Wednesday, 30 January 2008

The ROCHE and HERRIES familes of Te Aroha, New Zealand - Part 2

About six weeks ago, in mid-December, I received an email from Barbara Moules in Australia, saying that she was a direct descendant of Edward Francis Roche (1828-1903), and that a letter would follow in the post. The letter arrived a few days later, together with a copy of William & Catherine's marriage certificate and an explanation of Barbara's interest. Her great-grandmother Frances Roche was a sister of Catherine, and Barbara had been researching the Roche family for some years. She had learnt, via the Alexander Turnbull Library (who had presumably found my two year old Rootsweb Mailing List post, of my interest and was intrigued to hear of the photographs in my possession.

Barbara provided the following interesting background information:

"Edward Francis Roche, his wife Dorothea and their children Mary Elizabeth, Henry, Catherine, Dorothea, John & Francis James, came from Ireland to New Zealand in 1880 ... My great grandmother, their second child Frances, had in 1878 been sent to New South Wales [with her husband Bartholomew Murphy] in disgrace because she not only became pregnant to the stable boy, but he was also a Catholic ... By the time Catherine married, her parents would have been 61 (Edward) and 63 (Dorothea)."
as well as an extract of Catherine's will:

"I give ... all moneys ... to pay the net annual income arising therefrom to my sister Frances Murphy of Sydney in the State of New South Wales, widow ..."
I forwarded images of the photos by email, while in a subsequent letter Barbara sent me a photocopy of a copied photo of Catherine's mother Dorothea from her own family collection. It was obviously the same portrait as the one I had purchased on eBay a couple of years earlier.

This image © & courtesy of Barbara Moules This image © & courtesy of Barbara Moules

In the mean time, I also contacted my friend Peter Koninsky in the United States, and asked if he would consider parting with the photos, in exchange for some other old New Zealand photos that I hoped to find for him in due course. Peter had no hesitation whatsoever, putting them in the post within a day or two, and they are already in Barbara's hands. She was, of course very excited:

"I will wait for the original photographs to travel through your hands again and come to rest, in a welcoming home here with me, for good ... Having the two photos will give my research a solid base and somehow place Frances and descendants firmly back with the family."
"How marvellous! The photos are on the way! Will be great to receive ... Some family member must have disposed of the family photos for them to find their way onto the open market. Glad you found them."
"Thank you once again and I look forward to your story. It should give a lot of researchers hope."
Barbara also sent me some of her and fellow descendant Graham Brady's Roche research material, including the following obituary for Mr. Roche from the New Zealand Herald (29 September 1903):

MR. EDWARD FRANCIS ROCHE
"Yesterday, at 'The Croft,' Otahuhu, Mr. Edward Francis Roche died at the ripe old age of 75 years. The deceased, who came out to the colony nearly 30 years ago from Ireland, was well known in agricultural and pastoral circles, and resided for many years in the Waikato district. On the sale of his estate in the Waikato, Mr. Roche went to live at Tauranga, where he remained for some years. Among his numerous acquaintances the deceased was highly respected as a man of sterling integrity. He leaves a grown up family, the eldest son being in the employ of the Auckland Education Board ... One of the daughters of the late Mr. Roche is the wife of Mr. W.H. Herries, member of Parliament for the Bay of Plenty electorate. The interment will be private."
Edward & Dorothea's children were as follows:

- Mary "Minnie" Elizabeth Roche (1853-1937) m. William Percy Gage-Brown
- Edward Francis Roche b. 1855 d. in Burma, while a judge in the Indian Civil Service
- Frances Roche (1854-1930) m. Bartholomew Murphy
- Henry Roche (1857-1950) a civil engineer who worked on the Auckland-Rotorua railway line and for the Waihi Gold Mining Co. m. Charlotte Amy Purchas, daughter of medical missionary Rev. Arthur Guyon Purchas
- Catherine Louise Roche (1859-1912) m. Sir William Herbert Herries (1859-1923)
- Dorothea Roche (1860-1932) m. George Frederick Bendall, farmer of Otahuhu (NZ) & Lindisfarne, Hobart (Tasmania)
- John Longfield Roche, a farmer in the Waikato, m. Isobel Constance Marshall
- Francis James Roche b. 1865, also an engineer, m. Kathleen Clara Stock
The moral of the story, if there is one, is that when doing family and local history research, it always pays to leave a paper trail, or an internet presence of some sort. In other words, make postings on mailing lists and online forums with details of your interests or questions. It is also wise to leave some means for a potential reader to contact you at some stage in the future, although one should take care not to reveal too many personal details. Nothing may happen for years, or it may never result in anything, but it could, as in this case, have a very happy ending.

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