Friday, February 28, 2014

The latest Middlebrook reunion newsletter

For those who arent subscribed to the newsletter – here is the latest newsletter


You can subscribe to the newsletter by filling in your name and email address in the form  on the right of this page .

We need your info, your ideas and your feedback!

Our early ( and definitely subject to change ) plans for the reunion is that it will take place over 2 days.
On the first day we will have a registration desk where you can pick up your colour coded name tag ( according to your branch of the family). We will have board with information on each branch  and plenty of time to get together, chat and share our familly stories with each other in a casual way.
We will have a photographer who will take photos throughout the day.
Then in the evening we hope to have an optional restaurant dinner - this will not be part of the registration cost, and will be informal.
The next day we hope to have a catered lunch with several talks and presentations about the family history , and more photos before we farewell each other.
This reunion is all about family, which means you. We want your ideas and feedback on the format of the Reunion- what you would like the experience to be like .
With 11 months to go we have plenty of time to plan and make changes and include your ideas.
Please email us and let us know what  you want out of this reunion

The Middlebrook Reunion Committee so  far consists of the following people:
Jennie and Paul Forder - Jennie is a Great Granddaughter of Samuel Middlebrook.
Judith Anderson- Judith is the Great Granddaughter of Jane Thompson Middlebrook ( the eldest daughter of John and Ellen Middlebrook  - not to be confused with the Jane Thompson Middlebrook who was the daughter of John and Mary Ann Middlebrook)
Lauren Bavin- Lauren is a Great Great Granddaughter of Samuel Middlebrook.
We are a small group and could certainly do with lots of help, so if you are interested in joining us please drop us a line at

Meet Ellen Middlebrook ( nee Farrer) 1820-1915 and the matriarch of our branch of the Middlebrook Family.
Currently we hold digital copies of over 400 family photographs and documents covering at least 4 generations.
Lauren's goal is to include all the photos into a book or series of books that will be able to be purchased at the reunion . These books will form a valuable repository of Middlebrook history that can be easily shared and kept.
To make the job easier, it would be wonderful if you could scan and send photos that you have to Lauren before the reunion.
Great thanks go to those who have already shared their precious colllection.
We will feature photographs in each newsletter, and in particular we will include photographs of people we are yet to identify


Who am I?


The lady on the right is Margaret (Dot) Middlebrook, but who does she have her arm around? Can anyone identify this mystery woman?


Update!- We have now identified this woman and it appears she is not related and is not as we had hoped Mary Jane Middlebrook, – Samuel Middlebrooks wife, – photos of whom , bar one that most descendants seem to have a copy of, elude us!  This lady is apparently a family friend “Mrs Harrison”





For our reunion to be as successful as possible we need to get word out to as many relations as possible.
We also would like our family tree ( which currently if we printed it on A4 sheets is 51 sheets wide!) to be as complete as possible.
To that end we would like for you all to fill out a Family Group Sheet which you can find below so we can include as many on the tree as possible.
You don't need to worry about internet privacy, this information is not public- it only goes to the reunion committee.
We also really need you to spread the word and make sure all the family signs up to the database regardless of whether they know they are going to attend the reunion. At this stage we aren’t asking for firm commitments or money, just an expression of interest.
Anyone connected to the Middlebrook family is welcome and can sign up on the right hand side of the blog
If your relatives don't have computer access, please help us by emailing for them,  their details including the following
Name, Address, Phone Number, Branch of the family from whom descended to

Remember to please fill out the family group form - Click here to enter

Keep updated on Middlebrook Family History at the Middlebrook Reunion Blog
Recent Posts:
Update to the Middlebrooks of Batley
The Middlebrooks of Batley
Save the Dates
Samuel Middlebrook 1784-1846

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Update to the Middlebrooks of Batley


I had an email today from John Middlebrook in Sydney with some details on Thomas Middlebrook ( the younger). He told me that Thomas had in fact died in June 1810 aged around 66 and was buried 3 days later in Morley.  This information having come from a transcription from the ( now missing – more on this later) family bible , – the family details of which John’s father Farrer Middlebrook had the great foresight to transcribe.

