NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.




An early English Census record has revealed the following as an occupation for two boys, one aged 14, the other 11 years -

‘Labourer and goes to Sunday School’.  Apparently this was quite common at that time.  Children were expected to work, and the only way of getting any education would be to go to school on Sundays. It wasn't quite the same as the Sunday Schools of today.  Although religious teaching was an aspect, one aim was to teach the children to read and write so they could better themselves in future.  It was partly as a result of these Sunday schools that state education came about.

Source:   Combined wisdom of various Essex Rootsweb listers

(Aug 2005)


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.




Those new to genealogy can be forgiven for thinking they must have dozed off and woken up in a foreign country.  The lingo of genealogists can be confusing to say the least.  Here’s a few commonly heard terms to help break the code -


Births, Deaths and Marriages


Family History service attached to LDS (ah…. see below)


General Registry Office (UK)


International Genealogical Index – term for the index of microfilmed parish records along with information submitted by individuals


Church of Latter Day Saints (have considerable resources for genealogical research accessible to researchers worldwide)


Often pronounced ‘fish’ with an Aussie accent.  No, not teeny weeny goldfish.  Sheet of film containing frames of info – our BDM index is in this form


Reel film containing up to 2500 exposures


Fancy term now used for a photocopy of New Zealand BDM records


New Zealand Society of Genealogists


Public Records Office (London)


(Aug 2005)


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.




by Mrs Margaret WRIGHT  (nee TAPP)



My father being a stone mason by trade was often idle during the winter months and early part of Spring.  My mother, who was a good and careful housewife, saved as much as possible while my father was in steady work so as to have something to fall back on when no wage was coming in.  In those days there were many beggars especially in the winter time, and any that came to our door were never turned away, and although my mother could not give them money she had always a sup to offer them and now and again with cast off clothing.  She always made soup for us each day in the winter time in the following variations:  Pea soup, potato soup and barley and vegetable soup, always making more than required and putting the pot with what was left in it on the hob to keep it warm, saying at the same time some puir body coming along might be glad of a plateful, and sure enough a woman and bairn or a young laddie would shortly after be seen standing at the door and asking for a bite.  Butter was sold in half pound rolls at 1/6 so that my parents could not afford to buy sufficient for each day for themselves and five children;  but there was an estate not very far away where the woman cook was allowed to sell the dripping on her own account so one of my brothers would be sent occasionally to get a jar of dripping to spread on our pieces;  but I wasn’t fond of it.  Now I come to how my father came to leave Scotland and go to New Zealand. 


He had a married sister over there who had been in New Zealand for over twelve years, [Mrs Christina Downie, Waitepeka] and she kept writing to him and asking him to leave Scotland and come to N.Z. and she would help him to find work, till at last he decided to try it out.  Then I suppose he had to find out when a ship was sailing and all arrangements made for leaving our home.  While my mother was arranging what she was to take with her, my eldest brother printed the name and address on each of the boxes.  Also put “Not Wanted on the Voyage” on some and “Wanted on the Voyage” on the others.  All our household furniture was sold with the exception of my mother’s sewing machine, my father taking it to pieces and packing it in a box by itself.  All the cutlery was brought to New Zealand and a few special glasses and dishes.  I can remember all of us going to our doctor to be examined, and I think my mother must have been a bit anxious about me as I was very pale and delicate looking, and a very small eater, although I don’t remember feeling anything wrong with me;  but it was just my nature.  However she said something to the doctor but I did not catch what it was, and it had been about me as he pinched me on the cheek and said “She will stand the voyage all right.”


I may mention here that my father was a member of The Bonnyrigg Gardeners’ Club and also competed at their Spring and Autumn Shows, in both vegetable and flower exhibits.  They also held in the summer time what they called The Gardeners’ Walk and the small daughters of the members from five up to eight or nine were included in this walk as virgins.  They were dressed in white muslin frocks with blue sash and blue ribbon on their hair;  also white stockings, black shoes with bright buckles.  They also had one of their members dressed up as “Adam” with long white hair and long white flowing beard.  I remember being very much afraid of him.  He rode in a cart drawn by one horse, and we virgins followed, then the gardeners with their blue aprons on trimmed with gilt braid.  The first time I was in this walk we were taken to a farm house where we had a tumbler of nice fresh milk to drink and plenty to eat;  then we were all given a fancy box containing rose leaves and sweets.  I don’t remember just all that took place but after a time we all made for home parading back in the same way as we went.  We virgins got a ride part of the way both going and coming.


