Topic: Eliza Wallis (nee Hart) (1846-1914)

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Suffragist Eliza Wallis (nee Hart) was a first-wave feminist who actively sought the Vote for Women. She was a founding member of the National Council of Women formed in 1896. Her eldest daughter's signature appears directly under Kate Sheppard's on the first page of the 1893 Woman's Suffrage Petition, whilst Eliza's appears at the bottom of Sheet 532. Eliza was my fourth great aunt - Debbie McCauley (2013).

Eliza was born in Wellington on 30 March 1846, the fifth child of Edward and Sarah Hart (nee Culley). The Hart family had arrived in New Zealand, on board the Tyne on 9 August 1841. Eliza’s mother must have been a very strong character as she was pregnant with their second child in 1825 when her husband went on the run for 17 months after stealing food to feed his family. Once apprehended, he was sentenced to seven years gaol, which he served in appalling conditions on board a prison hulk. During the time he was away, Sarah had to provide for the family on her own.

Eliza was the family’s first New Zealand born child. She was 16 years old when she married John Wallis at the private residence of Joshua Smith in Wellington on 13 January 1863. Her father, Edward, was a witness to their marriage. John Wallis was a carpenter from London, born in c.1839.

The children of Eliza and John Wallis:

  1. Emily Townsend (nee Wallis) (1863-1914). Born in Wellington on 23 August 1863 (reg. 1863/10744). Emily was a pupil teacher at Colombo Road School in Christchurch. She had an illegitimate daughter named Esther Wallis on 8 October 1879 [Esther was later adopted by 'Minnie Dean' at Winton and was a witness at her trial for infanticide in 1895]. Emily married Abraham Henry Townsend on 1 June 1901 (reg. 1901/2185). They had no children together but Abraham had a son by a former marriage. Emily died, aged 48,  in Linwood, Christchurch, at the residence of her stepson on 6 March 1914 (reg. 1914/1898).  Emily left her estate to her stepson and her death entry is blank in the space for age & sex of living issue.
  2. Herbert Wallis (1865-1865). Born and died in Wellington in 1865.
  3. John Wallis (1867-1868). Born in Wellington in 1867, John died there in 1868.
  4. Frederick Arthur Wallis (1869-1920). Born in Wellington on 24 November 1869. He never married. Frederick died at Seaview Mental Hospital in Hokitika on 8 September 1920.
  5. Alice Matilda Farquharson (nee Wallis) (1872-1934). Born in Wellington in 1872. She married Christopher Farquharson in 1898 (reg. 1898/4854). Alice died in Christchurch in 1934.
  6. Gertrude May Wallis (1874-1955). Born in Christchurch in 1874. Gertrude died in Christchurch in 1955.
  7. Elizabeth Wallis (1877-1952). Known as 'Edith'. Born in Christchurch on 22 January 1877. Edith never married. She died in Wellington in 1952.
  8. Ellen Sarah Wallis (1879-1940). Born in Christchurch on 26 April 1879. She died in Christchurch in 1940.
  9. Frank Leonard Wallis (1882-1964). Born in Christchurch on 13 February 1882. He married Edith Hand on 5 December 1912. They had two children; Leonard Maxwell Wallis (1913-1991) and Wilfred Frank Wallis (1916-1943). Frank died, aged 81, in 1964 (reg. 1964/43973).
  10. Arnold Wallis (1885-1956). Born in Christchurch on 14 February 1885. He never married. Arnold died in 1956.
  11. Winifred Olive Owen (nee Wallis) (1888-1964). Born in Christchurch on 23 March 1888 (reg. 1888/12414). "Winifred was always called by her middle name of Olive as were most children of John & Eliza. Aunty Olive did marry a Donald Owen, who left her in a desparate state in Wellington very early on in their marriage, there were no children, and Olive came back to Christchurch and became an expert hoarder. My mother looked after her in her later years at our home, and had the daunting task of clearing out her house." (Frances Moss, 2014). She died in Christchurch in 1964.
  12. Wilfred Stanley Wallis (1891-1957). Born in Opawa, Christchurch on 15 May 1891. He was a Doctor as well as an Artist. Wilfred married Elsie Ada Williams at Timaru on 18 May 1915. He served in World War I. Wilfred's daughter,Ynys Fraser (nee Wallis), went to Kent many years ago and obtained the birth, death and marriage copies from the Thurnham Parish Church for the Hart family. Wilfred died in Rotorua on 20 September 1957.

