27 November 2008

Samuel Maxton, Greytown, Wairarapa

Today's photos are from a job lot that I recently found on TradeMe. Apparently they are the last from a well known family in the Wairarapa. A lot of them have no details but a few do and after a few days research I've found out quite a lot about them.

The family name is MAXTON although it does look like Mayton on the backs of two photos.


  • Subject: Samuel Maxton
  • Date: Unknown
  • Photographers: Wrigglesworth & Binns, Wellington, New Zealand
  • Found: Wairarapa, NZ

On the back has been stuck a piece of writing paper with these details.


So we're off to a good start although so far I haven't been able to determine what the 1913 date refers to.

The next photo purports to be another one of Samuel, this time an older man, although I'm not entirely convinced they are the same person, what do you think?


  • Date: Unknown
  • Photographers: Batt & Richards, Wellington, New Zealand
  • Found; Wairarapa, NZ

On the back is even more exciting information.


Armed with this knowledge I went looking in the 1841 census hoping that Samuel was still in England, bingo, the first one I looked at!


  1. Spencer St, Clerkenwell, Finsbury, London
  2. Ann Maxton 60 a baker
  3. Matilda Maxton 25
  4. Samuel Maxton 20 (or 26)
  5. Ann Maxton 21
  6. Joseph Maxton 20
  7. Mary Selsby 30
  8. Mary Selsby 7
  9. Thomas Selsby 4
  10. © ancestry.com

They were all born in the county of Middlesex/Greater London. The disparity in Samuel's age could be because the ages of people over 15 in the 1841 census were all rounded down to the nearest 5 years or it could be that what looks like a zero is actually a six with part of the downstroke missing.

I checked the IGI but no marriage found for mother Ann, however, after finding daughter Ann's baptism these children all had parents named Peter & Ann:-

Results for: Birth/Christening, England, British Isles
Father: Peter Maxton, Mother: Ann

International Genealogical Index / British Isles - 12

1. ANN MAXTON - International Genealogical Index
Gender: Female Birth: 19 JUL 1816
2. ANN MAXTON - International Genealogical Index
Gender: Female Christening: 01 DEC 1816 Spa Fields Lady Huntingdons, Clerkenwell
3. GEORGE PETER MAXTON - International Genealogical Index
Gender: Male Birth: 21 NOV 1801
4. GEORGE PETER MAXTON - International Genealogical Index
Gender: Male Christening: 13 DEC 1801 Saint Luke Old Street, Finsbury, London
5. JOHN MAXTON - International Genealogical Index
Gender: Male Birth: 18 MAR 1803
6. JOHN MAXTON - International Genealogical Index
Gender: Male Christening: 10 APR 1803 Saint Luke Old Street, Finsbury, London
7. JAMES KINZIE MAXTON - International Genealogical Index
Gender: Male Birth: 31 OCT 1804
8. JAMES KINZIE MAXTON - International Genealogical Index
Gender: Male Christening: 25 NOV 1804 Saint Luke Old Street, Finsbury, London
9. MARY ANN MAXTON - International Genealogical Index
Gender: Female Birth: OCT 1807
10. MARY ANN MAXTON - International Genealogical Index
Gender: Female Christening: 13 MAR 1808 Saint Andrew, Holborn, London
11. ALEXANDER MAXTON - International Genealogical Index
Gender: Male Birth: 23 OCT 1806
12. ALEXANDER MAXTON - International Genealogical Index
Gender: Male Christening: 30 NOV 1806 Saint Luke Old Street, Finsbury, London

Out of twelve baptised children there was only one still at home in 1841, Ann born 1816. One other, Mary SELSBY, is most probably the Mary Ann baptised 1808, more on her later. No baptisms found for Samuel & his siblings Matilda & Joseph.

The 1841 census was taken on the 6 June and early in the 4qtr of 1841 Samuel Maxton married Henrietta BURROWS:-

Marriages Dec 1841
BURROWS Henrietta Clerkenwell 3 71
MAXTON Samuel Clerkenwell 3 71

On the 13 Oct 1841 they both boarded the barque "Birman" and set sail for New Zealand arriving in Wellington on the 1 Mar 1842.

