Sunday, April 24, 2011

Pat Nidd writes to Isabel Butler about the Latto family

Isabel Butler was one of Pat's many first cousins.  They only 'discovered' they were first cousins years later, but had attended the Christchurch Technical College together.  Here, Pat writes about the family and our progress with the family in 1994.

First letter

"May 1994

Dear Isabel, 

Thank you for the copies of the certificates - they are most informative and helpful.  I should have thanked you sooner but I spent a few days in hospital earlier in the month for an operation to reconstruct the right side nasal passage and sinus blockage which have been troubling me for years - all is now well.  

I cannot recall whether I told you that my granddaughter Philippa is very keen in the researching of the Latto and Nidd families - she was intending to get a copy of David Latto's death certificate from Perth.

Philippa is our son Michael's eldest daughter (3 of them).  She is  married and has a daughter Kate and lives close to her parents in Feilding.  Her husband is completing his Marketing Degree at Massey University.  They shifted early this year from Wellington.  She was doing a law degree here at Victoria University in 1992 but had a year off last year but has decided to continue this year.  However Massey University do not offer law so she is back here at Victoria.  She comes down from Feilding on a Monday and lives with us until Thursday when she goes home. 

As Massey is only a few miles from Feilding her husband is able to be home a lot and when he has lectures her mother looks after Kate.

Philippa does not have any lectures on Tuesdays and has been spending some time at the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages in Lower Hutt, at the National Archives and National Library.  She has been going through a lot of material and comparing and cross referencing and has come up with quite a bit of information.

It would appear that David's [David Latto - grandfather of both Pat and Isabel] marriage to Annie Valentine was a bigamous one.  Divorce laws were much enforced in the 1880s and although a bit obscure it is possible that a two years separation was as good as a divorce.  But of course when he married he would not have been separated two years.  Philippa says it would be interesting to see whether their marriage certificate shows him as having been divorced.

In his death certificate it shows that at the time of his death he spent 11 years in Victoria and 30 years in Western Australia - a total of 41 yewars which would have him as having been in Victoria in 1885.  We are wondering whether he went over to Victoria and came back before finally departing (YES HE DID). his certificate also shows him as having been born in Christchurch which is obviously incorrect. 

We cannot find any reference in the National Library or Archives in respect of William and James - it seems they left New Zealand.*  Philippa however has found a piece in an Australian paper that in 1890-1 two men had died in Queensland whose names could not be established but were thought to be Lattoo or Latta.  Perhaps this could have been them because many men left New Zealand in the period 1884 - 87 because of a recession and work was hard to get.  They could have followed David.

As to our grandmother Janet, Philippa, after viewing much film in the National Library and cross referencing has found out that she came to Wellington some time before 1892 and had a daughter - born out of wedlock.  She must have left her family, Jim, Mary, Jeannie, Adelaide, in Christchurch.  We are pretty certain the child was born in Hanson Street, Wellington.  Philippa has established that there was a home for unmarried mothers in Hanson Street at that time.  

The daughter was named Constance Amy Latto but Janet did not reister the birth until 1920 - 28 years later.  We do not know whether the child was christianed but hope to find out from St Mark's Anglican Church here in Wellington because she eventually married in that Church.  

Janet married again to a Charles Herbert Beckett, a carpenter of 4 Hataitai Road, Wellington in 1896.  She died in Wellington on 12 October 1922 aged 61 years.  

I can recall coming to Wellington in 1922 with my mother - I would have been 8 years old and well remember staying with the Gills in Island Bay.  She could have come to Wellington for her mother's funeral.  Never ever did I recall anything about Janet living in Wellington.

Charles Beckett died in the Salvation Army Home, Upper Hutt on 17 August 1948 aged 86 years.  I have contacted the home for information but their records only go back to 1960.

They are both buried in the Karori Cemetery in the one grave.  Philippa and I have sighted the grave and photographed it.  It is a very substantial concrete grave in quite good order.  I have examined the plaque on the headstone and it does not seem to me to be 46 years old.  The inscription on the plaque reads - In loving memory of Janet Beckett, died 12 October 1922.  Charles Herbert Beckett, died 17 August 1948.

We can find no trace of any family by the second marriage, so who placed the plaque on the grave?  Perhaps Constance Amy placed the plaque on the grave.  We can find no trace of her.  The only other person we can think of would have been Adelaide - but I don't think so.  My mother died in 1936** so it was not her.

