Topic: Ellen Birkett (nee Hart) (1837-1929)

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Ellen Hart was aged 4 when her family arrived in Wellington, New Zealand, on board the 'Tyne' on 9 August 1841. She was my third great grandmother - Debbie McCauley (2013).

Ellen Hart was born in Maidstone, Kent, England,on 30 January 1837 and baptised at Union-Street Wesleyan, Maidstone, Kent, on 5 March 1837. Her parents were Edward and Sarah Hart (nee Culley).

She was aged 4 when the family arrived in Wellington, New Zealand, aboard the Tyne on 9 August 1841, learning the 'elements of Reading, Writing and Arthmetic during the journey.  As there was no wharf at Port Nicholson, the Tyne anchored off Kaiwarra. The passengers were lowered in a basket to a waiting boat and then carried on the shoulders of sailors from the boat to the shore. They lived in the school house until a mud hut could be built in Hick's Paddock above the beach. Later a house was built for them in Webb Street, Wellington' (Nicholls, 1981, p. 3).

Ellen married Edward Birkett at her parent's home in Wellington on 5 December 1853 (reg. 1853/563). Ellen was aged 15 and Edward 21. Edward was christened in Wouldham, Kent, England on 13 October 1833. His parents were Benjamin and Martha Jane Burkett. There is a possible brother of Edward named William who died in 1892 (reg. 1892/271).

The family then 'travelled in a four wheeled wagon to Masterton where they farmed for some time. they then began the slow and tedious journey to Manaia in Taranaki' (Nicholls, 1981, p. 3).

The children of Edward and Ellen Birkett:

  1. Margaret Elizabeth Birkett (1853-1877). Margaret was born on 10 July 1853 prior to her parents marriage. She married William Furness at her parent's residence in Nairn Street, Wellington, on 28 March 1869. William died in Wellington, aged 22, on 10 May 1869. Margaret remarried at the Scotch Church in Wellington to John Anderson Springay on 8 November 1870. Margaret died, aged 24, in 1877.
  2. Martha Jane Birkett (1855-1929). Born in 1855 (reg. 1855/3759). Martha married Isaac Short (1850-1915) in Wellington in 1874 (reg. 1874/6364). She died, aged 74, in 1929 (reg. 1929/8401).
  3. Edward Birkett (1858-1935). Born in 1858 (reg. 1858/5201). He possibly died in 1935 (reg. 1935/16769) or 1946 (reg. 1946/20526).
  4. Jabez Birkett (1860-?). Born in 1860 (reg. 1860/7059).
  5. William Birkett? (c1860-1892). Born c1860. Died, aged 32, in 1892 (reg. 1892/15). Buried in Opunake Cemetery.
  6. Eliza Birkett (1862-1953). Born at Te Kiri (Eltham-Opunake Road) in 1862 (1862/112). She married William Henry Smith (1860-1929) in Wellington in 1879 (reg. 1879/2575). The family moved to Australia. Eliza died in Australia, aged 93, in 1953.
  7. James Henry Birkett (1865-1957). Born in 1865 (reg. 1865/10860). He married Emma Nixon (1864-1930) who signed the 1893 Women's Suffrage Petition. Their son Lisle [Hugh Carlisle Birkett] died whilst serving in World War I (1914-1918). James died, aged 92, in 1957 (reg. 1957/33696).
  8. George Birkett (1867-1890). Born in 1867 (reg. 1867/16862). George died, aged 23, in 1890 (reg. 1890/4887). He was buried in Opunake Cemetery.
  9. Sarah Ann Birkett (1869-1956). Born in Webb Street, Wellington, on 23 August 1869 (reg. 1869/19540). She married John Crawford (1860-1937) at Hawera on 24 February 1883. John had arrived in New Zealand aboard the Steinwarder in 1864. Sarah died at Hamilton, aged 87, on 12 February 1956 (reg. 1956/29570). She was buried in Hamilton East Cemetery on 14 February 1956 (BB-M-085).
  10. Ellen Birkett (1872-1949). Born on 1 February 1872 (reg. 1872/20732). She married Fred Watson (1870-1955). Ellen died in 1949.
  11. Emma Birkett (1874-?). Born in 1874 (reg. 1874/34843).
  12. Arthur Benjamin Birkett (1876-1908). Born on 29 September 1876 (reg. 1876/12535). He served in the South African Conflict (Boer War). He married Annie Edith Murphy (1886-1961) in 1906 (reg. 1906/6105). Arthur died at age 31, on 14 March 1908 (reg. 1908/740). He was buried in Opunake Cemetery (Plot: 492).
  13. Ada Birkett (1879-1952). Born in 1879 (reg. 1879/5974). She married Robert Charles Watson (1868-1947) in 1901 (reg. 1901/1429). She died, aged 74, in 1952 (reg. 1952/24583).

