The Northey Family of Lyttelton, New Zealand and Martha’s Secret

My earliest research endeavours on the Fuller Family were encouraged by my sister Lavinia Chrystal, who was keen for me to trace back the traditions of naming daughters Lavinia on the maternal side of our family, and to find out how far back this tradition had occurred. We were always told it went right back to Cornwall in England, where there were loads of  daughters named Lavinia. It is a fact that my niece, sister, cousin, mother, grandmother and great grandmother were all named Lavinia. For those who don’t know, that is Lavinia Chrystal, Lavinia Robson, Wendy Lavinia Fuller, Lavinia Fuller, Lavinia Moar and Lavinia Northey.

I must preface this article by explaining that I started from a position of knowing very little about my past ancestors when I started my research in 2011, apart from a few stories handed down through the generations. In fact, when I began, I did not know the maiden name of my great grandmother, Lavinia Moar. My mother, Lavinia Robson nee Fuller, was nearly 90 at the time, and I put considerable pressure on her to try to remember her grandmother’s maiden name. 

In the beginning nothing would come for my mother and her previously fabulous memory was starting to fail, especially if she was put under stress and my research stalled for a time. I would visit her for afternoon tea – very much a Fuller family tradition, and gently ask her again about the family, only for her memory to refuse to co-operate. She was trying so hard, and it was so frustrating for her. Mum, known to all as Ma had the stories though, even if she had no names. She told me about the time she visited New Zealand with her mum and dad, Grandpa John and Gran Fuller, and brothers, John and Malcolm, when she was a young girl. My sister Lavinia and I found the Fuller family albums, and as photos started to fall out, memories started to come back for Ma. This was where we found photos of John and Malcolm aboard ship, standing near a life buoy, which clearly spelt Awatea. This struck a note, as I had earlier found a newspaper photo of my grandfather aboard the Awatea, reported as “returning to Sydney”, and it was possible that this was the ship that the family sailed on from New Zealand to Australia in the early 1930’s. Ma couldn’t remember the name of the ship, however the holiday to visit her New Zealand family was intact, as Ma happily explained that there were many cousins to greet them in New Zealand, and on both sides of the family. All of Gran’s family gathered for a reunion, and there were so many cousins that Ma remembers her father Johnny was quite overwhelmed by the occasion, and for years after he would talk about Gran’s family appearing like rabbits, from every door in the house, warmly greeting him, and he had absolutely no idea who they were, but he had a lovely time. Ma had no trouble remembering the Grubbs, cousins on her dad’s side of the family, it was just Gran’s family name that stubbornly wouldn’t come to her.
     Johnny Fuller (centre) returning to Sydney from Wellington aboard the Awatea, National Library Collection.
It was my absolute regret that it had taken me so long to become interested in my ancestors, and it was almost turning out to be too late. However, it was all to change one night when I took a call from Ma, and she excitedly told me she had remembered the name Northey! Northey was the maiden name of her grandmother from New Zealand. It was to prove to be the key to the most fascinating journey through time, and my minimal research experience was to challenge my mind and my patience, in my quest to uncover the past.
Australian records are easy to obtain, as long as they are beyond the statute of limitations. In the case of birth records, it is 75 years, marriage and death records are 50 years, depending on the state you live in. I had to go back to my maternal grandmother Lavinia Moar to find my first online record on, as I built a family tree.
Australian Death Index 1787-1985:

Lavinia Moar
Death Date:
Death Place:
New South Wales
Father’s Name:
Mother’s name:
Registration Year:
Registration Place:
Sydney, New South Wales
Registration Number:
It was a shock to find that Lavinia’s mother was named Elizabeth. This was not something I was expecting, and I was sure it was not something my sister Lavinia was expecting either. I can clearly remember asking Lavinia to ‘pop’ around for some morning tea, to show her the death record of our great grandmother.  

Lavinia Moar nee Northey is buried out at South Head Cemetery in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs in the family plot, and her name was so familiar to us, as every visit we paid to the cemetery, we always spoke about Gran Fuller’s mum and remembered her. The family tradition of visiting South Head Cemetery was something I remember from my childhood. Afternoon tea was followed by a drive to the cemetery, where we took flowers to the graveside. The grave was on the main walkway, and the large grave was elaborately engraved in gold lettering, and an ornamental rectangular granite vase with a metal liner, was its centrepiece. It was a ritual whereby we lifted, emptied and cleaned the steel liner at the nearby tap, filled it with fresh water and returned it to the graveside. Flowers were then cut and arranged by Gran and Ma, the grave was tidied up, weeds were removed, and then we spoke about who was buried there, and who they were. Ma would tell the story of her twin sister Winnie, who died an hour after being born. Winnie and her grandmother were the only ones buried in coffins, as they had previously been buried at Rookwood Cemetery, and then resumed after Johnny bought the grave plot at South Head Cemetery, where they were then re-interred. It was so much closer for Gran to visit than the long drive to Rookwood Cemetery. We visited for birthdays, Easter and Christmas. Johnny’s ashes were there, later Gran’s sister Ethel Moar and Ma’s half-sister Aunty Phyllis and her husband Uncle Bill Lewis were also interred. After Gran’s death in 1983 Ma, Lavinia and I have continued this tradition, often accompanied by our children, and our first cousin Scott Fuller and his two young children.
I believe this photo of Lavinia Moar was taken just before her death (see below). It was provided by my first cousin, Carolyn Begg, nee Fuller who kindly gave me several photographs when she first heard that I was researching the family tree. I believe it was taken at Johnny and Lavinia Fuller’s family home at Elizabeth Bay in Sydney, just after the family returned from their ‘grand tour’ of Europe, and before the Fuller’s moved to Caerleonat Bellevue Hill. Ma used to tell us that Grandpa John wanted to buy the home at Elizabeth Bay, which he rented from the State Government, however negotiations stalled on the sale, and Gran’s health was an issue, as she suffered from asthma, and she was told by her doctor to live away from the water’s edge. Thus, when the opportunity came to buy in Bellevue Hill, Johnny Fuller lost interest in purchasing his leased home in Billyard Avenue in Elizabeth Bay. I believe today, the home, right next door to Boomerang, was pulled down and is the now the site of the very popular Beare Park. Johnny’s brother Benjamin Fuller at the time was also living in Billyard Avenue, in an impressive turreted home, a little further down the road.

