16 April 2009

Vera Tregear 1881-1970

Today's photo is of a pretty little girl that looks like it has been slightly hand tinted. vera-tregear-original-blog vera-tregear-back-blog-orig

  • Subject: Vera Tregear
  • Date: c1883
  • Photographer: W A Collis, Cnr Devon & Brougham Sts, New Plymouth, NZ
  • Found: Milton, South Otago, NZ

Vera was the only child of rather an interesting man - soldier, surveyor, linguist, Polynesian scholar, writer, public servant, political reformer, of whom much has been written. Edward Robert Tregear was born on the 1 May 1846 in Southampton, Hampshire, England. In the 1851 & 1861 census he was living with his mother, Mary, in Southampton, his father, William James, was a mariner and not at home in 1851.

1851 Census - Class: HO107; Piece: 1669; Folio: 897; Page: 2


William James Tregear was born 7 Jul 1816 and baptised on 30 Jul 1817 in Marylebone London, son of Vincent Tregear and Catherine Sybil nee Hodgkinson. He died in Bombay India in 1859. William's wife, Mary nee Norris, died in Auckland on 3 Dec 1916 aged 91 years and is buried at Purewa Lawn Cemetery, Meadowbank.

On the 29 Jun 1863 Mary Tregear, her son & two daughters arrived in Auckland on the vessel 'War Spirit' after a 104 day passage from Gravesend, UK.

From an article found in the Dictionary of NZ Biography:-


Edward Robert Tregear, son of William James Tregear and his wife, Mary Norris, was born in Southampton, Hampshire, England, on 1 May 1846. He led a comfortable life there with his mother and younger sisters, Mary and Ellen. His father was a captain with the Peninsular and Oriental Line and was seldom home. Edward was an imaginative, scholarly lad, who proudly traced his Cornish ancestry to the mystic days of King Arthur, and steeped himself in medieval, Celtic, Nordic and classical legend. At seven he could read and write Greek and Latin.

Tregear's pleasant life ended abruptly with his father's financial ruin in 1858, probably through gambling, followed by his death from typhoid in Bombay, India, in 1859. The family was reduced to miserable circumstances. On 27 June 1863, 17-year-old Edward brought them to Auckland, New Zealand, on the War Spirit. They lived for three or four years in obscurity at Warkworth, before settling in Auckland.

Edward Robert Tregear met and married Eliza Emma Arden on 18 Jun 1881 at the Henui Church, New Plymouth. Eliza was the third daughter of Hamar Arden of Taranaki and had previously been married to Nathaniel Joynt in 1873.

Edward & Eliza's daughter, Vera, was born on 29 Sep 1881 in Hawera. On 19 Dec 1908 she married Herbert John Robinson at St Paul's Church in Thorndon, Wellington. She died in 1970 aged 89 in New Zealand.

This is what I found on Edward Robert Tregear in the 1966 Encyclopaedia of NZ:-


This photo of Edward Tregear I found on the NZETC website.


Including another photo and an article written about him here.

Lastly, today we went for a lovely walk in the autumn sunshine at Purewa Cemetery looking for Mary Tregear's grave. Although it shows the ravages of time I think you'll agree she has the most beautiful spot for her eternal rest.

mary's-grave2 mary's-grave1

In Loving Memory
Mary Tregear
Born 28th July 1825
Southampton England
Died 3rd Dec 1916
Auckland New Zealand
At Rest

From Mary's birthdate I was able to find a probable baptism for her on the IGI:-

Mary Norris
Christening:  21 AUG 1825   St Mary's, Southampton, Hampshire
Father:  James Norris
Mother:  Levinia

From that I ascertained that her parents, James & Lavinia, were living next door to her in the 1851 census (see above census page), I then found Mary at home with her parents & two sisters in the same house in the 1841 census.

Class: HO107; Piece 416; Book: 3; Enumeration District: 27; Folio: 13; Page: 21; Line: 4


Interesting to note the William Fox aged 15 living with them. Wondering if she was the Lavinia Applyn Fox baptism found on the IGI at Southampton in 1808, but that's a whole different story!

Dawn Chambers' family tree
NZ Electronic Text Centre
Howe, K. R. 'Tregear, Edward Robert 1846 - 1931'.  Dictionary of New Zealand Biography 
Carol Robocker's website


If you are a descendant of this family I would be very pleased to hear from you.

Dawn Scotting

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