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17.5 Martha Dickson_Brewster 1919_.jpg

Our ancestor, Martha Dickson/Brewster, was born ca1857 to Samuel Dickson (?) and Martha Rodgers (?). The family suggests her mother was named Rebecca but I am opting for Martha because (i) none of her children were named Rebecca when others, following traditional naming patterns, clearly were named for family members; (ii) one of her brother’s names is Rodgers, and (iii) Martha Rodgers was identified as her mother by the Annett Family and the Dickson_2012-06-27(1) trees in


Martha was not the only member of her family to make the long journey around the globe.

Her older brother Samuel Wark Rodgers D (ca1855-1928) arrived in Dunedin the year before she did. Samuel was born in Portrush, Londonderry (son Samuel Edward Dickson’s war record says his father was born in Castlerock, Derry, which is just down the coast from Portrush, beside Downhill). He migrated to New Zealand and initially settled at The Toi Tois near Tokanui. On 20 September 1882 he married Caterina/Catrina (Kate) Greenfield (1860-1937). Kate was born in Warnambool, Victoria, Australia to Dutch migrants (her mother was an Annett) who, in the early 1860s, moved on to New Zealand.

The couple settled in Dunedin. Samuel was head storeman with  Dunedin’s MacKerras &

Hazlett Ltd, merchants and importers. He was also active in local politics, serving for a decade on the Mornington Borough Council from 1903; he was an unsuccessful candidate for Mayor in 1911. When he died, Dunedin’s Evening Star carried the following in its 19 November 1928 edition:

Another of the early pioneers has passed away in the person of Samuel Dickson, a familiar figure in Bond street, where he was employed by Mackerra and Hazlett for the past forty-five years. He was born in County Down (sic), Ireland, and came to New Zealand in the year 1876 in the good ship Invercargill, under an engagement to the late Dr Webster, Balmasey Estate. From there he came to Dunedin, when he joined the firm of Mackerra and Hazlett. Deceased served a long term on the Mornington School Committee, and was a councillor in the Mornington borough for many years. He was one of the instigators in getting a loan for the lighting and water supply, and was proud of that fact. Deceased is survived by his wife, five sons and a daughter.

Samuel left his estate to Kate. Although the couple had six children, when Kate died on a

decade later, she left her estate exclusively to their daughter, Evelyn Annette (Nita) Dickson.

Dickson family.jpg

Samuel and Kate Dickson and famiy (ca1910)

from left: Arthur, James John, Kate, Claude (front), Samuel Jnr, Samuel Snr, Leonard, Nita

Arthur D (1883-1967)


Arthur, also a storeman, was born in Dunedin. He married Lydia Caroline Mary (Fairy) Booker (1884-1948) on 6 December 1907. The couple had six children, all active and successful students at Mornington School, notably in local flower/vegetable shows.:

Carl Spenser D (1908-1999) married Ula Mavis Charteris (1914-1985) in 1950. While he was a landscape photographer of note, this may have been an

amateur passion because, on the electoral roll, he was an agent (in 1972, a manuf. agent). The couple were parents of a son.
Philip Gray D (?): apart from some possible sightings, the only definitive reference to Philip was as a legatee of his uncle Murray Wickes (husband of

aunt Dorothy, below) estate.

Noel Kenneth D (1910-1992), when he died, was a retired consultant manager living in Christchurch. The Otago Daily Times (14 April 1924) reported 14

year old Noel Dickson injured his left leg when thrown from a motor bike he was riding - at 14?. Despite it being in my source material, there is no NZ record of Noel having married a Patricia before he married Stella Kathleen Nieper (1909-1977) in 1936. NZ Archives has no record of a divorce. The couple was employed at Dunedin’s DIC (the Drapery and General Importing Company of New Zealand Ltd, a department store chain taken over by rival Arthur Barnett in the 1980s).
According to the Electoral Roll, Neil Andrew D (?) married Jennifer Elizabeth Preston (?), I have found nobody other than this couple at the same

address on the Roll to guess as to whether they had children.

Murray Charles D (1941-1948) is interred in the Wakapuaka Cemetery, Nelson.        
Caroline Louise D married Ross Francis Marks.

Florence Lydia D (1912-1988) was a very active participant in Dunedin and surrounds’ country life. She was elected to the Sheep Committee of the Otago

Agricultural and Pastoral (A&P) Society in 1933, the same year she was placed in the horse jumping trials, and presented trophies at the Otago Hunt Club the following year. Thanks to the mores of the time, we know no more from the electoral roll than she was a spinster before marrying painter/signwriter Jeffrey Thomas Tregonning (1905-76) (registered birth and death name Tremain) in 1940. He and his first wife, Eileen Lilian Edmonds, had divorced in 1936. Florence and Jeffrey divorced in 1959/60. Florence’s second husband was carpenter Ralph Percy Moyle (1916-2016). Florence and Jeffrey had three children.
Raymond Jeffrey T (?) first married Desley Maree Flynn in 1963 but the couple divorced in 1979. He later married Carol Melva Eaves but that marriage

foundered in 2000.

