NameSarah Hall [50], [768], GGG Grandmother
Birth25 May 1818, London [765]
Death3 Mar 1891, Blenheim [765]
FatherWilliam King Hall (1795-1881)
MotherAnne Pickett (-1847)
1William Norgrove , GGG Grandfather
Birth22 Sep 1813, Ardleigh, Essex [765], [766]
Death18 Jun 1886 [765]
Baptism11 Sep 1814, Ardleigh, Essex [767]
Marriage22 Sep 1839, Bow Church, Middlesex [765], [769]
ChildrenOvid Hall (1840-1858)
 Oscar Alfred (1842-1907)
 Horace (1846-1928)
 Gertrude (1846-1913)
 Emma (1848-1945)
 Walter (1850-1916)
 Kate (1852-1927)
 Zoe (1856-1856)
 Alice (1857-1858)
 Sidney (1860-1926)
Notes for Sarah Hall
According to Kate [50], Sarah came from the King-Hall family, which is now very well known, as her brother (and then two more generations) were admirals in the British Navy. They published extensive diaries (which agrees with Kate’s recollections).

But this is certainly false (as certainly as genealogy gets). Sarah has quite a different genealogy. According to her marriage certificate she was the daughter of William King Hall (not King-Hall) and was simply Sarah Hall, and this is what I’ve followed.

Sarah’s death notice says she was married at Bow Church, Middlesex. William’s death notice says Ilford Church, Essex. Take your pick, I suppose. But the poem Sarah wrote says the church at Bow, so that is probably correct. Their marriage certificate also says Bow. Mind you, it’s only five miles from Ilford to Bow, according to Sarah. Sarah was driven in a coach. Her husband walked. So did her 80 year old Granny, who didn’t seem to know what was going on, according to Sarah.

Interesting question: who was her “Blind brother Harry”, who appears in the poem?. Henry? Possibly. Did he remain blind the rest of his life? He married, according to Joan’s information. Very puzzling.

In the multimedia page you can read her death notice, and two poems she wrote. They are truly dreadful. Not just bad; absolutely and totally dreadful. But very interesting nonetheless.
Notes for William (Spouse 1)
A great deal of my information on the Norgroves has come from Joan McNaught (and her daughter Helen, I believe). They have provided me with copies of the death notices, as well as writeups they have done on the Norgrove history in Blenheim. Many thanks to them. Ian Melville, another Norgrove descendant, has also been very helpful.

William Norgrove was born in Ardleigh, Essex, on the 22nd of September, 1813. His parents were called William Norgrove and Hannah Barker, and that is the sum total of everything we know about the England part of William Norgrove's life. Well, that's not entirely true. We know he was educated at the Foundation School in Colchester, where he subsequently worked as a plumber and a painter, and that he married Sarah King Hall (or King-Hall) in Bow Church, Middlesex, on the 22nd of September, 1839; William was 26 (they married on his birthday, as you can see), and Sarah was 21. They met, we are told by their granddaughter, Kate Norgrove, while Sarah was tying up a pig.

We know that his family was very poor. His mother, Hannah Norgrove, was on the official list of parish poor in Ardleigh, in 1825. This was when William was only 12, and it may well have been that his father had died by then. Certainly, to have his mother's name appear but not his father's would imply this. Funnily enough, William's parent were married in Colchester (on the 17th of October, 1783 according to the parish records) but William himself was born and baptised in Ardleigh. Possibly William and Hannah Barker were from Colchester originally and moved later to Ardleigh, where poor old Hannah ended up on the poor register. Possible, but by no means certain. Kate Norgrove claimed that William Norgrove's father had died after being bitten by a rabid dog. She also said that William broke his leg while saving a child from a runaway horse and carriage. He was taken to an inn and whilst recovering, talk came around to ghosts. That night `ghost' came visiting, and William nearly killed him with his walking stick! It's not clear how old William was when these things are said to have happened, as Kate never said, but I'm guessing it was before he left England. I could be wrong.

