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Somerset & Dorset
Family History Society

From Shaftesbury to Auckland New Zealand Part 1

Mrs. Ngaire Greger has recently joined the Society from her home in New Zealand, and here she shares part one of a story about one of her Great Grandfathers. Part two is to follow.

Church at Howick

On 21 September 1863 the ship Annie Wilson arrived in Auckland, New Zealand. On board were two young brothers. One was John Bennett Brickell aged 16, and the other was Robert Bennett Brickell aged 15. They had come from Shaftesbury, Dorset, England.

My Grandmother said that Robert had been educated for the Bank in England.

The two boys are said to have run away to come to New Zealand as they wanted to fight the Maoris. The army records for Robert show that they were met at the ship when it docked and ordered to report to the Defence Office in Auckland the next day.

The pay of the Militia and Volunteers serving in the Province of Auckland was Privates 2s.6d per diem (per day) with rations and other allowances.

Armed Constabulary

It is said that, while in the Maori Wars, the brothers wrote to two sisters who lived in Howick for two other soldiers who were illiterate. But they ended up writing for themselves and married the two Thompson sisters, causing a scandal in Howick. The Intentions to Marry record dated 10 Oct 1866 states that the boys had only been living in Howick for 3 days, were farmers, and the weddings where to be in the Catholic Chapel in Howick.

It was on the 13 Oct 1866 that Robert married. Robert was 19 and Catherine was 16.

In 1913 Robert began writing to the NZ Defence Dept to claim his NZ War Medal in respect of service in the 2nd Waikato Volunteers and the 1st Waikato Militia of 1863-67. His periods of service were Oct 1863 – 1866 and then 1866 to 1867. From October 1863 to 1866 he served in the Waikato taking part in the Battle of Orakau in 1865. He was on guard duty over Military Stores and was under fire. Then served 9 months on the East Coast Campaign in Urewera.

On 6 June 1867 the Daily Southern Cross shows that both Robert and John each received 2 Crown grants (Militia). This land was at Opotiki.

Robert joined the NZ Armed Constabulary Force in Auckland in 1868 leaving his young wife and their infant son in the care of her widowed mother. The mother was shortly after that sent to a benevolent home. He wrote to his wife to come to him in Napier where he was stationed after the East Coast campaign against Te Kooti. Shortly after she arrived his Division was under orders to be sent to Taupo.

Te Kooti

As the Military Authorities were reducing the force, the War being practically ended, he and his wife both made application for his discharge. This was refused on the grounds of his excellent character. He felt deeply aggrieved at the refusal of their request, as others were being discharged who had not the same claim to bring forward. He would have to leave his young wife and son without home or friends in a strange place. He thought his first duty was to them. So on the 21 August 1869 at Patane, he absented himself from parade.

This forced his discharge.

Ngaire Greger – New Zealand.

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