Joan Ann T  (1943- ).
Suzanne Florence T (?).   

Jack Rodger D (1914-1981) was a copy writer in 1935, an advertising manager on the WWII ballot list, a salesman in 1957, an advertising manager again in

1969, and a hotelier when he died in Kaitaia. NZ Archives has a former serviceman’s rehabilitation file on record (but not available online) indicating he did not escape unscathed from his war experience. His first marriage was to Phyllis Mary Tunicliffe (1913-1958) in 1945 from which there was at least a son. His second marriage was to Margaret Guthrie (1929-2011). Margaret’s first roll entry is 1972 when Jack is a motel proprietor. Her entry in the obituary index lists two children: Roger and Shirley, the latter looks to be a daughter-in-law.
The 1969 roll has a Roger (salesman) and Shirley Dickson living in Stratford, Taranaki where they still are in 1981 (Roger is a manager). In 2014, the         Taranaki Daily News reported 70 year old Roger Dickson (wife Shirley) was to compete in a 3.3 km swim despite past quadruple bypass surgery

and two melanoma scares. The report said he had competed in marathons and triathlons over the years, including the Wellington world championships in 1994. His age in this report means he was born very close to his parents’ marriage in 1945.

Thomas (Tom) William D (1921-88) was a clerk in the WWII ballot lists, a shop proprietor in 1963, and a salesman in 1978 before being retired in the 1981

Roll. He married Schnetta (Netta) de Beer (1924-2017). Netta featured in the social pages several times during 1939/40 and was married to Tom by 1944. It seems the couple went into business, establishing Summerhouses & Gazebos Ltd (based in Dunedin and Alexandra) in September 1976. The company dissolved in January 2017, reporting two directors, Netta and Keith David Dickson. Netta married a second time, to Graeme Anderson who died before his wife. She is named Nettie Anderson on her tribute page. Netta’s obituary does not mention a wife for Keith or Graham. It does say she was the loved grandmother of Sam, and Sarah; Andrew Ebbett; and Georgina without any further clue as to their parentage.                
Keith David D (ca 1948- ). I have been deleting most identifying information from this online version of the Anderson inlaws but the Dicksons seem to

demand some elabortion: in 1981, Keith was living in Kenmore Road, Mornington, Dunedin. The interweb reports a Keith Dickson,

ice figure skater and mechanical engineer, built a  prototype plastic skating rink - the Albert Town rink - in his Mornington back yard in 2008. Then, in 2017, 69 year old Dunedin skater, Keith Dickson, having recovered from a double bypass in 2016, won “a handful of trophies” in Germany free skating and artistic free skating. The accompanying music was Kung Fu Fighting, drawn from his karate black belt background. He had been competing in Germany in 2007 when he met Australian gymnast Sharon Straub. They eventually became a couple and now regularly compete around the world. I would like this to be our Keith. Our Keith married Annette Begg but I have found no information for her.

stillborn (1947).
Graham Arthur D (?) was a draughtsman living in Brighton with Lynette Christine Dickson (?) in 1981.
Christine Louise D (?) first married Aynsley John Kellow (?) who is currently an emeritus professor at the University of Tasmania. The couple divorced

in 1981. Her second husband is Graham Ebbett (?).

Dorothy Vera Patricia D (1922-2008) was still ‘spinster’ in 1957 but living in Wellington. In 1969, she had married commercial traveller Murray Gordon

Charles Wickes (1927-1974). An link has a “private” child but no information as to its name or parentage. A search of the Karori Cemetery data base has a Murray Gordon Charles Wickes, aged 0, buried on 12 June 1974, and a Murray Gordon Charles Wickes, aged 46, dying on 17 June then cremated on 20 June 1974. Dorothy's ashes were buried in the same plot as those of the infant.

James John D (1885-1951)


James John D married Margaret Cecilia Murphy (1897-1957) on 7 June 1921. There is no record of any children. James is mentioned in several newspaper

items: as a witness for his brother, Claude (1932); successfully suing for monies owing for groceries he had supplied (1922); and as a witness in an enquiry into the damage caused to a passing pedestrian by an explosion in a shop two doors down from his shop in George St, Dunedin (1926). In his testament he said he was equipped to identify the source of the smell coming from the neighbouring shop from his 20 years as a Post and Telegraph Office employee. The explosion was the result of two City Corporation men heading into the gas-filled cellar with a lighted candle.


