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Sinclairs of Orkney & Tyneside: Scottish naming customs

Robert and John Sinclair went from Scotland to Newcastle Upon Tyne in the mid 19th century.  They had families, and homes in Beverley Terrace, Cullercoates.

In my last post I outlined the evidence I had for my Sinclair family history line going back to Stronsay in Orkney.  This evidence is largely from Parish and official marriage records.


I then looked at Scottish naming customs to see if that would add any support for my (somewhat tentative) conclusions. These naming patterns are in keeping with the evidence pointing towards John (c1826-1895) and Robert (c1836-1890) Sinclair’s parents being James Sinclair (c1799-1867) and Janet Millar (c1798-1850s).  The naming practices don’t add much support for to the notion that the parents of James Sinclair  (c1799-1867) were Edward Sinclair and Barbara Fotheringhame.

I therefore matched up John Sinclair’s children against the naming patters.  Some, like the blog post on the Find My Past site, say that the naming patterns were widespread enough to be useful for family history research. However, they weren’t always strictly followed by all families.

I have taken the names of the children of John Sinclair and his wife Margaret (nee Wrightson) from England census in the 19th century. These are thee children that lived to adulthood. These same names match with those in John Sinclair’s will, and the 1938 letter by Marion Margaret Skelton (née Sinclair), who was John Sinclair’s granddaughter, and my grandmother.

While there were some fairly standard variations of the naming pattern, the FMP ones are the ones usually reported.  Marion Margaret’s letter says that some of Margaret and John Sinclair’s children died as babies, but that she didn’t know their names.

The children of John Sinclair & Margaret (née Wrightson)

Here’s how some of John Sinclair’s surviving children match with Scottish naming patterns:


  • The first son would be named after the father’s father (variation is after the mother’s father) –

John Sinclair’s oldest son was James Sinclair bn c1861-1927

  • The second after the mother’s father (variation is the father’s father)

John Sinclair’s second son was John Sinclair bn c1866

It’s possible the second son died as a baby.

  • The third son would be named after the father…

The third son was named Robert bn c1871

  • The fourth son would be named after the father’s oldest brother (variation is after the father’s paternal grandfather)

[The father’s oldest brother was probably James, while Robert was likely his younger brother]

The fourth son was Stephen Edward bn c1874 – [Stephen was the name of Margaret Wrightson’s father and a brotherit’s possible that Edward was the name of the father’s grandfather]

  • The fifth son would be named after the mother’s oldest brother (variation is after the mother’s paternal grandfather)


  • First daughter named after the mother’s mother (variation is after the father’s mother)

first daughter was Anne Lindsay bn c1865 [her mother’s mother was Ann Wrightson]

  • Second daughter named after the father’s mother

Second daughter was Janet Millar bn c1867

  • Third daughter named after the mother

Third daughter was Margaret bn c1870

  • Fourth daughter named after the mother’s oldest sister (variation is after the mother’s maternal grandmother)
  • Fifth daughter named after the father’s oldest sister (variation is after the father’s maternal grandmother)

The rest of John and Margaret’s known children were:

Ellen Moria; Isabella; Grace; Evelyn; Edith (in order of oldest to youngest).  Grace is a name in the Wrightson family. Isabella is a name that could come from either side of the family.

The children of Robert Sinclair & Isabella (née Knox)


  • The first son would be named after the father’s father (variation is after the mother’s father) –

Robert Sinclair’s oldest son was James Sinclair bn c1859

  • The second after the mother’s father (variation is the father’s father)

Robert Sinclair’s second son was Robert R bn c1863

  • The third son would be named after the father…

The third son was named John bn c1870

  • The fourth son would be named after the father’s oldest brother (variation is after the father’s paternal grandfather)


  • The fifth son would be named after the mother’s oldest brother (variation is after the mother’s paternal grandfather)


  • First daughter named after the mother’s mother (variation is after the father’s mother)

first daughter was Isabella bn c1861

  • Second daughter named after the father’s mother

Second daughter was Janet bn c1866

  • Third daughter named after the mother

Third daughter was Alice bn c1869

  • Fourth daughter named after the mother’s oldest sister (variation is after the mother’s maternal grandmother)
  • Fifth daughter named after the father’s oldest sister (variation is after the father’s maternal grandmother)

The rest to Robert and Isabella’s surviving children were Allie May (bn c1869); Laura, Ethel and Isabella.


Thus the Newcastle Upon Tyne, tobacco manufacturer brothers have largely conformed to Scottish naming practices in naming their children.

Both Robert and John named their oldest son, James, and their second daughter Janet (Janet Millar for John’s daughter). Thus the evidence pointing to Robert and John’s parents being James Sinclair and Janet Millar is in keeping with Scottish naming patterns.