Lavinia Moar nee Northey, Billyard Avenue, Elizabeth Bay, circa 1927, photo courtesy of Carolyn Begg.

Lavinia Moar’s headstone, together with her granddaughter Winnie Fuller, South Head Cemetery, Vaucluse.
Armed with this new information regarding Lavinia Moar’s parent’s names and the fact that I knew they came from Cornwall, it was the start of a marathon effort to find the Northey family in England, and find out when, how and why they migrated to New Zealand.
One of the most valuable online records that is available from England’s 19thcentury was that every decade the government methodically collected a census, the first beginning in 1841, and these continue to be released after one hundred years has elapsed, the 1911 census being released in 2011, about a month after I joined  This release caused genealogy websites to crash when it was released, so great was the rush for family researchers to find their ancestors. 

One of the gifts that you can receive as a genealogist is an unusual name, and this name was Lavinia! I knew immediately that I needed to look for census’ including a William, Elizabeth and a Lavinia Northey.  At first I was frustrated in my research which returned no results, however I turned off the ‘exact’ spelling key in the search engine, estimated Lavinia and her parent’s birth dates, and came up with a record match. The incredible thing about the census is that the original hand written record is available behind the transcription record. It was exciting when I found this English census transcription from 1861:
William Northy
Estimated birth year:
Spouse’s Name:
Elizabeth Northy
Where born:
Gwennap, Cornwall, England
Civil Parish:

Street address:


Condition as to marriage:
Registration district:
Sub-registration district:
ED, institution, or vessel:
Household schedule number:
Page Number:
Household Members:
I excitedly pressed the button to reveal the original image showing this large family from Cornwall.
 English Census of 1861
This record gave me so much information about the Northeys, and Lavinia, misspelt ‘Levenia’, was listed along with seven other siblings. William, her father, was a miner, as was her brother Josiah, aged 17, and another three sisters Fanny, Mary A and Martha were mine workers, possibly working as servant girls for the mine owner. Celia and William were listed as scholars, and another sister Elizabeth, like Lavinia were infants. I also noted their address as Crofthandy, in the Parish of Gwennap. More information was gleaned from this census, William was a native of Gwennap, however Elizabeth was from Plympton, Devon, the next county, and the children were all listed as from Kenwyn, Cornwall. It was a lot to absorb, and I was excited that this was my first reliable record of the Northeys in Cornwall. The misspelling of Northey as Northy was not surprising as the scribe taking the census was relying on people who possibly could not read or write, and thus phonetic spelling mistakes were commonplace. Levenia would have been treated phonetically as well.
This census was also capturing England during the Industrial Revolution, the huge expansion of England and her Empire, memories flooded back that had been learned at school about children down the mines, and child labour in the factories, the terrible hours they were made to work, and the shocking conditions under which they laboured. It made me realise, that my very own family were experiencing this extraordinary time in English social history.

I now decided to narrow my search and try for both the censuses of 1871 and 1851, and immediately I got more exciting results.
English Census 1851
Here they all were again in the 1851 census, living at Seveock Waters in Kenwyn with William, Elizabeth, Fanny, Josiah, Mary Ann and Martha. William was listed as a tin miner, now a native of Kea, Cornwall, while Elizabeth was still from Plympton, Devonshire. Fanny was now listed as being born in Devon, and Fanny and Mary Ann were from Kea, Cornwall and Martha from Kenwyn in Cornwall. These places were presumably parishes from which they were born, as it was usual to list your parish as your home place, and this is seen on marriage and death certificates as well. Note there was also a column for the disabled, blind, deaf and dumb, and whilst other families indicated problems, the Northey family all appeared well.
This Baptism transcription below is the only one I could find for the children of William and Elizabeth Northey. Transcriptions just don’t bring me the same interest that the original record can, as seeing the hand written records is so precious, creating a sense of  being there, and experiencing history in the making.
England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975:
Josiah Northey
Baptism Date:
9 Sep 1842
Baptism Place:
Chasewater, Cornwall, England
FHL Film Number:
Reference ID:
item 3 p 77
The 1841 English Census helped me to narrow down the time frame for William and Elizabeth’s marriage as well, placing it at about 1835.  Mary and Fanny were five and two at the time of this census. The family living at Seveock Waters in Kenwyn. William’s occupation is listed as a copper miner.
1841 English Census
1871 English Census for the Northeys of Goongumpus Lane, Gwennap.
Time spent trying to find the Northeys marriage turned up no results in either Cornwall or Devon. It was probable that they married in Devon because their eldest daughter and Elizabeth were both listed as born in Devon on the 1851 census.
The census for 1871 shows the Northeys, now living in the Parish of Gwennap, in Goongumpas Lane, not far from Crofthandy.  Elizabeth again is listed from Plympton St Mary’s Devon, and the rest of the family from Kenwyn. However daughters Fanny and Mary Ann did not appear, and nor did Josiah. Lavinia’s youngest sister Elizabeth appears on the following page of the census. This census was quickly narrowing down the search for their migration. Knowing that Lavinia Fuller nee Moar, my grandmother, was born in New Zealand in 1888, and a search for the 1881 census came up with no results I had a time frame to search for a migration for Lavinia to New Zealand.
I just loved the name Goongumpas Lane, and when I Googled mapped the area it came up with the street, and from the map one could still see the pock marked landscape, a legacy of the tin mining from the area. I did some research and it turned out that this was a turbulent time in Cornish history. A downturn in the economy in 1850/60 forced mine owners to reduce wages and miner numbers, resulting in protests and strikes by the miners, worried also about mine safety. In the end it resulted in many mines being shut down, thereby putting many more miners and their families out of work. I imagined that William Northey and his son Josiah may have been among those who lost their jobs, thus putting his entire family into dire financial circumstances, possibly on the verge of starvation, mirroring the crisis in Ireland. I imagined that this was probably why Lavinia Northey left Cornwall and migrated to New Zealand. At the time the New Zealand government was advertising and encouraging people from Cornwall to migrate, explaining that New Zealand was the ‘England of the Southern Hemisphere’, and was free of the scourge of convicts that blighted Australia. Assisted migration for able bodied people willing to work and pay back their passage was available, and women were especially needed.
Interestingly, this area of Cornwall was also listed as an ancient druid area of England, and a notorious hot spot for witchcraft. A Google of Saveock Waters, where the Northeys lived, brings up an interesting archaeological digging site, where ancient rituals of leather burning, mysterious unexplained deep pot holes, and myths about locals delving into pagan beliefs, ancient rituals, incantations and potions for medical cures were practiced in the area. A dangerous occupation of past centuries whereby any suspicious worshipping of idols or suspicion of witchcraft resulted in being burnt at the stake.
My research in Cornwall has been so fascinating, and other researchers have helped by placing their family histories online, and where our families connected it has enabled me to take the family back further generations. Volunteer Online Parish Clerks have kindly provided their time to help me to discover further generations in our family tree, however they only supply transcriptions, and these, whilst helpful, are now not good enough, when I know I can find copies of the original documents!
I have traced the Northey Family of  Cornwall back through these original Parish records, which were available freely online at Another cousin Sandy Murray, who I have collaborated with on the Robson family research showed me how to go behind the records to access the actual Parish Books. This is a rather laborious and time consuming task whereby you can peruse each page of the Parish Books. Sandy used this method in Northumberland to find so many of our Robson family, and I simply thought well, why not try Cornwall? Incredibly, it worked, and I was lucky to capture so many original family records for our family.  All these precious records will be illustrated in my next chapter, called The Northeys of Cornwall.
The Northeys were miners for many generations, however before that, many of our ancestors were farmers, living closer to the west coast of Cornwall in towns such as Gwithian, Camborne and Phillack. This is an extremely pretty part of Cornwall, and near to the Bay of St Ives. One branch of the family, the Hockins, described themselves in their wills as ‘Yeoman”. This term is used to describe free men of the land, in medieval times the term Yeoman was used to describe an attendant of a noble house. When England emerged from the Middle Ages, people took with them a well-defined social structure, which still exists today. The class system in England pervaded every family, and everyone knew their place in that society.
However, my frustrating and so far unrewarding search for the marriage of William and Elizabeth Northey, in Cornwall or possibly Devon, had to take a back seat, for now, because my immediate concern was to search for Lavinia Northey’s migration to New Zealand.
 Assisted migration of the Northey sisters to Canterbury, New Zealand May 1873 aboard the Mary Shepherd
Quite by chance I was told about another family research website, Family Search, which was free, and it was incredible that I found the record above for Lavinia and her sisters Mary V and Ann listed on the Mary Shepherd’s log from 12 May 1873. My initial reaction was that the Northey girls had travelled to New Zealand after bidding farewell to their parents and siblings at Plymouth Harbour in England, aware that the prospects of unmarried women in England at this time were bleak, and that for servant girls to find husbands, it was most difficult. 

