Saturday, 19 May 2012

The Pearce Family

William Pearce (12-02-1831  -  29-08-1900)

William Pearce was born in 1831 in Camberwell, London, England.  His father was Henry Pearce, a wine cooper or cellar man and his mother was Mary Lowe.  William, who was a barrister’s clerk in Surrey, married Jane Fogden at St Paul’s, Bermondsey, Surrey on 26-02-1854.  William came out to New Zealand on the Cashmere which sailed from London on 16-06-1859 arriving at Lyttelton 11-10-1859.  The captain was John Byron. 

An excerpt from the White Wings book, written by Henry Brett on early shipping in NZ, was:

“The Cashmere, a ship of 640 tons, brought many of our early settlers to the Dominion. She made five voyages to Auckland, two to Lyttelton, and one each to Nelson and Dunedin. The Cashmere had more comfortable accommodation for passengers than many other vessels coming out in the 'fifties, and many of our pioneers selected this ship when making a trip to the Homeland. The Cashmere was well found and generally had favourable runs out and home.”  White Wings - Sir Henry Brett

William Pearce was schoolmaster on board the ship.  He did his job sufficiently well and was allowed his gratuities on arrival in New Zealand.  He also didn't have to pay a fare to come out to New Zealand.  What a great opportunity this was for him!  The roll of schoolmaster was often not a very onerous one according to an old letter from 1864.  This account from the Mermaid in 1863 states that the schoolmaster on that ship was paid 10 pounds to do the job.  This schoolmaster was exempt from all cleaning and mess duties.  He had to attend all the burials and divine service on Sundays in case the Captain couldn't.  This was so that at least there was someone to officiate.  He mustered all children between 5 and 14 years old (there were 60 on the Mermaid) at 10am on the quarter deck.  He inspected them and if they were not clean they were reported to the Captain or Doctor.  They would then have two hours of school in the morning and two hours in the afternoon, weather permitting.  Click here for further information.

Captain John Byron wrote the following statement for William: 

Ship "Cashmere"
Oct 14th 1859

I hereby certify that Wm. Pearce, Schoolmaster on board  the "Cashmere" had paid attention to the Instruction of the Children, had also assisted in the performance of Divine Service and otherwise cooperated with me in adopting regularities among the Emigrants and thus I have much pleasure in stating that he has given me every satisfaction.

John Byron
Commandr. Ship "Cashmere"

Port Lyttelton.
(Archive NZ file: R22 188 390)
William was in charge of over 50 children  who were on board the Cashmere.  The schoolmaster kept the children out of the way of the adult passengers, keeping them entertained with lessons every day, so this was an important role.

Jane Pearce and her three young children must have come out to New Zealand later once William could afford to bring them out, (about 1862 according to Mary Ann Glanville née Pearce’s death certificate) but the shipping record has not been found as of yet. It is possible they came on the Highlander which travelled from Melbourne via Dunedin and arrived at Lyttelton on 30-12-1861 with three members of a family named Pearce on board.  They were not with William on the Cashmere and can be found in the 1861 census in Surrey, England taken on 07-04-1861 as follows:

Civil Parish: Bermondsey
Ecclesiastical parish: St Paul
County/Island: Surrey
Country: England

Mary Ann Etherton 57 (Head  -  Jane’s auntie)
Mary Etherton 42 (Niece)
Ann Fogden 36 (Niece  -  Jane’s cousin)
Mary Ann Fogden 40 (Niece  -  Jane’s cousin)
Elizabeth Halford 40 (Lodger)
Jane Pearce 29 (Niece)
Henry Pearce 5  (Nephew)
Alice Pearce 2 (Niece)

They were all listed as shirt collar makers.

So William Pearce started his new life in New Zealand without his family.  He is listed in the Canterbury Militia List (a list of able men for local defence) for the year ending 31-03-1861 as a storeman living in Dublin Street, Lyttelton.  A jury list from 19-05-1860 published in the Lyttelton Times also lists him as a storeman who owned a property in Dublin Street, Lyttelton.  William must have set up a place to live before his family arrived.  On 12-04-1862 there is a William Pearce listed on the electoral roll as having a household on the Bridle Path, Lyttelton with witness to his signature being T. M. Gee. William’s son William was born in Ticehurst Road, Lyttelton in 1863 after Jane arrived in Lyttelton.

“William Pearce, b. 25 April 1863 to William & Jane of Lyttelton, storeman sponsors Thomas Gee, William Pearce, Jane Pearce”  Thomas Gee, the sponsor of William Jnr’s christening was a confectioner, Canterbury Street, Lyttelton.  William and Thomas may have known each other earlier on in life.  Thomas was born in 1829 Lambeth, London and went to school at St George’s, Camberwell.  Did William also attend this school?  The Pearce family lived on the same street as the school in 1851 (5 Coleman St).  Thomas emigrated to NZ on the Zealandia in 1859, the same year as William Pearce.  Is it mere coincidence or did their paths cross before they left for NZ?  It seems likely they knew each other before their New Zealand adventure.

