Saturday, April 23, 2011

William Michael "Bill" Nidd

William Michael "Billy or Bill" Nidd was born in Wellington on 22 July 1874.  

He was the youngest child of Thomas and Margaret Nidd, and must have lived most of his early life in Wellington, primarily in Manners Street, where his father was a Fruiterer and Greengrocer.  

Bill is understood to have been educated with his older brother Joe at the Marist Brothers' school (which appears to have been the precursor for St Pat's Town).  

Bill married for the first time on 8 April 1901, marrying Mary Ellen (Florence) Griffin, daughter of Charles Griffin of Christchurch.  The couple were married by Rev.  O'Shea at St Mary's of the Angels in Wellington.

Florence and Bill had two daughters, Mary Constance Felecia Nidd in 1902 and Cecilia Florence "Florrie" Nidd on 9 December 1903.  Mary died as an infant, and Florence died in 1908, leaving four year old Florrie in her father's care.  Whether she was in fact left in his physical care is unknown.  In 1913 she was still in Wellington as she is recorded as passing music exams, and as being a pupil of St Mary's Convent, Wellington.

Florrie did not enjoy a close relationship with her father, but she was close to her young half brother, Pat.  Pat could recall Florrrie coming to visit him some time in the late 1920s, and saying goodbye to him.  She emigrated to the UK and was never heard from again.

For a time Bill was President and Secretary of the Wellington Rowing Club - recorded in the Evening Post as presiding over a Club event on 4 October 1912.  He was involved with the Club from as early as 1895, being re-elected honourable secretary of the Club at their AGM on 1 August 1901. One of the fellows he rowed with was a Mr McAlpine - ironic that years later his son Pat should end up living in McAlpine Avenue - no doubt named for the rower or his family.

In 1911 Bill was elected Vice President of the Wellington Metropolitan Coursing Club, along with a Mr W.H. Edwards.

From around 1911 to 1916 he was proprietor and licensee of the Te Aro Hotel on the corner of Willis and Dixon Streets, Wellington.

Bill owned and raced horses.  In October 1911, his horses won him 125 pounds at the Marlborough Racing Club races.  In September 1913, his four year old horse Peroneal, ridden by jockey McDonald, won at the Wanganui Jockey Club's Spring Meeting and made him 195 pounds.  In December 1913, his horse Peronilla ran in the one mile Hawera Stakes at the Egmont  Racing Club.  In January 1919, following races at Trentham, he won 180 pounds as a winning owner. 

On 14 April 1923, the Evening Post recorded:
"Mr William Nidd's colours were well known on local courses when he resided here and raced Peroneal, Perinalla and other horses.  Since he resided in Christchurch he has deserted the North Island courses, but got a good welcome from old friends on Thursday at Trentham, when Boadicea carried his colours in the Thompson handicap."

Mary Latto had a total of nine children in the space of just ten years.

Eldest son William Thomas "Pat" Nidd was born in Wellington at a private hospital on The Terrace on 17 February 1914.  The story goes that his nickname, Pat, came from his mother continually patting her stomach whilst pregnant with him.

Marie Margaret Nidd was Bill's eldest daughter with Mary.  She was born in Christchurch in 1915.  She was eventually to marry into the McGrath family.

On 16 November 1917 Mary also gave birth to twin daughters who were stillborn.  They are buried at the Linwood Cemetery in Christchurch.  Bill and Mary were living at the Star Hotel on Lincoln Road at the time the twins were born.

Monica Josephine Nidd was Bill and Mary's second daughter with Mary.  She was born on 7 December 1918.  She was to marry a local - one of the McEvedy brothers.  She died in 2001.

Edward Michael "Mickey" Nidd was Bill and Mary's second son.  He was born in 1920.  He married Beth and settled in Greymouth.

Francis "Frank" Nidd was Bill and Mary's third son.  He was born in 1921.  He was to marry Freda Ann (1 February 1918 - December 2010) and settle in Dunedin.

Angela Adelaide Nidd was born on 2 October 1922.  She never married, although she had a son in the early 1950s who was adopted at birth - he was named Glen Joseph.  She lived and died in Wellington (in February 1989), and it was odd, as although she lived not far from my grandparents I never met her, and she never came to any family functions. 

Joan Hillary Nidd was the youngest child of Bill and Mary.

Bill and Mary and their seven children moved to Southbridge, where Bill became licensee of the Southbridge Hotel, in 1930.

