Saturday, April 23, 2011

Letter from Pat Nidd to Judith Knowles

"74A McAlpine Avenue

22 August 1994

Dear Judith

I am Pat Nidd, Philippa Myer's grandfather and you are a cousin I did not know of and I am a cousin you did not know of.  I answer to the christian name Pat but my names are William Thomas and known also as Bill - it has caused a lot of confusion over the years.  Anyhow greetings and welcome.

It has been only the past few months that Philippa and I have been seriously trying to trace the comings and goings of my grandparents - grandfather and grandmother David and Janet Latto.  We have succeeded very well.

I knew practically nothing of them.  My mother told me little.  I suspect you are the same way although your mother may have revealed some knowledge of them to you.  it is possible my mother did not know much or if she did she was reluctant to divulge it.

Therefore I presume you know little of the history of our grandparents but should you have some knowledge that I do not have it would be grateful to hear from you about it. 

I can go to some length to give you a full picture of all I know and details of your cousins, which I will do, but in the meantime I will put you in the picture with this letter giving you an outline - more to follow.

The Latto's were Scottish coming from Fife, Scotland.  We have been able to trace them back to 1750.  I have prepared a family tree a copy of which I have attached.  Our great grandparents were James and Mary who of course were David's mother and father which you can trace in the tree. They came to  Christchurch in 1863.  David married Janet Hislop in 1881 at Kaiapoi, just north of Christchurch.  Have not traced how Janet arrived - Hislop family tree also attached.  The family of David and Janet was James, Jennie and Mary, my mother - it is from here things went off the rails unfortunately.  

Work was getting hard to get in New Zealand and David went to Australia in 1887 to see how things were there.  He was away for some time leaving the family in Christchurch.

Now, what I write about it what I was told in Christchurch in 1988 by my cousins (and yours).  The story goes that David returned and found Janet pregnant and he could not have been the father.  The child was christened Hannah Adelaide Todd Latto by Janet - we have her birth certificate (copy).  She therefore was a half sister to my mother, Jennie and James.  Hannah Adelaide was always known to us as Auntie Addie.  She and my mother were always very close to one another.

Addie married a Thomas Gill in Wellington and lived here all her life.  I will add here that I was born in Wellington and we went to Christchurch about 1916 - all our family born in Christchurch where they have always lived.   I married in Wellington 1940 shortly before I went to the war and settled in Wellington on my return.  I have always been very close to my Gill cousins in Wellington. 

I do not know whether the Gills ever knew that their mother and mine were half sisters but our cousins in Christchurch say they did know.  This does not worry me one bit and I am never going to mention to the two surviving girls.  So be it.  

Janet apparently left her family after Addie was born and David deserted them and ... is buried in the Karori Cemetery - I found the grave in the Lawn Cemetery last week and have taken a photo.

It seems that my mother and Auntie Addie - very close together - came to Wellington about 1905.  Now Grandma Janet was also in Wellington at this time - did she bring the girls up with her or did they come of their own accord - I wonder.  

Mum and Addie were Presbyterian as Scots, became Anglican through foster parents I think and eventually became Roman Catholics.  I have obtained the certifications of coming into the Catholic Church in Newtown, Wellington.  The year was 1908.

Auntie Addie married Thomas Gill in Wellington in 1910 and my mother married William Nidd in Wellington in 1912.  Their mother Janet was living in Wellington in those years - one would think she knew of her daughters' weddings - perhaps they did not know of each others' existence - we were never told. 

I have a suspicion that my mother may have come to Wellington to her mother's funeral in 1922 and that Auntie Addie may have visited your mother in Hataitai in 1924 - 25.  I will expand on this in my enlarged essay to you.

You have quite a few cousins still living in New Zealand.  From the family tree you will see James Latto - Uncle Jim.  He had a family of four - Violet, David, Eric and Alex.  David is dead and the others live in Christchurch.

Jennie had a boy and a girl George and Isabel.  Jennie had another daughter who died still born and Jennie died shortly after the birth.  George is dead as of 1985 and Isabel lives in Christchurch.

In our family there were three boys and four girls - I am the eldest, born in Wellington in 1914. Then there were Marie, now deceased, Monica still living, Edward Michael (Mickey)... missing.............

...recognise something in them.  I have a photo of myself, Frank, Mick and Monica taken at Angela's funeral three years ago - I will send you a copy.  

Well Judith, I am most delighted that you made yourself known to Philippa and thus establishing that I had another cousin.

Isabel in Christchurch I did not know was my cousin until 1985 although we both attended the Christchurch Technical College together - I will tell you about it in my enlarged essay.

Well I hope I have managed to put you in the picture in respect of your existing cousins and will start to put together an enlarged writing.

I hope it will not be too long when we will be able to meet each other. 

Our kindest regards and love, 

Pat N." 

Judith Knowles was the child of Constance Amy Latto and her husband Norman Wilkinson, born 1896 in Wellington, and purported to be the child of  Janet and David Latto.  David had long since left for Australia and had a new family there and could not have possibly been the father of this child.

The rumours which circulated within the cousins about Addie not being David's daughter, appear to have been a misunderstanding - as until the 1990s it wasn't clear that Addie wasn't Janet's youngest daughter, but that there was another - Constance.  

Although I can't find a copy of any 'enlarged essay' Pat wrote to Judith, he does make mention in some of his notes of remembering a visit to Wellington he made as a child in 1922 - I believe that this is where he based his belief that his mother may have attended her mother, Janet Beckett's funeral in 1922.  
We found Judith and met her in Auckland in 1994/1995.  She was a lovely, friendly lady.  Having been brought up an only child, she was very excited to find she had cousins.  Unfortunately we lost touch with her.  

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