On the morning of Sept. 14th, 1879, my father and mother, my brothers and sister and myself left our home in Lothian Place, Bonnyrigg, Scotland for New Zealand.  Namely, Robert Tapp, Mary Johnston Tapp (nee Spence), Edward Tapp age 14, John William Tapp 12, Alexander Tapp 11, Margaret Tapp 6 and Sibella Ann Spence Tapp 3.  We went first to Edinburgh and stayed 5 nights with our Uncle and Aunt who was my father’s sister and while there we got our photos taken.  Then we went to Glasgow and stayed five nights with another Uncle and Aunt, my aunt being also my father’s sister.  My mother had no relatives in Scotland as she was born in Orkney.  On Sept. 24th we went to Greenock where we boarded the sailing ship “Auckland” sailing two days later.  [The following has been crossed out ‘(my sister’s fourth birthday).’]  My brother John also had his 13th birthday on board on Nov. 7th.


I remember it being a bit hard getting used to some of the food especially the ship’s biscuits which were very hard.  I am not sure of the correct number of passengers but there were somewhere between two and three hundred.  The number of our mess was 17;  three families occupying one mess.  We were in the centre, an elderly couple on one side and a married couple on the other side with a family of five, the youngest being only six weeks old, so my mother prepared most of the food for all our mess to be taken up to the cook shop.  We usually had plum duffs on Sundays and when the cook took our duff out of the pot he would give it a smack with his ladle and say “number seventeen” the best duff in the pot.  The menfolk had the job of taking the food up to the cookshop to be cooked and going for it at meal time or if it were scones or oatmeal cakes going for them when they would be ready.  One day my mother sent up a meat pie to be baked and when the cook was handing it to my father, a woman standing near, held out her hands for it saying “Beautifully done with a rose in the centre” but my father said;  “No, you don’t, bake one for yourself” or something to that effect.  My three brothers were berthed with the single men in the forepart of the ship, and the young women in the back part with the married folk in the centre.  My mother went quite often to the young men’s part to mix up scones, or oatmeal cakes for my brothers.  School was conducted during the voyage by a man teacher, and when the weather was fine was held on the poop.  My brother tells me of a whale coming up to the surface to spout one day during school which caused great excitement.  I don’t remember about it and I think it must have been when I was in bed with the measles, otherwise I would have remembered it.  One day when it looked like a squall coming, the teacher got some of the men passengers to help carry the seats which were placed at the foot of the stairs below the hatchway as it was more suitable light although closed down.  Before he got back with his book, etc., a big wave came over on the opposite side from where we were sitting, and as the hatchway on that side was open we got the full force and drenched to the skin.  There was no school that day.  Another day after that while playing up on the deck with some playmates, a wave came over us and soaked us to the skin, so we had to scuttle down below to get dry clothes on.  My sister also got a soaking one day while playing up on deck with others.  I remember well when at the Equator where we were becalmed for three days.  It was scorching hot on deck and very close and warm down below.  There were awnings put up on deck for several delicate married women who had spent most of the time in bed with seasickness.  These women had to be helped up on deck and helped back down again, and young as I was I felt really sorry for them and glad my mother wasn’t ill like that.  I can remember seeing some men catch an albatross with a hook on a rod, and one man carrying it on his back to the poop;  the bird’s head nearly touching the deck floor.  While at the Equator, or crossing the line I should say, I can remember some of the ongoings.  There was a sailor dressed up as Neptune, and they pulled him round the deck on a capstan;  I don’t remember what else they did then;   but after it became dark they had a made-up Neptune and he was made like he was climbing on to the rigging, and was set fire to as he dropped into the sea.  Everyone was up on deck to see the final.  Some time after leaving the Equator, we came in sight of land which turned out to be Brasil, and was a bit out of our course.  We saw two boats launching and coming towards us, and there was great excitement amongst us youngsters as we were counting on the oranges, etc. we expected our parents to buy for us.  Great was our disappointment when we found that the ship was getting further away from the shore and not waiting for the boats which had to turn and go back without doing any bartering.  Captain McDougall reckoned he had lost too much time already at the Equator.  Opposite us in our quarter were a married couple with a very young baby girl, and as I hadn’t seen a baby so young I took great interest in watching it getting bathed each morning for some time.  It was its father who bathed it as the mother was sick and spent the most of the time in bed during the voyage.  One morning I could not contain my thoughts any longer, so said:  “I’m shure that bairn is’na worth the money ye wad gis the doctor for her.”  I forget what he said to me, but he took it in good part, and it caused a good laugh from those who overheard it, as I was looked upon as small for my age.  One day when I was going toward our mess, a small boy I was passing had a piece of stick that had been split off a box or something and hut [sic] me on the arm with it, and of course I just swung round and slapped him on the face.  His mother, seeing it all, said to me:  “You must not hit Willie.  He doesn’t mean to hurt you.  It is all for kindness.”  My mother and a few others heard all and they all thought it was a funny kindness.  However, he never attempted to hit me again.  I must not forget to mention that we had church services every Sunday which were very well attended.  There was also Sunday School.  Syrup and treacle were the substitutes for jam and jelly;  but my mother had some jam and jelly with her for our own private use and one day when I was going up the stair to the deck with a jam piece in my hand I met the doctor and Captain, and they said:  “Oh my!  Bread and jam!  Give me a piece.”  Of course I was too shy to do anything, and so they never stopped but just had a laugh to themselves at my embarrassment.