The naming patterns only weakly support John and Robert’s paternal grandfather being Edward Sinclair. The middle name of John’s youngest son is Edward: a name I haven’t seen elsewhere in John Sinclair or Margaret Wrightson’s family.  There is no support for their paternal grandmother being Barbara Fotheringhame.


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Restless Sinclairs of Orkney: southward ho!

The Sinclairs are part of my much-travelled family line, including people who traversed the globe during the last couple of centuries. In my family history, some Sinclairs were living in Orkney, most likely based in Stronsay, in the 18th and 19th century.  Some of their descendants migrated first to Newcastle Upon Tyne mid 19th century, then to New Zealand in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Papastronsay.jpg ‎

Aerial view, Papa Monastery, Stronsay: Photo: Lis Burke,

After a long break, I’ve recently started searching again to try to find some evidence of the Orkney connection to the brothers, Robert and John Sinclair.  They moved from Scotland to Newcastle Upon Tyne in the mid 19th century. John Sinclair was my great grandfather.  His son, James, and his granddaughter Marion Margaret Skelton (née Sinclair, and my grandmother) eventually immigrated to New Zealand. 3 of James’ siblings (Stephen Edward, Evelyn and Isabella), plus one of his other 3 children (William John Sinclair), also migrated to New Zealand.

The evidence available is pointing towards a family based largely in Stronsay, but fairly mobile around Scotland.  However, I cannot find some crucial birth records.

The Evidence so far:

Census, newspaper articles and a family letter mention that Robert Sinclair (c1836-1890s) and John Sinclair (c1826-1895) came from a Sinclair family in Orkney.

The 1861 census has John Sinclair, born about 1827 in Midlothian,  and a tobacco manufacturer resident in Newcastle Upon Tyne, as head of the household. The 1881 census has John Sinclair, Tobacco Manufacturer 54 yrs, born in Scotland, Edinburgh; in 1871 Robert Sinclair Tobacco Manufacturer 35 yrs was listed as born in Scotland, Orkney; an 1881 census record has Robert Sinclair 45 yrs listed as being born in Scotland.

Robert’s marriage certificate (22 yrs old to Isabella Knox 20 yrs on 24 December 1857) says his father was James Sinclair, shoemaker. John’s marriage certificate (32 yrs old to Margaret Wrightson on 23 August 1859) says his father was James Sinclair “leather dresser”.

The Evening Telegraph of 5 November 1895 [misprinted as 1859 at the top of the page] has an obituary for John Sinclair, which says:

Mr Sinclair, who was in his 70th year, was a native of Edinburgh, but spent his youthful days in the Orkney Islands. At the age of 19 he took up residence in Newcastle, where he served his time in the tobacco trade.

Having done some research on the ScotlandsPeople website, I have concluded that Robert and John Sinclair’s parents were most likely James Sinclair (shoemaker, born about 1799) and Janet (born about 1793, aka Jennett, aka Jannet) Miller (aka Millar).

I cannot find birth records of John or Robert. However, there is a parish marriage record for James Sinclair and Janet Millar on 21st May 1824, in Canongate, Midlothian [OPR685_30_280_0194Z]. It announces the coupling of,

James Sinclair Shoemaker No3 Leith [indecipherable] Canongate and Janet Millar residing there, Daughter of the late Robert Millar of Stronsay, Orkney, gave up their names for proclamation, Certified by [indecipherable] are the Elders of the Parish.

File:Stronsay pier - - 213399.jpg

Stronsay pier: photo by Lis Burke, from CC attribution license

See some great images of Stronsay here…… and here.

Some of these family members also appear in the census records for Stronsay in 1841-61.

The 1841 census record for Lady Kirk, Stronsay [031/2/7], lists
James Sinclair 40 yrs, Shoemaker
Jannet Sinclair 45 yrs
John Sinclair 14 yrs [typed transcript says 14 yrs, looks like 16 yrs to me]
Robert Sinclair 6yrs
Jane Scott [14?] yrs, pauper.

Another 1841 census record for Kirkwall includes two children of about the same ages as recorded in a later census in Newcastle Upon Tyne. In this 1841 record [021/6/13] there is a household at Long Wynd, Kirkwall, which includes the following:

Barbara Fotheringham 70 yrs Ind [Independent means]

James Sinclair 12 yrs

Margaret Sinclair 10 yrs

John Craigie is the Head, and there are some of his family, plus some others. Some of the other names on the same page are: There are some other Millers and a couple of Sinclairs on the same sheet.

