Southerly by David Haywood

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Southerly: Who was George Hildebrand Alington—and why did he give away his “Girl child 23 months old”?

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  • David Haywood,

    I’ve had another email from Ngaire directing me to her genealogy page:

    http://www.familytreecircles.com/draft-2-49232.html

    According to Ngaire’s research we now have a birth name for Alington’s daughter: Hilda Annie Webb born 9 December 1891 (note that the birthdate doesn’t quite match the DOB for Eileen Winter Coleman given earlier in this thread, and that the mother is listed as Eliza Anne Webb as opposed to the spelling apparently used by Eliza Ann (nee Webb) Winter). [UPDATE: apparently the BDM database is notoriously unreliable and Ngaire always confirms any data on her genealogy page from other sources].

    Interestingly, Ngaire claims that Eliza Ann (nee Webb) Winter gave birth to three children between abandonment by her first husband and marriage to her second husband. Eliza must have been a real ‘people person’, I guess. Although again the birth certificates for two of the children (Alington’s daughter and a boy) give her name with a different spelling than she appears to have normally used.

    I’ve also asked Ngaire how she made the link between Alington and Eliza Ann Winter, which I imagine will be an interesting story in itself. My bet is that Eliza was Alington’s housekeeper. I’ve also asked about the George Coleman JP (not a captain) on the adoption letter, and the wealthy Captain George Coleman (not a JP) who has been fingered as the adoptive father. These are still important mysteries to be resolved, I feel!

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 987 posts Report Reply

  • SteveH, in reply to David Haywood,

    mother is listed as Eliza Anne Webb as opposed to the spelling apparently used by Eliza Ann ... apparently the BDM database is notoriously unreliable

    Variations in spelling of an individual's name is quite common before the 20th century. Ann and Anne were very commonly used interchangeably. Note that it's not usually the BDM index at fault - usually the variation is present in the original documents (the handwritten regional and parish registers).

    Since Sep 2009 • 399 posts Report Reply

  • ngairedith,

    Ashburton Guardian, 2 October 1903
    COLEMAN - On October 1st, at Christchurch, Captain George, dearly beloved husband of Amelia Mary Coleman. Aged 71 years. Deeply regretted.

    Ashburton Guardian, 2 October 1903
    We regret to have to chronicle the death of Captain George Coleman our respected fellow citizen, which occurred at Christchurch yesterday, at the age of 71.
    In 1851, Captain Coleman arrived in Hobson's Bay, Melbourne, as chief officer of the ship "Glentheria" which was condemned by Lloyd's surveyors.
    For a period of five years he was at Bendigo, Jones's Creek, and Avoca and Ferry Creek diggings, and during that time he amassed a considerable quantity of gold, all of which he spent again in Melbourne and Sydney.
    In 1857 he shipped at Melbourne as chief officer in a vessel bound for Mauritius, and on arriving there left her to volunteer for service in the Indian Mutiny. He held several commands during the two years he was employed there. He then returned to Melbourne and married a granddaughter of Admiral Morris.
    Captain Coleman subsequently owned a number of sailing ships which ran on the Australian coast, and occasionally came to New Zealand. Once on a voyage from New Zealand to Sydney his vessel was lost, though all the crew were saved. After that the deceased was employed by Captain Schubert, of the Exchange, Sydney, to launch the "Sarah Barr," which had been cast ashore high up on the sand at the mouth of the Manning River, New South Wales. In again launching this vessel he was successful and took her down to Sydney, where he was well paid for his work.
    Following that he went to Melbourne and owned ships again, having purchased the "Jane Spicer" from Mr Huddart. After two years he sold his vessels, and came to New Zealand, where he purchased the large mercantile business in East Street, Ashburton, of Captain McLean, Middleton, and McQuade. At one time, Captain Coleman stated that he knew very little of this particular line of business, and consequently eighteen months after purchasing sold out to Mr Andrew Orr, and went to live at Christchurch. There he remained for upwards of twenty-five years, travelling about a good deal, and entering into many speculations.
    In 1899, he returned to Ashburton on account of his wife's health. Captain Coleman was for a long time a member of the Christchurch and Ashburton Bowling Clubs. He was also a Justice of the Peace for Ashbuton District, and although not often seen on the Magisterial Bench, gave every satisfaction as a level headed citizen, when it was incumbent on him to mete out the ends of justice.
    Mr Thomas (President), and Mr E. Manchester (Secretary) will represent the Ashburton Bowling Club at the funeral which takes place at Christchurch to-morrow, at 2.45 p.m.
    The cause of death was a relapse of influenza, gout, and a kidney trouble. Mrs Coleman, and an adopted daughter, survive the deceased

