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To put our Brewsters in context, some background of Ireland's interaction with the English is needed. When it comes to their story once they settled in New Zealand, I have done little more than add icing to the vastly more substantial cake (so to speak) prepared by other descendants whom I have never met but to whom I owe a huge debt of gratitude.








England first entered Ireland - by invitation - in 1166, the price willing to be paid by one side of a civil war between Irish kings for the

support of King Henry II. Diarmait MacMurchada, King of Leinster, had lost his territories around Dublin during the civil war and appealed to Henry for help. In return for him swearing loyalty to Henry, he was given the nod to hire Anglo-Norman mercenary barons, who at the time were threatening to be troublesome to Henry in England and Wales, to retrieve his territories. The strategy worked. Diarmait secured his throne but the enclave of Anglo-Normans he depended on to keep it was a law unto itself and became of sufficient concern to Henry for him to bring, in 1171, an army to enforce his protectorship of the Irish kingdoms. It all went downhill from there, really.

In 1175, the first territorial land divide between the Irish and the English was agreed through the short-lived Treaty of Windsor, signed by

Henry and the High King of Ireland, Rory O’Conor. The terms of the Treaty were ignored by the baron mercenaries who continued to take land from its Irish owners and build their dynasties. By the sixteenth century, these dynasties enjoyed delegated authority from England to govern Ireland although this in no way meant the Irish had succumbed to that authority. The country had been riven by insurgency and battles over the intervening three centuries.

A compounding issue in the sixteenth century was the religious reformation begun by Henry VIII’s marital/succession woes. Whereas

England, Scotland and Wales generally adopted Protestantism, Ireland did not. Ireland’s establishment families (who, by definition, were interested in maintaining the status quo) were reluctant to convert, a position reinforced by their close familial links to Ireland’s Catholic hierarchy. Consequently, their refusal to adhere to the religious edicts coming from England brought commensurate wavering political loyalty to the English throne and deteriorating allegiances.

A response from England was the Plantations of Ireland, a benign sort of model farming bringing the latest agricultural practices to rural

Ireland, was in the mid-sixteenth century. But, for a variety of reasons, subsequent Plantations had the English Crown confiscating lands from recalcitrant owners for settlement by Protestant populations from England and Scotland. One reason may have been the bloody rebellions by the native Irish to alienation of their lands that needed a domestic defence by populations loyal to England.

According to Wikipedia, up until the end of the sixteenth century Ulster had been the most Gaelic part of Ireland, outside English control. At

the end of that century, the Gaelic earls mounted a rebellion against encroaching English rule that resulted in their defeat, albeit on magnanimous terms in that they were given full pardons and their lands returned to them. Nonetheless, in 1607 the earls headed off to Catholic Spain to seek support for another rebellion. This time, their lands were seized in their absence and so began the second Plantation of Ulster. While the Plantation was intended to be a bulwark against the Papism that prevailed in the rest of Ireland, it also was a strategy devised by James VI Scotland/I England to rid himself of the troublesome Scottish/English Borders folk: among them the Reivers whose loyalties were primarily to each other so being a constant thorn in all authorities’ side. The settlement was not trouble free. A rebellion by displaced Irish in 1641 was particularly bloody and is considered the genesis of the sectarian divide that continues into our times. The planted settler numbers did not really recover until, in the 1690s, an estimated 50,000 Scots arrived to settle in Ulster, driven from their homeland by severe famine.

To raise funds for the resettlement program, James demanded contributions from the City of London and its guilds in return for a parcel of

the confiscated land, proportional to their largesse. Among these bodies was the Worshipful Company of Clothworkers of which the king was a member. The Clothworkers were very reluctant to be part of the enterprise but, what with James being king as well as a Company member, they had little choice. Their estate included the parishes of Dunboe and Killowen, planted with Scottish settlers. They remained very hands-off landlords until the nineteenth century when they intervened to bring improvements to the land and to their lessees’ living conditions. In 1871, they sold their estate to Sir Henry Hervey Bruce allowing him to expand the Downhill Estate, first established by the flamboyant and eccentric Frederick Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol and Lord Bishop of Derry. The purchase made Sir Henry the largest landowner in Derry.  


The Brewsters

There are no Brewsters or variations of the name on a list of family names of Scottish settlers before 1630. Then the Muster Rolls have two

Brewsters: John and Edward (Broster) were tenants of the City & Liberties of Londonderry, in the NW Liberties of Londonderry barony. A Simon Brewster (Broster) is in Derry’s 1663 Hearth Money Rolls, living in the Clondermot Parish, The Waterside Townland, in the Barony of Tirkeeran. In the eighteenth century (1740), a list of Protestant Householders’ Returns for County Londonderry has James (Barony: Coleraine/Parish: Dunboe); Samuel (Barony: Coleraine/Parish: Dunboe); Andrew (Barony: Coleraine/Parish: Macosquin); Js (Barony: Coleraine/Parish: Macosquin); Robt (Barony: NE Liberties of Coleraine/Parish: Coleraine); and Andrew (Barony: Tirkeeran/Parish: Faughanvale).

Coleraine (pronounced Cole-raine) is a barony at the top of Northern Ireland in the County of Londonderry. It is a major centre of the Causeway

Coast which, according to at least one travel survey, is the most popular tourist destination in the world. A piece of trivia: I heard on an archived radio interview following his death that a branch of John Clarke’s (Fred Dagg) family came from Coleraine.

There are 26 Brewster households in the 1831 Derry census. Seven were in the Dunboe parish, five in the Macosquin parish. Two of the former

were in the Townland of Ballystrone (Dunboe/Formoyle parish): Robert (no. 9) and John (no. 10). Robert’s household comprised two males and four females, all of whom were Protestants. There were six males in John’s household and two females, all Protestants. I am particularly interested in these households because great-grandfather James Brewster’s birthplace on his death certificate was Bellyshone County Londonderry. There is no such place as Bellyshone in Ireland. While there is a Ballyashane in the Coleraine barony, I am opting for Ballystrone, guessing that “Bellyshone” is either a transcription typo or a phonetic spelling of what the recorder heard. As well, great-grandparents James and Martha named their Southland farm Downhill which, at the time of its purchase, was the name of the estate off Ballystrone Road.

James’ parents were William Brewster and Mary Jane King. In 1859, William was leasing the farm labelled #10 from the Worshipful Company of

Clothworkers. The total annual valuation of his 43 acres was £20, the fourth highest valuation that year. At #9, was John Brewster with around 80.5 acres (valuation £34/5/0, the highest of the Ballystrone tenants), some of which he was subletting to Sarah Brewster (#9Ba) and Rebecca Montgomery (#9Bb) for them each to maintain a house and small garden.