The 1851 census for Stronsay, has the following at property 15, Souhall,

James Sinclair, Head, married, 52 yrs, Shoemaker Master employing 2 men, born Orkney, Stronsay
Jennett Miller, Wife, Married, 58 yrs, born Orkney, Stronsay.
Robert Sinclair, Son, 15 yrs, Shoemaker Ap., Born Orkney, Kirkwall.

at 16 Souhall is Thomas Brock, Head, married, 64 years, Weaver of cloth, born in Orkney, Stronsay
Eliza Chambers, Wife, married, 50 years, born Orkney, Stronsay;

at 17 Souhall are a Millar family: Parents William and Barbara; children William, Edward and Jennet, all born in Orkney, and all but the mother born in Stronsay.

The Orkney census records match with the ages of John’s siblings in an 1851 England Census record.  In this, John Sinclair, tobacconist, 24 yrs, born about 1827 in Scotland, is listed as head of the household. The following people are listed in his household at 21 Blenheim Street, Westgate, Northumberland:

James Sinclair, brother, grocer, born in Scotland 22 yrs

Margaret Sinclair, sister, housekeeper, born in Scotland 20 yrs

The 1861 census for Stronsay [031/2/10] has

James Sinclair at 56 Souehall, Widower, 62 yrs, Shoemaker Master, born Stronsay: at 53 Souehall are the Millar family, the head William being an Ag Lab.

This fits with some details in my grandmothers letter to her nephew, written in 1938. After a bit about the Sinclairs in Orkney, she wrote:

The names of Hercus, Millar, Lindsay, were connected with the Sinclairs in some way.

John Sinclair had a daughter named Janet Millar Sinclair. Robert Sinclair also had a daughter named Janet.

I have not found conclusive evidence of the parents of James Sinclair (bn c.1799). They could be Edward Sinclair and Barbara Fotheringhame – but I have no strong evidence And, as far as I know, none of their children or descendants have the names Barbara or Fotheringhame.

There is a parish record for James Sinclair, son of Edward Sinclair and Barbara Fotheringhame, baptised in February 1799 in Stronsay [031/10]. There is also a parish death record for James Sinclair 69 years, son of Edward Sinclair in 1867 [031/7].

There are other James Sinclairs born in the same or nearby areas in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. I would welcome any information on this family line.

Thanks to the person who messaged me to say many online family trees are incorrect.  John and Robert Sinclair’s father was not John.  Their marriage records gives a different name.

The name Stronsay is derived from the Norse name, given to the island when the Vikings were living there.

Featured image: by Lis Burke

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Into the electric age: Marion M (Sinclair) Skelton (1883-1970)

My grandmother, Marion Margaret Skelton (née Sinclair), was born in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England, in 1883.  My last post on her, ended saying that she left England to come to NZ in 1905.

Marion was very formal in the way she talked about family members. In her letter (dated 9th May 1938 ) to one of her nephews, she referred to her father, James Sinclair, as “the father”:

The father came to N.Z., and when the two eldest had finished their education in England, they came to N.Z..

Marion M Sinclair is on the passenger list for the German ship Scharnhorst, which left Southhampton for Australia on 30th January 1905.

The incoming passenger list has Marion arriving in Sydney on the Scarnhorst on 17 March 1905.  The names next to Marion’s on both lists are Mrs SM Parkinson and Mrs E. Elliott.  These two women and Miss M Sinclair are also listed as travelling on a ship  that went from Sydney to Auckland about a week later.

Auckland waterfront 1905 Heritage Image Sir george Grey collection

Looking south from the masthead of the barque Piri, showing …. various buildings and wharves in Auckland, 1905. Photographer : Henry Winkelmann, 1905, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1-W117

Mrs S M Parkinson was a social and temperance campaigner, much like Marion’s grandfather William Anthony Brignal.

Marion’s brother, William John Sinclair, must have come to New Zealand some time soon after that.  He was born in about 1985.  In the 1901 UK census, he was living at his grandmother, Margaret Sinclair’s house, 26 Beverley Terrace, Cullercoates, Newcastle Upon Tyne. His occupation is listed as electrical engineer.  This was in an era when,  “much of Britain’s most innovative electrical engineering emerged around the Tyne.”

[Moffat, Alistair and George Rosie, Tyneside: A History of Newcastle and Gateshead from Earliest Times, Mainstream Publishing: Edinburgh and London, 2005: p.276]

Barras Bridge Newcastle

Barras Bridge Newcastle Upon Tyne post 1901: Newcastle Libraries 029167

William John married Mildred Cruikshank.  His father was mentioned in the newspaper report of the wedding (Observer, 15 June 1912, p.8.)  After the wedding, the couple lived in Gisborne, where “Bill” had already made his home.  Bill continued to work as an electrical engineer, for Turnbull and Jones in Gisborne (as shown in successive NZ Electoral Rolls and in his mention in the Poverty Bay Herald, 4 July 1916, p.4.)

