Helen loves to travel which seems to be an inherited trait. She met her husband in Montreal, brought him and their children to NZ and now their family are scattered around the world. She would love to write traveller’s tales starting with her own family history.
When I expressed interest in our family genealogy my brother John took me to an ancient family chapel in the English countryside west of London. In the middle of the chapel was a large stone sarcophagus. Carved into the stone was the figure of a knight, Sir John Wayte (our paternal grandmother’s surname) and his wife Margaret. The date was 1397. How did his descendants end up in New Zealand?
Five hundred years later my great grandfather Alline Wayte (a second son) was sent by his family to New Zealand to buy land. After acquiring a block of land in the South Island he returned to England to marry his betrothed, Helen Nossiter. His diary of 1890 describes a long difficult sea voyage with his new bride and her lady’s maid. They landed in Dunedin and drove by horse and cart inland to his property at Otamita.
John’s young wife arrived at her new home with her trousseau containing gowns, linens, kitchen utensils, dinnerset and books. Imagine her shock, coming from the manor house in England to the house that he had built: a one room wooden shack with raupo roof and dirt floor.
But imagine what her lady’s maid was thinking.
“I have to look after m’lady in this?”
I asked my grandmother “What happened to the lady’s maid?”
Grandma replied “Coming to New Zealand was the best thing for her. She married a local farmer who bought three failed farms from the wealthy second sons who had been sent out from England to become land owners. This wild country was not like England. No place for gentlemen farmers, many gave up and returned home. The lady’s maid became a wealthy land owner.”
Grandma smiled, “This could never have happened back in the old country.”
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