Topic: Elizabeth Moon (nee Matherall) (1806-1901)

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Elizabeth Moon followed her husband, Colonel William Moon, to New Zealand in 1864. They moved to Gate Pa soon after the battles of Gate Pa and Te Ranga. Elizabeth burnt to death in a fire at her home. She was almost 95 years old.

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Elizabeth Matherall was born in Cornwall, England in May 1806. Her father's name was John Matherell.

In 1830 she married William Moon in Guernsey. William had been born in Bath, Somerset, England and was a soldier.

During the Crimean War (1853-1856), Elizabeth is said to have served as a Florence Nightingale Nurse [probably just basic nursing] and is also said to have been a midwife. 

Colonel William Moon likely arrived in Auckland, New Zealand from Melbourne, Australia aboard the Cadeucous on 25 September 1863. He may have served with the 1st Taranaki Regiment, then later the 1st Waikato Regiment. The 1st Waikato's served at the Battle of Te Ranga (Pyes Pa Road) on 21 June 1864 and during the Tauranga Bush Campaign (Te Irihanga, Whakamaramara, Te Akeake, Wi Whata Whata, Taumata, Purukau).

Elizabeth arrived in Auckland, New Zealand from Melbourne, Australia with her three children aboard the Swiftsure on 17 February 1864. The family first settled in Onhunga at the Penrose Military Camps.

They moved to Greerton soon after the battles of Gate Pa and Te Ranga. Their family also lived in Greerton: Mr F. Moon, Mrs D. Kennedy and Mrs P. Grant. William and Elizabeth Moon had been granted land at the junction of Hynds Road and Oropi Road. William had five acres, and Elizabeth had another five acres. 

The possible children of Elizabeth and Colonel Moon:

  1. Frederick William Moon (1841-1920). Possibly born in England. He married Matilda Earl (1860-?) at Tauranga on 24 March 1886. Frederick died on 5 July 1920 (reg. 1920/2544). His death notice appeared in the Bay of Plenty Times on the same day (p. 3): 'MOON The rapidly thinning band of old settlers has been further depleted by the death of Mr Frederick William Moon, which occurred suddenly at Gate Pa on Thursday last, although deceased's body was not found until yesterday, in his orchard. It appears that deceased was last seen alive on Thursday afternoon by Mrs H. Eyre on the main road near his orchard. He was then wheeling a barrowful of manure. Yesterday afternoon Mr LeCocq —who lives next door, and had mentioned during the morning that he had not seen Mr Moon about looked over the fence and saw him lying in the orchard near his barrow. He concluded he was dead, and immediately communicated with the Police. Constable Skinner went out and found that deceased had apparently died just after reaching the orchard on Thursday afternoon. The body was removed to the house, where an inquest was held this morning before the Coroner, Mr T. E. Price. Evidence was given by Mrs Eyre and Mr LeCocq on the lines indicated above, and Dr. Cattel, who made a post mortem examination, certified that death was due to advanced fatty degeneration of the heart. A verdict was returned accordingly. The late Mr Moon, who was seventy-nine years of age, was quite an identity at Gate Pa, where for years past he could be seen daily sitting near his gate selling fruit. He was the first settler to go to Gate Pa, shortly after peace was declared after the Te Ranga fight, and had resided there ever since. He leaves no family, his nearest relative being Mrs McGregor of Te Puke. The funeral took place this afternoon.' A recollection: 'Fred Moon lived in Kent Road. He had a large property, the Greerton Hotel is built on part of it; he called it the Garden of Eden and apparently rightly so, for he could grow anythign and was fond of telling people his figs were so big that a blackbird pecking into one became stuck and all you could see was it's tail. He grew Northern Spy applies - one year they grew so bigh that, held in front of your face, you had to "spy" around the sides! He lived on his own and made all his preserves and jam' (Tauranga City Library Vertical File). 
  2. Elizabeth Moon (1845-1920). Born in Karachi, Pakistan on 11 April 1845. She married Dennis Charles Kennedy (1832-1914) in St. Peter's Church in Onehunga, Auckland on 10 January 1865 (reg. 1864/4557). Dennis was a Sergeant in the 1st Waikato Regiment. One of their children was possibly: WALLACE-KENNEDY. November 11 at Eltham, by the Rev. J. W. Hayward, William Wallace, second son of James Wallace, Wanganui, to Elizabeth, only daughter of Dennis C. Kennedy, Greerton, Tauranga. (New Zealand Herald, 27 November 1896, p.  4). Elizabeth died on 30 March 1920. Another child was John Kennedy who married Catherine Harriet Harding on 13 April 1898 at the Holy Trinity Church in Tauranga.
  3. Caroline Moon (1850-1926). Born in Bombay, India, in 1850. She married Peter Grant at The Elms Chapel in Tauranga on 26 March 1870 (reg. 1870/5379). They divorced in 1901. Caroline reverted back to her maiden name of Moon and remarried to Robert MacGregor in 1903 (reg. 1903/2237). Caroline died in Te Puke, aged 74, on 30 July 1926 (reg. 1926/6069) and was buried in Te Puke Cemetery. Her only child was Barbara Allan Grant born in 1874. She married Samuel Tanner in Tauranga on 10 September 1894. Barbara died on 19 August 1895, seven days after giving birth to her daughter, She was aged 21. Her daughter, Barbara Ivy Allan Tanner, was born on 12 August 1895, but died at six months of age on 23 February 1896.