Marion’s 1938 letter mention her first few  years in New Zealand:

I taught under the Auckland Education Board for 10 yrs, first at Hakaru (1906), then at Brynderwyn near Maungaturoto (1908-?) when I got married.

Maungaturoto 1914 Heritage Image

Development of the route of the North Auckland Main Trunk Railway: new buildings erected at Maungaturoto. Creator: Auckland Weekly News, 25 June 1914, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19140625-48-3

Marion married Marcus Noble Skelton (aka Noble Skelton) in Auckland in 1915.  The newspaper report (in The Northern Advocate, 9 April 1915, p.7) does not mention Marion’s father as being present at the wedding. At that time, Marion’s father James Sinclair was living in Matakana, north of Auckland.

The marriage certificate, states the full names for both her parents, plus names a witness as Dr F W Fullerton of Takapuna.  He was the husband of Marion’s aunt Eveline/Evelyn (see my earlier post on them).

There are many newspaper reports of the time of the social activities that Dr and Mrs Fullerton attended.  However, unlike the articles about Marion’s father and uncle in Matakana, none of these articles mentions the connection with John Sinclair, tobacco manufacturer of Newcastle Upon Tyne.  Neither do any articles about the Fullertons mention their connection with Marion, or the Matakana Sinclairs.

Noble was born and raised in Paparoa in the Kaipara region, and that is where he and Marion lived for the rest of their lives. Like many of her Sinclair family, Marion was a lover of music, and continued to teach music to people around the Paparoa area after her marriage.

Noble was first a teacher, then went into business as a solicitor with his brother, Hall Skelton of Auckland.  Noble was also a farmer on land where his home, Summerhill, Paparoa, stood.


Painting of Summerhill – owned by Skelton family, Paparoa.

During the depression of the late 20s and 1930s, Noble hit financial hard times.  He died unexpectedly at 59 years of age, leaving two young teenage sons, and his wife Marion (see his obituary in the New Zealand Herald, 15 August 1933, p.10).  Marion wore black mourning clothes for the rest of her life.

In the 1920s and 30s, life was not only difficult financially, but in the rural Paparoa, there were few of the conveniences we take for granted today. Travel and communications were far less sophisticated.

The weather could also sometimes be quite cruel.

Paparoa flood 1924

“The settlement of Paparoa, North Auckland under water, after the recent floods.”  Photographer: D Nicholas, Auckland Weekly News, 17 April 1924, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19240417-43-The settlement of 6

In her 1938 letter, Marion says that they had “heavy rain and high floods here last week”.

A newspaper of the time judged this to be the worst flood since 1924-5 (New Zealand Herald, 4 May 1938, p.14; See also New Zealand Herald, 5 May 1938, p.16)

Marion’s son Ron (Ronald Noble Skelton) continued to live with her at Summerhill until he got married.  At around the time of his marriage, he had a house built in the centre of Paparoa, and Marion lived there for the rest of her life.

In her later years Marion’s Strohbech piano was one of her most prized possessions.  She bequeathed it to her son Ron Skelton, as indicated in her Will held at Archives NZ. Marion M Skelton (née Sinclair) died on 21 February 1970.


Filed under biography, history, marion margaret sinclair, newcastle upon tyne, paparoa, technology, william john sinclair

Child of Victorian times: Marion Margaret Sinclair (1883-1970)

When I consider the contexts of the life of my grandmother, Marion Margaret Skelton (née Sinclair), I am amazed at the changes she must have experienced.  She was born in 1883, the eldest child of James and Fanny Jane Sinclair in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England.

 Beatrice (1883) of the Tyne General Ferry Company by the Newcastle High Level and Swing Bridges

Beatrice (1883) of the Tyne General Ferry Company by the Newcastle High Level and Swing Bridges

Queen Victoria had been on the Throne since 1938.  Marion died in 1970, in the Kaipara region, about 80 miles north of Auckland, New Zealand – nearly 70 years after Queen Victoria died.

In 1879, horse drawn trams were common in Newcastle streets.

Towards the end of the 19th century, Tyneside was a significant center for the development of electricityJoseph Swan, who later joined with the Edison company, was an important player in the new applications of electricity technologies in Newcastle and internationally.

The world was changing. The year before Marion was born, a Newcastle drapers shop became the first shop in the world to be lit by electricity.

Marion’s mother died when she was 5 years old.  This death happened a few hours after Marion’s sister Fanny was born, according to a letter that Marion wrote in 1938.  I have a scan of the letter.  It was sent to me by a  descendant of another of Marion’s siblings who remained in the UK.  In the letter Marion wrote what she knew of her family history.   She named her siblings as William John, James George and Fannie. Marion wrote:

The mother died a few hours after Fannie was born, leaving four little children under 6 years old.

