Saturday, April 23, 2011

Thomas Nidd and Margaret Nidd nee Maher

Grandad's grandfather was Thomas Nidd.  He arrived in New Zealand some time in the 1860s.  The story goes that he was from Lincolnshire, England or from Cambridge, but how exactly he arrived in NZ is unknown - although two newspaper reports after his death record that he had arrived on the ship Rajah around 50 years earlier (around 1857).  Possibly he came via Australia and possibly he  also came with a brother, Robert Nidd.  From documents, it would appear that his birth date was somewhere around 1832.

The ship Rajah did appear to come to NZ, into Otago and then on to Wellington in 1853, however this appears to be much earlier than Thomas arrived in New Zealand, he is not mentioned in the passenger list and there is certainly no mention of him prior to his marriage in 1865.  Rajah did travel to Adelaide, South Australia from Plymouth in 1849 arriving on 6 January 1849.  On board was a family, transcribed as "Nott" - father John, wife, seven children as well as an older child, Thomas "Nott", who is listed separately as a single man, but also noted as travelling with his parents (John and wife).  Maybe Nott is a mistranscription of Nidd?  Maybe not.  

At the time of Robert Nidd's marriage to Isabella McCready in 1863 (Robert is likely Thomas' brother), Thomas was resident in Port Chalmers.

Margaret Maher came to New Zealand with family also in the 1860s, arriving in Auckland on 1 August 1862 upon the ship The Royal Charlie, which left London, England on 14 March 1862.  Her name is variously recorded as Margaret Maher, Margaret Mahar and Margaret Meagher.  She is believed to have been born in Co Tipperary, Ireland.  I believe that she may have come with relatives - Johanna Maher, Mary Maher and Catherine Maher.

Letters written after the journey on The Royal Charlie were published in the Daily Southern Cross newspaper on 1 August 1862:

ARRIVAL OF THE ROYAL CHARLIEThe Daily Southern Cross August 1st 1862
The 'Royal Charlie', Captain Escott, from London, anchored in the harbour yesterday morning, after a tedious passage of 140 days. She brings a cargo of general merchandize, and 85 passengers. 35 of these have been assisted, and consist principally of female domestic servants. The 'Royal Charlie' left the docks on the 14th March, and cleared the Channel by the 21st. Very heavy weather was experienced in the Bay of Biscay, and a succession of heavy gales continued to be experienced until reaching Madeira, the barometers being exceedingly low, and at one time descending to 29.20. The ship however behaved exceedingly well, neither straining nor carrying away anything, and shipping no water. A ship was passed in latitude 42½ N., and 12½ W., longitude, sailing under jury masts, and apparently steering for Lisbon. Another vessel was also seen without bowsprit; there was too much sea running however to speak to either. Neither the Canary, Cape, nor Verd islands were sighted. Crossed the line on the 28th April: and was detained about a fortnight by calms and light winds between the two trades. Struck the S E trades in 40 south: and in 4½ S., signalled the barque 'Geelong', from London to Otago, 45 days out. From 280 down to 440 S., experienced a continuation of easterly and N E winds which much prolonged the passage. Rounded the cape of Good Hope with moderate weather on the 12th June, passing the meridian of the Cape in 430 S., lat. Favourable winds then set in, and the island of St Paul was sighted on the 3rd July. Entered Bass's Straits on the 21st on the 21st, passing through the next day. Sighted Cape Maria Van Diemen on Tuesday the 29th at 11:30; and came to anchor in Auckland harbour at 8 0'clock yesterday (Thursday) morning. An infant dies during the passage: there were no births. No sickness of any moment occurred to the other passengers.
A flattering testimonial signed by the passengers was presented to the Captain, on the arrival in the harbour, expressing the thanks of the passengers for the manner in which he had conducted himself towards them during their protracted voyage: also bearing testimony to his excellent seamanship. Mr Patrick, the first mate, was also complimented in the document.
       We subjoin a testimonial also presented to the Captain by Mr Poyser, the surgeon:-
                                                                                                        "Auckland Harbour, New Zealand.
                                                                                                                        July 30th, 1862.
       "My dear Sir,-Previous to my leaving the 'Royal Charlie', I must beg you to accept this simple memorial expressive of my entire satisfaction of everything on board, also for your extreme attention to my personal comfort during a long and irksome passage, doing everything in your power to render the time as agreeable as possible.
       " I also thank you for your assistance in maintaining order, &c., amongst the emigrants.
       " Wishing you a prosperous voyage home, I am, my dear sir, yours faithfully,
                                                                                                        "Samuel Poyser, Surgeon &c.
"Captain William Escott, 'Royal Charlie', Auckland, New Zealand."

