William (CR) was one of the Andersons who regularly appeared in the newspapers, either through his activities being reported or as a contributor.
He began his professional life as a bank clerk in his father’s bank at 150 Murraygate, Dundee. When his father’s will was written in 1858, however, he had become a wool stapler/merchant in Liverpool. From his own account years later (right), he also traded in cotton in Liverpool, pig iron in Glasgow, wool wherever he lived, plus grain, wheat, flax, and rabbit skins in New Zealand. In 1894, he was also the Gore agent for the South British (Fire and Marine Insurance Company of New Zealand).
William was living in Kings Cross, Halifax, when he married Emily Annie Sykes (1846-1876), daughter of oilcloth manufacturer, Miles Sykes, in August 1867. Things weren’t going too well. He was in the wool business with his brother, Charles, trading as Anderson Brothers. In 1869, the business became bankrupt although the brothers must have recovered because, a couple of years later, their fleeces were winning prizes at the Halifax agricultural show. Within a couple of years of their marriage, William and Emily had two children. I have found nothing more about Emily, other than her death in 1876. She may have been ill for some time, having had no more children after younger child, Marion.
William Bain Anderson
(13 July 1834-10 June 1902)
30 June 1894
William and Emily
William Wallace Marion Tillotson
Shortly after Emily’s death, William migrated to New Zealand where he and his brothers (Charles and John) set themselves up in Dunedin’s burgeoning textile industry. They traded as Anderson Brothers, Ravensbourne, which is an outer suburb of Dunedin on the banks of Otago Harbour. His expertise was acknowledged in what the Otago Daily Times referred to in 1878 as an important letter about the consequences of misleading fleece grading for the industry and for the colony. In 1888, he was assisting a committee “in getting up the wool trophy” and in gathering wool samples that would best represent “the Middle Island” at Melbourne’s Centennial International Exhibition.
His Ravensborne house, with the finest view in the suburb, went on the market in 1879, he must barely have had time to live in it. “(E)xtremely liberal terms” were offered for purchase of the “perfectly new and very superior Four-roomed” house on a quarter-acre block only three minutes from the railway station. Subsequent electoral rolls had him in Dunedin
proper although, unless there were two William Bain Anderson, wool stapler/merchants in Dunedin at the time, his property qualifications for voting eligibility were in several locations.
In 1883, William married teacher/civil servant Emily Rhoda Inman. I had not found anything more about Emily Rhoda, apart from her name on an 1880 newspaper list of pasengers on the Rialto from London to Otago, until ancestry.com offered probate details for an, in the end, unrelated Mrs Emily Rhoda Anderson who died in Leeds in 1925. Probate was to husband John Anderson (congregational minister) and Alexander Anderson (lawyer), neither of whom are 'our' Andersons despite them sharing 'our' family names. On a whim, I entered Emily Rhoda's name in NZ Archives, thinking maybe I'd find a divorce, and was stunned to discover she was "lost at sea" in 1890. Contacting the archivist brought her probate details that includes an affidavit by William that he'd paid £33 for her to travel on the cargo ship Marlborough to England. After leaving Lyttelton on 11 January 1890, the Marlborough vanished and Lloyd's eventually paid out on its loss. If you consult Mr Google, the resulting hits make the Marlborough's disappearance very similar to that of the Flying Dutchman with its ghostly crew. So many unanswered questions. What was Emily Rhoda doing, travelling alone to England on a cargo ship? What a horrible end to her story. What a shocker of a year for William with his brother dying, also by drowning, just six months later.
By the 1890s, William was living in Gore, Southland. It seems he was already in business there because in 1889 the partnership of George Wood and WB Anderson was dissolved by mutual consent: the general produce and commission business was continued by WB Anderson and Co.
From various sources, we know the family lived in Gordon House (Gordon was the original name of East Gore). I think that brother Charles' widow, Rebecca, and her sons also lived there for a while in the early 1890s to allow her to restructure her life after her husband's death.
Although WD’s memoir says William began a stock agency in Gore, according to Victoria University’s Electronic Text Collection (nzetc), he bought the existing Watson JE and Co, Ltd (est. 1834) in 1890. He sold it on in 1892 to Messrs Tothill and Watson.
William was an active member of Gore’s community, so much so that the Mataura Ensign columnist, Cyclops, made ongoing snide swipes at him, professing “unceasing admiration” for William’s versatility in all matters civic.
The various press reports have him
• a delegate to a Dunedin conference of Racing Club delegates (where he sought to limit government totaliser tax);
• thanking contributors to a relief fund for the family of David Gray who had died in an accident. The Grays were related by marriage to William’s recently dead brother, Charles;
• on the organizing committee and a contributor (right) to the new Athenaeum that opened in 1893;
• an advocate for a traffic bridge over the Mataura River at Gore;
• on an extended visit to Australia;
• making his premises available for balls and other events;
• authoring letters such as one querying the US decision to abolish wool import duties and the likely effect of that on trade; and
• writing and lecturing on bimetallism, which appears to be associated with the use and costs of using gold or silver as a national currency. In his own words “bimetallism refers to a coinage of those two metals at a fixed relative value established by law”. A lecture (sixpence admission) on the topic was reprinted, taking a full page of the broadsheet Mataura Ensign. Another lecture on “Some men of literature in Queen Anne’s Reign”, mainly about the life of Oliver Goldsmith, was also reproduced in that newspaper.