To my generation, it seems strange that she would refer to her mother as “The mother“.  However, this may have been at least partly due to the formalities expected in Victorian times.  I’m told that she always referred to her husband as “Mister Skelton”.  Her son, my father Trevor Noble Skelton, always referred to his mother using the Latin, “Mater” or “The Mater”.

Temperance gathering victorian Newcastle

Aaron Guy discovered a large collection of glass plate negatives depicting Victorial life in Newcastle. This photo is of a Temperance gathering.

Victorian Newcastle waiting for a launch on Tyneside

“Onlookers wait for the launch of a ship in Tyneside”

It is not entirely clear who Marion lived with throughout her childhood, but I was told that she was brought up by aunts.  I have a strong memory from the early 1960s, when my grandmother (Marion) was staying with my family. She showed me a photo of a young woman standing at the bottom of a household staircase and wearing a maid’s uniform.  My grandmother said that the young woman was a maid where she grew up, laughing at the memory.  She recalled that the young woman was “funny” and a bit of a jokester.  That’s the only photo I’ve seen from Marion’s earlier days.

During the 1891 census, I am pretty sure it is Marion and her 2 brothers who were boarding with Mr and Mrs Relph in Cullercoates: named as Marian, William, and Stewart.  This is the same area where the children’s grandfather, John Sinclair had a house at the time.  The children’s family name has been mis-transcribed as “Smeland”,  but the handwritten record shows the name to be “Sinclair”.  Also during that census, Marion’s baby sister Fannie, and their uncle, Stephen E Sinclair, 17 years old, were living in John Sinclair’s household at 26 Beverley Terrace in Cullercoates.

It is also most likely that, during the 1901 census, Marion was an apprentice music teacher, boarding in Hampshire. During the same census, Marion’s 16 year old brother, William John Sinclair, was living in Margaret Sinclair’s household at 26 Beverly Terrace in Cullercoates. Margaret was John Sinclair’s widow. William John’s occupation is listed as “electrical engineer”.  Also in the household was Marion’s sister Fanny.

Queen Victoria had died in January of that year, bringing the Victorian era to an end.   In the early 20th century, the electricity industry in Tyneside gathered momentum. In December of 1901,  electric trams began running in Newcastle Upon Tyne.

Electric tram newcastle

Postcard of South Shields Tram No. 46, Fowler Street, September 1933: This tram was originally Tyneside Tramways & Tramroads No. 3, and ran on that system from 1901 until its demise in 1930.”

Four years later in 1905, Marion Margaret Sinclair’s grandmother, Margaret Sinclair died.  Early in that year, Marion left England to live in New Zealand.

Marion Margaret Sinclair’s life: To be continued.


Filed under biography, history, marion margaret sinclair, newcastle upon tyne, paparoa, temperance

The Sinclair connections: Tyneside to Auckland

About this time last year, I thought that my grandmother and her father, a Sinclair, were the only members of their family to migrate to New Zealand.  Then, on learning my great grandfather’s name, James Sinclair, I discovered that he was living in Matakana (north of Auckland) in the early 20th century. He was living with his brother, Stephen Edward Sinclair, and Edward’s wife, Jessie (née Campbell).

Recently I have learned that two of Edward and James’ sisters also lived in New Zealand (mainly in Auckland) for over 40 years.  They were Isabella Sinclair (1875-1965) and Evelyn Fullerton (née Sinclair, 1879-1953).

In the 1881 England, Census, Eveline Sinclair (4 years old) and Isabella Sinclair (6 years) are listed in the household of John Sinclair, tobacco manufacturer, at 26 Beverly Terrace, Cullercoats. Also in the household are Eveline and Isabella’s brothers, Stephen Edward Sinclair ( 7 years) and James Sinclair (20 years). In the 1891 England Census, Isabella Sinclair (16 years) is listed in the household of John Sinclair, along with her brother Stephen E Sinclair (17 years) and James Sinclair’s youngest child, Fannie Sinclair.

Evelyn (aka Eveline) married Doctor Francis W Fullerton (1870-1953) of Hull.  The Shields Daily Gazette and Shipping Telegraph, Thursday July 6, 1899, includes a report of the marriage of the previous day at St George’s Church, Cullercoats:

The article, “Fashionable Wedding at Cullercoates”, reports that the bridesmaids were Dr Fullerton’s sisters, Edith and Katie, and Evelyn Sinclair’s sisters, Isabella and Grace. The best man was Dr Fullerton’s brother, Arthur Fullerton.  The bride was given away by her brother John Sinclair. The article states that,

The bride wore a gown of rich ivory satin duchesse, handsomely trimmed with ivory Chantilly lace, and having transparent yoke of finely trimmed chiffon, and a skirt trimmed with pleated chiffon and lace. The upper drapery was finished with true lover’s knots and orange blossoms, and she also wore a wreath of orange blossoms and tulle veil, with a diamond, pearl, and ruby pendant, the gift of the bridegroom. The bridesmaids were attired in white China silk, handsomely trimmed with guipure lace, and shaded yellow chiffon sashes, and white chipped picture hats trimmed with roses, and they each carried lovely bouquets of white blossoms.