Ship: 544 tons
Captain: John Cleland
Surgeon Superintendent: James Motherwell
Sailed London 13th October 1841 - arrived Wellington 1st March 1842
Maxton Samuel 26 Baker
Henrietta 20

I digress slightly here, I thought these extracts might be of interest.

Some letters, written by a lady passenger on the “Birman,” were published in “Chamber's Edinburgh Journal,” 1848, No. 257, Vol. 9. A few extracts are given as under:—

“Cape of Good Hope.
December 30th, 1841.

“Dearest Annie,

“Here we are at the Cape, and a delightful place it is, especially to us, who have been tossing for weeks on the billows. What a luxury is soft bread and fresh meat. Everything we could desire is brought on board to us and all very cheap. We have good wine at fourpence and six-pence a bottle, and fine mutton and beef at three half-pence a pound.

“Many of our companions would like to land here and finish the journey.
“Employment being plentiful and provisions cheap, but rents are high.
“We have had a favourable voyage, parted with sea sickness and have voracious appetites.
“This is the last day of the year and as warm as summer at Home.
“Grog was served on Christmas Day, and we are to have a pint of wine on New Year's Day.
“The doctor on board serves as chaplain also.”

“Port Nicholson,
July 28th, 1842.

“Dearest Annie,

“After leaving the Cape we had a good voyage until nearing New Zealand. The captain diverted from the right course, and we were nearly wrecked; and should have run on some reefs but for the timely warning of a stranger who put off in a boat and was just in time to intercept us while within a few hundred yards of the sunken reef. The right track was discovered and we at length reached the harbour in safety.

“On getting on shore, we found what a wretched place we had come to.
“The building intended for our occupation had been appropriated by a ship load of emigrants who had the good fortune to arrive before us. The result was that we were crammed into a large empty storeroom, just like an old barn, filthy beyond description, and overrun with rats.
“Here a space was chalked out for each family on the rough flooring, and here our little property, together with rations for a fortnight were conveyed, and we were finally left for good and all to shift for ourselves.
“There were heart-breaking scenes. The most sanguine lost heart, and many women wept and wrung their hands.
“I could have done the same, but my husband wore such a dismal face that I forebore.
“We arranged our things as well as we could and curtained our corner off. Then went into the bush close by, cut some small twigs, made a broom, and swept the floor and walls. Our example was followed by others, and we found ourselves better off than on board ship as we could get in and out as we chose. We were banished to this outlandish place at the end of the earth and thought we would never stay here. We found the natives a fine lot of people: dark brown skin, and most of them tattooed in fanciful patterns, which suffices for clothes for some of them. Some are dressed in loin cloth and tattoe.”

Wellington, October, 1841.

Dearest Annie

“My husband rented a small piece of land, 60 × 24; barely sufficient for the site of a decent home, for £9 per year, and has built a small house on it, and has opened up a store. We sell whatever was bought and do business with Maoris and Pakeha, who daily flock to the store. We sell clothing, bread, potatoes, which latter we buy from the Maoris. My husband earns a little at carpentry. Some of our fellow passengers are half starved for want of employment, and were in a miserable position in winter, when storms and tempests of rain prevailed. Once we could not venture out of doors for weeks together. We were sometimes soaked to the skin, for we could not hold an umbrella up.

“Gross immorality prevails amongst the Colonists. Some seem to have left every moral and religious obligation behind them. Bishop Selwyn has lately landed here; he is much liked at present. I hope his example and exertions, which are very much wanted, will be of general use. I retain my health wonderfully. My husband is well and picking up the language. The Maoris are fond of us, because we are uniformly kind to them. They call me ——, and are quite as familiar as you could be.”

Wellington, December 11th, 1843.

Dearest Annie,

“The country appears all mountains and vales. Trees everywhere which are always in full leaf, there being never sufficient frost to kill the foliage. As our stock increased, we had to use our building to accommodate it. We hired a house of two rooms, built of clay and thatched with toi-toi. Work is not too plentiful, about two days employment during the week for each. Auction sales take place on the arrival of vessels. Our credit being good we buy from natives and Colonists, some of whom sell the clothes from their backs through destitution. Some in good circles in England have parted with everything, lead miserable and degraded lives, skulking in the bush and drowning their sorrows in drink—when able.