Eliza and John moved to Christchurch in the early 1880s. Whilst there they raised their illegitimate grandchild, Esther Wallis, who was born in 1879. Eventually caring for Esther as well as their other children in their small home became too much for the couple, and on 22 April 1890, Esther was adopted by Minnie Dean.

Esther was 15 years old when she was a witness at Minnie Dean’s trial for infanticide. Minnie was found guilty of murder on 21 June 1895 and hanged at Invercargill gaol on 12 August 1895. She remains the only woman to have been executed in New Zealand.

Eliza’s 12th and last child was born at Opawa in Christchurch on 15 May 1891.

Eliza was a signatory to the Women’s Suffrage Petition presented to Parliament in 1893 (Sheet No. 532) which led to the Electoral Act and New Zealand becoming the first self-governing country in the world to grant women the right to vote. She was surely one of more than 90,000 women who voted for the first time on 28 November 1893.

Her eldest daughter Emily's signature appears directly under Kate Sheppard's on the first page of the 1893 Woman's Suffrage Petition, both of Clyde Road, Riccarton, Christchurch [see the last signature on page displayed below]. It appears that Emily was working for Kate and her husband from around 1893 to 1896. The signatory below Emily, Janet Mason, is also from Clyde Road and appears to have been working as a maid also.

1893 Woman's Suffrage Petition

 1893 Woman's Suffrage Petition: Sheet 1

On 13 April 1896, Eliza attended a women’s convention held in the Provincial Council Buildings in Christchurch. Eleven women’s groups from throughout New Zealand had sent representatives to the convention, during which the National Council of Women (NCW) was formed. Eliza was one of the founding members and the first president was fellow suffragist and Eliza’s friend, Kate Sheppard. The NCW aimed to:

‘unite all organised societies of women for mutual counsel and co-operation in the attainment of justice and freedom for women, and for all that made for the good of humanity; to encourage the formation of societies of women engaged in trades, professions, and in social and political work; and to affiliate with other national councils of women for the purpose of facilitating international Conferences and co-operation’.

The National Council of New Zealand Women (1898) C36400854 -20130508164842

Delegates to the first convention of The National Council of New Zealand Women (1896).

Eliza Wallis (nee Hart) is fourth standing from the left as indicated by the asterix.

Eliza appears in the first photographs taken of the NCW, including the delegates to the women’s convention and another taken outside the council chamber of Christchurch’s Provincial Council Buildings. She is also in the Suratura Tea National Council of Women photograph that originally appeared in a supplement to the Auckland Star on 3 October 1896. Her speech bubble carries the words; ‘There's marvellous economy in Suratura Tea’.

Suratura Tea National Council of Women (1896) C36400854 -20130508165009

Suratura Tea National Council of Women (1896).

Originally appeared in a supplement to the Auckland Star on 3 October 1896; 'The Suratura tea proprietory is most enterprising in their efforts to place before the homes of the people in New Zealand the very excellent qualities of the famous Suratura tea. They circulate through the STAR today a valuable pictorial supplement showing portraits of the 25 New Zealand ladies who composed the National Council of Women, held at Christchurch in April last. In the hand of each lady is held a cup of Suratura tea, which they are sipping with evident delight. The likenesses are very good. We specially emphasise that the Auckland wholesale agent for this tea is Mr John Schiska, Elliott-street' (p. 4). Eliza Wallis (nee Hart) can be seen in the top right hand side, second row back, with the speech bubble: 'There's marvellous economy in Suratura Tea'.

Farquharson Wallis Wedding (1898) C36400854 -20130508165840

The wedding of Alice Matilda Wallis to Christopher Farquharson in Christchurch in 1898 (reg. 1898/4854).

