Topic: Emily Charlotte Greer (c1863-1929)

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Emily Charlotte Greer was the daughter of Henry Harpur Greer who commanded British troops at during the Battle of Gate Pā at Pukehinahina (29 April 1864) and the Battle of Te Ranga (21 June 1864). Emily wrote her memoirs prior to her death in 1929, a portion of which was is provided here by Henry's great great grandson, Mike Dottridge.

My father had now commanded the regiment since the Burma days, and when the regiment embarked for New. [sic] Zealand in a sailing ship, my mother with her three children, and a large proportion of the wives and families of the officers and men, also went out as a matter of course. It took 84 days to sail out, round Cape Horn, and the smallness and discomfort of the ship, must have been extreme; but my mother took it all in the day’s work. They were about three years in New Zealand, and my mother spent most of the time at Tauranga in the North Island.

When they first went out, they had a great deal of kindness from Bishop Selwyn, and his wife. He was the first Bishop of Melanesia, and was a man of immense Christianity and humour, which do not always go together. He loved his flock, hut found the cannibal propensities a little trying. My father used to tell a story of his about a native chief, who had two wives, and refused to give them up, after he had become a Christian. One day however, he arrived with a tearing race, and said, “Fxo very good Christian now, have only one wife.” So the bishop asked what he had done with the other one, to which the chief replied with a broad grin, “I ate her”.

My father commanded a brigade during the time they were there as he was the senior colonel in those parts, and during part of the time a Naval brigade, commanded by Commander the Hon. Edmund Freemantle was under his orders. Captain Freemantle was amazingly plucky, not to say foolhardy, and risked his life in a way that disturbed my father, who felt responsible for him. Another Naval man who served under him was a midshipman Charles Hotham, now Admiral Sir C. Hotham; and for his gallantry my father recommended him for promotion and he was made lieutenant straight away; which was most unusual, and caused Admiral Hotham to go up the list and get to the top of his profession at an abnormally early age.

My father was in command at the battle of the Gate Pah, and also in another successful engagement, and he was rewarded by the C.B. The Maoris and he became great friends, after they had been beaten. They came to his house at Tauranga, and laid down their arms on the lawn in front of the house; arid from among them he brought home a large collection of Maori weapons, which are now at my brother’s house.** One of the officers of the 68th painted a picture of the scene, of the natives laying down their arms, and we had it at home. I think it was amazing that my mother lived there close to the fighting line, in complete comfort and security. She never thought of feeling nervous, so complete was her confidence in my father and the 68th. She and my sister Agnes both had typhoid fever very badly while out there, and nearly died; and another little daughter was born out there, and only lived three weeks.

We all returned home in 1866, when I was three years old, my brother Harry being eleven, and Agnes eight. They both, and my parents rode a great deal out there, (my mother was run away with a week before the little sister was born) and the only dim recollection I had as a child of my life out there, was of falling out of a box saddle, and being caught by someone, probably a soldier. I used to be nursed and played with a great deal by the men; my proper nurse being the wife of a sergeant. She and her husband settled down in New Zealand after he left the regiment, and she was still living there in 1900. My parent’s [sic] greatest friend in the regiment was the adjutant Charles Covey, who seems to have had a very bad love affair with the beautiful wife of a planter. I don’t remember him at all, but he lived until I was in my teens, and he had two maiden sisters who were very devoted to my mother...

Whe[n] the 68th ultimately came home (also in a sailing ship, but this time round the Cape of Good Hope) they went first to Aldershot where we lived in a hut, and I have a faint recollection of a long passage with all the doors opening off it.

 

Note from Mike Dottridge: 

** “my brother” refers to Harry Greer, who, at the time of writing in the 1920s, was living in a large mansion (called ‘Curragh Grange’) in Newbridge, Country Kildare, Ireland. This statement, that the weapons were still in her brother’s house, was contradicted by an assertion in a memoir written by Emily’s daughter, Loveday Paton (née Tupper), who lived for six months with Harry’s family in 1921, and who noted that he had got rid of the weapons, fearing that there was a curse on them (after both his sons were killed in 1917). 

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Emily Charlotte Greer (c1863-1929)


First Names:Emily Charlotte
Last Name:Greer
Date of Birth:c1863
Date of death:1929
Date of Arrival:3 March 1864
Name of the ship:Silver Eagle
Date of sailing:December 1863
Port of arrival:Auckland
Sailed from:London, England
Date of arrival in Bay of Plenty:10 March 1864
Spouses name:Reginald Geoffrey Otway Tupper
Spouses date of birth:1859
Spouses date of death:1945
Date of marriage: 30 April 1888
Fathers name:Henry Harpur Greer
Fathers date of birth:24 February 1821
Fathers place of birth:Moy, County Tyrone, Ireland
Fathers date of death:27 March 1886
Fathers place of death:The Grange, Moy, County Tyrone, Ireland
Mothers name:Agnes Isabella Knox
Mothers date of birth:1831
Mothers date of death:4 August 1912
Name of sibilings:Joseph Henry Greer, Agnes Mary Greer, and Isabella Knox Greer
Name of the children:Loveday Tupper

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