Since he was sent to the Colchester Foundation School we can infer that William was bright enough to be noticed, and thought to be worth educating. Later in life William was clearly a well educated and intelligent man, so the Foundation School must have been effective.

And that really is everything we know about William Norgrove in England. Rather unimpressive, if you think about it.

We are almost as ignorant about his wife, Sarah Hall. Her parents were William King Hall and Anne Pickett, and she had two brothers and five sisters. One of her sisters married a Richard Fowler in New Zealand, and so must have emigrated also. But I say “almost", for a reason, as we are in the fortunate position of having something that she wrote about herself. From this we learn that she was married in a silk gown not a bridal dress, at 10 o'clock in the morning, and that her blind little brother Harry was upset that she was marrying, as he wanted to keep her all to herself. We learn that her Granny was a little out of it and didn't quite understand what was going on, and that it rained just a little bit as they were leaving the church after the ceremony. We learn that she cried when she was married, feeling lonely, but that she hadn't really wanted a big fuss so she had gone to the church in the coach alone. These details are priceless. My sister Mary will no doubt call them “borese", but she is wrong; they are priceless.

Anyway, I shouldn't tell you what's in the poem, I should just give you the poem. So here it is.

This verse written by Sarah Norgrove (King-Hall) in 1889 to her Family. Blenheim N.Z.

Fifty years ago my children, fifty years ago
Since your Father and I were married in that quaint old Church at Bow\footnote{Yes, I know the poetry is absolutely dreadful. I don't care. Anyway, I can hardly complain. The only `poetry' I've ever written is an obscene limerick.}
It was on a Sunday morning ten o'clock the time
September the twenty-second eighteen hundred and thirty nine.
I had no bridal dress I wore my best silk gown.
We wished to avoid all fuss I sent to the Church in the coach alone.
There was no one in the Church only your Father my Brother and I
The Clerk had gone for the Parson he was somewhere close by.
I felt so lonely, when teh service was over I began to cry.
As we were leaving the Church the minister kindly said goodbye.
When we got out in the road there was a slight sprinkle of rain.
Your Father put me into a coach I was drove to Ilford again
It is five miles from Ilford to Bow there was only a little shower
Your Father and Brother walked home in little more than an hour.
My Grandmother came from Church, my Father and others to Chapel had been
I gave her a kiss and said Grandmother look at my ring.
Granny did not know we were married she was eighty old that day
She had walked to Church and back the Church was a mile away
We had a nice large cake made by a cousing of mine
She sent us some apples and grapes and a bottle of home made wine
There was my Father Mother and Granny Cousin Robert your Father and me
All my Sisters and Brothers how very happy were we
My Dear little blind Brother Harry would not shin from my side
He said Sarah, why did you marry? I want you myself and he cried
In the evening by the bright moonlight, we left for our snug little home
With kisses from all and good night.

Our Lord has taken your Father, he has only gone before
I often fancy I see him I hear his steps at the door
He said he was tired and weary so feeble he wanted to go
I remember him young and cheery fifty years ago
When he and I were married in that quaint old Church at Bow.

My G-grandmother, Kate Norgrove, said that her grandmother, Sarah King-Hall, was part of the famous King-Hall family that contributed a line of Admirals to the British Navy. The story was plausible initially, as Sarah was born at the right time, in the right place, and all those things. However, athough I looked and I looked, I couldn't find any record that she was actually born into that family. Indeed, all the children of that family are fairly well known, and she wasn't in it. I was puzzled for a long time by this. Finally, Joan McNaught showed me that Sarah King-Hall was (fairly definitely) born into quite a different family. It's an interesting thing, though. Did Kate believe this story about being connected to the famous King-Halls? Did she make it up herself, to create some grand rellies for herself? Did her grandmother make it up and tell everybody? I wonder. But I guess I'll never know.