All three brothers, Pat, Frank and Mickey, played rugby and cricket variously for Southbridge, Leeston and High School clubs, throughout the 1930s until Pat and Frank went to WWII, Pat as a Lieutenant and latterly a Captain, and Frank as a Gunner.  Pat and Frank appeared to be especially good bowlers.  Frank also played second grade representative rugby for the Ellesmere District, from the Southbridge Club, in September 1938.  Pat also played golf.

Pat Nidd, Monica McEvedy, Frank Nidd, Mickey Nidd
at Angela Nidd's funeral 17 February 1989

Photo of Bill Nidd

In September 1930 Bill stood for the Southbridge Town Board, but missed out on a seat.  This was possibly because he was such a new settler in the town. The following year one of the commissioners resigned and as Bill was the only person nominated to fill the vacancy, he was elected to the position on 31 December 1931.

Bill donated a silver cup, known as the Nidd Cup to the Southbridge Athletics Club, for the athlete amassing the most points throughout the series.  The cup appears to have been donated around 1931.

On 6 September 1932, the Ellesmere Guardian reported that Mr G. Gill, from Silverstream College, who had been staying with Bill and Mary, had returned home to Wellington.  Gerald Gill was the son of Mary's sister Addie, and would have been aged about 20 at the time.  Six years later he was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest.

During the early 1930s, Pat attended the Christchurch Technical College, and attended a meeting for past and senior students on 24 April 1934 and, with other pupils, put on a brief one act play "The Boy Comes Home."  The students had been coached by a Mr Page.  

Bill was generous with donations, recorded in the Ellesmere Guardian on 28 August 1934 as having donated a trophy to the Ellesmere Gun Club.  In 1934 he also appears to have been a member of the Ellesmere Miniature Rifle Association.

In February 1934, Marie was recorded as having gained Trinity College of Music qualifications for piano. At the time she was a pupil of the Leeston Convent school.

Mary was a member of the Southbridge Women's Institute.  In an Ellesmere Guardian article dated 4 October 1935, it is noted that Pat helped some of the ladies produce some plays; Marie played a piano solo at an event; and Mary acted as Hostess for the Club on occasion.

On one occasion Bill played in a parents v students game of cricket against Frank - the parents winning by 28 runs on 15 March 1935.  Previously he'd played against Pat in a Single men v Married men match on 29 January 1932.

In September 1836, Bill and Dr Hunt were elected Vice Presidents of the Southbridge Cricket Club.  Bill's son Pat was elected Vice Captain, Treasurer and Secretary. In October 1936 Pat was selected to play representative cricket for the Ellesmere District. 

On 1 December 1936 (a Tuesday) it was reported that Bill had been ill since the Sunday and that Mary's health was a cause for concern and that she had been in the  Christchurch Hospital receiving 'treatment'.  

In better news, it was reported in the Ellesmere Guardian on 15 December 1936 that Frank, a student of the Southbridge District High School had a "senior free place" guaranteeing free education until the age of 19.

However, on 16 April 1937, it was reported that Frank had to be taken to the hospital in Christchurch as he had developed appendicitis.  After being operated upon, he apparently progressed well. 

Bill's second wife, Mary died in December 1937.  He placed an advertisement in the Ellesmere Guardian on 4 January 1938 thanking friends for their sympathy and kindness and especially thanking Dr Hunt for his care of Mary during her illness.

Youngest daughter, Joan Hilary died at the age of 14 years on 6 September 1938 at the Little Company of Mary hospital in Christchurch.  The Ellesmere Guardian recorded an obituary for Joan that day, saying that she had been in hospital for many weeks prior to her death and that slender hope had been held out for her recovery a month earlier.  The weekend prior she had seemed to make a turn for the better, and the doctors had said that they if her progress continued that she would be able to leave the hospital soon.  However, another setback occurred.  Joan was remembered as being a bright little girl "full of promise and very popular with her schoolmates and all who came in contact with her."  She is buried at the Leeston Cemetery. 

On 9 October 1940, in anticipation of the marriage of Marie and McGrath.

On 5 December 1941, the Ellesmere Guardian reported that Bill had received news that Pat had been wounded during the fighting in Libya and admitted to hospital. On 23 December 1941, it was reported that Bill had again received news, this time that Pat had been discharged from hospital.  Pat had been shot in the leg.

With two sons at war, Bill must have been relieved when in May 1943 he received a cable message from North Africa advising that both Pat and Frank were safe and well.

Monica was involved with the Southbridge Basketball Club, presiding over their annual meeting in April 1945, obviously prior to the season commencing.  After an election at that meeting, Monica was elected onto the committee.

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