Constance Amy married an Ernest Edward Timperley of 3 Hataitai Road, Wellington at St Mark's Anglican Church in Wellington on January 1914.  St Marks then would possibly have been the nearest Anglican Church to Hataitai. She married under the Beckett.  Her marriage certificate shows she was born in Christchurch - we think Wellington but we could be wrong.***

Timperley came Sale, Chesire, UK.  He died in 1916 and is buried in Karori Cemetery - we have sighted his grave and photographed it.  His inscription reads - Ernest E Timperley, died March 4, 1916.

Constance was born in 1892, father shown as David and Janet registered the birth in 1920 and yet she (Constance) married in 1914, so all very strange.

I have spoken to Kathleen Gill (Sister Eugenia) and as a little girl she can remember going with her mother to visit someone in Hataitai.  What Kathleen can remember well is that her mother used to take lunch with them and the children had the lunch in the reserve nearby - they never went into the house. Kathleen was born in 1922 so she must have been three or four at the time of the visits which would place the years about 1925 - 26.  Janet died in October 1922 so it was not her mother's mother whom she went to see - presumption is that she visited Constance who would have been her (Adelaide's) half sister.  

Whether the house was Charles Beckett's or Constance Timperley's we do not know.  We intend searching the Land Transfer Registry to see if it will give us a clue so whether either sold a  house and what became of them.  Directories show Beckett as having been there in 1930.  Of Constance Amy, there is no trace in the deaths.****  A possibility is that she married again which would be hard to pick up.  St Mark's Church records have said they will do a search for us as to another marriage.  She may have left New Zealand.  Have not got a clue to go on. 

We think it was most unlikely that Janet went back to Christchurch after Constance was born.  It seems that she stayed in Wellington and was living here when my mother and Adelaide were married and living here.  Never have I heard of them speak of their mother in Wellington.  We are also wondering whether Beckett came from Christchurch.   

Who brought up my mother and Adelaide in Christchurch I do not know.  Monica, my sister (McEvedy), in Southbridge seems to recall our mother saying that they were brought up by people, the husband being a railway crossing keeper on Selwyn Street or Lincoln Road crossing.  I can recall being with my mother in 1921 in Ward Street when she pointed out the house they lived in.  Ward Street is not far from the Lincoln Road and Selwyn Street crossings so it may have a connection - will look at directories and electoral rolls for a clue. 

I think I told you that I can recall going with my mother on occasions to visit a relative on Tennyson Street in 1922/24.  The person was obviously not Janet (died 1922).  I can remember she was to me a fairly elderly lady - it could been Mary Latto, the widow of George.  I had thoughts it could have been Janet but it could not have been.

From the Church register at St Anne's Catholic Church in Newtown here I have found that my mother was christened there on 18 August 1908 and came into the Church from the C of E faith.  Adelaide did likewise a short time before.  I questioned Kathleen Gill about the changes in religion.  She says they were originally Presbyterian and changed to C of E by the people who brought them up.  As teenagers they shopped around and decided they liked the Catholic Church.  Adelaide married Tom Gill at St Anne's Church in 1910 and my mother in the same Church on 22 November 1912.  I wonder whether their mother was at their weddings as she was alive and living in Wellington.  I have never heard nor has Kathleen Gill. 

Now, to get on to the early Latto's.  Philippa saw a notice in the Palmerston North library about seven weeks ago that a Peter Thompson of Waimari Road, Christchurch was seeking information about his grandmother, a Latto.  She wrote to him and had a reply but she was not one of "our" Latto's.  Apparently the name Latto is very common in Fife, Scotland.  However, he gave her the name of an Alex Latto, 3 Ochilview, Alva, Clacks, Scotland, who had done researching of Latto's.  She wrote to him and had a prompt reply.  He has done research of the Latto's and is quite informative and is willing to help her to research and does it for an interest and does not expect to be paid.  

The information he had given her is about our Latto's.  Some of it expands on that in a copy of the letter from Baden Dingwall you gave me and from the pedigree sheets you also gave me.  I have made a tree of all the information from all sources - copies attached. The information Alex Latto has supplied shows George Latto born 1750, the grandfather of James and William Latto, the father of James christened 14 January 1782.    Dates when born/christened and marriages of Janet's grandparents.  He says Janet was born in Cockpen which he states is in Midlothian, a county south of Fife where her grandfather, father and brothers were born. It will be interesting to see if he finds anything beyond George, born 1750.