Samuel Edward D (1890-1945)

According to his war record, carpenter Samuel had an abnormal heart, a poisoned arm in 1910 that occasioned a month off work, a broken arm in childhood and impaired vision in his right eye. Notwithstanding, he married Christina Margaret Neilson (1889-1939) on 31 December 1918 in Oamaru. While there is a son accredited to the couple, the child’s birth was not registered until 1929. An link gives the child’s biological father’s name as Arthur Adam Smith Lennon. Certainly he was born before Edward and Christina married.

Edward James D (1914-1967) married Williamina Phillips (1918-1980) in Timaru on 4 August 1938. The couple were parents of a large family, the details of

which I have taken from hints.

Christina Margaret D (1939-1985) married John David Barnett (?): a person of that name divorced Joan Minnie Barnett in 1958.
Robert (Bob) Gardner D (1945-2003), labourer, married Ivy Meryl (?); an hint says he also married a Carolyn Margaret Reeves.
Ross James D (1946-2005) married first Maureen Allison (?) but the couple was not living together on the 1978 electoral roll. They may have had a child. His second wife, Hazel June Lynette Ashbrooke (?) was cited by Maureen in her divorce petition. According to an hint, Ross and Hazel are parents of: Andrew; Jason Michael; and Kirsten.
Gardner D (1952-) was a baker, married to Elizabeth Ruth (?).  

Patricia Fay D (?) married plasterer Alan Robert Ford.
Joseph Ellis D (?) is a painter.
Anne Elizabeth D (?) first married metal polisher Michael Earle Smithers (1953-2002) then Allan Camron (?).
Verona Jacqueline Phillips D (?) married Graham Robert Kenton (?), a baker.

Evelyn Annett (Nita) D (1894-1971)


Nita remained independent all her life and was the sole beneficiary of her mother’s will. She died at Dunedin’s Parkside Hospital and is buried with her parents and stillborn sibling in Andersons Bay Cemetery.


Leonard D (1896-1951)

When enlisted in the Army, Leonard, a railway telegraphist, was deployed to the 25th Specialist Company. He sustained an injury during his service that was the subject of later correspondence when he tried to get access to his records. The casualty sheet indicates he was in hospital for around a fortnight and left with a sling. Leonard and Annie Grace Coombe (1892-1976) married on 15 October 1919 and became parents of three children.

Lorna (1920-95) married solicitor Claude Basel Chettleburgh (1923-77) on 1 July 1946 and they became parents of a daughter.

Ann C (?) married Donald Hornal (?); they are parents of sons Aaron and Simon. They are also parents of daughter of Lillian Grace C who shares children Helen and Peter with Malcolm Topliss.   

Claude Norman D (1921-75) was a meteorological observer whose last entry on NZ’s roll was at Waitakere in 1949. He arrived in London on 6 September

1952. In 1954, London newspapers reported Claude Dickson, among others, arriving back safely from drifting up the Atlantic from Dakar, Senegal. The men had travelled in a Kon Tiki-type vessel (specifically an 18-ton yawl, the Petula). The expedition was “the first systematic research of the top six feet of the sea surface done from a small craft”. It does not look as though Claude married. He died in Westminster, London, leaving an estate of £18,364.

Alan Samuel D (1926-89) became an accountant and, in 1963, was a company secretary. His primary school gardening prowess was also reported in the

press, his speciality looks to have been potatoes. Alan first married (Kathleen) Patricia McCarley (?) but the couple divorced in 1953. They were parents of Susan (1949- ) who married Ronald Sim. Alan later married Patricia Isobel Pilkington.

Claude Roberts D (1898-1960)


In his war record, Claude was a warehouseman at Dunedin’s City Boot Palace when he enlisted. He was described as having a florid complexion, dark brown hair and light blue eyes - which sounds a bit like me. We probably don’t need to know he had syphilis in 1918 followed by influenza which, at the time, was more than a worry - so, not a good year, health-wise, for Claude. He has a bit of a profile in PapersPast: in 1926, his brother James John D told the court (during his evidence about the shop explosion) that he worked for his brother at the Oxford Shoe Store. In 1929, the Otago Daily Times reported Claude’s Buick motor car (a touring model, rego 138-847) had been stolen. In May the next year, his letter about the “absolute death trap” at the corner of Glen Avenue and Jordan Street, Mornington was published. In 1931, he advertised for sale a jersey cross cow (that had just delivered her fourth calf) for £7 but later sold either that one or another for £4/5/-; in 1932, he advertised an eight year old thoroughbred hack and 7-10 acres of good grazing in Mornington. In 1939, he was advertising working books and oilskin coats for sale from 230 George St. Other hits for “Claude Dickson” passing examinations in the 1930s are likely to be the successes of his nephew, Claude, later the meteorologist. Claude and Elizabeth Hughes (1911-1969) married on 23 February 1942 in Dunedin. The couple may have had a son but I have found nothing to confirm this. Elizabeth’s will is not yet available online to see if there is any reference to a child. In 1954, Claude was an importer but the ER doesn’t tell us of what. None of Elizabeth’s electoral roll entries have a Dickson other than Claude at the same address.