Samuel & Henrietta settled in Wellington where they had four children before Henrietta died in childbirth in 1848. Sometime before 1850 Samuel married Susannah DUNN and they had a further seven children.


  • Subject: Susannah Maxton nee Dunn
  • Date: Unknown
  • Photographer: Wrigglesworth & Binns, Wellington, NZ
  • Found: Wairarapa, NZ


In 1876 Samuel moved to Greytown in the Wairarapa where his occupation was a baker. Samuel died in 1884.

Samuel Maxton, baker of Greytown, died on the 2nd of December 1884.

This photo may be connected to Susannah Dunn.


  • Subject: Jack Dunn (?)
  • Photographers: Wrigglesworth, Wellington, New Zealand
  • Date: Unknown
  • Found: Wairarapa


This photo seems to have been taken by Mr Wrigglesworth before he became Wrigglesworth & Binns so it may be a bit older than the one of Susannah Dunn, perhaps her father? I found the following which suggests that Susannah might be the daughter of one William Thomas Dunn:-

Dunn, William Thomas, Settler, Featherston. Mr. Dunn is a native of London, and arrived in Wellington in the year 1840. He learned the bakery and confectionery business with Mr. Maxton, of Wellington, and in 1854 started for himself in Greytown. In 1879 he removed to Featherston, and some years later was in business at the Blue House, Wellington, having married the widow of the late Mr. G. Towersey, the former owner of that establishment. Preferring the country life, however, Mr. and Mrs. Dunn disposed of the Blue House to Mr. Varcoe and returned to Featherston, where they for some time carried on the principal bakery of the district. Mr. Dunn retired from business in 1895, and now follows the quiet life of a settler, in which he finds rest after the arduous labours of his career. While in business he was always noted for the splendid quality of his brown bread, and also for his special brand of wine and lemon biscuits.


I have one more photo that I think might belong to this family. Going back to Samuel's mother Ann - I found her in the 1851 and 1861 census. In the 1851 living with her son Joseph, she was aged 71 and born


in Holborn St Andrew, Middlesex. Son Joseph was unmarried and a Solicitor's Accountant at age 31, born Clerkenwell, Middlesex. By 1861 Ann was aged 81 and lodging with a family as yet unknown to me (and will probably stay that way!).


She is listed as 'formerly a baker's wife' so now we know that Samuel followed in his father's footsteps as a baker. Ann's daughter Ann, at home in 1841 aged 21, married Charles William Davies just before the 1851 census:-

Marriages Mar 1851
Davies Charles William Hackney 3 143
Maxton Ann Hackney 3 143

Amongst the photos is this one:-


  • Subject: Charles Frederick Davies
  • Date: 18 Jan 1865
  • Photographer: H Bailey's Studio, 4 Newland Tce, Kensington, UK
  • Found: Wairarapa


Which put me into a bit of a dilemma because the Charles Ann married had the middle name of William not Frederick - so who is this Charles Frederick Davies? Back to the census, no luck in 1851 or 1861 but 1871 answered even more questions I had about three other photos.


  1. 3 Grove Terrace, Kensington, Middlesex
  2. Charles W Davies head 49 Watchmaker born Clerkenwell
  3. Ann Davies wife 49 born Clerkenwell
  4. Arthur Davies son 17 Jeweller born Islington
  5. Florence Davies dau 15 born Islington
  6. Walter Davies son 13 born Islington
  7. © ancestry.com

I thought perhaps Charles Fred was their son & had already left home in 1871 but he would have been only about 14 in the above photo and I don't think he would have had such a well grown beard at age 14! Maybe Charles Wm had been married before and Charles Fred was his son by his first wife? He shall remain a mystery for the time being.

Which brings me to three photos that I puzzled over and searched in various census for with no luck, until I saw the above census entry. They each had been written on with the same hand, just first names and a date. They looked like a father and two children because they're all taken in the same studio with two of them being on the same day. From the census I now believe them to be the children of Ann Davies nee Maxton sister of Samuel & their father Charles Wm Davies.