The additional information provided by PRONI (Public Record Office of Northern Ireland) for John’s tenancy notes that #9A was taken over by his

representatives in 1879, indicating he had died. According to his will, John died on 28 January 1879 leaving assets of £399/15/0. He left his farm and its contents to his brother, David, and his nephew, also David. In the 1880-87 valuation records, David was renting #s 9A and 9B from Sir Henry H Bruce, and subletting #9B to Matthew Finlay. In 1888-94, David has sublet #9Ab to Robert Smith and #9Ac to Mary Jane McAleese. He seems to be sharing the main farm with Robert and Thomas Fulton, an arrangement that continued in the 1894-1901 valuation period. At the end of the 1901-1910 decade, James Calvin was the tenant of #9A, Robert Fulton continued as a tenant of #9Ba, Robert Smith and Mary Jane McAleese continued to pay rent to David Brewster although he had died in the beginning of 1908. There were no Brewsters living on #9 land after that.

PRONI advises that William was the tenant of #10 from the first Griffiths valuation in 1859 until 1886 when it was taken over by John Brewster. By

the end of the 1901-10 valuation period, it had been taken over by Matthew Blair, John having died in 1905. (Of probably no relevance, a William J Blair and a Mary Brewster had married in the Dunboe parish in 1877.)

From the above information, it seems that Robert and John Brewster were farming side-by-side in Ballystrone in 1831. John’s farm (#10) passed to

William (and Robert’s to another John - or perhaps the same one), some time before 1859. I’m assuming the John who succeeded William was John King Brewster. His death registration estimates his birth year as 1842, contrary to the family’s 1845 birth year. This would definitely make him the older son, presumably in line to take over the family farm rather than younger brother, James. John King B and Elizabeth (Eliza) Jane Millar married in Coleraine on 14 April 1863. The 1901 census has a 59-year-old John Brewster living in Ballystrone. His household comprised his wife, Eliza Jane (59), and daughters Mary Jane (29) and Elizabeth (24) (Elizabeth may have been born Margaret Eliza in 1876, I haven’t found a birth of a daughter named just Elizabeth to John and Eliza at much the same time although that may be to do with existing records rather than a birth not happening). The family was in the congregation of the United Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, from which I am confident the Brewsters were of Scottish descent. They were prosperous enough to have a male servant, David Gilmour (21), probably a farm worker. When the time came, John and Eliza may not have had a son in Ireland to continue the tenancy at #10. Administration of John’s will was granted in 1906 to M I.M’Laughlin (married woman) and Elizabeth Brewster (spinster).


The Brewsters in New Zealand

Edmond Stronge Brewster (ca 1866-1946)

The family tells of James migrating to New Zealand with a brother who had a son named Edmund who farmed at Awamoko. However, Ireland’s birth records have an Edmond born 15 November 1867 in Coleraine to a mother whose family name was Millar convincing me that Edmond’s parents were John King B and Eliza Millar. Edmond Stronge Brewster migrated to New Zealand, arriving on the Arawa in January 1893. (According to New Zealand’s death records, ES Brewster was 78 when he died in 1946, giving him a birth year of ca1868.) Edmund Stronge, after whom our ES Brewster was clearly named, was the Clothworkers agent, overseeing their estate from the Manor House in Coleraine town. From the interweb, “the Stronges were among the earliest of the Planter families to settle in Ulster” albeit not of Scottish descent. They were among Protestant Ulster’s eminent families and very well connected in Westminster. Apart from the elusive brother, in all other respects, Edmond Stronge Brewster’s details match those of family lore. I have found no record for his sister, Mrs Emery, who the family said returned to the UK. There is no record of a marriage between a Brewster and an Emery between the years 1885-1930  in either the Irish or New Zealand records.

Edmond Stronge Brewster (ESB) married New Zealand-born Janet Vallance Smillie (1865-1942) in 1901 and the family reports they were active

community members. ESB was a Justice of the Peace from 1930 and was elected in 1941 to the Papakaio Riding of the Waitaki Power Board. Newspapers reported him being elected to the Awamoko school committee in 1914 and vice-president of the North Otago A&P Association in 1928. With others, he pledged a contribution from any wool surplus to the British navy for their services in WWI in 1918. The rainfall on his Awamoko farm was reported in some years, and there were a couple of items about his apple crop. The first of these (1920) marvelled at the ton of fruit harvested from a 50 year old apple tree that had never been sprayed or pruned (good bloke, ESB). The fruit was “well-sized, round, firm-fleshed, of good colour, and rich nutty flavour, with a splendid bouquet”. The second (1928) said that while the average wheat yield was 46 bushels to the acre, ESB had achieved “the exceptionally find (sic) yield of 71 bushels to the acre of Tuscan wheat. Unfortunately, however, he had only eight acres in this crop”. ESB was clearly an accomplished farmer.

He and Janet had no children. In his will, he left Rebecca Smith (his housekeeper) £100, his freehold house property and its contents; £100 each to

his niece, Janet Rive, and his nephew, William Buchanan Smillie; and £50 each to his nephews, William and John Dickson. (William and John were the sons of ESB’s sister, Elizabeth Brewster/Dickson, strengthening my argument that his parent were John King Brewster and Eliza Millar.) The rest of his substantial estate was divided equally between the Eveline Presbyterian Church, the Salvation Army’s Oamaru corps, and the Oamaru Beautifying Society.

James Brewster (1846-1919)

James Brewster.png

My great-grandparents, James (1846-1919) and Martha (1857-1927), arrived in New Zealand in 1868 and 1877, respectively. One of 53 single girls, Martha travelled alone from Plymouth, England, on the Waipa, arriving in Port Chalmers on 21 November 1877. A newspaper report of the arrival described the immigrants’ appearance as being “far above the average; they looked healthy, clean, and comfortable, and judging from appearances are likely to become valuable colonists”. This should be read not only as a ringing endorsement of the passengers but also in the context of there having been a limited outbreak of mild scarlet fever on board about which, presumably, Dunedin residents needed reassurance. On the other hand, the Oamaru Mail and others reported the ship was in quarantine and the passengers had been sent to Quarantine Island. Many of the passengers were destined for Oamaru.

It is recorded on both James and Martha’s death certificates that they married in Timaru. The only marriage of a

James Brewster between 1870 and 1882 in New Zealand was to Martha Dixon. (One of the challenges of ancestry research is the spelling variations that get into the records.) The marriage took place at the residence of Rev. William Gillies in Timaru on 14 August 1879 (PapersPast located the Rev. Gillies ministering at Timaru’s Trinity Presbyterian Church). True to form when it comes to our Irish ancestors, there are no entries for names of the happy couple’s parents or their places of birth. The certificate records Martha’s age as 32 (the family says 22), James’s 31. Martha’s occupation is not recorded but James was a farm servant. After the birth of their first child,  the family moved to Tokanui in Southland where, in

November 1882, James paid £3 per acre for 247 acres of farmland at Otara. In 1885, in a report about general grievances in the district, James said around 40 of those acres were “broken up”. My interpretation of the article is that this meant those acres were being worked with the rest yet to be developed. The article was headed “Round about Fortrose”, sub-headed “Among the DP Settlers”: DP meant deferred payment. The major grievance, after the state of the roads and bridges, was that settlement was not happening fast enough. In 1899, Martha Brewster was granted section 8, block 3 at Otara, one of the several gradual increase in holdings over the years. From around the 1890 electoral roll, James Brewster was living in Otara, Martha in Tokanui which, given their proximity, probably reflected place of business and place of residence, or maybe was a means of recording different parcels of land. James served on the local education committee between 1887-1895 and was again elected to a (perhaps school) committee at Tokanui Gorge in 1895. (Spellings of Tokanui include Tokonui, I will stick with Tokanui.) Further evidence of his community spirit was demonstrated in 1918 when he turned up with neighbouring farmers and their teams to donate a day’s ploughing to a recently-arrived returned serviceman who was very grateful for the help.