Some time after her arrival in NZ Margaret married a fellow called Patrick Welby who subsequently died (7 September 1864 at the Governor Browne Hotel, Auckland, aged 29 years) apparently having had a tree fall on him.  Until recently I had thought they had had no children, but I now believe that following his death, Margaret gave birth to a daughter, Marian Emma Welby, probably in late 1864, who died as a baby soon after birth.

On 17 February 1865 in the Catholic Church in Napier, Thomas Nidd, Storekeeper, a bachelor, married Margaret Mahar, a widow.  Thomas and Margaret didn't stay long in Napier, and instead settled in Wellington in 1865, leaving Hawkes Bay on 18 March 1865.  

Thomas and Margaret had four children:
  1. Margaret Josephine born November 1867 
  2. Joseph Thomas born 19 March 1870
  3. Unnamed female born and died 1872
  4. William Michael born 22 July 1874
In 1866, Thomas is described as being a "boatman" - he was a witness at the inquest of a death of a three year old child, Walter G. Bennett, due to drowning off Queen's Wharf in Wellington.  Thomas' evidence is recorded in the Evening Post newspaper on 11 April 1866:

Thomas Nidd, boatman, sworn:  Was in his boat near the Queen's wharf yesterday afternoon, and heard someone calling out; saw a person with the child in his arms, took it from him, and gave it to someone whom he did not know; it appeared to him to be dead when he took it from the last witness.

A year later, on 22 June 1867, an advertisement appeared in the Evening Post advising that Thomas Nidd, of Cuba Street, had commenced business as a Fruiterer and Greengrocer.  Along with fruit he apparently had "a fresh supply of Oysters on hand, which he intends to keep up." Later he also sold tobacco.

Like most early settlers, Thomas 'had his moments', appearing in the Police Court on 30 June 1871, charged that by Sergeant Monaghan that he had breached Police regulations by "refusing to take his trap to the other side of the road when directed to do so."  The matter was adjourned briefly, as Thomas had a local solicitor, Mr Travers act for him, and Mr Travers instructed the Court that Thomas' lack of action was borne of ignorance.  The Bench then dismissed the charge but did fine Thomas five shillings (and costs) for profane language!  

Again, on 10 January 1873, Thomas was fined in the Resident Magistrate's Court two shillings and nine shillings costs for allowing two horses to wander at night:

He explained that he had been unconscious of the fact, as he had never been in the practice of turning his horses into the streets; but he alleged that he had a mare somewhat difficult to keep inside the paddock, from her jumping propensities.  He had tried all he could, but failed.

Thomas must have kept abreast of local politics, signing an open letter to the Evening Post on 29 August 1876, with a host of other local settlers, asking one Philip Moeller, a local Jewish fellow, to put himself forward as a candidate for the Te Aro Ward in the upcoming Wellington City Council elections.  Mr Moeller graciously complied with the request.  Mr Moeller appears to have been the Publican of the Occidental Hotel in Wellington.  Mr Moeller appears to have been successful, and his son Frank Moeller also seems to have followed his father into local body politics.  

Later, on 15 September 1888, Thomas was amidst a large number of local settlers, writing an open letter in the Evening Post to Mr T Kennedy MacDonald, requesting him to stand for Mayor of Wellington.  Thomas Kennedy MacDonald (known familiarly as "Kennedy Mac").  

