Monday, September 15, 2014

BURROW, Edward Benjamin ((Ted) 1892-1918)

Trooper Edward Benjamin Burrow, 28th Reinforcements,
Canterbury Mounted Rifles, NZEF. WWI service no 50628

In 1876 two young farm labourers set out from their home in Theale, Somerset, England. John Burrow, aged 23, and his cousin Charles (Charlie) Champeney, 21, both boarded the ship Fernglen, heading for Wellington, New Zealand. [1]

On arrival they parted ways, with Charlie deciding to stay in the North Island, and John Burrow making for Nelson. In short order John had settled with a new bride, Annie, on Waitakiroa, a farm with a river frontage at Pangatotara, 16km inland from Motueka. Elizabeth Frances Annie Robinson was born in Richmond in 1855, the oldest in a family of eight. Her parents were Robert and Mary Hannah (nee Butler) Robinson, who married in Richmond in 1854. 

Robert was the son of Robert and Elizabeth Robinson, comfortably situated tenant farmers with a substantial holding known as Carlton Grange, at Great Carleton, near Firsby, Lincolnshire. At the age of 20 he had arrived in Nelson in July, 1850, on the Poictiers, along with his 17-year-old cousin, Frederick William Trolove. They appeared to be young men of means - both travelled in the ship's forecabin as paying passengers and arrived with money to spend on property. Frederick moved to Marlborough, where he established the Woodbank sheep run on the Clarence River on the Kaikoura coast.

Mary Hannah's father, Thomas Butler, came out in 1841 on the Will Watchone of three NZ Company ships led on a preliminary expedition to Nelson by Captain Arthur Wakefield. Mary Hannah followed with her mother and two brothers on the ill-fated Lloyds. Her brothers William and Joseph were among the sixty five children who died during the outward bound voyage from England. Interestingly, Thomas Butler was one of the key founding members in the Tasman area of the "Restoration Movement" (better known now as the Church of Christ), and in 1859 had a run-in with evangelist James George Deck, an early Ngatimoti settler who established assemblies of the Plymouth Brethren in the Nelson and Motueka districts. What was billed a public debate about the merits of the two sects was was held at the local Mechanic's Institute in Richmond, but the large audience looking for fireworks was disappointed. Deck refused to argue his corner but instead just delivered a lecture. [2] Deck may have won in the long run, though, as at least one of Butler's Robinson grand-children later joined the Brethren. 

Robert Robinson and his father-in-law Thomas Butler farmed together at Waimea East and Robert also acquired land at Spring Grove and Lower Queen Street, Richmond, before moving to the Orinoco Valley around 1884, where he bought a block of land at Lloyds Valley from George Canton, (Sections 34, 39 & 40). They named the house block (section 34) Carlton Farm after the family home in England, but it is better known locally by the name given to it later by John E. Salisbury - Middle Bank. [3] Robert and Mary Hannah sold all three sections of  this farm to their son Ernest in 1887 when he married Emma, daughter of Orinoco pioneers George and Sarah (nee Thomason)  Lines. The elder Robinsons then built a small home next door on Section 39 which they named Tenby. In 1894 Ernest sold Sections 38 & 39 to his friend and business partner John E. Salisbury, on the understanding that his parents could stay in their home. He held on to section 40 for his own use.

John Burrow (1852-1899)

Annie must have met John Burrow soon after his arrival on 24 April, 1876. They were married by Rev. D. Dolamore at John's Waimea Road address on 7 July, 1876, with Annie's grandfather Thomas Butler standing as witness. It was Annie's 21st birthday. John and Annie leased land at Pangatotara, intending to establish a farm, but had hardly got settled there when what became known as the "Old Man Flood" swept through the Motueka Valley early in February 1877. Annie, who was pregnant with her first child, Minnie, had to be rescued from her home by boat. Despite this terrifying experience, neither mother nor baby came to harm, with the birth taking place without difficulty at Pangatotara in May, 1877. Following the flood, the Burrows shifted to a small farmlet carrying 300 sheep near St John’s Church, Wakefield, and John Burrow operated as a cattle dealer. Another daughter was born there in 1878, Elizabeth Green (Bessie) Burrow.

