Topic: Margaret Torrens Stewart (nee Miller) (1835-1914)

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Margaret Torrens Miller was the wife of Katikati founder George Vesey Stewart. They had nine children together before an application was made for divorce, citing Margaret's adultery with her nineteen year old nephew by marriage. Story by Debbie McCauley.

Margaret Torrens Miller

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Margaret Torrens Miller was born on 29 March 1835. Her parents were John Rowley (J.P.) and Emily Charlotte Miller. John Rowley Miller was the son of Major Rowley Miller (J.P.). Rowley Miller was Agent for the Draperers' Company, London and managed their Moneymore Estate in Londonderry, Ireland. Upon his death, the position of Agent passed to Margaret's brother Henry Rowley Miller.

On 17 April 1856 Margaret married George Vesey Stewart (1831-1920) at Desertlyn, County Derry, Ireland.

The children of Margaret Torrens Miller and George Vesey Stewart:

  1. Emily Charlotte Sophia Stewart (1857-1957).
  2. Mervyn Archdale Stewart (1859-1951).
  3. George Vesey Stewart (Jnr) (1861-1892).
  4. John Rowley Miller Stewart (1862-1945).
  5. Mary Phoebe Stewart (1865-1962).
  6. Hugh Alexander Montgomery Moore Stewart (1867-1954).
  7. Andrew Charles Henry Arbuthnot Stewart (1870-1961).
  8. William Nassau Stewart (1873-1954).

On 8 June 1875 the Carisbrooke Castle left Belfast with 238 settlers bound for Katikati. These included Margaret, George Vesey Stewart, and their nine children aged between 2 and 19.

George applied to divorce Margaret, charging her with adultery with his nephew Cecil Ambrose Frederick Hornridge Gledstanes (1858-1904). The case was reported in the Auckland Star on 14 November 1876:

Divorce Case. G. V. STEWART V. STEWART AND GLEDSTANES. For some months back it has been rumoured that a notable divorce case was likely soon to come into Court, affecting certain of the principal settlers at the special settlement of Katikati, near Tauranga. Up to the present time we have carefully refrained from publishing any of the reports we heard, and it is only now when we hear that it is arranged for the suit to be heard at the Civil Sessions in January next, that we are led to mention it in our columns.

The petitioner in the case, which we may say presents most extraordinary features, is Mr George Vesey Stewart, the pioneer of the Katikati settlement, who sues for a divorce from his lawful wife, Margaret Torrens Stewart, on the ground of her adultery with Mr Cecil Gledstanes, of Katikati, a youth about 19 years old, who is one of Mr Stewart's cadets, and has been residing in his house. The following is the main substance of the petition:

22nd August, 1876. The Petition of George Vesey Stewart, of Katikati, in the Province of Auckland, Settler, Sheweth—"1. That your petitioner was on the 17th day of April, 1856, lawfully married to Margaret Torrens Stewart, then Margaret Torrens Miller, a spinster, at the Church of St. John Moneymore, in the County of Derry, Ireland. 2. That after the said marriage, your petitioner lived and co-habited with his said wife at Lisbeg House in the County of Tyrone, Ireland, and at other places and latterly from about the month to September 1875, until the month of July 1876, with her at Katikati, in the said province. 3. That your petitioner and his said wife have had issue of their said marriage, to wit, nine children (the names follow). 4. That on the tenth day of July, 1876, and divers times between the 10th and 15th days of July, 1876, the said Margaret Torrens Stewart committed adultery with Cecil Gledstanes, of Katikati, settler at Katikati, aforesaid. Your petitioner therefore humbly prays: 1. That your Honor will be pleased to decree that the said marriage of your petitioner with the said Margaret Torrens Stewart shall be dissolved. 2. And that your petitioner may have such further and other relief in the premises as to your Honor may seem met. G. Vesey Stewart."

It will be seen from this that the rumour that the co-respondent was a young man named Wilson, and that he went home on the ship 'Carnatic' is totally unfounded. The crime of which Mrs Stewart is accused is intensified by the fact of Mr Gledstanes being her own nephew. The respondent's reply to the petition is a complete denial of the charge. We are informed on good authority that some of the allegations are so singular, that the case is bound to provoke great public interest. The suit is yet very young; indeed the issues for the jury are not quite settled, so that we are able to say very little about them. The citations were served on the respondent and co-respondent, at Katikati, on the 25th August last, and the answer was delivered by the respondent on the 27th September. As soon as Judge Gillies returns from Wellington the issues will be definitely shaped, and the case will be ripe for a jury. Messrs Hesketh and Richmond are the solicitors for the petitioner, and Messrs J. B. Russell and A. Devore for the respondent. (Auckland Star, 14 November 1876, p. 2)

However, it appears that the divorce was never finalised and Margaret moved to Auckland where she lived with Frederick Edward Dunston Paul (c1855-1911) (also known as Frederick Edward Dunstan Edwardes) and worked as a Ladies Nurse. Frederick had arrived in New Zealand aboard the 'Glenora' in January 1877. Other names that Margaret used whilst in Auckland include: Margaret Torrens Edwardes; Mabel Florence Edwardes and Mabel Florence Paul.They appear to have had two children together and adopted or had custody of others. 