William was then chosen as Inspector of Nuisances out of 46 applicants after John Coker resigned on 20-06-1863.  William was assaulted in the course of his duties and the defendant W. H. McKellow was fined 2 pounds by C. C. Bowen on 11-07-1867.  The defendant said: “in the heat of passion, he had committed the offence with which he was charged.  His Worship said that public servants must be protected in the execution of their duty.” 

William was also Inspector of Hackney Carriages and in November 1872, prosecuted a cabman for not displaying a table of fares in his cab.  He also gave evidence in a case concerning a hackney carriage by-law in March 1874

William went bankrupt in 1869 and advertised this in the Press on 17 July 1869.  He obviously didn't manage his money well.  On his death he had no probate, meaning he wasn't that well off.  The year 1869 wasn't a great year for William overall.

William Pearce's first wife Jane Fogden died on 16-10-1869 aged 38 years.  She is buried in the Barbadoes Street cemetery.  Jane and William had seven children that we know of.

Henry Pearce                      (c1855 -   25-07-1931)
Mary Ann Pearce                (c1857 - 15-08-1898)
Alice Jane Pearce                (1858 - 27-08-1942)
William Pearce                     (25-04-1863  -   08-11-1940)
Arthur James Pearce        (06-02-1865 - 17-04-1943)
James Pearce                      (20-04-1867 - 12-09-1937)
Edward Pearce                    (27-10-1868 - 18-06-1950)

His second wife was Elizabeth Kelly née Nancarrow (widow of Richard Seymour Kelly who died 25-10-1873) who William knew well possibly through the church.  William Pearce is listed being a sponsor of Richard and Elizabeth’s daughter, Eliza Anne Kelly who was born 02-03-1870 and was christened at St Luke’s on 05-10-1870.  Richard and Elizabeth had five daughters in total: Mary Elizabeth (born 24 October 1862 in Melbourne), Louisa Jane (born in 1865 in NZ) and Ellen (born 1867 died 1878) (who both died young) and Eliza Ann and Edith Alice (1873) who lived to maturity. For a picture of St Luke's Church near the time of the Pearce family attending, click here

William and Elizabeth  married on 14-11-1875 at St. Luke's, Christchurch.  They had two girls that we know of.

Emma Louisa Pearce (30-05-1876 -   22-10-1945)
Ethel Ellen Pearce (24-09-1881 - 06-07-1955)

Elizabeth deserves her own story here. She was born in Redruth, Cornwall England on 29 December 1839 to Phillippa Frances Nancarrow and Richard Nancarrow.  The family sailed from Plymouth on the "Parsee" on 21 February 1854 and arrived at Melbourne on 9 June 1854. It is likely Richard was lured by the gold rush in Melbourne but he passed away only 12 years later on 9 November 1856 at the Port of Melbourne aged only 41.  Elizabeth was 16 at the time and she married Richard Seymour Kelly only a year later aged 17.  Having no father to provide for her, she would have had to have found a husband very quickly for the family's sake.  

According to research done by others which hasn't been proven my myself, Elizabeth and Richard first child was named Richard Kelly and was born on 10 October 1858 when Elizabeth was 18 years old.  Tragically he died only a year later aged 1 year on 7 November 1859 in Melbourne.  Another son named William Seymour Kelly was born on 8 August 1860 at Emerald Hill, Victoria but died aged 13 years and ten months in Melbourne.

The Pearce family was living on Colombo Street in 1876 when Emma was born and were still at Colombo Street North, St Luke’s parish when Ellen Kelly (Richard and Elizabeth’s daughter) passed away in 1878. 

Basically Elizabeth had five daughters, Mary, Eliza, Edith, Emma and Ethel.  Lots of "E" names there except for Mary.

On 01-02-1892 William Pearce was a witness at the wedding of Joseph William Voice (24), coachbuilder born in Bream, Gloucstershire to his step-daughter Edith Alice Kelly, (19) born in Christchurch.  They married at the Holy Trinity church, Avonside, Christchurch.  At the time William is named as a law clerk living on London Street, Richmond, Christchurch.  His son Arthur James Pearce was also a witness and was named as a boot maker living in London Street, Richmond.  William's stepdaughter Mary Elizabeth married Arthur Phelps Hopkins in 1881.  He was quite a well educated name.  They had enough boys for a cricket team.  William’s other step-daughter Eliza Ann married Arthur's brother, Alfred Phelp Richards Hopkins in 1886.

William's property on London Street, Richmond was, part rural section 41 and was freehold.

William Pearce died on 29-08-1900 aged 69 at London Street, Richmond, Christchurch and is buried in the Barbadoes Street Cemetery with his second wife Elizabeth who died on 15-09-1924 aged 86.  William and Elizabeth are buried on the hill on the left-hand side of Barbadoes Street.  The grave is under a yew tree right next to Cambridge Terrace and is in very good condition.

Because William had two wives who produced nine children, plus three step-daughters, his family is very large!

William Pearce's gravestone EDITED 

William Pearce's gravestone in Barbadoes Street Cemetery.  He is buried with his second wife Elizabeth Pearce.   I haven't checked it since the earthquakes, but it is pretty stuffed around that area!


The gravestone of Jane Pearce nee Fogden and her daughter Mary Ann Glanville nee Pearce.  It is next to William and Elizabeth Pearce's gravestone but facing  the other way!

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