 In 1881 they moved to the North Island and John Burrow bought land near the Ruamahanga River at Carterton in the Wairarapa, where he  established another farm. The son of a yeoman farmer with a good living, John Burrow had been well educated and was clearly possessed of plenty of business nous.  He became a wealthy man; a runholder of substance, a man of public affairs and a businessman, being a founder and first Chairman of the Taratahi Dairy Factory in Masterton. He also set up various studs, using animals imported from Australia, mainly thoroughbred horses but also other breeds like purebred Berkshire pigs.[4] He and Annie had four more daughters; Edith, Ivy Pearl, Mabel (May) and Evelyn (Lyn), and then, on the 20th of April 1892, a son was born - Edward Benjamin (Ted). The children attended Parkvale and Gladstone schools and John Burrow served on various school committees. He bought the 2540 acre sheep station “Admiral Run” near Gladstone, Wairarapa, in 1895. On the 17th of July, 1899, at the age of 47, John Burrow died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack at the Panama Hotel while staying in Wellington to attend a Masonic Lodge meeting. [5]

Annie Burrow remained in Carterton to await the results of probate and settle her husband's affairs.. Her 13-year-old daughter, Mabel, went to live for a year with her uncle William Butler Robinson in Brightwater and attended Richmond School. Mabel then went back to Carterton, but not long after, Annie moved with her family to Ngatimoti, where her parents Robert and Mary Hannah Robinson and brothers Alfred and  Ernest (Ern) were farming at Orinoco. [6] The elder Robinsons lived with  their disabled youngest son, Herbert, in a small cottage with a pretty flower garden, while Ernest and his family had a home nearby and looked after both his own and his parents' farms with the help of his brother and later his sons. 

Ernest was also a sheep drover. In partnership with John E. Salisbury and "Greenhill Tom" Grooby from Ngatimoti, he drove large mobs of sheep mustered from Takaka, Motueka and surrounding districts over Tophouse down through Hamner and Culverden to Christchurch for sale at Addington on behalf of local farmers.  Both Ernest and his brother Alfred were instrumental in getting the Orinoco School established in 1894. Its first teacher, Esther Eves, lived for a couple of years with Robert and Mary Hannah, who built on a small room especially for her (visible to the left of their cottage in the photo below). Esther later married Henry Victor Holyoake. Their son Keith Holyoake became New Zealand's 26th Prime Minister and also served as Governor-General between 1977-1980.

Robert and Mary Hannah Robinson in the cottage garden they created at 
Tenby, their Lloyds Valley home. 
In the background is the apocalyptic scenery more common thoughout rural New Zealand 
in the 19th century, burnt-off bushland spiked with jagged, blackened tree stumps.

Around 1901 Annie took up residence with her children at a 77 acre farm with a homestead known as Bank View, originally bought by her brother Alfred Robinson from Edward Fearon Burrell, a landowner with substantial holdings in the Orinoco/Dovedale area. This property was sited on the northern side of the Orinoco Road and took in some of  Edward Burrell's original Crown Grant Sections 8 & 9. Alfred had lived there with his family for some time but was ready for a change. He left the district for Takaka, though he later settled in Nelson. In 1903 Annie's oldest daughter, Minnie, married in Carterton to Henry Nimmo of Martinborough, originally from Greoch, Scotland. His brother Robert (Bob) ran a flax-milling operation at Motua, Foxton. Her second daughter, Bessie, married George Norman Burrell, son of Edward Fearon Burrell and Emily (nee Bowden) at "Bank View" on 22 June 1903. Bessie and Norman initially lived at another Burrell farm at Thorpe, but after Norman's parents retired to Tahunanui in 1906, they took over the family farm, Penton, situated at the head of the Orinoco Valley by the foot of Jacob’s Ladder. Their son Frank Burrell would later take over the original Burrell farm where his grandmother Annie Burrow once lived, naming it Clear View. Daughter Edith married another local lad at St James Anglican Church in 1904 – Herbert (Bert) Canton -  and they moved up Rosedale Hill to live in a small cottage there. In 1911 Bert and Edith moved to live at Middle Bank, at one time the home of Edith's Robinson grandparents and then her uncle Ernest. Yet another wedding was celebrated at St James Church in 1905, when Ivy (known as Pearl) married Ngatimoti farmer, Edward (Ted) Haycock.

