Monday, September 29, 2014

The Last Will of Samuel Middlebrook




This is number  10  in my Ancestor a Week for 20 Weeks challenge

I thought it would be nice in this layout to not only show the actual will  and the original funeral card which I found in an album belonging to this mans namesake Samuel Middlebrook ( my GG Grandfather) but include the signature – how cool is that to see the signature of your Great Great Great Great Grandfather!!


This is the last Will and Testament of me Samuel Middlebrook of Millbridge in the Township of Liversedge in the parish of Birstal in the County of York, Innkeeper. I order and direct all my just Debts, Funeral and Testamentary Expenses and charges of proving and registering this my Will to be paid by my Executor hereinafter appointed out of my personal Estate as soon as convenient after my decease. I give devise and bequeath to my son John Middlebrook all my real and personal Estates whatsoever and wheresoever and of what nature or kind soever the same may be to hold the same unto and to the use of my said son John, his heirs, executors administrators and assigns according to the nature and quality thereof respectively. And I do hereby charge and make liable the property hereinbefore given and devised to my said son John, with the payment of the Legacies or Sums following, that is to say, to my Daughter Elizabeth, the Wife of Thomas Sturdy the Legacy or Sum of One Hundred Pounds. To  my daughter Fanny, the wife of Philip Smith the Legacy of Sum of One Hundred Pounds: both the last mentioned Legacies to be paid at the Expiration of twelve months from my decease, but without interest; and to my Son Thomas Middlebrook the Legacy or Sum of Five Pounds to be paid at my decease.  And I appoint to  my son John Executor of this my Will and do hereby revoke and make void all other Wills by me at anytime heretofore made and do declare this to be my Last Will and Testament. In witness where I have to this my Will the whole whereof is contained on this and the preceding side of one sheet of paper subscribed my name this Twenty Ninth day of May in the Year of our Lord One Thousand eight hundred and forty six.
Signed by the before named Samuel
Middlebrook in the presence of us,
present at the same time who have
hereunto signed our names as
Witnesses thereto in the presence of the
said Samuel Middlebrook and at his
request and in the presence of each other
Joseph Chadwick- Hatter Millbridge
William Sykes Attorney Millbridge

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

20 Ancestors in 20 Weeks–Number 9–Benjamin Hardy


Benjamin Farrer Hardy began his career in the fashion industry when he joined the company Rushbrook and Company of Auckland, before moving on to other draperies in Auckland where he gained further experience. Subsequently, in 1902 he was appointed manager of the Melbourne Clothing Company of Stratford .
By 1911 Ben Hardy had his own business in Picton Street Howick, where he remained until 1915 at which point he made a name for himself as a Master Draper in Thames.
Electoral roll records indicate that by 1928 he had moved back to Auckland and was living in  Oaklands Road Mt Eden and is still listed as a draper.
Ben Hardy married Martha Neilie in 1899 and they had two children, Norma Madeleine Middlebrook Hardy, ( 1905-1997) and Douglas Nelson Hardy (1905-1992)

The premises on the corner of Pollen and Cochrane Streets now occupied by Mr Ben. Hardy, the enterprising draper, and formally known as Martin's corner, have undergone wonderful changes in the course of a few months. Where formerly stood the old established business of Mr George Martin, has now arisen one of the most up-to-date emporiums in the town, and here Mr Hardy has set up business under modern conditions.


With a large and new building at his disposal and a stock that for excellence would be hard to beat, Mr Hardy has made a choice Xmas display. Everything is new, and consequently fashion followers can obtain all that they require in dress and accessories. The showroom contains some ravishing millinery samples, the newest shades and shapes being exhibited. Madame Fashion has so many vagaries that it is difficult to keep pace with her whims, but Mr Hardy understands what his Thames clients wants, and buys accordingly. Here lies the secret of his success since starting gin business in this town( and his numerous customers recognise his efforts to please them ); the enterprising draper has secured an exclusive array of chic graceful  millinery, and his ready to wear costumes are the last word in fashion. In all the leading shades and materials, they are perfectly sweet confections, and we would recommend the race goer in search for an original frock to call and inspect the splendid display at Hardy's. In charming military cut with pleated basques, mess coat style and flared skirts, they are le dernier cri . The whisps of lacy blouses: the effective dress trimmings, and the smart little muslin and voile frocks made in a variety of styles, including the popular pinafore design stamp Hardy's stock as thoroughly representative of what is being work in the fashion centres. In hosiery, gloves, stockings, and sunshades, the shop is replete, also with dainty dress fabrics. There are the usual accompaniments for the ladies in toilet accessories, etc, in which the feminine mind delights. Hardy's is an admirable place for the Xmas shopper and the enterprising proprietor is thoroughly deserving of the increasing patronage which is offerings are bringing  him. He has installed one of the latest electric cash registers in the district, it being worked with a minimum of waiting for the customer, and combines efficiency of service with wonderful capabilities for silently recording the sales. It is a striking innovation and is built on an elaborate scale. Mr Hardy is indeed catering for public stores in Thames. His Xmas stock is a fine one.

