Thursday, November 27, 2014

Ancestor of the Week–Week 18–Samuel Middlebrook–A True Pioneer



From the Bay of Plenty Times 1945 :



Veteran of the Maori War: one who played a full part in the pioneering settlement in New Zealand in the latter part of the last century,and a well-known and affectionately regarded identity in these parts, Mr Samuel Middlebrook,of Waihi died in the Waihi Hospital last Saturday. He was 91 years of age.

Mr Middlebrook was born in Leeds, Yorkshire in the year 1854 journeying to New Zealand with his family in the ship Shalimar in 1861. At the age of 18 he left Auckland for Tauranga to join the Survey Department , and he resided there for four years. He joined the cavalry in the time of the Maori War and served with that unit until it disbanded. Mr Middlebrook was on the staff of the Survey Department which was under the control of Captain A.C.Turner, and was engaged in surveys inland as far as Taupo. In 1874 he acted as a guide for the late Mr George Vesey Stewart when the latter was selected to inspect the lands for the Katikati settlers. Mr Middlebrook resided at Katikati until six or seven years ago and for about 16 years before that he made his home on his launch Finella

Mr Arthur J Gray, in his book “An Ulster Plantation: relates that when Mr George Vesey Stewart came to Tauranga he inspected all the Government lands in the neighbourhood, the Survey Office putting at his disposal a young man, Mr Samuel Middlebrook.. One Morning they rode out of Tauranga towards the northern end of the harbour and in the late afternoon after twenty miles of hard ringing through trackless swamps and hills, they reached the Elongate River.  This was the southern boundary of the Katikati Block, part of the area confiscated from the Maoris after the Bay of Plenty war. As Vesey Stewart looked across the rolling stretches of fern country watered by six rivers, with the forest mountains on his left and glimpses of the blue see on his right he knew that his search was over.  After careful inspection of three days he and Mr Middlebrook returned. Mr Vesey Stewart then went to Auckland and made an official application for 10,000 acres of the Katikati block. The agreement regarding the acquisition of the land was concluded on June 24 1874

Mr Middlebrook was a very versatile man, who played many important parts in the early days of Katikati. He was a brilliant Maori linguist, a great sportsman; musical and a great lover of little children. He was one of the foundation members of the Katikati Royal Orange Lodge and to the end was a most keen member.
His wife Mary Jane, pre-deceased him by six years. Mr Middlebrook is survived by one son and four daughters: Mrs R.J. Harris of Waihi; Mrs P. Goodwin of Auckland: Mr Samuel Robert Middlebrook of Hamilton; Mrs Edwards of Waihi and Mrs B Gurk of Waihi. The funeral which left St Johns Anglican Church was attended by a large gathering of Tauranga, Katikati and Waihi mourners. Mr Middlebrook, being an old soldier was buried with military honours in the soldiers portion of the Waihi cemetery . The Rev. E.L.B. Gribble officiated both in the church and at the graveside

This article includes a few inaccuracies mostly based on Samuel’s age. It was commonly thought Samuel was in his 90s, but in actuality he was only 89 when he died. His birth year was 1856 not 1854 and his family arrived in New Zealand in December 1862 not 1861.

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