Edward and Ellen were to move after gold was discovered in Wellington; 'After three or four children were born, Wellington experienced a little known gold strike that led them to the Upper Kaiwharawhara Valley, on the outskirts of Wellington' (Cullen, p. 1). After the gold ran out the family moved to Opunake.

'The family settled on a farm near Mangahume on the Eltham-Opunaki road where they farmed for close on 50 years. Her [Ellen's] husband and sons were in the Volunteers (the Blue Coats)' (Nicholls, 1981, p. 3).

On 8 April 1901 Ellen wrote the following letter to Mr Seddon inquiring after money that her son Arthur had wanted her to have whilst he was away fighting in the South African Conflict (Boer War):

8 April 1901
To the Honourable Mr Seddon,
Dear Sir,
My son, A B Birkett, that went to South Africa with the six contingent has left three shillings a day to be drawn by me. As I have not heard anything of it will you kindly inform me where I am to get it. I have also enclosed his letter to let you see that I am correct. I have also sent an address envelope. Would you kindly put his letter in it as I should like to have it back.
Mrs E Birkett
Eltham Road

Edward died on 2 September 1902 (reg. 1902/4709). The Taranaki Herald reported on 16 September 1902: In the Supreme Court, in Chambers, upon the application of Mr McDiarmid (Messrs Standish & Kerr), probate of the last will and testament of Edward Birkett, late of the Eltham Road, near Opunake, deceased, was, on Monday, granted by the Registrar, Mr Stanford, to Ellen Birkett, the executrix therein named. (Taranaki Herald, 16 September 1902, p. 2). Edward was buried in Opunake Cemetery on 4 September 1902 (Plot: 274).

After Edward's death, Ellen 'lived for some years with her daughter, Mrs Ada Watson of Te Kiri. Her latter years were spent at the home of her daughter, Mrs Jane Short of Ohiro Road, Brooklyn, Wellington' (Nicholls, 1981, p. 3).

Ellen died, aged 92, on 29 August 1929 (reg. 1929/7530). She was buried in Opunake Cemetery (Plot: 273). Ellen is described as being a 'very lovable character' (Nicholls, 1981, p. 3).



Births, Deaths and Marriages Online (New Zealand).

England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975.

Marriage Certificate: Ellen Hart and Edward Birkett (1853).

The Crawfords of Katikati (April 1989).

The Descendants of Ellen Hart and Edward Birkett by Charles Norman Nicholls (1981).

The Origins of the Crawfords from Kati Kati by Vaughan Cullen (2nd edition, n.d.).


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Ellen Birkett (nee Hart) (1837-1929)

First Names:Ellen
Last Name:Hart
Date of Birth:30 January 1837
Place of Birth:Maidstone, Kent
Country of birth:England
Date of death:29 August 1929
Place of death:Opunake, New Zealand
Place of burial:Opunake Cemetery
Family Surname:Birkett
Date of Arrival:9 August 1841
Name of the ship:Tyne
Date of sailing:25 March 1841
Port of arrival:Wellington
Sailed from:London
Spouses name:Edward Birkett
Spouses date of birth:1833
Spouses place of birth:Wouldham, Kent, England
Spouses date of death:2 September 1902
Spouses place of death:Opunake, New Zealand
Spouses place of burial:Opunake Cemetery
Spouses nationality:English
Date of marriage:5 December 1853
Place of marriage:Wellington
Fathers name:Edward Hart
Fathers date of birth:c1802
Fathers place of birth:England
Fathers date of death:23 November 1884
Fathers place of death:Tory Street, Wellington
Fathers nationality:English
Mothers name:Sarah Culley
Mothers date of birth:1806
Mothers place of birth:England
Mothers date of death:12 March 1880
Mothers place of death:Wellington, New Zealand
Mothers nationality:English
Name of sibilings:Sarah Hart and Edward Hart
Name of the children:George Birkett , Margaret Elizabeth Birkett , Sarah Ann Birkett , Ellen Birkett , Emma Birkett , Martha Jane Birkett , Edward Birkett , Jabez Birkett , Eliza Birkett , Ada Birkett, and James Henry Birkett

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