A couple of road mishaps made the news. In 1891, the Otago Witness ran a story about William finding “himself wrong side up on the road” when a wheel of the buggy he was driving came off. His passenger “Miss Finlayson, a visitor from Dunedin”
26 September 1893
(another of his brother’s in-laws) “behaved with rare coolness and pluckily stuck to her seat without any fuss”. Four morals came from the story. The first was that, in the event of such circumstances, behave as had Miss Finlayson; the fourth was that, if you’re lucky enough to own one, look after your buggy so that its wheels don’t come off through lack of maintenance. The second incident, first reported in the Mataura Ensign, was in 1894 and was reproduced nationwide in the NZ Observer. It seems ten passengers saved themselves more serious injury by “falling on top of our esteemed townsman, Mr WB Anderson, who sustained several contusions, which are very painful”. The Observer concluded “probably Anderson was never so much esteemed before”.
But in 1895, William was on the move again. At his official farewell, the Mayor paid tribute to William’s honesty and ability. In response, William was candid about the major loss he had taken “in a big line of oats” and thanked his financial backers for their consideration. Another report of the farewell said William had “proved himself a citizen who can ill be spared”. Noting that he had met with many business reversals in Gore, the Otago Witness said he left with the good wishes of the community. William had been a Councillor (once making an unsuccessful bid for the mayoralty) causing an Extraordinary Election to be held to fill his now vacant position.
Although it seems he had intended to move to the North Island, William in fact moved to Riwaka, a small community in the Tasman Bay at the top of the South Island. Unsurprisingly, he was just as active in his new location, serving on committees, writing letters, and continuing to lecture on bimetallism. He was now, in his 60s, an orchardist and, again capitalizing on regional strengths, a wine grape grower – of particular interest to my generation of Andersons who might be inclined to stake an ancestral claim to part of the Cloudy Bay wine empire. By 1899, William was vice-president of the Motueka Agricultural and Fruitgrowers’ Association, the establishment of which he had advocated the previous year. Its March meeting had been convened to discuss his “capitally written” (e.g., interesting and humorous) paper on fruit growing and its troubles. Some of the preparations discussed to control pests could very easily be, and possibly are, used by fruit growers in the C21st. A Government attendee at the meeting said he was happy to assist “any institution such as this”, noting the industry was worth around £40,000 p.a. to the Nelson district. Never one to do things by halves, William’s produce was winning prizes in 1902 for “4 sorts cooking applies, 12 of each sort”; “London pippin apples”; and it scored the greatest number of points in Class 3 at a local horticultural show.
But, inevitably, his story was coming to an end. After ailing for some time, the "highly respected" William Bain Anderson suddenly and unexpectedly died in his sleep on 10 June. The 14 June 1902 edition of the Mataura Ensign reported:
A well-known old identity of Gore, in the person of Mr W.B. Anderson, died at Motueka (Nelson district) on
Tuesday last. The deceased gentleman was a prominent figure in local affairs up to some seven years ago, when he went to reside at Motueka. He leaves a widow and a family of
Two – Mr Wallace Anderson (now in South Africa) and Mrs J Graham,
of East Gore.
The late Mr Anderson formerly conducted the business
Now comprised in the local branch of Messrs Tothill, Watson and Co.
In 1896, he had married for the third time, to Eleanor Florence Crofts who was granted probate of his effects (£917/15/4). In keeping with her late husband’s entrepreneurship, in 1915 Eleanor F Anderson invested £300 (30 x £10 shares) to help establish the new Motueka Cool Storage Co, Ltd. Curiously, probate of the estate (£917/15/4) of William’s first wife, Emily, was granted in 1904, nearly 30 years after her death, to Halifax-based “Eliza Jane Jenkinson widow and William Ernest Jenkinson cashier” named as Eleanor’s attorneys. Eliza Jane Jenkinson, widow of stockbroker George Jenkinson, was Emily’s sister. Presumably William Earnest was Eliza's brother-in-law. It looks as though Eleanor F Anderson was tying up any loose ends of William’s affairs. The amount recorded separately in William and Emily's probate has to be the same pot of money but why probate of Emily's estate didn't happen after she died in the 1870s remains a mystery. There are no details of his will that might clarify the situation. Other than leaving his double-barrelled, breech-loading gun to his son (but nothing to his daughter), William left all real and personal estate to Eleanor.
William seems to have been a restless chap. After leaving home, the longest he stayed anywhere was in Halifax. His moves may have been driven by financial disappointments or opportunities, or maybe it was the challenge of building something new. He clearly was broadly and well read and intellectually agile. Whatever he turned his mind to, he did so in depth. His public contributions earned admiration from his peers (with the exception of Cyclops) and I regret having not found a photograph of William Bain Anderson for us to meet a remarkable man.
William Wallace Anderson
Marion Tillotson Anderson/Graham