 January 1897 Ann’s brother James Christie BALFOUR died – cause of death pneumonia. James was 33 years old. Then I discovered that on 4 September 1897 her brother William BALFOUR died – cause of death aneurysm of aorta. William was 37 years old. Wow, losing two brothers in the same year. Now that would be rather stressful. I then discovered that on 4 December 1897 (just six days after Julia was born), after being ill with typhoid fever and enlargement of liver for 21 days, Ann’s sister-in-law Ann (nee Hodge) WATSON (wife of William’s brother George), died in Elgin Road, Cowdenbeath.  Her youngest child was less than a year old. Remember that in 1897 William and George were operating the Mayfield Aerated Water Works together so George and Ann and their family were quite possibly living at Mayfield House with William and Ann.  When George married his second wife, Elizabeth, less than a year later on 7 September 1898  his usual residence was noted as Mayfield House.  Hard times for the Watson family in 1897 I think.

I have only seen a couple of photos of Julia. The first one was taken in 1912 at the wedding of William Balfour WATSON and Josephine Maud PINKHAM in Picton.

Back row: William, Julia and Ann Watson
Front row: John Watson (son of William and Ann Watson)

The photo below was taken at Whangarata in 1931.

Watson family at Whangarata 1931
Ann, Julia, Jean Charlotte, David George holding David George jnr and William John Rhymer in front

I believe Ann and Julia (family called her Julie I think) lived with my grandparents, David George and Jean Charlotte Watson, for quite a few years. Ann died in 1937 and as far as I know Julie stayed at Whangarata for quite a few more years before she was placed in Kingseat Hospital where she remained until her death in 1951. David George received these two telegrams from Kingseat Hospital on 22 and 23 March 1951. The first telegram told him Julie was dangerously ill and the second one, sent just three hours later, said she had passed away.

I would be very interested to hear any stories you have to share about Julie.

Read Full Post »


Finally, here’s the evidence to prove that the block of land I mentioned in this post is indeed the piece of land owned by my great grandfather William WATSON. I went to National Archives again with my aunty and she found the correct documentation. [Deeds Register Book R354 (Auckland) – BAJZ A1660 23641 Box 403] Thanks very much Von. Your knowledge is much appreciated.

I have photographed the document and reproduce some of it here. Bear in mind that it was handwritten in 1919 and the writing is very hard to read. [You might be able to read it easier if you click on the images to enlarge them.] Basically the document says that on 23rd July 1919 Nesbit Cooksey sold to William Watson of Rotorua, Lot 107 of the Parish of Opaheke for the sum of two hundred and eighty pounds. The witness to William’s signature was none other than my grandfather, David George Watson, fellmonger from Horotiu.

The photo below is of the little cottage that is on the property  – the road running up to the right of the cottage is Turner Road. The cottage appears to be quite old so it may be the one the Watson family lived in. The final photo is a view of the land taken from the corner of Dunn and Totara Roads looking back towards Turner Road (check the map here )

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »