Sunday, September 28, 2014

GROOBY, Wilmot Robert (1897-1918)

Private Wilmot Grooby, WWI Service no 31491,
C Company,  Canterbury Infantry Battalion,
19th Reinforcements, NZ Expeditionary Expedition.

In 1842 two brothers from Nottinghamshire, England set sail with their families for New Zealand on the ship Sir Charles Forbes, having responded to advertisements from the New Zealand Company seeking emigrants for their new colony. They were Edward Grooby (b. 1815) with wife Sarah (nee Hudson) and children Harriet, aged 4 and baby John, and Francis Grooby Jnr (b. 1817) with his wife Mary (nee Lewis) and one-year old daughter, Mary Ann. The Sir Charles Forbes was the first of the NZ Company migrant ships to sail from England to Nelson direct, arriving on August 22, 1842.

Edward and Francis were the first and second sons of Francis (1788-1876) and Sarah (nee Stapleton) Grooby. The Grooby family had lived since the 1780s and possibly longer in the small village of Newthorpe, near Greasley, about 18 kilometres north of Nottingham, on the border of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire counties. Principal occupations in the area were coalmining and framework knitting, producing stockings, mittens and gloves.

In the early 19th century some members of the Grooby family had begun to work in the rapidly developing lace industry, however between 1814 and 1842 there was a marked decline in the prices paid to framework knitters for their finished work and a move towards a factory model; originally framework knitting was a cottage industry, with the whole household involved in some way. Nottinghamshire was an early centre of riots and protests against poor conditions for framework knitters. Times were hard and the future unpromising. The emigration of Edward and Francis Grooby marked the start of a wholesale family exodus which took place in four successive waves.

Framework knitters' workshop

Parents Francis Snr and Sarah were quick to follow their oldest sons, arriving in Nelson on the New Zealand Company ship Phoebe in 1843 with a further 10 members of the family. Twenty years later Uncle George Grooby (1794- 1872) came on the Bard of Avon in 1863; a widower, accompanied by his three adult children, two with partners. Lastly came brother John (1819-1894), third son of the elder Groobys. He came out in 1864 on the Anne Longton, with his wife Elizabeth (nee Ledger) and family. Over the course of twenty-two years, thirty-five close relatives had joined the original seven emigrants. Numbering forty-two in total, this was one of the largest single family groups to migrate to New Zealand in the 19th century. [1] When Grooby matriarch, Sarah, died at Pangatotara  7 October, 1876, aged 88, the Colonist noted that “Mrs Grooby Snr had ten sons and daughters, sixty-four grandchildren, seventy-two great grandchildren, and six great great grandchildren; making a total of one hundred and fifty-two direct descendants.” [2]

The two earlier Grooby groups established themselves on land at the top of Brook Street in Nelson, where they leased 300 acres south of the reservoir, on the western side of the valley. They cleared the fern-covered land and by 1845 had built 3 small houses and fenced and cultivated 4 acres, planted in wheat, oats and potatoes. Three years later another 4 acres was under cultivation and livestock added, including 30 goats. Around 1850 most of the family moved to Motueka, and began to settle on land along the eastern side of the Motueka River, mostly around the Ngatimoti/Pangatotara area. At least some of this land was ceded by grant to the Groobys by the New Zealand Company for services rendered, in lieu of cash. Francis Snr also purchased 40 acres of Crown land in Motueka in May, 1854. The two later groups of Grooby pioneers tended to settle in and around Motueka and the River Valley as well. 

John and Elizabeth, the last Grooby family immigrants, brought 10 children with them and an 11th was born in Motueka in 1865. John Grooby had been working for Mills & Elliott’s factory in Nottingham when he decided to emigrate to New Zealand. John had a 220-acre block of land, with 20 acres in orchard, situated at the West Bank along the Shaggery Creek. He made his living as a bootmaker and his son George picked up this skill as well. When he died in August 1894, John Grooby was buried at the Shaggery Cemetery.

 George Turches (sic) (possibly a misspelling of Tertius) was John and Elizabeth’s fifth child and third son. He was born in England 25 April, 1850, and was already working for five shillings a week at a cotton mill (perhaps the same one where his father was employed) when his family took ship for the colonies. For a 16-year-old boy from an English industrial city, New Zealand's mysterious, heavily wooded countryside was initially a daunting place. "The land was so wild", he later remarked. Life in his new country nearly came to an abrupt end when George went to work on a sheep run in the Collingwood district. One day while riding a horse across the flooded Puponga River, he was thrown from the saddle and only escaped drowning by grabbing his horse's tail and hanging on. [3] 

The great flood of February 1877 wreaked havoc in the Motueka Valley, causing huge slips and sending trees, houses, livestock, silt and debris rushing down the Motueka River and out to sea. [4] By a strange coincidence, George happened to be at Farewell Spit at the time and spotted a churn he recognised as his mother's in the litter on the beach. He also saw a familiar dresser belonging to neighours, the Limmers, and miraculously still holding intact a wad of cash they'd tucked away for safekeeping. Not having heard of the flood but alarmed for his family's safety, he set out for home, 130km away, and found his family alive, but homeless. The Limmers also lost their home, but survived the ordeal of spending three days trapped in trees before they could be rescued. George later took up farming at Pangatotara on the West Bank of the Motueka River in partnership with his brother, Francis (Frank) b. 1842. Frank was the eldest of John and Elizabeth’s children.[5] Another of George's brothers, Thomas (known as "Rocky River Tom" to distinguish him from two other local Thomas Groobys), had a farm nearby at the headwaters of the Herring Valley, where he lived with his wife Emma (a Grooby cousin) and their 9 children.

