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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, and was the eighth of David and Martha’s 10 children. From several sources, it appears he used his middle as his given name so I will, too.

Like his brothers, James and William, Charles began his career as a bank clerk in his father’s bank at 105 Murraygate, Dundee. It may

well be that the Dundee banking collapse in 1857 brought an end to the brothers’ banking careers because, sometime in the 1850s, he too was in Halifax, in business with William as wool merchants, trading under the name Anderson Brothers. With nothing to identify them as our Andersons, Messrs Anderson Bros were among signatories to a motion published in the Bradford Observer (21 January 1858) calling for terms of trade (i.e., the credit period) to be reduced from five to three months; subscribed 10 shillings and sixpence to the Bradford Infirmary and Dispensary also in 1858; and had the three best fleeces of Northumberland hogg wool at the 35th Halifax and Caldervale Agricultural Association show in 1873. In the 1871 census, Charles was a wool stapler, boarding in a solicitor’s household in Halifax.


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. Mr 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 tocreditors was 1/6, presumably that was on every £1 owed.


Bank Street, Bradford


15.1.3 Absconding bankrup, Bradford Dail

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer

3 July 1878

British Newspaper Archives

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. 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, around 18 years older than his bride. His 1890 death records say he had lived in NZ for six years but we know that, by then, he had been 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, on 7 June 1890. The news reports offer no further 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.

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.  He is absent from the UK’s 1861 census, from immigration records, and from Dunedin’s voter and census lists. Although based in Yorkshire, he was with his father in Broughty Ferry in 1875 when the latter died. It looks as though his mother’s death in 1877 loosened family ties sufficiently for him and brother William to head to the other side of the world. As with the rest of the family, he was a hard worker always in pursuit of opportunity. 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 Fin, Stan, WD, and Les to be without their husband and father so early on.

Evening Star

10 June 1890

Papers Past


Honeyburn, North East Valley, Dunedin

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