William and Elizabeth Northey did have rather a lot of daughters to marry off. I can remember photocopying this document and taking it over to show my mother and sister, and my comment was that the Northey girls were packaged off to New Zealand, and possibly told by their parent never to return! At the same time I found another record for the Mary Shepherd’s log listing the girls, only this time I found another of Lavinia’s sisters Martha (who had appeared on the 1851, 1861 and 1871 census’), had been crossed off the ship’s log. They were clearly listed as a group of four, crossed out and amended to three. It was so curious. I didn’t have any idea that I was on the verge of uncovering a significant episode in the Northey family history, and in particular, regarding their daughter Martha, and the reason why she didn’t migrate with her sisters.
I noted that none of the sister’s ages corresponded to the previous census. Lavinia had put up her age, possibly to qualify, and Martha had put her age down, again possibly to comply with migration regulations. I was beginning to feel that there was a certain desperation in their qualification, and that there had been some slick organisation behind the scenes to expedite the migration. 
 The Northey Sisters listed aboard the Mary Shepherd, with Martha’s name crossed out – detail below.
I googled Martha Northey’s name and this incredible information became available to me from Christchurch Library in New Zealand:


“William Mitten was a son of David Mitten and his wife, Cornwall-born Martha Northey. David – and his son – may not have known Martha’s secret, that, in England, in 1873, she gave birth to an ex-nuptial daughter, usually known as Patty. Martha’s parents and siblings emigrated to Canterbury, leaving Patty in England with her mother and foster-mother, Mrs. Wearne. After much pleading with the immigration authorities, the Northeys managed to bring Martha to Canterbury. For a time the Northeys wrote to Mrs. Wearne, promising her money and the opportunity to bring out the baby. Eventually Mrs. Wearne received her last letter from New Zealand. Soon after Martha married David Mitten and they had five children.

Mrs. Wearne and her foster-child enjoyed a close relationship. When the old lady died, Patty emigrated – not to relatives in New Zealand but to Canada where she married and had a daughter of her own. In 1981 the daughter, now herself elderly, contacted Christchurch City Libraries and found basic information about her grandmother’s career in the Antipodes. She also provided the library with copies of the letters which the Northeys had written to England in the years immediately after they had emigrated. These provide a colourful picture of life in Canterbury from a much neglected point-of-view that of the working class immigrant.”

Excerpt from The Sydenham Cemetery Tour, Christchurch, New Zealand, 2007.

Northey letters lodged with Christchurch Library, New Zealand.

Whilst William Mitten and his family are buried at Sydenham Cemetery in Christchurch, his parents David and Martha Mitten are buried in Bromley Cemetery in Christchurch. My sister visited the cemetery and took this photo below, in September 2011. However, by October 2012, when Geoff and I visited the cemetery we found the headstone had fallen backwards, possibly due to a subsequent earthquake; it was undamaged.

David and Martha Mitten’s Grave, Bromley Cemetery, Christchurch, New Zealand.

I was beginning to understand why Martha’s name may have been crossed off the Mary Shepherd manifest. It was possible that Martha decided at the last minute that she could not leave her newborn daughter and migrate with the rest of family as planned. I am sure William and Elizabeth Northey tried to get passage for baby Patty but under the terms of the migration it would have been apparent to authorities that Martha, with a new baby, was probably unable to fulfill her obligations upon arrival in New Zealand, and to repay her fare. I imagine it was a last minute decision and that is why her name was crossed out on the ship’s log. I can also understand why Martha’s story has never been handed down to our family, as it would have reflected disgrace upon the family at this time in English society – no matter what class you came from. 