It was only a day's travel from Masterton to Nelson by boat-train, and Annie was happy to host her friends from Carterton. Friendships were made and marriages as well; Annie enjoyed playing matchmaker and had several successes. One such marriage was that of Charles Heath from Orinoco who married Jane Oliver from Carterton in 1905 and brought his new wife to live at Ngatimoti. [7]

At some point around 1914 Annie Burrow bought the house Charlie Heath had built in 1905 for his bride. It sat on a small block of land situated about 1km up the Thorpe-Orinoco Road from St James Church and she named it Waituna, after a favourite area of the same name near Carterton. Better known in more recent times as "Womble Farm", this block was subdivided from land owned by John Heath, who moved from the Graham Valley to the Orinoco in 1877. There were three homes on the Heath property, one built by John and the others by his sons George and Charlie.  Both John and his son George had moved into Motueka to live by 1912. Charles was farewelled from the Orinoco in 1921, when he and his wife moved to Blenheim. 

Robert Robinson had kept his property in Lower Queen Street, Richmond, and in May, 1910, Ernest Robinson shifted there from Orinoco with his family and parents after a stroke left his father incapacitated. Robert Robertson died 22 July, 1910 followed by his wife Mary Hannah in 1911. Ernest Robinson then sold his Section 40 up Lloyds Valley to Frank Eliot Hobson, who bought it in partnership with Henry Francis (Frank) Devenish Meares, son of a prominent Christchurch solicitor. [8] Frank Hobson was a connection known to the Robinsons through their Trolove relatives. Frank was killed at Gallipoli in 1915 and the farm he had renamed Kainga Tui passed to his brother, George Hobson, who sold it around 1949. This farm was leased to Kenneth Boor (Ken) Tennent for a few years between 1919 and 1926, but for many years George Hobson ran three farms altogether, including Frank's former Orinoco farm, his own Ngarua on the Takaka Hill, next to the Henderson family's Kairuru sheep station, and his home farm at Riwaka.

Ted Burrow as a boy
Taken in Carterton, not long before the family moved south.

Annie and John Burrow’s 7th child and only son, Edward (Ted), was only seven years old when his father died. He had probably already started school in the Wairarapa. He attended the Orinoco School just down the road once the family moved to Ngatimoti, and spent six months from July to December 1906 at Brightwater School, perhaps while staying with his uncle, William Butler Robinson. His sisters Mabel and Evelyn attended Nelson College for Girls, but from an early age Ted would have worked on Bank View, and after leaving school at around the age of 13, farming became his full-time occupation. He also helped out at Penton, his uncle Norman Burrell's farm down the road. Farms in the area mostly ran sheep, a dairy cow or two, and grew feed crops like oats, wheat, barley and turnips, along with hops or raspberries and orchard fruits. Horses were used to plough and harrow and were the main means of transport, though bicycles were increasing in popularity with young people, who would think nothing of cycling over to Nelson and back on what were at the time very rough roads. There was always plenty of work to do; looking after the animals, fencing, clearing scrub and blackberry, setting burn-offs to prepare the land for sowing grass seed and cutting trees for firewood and fence palings. Edward was known to particularly enjoy social occasions, often being among the last to leave a party. He also trained with friends his own age as a member of the 12th (Nelson and Marlborough) Regiment of the Territorial Force.