In 1886, at the age of 35, George married Rhoda Martha Romelia Woodgate (b. 1868) from Picton. On her mother's side, Rhoda was the grandchild of English whaler and trader, James “Worser” Heberley, a very early settler, who ran away from home in Weymouth at the age of 11 and after many adventures in the South Seas arrived in the Bay of Islands in 1827.  He settled in Queen Charlotte Sounds in 1830.  Events during his tumultuous life included piloting Colonel William Wakefield on his 1839 expeditions to buy land from various Māori chieftains in New Zealand and being saved from certain death at the hands of a tomahawk-wielding Waikato warrior by Te Rauparaha, Māori chief and war leader of the Ngāti Toa tribe, with whom "Worser" was well acquainted.[6]

In 1841 James Heberley married  Maata Te Wai Naihi Te Owai , daughter of Te Atiawa chief, Manupoinga.[7] James and Maata had 9 known children, the oldest being Margaret Mary-Ann Heberley, born 1832.

"Worser" Heberley and Te Wai

Rhoda's family life was complicated. Her father, William Henry Woodgate (1829-1877), was the subject of a sensational and contentious Marlborough murder case in December 1876, involving accusations that he did away with a baby born of his incestuous relationship with his teenage niece, Susan-Ann Woodgate. Rhoda's mother, Mary-Ann Heberley, had married Robert Woodgate in 1854 and had several children with him, including Susan-Ann and her sister Elizabeth, who was called as a witness in the case. Elizabeth was also reputed to have had a relationship with her uncle, William Woodgate. After Robert died in 1863 Mary-Ann set up house with her brother-in-law, William, and had several more children with him before her death in 1873. The evidence against William Woodgate was largely circumstantial, but he was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. This verdict was an unpopular one - Woodgate had had many supporters, who set up a petition on his behalf. With the authorities fearing unrest, the sentence was carried out privately and without notice at Picton prison very early on the morning of 25 January, 1877. The executioner was New Zealand's notorious 19th century hangman, Tom Long.

A Motueka connection was formed when following their father's execution, the now-orphaned Rhoda, aged 7, and her siblings Thomas (8), Julia (5) and Robert (4) were placed into care for a few months at the Hulmers Orphanage at Lower Moutere, situated on Chamberlain Street near the junction with Hursthouse Street. Also known as the Wallis Family Children's Home, Hulmers was privately run with the help of their own children by Richard and Mary Ann Waliis, who had a genuinely compassionate and kindly interest in the welfare of their charges, and took in children from as far afield as Nelson and Greymouth. The Woodgate orphans were returned to Picton in November, 1877, but soon reappeared on the roll at Hulmers in January 1878 under the alias "Woods". This was the surname later given by Rhoda when she married George - perhaps the change was made to protect the children from the scandal associated with their father.[8] Rhoda was at Hulmers for about 6½ years, before being placed in service with Mrs Rumbold Snr. of Motueka in 1884. She may have met George Grooby through her sister Julia, who in 1885 was placed with Mrs John Brereton of Pokororo.[9]

Rhoda Grooby (nee Woodgate), Wilmot's mother.

Rhoda and George made their home at the Groobys' Rocky River farm. Rhoda had a much admired gift for animal husbandry, perhaps picked up from time spent on the Hulmers farm. The couple had 13 children; Wilmot Robert Grooby, born 5 May, 1897, was their 8th child. He had 8 brothers; Reginald, Gordon, Alvin, Francis (Frank), Leo George, Gilbert, Gerald and Cedric, and 4 sisters; Grace, Edner, Romela and Sylvia. [10]

George’s bachelor brother and partner, Frank Grooby, purchased 11 acres from George Kemp, the land being subdivided from the Kemp’s farm, possibly when his brother George got married. The Kemp house was upon a terrace, on the north side of Rocky River near the mouth, where it joins the Motueka River, but Frank had a smaller cottage (still in existence today) much nearer the Rocky River, close to the current one-way bridge. Frank never married and died in September, 1914.

Wilmot would have grown up in the family home, a two-storey house roofed with thick English iron, situated on the terrace above the river flats. This house was later used for storage and having become totally borer-ridden, was purposely burnt down in 1964 when Cedric Grooby owned the farm and replaced on the same site by the "Railway House", brought down from the tiny NZ Railways settlement at Kiwi, Tadmor. The Grooby brothers’ farm was a freehold property comprising 338 acres on the west side of the Motueka River just below the current Alexander Bluff Bridge. It extended up the Rocky River, from where a bridle track was formed over the hill to the Herring Valley, where further land was farmed.[11]

It seems likely that Wilmot went to the Rocky River School, which was near his home and built on land donated by the McNab family, who had previously run the Rocky River Household School. Wilmot may have gone to this Household School before the Rocky River School opened in 1903. Things weren't always straightforward at the Rocky River School. At times it was closed for lack of a suitable teacher, and like other Motueka Valley schools, it was all but deserted during the hop and fruit-picking seasons, with many of its pupils being kept home to help out with the harvest. Ngatimoti, Orinoco and Rocky River Schools were singled out for particular mention in this regard by a frustrated Nelson Education Board. The relationship between the Rocky River School and Wilmot's family became strained in 1908, when his mother, Rhoda, accused Elizabeth (Lizzie) Alexander, the teacher at that time, of assault on one of her sons, almost certainly Wilmot. During the resulting court case the magistrate found in favour of the teacher, but she resigned soon afterwards.[12]

The family probably went to St James Anglican Church for Sunday services, a trip which would have involved crossing the Motueka River in the years before the Alexander Bluff Bridge was finished in February, 1909. The Ngatimoti Peninsula Bridge was not opened until 1913. The children attended Sunday School and filled in time playing together while their parents caught up with each other after church. As well as his brothers and sisters, Wilmot grew up surrounded by a multitude of Grooby relatives, including his Uncle Tom's family just down the road. He would have taken his share of the chores around the farm, but also would have found time to play around with friends, cousins and siblings; eeling, swimming and boating on the river, going to picnics, and hunting when older. He would also have spent time training with the Senior Cadets and the 12th (Nelson and Marlborough) Territorials Regiment.

Work on the bridge at Alexander's Bluff began in mid-1906 and continued for three years, during which time Wilmott's older sisters, Grace and Edna, got to know and went on to marry two of the men employed on the bridge build - Edna married Henry (Harry) Thomas and Grace married Andrew McKeany. Watching the slow progress of the bridge and the connecting road creeping along the West Bank to join it would have been an ongoing fascination for Wilmot and his siblings. It proved a fatal fascination for Wilmot's 17-year-old cousin, Reuben Grooby, youngest son of "Rocky River Tom", who was crossing the Motueka River in a canoe on the 7th of July, 1906, with Wilmot's brother, Gordon, and a young carpenter called Wilson who was working on the bridge. The canoe got caught up in some staging surrounding a pier under construction and overturned. The other two managed to pull themselves up on to the staging, but Reuben was swept away and drowned.[13] A reminder of the ever-present danger river crossings posed before bridges were built, even for those who grew up with the river as a constant in their lives.

In 1910 Wilmot’s uncle, Frank, retired and his father George, by then 68, carried on running the Rocky River farm with the help of his sons. In all, George Grooby would spend 60 years working on the same farm. No doubt as soon as Wilmot left school at the age of 14 in 1911, he would have become involved full-time in farm work. The Groobys’ Pangatotara farm had hop and raspberry gardens and other berry fruit crops like strawberries were grown. There were Winter Cole pears, and an apple orchard on the land by the Herring Stream. Livestock were carried - in 1905, 400 crossbred sheep were recorded, mostly being run at the Herring. There would also have been work horses, a few cattle and dairy cows, pigs and poultry to care for, grain and root crops to be cultivated and harvested, plus regular maintenance like fencing – plenty of work to keep George Grooby and his sons occupied.

George’s farm had a Motueka River frontage and it is recorded that in season whitebait ran up in river in such quantities that the family netted them and applied them by the bucketful to the hop plants as manure!

In July 1916, at the age of 19, Wilmot enlisted with the 12th (Nelson) Company of the Canterbury Infantry Battalion, though he would later be transferred to the No 1 (NZ) Divisional Employment Company, probably because of his poor health.[14] Like many young men he bumped up his age when joining up, recording it on his attestation form as 1896 to bring him up to the official enlistment age of 20. Poor Wilmot was in for a particularly miserable war, with much of it spent in hospitals or rehabilitation.  He presents a perfect case study for those interested in the progress of the Spanish “Flu from the hotbed of the trenches during WWI to world-wide epidemic following the demobilisation of troops after the war’s end. Wilmot was first sent for training to Trentham Camp where he came down with influenza and was admitted to Wairarapa Hospital in August, 1916.[15] He embarked on the Tahiti for overseas duty in November, 1916, sailing from Wellington to Devonport, England. He remained at Sling Camp, Wiltshire, until he was posted to the Western Front in France in March, 1917. He promptly came down with the ’flu again in Étaples. This was a more virulent and contagious strain, now associated with the Spanish 'Flu of 1918 [16] and he was sent to England, where he was admitted to No 2 (NZ) Hospital at Walton-on-Thames, and later the Hornchurch Convalescent Hospital for NZ servicemen on the outskirts of London. 

By June 1917 Wilmot was well enough to be deployed back to France as part of the No 1 (NZ) Divisional Employment Company, but arrived just in time to be killed in the field at Ypres, Belgium, on 12 August, 1917.

Wilmot’s brothers Reginald and Gordon also served during the war, but came home. At least six Grooby cousins were killed in action, and many others served and returned. Three Woodgate cousins from Marlborough served as well. One, Charles Edward Woodgate, was killed in action at Ypres on 20 November, 1917,  just 3 months after Wilmot.
Wilmot's brothers Reginald (seated) and Gordon (standing)

There were further losses in Wilmot’s family after the war. His mother, Rhoda died in 1923.  Three brothers died in accidents. Gordon, who survived his time at the Front during the war, died aged 33 on 27 February 1924 at Owen Junction in the Buller ,as the result of bacterial endocarditis. Gerald was 27 when he was killed in December, 1930, while felling bush in the Rai Valley. Gilbert was seriously injured by a falling tree while felling timber near Reefton and died on June 13, 1936, at the Ingangahua Hospital. He was 32. 

A family celebration to mark the 100th birthday of George Tertius Grooby (seated) on the 25th of April, 1950, 
                         held at the Belgrove home of his youngest daughter, Sylvia Barton, nee Grooby.

Wilmot’s father, George Turches Grooby, continued to farm with the help of his son Leo George (known as George Jnr) and was one of the first in the area to move into tobacco production. George Turches lived on for many more years, and still had his sense of humour and all his wits intact in April, 1950, when he celebrated his 100th birthday with his extended family at the Belgrove home of his youngest daughter, Sylvia Barton (nee Grooby). As Anzac Day became accepted as an annual  day of remembrance for the fallen of World War One, it's easy to imagine that his yearly birthday celebrations on the 25th of April must have become a time of mixed emotions. The proud recipient of a congratulatory cablegram from King George VI, George Grooby died soon after, on June 11, 1950, and is buried with his wife Rhoda at the Motueka Cemetery.


Wilmot Grooby lies beneath a headstone at Nieppe Communal Cemetery, Nord, France, and is commemorated on the brass memorial tablet inside St James Church, Ngatimoti, Tasman.

Further Sources

1  Marshall, Russell. Grooby : notes on the life and times of the Grooby family of Nottinghamshire, England and Motueka, New Zealand. Wellington, N.Z : R. Marshall, 2001

2  Colonist, 10 October, 1876 Local News : A Venerable Dame.

3 A Nelson Centenarian. (George Turches Grooby, 1850-1850)
NZ Free Lance, May 10, 1950, pg. 22

4  The Flood at Motueka
Nelson Evening Mail, 12 February, 1877

5  Cyclopedia of NZ , 1906. Nelson and Marlborough Provincial Districts: Pangatotara. Grooby Brothers (Francis & George) pg  228.

Early Days in Maoriland: An Interesting and Stirring Career.
Evening Post, 3 October, 1899, plus additional genealogical information about James Heberley and his family.
Family Trees Circle website

7  Te Wai Heberley (also known as Maata Te Naihi Te Owai) : A Biography
Wellington City Libraries

Regina v Woodgate
Marlborough Express, 6 December, 1876.

9 Mears, Elspeth. The Wallis family children's home (1989) Westport, NZ: E. Mairs, pg 32.(Register and account book record) The Woodgate alias Woods children's fees were covered by the Government.

10 Family tree per : George Turches Grooby and his children

11 Oral history, T. Grooby, Motueka.

12 School Teacher and Pupil: Charge of Assault Dismissed.
Nelson Evening Mail, 23 October, 1908.

13 Fatal Boat Accident in Motueka River.
Colonist, 9 July, 1906

14 Archives NZ. Military personnel record: Wilmot Robert Grooby.

15  Members of the NZ Divisional Employment Company acted as support troops and as such they carried out a wide range of duties including running Divisional baths, laundry, canteen and recreation rooms, stores, clothing depot etc.  Duties were lighter and it was sometimes chosen as a service option for soldiers who were less robust for some reason or another.

16  Étaples Flu Epidemic 
WWI Centenary, University of Oxford.

Further Sources

Knitting Together : The Heritage of the East Midlands Knitting Industry

The Orphanage at Motueka: A report on the Wallis Family Children's Home.
Colonist 27 September, 1870.

Tasman Roll of Honour. Kete Tasman: Wilmot Robert Grooby.

Photo Credits

Portrait of Wilmot Robert Grooby
Tyree Studio Collection, Nelson Provincial Museum Permanent Collection, ref. 99150

Framework knitters' workshop
Framework Knitters' Museum, Nottingham.

Portrait of Worser Heberely and his wife Alexander Turnbull image collection.
Alexander Turnbull Library. Reference: PAColl-5800-12

Photographs of Rhoda Grooby (nee Woodgate), Reginald and Gordon Grooby, George Turches Grooby's 100th birthday celebration and Wilmot Grooby's certificate of service during WWI all courtesy of the Inwood family.

Monday, September 15, 2014

BURROW, Edward Benjamin ((Ted) 1892-1918)

Trooper Edward Benjamin Burrow, 28th Reinforcements,
Canterbury Mounted Rifles, NZEF. WWI service no 50628

In 1876 two young farm labourers set out from their home in Theale, Somerset, England. John Burrow, aged 23, and his cousin Charles (Charlie) Champeney, 21, both boarded the ship Fernglen, heading for Wellington, New Zealand.[1]

On arrival they parted ways, with Charlie deciding to stay in the North Island, and John Burrow making for Nelson. In short order John had settled with a new bride, Annie, on Waitakiroa, a farm with a river frontage at Pangatotara, 16km inland from Motueka. Elizabeth Frances Annie Robinson was born in Richmond in 1855, the oldest in a family of eight. Her parents were Robert and Mary Hannah (nee Butler) Robinson, who married in Richmond in 1854. 

Robert was the son of Robert and Elizabeth Robinson, comfortably situated tenant farmers with a substantial holding known as Carlton Grange, at Great Carleton, near Firsby, Lincolnshire. At the age of 20 he had arrived in Nelson in July, 1850, on the Poictiers, along with his 17-year-old cousin, Frederick William Trolove. They appeared to be young men of means - both travelled in the ship's forecabin as paying passengers and arrived with money to spend on property. Frederick moved to Marlborough, where he established the Woodbank sheep run on the Clarence River on the Kaikoura coast.

Mary Hannah's father, Thomas Butler, came out in 1841 on the Will Watchone of three NZ Company ships led on a preliminary expedition to Nelson by Captain Arthur Wakefield. Mary Hannah followed with her mother and two brothers on the ill-fated Lloyds. Her brothers William and Joseph were among the sixty five children who died during the outward bound voyage from England. Interestingly, Thomas Butler was one of the key founding members in the Tasman area of the "Restoration Movement" (better known now as the Church of Christ), and in 1859 had a run-in with evangelist James George Deck, an early Ngatimoti settler who established assemblies of the Plymouth Brethren in the Nelson and Motueka districts. What was billed a public debate about the merits of the two sects was was held at the local Mechanic's Institute in Richmond, but the large audience looking for fireworks was disappointed. Deck refused to argue his corner but instead just delivered a lecture. [2] Deck may have won in the long run, though, as at least one of Butler's Robinson grand-children later joined the Brethren. 

Robert Robinson and his father-in-law Thomas Butler farmed together at Waimea East and Robert also acquired land at Spring Grove and Lower Queen Street, Richmond, before moving to the Orinoco Valley around 1884, where he bought a block of land at Lloyds Valley from George Canton, (Sections 34, 39 & 40). They named the house block (section 34) Carlton Farm after the family home in England, but it is better known locally by the name given to it later by John E. Salisbury - Middle Bank. [3] Robert and Mary Hannah sold all three sections of  this farm to their son Ernest in 1887 when he married Emma, daughter of Orinoco pioneers George and Sarah (nee Thomason)  Lines. The elder Robinsons then built a small home next door on Section 39 which they named Tenby. In 1894 Ernest sold Sections 38 & 39 to his friend and business partner John E. Salisbury, on the understanding that his parents could stay in their home. He held on to section 40 for his own use.

John Burrow (1852-1899)

Annie must have met John Burrow soon after his arrival on 24 April, 1876. They were married by Rev. D. Dolamore at John's Waimea Road address on 7 July, 1876, with Annie's grandfather Thomas Butler standing as witness. It was Annie's 21st birthday. John and Annie leased land at Pangatotara, intending to establish a farm, but had hardly got settled there when what became known as the "Old Man Flood" swept through the Motueka Valley early in February 1877. Annie, who was pregnant with her first child, Minnie, had to be rescued from her home by boat. Despite this terrifying experience, neither mother nor baby came to harm, with the birth taking place without difficulty at Pangatotara in May, 1877. Following the flood, the Burrows shifted to a small farmlet carrying 300 sheep near St John’s Church, Wakefield, and John Burrow operated as a cattle dealer. Another daughter was born there in 1878, Elizabeth Green (Bessie) Burrow.

 In 1881 they moved to the North Island and John Burrow bought land near the Ruamahanga River at Carterton in the Wairarapa, where he  established another farm. The son of a yeoman farmer with a good living, John Burrow had been well educated and was clearly possessed of plenty of business nous.  He became a wealthy man; a runholder of substance, a man of public affairs and a businessman, being a founder and first Chairman of the Taratahi Dairy Factory in Masterton. He also set up various studs, using animals imported from Australia, mainly thoroughbred horses but also other breeds like purebred Berkshire pigs.[4] He and Annie had four more daughters; Edith, Ivy Pearl, Mabel (May) and Evelyn (Lyn), and then, on the 20th of April 1892, a son was born - Edward Benjamin (Ted). The children attended Parkvale and Gladstone schools and John Burrow served on various school committees. He bought the 2540 acre sheep station “Admiral Run” near Gladstone, Wairarapa, in 1895. On the 17th of July, 1899, at the age of 47, John Burrow died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack at the Panama Hotel while staying in Wellington to attend a Masonic Lodge meeting. [5]

Annie Burrow remained in Carterton to await the results of probate and settle her husband's affairs.. Her 13-year-old daughter, Mabel, went to live for a year with her uncle William Butler Robinson in Brightwater and attended Richmond School. Mabel then went back to Carterton, but not long after, Annie moved with her family to Ngatimoti, where her parents Robert and Mary Hannah Robinson and brothers Alfred and  Ernest (Ern) were farming at Orinoco. [6] The elder Robinsons lived with  their disabled youngest son, Herbert, in a small cottage with a pretty flower garden, while Ernest and his family had a home nearby and looked after both his own and his parents' farms with the help of his brother and later his sons. 

Ernest was also a sheep drover. In partnership with John E. Salisbury and "Greenhill Tom" Grooby from Ngatimoti, he drove large mobs of sheep mustered from Takaka, Motueka and surrounding districts over Tophouse down through Hamner and Culverden to Christchurch for sale at Addington on behalf of local farmers.  Both Ernest and his brother Alfred were instrumental in getting the Orinoco School established in 1894. Its first teacher, Esther Eves, lived for a couple of years with Robert and Mary Hannah, who built on a small room especially for her (visible to the left of their cottage in the photo below). Esther later married Henry Victor Holyoake. Their son Keith Holyoake became New Zealand's 26th Prime Minister and also served as Governor-General between 1977-1980.

Robert and Mary Hannah Robinson in the cottage garden they created at Tenby, their Lloyds Valley home. 
In the background is the apocalyptic scenery more common thoughout rural New Zealand in the 19th century, burnt-off bushland spiked with jagged, blackened tree stumps.

