Topic: Arthur Benjamin Birkett (1876-1908)

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Arthur Benjamin Birkett was from Opunake. He served in the 'Boer War' sailing with the sixth contingent referred to as 'The Silent Six', on the 'Cornwall' on 30 January 1901. He died early, at age 31. Ten years later his son would die in the 1918 Influenza Pandemic (Spanish 'flu). Arthur was my third great uncle - Debbie McCauley (2012).

Arthur was born on 29 September 1876 (reg. 1876/12535) to Edward and Ellen Birkett (nee Hart).

He served in the South African Conflict (Boer War), sailing with the sixth contingent referred to as 'The Silent Six', on the 'Cornwall’ on 30 January 1901. On 5 February 1901 Arthur wrote the following letter to his mother Ellen:

Arthur Benjamin Birkett letter (page 4)5 February 1901
Dear Mother,
I now write you some lines to let you know how I am getting on. I hope you are all well. As it leaves at present you please yourself what you do with the horse. We had one hour and a half at Auckland. I had an alright time there and I saw Sam Prisser and Bucroft. I would like to have a week there, it is a nice place. I was on guard on Sunday. This is a slow boat, we were five days and six night going to Sydney and we are overcrowded, we have not much room. There are a good many bad but I am loading first aboard. The horse are alright so fear we had one down last night. I have not seen my horse since I have been on board. There are five or six chaps coming back. They have been bad ever since we left Wellington. Doctor says they would die before they got there. Mary said she was going up this  month. I hope she will have a good time up there. I supposed Burt Warner is back now and doing plenty of grassing. He told me he would not go back again. I would like to know how Elthan room[?] is getting home. We are getting a piano[?] in Sydney so we will have plenty of music now. We had a concert last night on board. I hope you are getting on all right with the cows. I hope father is getting on all right with the horse now. I suppose Ted Cox is still preaching on Sunday night. I am sending you three shillings a day so you can put it in the bank for me. They never gave us any in shillings[?]. Lookout guarded it so you can show it if anything happened to me. No more at present. From an affectionate son,
A B Birkett
Regiment Wellington
Company 18
C H N Z Contingent
I hope you will write soon. Good night, lights out.

Arthur married Annie Edith Murphy in 1906 (reg. 1906/6105). Annie was born in 1886 (reg. 1886/7517). They had two children together:

  1. Arthur Benjamin Birkett (1907-1984). Born 11 September 1907. Arthur married Lilian Watson (1911-1978). He died on 20 May 1984 (reg. 1984/47621) and was buried in Awanui Cemetery (Block 7, Plot 268).
  2. Emmett Dennis Birkett (1909-1918). Born on 26 February 1909 (reg. 1909/17260). He died during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic (Spanish 'flu) at age 9 on 30 December 1918 (reg. 1919/1081). The Hawera & Normanby Star reported on 2 January 1919: 'OPUNAKE. THE EPIDEMIC. Two patients who were sent to New Plymouth hospital succumbed to the disease on Tuesday - Mr A. Hills and a lad of nine, named Birkett, a son of Mrs O. Cross. All the serious cases have been sent to New Plymouth, leaving twenty patients at Opunake Hospital' (p. 4).  

Arthur died at age 31, on 14 March 1908 (reg. 1908/740) [cemetery record shows 3 June 1909?]. He was buried in Opunake Cemetery (Plot: 492).

On 24 March 1918 Annie Edith Birkett remarried to Oliver Cross (reg. 1918/537). The Taranaki Daily News reported:

A quiet wedding was celebrated in the Catholic Church on Sunday, the parties wedlocked being Mr. Oliver Cross and Mrs. Birkett. The Rev. Father Doolaghty tied the nuptial knot. 

Nine months later Annie and Arthur's nine year old son, Emmett Dennis Birkett, was a victim of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic (Spanish 'flu).

Annie died, aged 75, in 1961 (reg. 1961/27855).



Births, Deaths & Marriages Online (New Zealand).

Cenotaph Record (Auckland War Memorial Museum).

Hawera & Normanby Star (2 January 1919, p. 4).

Opunake Cemetery Record (Record Number: 1716).

Military personnel file (Archives New Zealand).

New Plymouth Cemetery Records Online.

Taranaki Daily News (25 March 1918, p. 3).


How to cite this page: McCauley, Debbie (2012). Arthur Benjamin Birkett (1876-1908). Retrieved from (Tauranga Memories, last updated: *insert date*). In-text citation: (McCauley, 2012).

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Arthur Benjamin Birkett (1876-1908)

Note:Service Number: 3743
First Names:Arthur Benjamin
Last Name:Birkett
Date of Birth:29 September 1876
Country of birth:New Zealand
Date of death:14 March 1908
Place of death:Opunake
Place of burial:Opunake Cemetery
Family Surname:Birkett
Residential address:Opunake
Spouses name:Annie Edith Murphy
Spouses date of birth:1886
Spouses date of death:1961
Date of marriage:1906
Fathers name:Edward Birkett
Fathers date of birth:c1832
Fathers date of death:2 September 1902
Fathers place of death:New Zealand
Mothers name:Ellen Hart
Mothers date of birth:1836
Mothers place of birth:Kent, Maidstone, England
Mothers date of death:29 August 1929
Mothers place of death:New Zealand
Name of sibilings:William Birkett, James Henry Birkett, Ellen Watson, Edward Birkett, George Birkett, Sarah Ann Crawford (Birkett), Martha Jane Short, Ada Watson, and Eliza Smith
Military Service:South African War (Boer War) (1899-1902)