04 November 2016

James Williams 1841-1922

From the pages of the James Spencer White Album

These two photos from the album are the only ones that have the Williams name on them.


It turns out that Victor Williams was the son of James Williams. I puzzled for awhile as to their connection with Spen White but in due course I found that one of the sister’s of Spen’s wife’s mother, Esther Elizabeth Chuck,  had married James Williams. Also in the album was a lovely family group photo with James in it although there are no names on that photo, it seems to me it was taken on the same day and in front of the same tree, as was the photo of Victor Williams, although Victor doesn’t seem to be in any of the other photos, of which there are a few, all taken on the same day (see below for more photos).

Originally I had thought one of the families belonged to James and I puzzled over these few photos for weeks, in the end I made contact with Lynn who kindly sent me another photo of one of the families and she knew who they were, in the end it seems the rest of James Williams’ family was not there that day.

I haven’t been able to ascertain where James Williams was born, it was about 1841 (if it was in NZ there is no birth registration for him) and the first sighting of him is when he married Alice Jane Chuck in 1893, Alice was 26 and James 52 so he may have been married before.

In 1896 they were living in Palmerston North where James is listed as a ‘collector’. Their eldest son, Victor Cyril James Williams was born there on 3 Sep 1894. Sometime before 1897 the family moved to Hastings where on the 1 Jan 1898 the building James had his Herbalist business in was burnt to the ground.


Their second daughter Nettie was born there in 1897, sadly she died aged 14 days old.

By 1899 they had moved to Dannevirke where their last two children were born, Alva Amelia on 4 Dec 1899 and Wesley Arthur on 26 Jun 1903.

By 1911 they had moved again, this time to Trentham in Upper Hutt, in each electoral roll he was listed as a Herbalist.

With a common name like James Williams it had taken me awhile to track down the right one, luckily his occupation of Herbalist was fairly uncommon so I knew I had the right James when I found that.

The 1919 electoral roll was the last one he was listed in and so after scrolling through all the James Williams deaths on Papers Past after that date I found he had died in 1922 aged 81.


Alice Jane Williams died on 30 Jan 1935 in the Wellington Hospital and is buried in the Karori Cemetery in Wellington.



In 1925 son Victor married Alfreda Margaret Kitson. Daughter Alva married Gordon Cyril Jackson in 1940 and son Wesley married Helen Henderson Mouat, they were separated in 1936 and in 1945 he married again to Elizabeth Jane Turner.


This is the other photo with James Williams in it, back left. The appoximate date of the photo and the ages of everyone just did not fit with what I knew about James Williams’ family, in the end it was the


next photo that Lynn sent to me of the Thomas Family that made me realise none of his own family were in this photo. I still don’t know who the family on the right are yet, the family on the left are:-

David Thomas (back middle); he has his hand on the shoulder of his wife Esther Elizabeth neĆ© Chuck, the young boy next to her in white is their son Harold Frank, the girl on the ground in front of him is daughter Olive Maude and the older girl sitting on the ground on the right is daughter Ivy Zilpha Thomas, later to become Spen White’s wife.


This is the same Thomas Family as in the above photo plus their three eldest sons who weren’t with them that day.

So who are the other family, most probably another CHUCK sister and her family but I haven’t been able to work out which one because of not knowing whether all of their children were with them that day or not!

These are the rest of the photos with various members of the same families, none are named so if anyone recognises anyone I would love to hear from you. The first one is obviously Ivy Zilpha with her brother Harold Frank Thomas.


An older Ivy Zilpha in the middle.


Harold Frank with his mother Esther Elizabeth. Unknown Family on right, the two boys look to be younger versions of the same two in the previous photo.


I’d named this photo ‘3 Thomas Girls’ but I’m not sure they are, they are the same three in an above photo with Ivy Zilpha Thomas though. Lastly we have the dog, possibly the same one who is a puppy in the first photo but definately the same one in this photo with the three girls.



Dawn Scotting

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