Lt-rt. Back row: Frank Strachan, Herbert (Bert) Thomason, Edward (Ted) Burrow.
 Front: Hector Guy, Roy Stafford.
Territorials practising rifle drill iust before setting off to Auckland to take part in 
a Military Tournament in January 1914

Edward’s sister Mabel (b. 1886) married Alfred (Alf) Thomason in 1911. Alf's father, Thomas, had a farm with a road frontage on the southern side of the Rosedale valley Mabel and Alf had land nearby on the northern side, nearer the junction of the Rosedale and Orinoco Roads, and Alf built a verandah-wrapped cottage there, opposite Clearburn, where his sister Lizzie and her husband, James (Jim) Sutcliffe, lived. Although Alfred hired out as a farm labourer and did contract work in local orchards with his spraying equipment, he was mostly engaged in working for the Heath brothers, George and Bert, who ran a portable steam-powered mill in the area. Their father John had bought part Section 29 at Orinoco from George Canton in 1877, and acquired 500 acres of Rosedale bush between 1898 and 1906  to provide his sons with milling work. When the call for reinforcements went out, Alf Thomason and his brother-in-law Ted Burrow enlisted together at Motueka on the 31st January, 1917. 

A gathering of the Burrow clan at "Waituna", Orinoco in 1917, 
before Ted Burrow and Alf Thomason set off for the war.
Lt to rt. Back row: Bessie (nee Burrow), Lawrence Canton, Norman Burrell, Bert Canton (holding baby Herbert Canton), Edith Canton (nee Burrow), Ted Haycock, Pearl Haycock (nee Burrow)
Middle row (seated): Ted Burrow, Minnie Nimmo (nee Burrow), Evelyn (Lyn) Burrow, Alf Thomason, Mabel Thomason (nee Burrow), matriarch Annie Burrow (nee Robinson)
Front row: Howard (Bill) Haycock, Henry (Harry) Nimmo, Frances Minnie Nimmo, Annie (Nancy) Haycock, Donald Burrell, Evelyn (Lyn) Nimmo, John (Jack) Canton.

Edward left for training at Trentham Camp on 28 May, 1917. A farewell function was held for him at Orinoco on the 12th of October, 1917, during his final leave. He departed New Zealand for Egypt 13 November 1917 on the troopship "Tofua" (HMNZT 98), which carried a total of 810 troops under the command of Lieutenant W. Ricketts.[9] It was noted on his military record that Edward's mother and unmarried sister, Evelyn, were his dependents, and it’s easy to imagine that they must have had mixed feelings of pride and trepidation about his decision to volunteer. During the war and for some afterwards, the loss of sons and brothers left elderly parents and sisters struggling to run family farms. Ted was single, aged 25, and serving with the NZ Mounted Rifles Regiment of the NZ Egyptian Expeditionary Force in Palestine when he contracted malaria and died of pneumonia as a result on 1 November, 1918, almost exactly a year after he embarked from Wellington on the "Tofua", bound for Suez, and just one day after hostilities ceased in the Sinai Peninsula. [10] His committal was overseen by British Army chaplain Charles Sydney Neale. During the Sinai-Palestine campaign Britain and her allies suffered a total of 550,000 casualties: more than 90% of these were not battle losses but instead attributable to disease, heat and other secondary causes.[11]

  NZ Mounted Rifles Brigade crossing the River Jordan 
during the Sinai-Palestine campaign in 1917

Alfred Thomason, served with B Company, Wellington Infantry Battalion, in the trenches on the Western Front. He was 35 when he was killed at Bapaume, France, on August 31, 1918, leaving Edward’s sister Mabel a widow. She then moved back into her mother's household.

Three Robinson cousins also served during the war. Cyril Montague Robinson, son of Ted's uncle William in Richmond, served with the NZ Rifles Brigade in France. Two other cousins whom Ted Burrow grew up with at Orinoco went off to war as well; both were sons of Ernest Robinson. Robert (Bob) served in France with the Canterbury Mounted Rifles in France. He was twice wounded and eventually returned home on a hospital ship. He took up dairy farming in the Rai Valley. on land obtained through the Soldiers' Settlement SchemeMelville (Mick), embarked on the Tofua, 13 October, 1917, along with Ted Burrow, and also served in Palestine with the NZ Mounted Rifles Brigade as part of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force. He was wounded and  contracted maleria as well, but recovered. He returned to New Zealand in 1919 and took up farming at 88 Valley, Wakefield, on land divided from his father's farm, Fairbrook. [12] 