On the basis that into every life a drop of rain must fall, in 1915 he

was sued by an employee, William Keenan, for workers compensation and back pay. Keenan had been employed in September that year as a general

17.13 Homestead, Tokanui.png

James and Martha’s children



William (Bill) James B (1880-1957)


Perhaps named for his grandfather and father, Bill was born with a speech impediment. Consequently, he had no formal education although whether that was the education department's or the family’s decision is unknown. His speech difficulties had him mislabelled ‘simple’, which would not have helped. From PapersPast, in 1909 a Wm Jas Brewster was awarded £3 3s 6d plus £1 7s costs in an undefended case (grievance unspecified) against Albert Perry in the Gore Magistrate’s court. Bill’s name was in the Army Reserve listing in 1916 and in the ballot (Clutha Division) in 1917. The electoral rolls show he was a labourer (1905, Kelso), farmer (1914, Tokanui), a farm servant/labourer (1919, Tokanui/1928, Hokonui/1935-38, Awarua/1946, Waikiwi), before he retired to Colac Bay, Southland (1949-57). The family gives his occupation as railway worker.

On 8 May 1929, Bill married Marjory Jessie Mary Ellen George (1890-1965). Marjory brought several children to the marriage, the youngest five

months old when she and Bill married. The names of their father(s) were not recorded. Perhaps unsurprisingly for the time, the family took a dim view of this. Marjory was regarded as “some woman who wasn’t the sort the family would recognise”. It may have been his personal life that caused Bill’s estrangement from his family. A sad footnote is that Bill was seen by a nephew sitting crying in Invercargill’s Queens Park on the day his sister Mary died. For him to know about her death implies that the estrangement was not total but it may have meant he was or felt unable to join his siblings to mourn her death.

Bill and Marjorie had three children of their own. Bill raised the children while Marjorie continued working at Ferndale House in Half Moon Bay,

Stewart Island. Bill’s handwritten will (17 August 1939) refers to his infants (minors). He nominated his wife and trustees as their guardians. Unhappily, there are no names. Step-children are specifically excluded as beneficiaries. Bill died at Colac Bay and is buried with his wife in his parents’ plot in Invercargill’s Eastern Cemetery: joined in death if not during life.

Isabella Marjory B (1930-2007), aged 19, married Albert (Bert) James Benfell (1925-2007) in 1949 in Invercargill. The couple were parents to five

Frederick (Fred) William Donald B (1951- ) married Jeanette Margaret Cleveland (?) in 1971.  The couple are parents of two sons.

Nathan William Albert B (1974- ); Hamish Donald Ian B (1976- ).

Lorraine Dorothy B (1952- ) married Stuart James Borthwick (1945-2011).  The couple are parents of three children.

Susan Vicky B (ca 1972-2018); Catherine (Cathy) B (1973- ); Michael (Mike) Stewart B.

Stewart James B (1956- ) married Elizabeth (Betty) Lorraine Williamson (1955- ) in 1978. The couple has three children.

Coralie Dianne B (1982- ); Daniel James B (1984- ); Sarah B (1986- ).

Joy Ellen B (1959- ) married Colin James Murray (1956- ) around 1980. The couple has two children.

Bradley (Brad) Donald M (1982- ); Melina Kimberley M 1984- ).

Irene Rose B (1965- ) is a qualified interior designer and decorator. Irene has three children from her first marriage.

Kerri Larisssa B (1984- ); Kirstyn Chantelle B (1986- ); Khyle Matthew James B (?).

There is no entry for Annie Bessie B (1931-2005) on the electoral roll before she married painter William Verner Kennedy (1923/-2004). The family

reports two children of the marriage.
Peter William Vernon K (1958-2014).
All I can report about Teresa K (ca 1961- ) married Graham Maloney. The couple has two children.

According to his son, Trevor, Frederick George Brewster was born on 29 April 1932. He married Ethel May Bulling (1934- ), the couple had four children.

Trevor Allan B (1959- ) married Theresa Mary Young (1964- ) and has two sons: Cameron Alfred B (2000- ), Mathew George Allan B (2004- ). Pamela (Pam) May B (1961- ) was a clerk in 1981. She married first John Martin with whom she had three unnamed children then Rodger Colin Buschl.

I have found very little for Patricia Faye B other than she was a process worker in 1981 and married Ian Fox.

I have found nothing for Neville (Nev) George B (1968- ).

hand but he was damaged by a thorn while cutting back gorse and ended up with blood poisoning. Unhappily, James had already given him notice after around three weeks for being an unsatisfactory worker and was unaware until a solicitor’s letter came that Keenan had sustained any injury. Of the £5/18/6 claimed, Keenan was awarded £1/10/0 compensation and 8/0 costs.

Martha lost her “dearly beloved husband” when James died of heart disease/dropsy (oedema) at home, in Tokanui, on 16 March 1919. The Southland

Times (19 March) reported “Mr James Brewster, a pioneer settler, of Tokanui, died on Sunday at the ripe age of 73 years. He was a very successful farmer and a familiar figure at the local sales in the “lower end” for many years. He had been ailing for some time, and the end was not unexpected”.

In his will, James set up a trust, the income from which was to support Martha and their daughter, Elizabeth Dickson Brewster. Thereafter, his estate

was to be distributed equally among his children except for William who was to receive £100 less “because he has been absent from home for some time and has not helped in the work of the farm to the same extent as some of the others”. James’ trustees were to continue the farming business for as long as they considered fit but, if they decided to sell, the 1,000+ acre properties were to be subdivided with first offer to purchase to be granted to his sons. The trustees swung into action, selling 261 of James’ ewes and seven Romney rams at the monthly Tokanui sale in the same month as James’ death.Martha became sole guardian of the children yet to turn 21. There are sums mentioned in the will that look to be loans made to several of the children that were expected to be repaid to the estate, or possibly deducted from their share. Martha moved to Invercargill after James’ death and lived another eight years before succumbing to stomach cancer. She died on 28 November 1927 and is buried in Invercargill’s Eastern Cemetery with James and several of their children.