    Otago Daily Times, 5 October 1903
    The death is announced of Captain Coleman, a well-known figure in Ashburton and Christchurch. Captain Coleman, who was 71 years of age, arrived in Hobson's Bay in 1851 as chief officer of the Glentheria. After spending some time on the goldfields, he purchased a number of sailing vessels, but ultimately sold out and came to New Zealand, purchasing a mercantile business in Ashburton. He sold out in about 18 months time, and took up his residence in Christchurch until 1899, when, on account of his wife's health, he returned to Ashburton. He was an enthusiastic member of the Christchurch and Ashburton Bowling Clubs.

    Ashburton Guardian, 23 February 1912
    News was received in Ashburton to-day that Mrs Amelia Coleman died in Christchurch this morning. The deceased lady was the widow of the late Captain George Coleman, and resided with him in Ashburton for a number of years. The iron fence around the Baring Square reserve was presented to the Borough by the late Captain Coleman

    Press, 24 February 1912
    COLEMAN - On the 23rd instant, at "The Ganges," Bristol street, St. Albans, Amelia Mary Coleman, widow of the late Captain George Coleman; aged 67 years (Private interment)

    NOTES
    Amelia Mary Knevett (also Kneuitt) was born in London, a daughter of Thomas Lepard KNEVETT & Amelia MORRIS, (daughter of Captain Thomas Morris).
    Amelia arrived in Australia with her family on the 'Roxburgh Castle' in Dec 1857 when she was 13. She married George Coleman in Victoria, Australia in 1864

    Since May 2014 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to ngairedith,

    Attachment

    Captain Coleman was for a long time a member of the Christchurch and Ashburton Bowling Clubs. He was also a Justice of the Peace for Ashbuton District

    Mrs Coleman, and an adopted daughter, survive the deceased

    Gosh, Ngaire, you're a genealogy machine!

    So all those apparently different George Colemans are actually the same person -- excepting the farmer in Amberley who had a different middle name (and who I'd already excluded).

    And you've found the link to the adopted daughter. Case closed on that one, too!

    I'm half-jealous and half-annoyed by your skill at finding out this stuff. As you can see from the attached JPG, I'd actually done a search for George Coleman in the Ashburton Guardian around the time of his death, and nothing comes up! It only finds the obituaries when you search for the surname by itself. I guess I've learned a lesson here.

    Anyway, many thanks -- that's a huge contribution to solving the mystery!

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 987 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    All we need now is some mysterious dresses with gold sewn into the seams, some opium, and some astrological tables.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 811 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason, in reply to David Haywood,

    But your dates of the wedding and Winifred’s birth put paid to my admittedly unworthy hypothesis that Alington may have knocked up his soon-to-be-wife as well.

    Knocked up. A fascinating phrase. The internet never lies so here is an explanation of it's history that might be embellished a bit but, you know, has some semblance of truthiness.

    "A" history of Knocked Up.

    "Knocking" began as a term for serious flirting circa 1800. Originally it was because you were knocking on the maiden's "door" trying to "get in". Understandably, this reference quickly changed to the actual act of "getting in" because beds knock against walls. If you leave your boots on, literally done at that time, you are "knocking boots"- a Southern U.S. term. Around 1813, the term "knocking up her boots" was common. A reference to the "missionary" position. By 1830, "knocked up" began as a reference to what we now know it as today. Sadly, it was a reference to a slave woman who became pregnant. {This can be verified via "Bing" search, and through searches of various history sources for; African-American History, Southern & Western U.S. History, Women's History, etc:}

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1496 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    Not just a cupboard but a truck-load of skeletons in my family!

    Let me tell you about our bigamist , murder trial ......

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2152 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    Attachment

    As per Lynley Chapman’s suggestion, I’ve looked up the will of the Mrs George Coleman (Amelia Mary Coleman) cited in the adoption letter (see attached).

    It states that Eileen Winter Coleman is the “legally adopted daughter”, which gives absolute confirmation of the connection. There appears to be no other adopted child, so the adoption receipt from Wellington presumable is the proof of the “legally adopted” status of Eileen.

    Incidentally, Eileen appears to inherit what must have been a considerable fortune (George Coleman’s estate was valued over £20,000 on his death) – good news considering her troubled start in life.

