04 November 2013

Arnold Mitton 1856-1910

arnold-mitton arnold-mitton-back

Subject: Arnold Mitton
Date: 28 Jan 1880
Photographer: Clifford & Morris, Royal Arcade, Dunedin, NZ
Found: Unknown

I’ve had this photograph for so long that I can’t remember where it came from. I’ve never had any luck researching Arnold before so I had put him to the bottom of the pile waiting for another day, and finally that day has arrived, and what a day (or three) it’s been! Make yourself a cuppa and settle down to read quite a nice little story about Arnold’s life – as I know it.

Originally I was at a loss as to what his surname was, I thought it was MITTON or WITTON but couldn’t find any reference to an Arnold of either surname in the NZ BMDs. When I first found this photo either it was before Papers Past arrived online or before I became aware of it. This time, after still having no luck in the BMDs I tried Papers Past and had five pages of hits turn up!

It seems the few years that Arnold was in NZ might not have been a very happy time for him, but let’s start at the beginning.

Arnold was born on the 28 Dec 1856, the son of the Reverend Joseph Mitton & his wife Ann née Barrett, Joseph was the Vicar of St John the Evangelist Church in Baildon, Yorkshire and Arnold was baptised there on the 14 Apr 1857. 


Arnold was living at home with his parents in the 1861 & 1871 census. In 1876 he was admitted into Peterhouse College at the Cambridge University, I’m not exactly sure what this all means but from his photo above it would seem he matriculated sometime later.

matriculatedThen in 1877 we find him in Brussels, Belgium getting married to Louisa Thompson of Shipley, Yorkshire. Louisa was the daughter of Joseph & Margaret Thompson, baptised at Shipley on 8 Oct 1858, her father was a solicitor. They were both underage so this is the declaration they signed before Her Majesty’s Vice-Consul in Brussels on the 12 Jan 1877. I presume they did get married as I didn’t actually find the marriage itself.

marriage-declarationAfter this they disappeared from the UK census and turned up on the 17 Apr 1878 living at 2 Windmill St, Sydney, Australia where they had ‘five white shirts’ stolen off their clothesline in broad daylight!


The following month they arrived in Otago, New Zealand on board the SS Harrington, 2nd cabin, on the 21 May 1878. Later that year or early 1879 he was appointed by the Committee of the Athenaeum & Mechanics’ Institute to the position of ‘Librarianship’, reported in the newspaper 11 Feb 1879.

arriving-1878 job-offer












Then disaster struck! On the 24 May 1879 he was declared bankrupt and soon after he was more or less forced to resign his position. On the 26 Nov 1879 he was charged with three counts of embezzlement and was committed for trial, set down for the following Jan 1880. To cut a long story short he had been let out on bail at one of the hearings, by the time his trial started on the 7 Jan he had absconded and didn’t turn up! Two months later on the 15 Mar he was arrested in Timaru and remanded to Dunedin. On the 7 Apr the judge stood down from the case and so finally on the 23 Apr his case was heard and after deliberating for only ¾ of an hour the jury found him ‘Not Guilty’! This is just the shortened version, you can read the full story in Papers Past by searching on ‘Arnold Mitton’.

bankruptcy-use committed-for-trial






















Mr & Mrs Mitton immediately disappeared from NZ and soon after turned up back in Australia again, advertising a new private school for young children they were opening in South Yarra, Melbourne. Strangely I found Louisa Mitton living in England in the 1881 census, listed as married and working as a nurse in a hospital, but there was no sign of Arnold so it remains a bit of a mystery.


If it was Louisa in England in 1881 by 1883 she was back in Australia where she had three children, all born in Melbourne, Lionel born in Mar 1883 who died 11 weeks later, Pleasance Katharine born in 1884 and Guy Myddelton born in 1885. Then sadly Louisa died in Nov 1885 aged 27. When Arnold died in Jun 1910 he was aged 53, his death notice in the newspaper said he was the son of the late Rev Joseph Mitton, Vicar of Baildon and the father of Mrs Farrell and G M Mitton. So far no grandchildren found by me.

