Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Benjamin Farrer 1788-1877

Benjamin Farrer, my 4th Great Grandfather was born in 1788 in Pontefract , Yorkshire to parents John Farrer and Ann Place. Benjamin became a well known watchmaker and silversmith, living and working in Beastfair and later Corn Market . He married Ellen Thompson in 1808 at age 20 and had 8 children, many of whom went on to further education and went into professional careers including a Doctor (Robert Farrer), Chemist (John and Charles Farrer),Customs Officer (Benjamin) His eldest son William Thompson Farrer followed in his fathers footsteps and became a Clock and Watch Maker in Pontefract. His wife Ellen died in 1854 but Benjamin lived a long life In 1861 he is listed as living in “Farrers Yard'”, Cornmarket as a retired watchmaker aged 74, and then later in 1871 still in the same place at age 84 living only with his elderly servant Elizabeth Jackson - who appears in the census aged 71.
Benjamin died on Nov 28, 1877 aged 89.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Mother and Daughter–Mary Jane Middlebrook and Ellen Winifred Middlebrook



These two gorgeous photos are of Mary Jane Middlebrook ( nee Rea) and her daughter Ellen Winifred Middlebrook.( My Great Great, and Great Grandmothers)

Mary Jane Rea married Samuel Middlebrook at “Riversdale” in Katikati on 23rd May 1882

They had 6 children of whom Ellen was the third, being born in 1887.

I loved how similar the poses were in these photos and how alike Mother and Daughter look, though is it just my imagination or does Mary Jane look  a little like she has more of a “wild” personality than her more proper looking daughter. I personally think the Irish rose certainly shines through in Mary Jane’s photo, with the choker and the slightly ruffled hair and the eyes gazing into space as if imagining all the better things she could be doing rather than posing for a photograph.

I am however most grateful she did pose as this, so far is the only photo of Mary Jane that we know of.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Pioneers, Settlers and Families of Katikati and District


The title of this blog post is the title of a new book written by Christine Clement and Ellen McCormack which is being launched this Sunday at the Tauranga Library


From the Tauranga.kete.net.nz website I quote:

“Local authors and historians Christine Clement and Ellen McCormack (QSM) have co-authored a comprehensive history of early Katikati settlers.

The book covers the early years of the settlement from 1870 to 1910, containing the histories of over 125 pioneer families from Athenree to Apata. Many previously unpublished photographs, letters and testimonials’ are included within the book which had its impetus from Ellen McCormack's over forty years of research into Katikati's history. In 2002 Ellen was awarded a Queen's Service Medal for her endeavours.

The book details the triumphs and tragedies that befell the settlers. From the story of George Alley who established the Homewood Trust to assist returning soldiers from World War II; Reverend Katterns and his Ostrich farm; publican Barney MacDonnell the six-foot two big-bearded twenty stone Irishman who dealt out his own form of justice; Joseph Shaw who had his cow bails varnished; at least two men who had wives back in England as well as one in Katikati; World Champion axeman George McCauley; the honourable Charles Macmillan who was both mayor and MP for Tauranga; photographer Albert Diggelmann who experimented with trick photography and the honourable Randolph Thomas Rowley.


Katikati is important to my branch of the Middlebrook Family. Samuel was instrumental in leading George Vessey Stewart into the area which was then purchased for the worlds only planned Irish Settlement.”


I have met Ellen McCormack who is a font of knowledge in regards to the KatiKati Middlebrook/ Rea branch of the family, and I will be doing my best to get down to Tauranga for the book launch.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Beginning

While Ive always had an interest in history, my interest in family history was a bit like a boiling pot. It sat there simmering for some time with various mysteries which begged to be solved, but  with life getting in the way, it seemed that it always came in second place to some other must-do activity.

Then last year with a hiss and a roar genealogy captured me and the pot is now at a rolling boil!

While there are many branches of my family tree that are intriguing, by far the most exciting to me is the Middlebrook connection.

My name is Lauren Bavin, I am a graphic artist and part time genealogist, with a passion for history and a great desire to connect with family.

My Great Great Great Grandparents were John and Ellen MIDDLEBROOK. John, born in 1812 in Morely Yorkshire married Ellen FARRER  of Pontefract, Yorkshire , in January 1847. Together they had 8 children. 7 of whom accompanied their parents on the Ship Shalimar in 1862 to Auckland New Zealand.

I am descended from Samuel, their 6th child. Samuel was always a bit of a storybook hero to me- the family tales of his adventurous life and his role in the founding of Katikati passed on to me from an early age. These tales along with others of a less factual nature regarding the Farrer connection were what peaked my interest in discovering my past.
I discovered that it was not only Samuel that had a spirit of adventure, that his elder brother John, was also a strong figure, instrumental in the formation of the Te Awamutu township, that his eldest sister Jane led a most interesting and intriguing life with mysterious marriages  to 2 brothers yet living life apparently mostly as a single and very adventurous and strong woman of 7 children .
Elizabeth, who married young to a man who became the chief attendant of the Whau Lunatic Asylum , and who lost 4 children at very young ages .
There was also James, who’s youngest son went on to become a well known clown, honoured by the entertainment industry in New Zealand , Benjamin who became a ships engineer and settled in Australia , and Henry , the youngest of the children who died as a teenager

After a short time researching this family I had made connections with several relatives, also descendants of John and Ellen Middlebrook, and the idea formed that a reunion might be a grand idea, but how to accomplish this?  Where to start? – The thought in itself is quite daunting. For months the idea has rolled around in my brain not gaining much momentum and then a favourite saying came to mind


So here it is, this blog is my first step, in what I hope will be a wonderful journey meeting new people who in fact are family.

If you think you are descended from John and Ellen Middlebrook please do make contact either here on this blog, or via email  to me at “ laurenbavin at gmail dot com” .

If you are interested in helping us organise this great undertaking please don’t hold back!.

I’m listing below a series of Surnames we know are connected with the Middlebrook family. This is definitely not an all encompassing list .

In coming weeks my posts here will be combination of snippets of information regarding my research of the Middlebrook family so far and also updates on the progress of the forthcoming reunion.


Names Associated with the Middlebrook Family ( Not complete)

Allely, Anderson, Armstrong, Bavin, Beauchamp, Boyd, Brice, Burk, Carse, Cooper,Dunsmuir, Edwards, Farrer, Fazakerley, Fennell, Forder, Furness, Gill, Gillam, Goodwin, Hancox ,Hanmore, Hardy, Harris, Hayward, James, Johnson, Lane, Little, Maxfield,    McBain, McRa, McRae, Middlebrook, Miller, Miller , Moyle, Neilsen, Palfreman, Pallet, Poole, Rankin, Rea, Ricket, Sill, Simpson, Smith, Stonex, Talbot, Whitnall-Smith, Whitten, Winks, Wood