I’d heard the story many times. My great great grandmother Honour Batten was born at sea.
The story went that she was born onboard ship while my ancestors were coming to New Zealand. One of her middle names was allegedly of the ship’s captain - Malcolm.
Great yarn right? Except it's not exactly right.
The family has my great grandmother’s (Myrtle) birth certificate and it says Honour was born at sea.
So I searched, checking ships’ records but it was quickly clear the story could not be true. It was her grandfather John Treweek who came to New Zealand. He had been born in Tregony, Cornwall in 1814 and married Honour Chapman. They had five children and came to New Zealand in 1841 aboard the Timandra.
The ship arrived in New Plymouth and the Treweeks (sometimes spelled Trewick - this will be important later) began to spread first to Whanganui, and then three of the boys headed to Otago, to try mining.
John stayed in the Manawatu region and he and Honour had 13 children including James, born in New Plymouth who married Susanna Gould - my Honour’s parents.
The Treweek family is large and well-documented. There was no chance Honour was born on a ship coming to New Zealand.
So where did the story come from?
I turned to a new “extended” family I had recently joined - all of them descendants of Batten’s and related families - and they came through for me. Someone had already done the research!
Honour was indeed born at sea…..but on a coastal ship in 1871.
James and Susannah were going from Dunedin to New Plymouth. At a guess, they had been visiting family.
They were aboard the SS Māori - which travelled a regular route between the North and South islands. And regularly captained by none other than James Malcolm.
Honour’s birthday was July 4 - the SS Māori had left Dunedin, July 1 heading for Lyttelton. Arriving July 3 in Timaru then heading to Lyttelton. They arrived on July 5….the day after Honour was born, somewhere between Timaru and Lyttelton.
They would have transferred to the SS Taranaki. A list of passengers listed them as Mr and Mrs Trewick and child. Little Honour.
So here’s a tip. Members of your extended family might hold clues - or even the solution - to questions if you are searching.
Honour and her husband William are buried in the Pahiatua-Mangatainoka Cemetery - although her headstone said she was born in 1872.
With special thanks to Janis Brooks who had done the hard work!