Annie, Mabel and Evelyn moved in April, 1921 to a property next to the Harfords on the Appleby Straight. and her Waituna property was leased to the Helm family over the next few years.  In January 1913 Ernest Robinson had bought a farm at Appleby from T. Smith (Sections 185 and part 186, Waimea East) and sold part of it to the Harfords around 1919. The Harfords were relatives by marriage - Charles Harford had married Ernest and Annie's sister Alice Mary in 1885, but she died two years later and he remarried. (The old Harford home, later used as a wool shed, became a derelict icon and favourite subject for photographers before being intentionally burned down by a later owner). [13] There was some shifting about for Annie and her daughters - a stay for some time at Gladstone Street, Richmond, on to Wakefield in 1924, and a final move in 1929 to Pigeon Valley.

Annie's eldest daughter, Minnie and her husband Henry Nimmo were based in Fielding, but had stayed in Orinoco between 1909 and 1913 while Henry worked on the Ngatimoti Peninsula Bridge build.Their second child Henry (Harry) was born at Orinoco in 1911. Henry Nimmo drowned accidentally in the Oroura River in 1915, and Ted Burrow went north to bring his widowed sister Minnie and her three children back to Orinoco to live. They settled in a cottage on land belonging to Minnie's brother-in-law Bert Canton, at the junction of Lloyds Valley and the Orinoco Road, with the Nimmo children attending the Orinoco School.  Their relocated cottage, originally Bert and Edith's first home at Rosedale, also served as Orinoco's store and post office, and Minnie Nimmo acted as storekeeper and postmistress there for a time.  

Around 1924 Minnie joined her mother and sisters when they moved to Wakefield, so that her daughters Frances and Lyn could attend Nelson College for Girls, travelling back and forth daily by train. Lyn, the youngest, planned to train as a teacher but the Depression forced the closure of both the Auckland and Christchurch training colleges. She took a job instead at the Kairuru household school on Takaka Hill, which had eight pupils. Lyn later married Bryan, son of one-time Orinoco sawmiller, Herbert Heath.[14] In his memoir, Down from Marble Mountain, Jim Henderson recalls Lyn's short stint at Kairuru in 1928which he attributes to Frances. "Gentle, shy Frances Nimmo came briefly from Nelson. Kind, she made Van Heusen cocoa, a brand I'd never seen before."   It seems that he may have got the sisters mixed up, as family accounts are clear that it was Lyn who spent time at KairuruBoth Frances, who never married, and eventually Lyn, qualified as teachers. Their brother Harry became a plumber.

Annie Burrow died at Pigeon Valley on October 16, 1929, at the age of 74. She was buried at the St John's churchyard, Wakefield. Mabel and Evelyn moved back to Orinoco and took up residence together at Waituna from 1930 to 1970, close to their sisters Bessie, Edith, Pearl and their numerous nephews and nieces. Evelyn never married. Widowed Mabel, who had no children of her own, adopted a son, Peter Thomason (born in 1928), and fostered two other boys as well, Dennis Kerr and Robin Rogers. Peter Thomason later built a house of his own next to Waituna.

Both Mabel and Evelyn were active members of the Ngatimoti community, and involved with St James Anglican Church, the local Mother’s Union, Ladies' Guild and the Ngatimoti Country Women’s Institute. Evelyn took Sunday School classes for many years.The two sisters were avid readers and had an extensive library of their own, and for 20 years Evelyn served as librarian of the Orinoco Library, which was based at the Orinoco store until it closed in 1976.  Both Mabel and Evelyn died at the age of 84; Mabel in 1971, and Evelyn in 1975. A pair of brass candlesticks were later gifted to St James Church by Peter Thomason and his family in memory of "the Aunts”, as Mabel and Evelyn were affectionately known throughout the district.[15]

"The Aunts" with Mrs Corney, wife of St James' vicar, the Rev. Canon Samuel Corney, OBE, c.1950s.
Lt to rt: Evelyn (Lyn) Burrow, Mrs Corney,  Mabel (May) Thomason nee Burrow. 