Around 1901 Annie took up residence with her children at a 77 acre farm with a homestead known as Bank View, originally bought by her brother Alfred Robinson from Edward Fearon Burrell, a landowner with substantial holdings in the Orinoco/Dovedale area. This property was sited on the northern side of the Orinoco Road and took in some of  Edward Burrell's original Crown Grant Sections 8 & 9. Alfred had lived there with his family for some time but was ready for a change. He left the district for Takaka, though he later settled in Nelson. In 1903 Annie's oldest daughter, Minnie, married in Carterton to Henry Nimmo of Martinborough, originally from Greoch, Scotland. His brother Robert (Bob) ran a flax-milling operation at Motua, Foxton. Her second daughter, Bessie, married George Norman Burrell, son of Edward Fearon Burrell and Emily (nee Bowden) at "Bank View" on 22 June 1903. Bessie and Norman initially lived at another Burrell farm at Thorpe, but after Norman's parents retired to Tahunanui in 1906, they took over the family farm, Penton, situated at the head of the Orinoco Valley by the foot of Jacob’s Ladder. Their son Frank Burrell would later take over the original Burrell farm where his grandmother Annie Burrow once lived, naming it Clear View. Daughter Edith married another local lad at St James Anglican Church in 1904 – Herbert (Bert) Canton -  and they moved up Rosedale Hill to live in a small cottage there. In 1911 Bert and Edith moved to live at Middle Bank, at one time the home of Edith's Robinson grandparents and then her uncle Ernest. Yet another wedding was celebrated at St James Church in 1905, when Ivy (known as Pearl) married Ngatimoti farmer, Edward (Ted) Haycock.

It was only a day's travel from Masterton to Nelson by boat-train, and Annie was happy to host her friends from Carterton. Friendships were made and marriages as well; Annie enjoyed playing matchmaker and had several successes. One such marriage was that of Charles Heath from Orinoco who married Jane Oliver from Carterton in 1905 and brought his new wife to live at Ngatimoti. [7]

At some point around 1914 Annie Burrow bought the house Charlie Heath had built in 1905 for his bride. It sat on a small block of land situated about 1km up the Thorpe-Orinoco Road from St James Church and she named it Waituna, after a favourite area of the same name near Carterton. This block was subdivided from land owned by John Heath, who moved from the Graham Valley to the Orinoco in 1877. There were three homes on the Heath property, one built by John and the others by his sons George and Charlie.  Both John and his son George had moved into Motueka to live by 1912. Charles was farewelled from the Orinoco in 1921, when he and his wife moved to Blenheim. 

Robert Robinson had kept his property in Lower Queen Street, Richmond, and in May, 1910, Ernest Robinson shifted there from Orinoco with his family and parents after a stroke left his father incapacitated. Robert Robertson died 22 July, 1910 followed by his wife Mary Hannah in 1911. Ernest Robinson then sold his Section 40 up Lloyds Valley to Frank Eliot Hobson, who bought it in partnership with Henry Francis (Frank) Devenish Meares, son of a prominent Christchurch solicitor. [8] Frank Hobson was a connection known to the Robinsons through their Trolove relatives. Frank was killed at Gallipoli in 1915 and the farm he had renamed Kainga Tui passed to his brother, George Hobson, who sold it around 1949. This farm was leased to Kenneth Boor (Ken) Tennent for a few years between 1919 and 1926, but for many years George ran three farms altogether, including Frank's former Orinoco farm, his own Ngarua on the Takaka Hill, next to the Henderson family's Kairuru sheep station, and a home farm at Riwaka.

Ted Burrow as a boy
Taken in Carterton, not long before the family moved south.

Annie and John Burrow’s 7th child and only son, Edward (Ted), was only seven years old when his father died. He had probably already started school in the Wairarapa. He attended the Orinoco School just down the road once the family moved to Ngatimoti, and spent six months from July to December 1906 at Brightwater School, perhaps while staying with his uncle, William Butler Robinson. His sisters Mabel and Evelyn attended Nelson College for Girls, but from an early age Ted would have worked on Bank View, and after leaving school at around the age of 13, farming became his full-time occupation. He also helped out at Penton, his uncle Norman Burrell's farm down the road. Farms in the area mostly ran sheep, a dairy cow or two, and grew feed crops like oats, wheat, barley and turnips, along with hops or raspberries and orchard fruits. Horses were used to plough and harrow and were the main means of transport, though bicycles were increasing in popularity with young people, who would think nothing of cycling over to Nelson and back on what were at the time very rough roads. There was always plenty of work to do; looking after the animals, fencing, clearing scrub and blackberry, setting burn-offs to prepare the land for sowing grass seed and cutting trees for firewood and fence palings. Edward was known to particularly enjoy social occasions, often being among the last to leave a party. He also trained with friends his own age as a member of the 12th (Nelson and Marlborough) Regiment of the Territorial Force.

Lt-rt. Back row: Frank Strachan, Herbert (Bert) Thomason, Edward (Ted) Burrow. Front: Hector Guy, Roy Stafford.
Territorials practising rifle drill iust before setting off to Auckland to take part in 
a Military Tournament in January 1914

Edward’s sister Mabel (b. 1886) married Alfred (Alf) Thomason in 1911. Alf's father, Thomas, had a farm with a road frontage on the southern side of the Rosedale valley Mabel and Alf had land nearby on the northern side, nearer the junction of the Rosedale and Orinoco Roads, and Alf built a verandah-wrapped cottage there, opposite Clearburn, where his sister Lizzie and her husband, James (Jim) Sutcliffe, lived. Although Alfred hired out as a farm labourer and did contract work in local orchards with his spraying equipment, he was mostly engaged in working for the Heath brothers, George and Bert, who ran a portable steam-powered mill in the area. Their father John had bought part Section 29 at Orinoco from George Canton in 1877, and acquired 500 acres of Rosedale bush between 1898 and 1906  to provide his sons with milling work. When the call for reinforcements went out, Alf Thomason and his brother-in-law Ted Burrow enlisted together at Motueka on the 31st January, 1917. 