On the 19th of June, 1841, less than two years after they were married, William and Sarah sailed from Gravesend on the Gertrude, to arrive in Port Nicholson on the 30th October, about a year after the first New Zealand Company ship into Wellington. Once again we are fortunate to have a first-hand account of the landing, written in Sarah's distinctive poetic style.

This verse written by Sarah Norgrove to her family about her arrival in New Zealand. Ovid the first son died at the age of 18.

On the twentieth day of June, at two o'clock in the morn
Eighteen hundred and forty our first little son was born.
On the twentieth day of June eighteen hundred and forty one
We were in the ship Gertrude, bound for our New Zealand Home.
The voyage was weary and long, we were twenty weeks in the ship
We all landed safe and strong, on the beach at Kaiwawas slip
the second day of November eighteen forty one
we came on shore and commenced to make our new home.
Your Father lighted a fire and boiled fresh water for tea
Our shipmates said what a treat, will you give some to we.
He said you are welcome my friends, mine is a large kettle you see.
The clearest of water close by enough for you and me.
When your Father began to unpack saw, hammer and nails
There were some who stood by him and said we ought to have brought they ourselves.
He said mates we must all set to work for our dear little children and wives
You know they must all have food, I feel sure you have brought knives.
They said how funny you be, you have cheered us a bit today
And we will let you see us try to so as you say.
When your Father a table had made, a clean cloth on it I spread.
We thankfully sat down to tea in that old Kiwarawara shed.
Our darling had fresh new milk, on the voyage he had feed from my breast
Father said Ovid must learn to eat, Mother must have a rest.
Your Father walked to the town early the very next day
He hired an old mud wara the floor was only clay,
Three rooms -- a toitoi thatched roof and rent sixteen shilling per week
A shipmate shared it with us, when it rained how the roof did leak.
No glass where the window should be some calico nailed up tight
Through the crevices came the wind, and some of the bright sunlight.
The Wandi was on Thorndon flat before the winter had gone
We were living on Lambton Quay, where our dear little Oscar was born
He was only nine days old, when a fire broke out on the beach
Father took us onto the Terrace and placed us out of it's reach.
The fire commenced at midnight, at Loyds the Bakers store
All did their best to put it out, the sea was close to our door
Many houses were burned and shops that were nearly new
It was November the ninth, eighteen hundred and forty two.

So William and Sarah's first home in New Zealand was a three room mud wara hut, which cost them 16 shillings a week. Doesn't sound too comfortable to be honest. However, it's clear that William and Sarah were energetic and intelligent, and took a leading role among their peers. Indeed, William must have had a keen interest in many things, as in 1849 we find him on the board of the Wellington Mechanics' Institute. This Institute, or its predecessor at least, was born before the first New Zealand Company ship even sailed to Wellington, when a committee was charged with the duty of making some provision for the “literary, scientific and philanthropic institutions" of the settlers. The settlers put together a rudimentary library and some bits of scientific equipment, and the first meeting in their new home occurred on the 1st of December, 1840, very soon after their arrival. It occurred, appropriately enough, at Barrett's Hotel, i.e., in a pub. I'm not surprised. Anyway, the initial Port Nicholson Mechanics' Institute Public School Library went defunct as people didn't pay their subscriptions, so another attempt was made in 1848 to revive it, under the new name of the Wellington Mechanics' Institute.