A researcher Mr. L.N. Greenaway from Christchurch Library also wrote up the Northey Letters in 2007, for the Bromley Cemetery Tour, which included these excerpts from the letters:

Block 2 Row K No. 646  Mitten Family
In June 1873, a Cornish family, the Northeys, arrived at Plymouth. As they prepared to board the Mary Shepherd en route to Lyttelton, they had “plenty of the best meat and plenty of fun”. They left their daughter, Martha, and her ex-nuptial daughter, Patty, in the care of Mrs. Salome Wearne.

From New Zealand Mrs. Northey wrote: “It is a beautiful country. There is no want … for money or meat. We can get the best mutton and beef for three pence per pound’. Celia Ann or Annie lived in service, ‘getting 30 pounds per year …. It is hard work but good money’. Their father earned ’14 pounds per month’. And there were additions to the family. Mary Ann was confined with a very pretty boy.”

Mrs. Northey offered sanctuary to all those left behind:
“… We was informed by the head one of the immigration office he had sent for you to come ….We should be glad to see Mrs. Wearne come with you …. If Martha brings her dear baby, it shall be welcomed as herself ….”

Annie wrote unctuously to her erring sister:
“My dear sister: Me and my young man …. have been to one of the head men about you and he told us that he would do his best to get you out here … I am  in service at present but hope to be able to receive you in a little comfortable home of our own ….”
Eventually the family heard that Martha was ‘on the water’. She arrived on 27 September 1874. Mrs. Wearne was left holding the baby.

Mrs. Northey wrote a meandering but dramatic letter to Mrs. Wearne:
“Billy was taken with two fevers …. Sometimes there were two doctors at our house at one time …. The doctors gave him up for he was dangerously ill for two months and … never worked for six …. Just as he was recovering, little Jamie was taken ill with the same fever and Annie was taken ill, both in one day. Jamie was in bed 13 weeks and we thought he would never recover. Annie was married the 9th of April and that was the day Billy was taken ill … I asked her to stay here and help me through the sickness and that was the reason she got the fever …. Thank God they are … well now for they recovered nicely ….”

Naysayers were whispering in Mrs. Wearne’s ear. Mrs. Northey wrote to her:
“Dear friend, you said in your letter that people said we shall not send you anything now that Martha is out here. But we shall not forget you or the dear baby …. I will enclose an order with one pound and we will write you every mail.”

On 2 July 1875 Martha wrote to Mrs. Wearne:
 “If you see Patty’s father, tell him I have been very ill with fever. Tell him I think they should do something for the child. I have done as much as I have been able to do and more than I can well do. I have done my duty to the dear child and I think he ought to do his.”
On 14 December 1875 Martha wrote of her child:
“Do not fear I am going to I will try to get her with me as soon as possible …. I will never forget my dear child. I have enclosed an order of two pounds ….”

The naysayers were right. Mrs. Wearne added a note to Martha’s December letter:
P.S. “This is the last letter I received”, Mrs. Wearne.

Martha forgot about her far distant child and, on 5 February 1876, at her parent’s address, London Street, Lyttelton, married David Mitten, a railway labourer. David Mitten, 35, died in 1885 and is buried at Addington Cemetery. A son, William David, 24, a blacksmith of 116 Harper Street, died in 1905. His wife, Kate Elizabeth, 20 at the time of her husband’s demise, never remarried, dwelt at 590 Avonside Drive, and died, at 67, in 1951. William and Kate were buried Sydenham Cemetery, Christchurch. Martha Mitten, 82, died on 27 July 1934 at 241 Bealey Avenue. She was unaware that Patty had remained with her foster-mother until Mrs. Wearne’s death in 1909, and had then taken the family letters, sailed to Canada, married Thomas Butterworth and had a daughter and settled in Cornwall, Stormont, Ontario. In 1981 the daughter, now an old lady herself, sent copies of the 1870s letters of a working class local family to Christchurch City Library which has the original letters available to view upon request, at their off-site Library near Christchurch airport.



     Martha Northey, listed aboard the Merope 28 June 1874

It was incredible that I found this information about Martha’s secret on the internet, with a just the words “Martha Northey” typed into Google, I was taken to the Sydenham Cemetery Tour. I was  now beginning to piece together a huge jigsaw puzzle, with the realisation that there was a huge amount of information here for me to research, both in Cornwall, England, Lyttelton, New Zealand and now in Cornwall, Stormont, Ontario, Canada. It became apparent that Salome Wearne was a person who the Northey’s had enormous trust in. Indeed to leave your daughter and new granddaughter in the hands of Mrs Wearne indicated someone of trust and responsibility. The obvious love that Patty had for Mrs Wearne was also evident in the documents lodged in New Zealand. It also came with a sadness that Martha, was abandoned by Patty’s father, and had the humiliation of knowing that this man was unprepared or unable to marry her, once her condition was known. It would also seem that he was financially unable to support Patty. I would imagine that there would have been pressure put on the father to marry Martha, if he was able to face up to his responsibilities and if he was free to marry. Now, with the knowledge from the letters that he was indeed known to the Northeys I wondered whether the father’s name would appear on her birth certificate and I decided to order this certificate from the English Register. 

Martha Jane Sarah (Patty) Northey’s birth record as 2 April 1873 

Whilst disappointing that there was no father listed for Patty on her birth certificate it confirmed that this was her birth record. It was also interesting that Martha could not read nor write, something she achieved few years later when writing to her daughter Patty from Lyttelton, New Zealand.


Assisted migration of William Northey to Canterbury, New Zealand May 1873 aboard the Mary Shepherd

The other important information that I found out was that Lavinia Northey’s parents had also migrated to New Zealand and began a search for their migration records. I searched again the manifest of the Mary Shepherd and to my surprise I came up with another family group, this being Elizabeth and William Northey and two more of their children, William Henry and Elizabeth, their namesakes. It was also obvious that there was a fair bit of age fudging going in this group as well, in order to board the Mary Shepherd. Elizabeth Northey was listed as 41 years old, when in fact she was 57, and her husband William was listed as 50 when he was in fact 58. I was now starting to get an idea about the organisation that had taken place to get the entire family aboard the Mary Shepherd, with the discovery of yet another Northey family group, Josiah Northey, William and Elizabeth’s elder son together with his wife Emma and their two children William Henry and Emily Jane, also found on a separate page aboard the ship’s log.