William Moon died in Greerton, Tauranga, on 10 October 1877 (reg. 1877/2657). He was aged 67 and died from Bronchitis from which he had suffered for twelve days. Although no official record has yet been found, it is assumed that William is buried in Tauranga's Mission Cemetery.

It appears that Elizabeth was not on good terms with her son Frederick. A notice appeared in the Bay of Plenty Times on 13 December 1893, p. 5:

NOTICE I hereby caution FREDERICK WILLIAM MOON, his wife and his stepson not to enter upon my property at Greerton; if found trespassing thereson they will be prosecuted according to law. ELIZABETH MOON Greeron, Dec. 11th, 1893.

At approximately 2.30am on 16 April 1901, Elizabeth burnt to death in a fire at her home in Greerton. The Evening Post reported: 'On the arrival of the villagers the whole place was ablaze, and it was impossible to enter the house. The cottage was entirely destroyed, and after water had been thrown on the ruins the place was entered and the body of Mrs. Moon was found, scarcely anything being left but the bones.'

Headstone of Elizabeth Moon (1806-1901)

Elizabeth was almost 95 year old. The Bay of Plenty Times reported that she 'retained most of her faculties and though somewhat infirm, was able to get about, and insisted on living in the house by herself.' Her inquest appeared in the Bay of Plenty Times on 17 April 1901:

INQUEST An inquest was held at the Star Hotel at 11 a.m. yesterday touching the death of Mrs Elizabeth Moon, whose body was found, charred almost beyond recognition, in the ashes of her house about 4.30 a.m. the same day. Captain Tovey, Coroner, presided and the jury consisted of Messrs J. Maxwell, (Foreman), T. W. Watts, J. M. West, G. Gear, W. T. Teasey and T. C. Allely. Sergt. Kelly watched the proceedings on behalf of the police.

The jury having viewed the body, Const. Tarrant gave evidence to the following effect:— At 4.45 a.m. was instructed by Sergeant Kelly to proceed to Gate Pa, where a fire was reported to have occurred. On getting there found the house of Mrs E. Moon burnt down, only the iron off the roof and three iron bedsteads being left. About three feet from one of the beds saw a human form lying face downwards, which on enquiry he found to be the remains of Mrs E. Moon. With assistance removed the remains from the ashes which were still burning. Both legs and arms were burnt off near the body and the rest of the corpse much burnt and disfigured, the face being unrecognisable. The body appeared to be about in the centre of the building. Brought the remains into town to the Star Hotel. There was no one at the scene when he arrived, but shortly after Messrs Grant, Kennedy and Harding. The nearest house was just across the road where Grant lived. W. Grant, grandson of deceased stated that about 2.30 a.m. he was awakened by a sound like thunder, saw a light through the window and on getting up to look out saw his grandmother's house in flames. Ran across but found nothing but studs left standing all the rest burnt and the place blazing terrifically. Called out to Harding and others who arrived in about five minutes. Could not see a sign of deceased. Deceased would not allow anyone to sleep on the place to look after her. G. Hoarding deposed that about 3 o'clock in the morning he heard someone cooeying and going to the back door saw there was a fire. Dressed hurriedly and went across and found Mrs Moon's house burning ; met W. Grant on the road, said he did not know if his grandmother was out of the burning house or not; went up but could not get near enough to set a anything owing to the heat; went round among the trees looking to see if Mrs Moon was there. On coming back could make out a heap of something lying in the middle of the floor, after pushing away the embers could see a skull, threw some water on it to keep it from burning any more. Left the remains where they were and sent in for the police. Helped Const. Tarrant to remove the body.