Eliza Wallis (nee Hart) is seated on the right of the bride, her husband John Wallis next to her. Directly behind Eliza is Olive Wallis with Emily Wallis behind John.

John Wallis died at age 64, on 27 May 1903. That same year Eliza received a postcard from Kate Sheppard who had departed New Zealand in July 1903 to join her husband and son in England [Post Mark: Surbiton, 10:15 am, 1903. Addressed to: Mrs. Wallis, Ensors Road, Ferry Road, Christchurch, New Zealand]. 

Kate Sheppard postcard to Eliza Wallis (nee Hart) 1903 (side 1) C36400854 -20130508165905

Post Mark: Surbiton, 10:15 am, 1903. Mrs. Wallis, Ensors Road, Ferry Road, Christchurch, New Zealand. "I am going to attend a National Convention of Women Workers in London this week- to agitate for the franchise - I have been asked to tell about New Zealand.[and on reverse side] Thank you for your kind letter. You must keep as bright as possible for the sake of the others - Mr. S and Douglas are both well. I am visiting Mrs May at present. Mr May has gone to New Zealand on business. Best Wishes, from K.W.S. [Mr. S. refers to Kate Sheppard's husband Walter Allen Sheppard and Douglas is their son]. Many thanks to Frances Moss for both the images and deciphering of this postcard.

Kate Sheppard postcard to Eliza Wallis (nee Hart) 1903 (side 2) C36400854 -20130508165931

Eliza died at age 71 on 15 September 1914 at her home at 179 Ensors Road in Linwood, Christchurch. She was buried in Linwood Cemetery on 17 September 1914 (Block 33 Plot 234). She has no headstone.



1893 Woman's Suffrage Petition - Emily Wallis. Sheet No: 1, Riccarton, Christchurch (New Zealand History Online).

1893 Woman's Suffrage Petition - Eliza Wallis. Sheet No: 532, Opawa, Christchurch (New Zealand History Online).

Births, Deaths and Marriages Online (New Zealand). 

Christchurch Cemetery Records Online 

Frances Moss: Great granddaughter of Eliza Wallis (nee Hart) (personal communication, 17 April 2013, 2014 & 2018).

McCauley, Debbie (2018). Eliza and the White Camellia (unpublished manuscript).

How to cite this page: McCauley, Debbie (2013). Eliza Hart (1846-1914). Retrieved from (Tauranga Memories, last updated: *insert date*). In-text citation: (McCauley, 2013)


This page was archived at perma cc February 2017

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Eliza Wallis (nee Hart) (1846-1914)

Note:532 Wallis, Eliza (North Opawa, Opawa, Christchurch)
First Names:Eliza
Last Name:Hart
Date of Birth:30 March 1846
Place of Birth:Wellington
Country of birth:New Zealand
Date of death:15 September 1914
Place of death:179 Ensors Road, Linwood
Place of burial:Linwood Cemetery
Occupation:suffragist, first-wave feminist
Spouses name:John Wallis
Spouses date of birth:c1839
Spouses place of birth:London, England
Spouses date of death:27 May 1903
Spouses place of death:New Zealand
Date of marriage:13 January 1863
Place of marriage:Wellington, New Zealand
Fathers name:Edward Hart
Fathers date of birth:7 November 1802
Fathers place of birth:Kent, England
Fathers date of death:23 November 1884
Fathers place of death:Wellington, New Zealand
Fathers nationality:English
Mothers name:Sarah Culley
Mothers date of birth:1806
Mothers place of birth:Bearstead, Kent, England
Mothers date of death:12 March 1880
Mothers place of death:Wellington, New Zealand
Mothers nationality:English
Name of sibilings:Sarah Hart, Edward Hart , Ellen Hart , William Hart, and Rose Hart
Name of the children:Gertrude May Wallis , Winifred Olive Wallis , Elizabeth Wallis , Wilfred Stanley Wallis , Ellen Sarah Wallis , Frank Leonard Wallis , Emily Wallis , Herbert Wallis , John Wallis , Frederick Arthur Wallis , Arnold Wallis , and Alice Matilda Wallis
Member of Society:National Council of New Zealand Women