Monday, November 28, 2011

The madman!

This is Stephen Hunneyman (Honeyman).
He married Captain John's sister - Caroline Austen in Dover in 1846. Whether he was the father of her child is unknown. Mary Jane Austen was baptised on the 3rd May 1842 in Rye - her mother was 20 years old and is listed as a single woman, Caroline had no other children.
In 1858 the family came to New Zealand and lived in Auckland and Napier. All was not well, however, and Stephen left Auckland and was not heard of again.
Caroline and Mary Jane seemed to have lived with the Austen family and travelled with them around the country. Mary Jane was married in John's house in Invercargill in 1864.
Meanwhile Stephen was working in the Hawkes Bay and then in the South Island in Hokitika. It is in Hokitika that he was charged with being of unsound mind and remanded for a medical examination. On the 20th September 1867 he was committed to the Sunnyside Lunatic Asylum in Christchurch, he died there in June 1868.
It seems Caroline was unaware of her husband's death until 1871, when using the photograph above she identified Stephen and claimed his estate.
Newspaper reports of the inquest into Stephen's death reveal that he was partially paralysed. It may be that he suffered a stroke – stroke symptoms were frequently referred to as “softening of the brain”. The inquest returned a verdict of “Died from natural causes”.
In 1895 there were newspaper advertisements for Caroline Hunneyman or her personal representative. This was many years after her death and John Austen seems to have inherited one hundred pounds from Stephen's English estate.