Saturday, 19 May 2012

The Luff Family

William Henry Luff (Bet. 1831-1835  -  31-12-1883)

The following blog entry was all I had found over the past ten years or so, until I met a professional genealogist who put me onto a couple of new databases and gave me some suggestions and off I went again.  Click here for the new blog entry.

William Henry Luff, a cabinet maker, was the father of Eliza Jane Luff.  He was a bit of an elusive character.  William claims to have married Elizabeth Gillespie (born around 1829-1837)  but details differ between certificates.  On the birth record for John Thomas Luff it says they were married on 06-03-1869 in Sydney, Australia.  On the birth certificate for James Robert Luff it says they married on 14-02-1870 in Sydney.  No record of their marriage in Sydney was found in a manual search covering five years either side of these dates.  The death certificates for William and Elizabeth state they were married in Kumara, West Coast in 1869 but there is no record of a marriage for them in New Zealand either.  So were they really married at all?  They may never have married but instead fabricated a marriage to become accepted in society in those days.  They were older parents, with their first child being born when Elizabeth was around 34 to 40 years old, and maybe they couldn't be bothered getting married. Or maybe the marriage happened but was never registered or there is a massive error in the records.

They had three children:

Elizabeth Jane Luff (25-03-1871  -  10-08-1949)
John Thomas Luff (07-07-1873  -  03-08-1879)
James Robert Luff (26-06-1876  -  15-03-1965) 

Elizabeth was born in Grahamstown, Thames, New Zealand, John in Barnard Street, Sandhurst, Bendigo Region, Victoria, Australia and James was born in Whateley Road (now Victoria Street), Christchurch, New Zealand which shows just how much the family moved around.   We don’t know why they moved so much, but it seems that William may have been chasing the gold mining that was prevalent at that time.  He was a cabinet maker by trade and was listed as a storekeeper on John’s birth certificate in Australia.  It could be that he had shops selling his furniture both in Australia and New Zealand near where the gold miners were, but we don’t know.

John Thomas Luff died of diphtheria aged six years old.  The family were living on Victoria Street, Christchurch and had been in New Zealand for five years.  From their death certificates it looks like Elizbeth Gillespie came out to New Zealand around 1855 and William in about 1867.  There is no William Henry Luff to be found in the passenger lists, but on 8 April 1867 there was a Henry Luff who arrived in the steerage of the Canute, a ship from London.  There was no occupation listed or age, so we can only guess that this could be our man. 

After a detailed search of Papers Past there was a W. H. Luff living in Dunedin in 1863.  He had an unclaimed letter in 1863 and then there was the dissolution of a partnership.  Whether this is a different W. H. Luff we may never know.

William and Elizabeth may have met around 1863-1868, went to Sydney or Kumara around 1869, Thames in late 1870, moved back to Australia, this time to Sandhurst around 1872 and then came back to New Zealand in 1874 settling finally in Christchurch.  They are a very hard family to trace.  William had premises on Whately Road which then became Victoria Street, Christchurch.  He advertised a double fronted shop to rent in the Press on 22 Feb 1877.  Later in the Star on 2 June 1880 he advertised a shed and stables to rent on Victoria Street.  And in the Star on 27 Dec 1881 he advertised two rooms to rent, furnished or unfurnished on Victoria Street.

Because there was no marriage certificate and their death certificates were unreliable and incomplete all we know is that William was born in London sometime between 1831 and 1835 and Elizabeth Gillespie was from Glasgow born around 1829-1839.  We will probably never be able to trace back further unless a marriage certificate is found. 

One of the few documents we can find is a hospital admission for Mrs Luff aged 37, admitted on 07-11-1876 for the disease gastritis and discharged on 19-11-1876.  Her husband was Henry Luff, cabinet maker living on Papanui Road.  She was listed as Scottish and her religion was Presbyterian.  They were charged 2 pounds for her treatment.

With all the moving around and chasing his fortune it didn't pay off for William.  He went bankrupt on in 1882 as advertised in the Star 7 December 1882.

William was buried on 02-01-1884 at St Pauls, Papanui, Christchurch. He suffered from inflammation of the lungs over 5 days prior to his death.  There is a notice in The Star on 03-01-1884 which states W. H. Luff died at Yaldhurst aged 51. 

On 25-06-1893 Elizabeth Luff (née Gillespie) was living at Livingstone Street, Christchurch when her daughter Elizabeth married Arthur James Pearce at her mother’s home.  Elizabeth died aged 76 on 06-12-1905 at 60 Aikmans Road, the house of her daughter.  She shares a grave with her husband but there is no headstone on their grave suggesting they weren’t very well off.

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