William Norgrove was on the board of this new Institute in 1849, and at a meeting on the 6th of November it was noted that “A drawing class has been ably and usefully conducted by Mr. Norgrove, who has cheerfully devoted a large amount of time and attention to his pupils, of whom there were twenty. The progress made has been very satisfactory, and already affords very pleasing indications of future utility. Want of suitable accommodation has prevented the formation of other projected classes, but these will no doubt follow the opening of the Hall." Indeed, I have to admit that I was both surprised and delighted to discover that William's drawing class is considered to be one of the few successful examples of early adult education in New Zealand. William has even been mentioned in scholarly articles (to wit, James C. Dakin (1991), The prevalence of mutual improvement in adult education in New Zealand 1870-1915, International Journal of Lifelong Education, 10:3, 243--254, and Dakin, J.C. (1978). The origins and beginnings of continuing education in Wellington, Continuing Education in New Zealand, 10, 1, pp. 82, 85, 91. I have to wonder what kind of drawing he taught. `Linear drawing' according to the local newspapers which doesn't sound like it was of the young lady variety, but was it just technical drawing? Certainly, his later career shows that he was a talented painter of all kinds of things, from flags, to coats of arms, to signs. So, as I said, I wonder.

Given his later actions in Nelson and Blenheim, it's likely that William took an active interest in the affairs of Wellington. We know he was on the electoral roll in the 1840's, at which time they were living on Thorndon Quay, although that by itself tells us little. I suspect that he cannot have been very successful, as by the early 1850's William was in the goldfields of Victoria; I know nothing about his time there but it is clear that any success he had there was also marginal at best. I'm not surprised. By January of 1855 he was back in Wellington, just in time for the famous earthquake, the largest ever recorded in New Zealand. My G-grandmother Kate would tell of how the great earthquake broke all the china, and the family had to travel up the hill to get water until her grandfather (i.e., William) made a pump.

It was maybe this earthquake (not to mention the earlier ones of 1848 which wouldn't have helped) that motivated William and Sarah to leave Wellington. Whatever the reason, by October 1855 the family had moved to Nelson, where William set up a new business in Bridge St., opposite the Wakatu Hotel, as a “Plumber, Glazier, House and Sign Painter", with the added attractions of “Baths of every description, Pumps, Beer-engines, Water-closets, &c, fixed and repaired. White and Sheet Lead, Zinc, Window Glass (all sizes), Oils and Colours of every description."

We can trace a lot of his life in the pages of the Nelson and Blenheim newspapers, and it is clear that he was, well, an interesting man one would have to say. Not a reliable one, oh no, but certainly an interesting one; educated, widely read, charismatic, tremendously talented and intelligent, an excellent public speaker and organiser, a born performer, very good at building and making things, but, even with all that, unsuccessful. One has to wonder why. By far the most likely explanation is mental disease. Given that William's son Oscar was committed to a lunatic asylum, and that one of Oscar's children, Bertha, committed suicide, it's a good bet that William had mental troubles of his own. I have no idea what they were, exactly, although one can speculate. Oscar would clearly get manic; it was during one of those bouts that he was committed. Bertha, on the other hand, committed suicide in a fit of depression. Putting this all together, one is tempted to conclude that manic-depression ran in the family, and that William also suffered from it, at least to a certain extent. I speculate, but not without foundation.

His time in Nelson, which lasted from 1855 to 1861, is really his life in miniature, or so it seems to me. Great initial success, elected to the Town Board, public performances and meetings, all followed by decline, bankruptcy and flight to Blenheim. Indeed, we see the same kinds of things appearing in the life of his sons as well; inventors, businessmen, entrepreneurs, builders, sailors...and bankrupts.

William was elected to the Board of Town Improvement, he was instrumental in organising the Fire Brigade, he served on the Board of the Nelson Literary and Scientific Institution, he was active in the Agricultural Society (various Miss Norgroves regularly won prizes for their flowers) and he served on the Nelson Local Committee. In particular, he was full of ideas for how to improve Nelson's water supply. Some of these ideas were even taken up; years later, in 1868, a decade later, when the Nelson Water Works were officially opened, the official speaker said that it was only right that Mr. Norgrove be properly acknowledged as it was all originally his idea. This was a common theme in much of William's life. He was clearly interested in water, how it flows, how it can be controlled and used. He was an engineer through and through.