Mary Jane Brewster.jpg

Mary Jane B (1882-1951)


I’m presuming Mary (left) was named for her paternal grandmother. Mary’s role, determined by her mother, was domestic support not just to help care for house and siblings but, in the fullness of time, for her parents in their old age. Until 1919, her occupation on the electoral roll was “domestic” or “domestic duties” and the family reports she helped her parents and younger sister, Lizzie, in the family home. After her mother’s death in 1927, Mary became a wage-earning housekeeper in various households, remaining an independent woman all her life. She assumed the role familiar to most women of keeping the family in touch with each other, possibly this underpinned brother Bill’s public grief when she died. She was with her sister when Lizzy died in 1931, providing the necessary affidavit for probate of Lizzy’s will to be granted.

When Mary herself died, probate was granted on her estate of around £1,700. In her will, she

bequeathed her jewellery, books, clothing and personal effects to her remaining sisters. Perhaps having learned from a lifetime’s experience, she instructed her executor (Stanley Morell Macalister, solicitor) to do it for them if they couldn’t agree on a fair distribution. Other distribution was a sixth of her estate left to each of her sisters Peggy, Floss, and Dae, a sixth to her brother Eddie, a sixth to her niece Aileen Kirkness, and a sixth to her nephews James, Harold and Eric Kirkness to be divided equally between them

Margaret (Maggie) B (1883-1936)


Maggie was working hard at school with a teaching career in mind when a sudden change in the family’s circumstance, brought by a disabling disaster for her sister, Lizzie, brought her education to a sudden halt. From then on, she was either providing manual labour on the family farm or being housemother in another building on the property for her increasing pool of younger siblings. Later, she was keeping house at the Kirkness property where she met William (Willie) Andrew Kirkness (1879-1974). While her birth registration name is “Maggie”, this had became “Margaret” by the time she and Willie married at her parents’ residence, Downhill Farm, on 14 July 1909. The couple moved north to farm at Turangaomoana, Matamata. Her daughter, Aileen, wrote that a lifetime’s hard work was just coming to fruition when Maggie died suddenly, aged 52, on 15 March 1936 at a private hospital; she is buried in Hillsborough Cemetery, Auckland. Willie’s last electoral roll entry was in 1972 when he was living in Mt Eden with Aileen. He married a second time, to Mabel Helen Penny (1893-1958). Maggie and Willie had four children.

James (Jim) Andrew Stanley K (1910-1986) married Jessie Revina Comrie (1907-2002). The couple had four children.

William John K (1938- ) married Mary Elisabeth Thom (1939- ). The family moved to Canada in 1968. John and Elisabeth divorced in 1978 and John

married again, in 1985, to Kathleen (Kay) Grandage (1937- ). John and Elisabeth had two children. Richard John K (1964- ) married Judith Lynne McTavish (1967- ). They are parents of Roger James K (1993- ) who married Jessica Diane Powell  in2017; Walter John K (1995- ); and Harold Allen K (1997- ), all born in Erin, Ontario. Catherine (1967- ) and John Edward Burns (1968- ) are parents of Rowan Thomas Burns-Kirkness (1996- ) and Skye Julia Burns-Kirkness (2000- ). After being together for 27 years, Catherine and John parted in 2016.

Alan Comrie K (1941- ) married Alison (Ali) Mary Fenwick (1947- ) and, while in Heidelberg, Germany, became parents of twins.

Stephanie K (1979- ); Robert Andrew K (1979- ) married Caroline Juliet James (1983- ) in 2015 and they became parents of Toby Olivier James (2017) while living in Singapore.

Helen Margaret K (1945- ) married Derek Harold Dinsdale Holland (1944- ) in 1966. Before the couple divorced in 1988, they became parents to a

daughter and a son. Bridget Dorothy H (1968- ), with Clayton Dale (1969- ), has two children: Matthew James D (2001- ) and Imogen Virginia D (2005- ). Nicholas (Nick) Derek H (1971- ) had a brief marriage to Saskia Reynolds in 1998-99 then married Jill Beasley (1960-2005) in 2001. In 2008, Nicholas married Alexandra Ruve Claire Meincke (1972- ). They are parents to Tobias Nicholas William H (2008- ) and Madeleine Alexandra H (2009- ).

Helen’s twin, Mary Anne K (1945- ) married Allan Robert Mackey (1942- ) and they became parents of three children. Campbell James M (1968- )

married Lisa Jane Venables (1971- ) in 2006 and they have Alice Lilian M (2006- ) and Tessa Mary M (2009-); Timothy (Tim) Allan (1971- ) is father to Eichi M (1997- ) from his first marriage and Sarina M (2002- ) and Jouna M (2004- ) from his second; Anna Helen M (1973- ) has Isabella Alison C (2014- ) with life partner, Jeff Clarke.

Harold Cecil Dickson K (1912-1979) and Ivy Cookson (1920-2012) married in 1953. Harold and Ivy had three children.

David William K (1956- ) married Julie Lassen (1962- ) in 2001, they became parents of Amelia Jane (2003- ).
Juliet Alene K (1958- ) married Colin Ross Lowe (1956- ) in 1980 and the couple became parents of four children. Guy Richard L (1986- ) married

Jessica Shove in 2006, they have a daughter, Jamie Alexandra (2006- ); Thomas Colin L (1988- ); Bridget Alexandra L (1990- ); Harry George L (1994- ).

Graeme Marshall K (1960- ).

Dairy farmer Eric Wilfred Edmund K (1915-2000) married (Elizabeth) Mavis Buchan (1909-1985) in 1940. They had three children.

Andrew (Andy) James K (1941- ) married Patricia (Tricia) Kay Stephenson (1946- ) in 1966. They had two children before moving to Canada in 1980

where they divorced in 1991. Andy married again, to Louis Doyle (nee Goulet) (1948- ). Andy and Tricia are parents of two children. Hamish K (1971- ) married Kirsti Koopmanns and they have a daughter, Kinsley Ann (2010- ); William K (1979- ).

Grace Margaret K (1944- ) married Ian Sutherland (1938-2002) in 1968. They had two children. Nigel S (1972- ) married Gemma Wood (?) in 2008,

they are parents of Lucas Ian S (2010- ) and Holly Kate S (2012- ); Edwin S (1974- ) married Kathryn Biggs (?) in 2010, they are parents of Leo Eric S (2013- ) and Alex Massey S (2016- ).

Lynn Elspeth K (1945-1993) married Brian Trappit in 1967, the couple divorced in 1972. Lynn then married Peter Hickman before the couple moved

to Canada. Lynn was diagnosed with young onset Alzheimer’s and died before she turned 50. She and Brian are parents of two children.
Chantal Lara Josephine T (1971-2017) married Tod Broderick in Ontario in 1996 but the couple separated in 2006. Their children are Justyn B (1998- ) and Rachel B (2001-). Chantal was only 44 when she, too, was diagnosed with young onset Alzheimer’s. The variant of the disease developed by Chantal (and probably Lynn) is familial, found in less than 5% of all cases. Because it is genetic, Justyn and Rachel are also at risk of its development. Perhaps because of her mother’s condition, Chantal had been executive director of a community-based organisation whose role is to provide support for living with, and research into, dementia; Andrew Richard H (1975- ), married Kathy Deconinck in 2002. Kathy is a leading health professional for Ontario’s Alzheimer’s Society. Their family includes Ethan H (2006- ), Colin H (2008- ), and William (Will) John H (2010- ).