A gathering of the Burrow clan at "Waituna", Orinoco in 1917, before Ted Burrow and Alf Thomason set off for the war.
Lt to rt. Back row: Bessie (nee Burrow), Lawrence Canton, Norman Burrell, Bert Canton (holding baby Herbert Canton), Edith Canton (nee Burrow), Ted Haycock, Pearl Haycock (nee Burrow)
Middle row (seated): Ted Burrow, Minnie Nimmo (nee Burrow), Evelyn (Lyn) Burrow, Alf Thomason, Mabel Thomason (nee Burrow), matriarch Annie Burrow (nee Robinson)
Front row: Howard (Bill) Haycock, Henry (Harry) Nimmo, Frances Minnie Nimmo, Annie (Nancy) Haycock, Donald Burrell, Evelyn (Lyn) Nimmo, John (Jack) Canton.

Edward left for training at Trentham Camp on 28 May, 1917. A farewell function was held for him at Orinoco on the 12th of October, 1917, during his final leave. He departed New Zealand for Egypt 13 November 1917 on the troopship "Tofua" (HMNZT 98), which carried a total of 810 troops under the command of Lieutenant W. Ricketts.[9] It was noted on his military record that Edward's mother and unmarried sister, Evelyn, were his dependents, and it’s easy to imagine that they must have had mixed feelings of pride and trepidation about his decision to volunteer. He was single, aged 25, and serving with the NZ Mounted Rifles Regiment of the NZ Egyptian Expeditionary Force in Palestine when he contracted malaria and died of pneumonia as a result on 1 November, 1918, almost exactly a year after he embarked from Wellington on the "Tofua", bound for Suez, and just one day after hostilities ceased in the Sinai Peninsula. [10] His committal was overseen by British Army chaplain Charles Sydney Neale. During the Sinai-Palestine campaign Britain and her allies suffered a total of 550,000 casualties: more than 90% of these were not battle losses but instead attributable to disease, heat and other secondary causes.[11]

  NZ Mounted Rifles Brigade crossing the River Jordan during the Sinai-Palestine campaign in 1917

Alfred Thomason, served with B Company, Wellington Infantry Battalion, in the trenches on the Western Front. He was 35 when he was killed at Bapaume, France, on August 31, 1918, leaving Edward’s sister Mabel a widow. She then moved back into her mother's household.

Three Robinson cousins also served during the war. Cyril Montague Robinson, son of Ted's uncle William in Richmond, served with the NZ Rifles Brigade in France. Two other cousins whom Ted Burrow grew up with at Orinoco went off to war as well; both were sons of Ernest Robinson. Robert (Bob) served in France with the Canterbury Mounted Rifles in France. He was twice wounded and eventually returned home on a hospital ship. He took up dairy farming in the Rai Valley. on land obtained through the Soldiers' Settlement SchemeMelville (Mick), embarked on the Tofua, 13 October, 1917, along with Ted Burrow, and also served in Palestine with the NZ Mounted Rifles Brigade as part of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force. He was wounded and  contracted maleria as well, but recovered. He returned to New Zealand in 1919 and took up farming at 88 Valley, Wakefield, on land divided from his father's farm, Fairbrook. [12] 

Annie, Mabel and Evelyn moved in April, 1921 to a property next to the Harfords on the Appleby Straight. and her Waituna property was leased to the Helm family over the next few years.  In January 1913 Ernest Robinson had bought a farm at Appleby from T. Smith (Sections 185 and part 186, Waimea East) and sold part of it to the Harfords around 1919.The Harfords were relatives by marriage - Charles Harford had married Ernest and Annie's sister Alice Mary in 1885, but she died two years later and he remarried. (The old Harford home, later used as a wool shed and now derelict, has become a favourite subject for photographers today). [13] There was some shifting about - a stay for some time at Gladstone Street, Richmond, on to Wakefield in 1924, and a final move in 1929 to Pigeon Valley.

Annie's eldest daughter, Minnie and her husband Henry Nimmo were based in Fielding, but had stayed in Orinoco between 1909 and 1913 while Henry worked on the Ngatimoti Peninsula Bridge build.Their second child Henry (Harry) was born at Orinoco in 1911. Henry Nimmo drowned accidentally in the Oroura River in 1915, and Ted Burrow went north to bring his widowed sister Minnie and her three children to live. They lived in a cottage on land belonging to Minnie's brother-in-law Bert Canton, at the junction of Lloyds Valley and the Orinoco Road, with the Nimmo children attending the Orinoco School.  Their relocated cottage, originally Bert and Edith's first home at Rosedale, also served as Orinoco's store and post office, and Minnie Nimmo acted as storekeeper and postmistress there for a time.  

Around 1924 Minnie joined her mother and sisters when they moved to Wakefield, so that her daughters Frances and Lyn could attend Nelson College for Girls, travelling back and forth daily by train. Lyn, the youngest, planned to train as a teacher but the Depression forced the closure of both the Auckland and Christchurch training colleges. She took a job instead at the Kairuru household school on Takaka Hill, which had eight pupils. Lyn later married Bryan, son of one-time Orinoco sawmiller, Herbert Heath.[14] In his memoir, Down from Marble Mountain, Jim Henderson recalls Lyn's short stint at Kairuru in 1928which he attributes to Frances. "Gentle, shy Frances Nimmo came briefly from Nelson. Kind, she made Van Heusen cocoa, a brand I'd never seen before."   It seems that he may have got the sisters mixed up, as family accounts are clear that it was Lyn who spent time at KairuruBoth Frances, who never married, and eventually Lyn, qualified as teachers. Their brother Harry became a plumber.