After the wedding there was a reception at the house of the bride’s mother.  The newlyweds then left for their honeymoon in Scotland.

In the 1901 Census, Dr and Mrs Fullerton were living in Hull, with two servants, Margaret Carvin (20) and Eliza S Clark (23).

Before leaving England for New Zealand, the Fullertons had a daughter, Gwendoline Eveline Fullerton, probably born around 1905The New Zealand Herald, 9 June 1908, p.4 lists Misses Fullerton (3), I. Sinclair, and Dr. F. W.Fullerton as passengers in the first saloon of the SS Cornwall.  They had arrived the previous day in Sydney, from Liverpool and Melbourne. The New Zealand Herald on 19 June 1908, p.4, lists Misses Fullerton (3), I. Sinclair, Dr. F. W.Fullerton as passengers arriving in Auckland on the SS. Cornwall from England.

When they first arrived in New Zealand, Isabella and the Fullertons lived in Te Kuiti in the King Country.

General view of Te Kuiti 1908 heritage images

General view of Te Kuiti, 1908. Photographer: A. S Hawley for Auckland Weekly News, 23 Jan, 1908. In Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19080123-2-2

There is a newspaper advertisement for Dr. Fullerton in the King Country Chronicle, 30 August, 1909, p.2. It says that Dr, Fullerton “May be Consulted Daily at Mr Kerr’s Boarding House, Te Kuiti.”

Dr Fullerton’s brother, Walter Ernest Fullerton also lived in Waitomo and Te Kuiti. Initially, he was a farmer, later he was a manager of an Assurance Association.

The Fullertons and Isabella returned to England for visits on several occasions. In May, 1911 they returned to England for the coronation of King George V (22 June 1911). The Fullertons and Isabella planned to be away for 12 months. However, after about 6 months, they left London to return to New Zealand on The Orient liner Orsova (New Zealand Herald, 29 January 1912, Page 4).

Later in 1912, the Dr Fullertons and Miss Isabella Sinclair moved to the North Shore of Auckland. The King Country Chronicle,  6 November 1912, p.5, reports that they were leaving to live in Takapuna and were farewelled,

at the Bowling and Croquet Club’s ground, on Saturday afternoon last. A large number of their friends attended, which evidenced the esteem in which the guests had been held. Games of croquet and bowls were indulged in, and a delightful afternoon tea provided. Altogether a most enjoyable afternoon was spent. The greens were in excellent order and the bright and pretty costumes worn by the ladies made the scene an animated and pretty one. Subsequent to the afternoon’s gathering Mrs Fullerton was presented by her friends with a very handsome rose bowl and stand, also a gold pendant, Miss Sinclair receiving a silver-mounted manicure set. Sincere regret was expressed on all sides at the guests’ departure from Te Kuiti, and many good wishes extended to them for their future welfare.

Takapuna Beach Jan 1913 Auck Weekly news

Auckland’s favourite seaside resort: Holiday-makers on Takapuna Beach, on Boxing Day. Published in Auckland Weekly News, 2 January 1913. In Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19130102-4-3

Dr. Fullerton was elected a councillor on the Takapuna Council. A 1913 report on the newly elected Takapuna Council lists Dr F. W. Fullerton as one of the Council members, but states that he was unable to attend the Mayor’s inauguration due to being “indisposed”. Dr. Fullerton was listed as being one of the members on a “Works Committee” that was set up. (New Zealand Herald, 2 September 1913, p.5,)

A 1914 article states that Takapuna Council member, Dr F. W. Fullerton had presented a report to the Council about the quality of water in Lake Takapuna.  The report showed it was necessary to remove weeds from the lake, move the location of intake pipes, and to further monitor it for bacterial content. (New Zealand Herald, 17 December 1914, p.9).

Lake Takapuna c1914

Lake Takapuna (Lake Pupuke), c.1914. Creator: Frederick George Radcliffe. Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 35-R233

Dr. Fullerton was still a council member in 1916.

In 1919, the Fullertons and Isabella Sinclair moved across the harbour to Remuera in Auckland city. On leaving the North Shore,  Dr F.W. Fullerton was presented with a leaving gift by the Takapuna Croquet Club. Speakers expressed regret that he was leaving to reside in Auckland. (New Zealand Herald, 18 February 1919, p.6).