  • Subject: (probably) Charles William Davies
  • Photographer: James Boarder, Shepherd's Bush, London
  • Date: March 1867
  • Found; Wairarapa, NZ



  • Subject: Arthur Davies
  • Photographer: James Boarder, Shepherd's Bush, London
  • Date: March 1867
  • Found: Wairarapa, NZ



  • Subject: Florence Davies
  • Photographer: James Boarder, Shepherd's Bush, London
  • Date: 10 Feb 1867
  • Found: Wairarapa, NZ


Various other details I turned up in the course of my research are:-

One of Samuels children, Annie born 1855, married William Francis ROYDHOUSE whose family had newspapers in Greytown and Masterton. One of their children, Francis William born 1887, married Muriel Crawley and one of their issue, William John ROYDHOUSE, married Millicent ADAMS whose parents arrived on the Lancashire Witch.

Francis Frederick Maxton, of Greytown, died on the 13th of August 1889, Baker and Grocer.

Births in Wellington district between the years 1839 to 1866:-
1850 - Maxton, 14th July, daughter.

Mr. (Mark) Maxton is very well known throughout the district, having spent the whole of his life in Wellington and the Wairarapa. He was born in Wellington in 1853. His father, the late Mr. Samuel Maxton, had settled in Wellington many years previously, having arrived per ship “Birman” in 1842. In 1876 Mr. Maxton, sen., removed to Greytown, where several members of the family are still resident. Mr. Maxton is local correspondent of the “Evening Post,” the “Dominion,” and the “Wairarapa News.” He married Miss Elizabeth Tinney, of Wellington, and has two sons and two daughters.

Jack COULSON & Henrietta Maxton (born abt 1846 in Wellington)
Their children:
Gertrude born abt 1887 died 9 Jan 1897 (drowned in the Ruamahunga
River, and is buried in Greytown)
Max; Gwendoline; Jack (Jnr).

Alfred BISH was twice the Mayor of Masterton. Alfred was born in Hemel Hempstead, England in 1848, buried at Clareville. He did reside in South Island before coming North. Established a Jewellery business. Took part in local politics, besides being a Councillor. He transferred his business to Carterton. He was a borough Councillor in Carterton. and a prominent member of the Bowling Club. Also for many years a JP. Past Master of the Masterton Oddfellows Lodge. He was married to a daughter of Mr. S. MAXTON. Alfred left a family of three, two sons, one daughter, one son was on active service, Sgt. Seymour S. Bish.
Alfred died 18 August 1918, his wife Flora died 8 September 1913. Flora's parents and grandmother MARY DUNN along with other MAXTON family are buried at Greytown, her father was a Baker in Greytown.

So ends the saga of the Maxton family as I know it. I believe some if not all of the other 16 photos from the same job lot must be connected to them somehow but without any details on most of them it's impossible to say at present.

If anyone knows anything about this family I would love to hear from you. I know there are descendants out there because I've found you on various websites, unfortunately it seems your email addresses are all out of date! I really would love these photos to go to a living descendant.

And finally one last thought from me (for the time being) - I wonder if the letter extracts written to 'Dearest Annie' were in fact written by Henrietta to her sister in law Ann?


Brett Payne said...

Great work, Dawn. I look forward to seeing a relative get in touch in due course! Regards, Brett

Unknown said...

Hello Dawn, I am a descendant of William Dunn, father of Susannah Maxton (nee Dunn) and I have lots of information on the Dunns and Maxtons. Would love to hear more from you regarding the photos you have.
Liz Koh

courtneycotton01@gmail.com said...

That would be fine Liz but you didn't leave me a contact email address, you can find mine in my profile on this blog. However, I no longer have the photographs but I could probably put you onto a few others who are researching the same families.

Tui Chizown said...

I recognise the handwriting on the back of some of the photos as being that of my uncle, Alan Roydhouse. We are descendants of the Maxtons too. The graves of Samuel and Susannah in Greytown are in sad disrepair and we are in the process of trying to rectify this since it will be Samuel's 200th birthday this December! Do you still have the photographs?