    I’m still not entirely convinced that there is only one Mrs E A Winter (or rather that Mrs E A Winter (nee Webb) is the same person as E A Webb). I don’t suppose any expert genealogists could rustle up a copy of Miss E A Webb's marriage certificate to Mr Webb (which presumably would give her date of birth) and then a copy of Hilda Annie Webb’s (Eileen’s presumed birth name) birth certificate. If the date of birth for Mrs E A Winter (nee Webb) and E A Webb are the same then that would put everything to bed.

    I’d also be interested to know how we could establish Mrs E A Winter’s address in Methven when she conceived Eileen – that could be very revealing.

    I’m intrigued that apparently the Colemans changed their adopted daughter’s name so that it included her birth mother’s surname – it doesn’t seem to quite make sense. Also the fact that they lived a stone’s throw away from the birth mother at one point.

    I feel there is still quite a bit more of the story to be discovered.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 987 posts Report Reply

  • ngairedith, in reply to David Haywood,

    good find David,
    yes, I think there is quite a story yet to be told (I also thought of Eileen's changed name). The fact they were probably neighbours could mean they were such good friends that they wanted to give young Hilda a better future (they must have had intimate knowledge of her life) as per _ I will do all in my power to prevent the mother of the child knowing where the child is or annoying the child or Mrs Coleman in any way or claiming the child_ but using the name Winter is intriguing considering William was not exactly an upstanding character in the community, nor even related to HIlda. The mother couldn't bring up all those children on her own and George, newly married, couldn't/ wouldn't (although I've been wondering who brought her up from Dec 1892 to Nov 1893) ... anyway, we will find out with more research

    will you allow me to transcribe the Will to add to my journal please David?

    ps
    £20,000 in Oct 1903 is equivalent to $3,382,200 in Oct 2013

    Since May 2014 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    Attachment

    No problem, Ngaire, I've also uploaded the second and final page of the will for you (above)...

    I've also been wondering about the timing of Mrs E A Winter's divorce. Could there have been a plan for her and Alington to marry? Perhaps the Alington family intervened to make the introduction to Alington's eventual young and wealthy wife (she was already related by marriage to the family, as I recall).

    Mind you, I'm well into the sphere of speculation by now...

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 987 posts Report Reply

  • SteveH, in reply to David Haywood,

    I don’t suppose any expert genealogists could rustle up a copy of Miss E A Webb’s marriage certificate to Mr Webb (which presumably would give her date of birth) and then a copy of Hilda Annie Webb’s (Eileen’s presumed birth name) birth certificate. If the date of birth for Mrs E A Winter (nee Webb) and E A Webb are the same then that would put everything to bed.

    If you want to order them, the registration numbers are:
    1882/35 Marriage of Eliza Ann Webb and William Winter
    1892/3429 Birth of Hilda Annie Webb

    Those two certificates could well rule out a connection but are less likely to be convincing in terms of confirming a connection. Records that old will only have ages, which are often imprecise, so it won't be a definitive as birth dates would be. The locations of the events could be quite suggestive though.

    The marriage notice in the Star, 9 May 1882:

    Winter--Webb.--May 4, at Madras street, North, by the Rev C. Fraser, William Winter, to Eliza Ann, youngest daughter of Mrs Webb, both of Christchurch.

    There was another Eliza Winter (no middle name given) having children around the same time (1870-1900). The father was Henry Thomas Winter. There was also a Eliza Ann Webb having children with James Webb.

    I’m intrigued that apparently the Colemans changed their adopted daughter’s name so that it included her birth mother’s surname – it doesn’t seem to quite make sense.

    That seems odd to me too, particularly using the married name when she'd apparently been divorced and the baby was registered as "Webb" when born. However Dianne posted that Eliza's death record stated ‘Eliza Ann Kennard commonly known as Eliza Ann Winter ’. So she was going by Winter even after her second marriage. It's possible that Alington didn't even know her maiden name.

    The timeline does fit quite well:
    18 Aug 1887 - Percy Edward Winter born (last of Eliza and William's children)
    around Sept 1889 (or before) - William Winter abandons Eliza Ann
    31 Jul 1890 - Horace Clement Wilfred Webb born (mother Eliza Ann Webb, no father recorded). Must have been conceived around Nov 1889
    15 Sep 1891 - court notice re divorce
    9 Dec 1891 - Hilda Annie Webb born (mother Eliza Anne Webb, no father recorded)
    21 Dec 1892 - payment of 20 pounds from Alington to E. A. Winter
    24 Nov 1893 - letter re adoption of 23 month old girl, mother having been paid 20 pounds
    1895 - Berty Alfred Forster Webb born (mother Eliza Webb, no father recorded)
    1898 - Eliza Ann Winter married Frederick Kennard

    Since Sep 2009 • 399 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to SteveH,

    Those two certificates could well rule out a connection but are less likely to be convincing in terms of confirming a connection. Records that old will only have ages, which are often imprecise, so it won’t be a definitive as birth dates would be.

