10 November 2011

The Burke Family of Mangatoki


  • Subject: Burke Family
  • Date: c1925
  • Photographer: James McAllister, Stratford, New Zealand


I found this photograph on TradeMe in 2009 but at the time wasn’t able to place the family at all. Now that the NZ Electoral Rolls are available online I gave it another go but I still wasn’t able to pin them down. It wasn’t until I was searching in Papers Past that all of a sudden there they were after I inadvertently left out the ‘o’ in Bourke:-



I searched on both spellings and found quite a lot of entries, mostly in the Stratford area.


Alexander Sydney Burke married Lena Maria Dorothy Hartwig in 1899 in New Zealand (Lena’s birth registration name was Lena Cathrina Maria Hartwig).

1900/17318 Burke  Rene Gladys  Lena Maria Dorothy Alexander Sydney
1902/1698 Burke  Unita Sylvia  Lena Maria Dorothy Alexander Sydney

The various newspaper articles & electoral rolls puts them living in and around the Mangatoki area of Stratford, Taranaki. They had two daughters, Rene Gladys born 1900 and Unita Sylvia born 1902.

Alexander wasn’t born in NZ so I searched further afield for him. His daughters were bridesmaids for an Albert Thomas Burke also of Mangatoki so I thought they might have been brothers. I searched the NZ BMDs and found that Albert was the son of William & Martha and on the new familysearch.org site I found their marriage plus four birth records of their children. Unfortunately Alexander Sydney wasn’t one of them! So I resorted to wending my way through the 8833 instances of the name ‘Burke’ in the two Taranaki papers where I struck gold!


William & Martha Burke must have arrived in NZ sometime before 1879 when the first of their NZ children was born. I’ve had no luck in finding them in a passenger list yet. Here is their marriage:-

groom's name: William Burke
groom's age & status: 23, single
bride's name: Martha Smith
bride's age & status: 22, single
marriage date: 20 Nov 1866
marriage place: Killoughter, Cavan, Ireland
groom's father's name: William Burke
bride's father's name: William Smith

And a small tree with the children I’ve found so far.

                          William Burke - Martha Smith                                         
                                              m 20-11-1866
                   St Columba Church, Killoughter, Co Cavan, Ireland
Children born in Drum, Co Monaghan, Ireland
Richard    John William  Alexander Sydney  Mary Anne  James Robert 
18.9.1867   -17.1.1869-          -c1871-         -23.8.1873-   -14.2.1875-

Children born in New Zealand
Samuel Joseph   Henry  Albert Thomas  Robert Charles  Lillian      Norman
      -1879 -       -1882 -        -1883 -             -1885 -      -1888-   -23.6.1893-      


St Columba Church, Killoughter, Co. Cavan on the left & the small village of Drum which is in Co. Monaghan but within one mile of the Cavan border. It is located 16 miles from the county towns of both Cavan and Monaghan and four miles from Cootehill in Co. Cavan. Drum Village is the Republic's only Protestant Village and is strongly Presbyterian.

ancestry.com; NZ BDM Records; familysearch.org; Google Maps, Colin Boyle/flickr.com
Church photograph © Eric Jones and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence.


Further details on this family may be seen on the Strangers in a Box database on WorldConnect.
If any of the descendants of this Burke family would like to have the above photograph I would be delighted to pass it on. Contact by email is preferable but if you are going to leave a comment please don’t forget to include your email address.

Dawn Scotting

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