With this new information it was easy to find a record to prove it.


Hence I have updated my page on the Early Middlebrooks to reflect Thomas’s death date.  I believe all the other information remains unchanged at this point.

The Middlebrooks of Batley


Until last week the furthest back I had traced in the Middlebrook line was to Thomas, son of Thomas ( Butcher) of Batley. I actually was quite proud Id managed to get back to the early 18th century but little was I to know that with a bit of help – partially with an article from a newspaper of long ago, and partially from an expert in the present that I would this week have that line traced right back to the late 16th century .


I have been receiving scans of photos and documents from John Middlebrook in Sydney in the last few weeks, and one of the items he sent was a newspaper article about JE Middlebrook of South Africa.



Now In my research I had realised fairly early on that there were 2 Middlebrook families living in NZ in the early 20th century and it became a bit of a puzzle at times to work out who belonged to whom .

Id been in contact with Robin Middlebrook who was descended from the “other” Middlebrooks and we wondered if we were in fact related , however we had both researched fairly extensively and couldnt find a common ancestor. Well this article was in fact about to confirm that yes in fact we ARE related because on the back of the article  was written “ My husbands cousin” . The writing that of Julia Ann Middlebrook, wife of James Thompson Middlebrook. –

Well clearly these two werent first cousins – so where was that connection.

With the help of Ian Middlebrook, a UK genealogist who specialises in Middlebrook research we were given the answer.
It turns out that the Thomas ( Butcher ) who was top of my line  was the son of Matthew Middlebrook. ( Born 1680) Matthew had 2 sons,  Thomas  and George . J E Middlebrook of South Africa, and hence Robin and her family were descended from George, and we are descended from Thomas)

Once I had Matthew in my tree it was a fairly easy track right back through his father, John, his grandfather Matthew to his Great Grandfather Michael Middlebrook who arrived in Batley around 1600.

Michael and his family are quite well documented as Michaels daughters and their husbands Edward Wigglesworth and Christopher Todd were very very early emigrants to America – arriving there in 1639 .

(Interestingly the Todd family came from Pontefract – from where our Farrer family also hail) .

I needed to put this line of Middlebrook Men down into a scrapbook page to visualise the generations and here is the result




Journalling reads

It is thought that the earliest known Middlebrook in the Batley region of Yorkshire was Michael Middlebrook
who arrived there around 1600.  2 of his daughters married and became some of the earliest  Puritan settlers in
America , arriving in Boston on the 26th June  1637. His son Matthew remained in Batley parish and the family grew in numbers, in fact there are still many Middlebrook family members living in the Batley region today.
The first in our branch to emigrate was John Middlebrook – not shown on this page – son of Samuel the last one in the list.
Like his well documented GGGGGG Aunts before him, John and his wife Ellen made a new history in a new country on the other side of the world when they sailed for New Zealand on the Shalimar in 1862.

Michael Middlebrook c1593-1616
Born c. 1593 in what was suggested to be“Holds Mill” Yorkshire.Married Grace?  and had 4 daughters,Mary, Hester, Grace, Mercy, and 2 sons, Michael and Matthew. Moved to Batley around 1600.Died 1616 Buried at Batley All Saints, Yorkshire.
31 Dec 1616

Matthew Middlebrook c 1613-1657
Born around 1613, Married Mary  Cookeson at Batley All Saints 23 May 1637.  Is mentioned in letter by brother Michael on 6 April 1657 to Sister in New Haven Connecticut  as being very ill. Died 1657 at Batley, Yorkshire

John  Middlebrook 1650-1727
Born around 1650 in Batley, Yorkshire, and married Susan Bingly on 22 Nov 1671 at Batley, All Saints.
Had at least 4 children, John,George,Matthew & Martha . Buried on 22 Feb 1727 at Batley All Saints.

Matthew Middlebrook 1680-1761
Born 1680 and baptised on 16 June in that year at in Batley, All Saints .Married Elizabeth Coup on 13 Dec. 1703 at Batley, All Saints.  Lived at Gildersome,Occupation, Clothier .Buried  9 Sept 1761 at Batley All Saints.