To be continued…


Filed under Auckland, biography, Dr Francis W Fullerton, Evelyn (Sinclair) Fullerton, Gwendoline (Fullerton) Manning, Isabella Sinclair, newcastle upon tyne, places

Auckland, Burns and A’ That

In preparing a talk for the recent Robert Burns’ anniversary, I learned a few things about my Scottish born grandparents.

(Burns’ anniversay 25 January, Wikipedia; Guardian 24 Jan 2014 on Burns and Scottish independence).

My mother’s parents were born in Scotland: John Barr (1887-1971, born Glasgow) and Jessie Barr (née MacPherson 1889-1979, born Perthshire) came to live in Auckland, New Zealand in 1913 and 1914 respectively.  For the rest of their lives they remained very enthusiastic about Auckland, its heritage and its development, while also remaining strongly attached to Scottish culture, heritage and literature.

John (aka, Jack) and Jessie both worked in libraries in Scotland.  Jack started working in the Mitchell Library, Glasgow at 13 or 14 years old. Abe Cunningham was also a cadet boy at the Mitchell Library at the same time.  He later moved to Auckland and worked as a cataloguer at Auckland Public Library.

This photo was taken in 1906, in Glasgow in front of a statue donated to Glasgow by John Stewart Kennedy:

barr statue glasgow 3 cropped

Abe Cunningham and John Barr:
The Munro-John Barr Album

John Barr was chief librarian at Auckland Public Library (1913-1952).

John Barr authored various published books, including a couple of histories of Auckland:

The city of Auckland, 1840–1920 (1922) – includes a Maori history of the Auckland Isthmus, by George Grahame

The Ports of Auckland, New Zealand: A History of the Discovery and Development of the Waitemata and Manukau Harbours (1926)

Both books are an accurate historical record and are of their time: they are presented from a European, male perspective, with the main focus on British colonisation, settlement, and municipal development of the area.

John and Jessie had three daughters:  Catriona MacPherson (aka Mac – eldest); Sheila MacPherson (my mother) and Margaret Jean (youngest).  This family photo was taken outside their house in Manukau Road, Auckland – next to the original Epsom Library, sometime around the late 1920s or 1930s.

barrs2 grayscale cropped

Daughters back row: Sheila, Catriona (Mac), Margaret

Both John and Jessie were very active in the Auckland St Andrew’s Society, and both gave many talks or lectures on Scottish topics.  Jack’s specialism was Robert Burns, and Jessie’s main literary interest was Robert Louis Stephenson.  She also gave lectures on Kipling and James Barrie, and was a founding member of the New Zealand Penwomen’s League.

In a review of a John Barr song-lecture, he is reported to have said that Burn’s ‘Scots Wha Hae’ was “one of the greatest poems of liberty ever penned.” (New Zealand Herald 5 Sept 1919. p. 10).

In his typed version* of his address for the 169th Burns’ Anniversary (1928), Jack outlined Burns’ importance: he restored national pride to Scotland at a time when it was needed; Burns provided songs and poems of a quality lacking in other Scots works at that time; Burns’ nationalism was not a narrow patriotism but his humanitarian, liberal and egalitarian values gained international support.

With respect to Burns’ support of “universal brotherhood”, Jack quoted these lines from ‘Scots Wha Hae’:

By oppression’s woes and pains!
By your sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
         But they shall be free!

Following this, he wrote:

That was its commencement, but it rose to the sublime heights of universal freedom in his hopes that there would come a time when

Man to man the world o’er                                                                                     Would brothers be for a’ that.

The last two lines are from Burns’ song and poem, ‘Is There for Honest Poverty’, commonly known as ‘A Man’s a Man for A’ That’.

For Burns, poverty is honest: a man’s character and self-respect are his true worth, and not social class or the trappings of wealth; the wealthy can disguise their true worth with fine clothes; honesty and goodness are worth more than aristocratic titles.

This video uses Ian F Benzie‘s version of ‘A Man’s A Man for A’ that’, and various images related to Burns and the content of the song.

*The typed copy of John Barr’s speech is in the Douglas Munro collection: Douglas is grandson of John and Jessie Barr and son of Catriona Munro (née Barr).

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Filed under Auckland, biography, glasgow, heritage, history, jessie barr (nee macpherson), john barr, library, mitchell library

George Dodds (1810-1888): walking the talk

My great great great grandfather, George Dodds (1810-1888) had an extraordinary life when looking through a 21st Century lens.  He was born at Ouseburn, Newcastle Upon Tyne on 19 November 1810. He had to start work at 10 years old because his family had become impoverished.  He eventually became a campaigner for Temperance, and on behalf of the poor.  For the last year of his life he was Mayor of Tynemouth.