Another of his projects, again connected with water, was the Public Baths. In 1858 William and a couple of business partners ``proposed to erect a BATHING ESTABLISHMENT in Nelson, combining Hot, Cold, Vapour, and Swimming Baths, with all necessary conveniences, both for ladies and gentlemen." A family ticket was going to cost $\pounds$2 per annum and a warm bath was 2s.\ 6d.\ extra. I'm guessing the project wasn't a great success, as no more is heard about it. It was built, I believe, as tickets were being sold at one stage, but it disappears without any further traces.

Amateur theatricals was yet another of William's interests. In 1857 we find that he performed the part of Colonel Damas in the “Lady of Lyons” (an 1838 romantic drama by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, one of the most popular plays of its time). The theatre critic rather liked William's performance: ``Colonel Damas was randered by Mr. Norgrove with all that bluff bonhomie pertaining to the old soldier, and still with the tact of an actor, that pleased us much." The play, apparently, was much improved from its first performance, as the actors knew their parts this time, and acted well. As opposed to the previous performance one imagines. A year later William was calling a public meeting to try and get a proper theatre built in Nelson, “expressly suitable for theatrical performances, concerts, balls, &c." I don't think that anything came of this theatre proposal either.

Every so often, when searching through old newspapers, the voice of William can be heard quite clearly (sometimes pleasant, sometimes not), and it is these extracts that tell us, most accurately, the kind of man he was. These, to me, are the real treasures. (Apart, of course, from the announcement that “Beda, the one-legged gymnast is in Blenheim and purposes giving performances at Ewart's Hall." You couldn't make that stuff up.) In a meeting held in 1856 to discuss the new Education Act (Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, 21 June, 1856):

“Mr. Norgrove said that, like Marmaduke Magog, it was not often that he spoke in public, but he must beg permission to say a few words on the subject of education. He remembered attending a Chartist meeting about 25 years ago, at which one of the great reasons urged for the passing of the people's charter was that the Government did not make proper provision for the education of the people [hear, hear]. He remembered that one of the speakers on that occasion had alluded to the mill girls of Manchester, who toiled from morning till night at the mills instead of going to school, and had remarked that the wonder was not that they were bad, but that they were so good [hear]. The same speaker went on to show that without education a people could become neither wise nor good, and that it was the duty of the state to care for the education of the people [hear, hear]. He (Mr. Norgrove) was sorry to find that the question was so mistaken here, and that people forgot that in paying this tax for the support of a scheme of education, they were investing for posterity [hear, hear]. He had seven children, and he should some day be gathered to his fathers and leave a name behind him -- it might be an indifferent one, but at all events it would be a name -- and it was his earnest desire to see his boys receive a better education, and earn a better name than himself [cheers]. Should parents toil on day after day and leave their children what they considered a competence, without giving them some education to take care of that which, if they were ignorant and uneducated, some plausible scoundrel might come and chouse them out of [hear, hear]? He was sorry to hear no argument on the other side; he wised to see the measure fairly tried, and he had no doubt that some day or other they would all be the better for it [vehement cheering].”

You can hear that William cared, really cared, about education. He was less fond of religious bigotry, and the Catholic Church in particular (Marlborough Express, 23 October, 1875):

Mr.\ Editor, -- A letter appeared in Thursday's {\it Times} signed ``Catholicus", one paragraph of which applied to myself as a private individual. I have therefore to ask the favor of space for a few lines by way of reply.

``Catholicus" says my children were educated at the Catholic schools, and asks when did I change. He might have gone further and said I subscribed to building the Church. My answer is that was my private affair. The funds of the Borough Schools are public property, and for the proper expenditure of which to the public alone am I responsible. As to why I sent my children to the Catholic schools, -- I have read that if you go to supper with the Devil, take a long spoon; or, of two evils, choose the least. The Catholic schools at that time were the best in the town; that was my reason. As to when I changed, -- I answer that I have not changed; that ever since the so-called \OE cumenical Council, and the declaration of the Infallibility Dogma, I find that the Catholic Clergy have been making all over the world strenuous exertions to have a finger in the political pie, to prop a falling Church; hence the troubles in Germany.