Another Brewster/Dickson connection

It probably isn’t too unexpected, given the concentration of family names in the Coleraine parish, that there is another Brewster/Dickson connection to attract our attention. Edmund Stronge Brewster had left two sisters behind on Coleraine’s Downhill estate. Mary Jane B (1869- ) married James M’Laughlin (?) in 1906 and I have found no migration information for this couple. Elizabeth B (1876-1944) married Henry Dickson (1865-1950) in 1909. The Dicksons became parents to William Edmund D in Limavady, Londonderry, and John King Brewster D in Waipara, Canterbury, following their migration to New Zealand. The couple farmed first at Awamoko, near Oamaru, where Edmund Stronge Brewster also farmed. In 1919, Henry was a farm labourer. It may be that they lived on Edmund Stronge B’s farm or bought a nearby property. From the 1930s, Henry’s farm was at Richmond, north of Oamaru. Henry and Elizabeth are buried together in the Old Oamaru graveyard, beside the graves of Edmund Stronge B and his wife, Jessie, in Block 137.

William Edmond D (1911-74)


William was a policeman and his name is in a list of officers who were very unwillingly exempted from national military service in 1942 because, in the view of the president of the Armed Services Appeal Board, their police service was of greater value to the community than their army service might be. He married Gladys Violet Welch (1909-99) in Oamaru in 1937. The couple divorced in 1947 and William married again, to Edna Mae (?)  before the 1949 roll. The couple divorced in Christchurch in 1962.

His police service clearly having ended, William was a labourer when he and Edna married and

he continued to be so, this being his occupation when he died. As well as his children and grandchildren, a Kathleen Leonie Mason, married woman, also was a beneficiary of William’s estate. Given William’s brother married a Rua Mason, Kathleen Leonie Mason may have been related somehow. She and her husband, Kenneth Stuart Mason, divorced the year following William’s death. William is buried in Christchurch’s Waimairi Cemetery. William and Gladys had two daughters.


Dorothy Ann Shirley D (ca 1940- ) married Peter Lewis Senior (?) between the 1963 and 1969 rolls. 

Their children, in the list order from William’s will, are: Leeanne S (?); Andrew Grant S (?); Wayne S (?); Michele S (?).

Elizabeth (Liz) Jane D (1941- ) married bank officer Barry Russell Wiblin (1940-90). They had two


Karen Ann W (?) was a student in 1981, meaning she was born in 1963 or earlier. She married a Mr Stacker.

Michael John W (?) is married to Lisa.



Dickson brothers.jpg

John King Brewster D (1916-90)


John began his working life as a labourer before reskilling as a crane driver (1946, 1949), a fitter (1957) then a boiler operator from which occupation he retired in the 1970s. In 1948, he married Rua Mason (1914-79). Rua had been previously married, to William James Bartholomew (1909- ) who was last seen on the roll in 1978 in both Tauranga and Marlborough. John and Rua are buried together in the Temuka cemetery. The couple had two sons.


Ralph Henry D (ca1950- ) was a winding mechanic when he was living with his parents in 1972 then… nothing. John’s will makes it clear the curse of the

Brewsters - or maybe the Dickson - struck again when he explicitly said Ralph was to receive nothing from his estate because he had not been in touch with his father for at least the previous four years. I have found only one mention of a Ralph Henry Dickson, on a 2019 taxation office list of people to whom money (in this case $126.04) is owed.

In 1990, when his father died, Errol John D (ca1951-94) was a carpenter living in Charleville, Queensland. has offered his death, in Mackay,

Queensland, in 1994. His entries on NZ’s electoral roll have him living alone (or at least unmarried) in Marlborough in 1972 (his parents were also in Marlborough in 1972 AND in Ashburton, perhaps they’d moved back to Ashburton that year) and New Plymouth in 1978. It seems from his father’s will that Errol was unmarried in 1990 because, in the event that he predeceased his father, his inheritance was redirected to John’s nieces and nephew. And that’s it, folks. Granted, Ralph may have descendants but without any evidence of this it looks as though this Dickson family line has ended.

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