It’s fortunate for the researcher of family history to find such a high profile ancestor, because there are several newspaper articles, published during his lifetime, that tell about his life.  It is even more fortunate that such articles are easily accessible for those with Internet connections these days. I accessed articles about George Dodds’ life from the Auckland Libraries’ Digital Library.

According to his obituary (Newcastle Weekly Courant, Saturday, December 8, 1888; Issue 11160), George Dodd’s father was a butcher and his first job was at a pottery, earning 1 shilling per week. By 14 years old, he was apprentice at the flax dressing mill of Messers Plummer & Co., at Ouseburn, Newcastle Upon Tyne (the mill is part of Ouseburn’s industrial history).

Ouseburn's industrial past

Ouseburn’s industrial past:

On 9 October 1833, George married Frances Middleton at All Saints Church.  Frances continued with her dressmaking business after marriage, but also encouraged George to give up the booze. He signed the pledge on 24 September 1836.  George was eventually able to pay back the publicans he’d owed money to as a result of the “drunken sprees” of his youth.

Following this, he became a member of the Newcastle Upon Tyne Primitive Methodist Chapel, where he rose to be a “prominent member”.

His ready wit, and great command of simple, but effective language, made Mr. Dodds a capital speaker…

Some gentlemen financially sponsored George to travel the north of England for three years as a temperance missionary .

… Mr Dodds was compelled to travel hundreds of miles on foot; and to Mr P.T. Winskill, the author of “The Temperance Reformers”, he once remarked, “You may judge I could not get rich out of it; sometimes I arrived at home penniless, and had it not for my dear Fanny we could not have lived.”

George also worked three years in Scotland “in the same cause”.  Later, back in Newcastle, he became a temperance hotel keeper, and then started a business as a coffee roaster. Meanwhile he continued to campaign actively and intensely for the temperance cause.

A profile of George Dodds following his election as Tynemouth mayor, included the following image of him (Newcastle Weekly Courant 18 November 1887).

George Dodds Newcastle Weekly courant 18111887

The article accomanying the image, says that, when he was a flax mill apprentice, Dodds did not take an active part in the trade union movement, because he did not agree with the often adopted method of using physical violence.  It says that, when he tramped the villages of the north to deliver his temperance message, George

[proclaimed]  his own meetings by means of a handbell, and …[spoke] from a chair or any other impromptu platform…

As a result of his wife’s illness, they moved to Cullercoats in 1864, where he

… laboured with great success among the fishermen.

George was also chairman of the directors of the Newcastle Permanent Benefit Building society.

When the announcement of George’s election as mayor was pending, a snippet in the Newcastle Weekly Courant ( Friday, November 18, 1887; Issue 11105) stated that many, especially publicans, in Tynemouth were opposed to Dodd’s stance on temperance.

W. M Patterson, in “The Metropolis of Four Counties: Newcastle and Gateshead”, from Northern Primitive Methodism (1909), stated:

And there are the two renowned Georges! Mightier men in the temperance world have been rarely produced than George Charlton and George Dodds. They had their hands on State affairs, too, and lived to see the enfranchisement of the workers and other reforms for which they laboured incessantly and with commanding force. The growing municipalities on the river also claimed their attention, and each borough in which they resided gave them the highest seats, for George Charlton was Mayor of Gateshead and George Dodds was Mayor of Tynemouth.

The two George’s were together prominent members of the middle period of Primitive Methodism in Newcastle Upon Tyne, and both opposed policies of the British Conservative Party.

The Monthly Chronicle of North Country Lore and Legend” (January 1889), said this of George Dodds.  He,

was elected a member of the Tynemouth Town Council in 1877, and had thus served eleven years as an efficient and useful member of that body. He had been a Guardian of the Poor in the Tynemouth Union for fifteen years, and was connected with most of the philanthropic and benevolent institutions in the borough.

It added that, on his death, George had been “the last surviving member of the original committee of the Newcastle Temperance Society”.  This image accompanies the text:

George Dodds Monthly Chronicle of North Country Lore and Legend Jan 1889

George died on Wednesday 7 December 1888, a couple of weeks before his granddaughter, Fanny Jane Sinclair (née Brignal), died.

George Dodds led a very worthy life, walking the talk of temperance and service to the poor and to workers.

Alan Heath’s 2009 video of Cullercoats: includes several shots of Beverly Terrace where George and Francis Dodds lived at one time.  It is also the street where John Sinclair (James Sinclair’s father) had one of his residential properties.

A fuzzy amateur video of Cullercoats in the 1950s:

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Filed under biography, George Dodds, history, newcastle upon tyne, politics, primitive methodist, temperance