I, for one, wish to see all sects and creeds at liberty to follow their own particular views; -- favor to none. This it seems does not suit with the dogma which demands a blind unreasoning credulity. Those have ever been my views; I demand the right to think freely, and speak fearlessly, so I say ``Watch." -- I am, \&c.,

W. Norgrove.

And he really didn't like the Chinese: (Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, 15 August, 1857)


A public meeting was held at the Courthouse, Nelson, on Thursday last, for the purpose of considering ``what steps should be taken to prevent any Chinese immigration into the province;" W.L. Wrey, Esq., in the chair.

The Chairman briefly stated the objects of the meeting, and said that it was his impression, that of all the debased people on the face of the earth, none equalled the Chinese in their immoral, wretched, and he might say diabolical habits [hear, hear]; and he thought the people of Nelson were called upon to endeavour to prevent such a race of beings from landing on these shores. He was glad to find by the large attendance that it was a matter in which the inhabitants interested themselves, and he should like to hear the opinion of any one present upon the subject.

[There follows a series of statements from attendees, all vilifying the Chinese in no uncertain terms, and volunteering to be the first on the beaches to take arms against the foul invaders should that prove to be necessary. Then our William had his say.]

Mr. Norgrove, from some experience in Australia, could testify to the filthy and degrading habits of the Chinese in that country. The people in Australia were now very anxious to get rid of these people; and, as prevention was better than cure, he thought that the people of Nelson would be justified in doing all in their power to prevent the contamination to which an influx of the Chinese would expose them [cheers].

[The meeting continued in a similar vein.]

Clearly, William's rational liberality extended only to Europeans. Not surprising I suppose; in that he was a man of his times. Still, unattractive.

He suffered from rheumatism: (Marlborough Express, 1 July, 1876)

Sir, -- Permit me to thank you for inserting in your journal the information that a cure for rheumatism had been discovered in the shape of caustic ammonia. Having suffered for a long time, and tried nearly every remedy to little purpose, I procured from Dr. Cleghorn's shop, a small phial of the solution; two drops of which, applied with the point of a camel hair pencil, almost instantly removed the pain. Trusting that all my fellow sufferers will find it equally efficacious. -- I am, &c.,

William Norgrove.
Blenheim, June 30th.

[We may add to the above letter, that we had ocular demonstration of the value of the remedy in Mr.\ Norgrove's case, who exhibited the wonderful ease with which he could swing his arm about, that a few days ago was full of pain, and which he could not lift to his head without using the other for the purpose. The remedy in question is very simple, painless, and inexpensive, -- Ed. {\it M.E.}]

And for cricket fans, it appears that our William Norgrove was a participant in that noble sport. In fact, he even played against the Neals once! And won! Hallelujah! It was on the 26th of April, 1873 that the Spring Creek cricket team challenged the Blenheim team to a match. Not a wise move. A certain Mr. Wix on the Blenheim team was a mean bodyline bowler: “Of the bowling of Mr. Wix we can say but little; we would recommend that gentleman to practice straight bowling, as it was very evident in many cases he mistook the batsmen for the wickets." Wix took 11 wickets in the match, including the scalps of T. Neal (for 3) and R. Neal (for 0), our old friends Thomas Nelson, and, presumably, his brother Robert. Another Neal brother, Francis, was run out for 1. It cannot be claimed that the Neal brothers distinguished themselves in this particular match. Still, the Spring Creek total was only 38, of which 22 were byes, so the Neal brothers, with 4 runs between them, scored 25% of the runs that came from the bat.

In return, the Blenheim team creamed the Spring Creek bowling. Nasty Mr. Wix made 19, while the inestimable A. Budge made a phenomenal 23, for a total of 103. Our William made 2, not out.

