Moreover, my ancestors' souls are sustained by the atmosphere of the house, since I answer for them the questions that their lives once left behind. I carve out rough answers as best I can. I have even drawn them on the walls. It is as if a silent, greater family, stretching down the centuries, were peopling the house.

Carl Jung (1875 - 1961)

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Elizabeth’s troublesome daughters and sons

Q.E.D Whatsup wi Sal? Aint yer erd? Shes married agin

Harriet Ann Ralph married Albert Norris in 1876. They already had a child, Albert Norris Jnr, born in 1874. They went on to have Elizabeth (1877) and Helen (known as Ellen – 1880), Thomas Gilbert (1882), Violet Lucy Lodge Norris (1884) and Annabella Courtney Norris (1887-1887). From 1883 newspaper mentions of Harriet as drunk and using profane language start to appear. In April 1883 she apparently promised to leave the district, but didn’t and in March of 1884 there is a detailed account of her husband, Albert ‘deliberately stabbing her in the face and cutting her about the hands’ being ‘in drink at the time’ from the resulting court case. This makes interesting reading, with some strong direction to the jury to find Albert not guilty due to provocation. 
The cartoon at the left is originally from Punch, 1st September 1894 - a bit later than Harriet's domestic  violence, but typifies a view that a certain class of women 'put up with' assault in marriage. Go to for great background on Victorian society.

There is a curious editorial by ‘Cyclop’ under the heading ‘An eye for everything’ (See this at paperspast - Mataura Ensign, 2 May 1884, Page 5) which gives the impression that the charges as laid by the Police indicated some sympathy to Harriet as a victim, and less so for Albert as the perpetrator of violence. Despite speculation that Harriet’s version ‘did not make sense’ by the defense, the jury convicted, and the Judge summed up that women should be protected, and gave him three years hard labour. 

Without Albert, Harriet continued having difficulties. She was brought before a Magistrate in October 1884 for non-payment of support for her two children in the Cavasham Industrial School. Records (Industrial School records and warrants from the Kiwi Index NZ Genealogical Society) indicate that not just two, but Albert Jnr, Ellen, Thomas Gilbert and William Henry were all in care for most of their childhood.
In December of 1884 – a bad year for Harriet – she and her youngest sister Violet Lucy Lodge Ralph were charged with being drunk and disorderly at the Hussar Sports Day. Another mention in 1885 and again in 1891 indicates that Harriet may have had a serious alcohol problem - more about her sad state later.
Elizabeth and her husband John are found in Duke St. Auckland in 1896, but prior to that they may have been living in Huckerenui, Northland (a mention for John as a Trustee at the Huckerenui Cemetery in the Kiwi Index). John is apparently working as a gardener.

Then in 1902 Elizabeth’s’ sons, half-brothers James Henry (Harry) Ralph and John Lewis Horne Jnr are both called before the Magistrate in Auckland for failing to provide for their mother, Elizabeth. A number of family members seem to be converging on Auckland by design or chance, but John Lewis Horne Jnr claims he did not know she was there. He and James are both directed to pay 10/- a month; James doesn’t and in 1903 is given 14 days hard labour, but the sentence is suspended for a fortnight, probably because he didn’t appear in court.
It’s hard to piece together what is happening with the family because voter’s registrations don’t necessarily reflect exactly where people are living, or for how long, and there can be inaccuracies and omissions in registration. John and Elizabeth still seem to be together as a couple, although we can’t be sure that they did not have periods of separation, hence the need for maintenance for Elizabeth. John is listed alone in Christchurch on the Voter’s Register for 1905-1906.
However he appears to be back in Auckland in 1908, and it sounds like he is not welcome in some drinking establishments.

Auckland Star, 19 June 1908, Page 5
‘Prohibition Notices’ were a way of keeping problem drinkers away from particular pubs, giving the owners and/or other customers a bit of respite from their rowdy behaviour for a month or two. John promises to keep away from temptation – he is 63. I’m speculating that this refers to John Lewis senior, on the grounds that it doesn’t sound like John Jnr, who got married on the 28th February 1908. Still, Elizabeth and John seem to be living a quieter life these days.
By 1911 they have moved to Wellington, in an area called ‘Northland’.


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