Aileen Martha Margaret K (1917-2020) remained independent all her life, continuing to

live with her father after her mother died. A centenarian, there was a large family gathering to celebrate her birthday in 2017 (right: Aileen with Sandra and Brian). She died suddenly at the beginning of 2020, only slightly slowed down by a fall that broke her hip in 2018.

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Elizabeth (Lizzy) Dickson B (1885-1931)


The name of Martha and James’ third daughter was also registered in the diminutive, “Lizzy” becoming “Elizabeth” later in her life. Given she was named after an Elizabeth Dickson, it is likely the original owner of that name was her maternal grandmother or great-

Lizzie Brewster.jpg

grandmother. The family reports Lizzy was crippled in a bush fire when she was a child and it looks as though the injuries she sustained left their mark for the rest of her life. I am assuming this because James had made special provision in his will for Lizzie’s support. In her will, Lizzy left the Southland Hospital Board £100 along with her invalid chair, and her gramophone and records specifically for use in Ward 5 of the Southland Hospital. Mr Google has been silent on who would have been in Ward 5 in 1930 and the Southland Hospital website has no online contact function for me to ask. There were also two crutches listed in the inventory of her estate. The cause of her death was myocardial failure and postoperative shock (four hours), and nephrectomy nephrolithiasis and chronic pyelonephritis (three years). The latter is “long term damage done by recurrent urine infection to the drainage system of the kidney”. The pamphlet I am quoting from (issued by Kidney Care UK) says “occasionally, the removal of one kidney (nephrectomy) is necessary”. I think nephrolithiasis means kidney stones. It looks as though Lizzy’s life was marked by pain, disability and major medical interventions. Other than her bequest to the hospital, Lizzy left £50 each to her brother John, to her independent sisters Mary and Dae, and £55 to her nephew James Edmund Brewster (Eddie’s elder son), when he turned 25; there is no mention of his brother, Gibbon (Pat), who was around six years old when Lizzy died. Her two sisters were also to receive her household and personal possessions divided as her trustee (solicitors Mitchel and Broughton, Invercargill) saw fit. Whatever was left over was bequeathed to the Deacons Court of St Pauls Presbyterian Church.

John King B (1887-1943)


Likely to have been named for his father’s maternal grandfather, John was a farmer and a father of two when his name came up in the service ballot in 1918. He had married schoolteacher Amy Mary Elizabeth Stevens (1874-1949) in 1912 and they continued on the land, at Woodlands (on  the banks of the Waihopai River northeast of Invercargill) until John’s death in May 1943. In 1946, Amy was living in Mataura township with her younger son. I have found little more about John King B. In his hand-written will, he left his estate to his executor wife. Until I read the will, I understood Amy to have been born in Sussex but in her affidavit submitted in the probate process she says her Sussex-born father, George, had told her she was born in Gummies Bush, Otago. Certainly a Mary Elizabeth was born to Mary and George Stevens in New Zealand in 1874 (our Amy Mary Elizabeth’s mother was Australian Mary Ann Ford). John and Amy had two sons and a daughter.


John (Jack) James Stephen B (1914-1990) married Dorothy Jean Knowles (1914-2004) in August 1941. John and Dorothy had four children.

First-born Ronald Morland B (1942- ) married Margaret Lynette (née Wolfe) (?) in 1964, the couple had three children before they divorced in 1978.

Jeffrey Samuel B (March 1967- ); Katherine Margaret B (October 1967- ) which seems unnervingly close to her brother’s birth earlier that year. She married Stephen Nielsen in 1988, they are parents of Joel (1991- ) and Stephanie (?); Phillip John B (1972- ).

In 1982, Ronald was domiciled with Beverley Janet Brewster (née Donald).Their chldren are Deane Samuel B (1981- ), married to

Helen, and father of Stephen Nathaniel B (1984- ) and Bethany Louise B (1985-).

Owen John (Jack) B (1944- ) married Lynne Doreen Middelmiss (1949- ) in 1970. In 1981. They became parents of Diane (Di) Tracey B (1971- )

who, from her now dissolved marriage to Michael Robert Barraclough (1969- ) is mother to Tristram Thames (2004- ) and Maggie Madeline (2006- ); and Kieran Richard B (1982- ) who married Rachel Fone in 2012.

Jack’s twin, Joan Marilyn B (1944- ) married farmer Gordon Lance Crump (?) in 1974. Their children are Euan Lyndsay C (1975- ); Fiona Jane C

(1977- ) and Sarah Joy C (1980- ).

Mechanic Desmond Edwin B (1947- ) married Pamela Margaret Brook. While the marriage ran its course to divorce, the couple share four children.
        Nicola Fay B (1978- ) (mother of Fred); Cory Dene B (1980- ); Adrian Gavin B (1985- ) and Jared Luke B (1988- ).

Ronald Edmund (Eddy/Ted) B (1917-1986) was joined by Joy Mary Brewster (née Stevens) on the 1949 electoral roll. The family says they were cousins.

Although the electoral roll names him John Sydney B, the family names Eddy and Joy’s son John Steven B (?). If John Steven is actually John

Sydney, he was still living in Waitaki in 1981 and had been joined by housewife Helen May (Brewster).

Karen Lee B (?). There is no entry on the electoral roll for Karen at all, which suggests she was not yet 18 by 1981, had married already. or was not living in New Zealand.

Victoria (Viccie) Amy B (1918-1999) first married Ian Walter Stanley Loach (1917-96) whom she divorced in 1953 before marrying, around 1956, Becks

farmer, Victor MacDonald Leith (1922-77). Further, Vicky seems to have been estranged herself from her brothers. Victor died at home, aged 54. Vicky outlived him by 22 years, finishing her days in the Castlewood Home in Alexandra. A search of cemeteries found Vicky in the Dunedin, not Alexandra, database. Her body was cremated and her its ashes returned to the funeral director, Harborow & Co, Alexandra. The couple had no children and it looks as though an unnamed nephew organised her funeral and associated affairs. I suppose their similar names brought regular comment, Vicky and (maybe) Vic.

David (Dave) Wark B (1889-1969)

Dave was included in newspaper WWI enlistment lists, he was a witness in his father’s defence when James faced claims for workers compensation and costs in 1915, he was the groom’s best man at his sister’s (Peggy) wedding in 1916. Other than that, I have discovered very little about Dave. His birth registration had only the name David although later documents include “Wark” as his middle name. According to naming traditions, he would have been named for a David Wark but I have found nobody of that name linked to the Brewsters although there are Warks in the Coleraine parish. His mother’s brother, Samuel, also bore “Wark” as a middle name, indicating it belongs with the Dickson side of our family. Perhaps it was from their mother’s maternal line.