Thames Star 22nd December 1915

Monday, September 15, 2014

Middlebrook Reunion Newsletter–August 22


Reunion Pricing for Children

We have had some requests as to pricing for children for the reunion. We of course welcome children to the reunion on both days , especially to the Saturday function. Its so important that we pass on our past to the future of our family and though we understand that children may not want to spend  all day amongst  and so we have devised a price for children that we hope will encourage as many as possible to come. It would be especially great to see as many as possible on the Saturday  for the family photographs.
So to that end the price for children 8 - 13 will be $10 for the Saturday
Children 7 and under are free of charge on the Saturday.
On the Sunday the cost will be  $35 for all children 13 and under.
The Registration forms have been amended to include those children's prices

Reunion Registration is Open - Register Early and Save!

Early registration discount ends August 30 ($10 pp discount to 2 day registrations if paid by Aug 30)
The reunion will be held on January 24th and 25th 2015 at Fairway Lodge, Silverfield, Takapuna in Auckland.
We have negotiated what we feel is the best  price and format for our needs and we are able to offer
several options in our aim to have as many attend as possible. We hope to make  this event pleasurable and enjoyable as possible while making it as affordable as we can.
To that end we have formatted the two days as follows:
Saturday 24th January $ 40.00pp for Adults, $10 for children 8-13 , Children 7 and under  Free
11am - 4pm
The day will begin with check in where you will be issued with name tags denoting which branch of the family you belong to . This will make it easy for you to recognise those who descend from the same branch of the family as yourself.
From 12 noon we will have our photographer taking formal group photos of each branch of the family and of the whole group, along with roaming candid photos throughout the day.
These photographs will be available in an inexpensive  book form, after the reunion. Orders to be taken on the day or beforehand  via a form which will be included in a later newsletter.
Leading up to the reunion we will announce the price of  a photographic family history book which will be available for pre-purchase and pick up at the reunion.
Finger food and tea and coffee will be supplied throughout the day and a cash bar will also be available for those who wish to make use of it.
There will be photographic and informational displays and a large family tree available for viewing.
Saturday primarily though is a mix and mingle event where we can all get to know each other.
Feel free to bring along any photos or copies, along with family mementos you wish to share or display.
Saturday Evening
This is at your leisure. We have suggestions for local restaurants for those interested.
Sunday 25th January $50pp, $ 35 per child 13 and under
12 noon - 3:00pm
Buffet Luncheon
Sit down lunch with presentations and speakers (descendants) and cutting of the Reunion Cake
Middlebrook Reunion Registration Form
If you prefer to print and fill in a paper form you can download it here

Memories of My Grandfather:
Bart Middlebrook

By Diana (Allely) McGregor

My grandfather Bart (Nelson Bartle Middlebrook) always smoked a pipe. He also always owned a boat which he spent most of his time on when he was not working. The brothers were allowed to go away on it but not the girls for some strange reason, only known to him. My mother; also was only allowed to stay at school until the 5th form because why would you educate girls when they were only going to get married.

He had a twin sister Eva who used to visit us sometimes. Apparently she was 11 lbs when born and he was 10. Unsure how their poor mother could stagger around. Though he was never a very big man, probably about five foot five at his tallest.

Bart and Eva

He was a chemist and owned several pharmacy shops in Pakuranga during my childhood. He supplied my mother with all sorts of things that were meant to improve our health; Vit C tablets, malt in large tins and fluoride tablets. All his five grandchildren have beautiful teeth.

He and my paternal grandfather built our Bach at Piha where we had many happy family holidays. When he was younger he would walk from Auckland to Murawai after work for a swim.

I would stay with him and Grandma in Pakuranga when I was small and climb into bed with them in the morning and he would get up and make Grandma a cup of tea. Probably to escape from me.

When he retired he and Grandma moved back to Thames and bought the doctors house on the hill. He would work in the hospital pharmacy when they needed a locum and would sometimes relieve pharmacists up in Auckland when they needed to have a holiday.

He taught navigation to the Coast Guards. Boating was always his passion.

He and Grandma bought a new house on the flat in Thames so that he could walk to his boat if he could not drive anymore. He died when I was 28 so only two of my six children ever met him. He always had a story to tell and I can still remember that pipe and the funny hat he always wore and his jackets that smelt of tobacco.

