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Berkshire Family Historian
March 2000

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Letters to the Editor: Movers and stayers in nineteenth-century Abingdon

- Fred Waite, Lichfield, Staffordshire

In response to the article 'Movers and Stayers' by Mike Robins in the September issue of the Berkshire Family Historian, I would like to put forward my ancestor, William Watkins Waite, as Abingdon's most travelled son.

William was born at Abingdon on September 8, 1811, the son of William Watkins Waite and Martha Edgington. In 1841 William Jnr. was trading as a bookseller in Norwich where he married Emily Wilson. Their first child Ellen Mary was born in Norwich on June 20,1841. Shortly after-wards William and his family sailed to Canada where Ellen Mary died in North Pelham, Ontario, on June 7,1843. Four children were born in Canada between 1844 and 1851 and then the family moved to England.

On August 14 1857 William and his family sailed from Gravesend on board the 'Bosworth' bound for New Zealand. After a voyage of 102 days, during which two of the crew tried to set fire to the ship, they landed at Port Chalmers, Dunedin. William had been commissioned to set up a school in the Otago peninsula in order to educate the children of Scottish settlers. The children were ini­tially taught in William's house until a new school-house was built. Following the formation of a State Education Board, William and his family again packed their bags and headed for Australia, leaving on September 11 1863 on the 'Glencoe'.

On October 4 they landed at Hobson's Bay, Victoria. Their jour­ney continued within the state of Victoria, where the four children became teachers and taught in a number of outback schools. Emily Waite, William's wife, died on August 7 1896 at Casterton, aged 84 and her husband on March 31 1899 at Camberwell aged 87. Two of the children died in Australia, one returned to New Zealand and one returned to England.


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