Dave’s service record reports he was a self-employed sheep farmer when he enlisted, of fresh

complexion with black hair and brown eyes and in excellent health. He served in the machine gun corps which doesn’t explain why he was in strife with the powers that be when he was found to be grazing horses on unauthorised fields in 1918. Perhaps horses were required to move the guns from place to place although a quick question of Mr Google finds that they were generally moved by armoured vehicle or tanks because infantry could reach their destination before their weapons if transportation was by wheeled carriages or pack animals. Dave’s transgression has a notation of “72 hours FP No2” which means field punishment, not imprisonment. A casual query of Mr Google says FP No2 was to be physically restrained by irons or straps but not actually tied to anything like a post for the duration. Which seems harsh for grazing horses. He also sustained an injury “whilst on leave from France” in January 1919. According to the record, it was an injured eyelash! The only eyelash injuries offered by Mr Google are associated with eyelash extensions which I’m sure were not uppermost on Dave’s mind. When he was discharged the following month, a sling is mentioned.

Dave married Annie Agnes Anderson (1892-1931) in 1921. It seems that Annie’s family thought she

had married down and when she died they adopted Dave and Annie’s daughter then discouraged further contact. Dave withdrew from his siblings, too, for no obvious reason although a brief overview of various Brewster wills suggests less

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than happy families. He is on the electoral roll as a farmer in Southland until 1938 then the only David Brewster offered by is in the North Island. If this is our David Brewster, he was caretaker of the PWD (Public Works Department)stores (Petone, 1949) before retiring to the motor camp at Otaki Beach (1954). A nephew once sought him out and, after a shaky start, they had a convivial chat but Dave asked that his privacy be respected (i.e., he be left undisturbed) by other family members. According to his war record, he died at Foxton Beach (20 miles from Otaki Beach) which is in the Manawatu, around 45 minutes from Palmerston North. He is buried in the Kelvin Grove cemetery.  

Emma Dora B (1925-74). PapersPast has no ‘hits’ for Emma or Dora Brewster and she does not appear on the electoral roll until 1954 by which time

she had married railway worker Alexander (Alex) Smith McKay (1917-91) She may not have felt the same way about her father as her grandparents did. On the electoral roll, she added her father’s name to become Emma Dora Brewster McKay. I have found her twice in the records: she was her father’s next of kin on the notification of Dave’s death in his war records; she is recorded under Invercargill Probates and Letters of Administration in 1974 in NZ’s official archive Archway which, I’m assuming, relates to her will. Emma  Dora and Alex had no children and are buried together in Invercargill’s Eastern Cemetery.

Henry (Harry) Harvey B (1891-1957)


Harry may have well been named for the Henry Hervey Bruce who took over the Downhill estate in 1871. At least one other family member, Edmond Stronge Brewster, was named for the senior public official responsible for the estate.

When Harry was called up for military service in 1916, an asterisk against his name indicated he had already volunteered to serve. He was a labourer

at the time.  Immediately post-war, he was a farmer in Tokanui, up to at least 1928. In 1935, he a farm labourer; then a labourer living at 24 Lees Street, Dunedin, in 1938; then in Auckland in 1946 where he worked in the railway yards. The family says he was also a dock worker, clearly a man not afraid of hard work.

During his stay in Auckland, he began visiting his sister’s family on Sunday evenings although he had been unaware, before his first visit, that Maggie

had died and Willie had remarried. It seems these were awkward evenings in that Harry said very little and would doze until it was time for him to catch the bus back into the city. But his Sundays may have been the high point of his week. By 1949, Harry had retired to 20 Armagh Street, Christchurch, where he still was in 1954. When he died on 9 July 1957, he was living at 135 Leith Street, Dunedin. Harry didn’t marry and is buried in the Andersons Bay cemetery in a plot purchased by the Public Trustee. He died intestate, leaving an estate valued at £112/13/5 which the Public Trustee undertook to administer, minus costs.

Samuel Edmund (Ed/Eddie) B (1896-1976)


There is some confusion about Ed Brewster’s name. His birth registration is “Samuel Edmond”. On the WW1 Reserve Roll, he is Edmund, and there is an Edmund Samuel in the Nelson-Marsden Valley cemetery records (“Cpl Edmund Samuel Brewster, Wellington Regt, 1st NZEF, 24 May 1976, aged 80 yrs”). However, Edmund Samuel Brewster is living at 73 Stapletons Road, St Albans, Christchurch in 1978 although we have found inconsistencies for others in the Brewsters in the electoral roll indicating a certain laxity in officialdom’s maintenance of accurate records. (Perhaps, pre-data electronic linkage, the Electoral Commission relied on being informed when its records needed updating.) Ed was drafted into the army in 1917 and was reported to be wounded (albeit not severely) in a war list in 1918. A common affliction of the trench warfare that characterised WWI was trench foot, a consequence of prolonged exposure to the wet and cold where days or longer could be spent sloshing around in the same socks and tight boots. Ed's feet succumbed to these conditions and, to add to his misery, he also was exposed to mustard gas.

After demob, Ed farmed at Tokanui until 1928 when his physical health and prevailing economic

conditions saw his holding repossessed. In 1935, he was a lightkeeper in Riverton then again a farmer, at Lorneville, Awarua, in 1938. When I met him, in the 1950s, he was farming at Waikouaiti, just north of Dunedin. 

Ed married Esther Margaret (Betty) Gibbon (1895-1954) in 1921. When Betty died in 1954, her status

was the former wife of Samuel Edmund Brewster of Invercargill and, in his affidavit, this person swears that when they were married they lived in Invercargill. His address at the time of the affidavit was Christchurch. Edmund Samuel Brewster is all over the place on the electoral roll. For example: 1949 - both Methven, war

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pensioner and Redcliffs, Lyttleton, farmer; in 1954 both “no occupation, Burwood Hospital and porter, Hurunui; 1957 - Hawkesbury (which was also the a name for the Cherry Farm mental hospital although Hawkesbury could have been the location, not the facility), Waikouaiti, retired; 1963 - Waikouaiti, war pensioner; 1969 - Dunsandel, retired. From Esther’s will, the couple had two sons, at least one of whom carried on a tradition of name inconsistency.


James (Jim/Duggan) Edmund B (1923-1998) was a schoolteacher. He married Kathleen Pearse (1927- ) in the early 1950s and the couple had five children,

two of whom predeceased their parents.    

Margaret Anne B (1954- ), teacher, married another teacher, Christopher De Vere Matthews (1952- ), in 1979, with whom she had four children. 

  Veronica Catherine M (1984- ) married Charles Little McBryde Grannis (North Carolina) in Fayetteville on 17 April, 2010. There seems to be an enclave of Grannises in Fayetteville - Veronica has since divorced Charles and married someone els; David William M (1986- ); Gabrielle Mary M (1988- ); and Madeleine Joanna M (1991- )

David Mavin Gibbon B (1956- ) is a pharmacist, married to Christina Kaczmarek (1953- ). There is no record of Christina on the roll to know what her

interests might be.  

Richard James B (1958-1994) died while kayaking in India.  

Robert Peter (1961-1986). Peter was hit by a car while jogging and died from his injuries. He is buried in Marsden Cemetery in the same plot as

Richard and beside that of their father.  