  Assisted migration of Josiah Northey and his family aboard the Mary Shepherd May 1873 
It didn’t take long to find Josiah’s marriage record to Emily in Gwennap, Cornwall, from online records. Note it is incorrectly transcribed as Sherman and should be Sleeman. This is evident when you look at the original record.
England, Select Marriages 1538-1973:
Josiah Northey
Birth Date:
Marriage Date:
28 Apr 1864
Marriage Place:
Gwennap, Cornwall, England
FHL Film Number:
Reference ID:
The only child of William and Elizabeth Northey to have been baptised in Cornwall was Josiah, their eldest son. I had spent many hours searching for the baptisms of the Northey family without success. It was a bit of a mystery as to why the Northeys did not baptise all their other children. I was also curious about the two elder daughters of the Northeys, Mary and Fanny, who did not migrate. They had appeared in the first census in 1841. It was possible that they had married, or that they had found employment elsewhere and that they appeared on other census of the time, which I was not able to collect. It was impossible to nail a single girl down, especially with common names like Mary and Fanny. Mary Northey most probably died a young child, between 1842 and 1845, as the Northeys went on to name another daughter Mary Ann in 1846. I did a burial records search for Mary for 1842/45, but with no details regarding her parents, it was impossible to confirm the record I found for 1842.
Josiah Northey
Baptism Date:
9 Sep 1842
Baptism Place:
Chasewater, Cornwall, England
FHL Film Number:
My research now turned to New Zealand, with the knowledge that Lavinia’s entire family had migrated. Records are tightly held by the New Zealand Births, Deaths and Marriage Registry, but they do allow free extracts to be searched on their online database, information giving firstly the date, then the registration number, however no location is provided.  If you wish to proceed, the certificates are very expensive. The website is easy to negotiate, and I quickly found myself collecting Northey, Moar Mitchell and Mitten family records, building a large and expanding Northey tree, finding many births, deaths and marriages.
Below is a selection of the more important records to be found for our family:
New Zealand Death Records Online Registry Database:
ELIZABETH NORTHEY, Registration Number 1891/4324
WILLIAM NORTHEY, Registration Number 1887/5510
MARTHA MITTEN, Registration Number 1934/15059
CELIA ANNA MITCHELL, Registration Number 1897/6283 
New Zealand Marriage Records:
DAVID MITTEN and MARTHA JANE NORTHEY, Registration Number 1876/454
WILLIAM GEORGE BROWN and JANIE NORTHEY, Registration Number 1885/3842
GEORGE MOAR and LAVINIA NORTHEY Registration Number 1884/3465
JOHN FULLER JUNIOR and LAVINIA MOAR, Registration Number 1916/7350
New Zealand Birth Records:
ETHEL MOAR, Registration Number 1885/19584
LAVINIA MOAR, Registration Number 1887/7284 
New Zealand Marriages for some of David and Martha Mitten’s children:
HENRY ARTHUR BLEWETT and CELIA ANNIE MITTEN, Registration Number 1910/7189
NORMAN WOOD TAYLOR and ELIZABETH MITTEN, Registration Number 1905/6110


I then discovered that New Zealand newspapers, from their archives, had been placed online. This website, Papers Past NZ, offers a clipping service and has proved to be an amazing tool for my research. The funeral notice for Elizabeth Northey was one of my first successes.