Thomas Middlebrook 1724-1754
Born in 1724 and baptised on 6 April in that year at in Batley, All Saints . Married Elizabeth Mills on 23 Dec. 1745 at Leeds, St Peters.  Occupation Clothier .He died 1754 at Batley. Elizabeth remarried John Wormald, Butcher in 1755.

Thomas Middlebrook 1747-1810
Born in 1747 and baptised on 22 Nov in that year at in Birstall, St Peters . Married Mary Fisher on 30 June 1773 at Leeds, St Peters.  Took the trade of butcher from Stepfather John Wormald. Died around 12 June 1810 and buried 3 days later at Leeds, Morley ( Non Conformist)

Samuel Middlebrook 1784-1846
Born in 6 Oct 1784 and baptised on 24th Nov in that year at Low Row (Wesleyan),near Batley. Married Hannah Nicholson 19 Dec 1803 at Leeds, St Peters . Clothier, and Butcher, and purhased Black Bull Inn Millbridge before 1841.Died on 1 Oct 1846.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Save the Date(s)! - January 24 - 26 2015

This weekend has brought quite a bit of Middlebrook Family and Reunion news! – Firstly we have a tentative date – and we are pencilled in to a venue.
The weekend in question is Auckland Anniversary Weekend  24-26 January 2105. We currently are pencilled in for the Sunday with the Sorrento in One Tree Hill. Auckland, however they will only hold a pencilled booking for a week!!!!!!!!!!!!
The trouble with organising an event like this for the first time of course is we have NO idea how many people will be coming. We ( the small committee and I) feel we definitely will have over 50, and probably  up to 100 but its been suggested that we may have up to or over 200 .
This results in quite a dilemma over finding a suitable venue, and in significant cost in paying a deposit, hence we are currently pencilled in and we are looking at other cheaper alternatives . ( If you have any suggestions please do post in the comments as we are well and truly open to suggestions here)
Ive put feelers out for ideas from the various Genealogy groups I belong to and have had some good suggestions for how to run a reunion but not so many on venues as yet.
We understand the majority of people likely to attend  may well  be superannuitants and we would like to keep the cost as low as possible, while making for  a comfortable and enjoyable event.
What we would love for you to do now is to get word out to your relatives and any other contacts you feel might be interested in attending our reunion.
The earlier we have a firm idea on numbers the easier the organising is going to be .

Friday, February 21, 2014

Samuel Middlebrook 1784-1846





Samuel Middlebrook was born in Morley Yorkshire on 16 October 1784-the same year the Methodist Church was chartered in England, and the year that the last person in England was burned at the stake, and the Industrial Revolution was in its infancy. Times were changing and Samuel was to be part of that change.
He  married Hannah Nicholson on 19th December 1893 and had 5 children.
At the time of the birth of his first daughter Mary Ann in 1809 Samuel is listed as a clothier - a profession that runs deep in the Middlebrook history.
By the birth of his second child Elizabeth, he was a butcher, like his father Thomas before him, and a trade that was to become extremely important to the Middlebrook family for the next hundred years or more.
At the baptism at Batley All Saints, of each of his other children, Fanny, John and Thomas he is listed as a Butcher, however by 1828 he is listed in the Pigots Commercial Directory as a Publican- residing at the Black Bull Inn Liversedge Yorkshire.
Clearly a man of conviction, Samuel  was a “Chartist” and was a founding member of the Liversedge “Radical Association”
As noted in the Leeds Times August 4 1838 “ At a meeting held at the house of Samuel Middlebrook, Black Bull Inn Liversedge, a Radical Association was formed for the purpose of securing the political rights of Englishmen, and to promote the adoption by Parliament of the 5 great Radical principals, namely, Universal Suffrage, Vote by ballot, Annual Parliaments, no property qualifications for Members of Parliament, and equal representation.
The 1841 census has Samuel living at the Black Bull Inn with his son John and daughter Fanny.
He died in 1846 and it appears that at some point after that  John took over running the Black Bull until he and his family of 7 children emigrated to New Zealand to begin a new life. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Middlebrook-Frost Wedding


John Thompson Middlebrook was a son of John Middlebrook ( jr). ( Very good looking chap I think!)