I am sad to relate that Thomas Nelson Neal did even worse in the second innings, with only a single run to his credit, although brothers Robert and Francis did a little better, with 14 and 7 runs respectively. Curiously, a certain W. Barker was stumped and bowled by the nasty Mr. Wix. Is this even possible? I wouldn't have thought so. One can't help wondering. Anyway, our William made 3 (not out) in the second innings, and the Blenheim team cruised to a comfortable victory.

But together with the fine speeches, the public meetings, and the grand ideas, were debts. Lots of them, it seems. Already by 1857 William was in court, being required to pay £58.6.10 to a certain Barrett. The judge made a telling remark, that the judgement was for the plaintiff “as in former cases". Clearly this was not the first time William had been in court for not paying up. Other things went sour as well. William had been elected in 1858 to the Board of the Nelson Literary and Scientific Committee, but in the 1859 election he came in last, with only four votes. Was this an indication that people were getting sick of him? Possibly. It's hard to be sure. Certainly, at the beginning of 1859 he gave up the struggle in Nelson, and sold up everything to pay his creditors, including the Baths which he had built. It's not clear what he did then, as it wasn't for two more years that his family left Nelson. However, on the 15th of May, 1861, he put his wife, seven youngest children, 26 boxes and 14 packages of effects on the schooner “City of Nelson”, headed to the Wairau, while he and his two eldest boys (Horace and my GG-grandfather, Oscar) walked across the hills. Because of the weather the “City of Nelson” couldn't cross the Wairau bar, so they all had to be taken to shore in a whaling boat. That would have been a nasty trip. Crossing the Wairau bar in bad weather, in an open boat with seven young children. Not for the faint-hearted, that's for sure.

Their first house in Blenheim was on Bradford Quay, where the fire station is now; Blenheim was still very small, with only about 52 houses. Later, in 1864, William and Sarah built a house in Dillon St. According to Joan McNaught the timber for the house was white pine from the Big Bush at Grovetown, and rimu from Dalton's Mill on the Picton Road. The roof was originally covered with shingles, but these were later replaced with iron. Unsurprisingly, giving William's interest in horticulture, it had a beautiful garden; even before the house was built Willliam put up a glass house to shelter some cherished grape vines. Seeds were sent from family in England and also grown in the glass house. After both William and Sarah were dead, this garden was looked after by two of their daughters, Kate (not my G-grandmother, but her aunt) and Emma. Aunt Emma, as my mother always called her, was blind in her later years, and would navigate around this garden by hooking her walking stick over the clothes line. She and her sister Kate operated the Maxwell Road general store, which had been built by their parents around 1884. The store sold groceries and sweets, and its proprietors were known to all as ``the fat and the thin Misses Norgrove". I'm not sure which was which. When her sister Kate died, Emma struggled on in the house until, after living there for over 76 years, she had to move out and live with her nephew Ted Norgrove, in Redwood St. The house was pulled down soon after, in 1941. Aunt Emma lived to the ripe old age of 97, the last 17 of which she was blind. Norgroves lived on the Dillon St. property for over 10 years, until the last of them, William and Sarah's G-grandson Alf Norgrove, left Blenheim in 1966.

William's public life in Blenheim followed a similar pattern as in Nelson. He was elected to the local Council (in 1873) where he made many a speech about how best to improve Blenheim's water supply. His ideas were ignored for years; it wasn't until 1885 that anything was done about them, by which time William was too old and infirm to attend the meetings. This was noted with regret. He served on the Blenheim Education Board, appeared in many performances of the Literary Society (giving readings of various things mostly, it seems), and was active in the Agricultural Society, as he had been in Nelson. He even invented a novel gate-fastener which was entered into the Marlborough Agricultural Society 1875 Annual Show. It wasn't generally admired.