Possible children of Margaret and Frederick:

  1. Elsie Maria Sybil Frances Stewart (1884-1885). Born on 16 October 1884 to Frederick Edward Paul and Mabel Florence Stewart. Baptised at St Francis in Auckland on 11 December 1884. Noted illegitimate under baptism record's comments. Sybil Paul died at Pollen Street, Surrey Hills, on 16 March 1885.
  2. Robert Henry Stanley Paul (1885-?). Born in Surrey Hills, Newton on 22 March 1885 (reg. 1885/4644) to Frederick Edward Dunstan Paul and Mabel Florence Paul (formerly Miller). Robert took the last name 'Edwardes'. He married Ida Minnie Farrow in 1909 (reg. 1909/659). They had a child named for his father in 1909 (reg. 1909/4224), who died at the age of four months (reg. 1910/537). Another child, Mavis Ina Eveline Edwardes, was born in 1916 (reg. 1916/25902). At this stage it is unknown when Robert died.
  3. Frederick Edward Patrick Edwards (adopted March 1897).
  4. Sybil Frances May Neilson (adopted from a Wellington convent by Frederick c1882). Apparently she was the illegitimate daughter of a discharged policeman. Widowed, she later married John McClure in 1916 (reg. 1916/7540).
  5. George Allan Wills (adopted). Born in Auckland on 21 June 1898. Adopted by Frederick Edward Dunston Edwardes and Margaret Torrens Edwardes. He died on 9 October 1900.
  6. Daphne Edwards (adopted?). Born 28 March 1901. She died on 6 December 1991.

It appears that Frederick left Margaret, possibly running off with his adopted daughter, as on 5 May 1902 (reg. 1902/1947) Frederick married Sybil Frances May Neilson at St Peter's Church in Wellington.

Margaret ran a boarding house situated at 34 Ponsonby Road, Auckland. She died in Grey Lynn, Auckland, aged 81, on 28 July 1914.

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Margaret Torrens Stewart (nee Miller) (1835-1914)


Year:1875
First Names:Margaret Torrens
Last Name:Miller
Date of Birth:29 March 1835
Place of Birth:Desertlyn, County Derry
Country of birth:Ireland
Date of death:28 July 1914
Place of death:Grey Lynn, Auckland, New Zealand
Place of burial:Waikumete Cemetery
Family Surname:Stewart
First settled:Katikati
Date of Arrival:8 September 1875
Name of the ship:Carisbrooke Castle
Date of sailing:8 June 1875
Later places of settlement:Auckland
Port of arrival:Auckland
Sailed from:Belfast
Spouses name:George Vesey Stewart
Spouses date of birth:3 October 1831
Spouses place of birth:Brighton, Sussex, England
Spouses date of death:3 March 1920
Spouses place of death:Rotorua, New Zealand
Spouses place of burial:Katikati Cemetery
Date of marriage:17 April 1856
Place of marriage:Desertlyn, County Derry, Ireland
Fathers name:John Rowley Miller
Fathers date of birth:1808
Fathers place of birth:Londonderry, Ireland
Fathers date of death:25 December 1862
Fathers place of death:Moneymore, Ireland
Mothers name:Emily Charlotte Stewart
Mothers date of birth:c1799
Mothers date of death:5 January 1883
Mothers place of death:Moneymore, Ireland
Name of sibilings:Mary Stewart Miller, Emily Charlotte Miller, John Rowley Miller (1849-1877), Rowley Miller (1831-1841), Henry Miller (1833-?), Henry Rowley Miller (1838-1873), Rowley Miller (1842-1842), and Sophia Louisa Miller
Name of the children:Mary Phoebe Stewart, Hugh Alexander Montgomery Moore Stewart, Andrew Charles Henry Arbuthnot Stewart, William Nassau Stewart , Emily Charlotte Sophia Stewart , Mervyn Archdale Stewart , George Vesey Stewart (Jnr) , John Rowley Miller Stewart , and Frances Jane Montgomery Stewart
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License
Margaret Torrens Stewart (nee Miller) (1835-1914) by Debbie McCauley (Tauranga City Libraries) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License