Here are some photos of John Thompson ( known as Jack)  and Susie  Frost



It was great to receive a copy of this wedding photo from John McBain, JT Middlebrook’s grandson, to go along with the article I had saved from Papers Past which described the wedding.


A pretty wedding was celebrated at St Johns Church, Te Awamutu, on Boxing Day, when John Thompson Middlebrook, eldest son, of Mr J. Middlebrook, of Te Awamutu, and late of Ponsonby, was married to Miss Susie Frost, of Te Rahu, late of Manchester, England. The bride, who was given away by her father, looked charming in a white silk dress trimmed with lace insertion, pleated ribbon, chiffon, and a panel front. She also wore the orthodox veil and orange blossoms,
and carried a lovely shower bouquet. The bridesmaids were Miss Adelaide Frost and Miss Edith Middlebrook, sisters of the bride and bridegroom respectively, both attired in white silk trimmed with Valenciennes lace and insertion, with panel fronts. They carried gold brooches, the gift of the bridegroom. The bride also was presented with a beautiful gold brooch.
The bridegroom was attended by Mr Sam Middlebrook, as best man and Mr Robert Frost as groomsman- brothers of the bride and bridegroom. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. J.W.Clark, and Mrs Aheir presided at the organ and played the Wedding March. After the ceremony, the guests drove to the residence of the bride’s parents, where the wedding breakfast was served. Mr and Mrs Middlebrook left by mid-day express on their honeymoon. The bride’s travelling dress was a pretty navy blue costume and hat to correspond.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Early Reunion Organising

Things have been a little slow on the Reunion organising front over the Christmas period but we are ready now to start with the initial organisation .
We have a possible venue in Auckland and we are hoping for a Sunday in mid to late January ( 2015).
What we really need is an indication, however vague, of numbers . We are thinking that we could be looking at as many as 200 as we’ve recently made quite a few contacts who are interested in attending.
We are aware of several in Australia who are interested in attending as well as from all over the North Island
So in order to keep everyone in the loop, we need to start some kind of database of people who are interested.
This wont be by any means a commitment  but we would like to know some  names and numbers of people who  might attend.
So if you are descended from John and Ellen  ( nee Farrer) Middlebrook or connected to the family and  you are interested in even a small way in attending the reunion or being kept up to date with our progress in organising please drop me a line at to be added to the database.
You can sign up receive updates by newsletter of the Reunion organisation progress at the top left of this blog.
If you are willing to help in the organisation of the reunion please email us at

Just as a reminder here are the names of the original family and their spouses

John Middlebrook ( late of Millbridge Yorkshire) and his wife Ellen ( nee Farrer – originally from Pontefract Yorkshire)
Jane Thompson Middlebrook – married JamesJohn Mcra and then Hector McRae
Benjamin Middlebrook- ( Moved to Australia)  - married Alice Lane
Elizabeth Middlebrook – Married George Douglas Hardy- family lived in Avondale
John Middlebrook  - married Mary Ann Tucker – They lived in Western Springs, Ponsonby and then were well known residents of Te Awamutu
Samuel Middlebrook – married Mary Jane Rea – resident of Katikati and Waihi
James Thompson Middlebrook – Married Elizabeth Edgar and then Julia Bartle Sullivan- resided Opua and Auckland.
( there were 2 other children – Ellen who died before the family emigrated to NZ and Henry who died aged 17 in Auckland)
This photo shows Jane Thompson McRae with her  mother Ellen Middlebrook and Sister Elizabeth Hardy . The child is unidentified at this time but is possibly Ellen Hardy.
John and Samuel Middlebrook at Korakanui approximately 1933
John Middlebrook and Jane McRae

