Friday, November 11, 2011

Wemyss Family

Alister's great grandfather's cousin, John Waters married Catherine Wemyss.  More information about them here.  The following is what I can make of the Wemyss family. 

John Wemyss arrived in Nelson on 26 October 1874 on the Ship Chile from Edinburgh - it had left on 22 July 1874.  He came from Galashiels, Scotland.  He was listed as a Fellmonger but worked in NZ as a tanner.  He was listed as being aged 41 at the time of his journey to NZ, meaning that he was born around 1833. 
Also aboard was his wife, Catherine Stanley Wemyss, aged 47, born around 1827.  Catherine had previously been a widow.  Accompanying them were their four children:

1. Jessie Wemyss aged 14 at the time of the journey to New Zealand (1860 - 17 October 1939). Married Christian Richard Jordan (1847 - 7 November 1933) on 18 December 1876 at Johnsonville (and married as "Janet" Wemyss).   They had the following children:
 1.1 Catherine Jane Jordan (1879 - 1956).  Married William Henry Hammond in 1904.
   1.1.1 David William Hammond (1906 - 1956).  
 1.2 Baby Girl Jordan (1880 - 30 January 1881).  Died aged six weeks.  
 1.3 Dora Jordan (8 January 1882, the Willows, Old Renwick Road - 27 January 1882).  Died aged just 19 days.  
 1.4 Norman Wemyss Jordan (1883 - 1948).  Married Jessie Millington in 1908.  
 1.5 Charles Stanley Jordan (22 August 1887, Old Renwick Road - 17 October 1887, Old Renwick Road).  Died aged eight weeks.  
 1.6 Stewart Wilson Jordan (1889 - 1964).  Married Bertha May McKenzie (1892 - 27 July 1951) in 1916.
   1.6.1 Stewart Wilson Jordan (1924 - 1924).  Died aged just two days.  
 1.7 Adrian Harris Jordan (1891 - 1953).  Served during WWI and returned via Auckland aboard the Arawa around 19 November 1919.  
 1.8 Irene May Jordan (1893 -18 January 1894, Renwick Middle Road).  Aged ten weeks.  
 1.9 Davina Linda Jordan (15 December 1895 - 1972).  Never married.
 1.10 Gladys Louisa Jordan (1898)
 1.11 Ivy Christina Jordan (1901 - 1901).  Aged aged three months.

Christian seems to have owned land in Upper Moutere as early as 1869, possibly with his father or brother John Jordan.  

Christian owned a horse called Prince Albert, who he advertised for stud breeding in the Marlborough Express on 6 October 1877.    At the time he was listed as being of "Woodbourne, Marlborough."  
In December 1890, Christian and his relative Charles Jordan appear to have gone into bankruptcy.  At the time they were both farmers of Waimea West.  However, Christian appears to have continued to have bred horses, and in 1896 sold the trotting stallion Lord Wolseley to a Fred Gibson.  

Jessie and Christian Jordan are both buried at the Omaka Cemetery in the Marlborough District.

2. Stanley Wemyss aged 12 at the time of the journey to New Zealand.  (1862 - 1941).  Married Hannah Elizabeth Crowe (1863 - 1948) on 5 November 1888 in Wellington.  
 2.1 Lionel Folster Wemyss (October 1890 - 21 December 1890).  This baby died at Renwick as a six week old infant.  
 2.2 Athole Stanley Wemyss (10 January 1892, Wellington - 13 December 1968, Wellington).
 Married (1) Erana Putiputi Hayes (Heihi) 1913
 2.2.1 Stanley James Ira Weymess (9 April 1916 - 1988) married Esmee Burns (30 April 1920 - 22 January 1966) (Grandparents of Russell Crowe, actor via his mother Jocelyn Wemyss).
 2.2.2 Ani Tukura Rangitakina Wemyss (22 September 1924, Gisborne - 7 April 2002).  Married Te Kani Terekia (23 December 1926, Gisborne - 21 September 1993) on 2 April 1947 at Gisborne.
 Married (2) Lavinia Frances Turkington (8 September 1899) in 1930

When Stanley Snr died, the following notice appeared in the Evening Post on 31 March 1941:

WEMYSS.—On March 30, 1941, at Wellington Hospital, Stanley Wemyss, of 30 Darlington Road, Miramar, loved husband of Hannah Elizabeth Wemyss, and father of Athole Wemyss; in his 80th year.

