Friday, 13 December 2013

A Schoolmaster on the Cashmere and a new genealogical discovery!

I have just made a discovery today which proves that just when you think you have completely finished the family tree, another discovery is made.  My ancestor William Pearce was a barrister's clerk in London.  He travelled to the port of Lyttelton, New Zealand on the Cashmere, arriving in 1859.

I decided to research the Cashmere for my new emigrant ship book "The Cashmere:  New Zealand Immigration Ship 1851-1863 and found many archives in Archives New Zealand for me to peruse sometime after the Christmas holidays.  I then noticed a document for a Mr Pierce who had done his duties as schoolmaster on board and was entitled to his gratuities.  I thought, well this is probably a different man, but after checking the passenger list I saw that my ancestor actually paid nothing to come to New Zealand and was the only man named Pierce/Pearce.  

The first time I found him on the passenger list about 10 years ago, I had no idea about things such as positions on a ship and that a person could work their passage out to New Zealand.  I was just stoked to confirm my ancestor's name on the passenger list, as I had about 10 William Pearce options.  William Pearce was a fairly common name.  He had an unusual occupation though, that of barrister's clerk, where most men at that time were agricultural labourers and other trades.  William came out by himself, leaving his family behind in England.  His wife Jane Pearce nee Fogden and three children remained in London. She worked as a shirt collar maker while her husband travelled many hundreds of miles to a new land for new opportunities.  

Anyway, the fact he paid nothing means that he was in fact working on board and was the schoolmaster, just with his name mispelt as Pierce.  There were no other men named Pierce or Pearce on board the ship.  William would have been fairly well educated in reading, writing and arithmetic to work as a barrister's clerk and this would have been the perfect job for him.  

He eventually sent for his family and, I think, paid their way to New Zealand.  It is almost impossible to say which ship they came on as they are in no passenger lists.  Was the separation worth it?  Almost definitely, as William had established himself in the Colony with good work and soon after Jane arrived, a new job as an Inspector of Nuisances for the local Council.

The find of new documents on my ancestor is exciting for me.  In the new year I'm going to get onto researching the Cashmere and see what else I can dig up on my ancestor William Pearce.  What do the documents hold that are tantilisingly close but yet so far away at the moment.  I have to wait until I have a babysitter and the Christmas shutdown has ended, and the public are allowed back into the archives.  Exciting!  It's almost as good as Christmas!

For my original post on William Pearce (which I've now updated) click here.

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