Other years it was other candidates openly supported  by settlers including Thomas - 1880 Andrew Young, for example. 

On 21 December 1888, the Evening Post records Thomas as one of the subscribers to the Marist Brothers' School prize fund.  This was to be expected, as both sons, Joe and Bill apparently attended at the Marist Brothers' School. 

Thomas was obviously educated and literate - this is evidenced by his letters to the newspaper from time to time.  

On 17 October 1876 he placed a notice in the Evening Post stating:

I wish to return thanks to the Constable McWilliams for the gallant rescue of my horse and carriage last evening, also for saving the lady who was in it.

On 23 July 1878 a letter entitled "A COMPLAINT" was published in the Evening Post.  It read:

Sir- At half past 12 o'clock on Saturday night I caught a man on my premises attempting to steal my fowls, and I took him to the station and made my charge against the man to Sergeant O'Connor, but he declined to accept the charge against the would-be thief on the ground he knew the man.  Now if this be justice, what will we do for protection?
Thomas Nidd
Wellington, 23rd July 1878

On 30 November 1878, having been in business for over ten years, Thomas thanked Wellingtonians for their patronage in a notice in the Evening Post, and hoped to continue his business.  He signs off his advertisement with the name of his business "Nelson Fruit Mart."

Thomas must have owned his shop/home in Manners Street, as an article in the Evening Post on 3 March 1883 records that Thomas's objection to the valuation of his property for rates purposes had been heard in the Assessment Court and his rates reduced from 40 pounds to 30 pounds per annum.  By 1892 he must have owned two properties, as noted by another Assessment Court application.  In 1886, it appears that a Mr Cleary ran a business beside Thomas, dealing in second hand furniture.

On 18 August 1885 it was reported that Thomas had been one of the jury members in the Supreme Court civil case of Farelly v Porutu & Another.  On 20 August 1885 he was a jury member on a divorce case Ryan v Ryan.

On 21 January 1998, the Evening Post detailed donations made to a fund for people who had suffered from recent bushfires.  Thomas donated ten shillings to the cause. 

By 12 December 1900, Thomas was around 68 years old, and obviously ready to retire.  He placed an advertisement in the Evening Post listing his shop at Manners Street available to let.  It was described as: "splendid business site; low rental". 

Margaret predeceased Thomas, dying aged 58 on 30 December 1900.  She apparently died at 116 Manners Street, Wellington, which must have been their home at the time.  She was buried at the Catholic Mount Street Cemetery in Wellington.  Interestingly, the request is made for the death notice to be reprinted in the Thames newspapers, which indicates that she had family in that area.  A funeral notice was put in the Evening Post on 31 December 1900 advising that the funeral procession would leave the Nidd's residence on the corner of Manners and Taranaki Streets at 2.15pm on Wednesday 2 January 1901 for the funeral at St Mary's of the Angels.

Thomas Nidd in old age

Thomas died aged 75 on 22 December 1907 and is also buried at the Mount Street Cemetery.  A comprehensive list of those buried at that cemetery can be found here.  Thomas died of "cerebral softening" which he had (according to his death certificate) had for six months.  He died at the Wellington Hotel, Molesworth Street, Wellington (the home of his son William Nidd) and had been attended upon by Dr Rawson just a day before his death.  In his obituary, published in the New Zealand Tablet on 23 January 1908, he is recorded as having being a "fervent Catholic" and "regular attendant at all the different ceremonies of the Church" up until a few years before his death.  Probate of Thomas' estate was granted on 18 February 1908 and was finally certified in October 1908, having a worth of 902 pounds.


  1. Hi, I assume you are connected to Bernadette McEvedy
    If you check out my web page, you will have a reasonable candidate for your Thomas.
    Mel Morris
    btw, I feel exactly the same, wish I could win the lotto so i can spend all day doing family history!!!

  2. Hi Mel! Yes, my father is Bernadette's first cousin. I will check out your page - thanks so much! :)