By the jury.— Believed deceased burnt handles. Had known her 27 years. Thought the fire must have started about 20 minutes before witness got there. Mrs Kennedy said she knew the body to be that of her mother, who resided with her son, F. Moon, who was a carrier and had left for Rotorua on Monday morning. She had been living in the same house for 36 years and would have been 95 next month. She was in good health when witness saw her last night at 7.30 in her own house, when she retired to bed. Asked her mother if she could do anything for her and asked if she should light the candle, but her mother said no, she had a candle and matches on a box by the bed-side. Her mother would not let anyone, not even her relations sleep under the same roof with her; even her son when at home had to sleep in a detached room adjoining the kitchen. Deceased was of sound mind and active. Last Thursday night she got up about 10 or 11 o'clock, lit the candle and combed her hair because she could not sleep. Could form no idea as to the origin of the fire.

By the jury. — There were curtains about the bed which was an old fashioned one with top projecting about three feet from the wall and curtains round. The fire was carefully put out after tea.

After deliberation the jury returned a verdict that deceased, Elizabeth Moon, was accidentally burnt to death by the burning down of her home at Greerton, such being an accidental casual misfortune and not otherwise.

Elizabeth was buried in Mission Cemetery on 18 April 1901. Recollections from local residents include:

"Whatever she said, it would turn out right" Alice Griffiths

"I remember her going into town in her trap and stopping to hurl abuse at my mother in Cameron Road. My mother must have offended her in some way because she yelled abuse and said 'Ga home and boil yer cabbage.' She was funny. Everybody used to laugh at her" Agnes Falkner.

"At the junction of Hynds Road and Oropi Road Mr and Mrs Moon owned property - 5 acres belonging to Mr Moon on which he lived and because she had served as a Florence Nightingale Nurse at the Crimean War. Mrs Moon was a local character, the Maori's being in awe of her forceful personality and believing her to be a witch. She lived in a little cottage under a massive magnolia tree which unfortunately was destroyed when the site was eventually cleared for the building of the Greerton Hotel. Someone else said during the 1864 Battle of Gate Pa she refused to leave her home and stood at the gate with a pitchfork to stop anyone coming near" Violet McMillan.



Death Certificate: 1877 William Moon.

Death Certificate: 1901 Elizabeth Moon.

Fatal Fire (Evening Post,16 April 1901, p. 5).

Fatal fire at Gate Pa (Bay Of Plenty Times, 17 April 1901, p. 2).

Inquest: Elizabeth Moon (Bay Of Plenty Times, 17 April 1901, p. 2).

Judith Eddy (Elizabeth's third great grand-daughter).

Marriage Certificate: 1865 Elizabeth Moon to Dennis Charles Kennedy.

Notice to Frederick William Moon (Bay Of Plenty Times, 13 December 1893, p. 5).

Tauranga City Library Biographical Vertical File: Moon

This page was archvied at Perma cc March 2017

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Elizabeth Moon (nee Matherall) (1806-1901)

First Names:Elizabeth
Last Name:Moon
Date of Birth:May 1806
Place of Birth:Cornwall
Country of birth:England
Date of death:16 April 1901
Place of death:Greerton, Tauranga, New Zealand
Place of burial:Mission Cemetery, Tauranga
Date of Arrival:17 February 1864
Name of the ship:Swiftsure
Spouses name:William Moon
Spouses date of birth:1810
Spouses place of birth:Bath, England
Spouses date of death:10 October 1877
Spouses place of death:Greerton, Tauranga, New Zealand
Spouses place of burial:Mission Cemetery, Tauranga
Date of marriage:1830
Place of marriage:Guernsey
Fathers name:John Matherell