On Sunday afternoon [Sept. crossed out] 17th the sailing vessel ‘Taranaki’ hailed the ‘Auckland’, and our captain found that the ‘Taranaki’ had sailed from Greenock two days after the ‘Auckland’, so of course he didn’t want her to beat his ship to Port Chalmers, as the ship ‘Auckland’ was considered the fastest sailing vessel of that company.  If I remember correctly there were six vessels named after different colonies of New Zealand belonging to the one company, but I am not sure of the other four names.  However, our captain seemingly had not taken into consideration the time he had lost going off his course and had been longer detained at the Equator.  He ordered full sail on but the first mate did not think it wise as he counted on a storm coming;  but our captain was obstinate.  Nearing eight o’clock that night the ‘Auckland’ was struck by a heavy squall and went over on her beam ends.  All hands were called on deck, and the hatchways all battened down so as to keep the passengers from going up on deck.  As I, as well as all the children, was fast asleep, we never knew anything about it until morning.  I have heard my mother say that some of the passengers in our quarters made a rush to go when the captain called out, but she told them she thought it was for the crew.  Luckily for the passengers and all told, the ship righted to a certain extent as the mainsail burst with the weight of water before the sailors had time to climb and release it, and although all happened within a few seconds, it was a great shock to all the passengers.  Shortly after, when all work was done until morning, the captain and doctor went round all the passengers’ messes to see if any were missing or hurt, and I have heard my mother exclaim that some of the women passengers said ‘O Captain are we near land?’ and he said ‘No, I don’t want to see land to-night.’  Had the mainsail been a new one I would not have been here to tell the tale.  My brother Edward came through to my mother as soon as he could get that night, very upset and frightened;  so with soothing words she told him to go back to his bed and say his prayer and God would take care of him.  The next morning the captain stood on deck supping his porridge and giving orders to the crew.  When I got up that morning I couldn’t make it out how the floor had such a downhill grade.  I don’t remember what explanation my mother gave me, but I wouldn’t be satisfied until she would allow me to go up to the top of the stairs to see what it was like;  so after promising faithfully that I would hold on to the rails and not step over on deck she let me go.  I got such a surprise to see the wall round the deck having such a slope I had no desire to go further.  With all my mother’s bravery during it all, the shock was too much for her and the next night she was taken to hospital where she had a premature confinement.  After the cargo was shifted as far as possible the ship righted much further, but still had a list to that side when arriving at the Heads on Xmas Eve 1879.  An outbreak of one case of measles shortly before put the ship into quarantine in the harbour, and the passengers were put on Quarantine Island, so that was the first soil we all set foot on after our sojourn of three months on the sea.  My mother, of course, was not able to leave the ship until it arrived at Port Chalmers, and the passengers were in quarantine much longer than the ship, so that my father, brothers and sister and myself were parted from mother close on 3 weeks.  There was a little girl aged three in the ‘Taranaki’ at that time, who, strange to say is now my youngest son’s mother-in-law.  My aunt met us at Port Chalmers, and we came with her to Kakapuaka where my uncle met us, and took us to their home at Waitepeka about the third week of January 1880.  I should have mentioned that the vehicle was my uncle’s dray drawn by two horses, one in the shafts, and one in the lead.  We stayed there with them until June when we took up residence in a 3-roomed cottage made of wattle and daub, with a thatched roof which was in the Warepa district and belonged to my uncle;  also the small farm it was on.