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Trouble at the Mill





This is my GG Grandfather  Samuel Middlebrook  who very nearly perished in an industrial accident.
(Own Correspondent)
Bay Of Plenty Times
8 July 1903 Page 2
Messrs Bond Bros, started their saw-mill on Wednesday last, and I regret to state that Mr Samuel Middlebrook met with a most dangerous and painful accident on Thursday. He was engaged as stoker to the engine, and one of the journals having become heated he knelt down to feel it, when a key on a short shaft caught his shirt and carried him round 5 he was discovered, apparently dead, on the floor, covered with blood, and all his clothes stripped off, even to his socks. Though life was believed to be extinct, an urgent message was sent to Dr Slater, of Waihi, who arrived at the mill two hours after receipt of the message. He put in seven stitches in the side of his leg and had him removed on a stretcher to his own home, carried by ten men in relays. He did not recover consciousness for some hours, and has no recollection whatever of anything that occurred after examining the journal of the shaft. The patient is I am happy to state, progressing most favourably, and sleeps soundly all night and through the greater portion of the day. This painful accident only bears out the anticipations I have persistently expressed in your valuable columns, that such must inevitably occur when our local saw mill and other industrial works get into full swing, and we have this example on the second day after the start it is hard to know whose turn will be the next, and yet our settlers appear callous and listless in starting their Medical Club, not following the example of Te Puke, Whakatane and Opotiki, though the idea first originated in Katikati. Mr Middlebrook is much respected here, he is married to a daughter of Mr Stewart Rea, a member of the No 1 Party, and has a large grown up family. He had been for some years engaged in gold mining, in the pursuit of which occupation he met with considerable success.

A Very Well Thought of Man


Todays post is about Dr Robert FARRER. He was my GGG Uncle, the brother of Ellen MIDDLEBROOK nee FARRER, and son of my 4x G Grandfather Benjamin FARRER.( the clockmaker if you remember him from previous posts).



The journalling on this layout is an except from an obituary. I do not know the publication the obituary was published in. It was stapled into a family bible page, that my new found cousin Judith sent me a photocopy of yesterday.

Clearly this was a great and well thought of man. The obituary goes into great detail about the funeral and is extremely complimentary on the life of Dr Farrer.


Robert Farrer was born on the 1st December 1822, and had before his death,  just attained his 72nd year. He was the son of the late Mr Benjamin Farrer, of Pontefract, and of a numerous family only one brother and one sister survive him. Vis,. Mr Benjamin Farrer of Pontefract, age 79 years and Mrs Ellen Middlebrook, Auckland New Zealand, age 75 years.  Robert Farrer received his early education at Pontefract Grammar school and afterwards studied a the Leeds School of Medicine, and also at University College London. In 1846 he qualified as a licentiate of the Apothecaries Society, and four years later as a licentiate of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow.  He became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons England, in 1852.,a licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh in 1856 and was admitted a member of same in 1872. After qualifying in 1846, Dr Farrer was appointed home surgeon to the Halifax Infirmary, a position he held for five years. During those years he endeared himself to all connected with that institution and on severing his connection with the Infirmary in 1851 he was the recipient of a very handsome testimonial.