Edward Burrow is buried at the Gaza War Cemetery, Israel and is commemorated at the Ngatimoti War Memorial, Tasman, New Zealand. 

NZ Mounted Rifles reinforcements' hat badge which Ted Burrow can be seen wearing 
in his photograph above. 
His matching collar badges would have included as well the number 28, signifying 
the 28th Reiforcements.


1) Passenger list, 1876 Fernglen

2) Lineham, Peter. (1977) There We Found Brethren: A history of the Brethren Assemblies in New Zealand.
Palmerston North, NZ: G.P.H. Society Ltd. pp18-19

See also Stringer, Marion J. (1999) Just another row of spuds: the pioneer history of Waimea South, pg 537

4) Purchase of purebred Berkshire pig stud- John Burrow.
Wairarapa Daily Times, 10 April, 1883

5) Graham, Pauline (compiler) & Robinson, Moira (researcher) A History of the Robinson Family. Lincolnshire, England to Nelson, New Zealand. 1752-2000. (2000) Nelson, NZ: Copy Press Ltd. pp 25-26

6) Stevens, Edward. Landowners and Residents of the Motueka Valley: Lloyds Valley. Unpublished ms.

7) Wedding at Carterton
Wairarapa Daily Times, 5 April, 1905.

Pioneers of the Valley. Motueka and District Historical Association (1980) Journal Vol 3. Special Edition, compiled by J.R.Canton. Pp. 16 & 60

See also: Beatson Kath & Whelan, Helen. The River Flows On: Ngatimoti Through Flood and Fortune. 2003, 2nd ed. Pub. Motueka: NZ, Buddens Bookshop, pg 37.

9) Whelan, Helen. Ngatimoti is in the news - unpublished ms.

10) Archives NZ. Military personnel record: Edward Benjamin Burrow. 

11) Sinai and Palestine Campaign, 25 January, 1915-30 October, 1918 (Wikipedia)

12) Auckland Museum Cenotaph Database: Robert Robinson and Melville Robinson.

13) Appleby Wool Shed still has Character
      Waimea Weekly, January 24, 2013
      Annie Burrow's brother Ernest Robinson had a family connection with Alfred Thomas Silcock, an earlier owner    
      of this house. Alfred Silcock's wife Sarah Jane nee Lines was the sister of Ern's father-in-law George Lines. 

14) Beatson Kath & Whelan, Helen. The River Flows On: Ngatimoti Through Flood and Fortune. 2003, 2nd ed.   Pub. Motueka: NZ, Buddens Bookshop, pg 185

15) The History and Milestone Celebrations of St James Church, Ngatimoti, 1884-2009.

     Unpaged. See: Bequests and Gifts to the Church[Nelson, N.Z. : Nelson Diocese, 2009].

Further Sources

Notice of the death of Trooper E.B. Burrow, only son of Mrs Burrow, Orinoco.

Colonist, 11 November, 1918.

Tasman-Nelson Roll of honour. Kete Tasman: Edward Benjamin Burrow.

NZ Mounted Rifles Brigade, Palestine Campaign. NZ History, NZ Ministry of Heritage & Culture.

Photo credits

Portrait of Edward Benjamin (Ted) Burrow 

Courtesy of Christine Decker (Heath family).

John Burrow (1852-1899)
Courtesy Dale Burrell

Robert and Mary Hannah Robinson in their cottage garden at Tenby in Lloyd's Valley, Ngatimoti
Courtesy Dale Burrell

Ngatimoti Territorials training for a Military Tournament in Auckland 

Guy Collection/Nelson Provincial Museum Collection, ref. 315157

Burrow family gathering at Orinoco ca.1917
Courtesy Dale Burrell

"The Aunts"- Lyn Burrow and May Thomason 
from "A History of the Robinson Family", courtesy Christine Decker .

NZ Mounted Rifles Brigade crossing the river Jordan from Wikipedia. Article: NZ Mounted Rifles Brigade


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