David Charles Anderson
(October 1839-7 June 1890)
And now we come to (David) Charles, direct ancestor in our line of Andersons. He was born between Ellen and Jessie, seventh of David and Martha’s children. From several sources, it appears he used his middle as his given name so I will, too.
Like his brother, William, Charles began his career as a bank clerk in his father’s bank at 105 Murraygate, Dundee. But, sometime in the 1850s, he too was in Halifax, in business with William as wool merchants, trading under the name Anderson Brothers. Charles did not have an easy time in business. Although their partnership was dissolved in 1860, they appear to have continued to work together because, in 1869, as previously reported in William’s entry, they were both named in a bankrupt notice.
Charles also appears to have been active in the financial world. At
the time of his father’s death in 1875, Charles’ address was 33
Bermondsey,Bradford. Google links this address, via British
Newspapers 1600-1900, to a commercial banking enterprise in
Bank Chambers, Bank Street, that offered, amongst other services,
immediate private loans between £20-200, repayable by easy
instalments. Given the economic circumstances of that time, it may
have been a well-patronised concern.
Then, in 1878, Charles (wool-stapler and commission agent) was again
bankrupt. This time (right), the headline read An absconding bankrupt because
he had not only failed to appear at a meeting of his creditors, he had also not provided
any details of his affairs. An 1879 newspaper item reports the first and final dividend to
creditors was 1/6, presumably that was on every £1 owed.
Again, I have found no immigration records for Charles or William (and his children) but they are certainly in Dunedin in 1879 because in October that year Charles married Rebecca Finlayson (1857-1937) in the same Knox Church where John and Agnes had married the year before.
Rebecca was a Scots Highlander who had migrated by Government sponsorship to New Zealand in 1872 with her parents, Finlay Finlayson and Catherine Gray, and seven siblings: John, Catherine, Christina, William, Murdo, Jessie and Mary. In Scotland, Finlay had been a man of the land, variously a gamekeeper, deerstalker and forester until the greed of Highland landowners forced him and many like him onto the unemployment scrapheap. In Dunedin, he was a shepherd. Charles at this time was a fell monger and it may have been that he met Rebecca through an acquaintance with her father.
Charles and Rebecca
Finlay Finlayson Stanley Charles William Douglas Frank Leslie Ronald Vivian
(1880-1971?) (1882-1957?) (1886-1962) (1888-1946) (1889-1890)
Historical records are only as good as the data entered. For example, Charles was born in 1839 and had migrated to NZ by the end of 1878 but at various times across the record his details are inconsistent. When he married in 1879, his age was given as 34 yet we know he was actually 40. His death records say he had lived in NZ for six years but we know that, by 1890, he had been a resident for 12-13 years. His name is also variously David Charles, D Charles, Charles and Charles David. His age on his death certificate is given as 44 but in the cemetery records as 50, which is about right. There is a family story that he committed suicide but I have not found evidence for that. The coroner’s jury verdict was that he was “found drowned” in Otago Harbour, near St Leonard’s/Burkes. The news reports (e.g., left) offer no other explanation of his death. Rebecca was left grieving for both her husband and her infant son, who had died three months before his father, to raise four boys alone.
Rebecca was a religious woman. I have her annotated bible showing a learned approach to its teachings. In 1894, she and either her mother or her
sister (both Catherine Finlayson), members of the Ladies’
Committee of City Church Hall (denomination unspecified),
were signatories to a farewell address presented to a Mr JF
Floyd and his wife in appreciation of their work “in the
interests of the gospel of Christ”.
There is a Rebecca Anderson, hatteress, in Dunedin’s electoral
roll in 1896, and again in the 1905-06 roll when her occupation
was “widow”. Our Rebecca had been left £100 ($A17,262 in
2016 value) by Janet Anderson/Robertson, Charles’ aunt, in
1897. While this may not have been enough to buy a house
(although a four-bedroom house in Green Island could be had
for £55), the bequest must have eased conditions considerably for the family. I don’t know why I’m assuming Rebecca wasn’t a house-owner other than not finding Charles in any voting list when land ownership conferred eligibility for enrolment. There are photographs in WD’s album of the family fellmongery business that clearly had a little cottage at the front. It may be that the picture had been taken of the premises some years after the Anderson family had lived there because, at the time of Charles' death, they lived in West Harbour, not North East Valley.
In 1906, Rebecca remarried, to Frances John Chase, an Oamaru-based soft drink manufacturer. Mr Chase’s first wife, Elizabeth had died in 1903. Then Rebecca was widowed again in 1910 and did not remarry. Her final entry in the roll is 1935 when she was living at 46 Warrender Street, Dunedin North.
There is an incidental sighting in a 1914 Otago Daily Times item “An old woman’s death” reporting a coroner’s inquest. Rebecca had found her mother’s body several days after a death from natural causes. Her mother had complained for some time about “pains in the region of her heart” for which she had sought no medical advice because the pain was just more of the same and would pass. Her doctor gave evidence that Catherine had a badly diseased heart and the coroner found that heart failure had caused her death.
Rebecca had migrated with seven siblings so there must have been an extended family on the Finlayson side around Dunedin yet I never knew of any. There is a photo in WD’s album of “Mrs Gray’s house”: Mrs Gray may have been Rebecca’s aunt Margaret who was married to Rebecca’s mother’s brother, David Gray. David had also migrated to Otago and farmed in Henley/Waihola. As noted in William’s section, an appeal was mounted to support David’s family when he died prematurely in an accident. Rebecca and her family must have moved to Gore when Charles died because her sons first went to East Gore school. It may have been that they stayed with William – or at least he helped support them - for a while until Rebecca was able to return to Dunedin.
D Charles is an elusive character. Of greatest importance as a direct ancestor, his story has drama and tragedy but little to link the events we do know about. As with the rest of the family, he was a hard worker always in pursuit of opportunity, but he
seemed to be the least business-minded - or maybe the biggest risk-taker with a penchant for losing. Although based in Yorkshire, he was with his father in Broughty Ferry in 1875 when the latter died. Presumably he and the rest of the family gave support to their mother, Martha, at that time yet within a couple of years he and two of his brothers were on the other side of the world. According to the various newspaper items around his death, he was well-known in Dunedin (in a good way) so must have been an amiable, honest chap. Poor Rebecca, poor WD, to be without their husband and father so early on.
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer
3 July 1878
British Newspaper Archives
The Evening Star
10 June 1890