Robert’s twin, Michael (1961- ). The most likely link I’ve found is for a Michael Brewster, teacher at Nelson College for Girls and photography

enthusiast. If this is ‘our’ Michael, he is rated highly by his students, one of whom is of the view that he “is a beautiful being. If you don’t like him, you just don’t get him”.

Gibbon (Pat) Brewster (1925-2003) who had earned an MA 3rd class honours in economics. His obituary gives a comprehensive overview of his life that I will

not even try to summarise. Pat married Dorothy Jean Andrews (1927-2008); they were teachers active for a time in mission work in Indonesia, before taking up United Nations development postings.    

Anthony (Tony) Patrick B (1955- ) married Mary Bernadette Nicholson (1959- ). I have found a 2009 Stuff story about the opening of a New Plymouth

hydroslide that features Tony with sons Cameron and Lachlin sharing the fun; except maybe for Lachlan who hurt himself “and sat out the rest of the session with an ice pack clutched to his head”. The couple also had a daughter.  Andrea Clare B (1991- ); Cameron John B (1994- ); Lachlan James B (1997- ).

Deborah Ratna B (1958- ) is a US-based journalist and mother of Charles Gibbon B (2004- ). 

Timothy (Tim) Andrew B (1961- ) may have followed his sister into journalism. A Wanaka-based freelance writer of that name has written, amongst

other things, The Good South - South Island itineraries, which is of particular interest containing as it does The Great Scone Trail, an indispensable resource for the peckish but discerning traveller. Tim married Annabelle (Anna) Aroha Findlay (1965- ). Tim and Anna have a son, Jack Patrick Findlay B (2009- ) and a daughter, Estelle Grace Aroha B (2012- ). Tim and Anna have divorced.    

Joanna (Jo) Mary B (1962- ) married, and is now divorced from, Western Australian-born Peter Michael Reed (1962- ) The couple are parents of

Jackson B-R (2000- ).

Florence (Flossie) May B (1898-1985)


Flossie and sister, Dae, earned their proficiency certificates at Otara school in 1911. In 1922, “Aunty Floss”  passed her nursing exam then, while at Methven Maternity  Hospital in 1925, her midwifery exam. Methven was to be her home for most of the rest of her life after she married local farmer Albert (Bert) Leicester Mangin (1901-1983) that year.

Floss and Bert were very active in the Methven community. Bert was a member of the

International Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) and PapersPast retrieved several items up until 1949 reporting both his and Floss’s activities at associated functions such as balls. The family notes he was elected in 1961 to the inaugural Board of Trustees of the Canterbury Masonic Charitable Trust. They were also involved with the Presbyterian church and community groups such as the Plunket Society. The musical prowess of the couple’s two daughters, Betty and Elaine, was also reported regularly. Floss and Bert retired to Christchurch between the 1957 and 1963 electoral rolls. The couple also had a son.

Alberta Florence (Betty) (1927-2004) Ernest Jacob Chapman (1920-2007) and the first of their

three children was born in 1952. Interestingly, in 1978 and 1981 after being a married woman on all the preceding rolls, Betty was a teacher.
John Albert C (1952- ) married to Margaret Ann Weir (1952- ); the couple had three

children, two of whom look to be twins: Bradley John C (1978- ) married Ilka with whom he parents Gypsy (2007- ) and Wyatt (?); Andrew James (1978- ); and Callum Hugh (1983- ).


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Andrew Ross C (1956- ) married Teresa Penman with whom he had Matthew (1980- ).      
Ian Richard C (1969- ) married Joyce Clifton and they are parents of Daniel (1997- ) and
Maddison (2000- ).

Elaine Dorothy M (1932- ) married Welshman Leonard James Holland (1915-1975), who was an aircraft engineer, possibly specialising in radio

communication. From 1972, Elaine’s occupation was again ‘nurse’. The couple had two children and Elaine clearly returned to the paid workforce when they were old enough to give her the time.
David John H (1961- ) married Judith Anne Galloway (1961- ), the couple are parents of
three children: Elizabeh Mary H (1990 - ) who is the mother

of Akaisha Lily Brown (2009- ); Alison Grace H (1996- ); and Matthew David H (1998- ).

Christopher Charles H (1962- ) married Rosemary Newman (1961- ) with whom he has a son: Sharn Burnett H (1987- ) married Chantelle (?) and

they are parents of Acer Christopher H (2004- ). 

Owen Thomas M (1935- ) married to Margaret Ann Bennet (1932-1975). He continued on the land over the years. The 1981 electoral roll has him farming at

Baynons Road, Clarkville, Waimakariri. At the same address was farmer Barbara Eileen Mangin. Owen and Margaret had four children.
Ross Owen M (1964- ) married Joanne (Jo) Legge (Christchurch/1968- ). They are parents of Amelia Anne (2002- ) and Angus (2007- ).
Christine Mary M (1965- ). I have found no confirmed trace of Christine. Mr Google does find a Christine Mary Mangin who is a film professional in

Auckland, and another (I suppose) in France, but no details to help confirm or otherwise any connection.

Lynley Jean M (1968- ). The only Lynley Mangin with a web presence, at least on the first page of hits, lives in Brisbane, Australia.
Michelle Ann M (1971- ) married Darryl William Russell (1968- ) before moving to Mt Isa, Queensland: Benjamin William R (1999- ); Jemma Cate  R

(2000- ); Jake Thomas R (2004- ).

Daisy (Dae) Maria B (1899-1980)

Dae trained to be a school teacher. The first mention I’ve found is her 1917 resignation as sole teacher at Sunnyside, which fell in the Southland Education Board’s purview. Later that year, she was appointed pupil teacher at Orepuki, on the south coast. A definition of “pupil teacher” is somebody with teacher training who is practising under the supervision of a certified teacher. Far be it for me to be critical but I would have thought somebody who had sole charge of a school needed little in the way of supervision although I do grasp this is necessary for registration. Apparently, pupil teachers had to pay the cost of their training which may explain why Dae achieved her certification over time rather than sitting for all its components together. Her name was included in lists of students who had passed all or part of their training in 1918. In 1921, she was appointed temporary assistant at Garston, south of Queenstown and in 1922 was awarded a Class D teaching certificate. I have not found a definition of a Class D teaching certificate to know what it qualified her for. In 1935, Dae was living in High Street, Dunedin, despite her profession her official occupation was ‘spinster’; in 1938 she had moved to Grove Street with the same occupation.

By 1946, Dae’s occupation had changed, she had married engineer George

Robert Marks (1898-1900). There is a record of a George Robert Marks marrying Myra Lavinia Estelle White in 1932 then the couple divorcing in 1937/38. If this is

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our George, his first marriage was very short-lived because Myra was living alone by 1935. George was in the 1942 war ballot list, before the next offical record showed his marriage to Dae. According to the family, George was in the merchant navy between 1919-1945, which may explain why Myra was living alone for the purposes of the 1935 electoral roll. His occupation in the 1938 electoral roll was ‘engineer’.  This continued to be his occupation for all subsequent roll entries, which have the couple living in Ashburton then Lyttleton, until he became ‘retired’ then, in 1981 ‘invalid’.  There is a headstone commemorating Dae and George in Christchurch’s Woodland Memorial Gardens. Probably because of their mature age when they married, the couple had no children.