We are still looking for further photographs to include in the Pictorial book which will be available at the reunion - please email Lauren if you have anything at all which may be of interest. This includes not just photographs from the 19th century but also 20th century photographs pertaining to the Middlebrook family.
If you do not have any way of scanning the photographs we may be able to organise someone to visit .

One thing I have noticed since I started researching the Middlebrook Clan, and moreso on meeting various relatives is how the Middlebrook Family members have  remarkable likenesses between siblings,  and cousins, close and distant . One example shown here as these photos show. Jane Thompson Middlebrook, eldest daughter of John and Mary Ann Middlebrook,  not to be confused with her Aunt of the same name) on the left, and on the right, Ellen Hardy , 2nd daughter of Elizabeth and George Douglas Hardy were first cousins but as shown in these photos could almost be mistaken for the same woman. Jane ( known as Cis) was born in 1876 in Auckland and Ellen was born two years earlier in 1874 also in Auckland.  We know the Middlebrook families connected with each other frequently despite geographical distance between them - I wonder how often Jane and Ellen's paths crossed and if they too remarked on their likeness.

New Photos

Here are some photos we have received copies of in the last couple of weeks.

This photo  of descendants of  Samuel Middlebrook shows Lily Dunne ( Widowof John Stewart Middlebrook), Margaret ( Dot) Harris, Bess Middlebrook and Maisie Middlebrook

This is Katikati Number 2 School dated 1900.
In this photo are likely to be Ellen Winifred Middlebrook & Samuel Robert ( Bert) Middlebrook - who appears to be known as Robert in School records for this date. It appears John Stewart had left Katikati Number 2 school on 12th June 1899 aged 15  ( headed for Waihi) , Depending on the date of the photo it also could show Margaret' ( Dot) who's last day was May 1900- aged 14 (destination listed as home)  Maise and Bess were too young to be at school at this time .

This Whitnall-Smith photograph  postcard of Olive Whittaker Middlebrook - daughter of John Middlebrook was sent to John Thompson and Thelma Middlebrook  when she was staying in Garden Terrace Devonport . I am unable to ascertain the date in the postmark . She appears  possible she is wearing some kind of uniform - could it be a nurse or teachers uniform?? - We have no contacts with anyone descended from Olive, who went on to marry William Winks . In both of the electoral rolls ( 1914 and 1919) she qualified to be on before marrying she was living in College Rd Te Awamutu not Devonport.  She married William Winks in 1920.  If anyone has more information on Olive and William we would greatly appreciate it
Olive and Olive and Olive and Olive and Olive and Olive....

There are many name repetitions in our family, the most common you would think are John and Ellen - and certainly there are quite a few Johns and Ellens numbered in the descendants of the original John and Ellen Middlebrook, however there are other names that are duplicated multiple times with less obvious reason.
Olive is one of those names
The earliest that I have found was the Olive shown in the photo above
Olive Whittaker Middlebrook - daughter of John and Mary Ann Middlebrook  born 1891
Olive Marion Simpson - Granddaughter of Jane Thompson Middlebrook and James John McRa, daughter of Jane Elizabeth and Duncan McGregor Simpson  born 1903
Olive Gladys Whitnall Smith -Granddaughter of John and Mary Ann Middlebrook, daughter of Jane Thompson and Henry Whitnall Smith born 1908
Olive Mary Middlebrook - Granddaughter of John and Mary Ann Middlebrook, daughter of Charles Samuel and Kate Middlebrook- born 1917
Olive June Rush - Granddaughter of Jane Thompson and James John McRa, daughter of Mary and Christopher Rush born 1921
Olive Jean Harris Granddaughter of Samuel and Mary Jane Middlebrook, daughter of Margaret and Robert Harris  born 1922

Your Stories Urgently Required

It is our goal to complete a  page for the book a week for the rest of the year. In order to do this and to include as much family as possible in the book we NEED YOUR HELP. We are still urgently requiring stories on many branches of the family. We often have just boring facts such as dates and locations but people are more than that - The best way to remember family is to learn more about their personalities - the good and the bad . Without your help there are most certainly going to be gaps in the research. Helping  could be as simple as jotting down your memories of your parents, grandparents, or any stories you have been told relating to all branches  the family.
Send an email - even if its just a paragraph to Lauren with anything you think might be useful.
Thanks to those who have helped so far - your efforts are greatly appreciated.
Remember to fill in a Family Group Sheet Form here if you havent already.

