Friday, September 3, 2010


John James Austen never married nor had children. He died very suddenly of pneumonia. I wonder if there was a 'flu epidemic in 1898? A bit sad really.
The other mystery is Annie Austen she married Agustus Sergins in 1891, according to the marriage certificate he was born in Portigal [sic] Portugal?. The spelling is all over the place in this certificate and it is frustrating because I can find no records - birth or death for Sergins.
And another one is Stanley George Austen, the son of George Austen (Captain John's third child) Stanley was born in 1889 and went off to the first World War on the 16th October in 1914. He is not listed in the casualties but I can find no records of a marriage, births or death. George's will lists three children only so Stanley must have died before him but where and when is a mystery.
The easy stuff has been found now it is just the tricky bits!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Archives New Zealand

What a fabulous place! Who knew?
We have held the last will and testament of Captain John Austen. The will was signed on board the schooner "Josephine" Latitude 24.10 (can't read the rest) on the 13th day of November 1876. his executors were Martin O'Connel, Master mariner of Auckland and James Peachy also Master mariner of Auckland. Both died before John did in 1899. As an aside Martin O'Connel married John Austen's niece Mary Jane. Mary Jane and her mother Caroline (John's sister) and father Stephen Honeyman came to New Zealand in 1858.
He left everything to Anne and the estate was valued at less than 200 pound.
There were also lots of documents about the "smuggling" - some official certainly had it in for John!
The lost item that we would love to find is a Observer Christmas Annual for 1898 it was a special supplement called "Yachting in Auckland" advertised as "beautiful pictures, amusing pictures, thrilling tales, humorous tales". In the table of contents there is "Jack Austen's Big Haul, a Whaling Yarn". Sadly the issue is missing and has not been copied onto microfilm by the National Library.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Anther one!

Well I thought I had them all but....I have found another son. I had come across a couple of entries in Papers Past where Anne was traveling around the country with more children than I had accounted for. I kept searching records both birth and death thinking maybe there had been an infant that had died young.
Then I noticed that there was a John James Austen buried at Waikumete not only was his occupation listed as "seaman" but he is buried quite close to Captain John and Anne's plot. I doubled checked the Austins and found him.
John James Austen was born on the 17th March 1861 in Auckland. He was registered as John Austin by his grandmother Hannah Wilcox. I assume that Hannah could not read or write as she "signed" the form with a cross as her "mark". Perhaps that is why the name was spelled wrong.
John James died at age 37 on the 24th November 1898. So he died before Captain John.
The next bit of sleuthing will be to see if he married and had any family.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Family matters

Well it has taken some time but at last I have identified the children of Captain John Austen and Anne Wilcox. Over 26 years they had 9 children!

Mary Jane Austen was born 16th October 1859 in Auckland. In 1880 she married John Edward Ward and had numerous offspring:
her death notice lists Ada; Mabel; Leah; Blanche; Gladys, Walter, John and Bailie. There was also Archibald Frederick, Hazel Lilian and Wilfred Austen who died in infancy. Mary Jane died in 1932 and is buried in Waikumete cemetary.

George Austen was born 8th June 1864 in Invercargill. In 1888 he married Elizabeth Nolan. I have found 4 offspring for them Stanley George (he went off to the first World War in 1917); Albert Edward, Pansy Ellen and Alfred Nolan who died in infancy. George and Elizabeth are buried in Waikumete cemetary.

William Austen was born 26th November 1866 in Onehunga. He died in 1911 and although his death certificate suggests he married "Kate" when he was 24 they do not seem to have had any children.

Annie Austen was born 22nd June 1870 in Onehunga. (I have no other information at present.)

Caroline (Carrie) Austen was born 26th September 1872 in Onehunga. She married Arthur Henry Postlewaight in 1892. I have found Sydney Francis (he went off to WW1 in October 1914); Alfred John (he went off to WW1 in April 1915); Lawrence Henry (he went off to WW1 in August 1916); Reginald Mafeking and Gladys Rose. Ivy May, Albert Morris and Evelyn all died in infancy. Carrie died at age 35 in 1908 of puerperal septicaemia (childbirth feaver). She and Arthur are buried in Waikumete Cemetary.

Elizabeth Keziah Austen was born 24th September 1876 in Beach Road Thames.(I have no other information at present.)

Alfred Edward Austen was born 30th September 1879 in Eden Crescent, Auckland. He married Minnie Rose Mackie in 1900. They had Albert Claude and Dorothy, baby George Henry died in 1902. Alfred died in 1957 his ashes are scattered at Waikumete.

Joseph Austen was born 6th June 1881 in Victoria St West, Auckland. In 1906 he married Agnes Florence Smithson. His death notice lists children - Bruce, Nellie and Peggy. Joseph died in 1951. He and Agnes are buried in Waikumete.

Arthur Wellesley Austen was born 22nd March 1885 in Cook St, Auckland. He married Elsie Annie Wheeler in 1915. They had three children Sydney, Rhona and Mervyn Arthur. Arthur died in 1958 and his ashes are scatterd in Waikumete.

All of his children were alive when Captain John dies in 1899.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Of wrecks and mysteries

One could be forgiven for thinking that Captain John was a little careless with his vessels but his wrecks must be seen in the context of his times. With no motors these ships were at the mercy of the wind, tide and rocks. Several of the ships he had owned or sailed were lost under other captains. The "Tay" was wrecked near Waiheke in 1866, the "Christina" was lost at the Otago Heads, and the one I find most chilling the "Josephine" which left Foxton for Sydney in 1882 and was never seen again "presumed to have foundered at sea".

I have often wondered how he got back to Auckland after the wreck of the "Reliance" and have just found this curious account in "Papers Past". It seems that he shipped as mate on board the "Hamlet's Ghost". On board was a very shady character indeed - Count Von Atem.

"The Hamlet's Ghost, with the spurious Count on board, put into Somerset (Cape York) on or about the 15th of August.[1868] On being boarded by the police boat, he made inquiries as to whether a frigate had arrived there, and on being answered in the affirmative became agitated and eagerly inquired about her movements, but appeared relieved when told that the vessel was ELALS. Virago, and that she had left the settlement in January. He remained eight days, and during the whole time kept a bright look-out for vessels in the offing. The captain and crew were discharged in consequence of a row between the c Count' and the captain, in which revolvers were drawn. The crew refused to put the captain in irons. It appears that the Count had kept them in awe by threatening to give them twenty-five lashes a-piece when he fell in with the Austrian frigate he was always expecting. The acting police magistrate induced the crew to re-ship under a fresh, agreement, all but the captain and steward, who remained behind. While in port the Count was always dressed in the uniform of an Austrian captain of cavalry, and wore a sword when on shore. He made a great display of the money he had with him, and purposely left bills of exchange lying about his cabin for visitors to see, many of which were filled in for large amounts, and only wanted his signature, lie succeeded, in imposing upon the authorities, taking supplies for his vessel aud paying for them in bills, which the holders will doubtless discover are about as valuable as drafts upon Aldgate pump. He sailed for Batavia on the eighth day, leaving letters for the captain of the Austrian frigate and his bankers in Sydney. Two days after he left Somerset, the schooner Captain Cook arrived from Bowen, with a warrant for the arrest of the Count."