He also says that some of the Latto's  changed their spelling to Latta.  He  has been in contact with a Mrs latta of Balclutha whose son is the present captain of the Otago rugby team.  Also Vicki Latta the New Zealand equestrian who has been riding in the UK is a connection.

I phoned Mary at her son's at Churton Park when we arrived home and spoke to her.  Kath also spoke to her and had a chat with one of her grandchildren.  Unfortunately, she was leaving her home next morning so we did not see her.  I told her you had given me a copy of the book on George's [Falloon] life and how much I enjoy reading it.  It is a wonderful story and very well told.  I seem to find some inspiration each time I read it.  I thank you most sincerely for it. 

I phoned Violet [Dingwall] the other day before we left to come home.  It would have been about 58 years since I last spoke to her.  We had quite a good yarn and she brought me up to date on her family and her brothers. I did not know that Uncle Jim was in the railway at Westport in 1908 and that Violet was born there.  Kath's father was also on the railway at that time in Westport.  I must write to her and give her some of the news. 

Well, Isabel, that is about all I have at present.  We await further word from Alex Latto in Scotland.

I think at last we are building up a picture of the Latto clan.  As to the upbringing of my mother and Adelaide, well that is very obscure as is the whereabouts of grandma Janet from 1888 until she married Beckett.  To be charitable at least I would say that she must have been a most peculiar woman.

All our love and give my regards to Ron.

Yours sincerely,


Second letter

22 July 1994

Dear Isabel, 

A little bit more on the saga of Constance Amy.

In my last letter I told you that we could not find any trace of her after her husband died and that perhaps she had married again.  We have now discovered that she did married again to a D.N. Wilkinson a joiner by trade who lived at 3 Hataitai Road, Wellington.  Number 3 was the same house that her deceased husband Timperley lived at and is opposite number 4 where her mother Janet and Beckett lived.

This marriage was in 1929 - thirteen years after Timperley's death (died 1916) and  Constance was 36 years of age.  In 1930 she had a daughter, Judith, by this marriage.

Constance died in 1960.  We presume she died in Wellington and is buried in Karori Cemetery - we are going to check this out.  The daughter, Judith, married a Knowles and lives in Hastings (NO! AUCKLAND).  Philippa has written to her and awaits a reply.

In respect of William and James Latto I told you that we could find no trace of them and we thought they may have gone to Australia to join their brother David and that an Australian paper had reported the deaths of two men of like name in Queensland.  It seems unlikely that these men were William and James because we are pretty sure we have traced them as having died in New Zealand.

A James Latto, aged six, died at Kaiapoi in 1863.  James was born in Markinch in 1857 and the family arrived in this country in the SS Sebastapol in 1863.  James would have been six years old on arrival.  Should all this fit in, he must have died shortly after arrival and Kaiapoi would have been their area.  We will check the Kaiapoi Cemetery list. 

 A William Latto died in 1930.  William was born in December 1852 at Markinch and should this be he, then he would have been 78 years of age at the time of his death.  Will endeavour to find more of this. 

When I was in Christchurch in March, I phoned Violet and spoke at some length with her.  I have not seen her or spoken to her since about 1936.  I was most surprised to learn that they had a younger brother Alex.  I knew David and Eric but did not know of Alex.  

Alex has written to the Alex Latto in Scotland and Philippa has written to Alex (Ch Ch) and has had a letter from him.  He said when he got Philippa's letter he took it to Violet and they had a good yarn about it. Much of the information in his letter we already knew of.  He got it from Violet and is from that compiled by Baden, copies of which you gave me.

He did have a few snippets though.  He said that they understand that my mother and Addie were raised by people who lived in Ward Street, Addington - so this more or less confirms what I understood.  The name of the people is still unknown.  That his father (Uncle Jim) went to the Boer War.

*Actually, James died as a child in NZ.
** Slight mistake from Grandad, his mother died in 1937.
*** We were right, as he said earlier, we know she was born in Hanson Street, Wellington. 
**** We later found that she had married David Wilkinson and had a daughter - Judith Knowles.  

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