3. David Wemyss aged 9 at the time of the journey to New Zealand (1865 - 1941).  Married Helen McIsaac in 1886.  This was the David Wemyss who lived in Wilson Street.  
 3.1 Robert Melrose Wemyss (1887 - October 1949).  Melrose worked as a Railway Inspector in Oamaru.  He married Selina Irvin (21 June 1890 - 1979) on 22 November 1911, at the Tua Marina Methodist Church by Rev J Oxbrow.  
Melrose & Selina Wemyss on their wedding day
 3.2 John Russell Wemyss (1888 - 1944).  John married Agnes Noria Eves in 1919. 
 3.3 Catherine Mary Corbett Wemyss (1890 - 1949).  Married Arthur Hutton (20 April 1891 - 1974) in 1917.
 3.4 Gordon Drummond Wemyss (1892 - 1953).  Married Dorothy Rubena Miller (1900 - 1967) in 1924.
 3.5 Jean Fordyce Wemyss (2 April 1894 - 1972).  Married Cuthbert John Shaw  (1895 - 1968) in 1923.
 3.6 Colin Roland Wemyss (1896 - 1962).  Married May Florence Dalton (1899 - 1946) in 1920, in Opunake.  (Stillborn baby in 1939). Colin was a cheesemaker and enlisted in active service during WWI serving in the 18th Reinforcements Wellington Infantry Battalion, B company, leaving NZ on 16 October 1916 on the vessel Willochra.  
 3.7 Rita Eileen Scott Wemyss (1898 - 1927)
 3.8 Phyllis Barbara Helen Wemyss (21 July 1900 - 1982).  Phyllis married Marcus Donnelly (1900 - 1947) in 1930.  
 3.9 Alexander David Wemyss (1904 - 1967).  Married Ethel Stewart Coleman (8 May 1901 - 1973) in 1926. 
 3.10 Norman McIsaac Wemyss (1904 - 1918).  Died aged just 14 years, having only passed his school proficiency exams that year. 
 3.11 Lottie Edna Hazel Wemyss (1907)
Helen Wemyss (nee McIsaac) with Lottie Wemyss

Girl on the right is Phyllis Wemyss, seated centre Lottie Wemyss, standing is probably Jean Fordyce (Dyce) Wemyss and seated left is probably Rita Wemyss.
* All photos are from this collection:

4. Catherine Jane Wemyss aged 7 at the time of the journey to New Zealand.  Born around 1867.  Married John Waters (see link at beginning of post).  

Catherine Wemyss Snr died on 22 March 1909.  Her obituary was recorded and printed in the Marlborough Express on that date:

Another link of the past has been snapped by the demise this morning of Mrs Catherine Wemyss, wife of Mr John Wemyss, of Renwicktown, at the advanced age of eighty-four years. 

Mr and Mrs Wemyss came out from Glasgow in the year 1875, and were for a time settled in Wellington. Coming over to Marlborough, Mr Wemyss was for a time working about Blenheim, eventually going to Renwicktown, where he worked at his trade of tanner.  He had retired from active work some time, and the couple were living quietly in their home in Renwicktown when the call came to Mrs Wemyss. 

Prior to her marriage with Mr Wemyss the deceased lady was a widow, the relict of a Mr Melrose, and before her first husband died, accompanied him to the Crimea, and went through the dangers and vicissitudes of that sanguinary struggle. She had one son by her first husband, and to Mr Wemyss she leaves two sons and two daughters—viz., Messrs David and Stanley Wemyss, and Mrs C. R. Jordan, of the Middle Road, and Mrs John Walters, of Flaxbouirne. 

Deceased was well-known and respected in Renwicktown, where she had lived for upwards of 30 years.

There was another family of Wemyss' living in Marlborough during the same period.  I can't work out how they are related, but surmise they most probably were.  See more about this family here.  


  1. So pleased to come across this blog...I am the grand daughter of Christina Wemyss and Arthur Cook, daughter of their eldest son Gordon David Cook.

  2. Glad you've found this entry helpful! :)

  3. You didn't mention the Wemyss link to Kiwi actor Russell Crowe. His mother, Jocelyn Yvonne Wemyss, is the daughter of Stanley James Taihoa Ira Wemyss (1916-1988), who was the son of Athole Stanley Wemyss (1892-1968), who was the son of Stanley James Wemyss (1862-1941), who came to NZ as a child with his parents John Wemyss (1828-1925) and Catherine Jane Stanley (1827-1909).

  4. Hi Bonnie

    Yes, I have got that in there already - under Stanley. :)

  5. Hi
    I was wondering if you have any more information on David Wemyss (1832-1915) Snr's line, in particular all of his children. In the below link it states he has 8 daughters and 2 sons. I believe I am linked to the Mrs D.Lawson nee Wemyss mentioned in the funerary notice I "think" is his. Any feedback on this information would be greatly appreciated.

  6. Thanks for that link - I'll have a look further into them and post anything more I discover. Thanks for your interest! :)

  7. SM - check here - I've updated with further family information which might help you.

  8. Not sure if this is the same family or not . I'm a Direct descendant of Thomas Cook 1803 -1853 and Helen Wemyss 1803 -1882 of Ferry port on Craig Fife scotland.

    1. Hi I know this is an old post and I don't know if you still use this but my mum is also researching Thomas Cook and Helen Wemyss. Helen is her 3rd great grandmother.

  9. Thanks this was interesting to find out more about my family tree will be showing my nan although shes not on this but 1 brother is and her baby sister

  10. Hi Minnie, just came across your husband is a descendant of the Wemyss..his Great Grandmother was Jean Fordyce Wemyss. We have a lot of photos of the MC Issac clan as they owned a hotel. Also photos of Jean and her siblings etc.If you are interested you can contact @
    Regards David and Jane Kerr-Bell

  11. Hi Minnie, I know this is an old post but I am doing some family history research for an assignment at university this semester and was wondering if you know why John and Catherine migrated to NZ in the first place?? I am a descendant of Stanley Wemyss.

  12. Hi there
    I'm sorry but I really have no better clue than you probably do! The reality is that life in Scotland was probably pretty bleak at the time and they probably simply emigrated in the hope of a better life/better opportunities in a new colony. Perhaps they already had relatives who had emigrated and they followed? Sorry I can't shed any more light on it for you. Kind regards, Minnie