Funeral Notice for Elizabeth Northey 22 August 1891, The Star Newspaper

                                        Death Notice for Elizabeth Northey 22 August 1891 The Star Newspaper

                                          Death Notice for William Northey 26 December 1887 The Star Newspaper

In September 2011 my sister Lavinia and her husband David Chrystal were to visit their daughter Lavinia Jnr who was slalom training in New Zealand for the World Cup Ski Championships later in the year, stepping up my research a notch. I also decided it was time to share my results with some of my Fuller first cousins, the children of John George Fuller, elder brother to my mother Lavinia Robson nee Fuller. This email extract was early in my research and before I purchased the birth record for Patty Northey giving me her date of  birth.
Hi Scottie, Yvonne, Carolyn and Wendy,
As I write this email to you, and at just about this exact time, Lavinia and Digger are making their way to Lyttelton ‘Church of England’ Cemetery, just out of Christchurch, to see the grave of William and Elizabeth Northey, buried together with their daughter Celia Ann (Annie) Mitchell nee Northey’s grave. Their headstone still survives, although to preserve it, it has been placed in a wall surrounding the cemetery. The actual site of their real burial site has been marked and preserved also. Lavinia and Digger will be going to see both areas of the cemetery and take photos.
William (a tin miner) and Elizabeth Northey came out from Cornwall with their family of 4 daughters and 2 sons, a daughter-in-law and 2 grandchildren, to find a better life in NZ, after the closure of the tin mines in Cornwall and the subsequent depression that followed– another daughter Martha came a year later on the “Merope” (but that’s quite another story!). They sailed on the “Mary Shepherd” from Plymouth Harbour in May 1873, amongst their children was ‘our’ Lavinia Northey, mother to Lavinia Fuller nee Moar. So this is so exciting that I wanted you all to know how this came about – albeit no romance here in their  “assisted” emigration, they were listed on board ship as separate family groups, and on arrival was the difficult life as pioneers in a new country, settling near Lyttelton Harbour, where they first arrived in NZ……
You really have to laugh about this ‘assisted emigration’  because I have a real affinity for the mother Elizabeth Northey who could sniff out a bargain, (she reminds me of someone in the family – ANY GUESSES!!!?), she grouped the families as three separate groups, the Northey parents, Elizabeth and William, and their two youngest children, Elizabeth Jane and Wm Henry Jnr, their four unmarried teenage daughters Celia, Martha, Mary and Lavinia –labelled as servants for the ‘assisted’ voyage, and their married Son Josiah, his wife Emily, and their two children as the third group – all then being eligible for “assisted” migration which the NZ Govt paid for!! What a trick…. and how clever.  So, just as the family was about to sail, one of their unmarried daughters Martha, who was heavily pregnant, was denied assistance under her package as servant girl, and her name was crossed off the list (which we can actually see from shipping records!), and she was escorted/marched off the ship, much to the dismay of her family – can you imagine the hullaballoo this caused on board the boat! However, as I said, this is another story….
Late last week Lavinia Chrystal Snr decided to go for a brief trip to NZ ski fields. She mentioned that she might try to find George Moar’s grave, our Lavinia Northey’s husband, and of course Gran’s father, which we had located previously in Sydenham Cemetery in CHCH, together with the actual plot number. So that is where Lavinia and Digger are headed for on Thursday, before their return. I then got busy trying to trace other family members, and I found a death notice in December 1887 for William Northey in the Star Newspaper, a local rag, then I found Elizabeth’s death notice in the Star, for Aug 1991, and just beside it was a funeral notice indicating the burial of Elizabeth in the C of E cemetery in Lyttleton. Since then I have found all their names and dates confirmed with the NZ BDM records. So in the space of about 4 days Lavinia Chrystal Snr emailed a cemetery website and got an email back this morning at 7.30am from a researcher at the Lyttleton Library which hold the archives, telling her that Elizabeth, William and Annie’s graves had been located. Wow, would you believe it? So there is William and their daughter Celia Ann “Annie” also buried in the same plot with our Elizabeth. This morning Lavinia and I were emailing and texting each other as she was waiting for the plane to leave Kingsford Smith, and at the same time I was forwarding all the info to Scottie, who is thrilled with these developments too.
So this is really historic for the family. At a later date I will email you about the Northeys, from Gwennap and Kenwyn in Cornwall. I expect we will all want to visit these tiny hamlets in England in the near future. Maybe finding the next generation of graves and homes…. I do have rather a lot of census info from UK, the English were good at census taking – I suspect it helped collect the taxes…
So here I am awaiting photos from Lav Snr. It is incredible to think that when I started this on 1st Jan this year I knew nothing much at all about the family –on either side. Scottie has emailed me this morning to let me know he is now going to take the SH IS investigation to a new level and try to find more information about the Moars. Thanks Scott, this will be great.
Virginia Rundle 6 Sep 2011
hi all, slight hiccup…plane was late leaving sydney….by the time we landed in CHCH and picked up our car it was after 4pm and Lyttleton is 30 mins from CHCH Int Airport so we decided to make our way up to Methven and then on Friday morning will leave early to try and do all the cemeteries before catching our flight home fri arvo….shame as I am really excited particularly re Lyttleton….so amazing to finally find where Elizabeth and William are buried…..when I spoke to Ma last night she said she knew nothing about Lyttleton Cemetery and I’m guessing Gran didn’t either….astonishing….
Went out to dinner tonight with lots of NZ friends….everyone so sorry re Lav’s injury….apparently though Lav is the face of NZ ski racing this season…on the road up to Hutt there’s a huge poster of her advertising ski racing – taken last year in the Super G race here….can’t wait to see it tomorrow….
Lavinia Chrystal 6 Sep 2011
It was only a few hours before I received an exciting phone call from Lavinia telling me what an incredible time she, Lavinia Jnr and Digger had climbing the hills beyond Lyttelton harbour to find the Northey grave, just as she expected, cemented into the grave wall. She described the breathtaking view from the cemetery across Lyttelton Harbour, where an ancient eruption must have blasted the mountain apart, creating a giant crater, the remains of the volcano are now steep hills which plunge into the harbour below. Photos quickly followed from Lavinia, sent to my IPhone. It was such an exciting day.

                             Lyttelton Church of England Cemetery, New Zealand, photo courtesy of Lavinia Chrystal


     View of Lyttelton Harbour, New Zealand, taken by Geoff Rundle in October 2012

From the NZBDM marriage records it can be seen that our great grandmother, Lavinia Northey married George Moar in Lyttelton, New Zealand. George, was from The Shetland Islands in Scotland, and this will need to be another chapter, to reveal the family story of George Moar of the Shetland Islands.

I was so pleased to find George and Lavinia Moar’s New Zealand marriage extract, as well as the birth extracts for Lavinia and Ethel Moar, their two daughters, and surprisingly these dates were different from the ones that the family had traditionally relied upon. I could see that I would have to purchase both Gran Fuller’s birth record and Aunty Ethels too. Our Gran Fuller’s birthdate had always been thought to be 1888. Also found was a newspaper clipping about the Moar’s marriage, and an amazing newspaper photograph of Johnny and Lavinia Fuller marriage’s in 1916, which included a headline, revealing a very happy Mrs Moar (Lavinia Northey), obviously thrilled at the marriage her daughter.

Finding the marriage record for Lavinia Moar and Johnny Fuller was a most difficult task, and one which is only revealed by typing Junior, rather than Fuller into the search engines. This was a second marriage for Johnny and took place in the Wellington Registry Office. Gran was unable to be a bride and marry in church, due to the fact that her husband was a divorcee. Although always a sadness to Gran, I can’t see that it made any difference to her mother, Lavinia Moar, whose satisfied demeanour was probably tinged with relief that finally one of her daughters was married, and most advantageously, to a prominent Wellington Councillor, and wealthy theatre owner and producer. It will take another few chapters to write up The Fullers of Shoreditch, London and another on John Snr, Sir Benjamin and Johnny Fuller, which will be called Fuller’s Earth .