Note added later:

The Aunt and Uncle was Christina Downie (nee Tapp), her husband William Downie

(Aug 2005)


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.



Following last month’s ‘Reminiscences of My Trip from Scotland to New Zealand’ by the late Mrs WRIGHT nee TAPP, here’s a little info on the sailing ship ‘Auckland’ that the family came to New Zealand in.



During the year of 1874, the celebrated ship builder, Robert Duncan of Glasgow built ‘six remarkably fine’ ships – the ‘Invercargill’, ‘Auckland’, ‘Wellington’, ‘Canterbury’, ‘Nelson’ and the ‘Dunedin’.  All of these ships were about the same length, beam, depth and tonnage (1,265) and were ordered for the New Zealand trade.  They were ‘fitted up with every modern convenience and comfort for first-class passengers and immigrants and sailed under the Albion Company’s flag until the Albion and Shaw Savill companies amalgamated.  The ‘Auckland’, described as ‘a thing of beauty and joy’ with lines of perfect symmetry, was one of the fastest ships of the time and by all accounts had some rather exciting voyages!!  The first sailing commenced on 16 June 1889, arriving at Auckland on 15 September 1889 under Captain James.  Captain Charles James was employed by the Shaw, Savill and Albion Company for 31 years and in command of their ships for over 25 years.  As recorded in Mrs Wright’s memories, the ship left Greenock on the 26 September 1879 under Captain McDougall.  This journey, arriving at Dunedin on the 23rd December 1879 took 88 days.  The records show that the shortest official time for the journey to Dunedin was 81 days under Captain James however in 1877 Captain McDougall achieved 82 days, with the comment ‘Land to land, 74 days’. 


It would appear that there was some strong degree of competition between ships.  When Captain James was given command of the ‘Auckland’, he was told at the office that they had given him ‘the Yacht of the fleet’ and expected him to break all records with her!!  This competitiveness would go some way in explaining the eagerness of Captain McDougall not to be beaten by the ‘Taranaki’ on the voyage on which the TAPP family came to New Zealand.  Mr H.N. Burgess, an apprentice on the ‘Auckland’ and afterwards an officer with the company, recalled several eventful journeys.  One such sailing was on his first voyage under ‘old Captain Mordue, one of those fine old English gentlemen of the sea, he thought more of the comfort of his passengers and crew than making passages’.  Homeward bound from Melbourne (76 days), they were off the dreaded Cape Horn in a very light breeze, ‘however the “Old Man” had been too long at sea not to be able to read the weather;  it was a clear sky, no clouds, but a sort of white haze all over.’  Appropriate actions were taken and ‘at about seven bells we were all about the decks just starting to get down the fore and main upper topsails, when, without any warning, a “white squall” (clear atmosphere, no rain or cloud) hit us like a blast from a gun.  Over she went, and still over, wind right abeam, put up the helm to ease her away, but she was too flat to answer it.  They tried to ‘luff’ but the foresail and staysail held her head off and the ship ‘just layed down and kicked’.  Desperate actions were taken which eased her a little but a second blast came down and the cargo of grain shifted a bit.  The ship was absolutely on her beam ends and all they could do was to try and crawl over the weather side as she went over. 

The 'Auckland' under full sail

The ‘Auckland’ under full sail

Suddenly ‘with a thunderous report’ away went the foresail and the ship and all hands were saved by a very sleepy chap who instead of being on the deck was in his bunk.  The lurch threw him out of the bunk and into the water and on the spur of the moment he put his sheath knife through the fore sheet before he came to the surface.  This caused the sail to ‘tow’ and in a few seconds the ship ‘came up to breath’.  Phew!!


In 1893 the Auckland sailed from Dunedin to Wellington to load for London.  She was at the wharf and the loading of wool and flax was almost completed when a dense smoke was seen pouring out of the port hole.  The crew fought the flames for half an hour but the fire took hold.  The fire brigade was summoned and eventually the fire was subdued.  Much of the cargo was saturated with water, however the ship suffered very little damage.


On the 6th March 1909, the ‘Auckland’ was wrecked and became a total loss during a gale off Possession Island, South-West Africa.  All hands were lost.

Source:  ‘White Wings,  Fifty Years of  Sail in the New Zealand Trade, 1850 to 1900’  Volume 1 by Sir Henry Brett

(Sep 2005)


NOTE:   These articles are contributed to our newsletter by individuals and do not necessarily represent branch advice and/or policy.



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