    Darn! What a shame they don’t have DOBs.

    Your timeline certainly seems plausible, Steve. But it’s a real mystery as to where the heck all those children went. Eliza couldn’t possibly have had them with her during all that, could she?

    I wonder if the children to Winter and (initially) her baby to Alington ended up with – for example – the same relative, who called the baby ‘Winter’ so as to fit the baby in with her half-siblings. Perhaps the relative/carer was known to the Colemans and that is how the adoption took place.

    I’m back to speculation again…

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 987 posts Report Reply

  • SteveH, in reply to David Haywood,

    I’ve had another email from Ngaire directing me to her genealogy page:

    http://www.familytreecircles.com/draft-2-49232.html

    Ngaire, on your page you've got:

    Eliza Ann Webb married (aged 33), to William John David WINTER (1848-1942) 4 May 1882 at her mother's residence, Madras Street, Christchurch

    Is it William who is aged 33 at the marriage? If it's Eliza that puts her birth around 1849 which is very different from the 1864 mentioned in other events.

    Since Sep 2009 • 399 posts Report Reply

  • SteveH, in reply to David Haywood,

    But it’s a real mystery as to where the heck all those children went. Eliza couldn’t possibly have had them with her during all that, could she?

    Yes, she must have been getting help from somewhere. If she had all the kids with her she would have been caring for six under the age of 10 when George Alington gave her the 20 pounds.

    Edit: six, not seven. One of William and Eliza's daughters died in 1887, age 3.

    Since Sep 2009 • 399 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to SteveH,

    Yes, she must have been getting help from somewhere. If she had all the kids with her she would have been caring for six under the age of 10 when George Alington gave her the 20 pounds.

    Not to mention paying Stringer & Cresswell all the legal costs for her divorce, and a whole stack of newspaper adverts advising the errant husband of her plan to divorce him.

    I’d wondered if the legal costs at Stringer & Cresswell had been funded by Alington. Is there any way to read the £20 receipt in this light, i.e. does the "in settlement" imply previous payments?

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 987 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe,

    I suppose there could be a whole lot of reasons why the Alington files at the Turnbull were locked. High among the likely ones would be the existence of secret illegitimate children and the financial arrangements for them and their mothers.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Lynley Chapman,

    Great confirmation from the Will David.

    A perusal of the Will of George Hildebrand Alington might offer something too:
    http://www.archway.archives.govt.nz/ViewFullItem.do?code=22389902

    Located at National Archives Christchurch.

    I still think that the birth mother of the adopted girl lived so close by that she must have seen her daughter…..curious

    Porirua • Since Aug 2011 • 36 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe,

    The house where Amelia Coleman died, The Ganges, 78 Bristol Street, right by the T intersection with Webb St, is still there: a large, run-down single-story villa with the original bosky and beautiful wrought-iron gates and a wild garden. See google maps.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe,

    Could your house have been owned by one of the “missing” children? I'm intrigued about why the documents were at that house.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Lynley Chapman, in reply to Hebe,

    Ditto :-)

    Porirua • Since Aug 2011 • 36 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to Lynley Chapman,

    A perusal of the Will of George Hildebrand Alington might offer something too:

    Will do, Lynley!

    I’m intrigued about why the documents were at that house.

    So am I. But possibly the thing that hid the documents was originally part of another house...

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 987 posts Report Reply

  • ngairedith,

    LAST WILL & TESTAMENT of Amelia Mary Coleman
    http://www.familytreecircles.com/w-59340.html

    Since May 2014 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to David Haywood,

    I’m intrigued about why the documents were at that house.

    So am I. But possibly the thing that hid the documents was originally part of another house…

    The plot thickens...again.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to David Haywood,

    rollickin' relics...

    the thing that hid the documents was originally part of another house…

    I often wonder how many little secretions and mysteries like this, are being lost as they smash, bash and trash all these houses in Chchch...

    583 Madras Street is still there, by the way...
    back section has been built on but the old villa is still up front behind a fence, who knows what's under the house or in the attic?

    I say we form a posse...

    :- )

    ps: imagine what Stevan Eldred-Grigg could do with this...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4959 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to David Haywood,

    possibly the thing that hid the documents was originally part of another house

    My unruly mind keeps returning to this: what could it be? A fire surround? A built-in desk?

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2607 posts Report Reply

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