Mr John Fuller and his bride (nee Miss Lavinia Moar) – Sarony, Photo, Freelance Newspaper, October 6 1916
The caption reads: In this group are: (sitting) Mr Fuller, Mrs Moar, (the mother of the bride), Mrs Fuller (bride),
(standing) are Miss Ethel Moar (sister of the bride) and Mrs T.W. Boddam (sister of the groom and wife of Chief Inspector Boddam)
It was not until Geoff and I visited New Zealand in October 2012 that I was able to uncover the Northey girls baptisms from Lyttelton, performed when the girls were in their late teens and early twenties. Having searched earlier in Cornwall without success, I now suspected that the baptisms were being expedited by William and Elizabeth Northey in order to make marriage applications easier for their many daughters. I couldn’t help finding a parallel between Elizabeth Northey and Mrs Bennet, from the pages of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and the desperation of the two mothers to find suitable husbands for their many daughters. The information gleaned from the Baptism Register of 1877 from St John’s Lyttelton confirmed some of the Northey sisters married names and ages. The marriage record for Lavinia Northey to George Moar was more exciting. New disclosure laws on Marriage Records from 1880 in New Zealand required the full names of the bride and grooms parents to be included. I was excited to see the name Dodebridge written on Lavinia’s marriage record and even more curiously, to find her sister Janie’s marriage to William Brown in 1885 listed Elizabeth’s maiden name as Doddridge. See the next three pages of documents. Clearly I had work to do, but excitingly I had unearthed a maiden name to take me back yet another generation, finding Elizabeth’s parents. My latest chapter is named Robert Doddridge and Christian Galsworthy of Plympton St Marys, Devon, England



I now turned my efforts to researching Martha Jane ‘Patty” Northey, the ‘ex-nuptial’ child of Martha Northey, and am satisfied that this research is amongst my most interesting, challenging and most poignant results for our Northey family. 

The following records are a factual account of the life of Salome Wearne, from her marriage to Edward Vine Wearne, and her two widowhoods, reflected through each decade of English census collecting. Salome cared for both Martha and Patty when the Northeys left Cornwall for New Zealand. 

My story through the English census’ shows Patty’s childhood as a foster daughter to Salome, through to her status as an adopted daughter, at the same time showing Salome’s re-marriage to James Highley, and position as step mother to James’ children from his first marriage, after his wife Ellen Highley nee Harrison died. It also shows the occupations of the Highleys and also of Patty working in Todmorden, Lancashire, where the family were part of the industrial revolution; all working in factories as cotton scutcheons, pickers and spinners.

English Census for 1841 (complete with cartoon)

I wondered also if Salome Wearne was a relation of the Northeys. Salome was possibly the most unusual name that I had come across in my research to date, and these rare names are a boon to the researcher, and to my great interest I was able to come up with two census in this regard in a fairly short time.

This census from 1841 shows that Salome Wearne is indeed Salome Northey, aged one, and her parents are listed as Elizabeth and Henry Northey. Henry Northey was a first cousin of William Northey, Martha’s father. William’s father Josiah Northey had an elder brother, Henry Northey who married Jane Moyle, and it was their son Henry and his wife Elizabeth Osler who were the parents of Salome. These families have a good deal of family following on, and it was an interesting challenge for me to fit our Northeys into this large Cornish family. Many of  the trees on ancestry are a mess and my goal was to work out this nest of Northey’s who were all miners, and who were all obviously related. I must add, that I was helped in this regard, by the kind help of a volunteer online Parish clerk (OPC) who looked up the information in parish records, and helped me to find William’s parents, Joseph Northey and Ann Tyack. 

This information regarding William Northey and his family, as I mentioned earlier, I will elaborate on, in a further chapter, The Northey Family of Cornwall, documenting original hand written baptisms and marriages, illustrating how these large families were living in the same townships and hamlets, their occupations as miners and servants, eeking out an existence as working class families. The Northeys can be traced back many generations, simply because they stayed in these same towns for centuries, and lived a relatively quiet existence, protected from the many wars and skirmishes that plagued other parts of England, thereby preserving the parish records, that in so many other areas of England were burnt when the churches and towns were plundered.

England and Wales Marriage Index 1837-1915:

Salome Aster Northy
Registration Year:
Registration Quarter:
Registration district:
Parishes for this Registration District:
Inferred County:
Records on Page:
Note that Salome was given the middle name Osler from her mother’s maiden name and is transcribed incorrectly as Aster in this marriage record. Sadly Edwin died just a year later in 1859. Their daughter Mary Jane being born the same year as her father. 
England and Wales Free Death Index 1837-1915:

Edwin Vine Wearne
Registration Year:
Registration Quarter:
Registration district:
Parishes for this Registration District:
Inferred County:
English Census for 1861
This census shows Slaome Wearne, a widow, living with her mother Elizabeth Northey, brother Henry and daughter Mary Jane Vine Wearne, aged 2.  Sadly Mary Jane died in 1871,  just before the next Census was collected as she does not appear on it.
     English Census for 1871
Salome is a widow in this next census for 1871, and she now has two little children, daughters Salome and Minne, so she was the perfect person to help the Northeys in their time of need, especially if they offered her board money to keep Martha and her baby Patty. Salome is now listed as a school mistress. The next record I found for Salome was her marrying James Highley in Todmorden. I think she went north to help him care for his children after he was widowed and ended up, as was fairly common, marrying the father. Sadly about this time Salome’s daughter, Salome Wearne died just aged 12 years.
England and Wales Marriage Index 1837-1915:
Salome Wearne
Registration Year:
Registration Quarter:
Registration district:
Parishes for this Registration District:
Inferred County:
Yorkshire West Riding
Records on Page:
     England Census for 1881

Note that Salome’s mother Elizabeth Northey, aged 77 years is now living with the family, as well as Salome’s daughter Minnie from her previous marriage, and that Patty Northey is listed as a boarder. This census together with the 1841 census allowed me to confirm that Salome was indeed related to Martha, as a second cousin – the children of first cousins, Henry and William Northey, whose parents Henry and Josiah, were brothers. It’s all relative!

     English Census 1891
The census for 1891 shows Patty now accepted as an adopted daughter into the Highley family.
English Census 1901
Salome is again widowed by 1901, living with her step children and a step daughter-in-law, and again Patty’s occupation is listed as a cotton winder. We now know that Salome died in 1910, from the Northey letters, and that Patty migrated to Canada and married Thomas Butterworth. It was about this time that my subscription came up for renewal, as I had only taken out a six month trial, and the first month was meant to be free. However there was a mix up with the “free” time and to compensate, kindly renewed my subscription for the year, throwing in “the world” subscription for no extra. I was most grateful because this meant I had access to the USA and Canadian records, and I soon found myself searching for the Butterworths in Canada, quickly coming up with some fascinating records. It also allowed me to collect many records for the Fullers and my father’s Wise as they travelled the globe. In some cases their names were on the manifests, showing how they were travelling first class on some of the finest and most luxurious passenger ships in the world.
West Yorkshire, England, Deaths and Burials, 1813-1985:
Salome Highley
Birth Year:
abt 1845
Walsden, St Peter
Burial Date:
12 Feb 1910
Burial Age:
The original record gives her actual address as 640 Rochdale Road, Walsden. Salome is buried in St Peter’s churchyard next to her daughter Salome Wearne who died in 1876, this date also coincides with the last letters written to and received from New Zealand.
 West Yorkshire, England, Deaths and Burials, 1813-1985:
Salome Wearne
Birth Year:
abt 1864
Walsden, St Peter
Burial Date:
17 Feb 1876
Burial Age:
I can imagine the heartbreak for Salome Wearne at this time and together with her remarriage later that same year, it must have made communications with the Northeys most difficult, and one wonders if letters were ever re-directed to Yorkshire from Cornwall, and if the Northeys actually knew Patty’s new address up north.