14-11-1885 am-death

Oh yes, finally I deciphered all of the writing on the back of Arnold’s photograph and this is what it says:-

Arnold Mitton
Vide N.Z.P.G.  (see New Zealand Police Gazette)
January 28th 1880
Page 9

References: Papers Past; NZBDM Online; ancestry.com.au; Trove


If anyone knows anything about or is connected to the MITTON family please do contact me, I would love to pass this photo onto a family member, even a distant one. 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

17 January 2013

Allene Annie Ruddell 1900-1965


                       Subject: Allene, Elsie & Zoe
                       Date: 1918 
                       Photographer: T G Palmer, Cameron St, Whangarei
                       Found: Trade Me


No surname was written on the back of this lovely photo of three girls that I found on Trade Me. Thankfully Allene is not such a common name & I had two hits straight away when I searched Papers Past on ‘Allene Whangarei’. One was a court case that ‘Allene Annie Pollock’ was mentioned (innocent party) and the other was this In Memoriam, it seemed like a good place to start.



I looked for grandma in the NZBDMs online and found that she was Alexandrina Stewart who married Samuel Watts Ruddell in Auckland in 1864. Alexandrina was one of the original Nova Scotian pioneers. Samuel was a policeman in Auckland before they left to move to the Whangarei area of Parakao. There they reared their family of nine sons & two daughters (that I found).

One of their sons, George Kenneth, born 1870 later married Annie Gough in 1899 and their eldest daughter was Allene Annie born either late 1899 or 1900. I’m not sure of the year because I haven’t found a birth registration for her yet. However, I found an newspaper article about her marriage which gave the names of her parents.





George Kenneth & Annie Ruddell had the following children:-

Kathleen Hilda 1901
Star 1902
Cecil 1903
George Kenneth 1906
Elsie 1905 d 1905 aged 6 mths
Hugh Ross 1908
Elsie Rose 1911
Zoe abt 1914

Zoe doesn't show up on the NZBDMs online yet but presuming about 1914 as she was 3 years younger than sister Elsie Rose. Allene was born & reared in Mangakahia & was the postmistress at Pakotai for many years before her marriage. On 14 Feb 1920 she married Alexander Thomas Pollock in the school room of Pakotai School with the wedding breakfast being at the home of her parents.


During the course of my research as usual I went out on a limb and looked into Allene’s mother’s line, the Goughs. Annie, born 1877, was the daughter of Thomas Gane Gough & Mariana Patira. Thomas Gane was born in Timberscombe in Somerset & arrived in NZ when he was 18 years old. He was born in 1857 the son of Joseph Gough & Priscilla Sheppard Smith. Thomas had two brothers, John James & Joseph Orlando William. According to one of the articles I found in the newspapers Joseph first went to America but later joined his brother in NZ, the other brother John stayed in England. Joseph never married & he died in mysterious circumstances although the inquest verdict was ‘death from gastro-enteritis’.





The Ruddells, Pollocks & Goughs seem to be fairly well known in the North as there were frequent articles on any number of them in the newspapers I looked at. So I’m sure someone connected to either Allene or her sisters Elsie & Zoe would love to have the photograph go home again. I didn’t find out who Peggy was so maybe a friend, cousin or even her Aunty Margaret, sister of Allene’s father.

I found some information from this RootsWeb page that has details from a book titled ‘Parua Bay 100 years and more by W R Vallance’, lots of interesting stuff there.

Also, this article written last year about the Parakao School, not sure if it’s the same school though.

References: Papers Past; NZBDM Online; ancestry.com


If anyone knows anything about or is connected to the RUDDELL or POLLOCK family please do contact me, I would love to pass this photo onto a family member. 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

08 January 2013

The LEANING Family of Nelson


    • Photographer: Tyree of Nelson


Could these two children be the son & daughter of Thomas & Elsie Leaning of Nelson? Possibly son Willis Robert Steven born 1910 and daughter Esther Mary Ellen born 1912?

I found Elsie Jane Leaning living at the above address in 1946 in the NZ Electoral Rolls, she was a widow with a son Eric Leslie living in the same house.

In the NZ BMDs I found Elsie Jane Way married to Thomas Steven Joseph Leaning in 1907. They had three children before the online cut off date of 1913 but from another family tree I found it seems they had at least another 8 children after 1913. So these two could be any of them really although just two of them suggests there were only two at that stage, the eldest son, Charlie Percy Thomas had died aged 1 yr in 1910.

From what I can gather Thomas & Elsie were living in Nelson after their marriage & probably up until Thomas died in 1937, she must have moved to Westport soon after.

References: ancestry.com, NZ BMDs


If anyone knows anything about or is connected to the LEANING family please do contact me, I would love to pass this photo onto a family member. 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