Gold was a recurrent interest, for both Willliam and son Oscar. In 1878 William was able to combine his interests in water and gold when he went to the Wakamarina gold field to try and design ways in which the claims could be drained. His interest was a share of the profits; one would suspect there weren't any if it weren't for the story that Oscar's daughter, my G-grandmother Kate, told, of how her father had made £300 in three weeks at Wakamarina. Do we believe her? I'm not entirely sure I do. We don't even know for sure that William's visit to Wakamarina had anything to do with Oscar; still, it would be very surprising if it didn't, so, on balance, I'm willing to allow William at least partial credit for a possible £300 profit.

As he got older, William's health declined and he stopped attending public meetings. Eventually, on the 18th of June, 1886, he died, leaving behind this obituary in the Marlborough Express:

It is with sincere regret that we record the death of Mr William Norgrove, an old and respected Wairau settler, which took place at three o'clock on Friday afternoon, at his residence, Maxwell Rd\footnote{Yes, it says Maxwell Rd.\ not Dillon St. The house was on the corner of Maxwell and Dillon, with the garden originally extending south to Stephenson St. and west to Percy St. It was a big section.}. He was in his 73rd year, and the debt of nature was paid through general debility and decay. Mr. Norgrove was born in Ardleigh, Essex, and educated at the Foundation School, Colchester, in which town he afterwards served his time as plumber and painter. Having resolved to emigrate, he landed in Wellington, from the ship Gertrude, on the 31st October, 1841. When the gold fever broke out early in the fifties he went over to Victoria, where he stayed two or three years. On his return to New Zealand he settled for some time at Nelson. Whilst there he was a member of the Town Board, and the first and prime mover in the establishment of water works, a fact which was prominently acknowledged at the inaugural banquet some years ago. Determining to shift his fortunes to Marlborough, Mr. Norgrove arrived in the Wairau in March, 1861, and, at the time of his death, had therefore been a resident amongst us for upwards of 25 years, and a Colonist of upwards of 45 years standing. He formerly occupied the position of a Borough Councillor in Blenheim. Wherever he resided he worked at his trade, adding to it the practice of letter writing and cutting; the Tua Marina Memorial on Massacre Hill being an abiding specimen of his work. During the last three or four years he had been infirm and unable to carry on his business, but it was not till about a fortnight ago that he took to his bed with the last illness from which he never rose again. His familiar figure will be greatly missed from Blenheim. Mr. Norgrove was a man who took an active part in all local improvements and ideas; he was full of information and geniality; and possessed a fund of fertile and ingenious ideas. It will be remembered to his honor that he was remarkable for the breadth, liberality, and tolerance of his opinions. He was married at Ilford Church, Essex, and his widow and seven children -- four sons and three daughters -- survive him.

After having so much to say about William, it is disappointing that we know so little about Sarah. However, such is the burden of the genealogist; women just don't appear. She survived William by a few years, and died on the 3rd of March, 1891, leaving an obituary in her turn (in the Marlborough Express):

Another old colonist has passed into the silent land. We refer to Mrs. Norgrove, who breathed her last at her residence, Maxwell Road, early this morning. The deceased, who was the relict of the late William Norgrove, was married at Bow Church, Middlesex in 1839, and with her husband came out to the colony by the ship Gertrude, landing in Wellington on November 1st, 1841. They removed to Nelson in 1855, and afterwards came to the Wairau in May, 1861. Of a kindly and benevolent disposition, though quiet and unobtrusive in her mode of life, the deceased lady was highly esteemed, and perhaps by no one will she be more missed than by the many children of her acquaintance, of whom she was particularly fond, and whom she entertained by many a simple tale. The memory of her many virtues, and her cheerful demeanour amid the later years of an invalid life will be cherished by her numerous friends. She leaves a large family of grown up sons and daughters, to whom we extend our sympathy in their bereavement.
Last Modified 11 Dec 2015Created 11 Sep 2016 using Reunion for Macintosh