It was in the latter part of the year 1851 that Dr Farrer came to Brighouse, to start a practice on his own account, and thus commenced that connection with the place with which is name and that of his family will long be associated.
A young man, devotedly attached to his profession, Dr Farrer was not long in making his mark in the sphere in which he had settled down and he soon gathered round a large number of friends and had the satisfaction of seeing that his efforts and work as a medical man were rewarded with the growing confidence and respect of an increasingly large number of patients.  On the death of Dr.  Rowbotham in 1853 Dr Farrer was appointed the certifying factory surgeon to a large district including West Vale and Elland as well as Brighouse and Rastrick. He was also surgeon to the Low Moor Iron Co., poor house medical officer and public vaccinator to various areas during his career.  In all public matters he took a lively interest and for a time occupied a seat on the Brighouse local board . To a devotion almost amounting to an enthusiasm for his profession he united a kindly presence and a cheerful temperament. And his visits were always welcomed to every  home. No call for his services were ever unresponded to and no urgent call even in the night time or however distant was by him every unregarded.  For a period of more than thirty years he worked unceasingly almost day and night and had he not been blessed  with a sound physique and a strong constitution he must have broken down under the strain. Few men could have stood the strain for so long a period.
In 1852 he married Miss Fanny Piercy, second daughter of the late Mr George Piercy of Halifax of which marriage was issued with  four  sons and five daughters of whom three sons and four daughters survive . Mrs Farrer also survives her husband. The marriage proved singularly happy and blessed, and for his wife Mrs Farrer always found a loyal and willing help, and Mrs Farrer is a woman of  kindly instincts and generous sympathies , as the poor of Brighouse know to their benefits.  An infant daughter died in 1862, but for a period of thirty- two years there was no break by death in the family circle. In March of this year  the first break in the family during that long period was caused  by the death of Dr Farrer's eldest son Mr Benjamin Piercy Farrer who died in Scarborough and whose remains were brought to Brighouse for interment in the family vault. At Brighouse  Parish Church. Two other sons- George Albert and Robert were brought up to the medical profession and in 1886 Dr Farrer decided to retire from activities in his profession  and leave his large practice to his sons. This he did in the year named when he took up residence at Eawood Lodge Scarborough where during the last 8 years he has been able to enjoy a well earned rest and to pass the eventide of his life in peace and tranquility.
The funeral of the deceased gentleman took place on Tuesday afternoon at Brighouse Church in which churchyard the family vault is situated. The remains were conveyed to Brighouse from Scarborough in a special N.E.R. Carriage and accompanying the remains were all the members of the family with the exception of Dr Robt. Farrer  Previous to leaving Scarborough a choral service had been held at St. Martins Church . The train was due to reach Brighouse at two minutes past two o'clock, but it was a few minutes after that time before the train steamed into the station. The following were the mourners. - Dr and Mrs Geo. A Farrer, Dr and Mrs Robt.  T Farrer, Mr Charles H Farrer, Miss F.E.Farrer, Miss A.L Farrer, Miss F M Farrer, Capt. Jobson ( Scarborough)  and Mr Geo. Higham.
The funeral cort├Ęge  comprised hearse and three coaches and three private carriages sent by Alderman R Kershaw, Crow Nest; Miss Ormerod, Borthroyd and Mr C Blackburn, Browlee. Preceding the hearse were the following gentlemen,  most of whom met the funeral party at the exit from the railway station:- Messrs W, Boothroyd, H Hirst, W.J. Chambers, Charley Jessop, W.H Newhouse, J.E.B. Howe, W. Laxton, Dr Brown, L Ayton, M Wood, C Blackborne, Alred Stott, Joh T Goodall, Jas. Dybad, E, Dale and E. Stott.  The coffin was of oak with massive brass mountings, the large brass plate containing the following inscription:-
Born 1st December 1829
Died 15th December 1894

Obituary Mrs Margaret Rea


The Rea family are still quite a mystery to me. I have very little information on them and I understand from the few people who have attempted to research them that its a difficult family to trace.

Mary Jane Rea was my Great Great Grandmother. I would love to know more about her. She left my GG Grandfather in Katikati and came to live in Ponsonby in Auckland at least as early as the beginning of the 20th century , though they remained married all her life.

Her Mother was Margaret Rea, the rather imposing woman in the photo below.


The journalling is from her obituary in the Auckland Star February 6 1925

One of the links with the early pioneering days of Katikati was severed by the passing away on Tuesday last of Mrs Margaret Rea at the residence of her daughter Mrs Stanaway. The late Mrs Rae with her husband and four children came out to New Zealand in 1875 with the first batch of settlers under the late Mr G Vesey Stewart, founder of the Katikati settlement. Throught the fifty years since arrival in the country the deceased lady resided at Katikati, and it is believed she was the last of the band of original adults who took part in the building of the settlement. The late Mrs Rea by her sterling qualities, kindly disposition and readiness to tender help and advice, endeared herself to all who knew her. her Husband predeceased her 12 years ago. She leaves four daughters and 2 sons.