If you find the online  form confusing - send an email to Lauren with your name and date of birth and include the following info
Your spouses name and date of birth and date of marriage
Your parents names and dates of birth marriage and death
Your siblings names , dates of birth, spouses names, dates of marriages and death dates ( if applicable)
Your children's names dates of birth, marriage, spouses names
Include as much info as you can.

20 Ancestors in 20 weeks–Number 8–A Blended Family–The SImpsons





When Scotsman Duncan McGregor Simpson’s wife Annie tragically died in childbirth in 1900 she not only left him widowed, but a single father with 6 children to care for, the youngest of whom was only 2 years old .  It was a necessity to remarry, and Duncan found a wife in Jane Elizabeth McRae ( known frequently as Jennie), daughter of Jane Thompson McRae . It is not known how the two met, but they  were married in 1902 at the home of Jane Elizabeth's mother.   For Jane, quite young at 22 when she married, it must have been quite a challenge to step in and take on a mothering role for children, some of whom were only a few years younger than herself.  Additionally , very soon she was expecting a child herself and within a year the blended family had begun taking shape.  Jane went on to have 11 children of her own to give Duncan a total of 17 children! The age gap between the eldest Jonnie (John Robert Simpson) and the youngest Clyde McGregor Simpson being 37 years. 

We know though that despite the closeness in age of Jane to her adopted children some did view her as a mother as evidenced by the postcard sent to her from England during WW1  by a wounded Charles Duncan Simpson, and a photo from another stepson, both addressed to “Dear Mother”. 
Family get togethers must have been quite an undertaking with such a large group as shown in the photo to the right. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Family of Jane Thompson Middlebrook


As part of my family reunion in January I hope to create not only a book with stories but a book with pictures – of as many descendants as I can lay my hands on.


Here are the pages I created on Jane Thompson Middlebrook and her family. I mainly have photographs from only 2 of Janes Children – Jane Elizabeth, and Mary, with just one or two relating to  other children .


20 Ancestors in 20 Weeks–Number 7 - Elizabeth Middlebrook



     Elizabeth  was the third daughter of Ellen and John Middlebrook, born in December 1851 in Millbridge Yorkshire. She was at least the third generation of Elizabeth Middlebrooks, being named after an Aunt, and a Great Aunt . Elizabeth was 11 when she along with her parents and siblings left England and made the long journey to New Zealand aboard the Shalimar, arriving in December 1862.
Just 6 years later in 1868 she married George Douglas Hardy, and soon after they made their home in Duke Street ( later called Karaka Street), the same street her family had lived in since soon after her fathers death in 1866. Elizabeth was to give birth to at least 11 children, however tragically 5 of them died as infants or young children.  In addition to her  own 6 remaining children she also bought up her Grandson Frank Leslie ( Son of daughter Ellen Hardy) as her own child. By the late 1870s her husband George became a warder (and later chief attendant) at the Whau Lunatic Asylum. This may have prompted the family to move first to Bellwood Mt Eden and later to New Lynn and finally to Bollard Street Avondale where she lived for over 20 years .In later life George ( and probably Elizabeth) became members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church., her funeral was held at the Blockhouse Bay Seventh day Adventist Church after her death on March 8th 1943 at the grand age of 93.

20 Ancestors in 20 weeks–week 6 Nelson Valentine Middlebrook


Journalling once again by John McBain to whom I am hugely indebted for all the info on the Te Awamutu Middlebrook Family


Nelson Valentine  Middlebrook was the 9th. child of John and Mary Anne Middlebrook. He was born on February 14th 1894 (hence his middle name. Nelson’s schooling was in Te Awamutu , but in those days it was usual to start work at an early age. Nelson left school at age 13 and immediately went help in his father’s Butchery.   In 1911 he went to work for Titus Rickit (C.T. Rickit who was the father of Sid Rickit that married Ettie Middlebrook) . Nelson enlisted for service in the First World War and served in France. When he returned from the war in 1919 he married  May (Marion Elizabeth) Crawford and they bought a farm at nearby Korokanui .
He was the first in the area to install a milking machine (1922) it would most likely have been driven by a petrol engine.
  In 1933, the family butchery business was growing and it was in need of an extra helper.  Nelson took on a role as part time butcher (3 days a week) and the other 4 days on the farm.
Nelson and May had four children (two boys and two girls). In 1936 when his father John retired from the business, Nelson came into the Butchery full time to support John T.   The farm at Korakonui was sold and Nelson and May bought a house in Frazer Street. When John T. left the business in 1941, Nelson took over the Butchery and continued in the business for a further 20 Years. In 1961 he suffered a serious stroke which meant he could no longer carry on. Nelson died in 1963.