Annie Burrow died at Pigeon Valley on October 16, 1929, at the age of 74. She is buried at St John's Church, Wakefield. Mabel and Evelyn moved back to Orinocot and took up residence together at Waituna from 1930 to 1970, close to their sisters Bessie, Edith, Pearl and their numerous nephews and nieces. Evelyn never married. Mabel, who had no children of her own, adopted a son, Peter Thomason (born in 1928), and fostered two other boys as well, Dennis Kerr and Robin Rogers. Peter later built a house of his own next to Waituna.

Both Mabel and Evelyn were active members of the Ngatimoti community, and involved with St James Anglican Church, the local Mother’s Union, Ladies' Guild and the Ngatimoti Country Women’s Institute. Evelyn took Sunday School classes for many years.The two sisters were avid readers and had an extensive library of their own, and for 20 years Evelyn served as librarian of the Orinoco Library, which was based at the Orinoco store until it closed in 1976.  Both Mabel and Evelyn died at the age of 84; Mabel in 1971, and Evelyn in 1975. A pair of brass candlesticks were later gifted to St James Church by Peter Thomason and his family in memory of "the Aunts”, as Mabel and Evelyn were affectionately known throughout the district.[15]

"The Aunts" with Mrs Corney, wife of St James' vicar, the Rev. Canon Samuel Corney, OBE, c.1950s.
Lt to rt: Evelyn (Lyn) Burrow, Mrs Corney,  Mabel (May) Thomason nee Burrow. 


Edward Burrow is buried at the Gaza War Cemetery, Israel and is commemorated at the Ngatimoti War Memorial, Tasman, New Zealand. 

NZ Mounted Rifles reinforcements' hat badge which Ted Burrow can be seen wearing in his photograph above. 
His matching collar badges would have included as well the number 28, signifying the 28th Reiforcements.


1) Passenger list, 1876 Fernglen

2) Lineham, Peter. (1977) There We Found Brethren: A history of the Brethren Assemblies in New Zealand.
Palmerston North, NZ: G.P.H. Society Ltd. pp18-19

See also Stringer, Marion J. (1999) Just another row of spuds: the pioneer history of Waimea South, pg 537

4) Purchase of purebred Berkshire pig stud- John Burrow.
Wairarapa Daily Times, 10 April, 1883

5) Graham, Pauline (compiler) & Robinson, Moira (researcher) A History of the Robinson Family. Lincolnshire, England to Nelson, New Zealand. 1752-2000. (2000) Nelson, NZ: Copy Press Ltd. pp 25-26

6) Stevens, Edward. Landowners and Residents of the Motueka Valley: Lloyds Valley. Unpublished ms.

7) Wedding at Carterton
Wairarapa Daily Times, 5 April, 1905.

Pioneers of the Valley. Motueka and District Historical Association (1980) Journal Vol 3. Special Edition, compiled by J.R.Canton. Pp. 16 & 60

See also: Beatson Kath & Whelan, Helen. The River Flows On: Ngatimoti Through Flood and Fortune. 2003, 2nd ed. Pub. Motueka: NZ, Buddens Bookshop, pg 37.

9) Whelan, Helen. Ngatimoti is in the news - unpublished ms.

10) Archives NZ. Military personnel record: Edward Benjamin Burrow. 

11) Sinai and Palestine Campaign, 25 January, 1915-30 October, 1918 (Wikipedia)

12) Auckland Museum Cenotaph Database: Robert Robinson and Melville Robinson.

13) Appleby Wool Shed still has Character
      Waimea Weekly, January 24, 2013
      Annie Burrow's brother Ernest Robinson had a family connection with Alfred Thomas Silcock, an earlier owner    
      of this house. Alfred Silcock's wife Sarah Jane nee Lines was the sister of Ern's father-in-law George Lines. 

14) Beatson Kath & Whelan, Helen. The River Flows On: Ngatimoti Through Flood and Fortune. 2003, 2nd ed.   Pub. Motueka: NZ, Buddens Bookshop, pg 185

15) The History and Milestone Celebrations of St James Church, Ngatimoti, 1884-2009.

     Unpaged. See: Bequests and Gifts to the Church[Nelson, N.Z. : Nelson Diocese, 2009].

Further Sources

Notice of the death of Trooper E.B. Burrow, only son of Mrs Burrow, Orinoco.

Colonist, 11 November, 1918.

Tasman-Nelson Roll of honour. Kete Tasman: Edward Benjamin Burrow.

NZ Mounted Rifles Brigade, Palestine Campaign. NZ History, NZ Ministry of Heritage & Culture.

Photo credits

Portrait of Edward Benjamin (Ted) Burrow 

Courtesy of Christine Decker (Heath family).

John Burrow (1852-1899)
Courtesy Dale Burrell

Robert and Mary Hannah Robinson in their cottage garden at Tenby in Lloyd's Valley, Ngatimoti
Courtesy Dale Burrell

Ngatimoti Territorials training for a Military Tournament in Auckland 

Guy Collection/Nelson Provincial Museum Collection, ref. 315157

Burrow family gathering at Orinoco ca.1917
Courtesy Dale Burrell

"The Aunts"- Lyn Burrow and May Thomason 
from "A History of the Robinson Family", courtesy Christine Decker .

NZ Mounted Rifles Brigade crossing the river Jordan from Wikipedia. Article: NZ Mounted Rifles Brigade