Topic: Matters Religious: the Orange Family by William G. Orange

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Matters Religious by William G. Orange was an entry in the 2012 Memoir and Local History Competition.

Archived version here.

William G. Orange: 


My grandfather, William Orange (known as Will) once said to me that he had no worries about getting to Heaven because so many of his relatives were ministers of religion or members of religious institutions and would no doubt be praying for him. This was shortly before his death in 1961. On recalling his statement recently I decided to check out the religious leanings of the Orange family.

Although I cannot prove it I believe the Oranges originated in France. In 1685 French King Louis XIV repealed the Edict of Nantes in an act called the Revocation. The Edict was a Charter of Rights given to Huguenots in 1598 which granted them freedom to worship. France was Catholic except for the Huguenot Protestants. The National Huguenot Society has listed the Orange family as French Huguenots. The Revocation caused many of these people to leave France for England. They seemed to settle in London and brought with them their skills including lace making.

The first records I have found of our family were from the Parish Register of Dewsbury in the Wakefield Record Office, Yorkshire, England. Adam Oridge married in 1717 Anna Chappel. Of their five children baptised only one survived childhood. Anna died before 1729 and Adam married Mary - surname not recorded, and had a further four children of whom only Levi reached adulthood.

Levi Orrige was baptised in 1732. He married Ann Armstead in 1759. Their six children included John, born 1765, who married Grace Chapel in 1788 in Horbury Parish Church. These records all appear to be related to Established, or Anglican Churches.  John and Grace had thirteen children, most of whom were baptised in the Ossett Green Independent Congregational Church in Dewsbury, near Wakefield.

One of the children, David, was married at the Ossett Green church and moved from Yorkshire to Leicestershire, where, according to the 1851 Census of Leicester, he was a worsted manufacturer employing 89 hands. Grace and he had eleven children, all baptised at St Mary de Castro Anglican Church in Leicester.

 I have two booklets by Phyllis Orange, a first cousin once removed to Granddad, who wrote about life for the Orange family in Leicester. In the first booklet she records, talking of her mother:

 "She was the youngest child of her parents who were thinkers. Her father with his friends would meet on Sunday mornings to discuss the affairs of the nation, in a room which was over a high-class provision shop called Stilton House as they sold the famous Stilton cheese."

 At the end of the second booklet she reprinted a tribute to the memory of her mother from the Leicester Mercury of March 27th 1938. Part of this reads:

 "The passing of Mrs Orange marks the breaking of one more link with a generation of thinkers. But her wish was carried out for no mourning when I set out to sea. To go out at dusk drawn by a horse and cart"

 I am not sure if this indicates that the family were Freethinkers, which the American Heritage Dictionary describes as ‘one who has rejected authority and dogma, especially in his religious thinking, in favour of rational inquiry and speculation,’ but if so, the family didn't reject religious practices entirely, as they were baptised, married and buried from either St Mary de Castro Church in the city or St George's Church when the family moved to Crow Mills, Wigston, a southern suburb of Leicester.

David's three sons arrived in New Zealand in 1861 where my direct ancestor Albert Edward (senior) married Sarah Ann Smith in 1870 at St Andrew's Manse, Christchurch. When he died in 1940 he was buried in the Presbyterian section of the Waikouiti Cemetery. Albert and Sarah also had thirteen children, one being William, my grandfather. The children appear to have been baptised in St Michael's Anglican Church by the Dean of Christchurch, but most married in the North East Valley Presbyterian Church, Dunedin, apart from my grandfather, who was married at St Joseph's Catholic Church in that City. Granddad became a Catholic later in life.

The Presbyterian Archives record the following Orange Ministers, one of whom had close ties with the Bay of Plenty, and their relationship to Granddad:

 Rev Ernest Joseph, born 1893, brother. Ernest served in North Island parishes from Papatoetoe to Kilbirnie (Wellington)

 Rev Albert John Edward (Bert), born 1913, nephew. Bert was a qualified plumber and in 1946 was appointed an Artisan Missioner to the Maori Missionary Service and was placed at Nuhaka and Waikaremoana. He helped build a marae that in 1947 became the Synod House at Ohope, and a Boys' Hostel in Whakatane. In 1953 he was ordained a Home Missionary under the Maori Missions. By 1963 he had completed his studies at the Theological Hall and was inducted to Katikati Presbyterian Church in 1964, serving there until 1970.

Rev Ernest Kenneth (Ken), born 1924, nephew. Ken also served in North Island parishes from Takapuna to Kelburn (Wellington.)

Rev Wilson James, born 1947, grand-nephew. Wilson's parishes were in the Taranaki and Auckland areas.

 There was also Will's sister, Eva Maud, born 1887, who married Rev David McNeur. David was minister at churches in Takaka, Fordell, Mataura and Waipu before being appointed to Lansdowne Presbyterian Church, Masterton where he served from 1936 to 1943, during which time he was Chairman of the Solway College Board.

The Anglican Archives disclose William Alfred Orange, born 1889, who served in the Christchurch Diocese, mainly in Christchurch City or suburbs, and in the period 1947 to 1950 was Precentor at the Christchurch Cathedral. He was a first cousin once removed to William.

My cousin, Father David Orange, currently parish priest of the Catholic Parish of Avalon and Hutt Hospital and hospice chaplain, is Will's grandson. A sister of David's, as well as two other granddaughters, were teaching or nursing nuns, now retired.

So I guess Granddad was entitled to claim the prayers of five Presbyterian ministers, one Anglican and one Catholic priest and three Catholic nuns in his hour of need.


This page archived at Perma CC in October of 2016:

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