In October 2012 Geoff and I visited New Zealand for a trip around the South Island. We visited many Fuller and Northey family sites and including visiting the Dunedin and Invercargill. Just south east of Invercargill is Waipapa Point where my husband’s Great Grandfather Captain David Lindsay drowned after his ship was wrecked in the shoals beyond the point. He was buried at nearby Fortrose Cemetery with a beautiful sandstone monument from his wife.

We visited Peterborough Library and found that the Northey Letters were archived at a facility near the Christchurch Airport. We were welcomed and taken to a room and the Letters were produced for our perusal. We were not allowed to photocopy the letters, but they had no objection to our photographing them with our IPhone. Here are a few of the letters, there are just too many to produce. The copies of the originals are hard to read and it is wonderful that there are transcriptions done of the letters. There is also mention of  Uncle Samuel, who is William Northey’s younger brother. It is also apparent that Elizabeth Northey is doing all the writing on behalf of her husband William, who cannot read and write.  

The last letter received by Salome Wearne from Martha was a three page letter dated 19 December 1875. It is interesting that 1876 was the year that both Martha Northey married David Mitten and Salome Wearne married James Highley. I can’t speculate about why Martha didn’t pursue her promises to bring Patty to New Zealand, and it would seem too simple to accept that a marriage for Martha bought her happiness and a new start, and that Salome and Patty probably had a very strong mother/daughter bond an were happy to remain together. There can always be speculation that letters either dried up or were not redirected to Salome after her new marriage.

Death of Minnie Crossley 18 December 1895 at Walsdon, Lancashire

Minnie Wearne went on to marry Charles Albert Crossley in 1890, however while searching records to see if she had any children I cam across her death record in 1895. Again I can only imagine the comfort Patty bought to Salome Highley in the last fifteen years of her life. Salome died in January 1910, shortly after her death, and with nothing to keep her in England, Patty migrated to Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. It is possible that Thomas Butterworth from Rochdale, Lancashire already knew Patty in England, they were married on 26 October 1911.

     Marriage of Patty Northey and Thomas Butterworth 26 October 1911, Cornwall, Ontario, Canada.
Of note in the record above is that Patty listed Wm Henry Northey as her father, I suspect this was done as much for the need to list a father on the document, and also to save any bureaucratic difficulty because if she told the truth she could have caused herself needless problems. I was interested to see that the two witnesses to the marriage were Harry and Edith Crossley, it is possible that they were cousins, related in some way to Minnie Wearne’s husband, Charles Albert Crossley.
Canadian Birth Certificate for Robert Butterworth November 10, 1912, only son of Patty and Thomas.
The enlistment of Thomas Butterworth for duty in World War I, 1 June 1916. 
As I finish writing up this chapter of the family history, my sister Lavinia and niece Lavinia Chrystal Jnr are about to board a plane bound for Canada. Last Sunday morning I was chatting about my niece’s university exchange program, and her placement at London University, Ontario and I commented to my sister that I wondered if it was anywhere near Cornwall, Stormont, Ontario where the Butterworths lived. I will now await anxiously as Lavinia has promised to call ‘cold case’ to see if she can trace one of Robert Butterworth’s children, Kenneth, Thomas or Patricia. It is wonderful to see that two of Robert Butterworth’s children are named in honour of their paternal grandparent, Thomas and Patty! It is exciting to hope that we can reunite with Patty’s ancestors and find our third cousins in Canada!
Virginia Rundle    19 August 2014
The next two images are the Butterworths graves from Woodlawn Cemetery, Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. Recently I was doing some work on the family tree and I found that the cemetery now had an online “look up” and incredibly there were photos of the Butterworth family gravestones.  4 March 2016

2 comments On The Northey Family of Lyttelton, New Zealand and Martha’s Secret

  • How interesting. I have been researching Samuel Northey who you mention as William's younger brother. He arrived with his wife Ann Jane nee Nicholls in Jan 1875 on the ship 'Waimate' to Lyttelton with young son Samuel who was born before they married in 1874. Samuel Jr was sent to the Burnham Industrial School where he stayed (when he wasn't absconding) for several years with his father in court every year for failure to pay towards his keep. Samuel Jr went on to a life of petty crime and became addicted to opium. Samuel Sr mostly lived on the poverty line and occasionally got into trouble with the law. He lived in Lyttelton and had 4 other children (at least) On his immigration record it states he is a miner and other family records say he was from Kea Cornwall. I'm not a relative but doing research on the children who were sent into the Industrial School system. I have no death for Samuel Jr – there are 4 Samuels but death dates don't fit for him but Samuel Sr died in 1910 in Wellington aged 60yrs. There are also Northeys in the Napier area and I see a Lavinia Northey died in Thames in 1904 aged 27yrs. Her death is registered under Northy. There is no death for Ann Jane but she is possibly the Jane who died in 1891.

  • Thanks for this interesting information. The Samuel Northey you mention I believe was my GG grandfather William Northey's nephew who was married to Ann Jane Nicholls.Yes he died in 1910 = NZ Deaths 1910/8297. The Northeys were a mining family and life was tough for them. The family were from Kea in Cornwall. Migration must have seemed like a good way to have a new start in a new country, especially when so many miners were out of work. All pretty depressing, Burnham was for wayward children, some just poor, through no fault of their own either. The NZ BDM records don't give much information online and I agree it is difficult to know who is who. Thanks for your interest.

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