Frederick (Fred) George (1901-16)


Fred was the youngest of James and Martha’s children, born at the beginning of the twentieth century. In 1912, he earned a Standard V prize at the Tokanui School for spelling excellence. In 1916, he died. The family notes this was during an influenza epidemic.


His death certificate reports he was a farm hand and died from cerebro spinal meningitis that he

had suffered for 10 days. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines this condition as an “inflammation of the meninges of both brain and spinal cord… an infectious often epidemic and fatal meningitis caused by the meningoccoccus”. Another source says the symptoms include stiff neck, high fever rash, headache, vomiting and confusion, which could be confused with some of those signifying influenza. Fred is buried in Invercargill’s Eastern Cemetery where his parents and other family members are also buried. His name was continued by his eldest brother who named his only son Frederick George.


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Martha (Peggy) B (1893-1959)


Peggy was the eighth of James and Martha’s children and the fourth daughter. She may have been named for her mother but she hated the name “Martha” and renamed herself accordingly. Her sister, Maggie, said Peggy was the apple of her father’s eye and thoroughly spoiled. Peggy was also thought to be very kind and warm-hearted.

In 1910, she was granted a free place in the Civil Service junior cases - I have not found a

definition for ‘free place’ but I assume it means Peggy could enrol for nurse training without having to pay for her tuition, unlike Dae when she undertook teacher training. Also in 1910, Martha Brewster was among those collecting on Hospital Saturday. The Southland Times (7 March) has a wry report of the day’s success. Beginning “it is doubtful if a single soul of Invercargill’s twelve thousand odd inhabitants did not have the fact impressed on him or her (particularly him) in some more of less obvious fashion doing the day. One methodical him kept count in coppers of the number of times, between his departure from home and his arrival at business, he was reminded of the fact that it was Hospital Saturday. The count left him 4s 7d the poorer, and he is convinced beyond all argument that the SH Association is

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powerfully organised”.  The article continued “incidentally it is a tribute to the conscientiousness, charm, skill, and other virtues of those who undertook the task of collecting, and its direct bearing on the situation is that there was added to the Hospital Saturday Funding during the day the sum of £369 8s 91/2d”.  £5 16s 11d of the total was collected by Peggy’s group, positioned on the corner of Crinan and Conon streets.

In his memoir, William Douglas (WD) Anderson (1886-1962) is not specific about the year he met

Peggy but it was in the earlier part of his stay in Invercargill where he had been sent to set up a branch of Rattray & Sons, general merchants and commission agents. He describes his attention being captured by a young probationary nurse working in a private hospital close to his boarding house. He says she soon after was transferred to Dunedin Public Hospital where the electoral roll has her in 1914 (her occupation ‘spinster’, sigh). In April 1916, Kai Tiaki (the Journal of the Nurses of New Zealand) announced the resignation “of nurse Martha Brewster of the Dunedin hospital staff to be married”. The wedding had actually taken place in Invercargill on Leap Day and been reported in the Otago Witness by A. Guest. The couple lived in Invercargill for the first six months of their marriage before moving back to Dunedin.

WD’s photo albums show Peggy following a variety of pursuits during their life together, including

golf (I have a very little spoon, possibly a mustard spoon, with a handle shaped like a golf club that belonged to her). Peggy and WD seemed to have been devoted to each other during their shared 43 years although the family suspects her life was not overly happy. In her will, Peggy remembered her children and grandchildren with personal bequests and it is with only a slight accusatory tone that I attest I have never seen the three-string pearls and bracelet bequeathed to me. I would have noticed.

Wills are tantalising things.

James Brewster deducted £100 from Bill’s share (with his siblings) of the estate because he didn’t deserve, in James’ eyes,

a full share.

Martha distributed her moveable estate to Bill (£150), John (£160), Mary, Maggie, Floss and Dae (£100 each), Lizzy (£200);

nothing for Peggy, Dave, Harry, or Eddie. Her residuary estate and income thereof was left to Eddie’s son, James Edmund, but not Pat. If James had died, his bequest should be shared equally between John and Maggie’s children. So what was the story there?    

Lizzy left £50 each to brother John and sisters Mary and Dae, and £55 to Eddie’s son James (but nothing to Pat). Mary and

Dae were also left her personal possessions to share between them. The exclusion of Maggie, Floss and Peggy may have been because they were married, who knows why her other brothers received nothing.    

Mary left her personal belongings to be shared between all her surviving sisters. The bequests left out her brothers Bill,

Dave, and Harry who, arguably, might have benefited most from a windfall.    

Bill and John left their estates to their wives, Harry died intestate with nothing very much to distribute.      

It seems to me that there were some deeply felt family dynamics at play over the years that are lost to us now but, oh, I

would like to know. Perhaps it is from the Brewsters that I inherited my ability to cut people from my life without explanation when I have decided they have stepped beyond my personal pale.

Aileen assured her cousin, Alberta/Betty, that, contrary to the Mangan’s perception that he was disapproved of, in fact Bert

was highly esteemed by the family. Aileen was also unaware of the Brewster family dynamics that saw such alienation between the siblings and, in particular, the isolation in which most of the brothers lived. She tells a story, heard from my mother (Stella), about an occasion in Dunedin when Stella was suddenly dragged into a shop doorway by her mother and Auntie Dae to avoid a brother coming towards them on the footpath. Aileen thought this may have been because the brothers were too rustic and uneducated for the more cultivated sisters.    

There seems to have been a fair bit of social assessment and marginalisation in the Brewster story. It may have been

typical of the times, when migration saw an influx of people choosing to move to New Zealand to take advantage of what the new colony had to offer and to improve their own circumstances. The older sisters had their fair share of disadvantage with Mary’s future arbitrarily decided to be the family carer and Maggie’s future profession in education snatched from her by family circumstances.    

By and large, the brothers’ lives sound heart-breaking. Needed to work the family farm, their education was sketchy if, like

Bill, they had any at all. Given first option to buy sections of their father’s farm, it was hard going. From around 1921, economic depression hit New Zealand and when the global depression arrived in the 1930s, farmers’ incomes took a heavy toll despite improved productivity. As well, the monetary value of farm land, post-WWI, was highly inflated so that mortgages, which presumably the Brewster men had to service along with all their other costs, were high. It was around this time, the late 1920s-early 1930s that the census data suggests the brothers left their land. Then there were the two world wars that disrupted normal life and personal blows such as, in Dave’s case, the early death of his wife then the loss of their daughter to his in-laws. Without much support from their family, it is probably unsurprising that several of the brothers chose estrangement from further disappointment. As I commented above, I have the sneaking suspicion that my reaction when I feel I’ve been hard done by to just close that door on whoever the transgressor is may very well come from my Brewster genes.

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