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Keziah South 

Judith Cranefield is the granddaughter of Joseph South(1), and the daughter of his youngest child, Elizabeth (Bess). Judith has written several articles on the emigration of Joseph South(1) to New Zealand and the subsequent history of the family, many of which appear in the Articles section of the website. This latest history adds to the biographies of members of the South family in New Zealand.



Keziah Jeannetta (always "Kizzy" to the family) was born in England to Joseph and Emma South in 1863.  Her mother Emma died in October 1868 when Kizzy was just five or six and her younger brothers Arthur and Moses were four and two.  Childhood memories of Kizzy looking after the younger children always remained with Moses.

Her father remarried ten months later in August 1869.  When Joseph and his second wife Mary Ann emigrated to New Zealand on the "Buckinghamshire" in March 1874 the four youngest of Emma's children went too.  Kizzy's age was recorded on the passenger list as  eleven.  There was now another younger child to help look after.  With their parents in family quarters were Keziah, Arthur 9, Moses 7, and  six months old baby Florence.

In Dunedin Keziah would have attended Anderson's Bay school with her siblings.  She married in 1880 when she was just eighteen.  Her husband was Thomas Clarkson, ten years her senior.  He had been born in Scotland to Thomas and Elizabeth Clarkson and his father was a contracter.  Kizzy and Thomas had four children, Thomas, Frederick, Maude and Jack.

My mother Bess kept in touch with some of Kizzie's descendents, although she herself, Joseph's youngest child, was not born until 1889, and so was younger than her half sister's four children.  In particular she spoke of Caroline (Carrie) who was the only daughter of  the daughter Maude, and Jack Bryant.  She was born in Lawrence in 1924.  Carrie's first husband was Arthur Dickson who owned Terry's Music Store in George St Dunedin.  As a child I was sometimes taken there by my mother who went to enquire after their twin daughters Betty and Gwen.  The South family tree, researched and compiled by Wendy Moses, presents five generations of descendents of Kizzy and Thomas.  There were 21 great grandchildren descended from Frederick, the second son, and his wife Margaret.

Memories of "Aunt Kizzie" that I have been able to secure come from Muriel, the youngest child of Moses and Emma South, born in 1913, Joyce, her elder sister, and from George Clarkson who is Kizzy's grandson and is now 94.

George remembers being sent as a small child to stay with his grandmother.  His visit was  not a happy one and he cried to be taken home to his mother.  To a small child she seemed rather disinterested and lacking in affection towards him.  Joyce remembers a visit by Keziah to Moses and his family in Nuhaka  when they were young.   She remembers Kizzie as a small person whom the family all liked.   Joyce has a "clear memory still of the angry red blotches and her very swollen red face caused by mosquito bites"  Muriel writes "When Mum and Dad and I visited Dunedin at the time of the 1926 Dunedin Exhibition we three visited her (Kizzie) and had afternoon tea. My impression that I recall (Muriel was by then thirteen) was  of a very tiny elderly lady in a very small flat.  With a table and chairs there wasn't much room for visitors, but Dad and Kizzie were obviously fond of each other.  Both Mum and Dad often spoke of her.  I have a feeling that I can't substantiate, that Keziah did not have an easy life.  Was she widowed early?"

Yes, the record shows that her husband Thomas died in 1886, the same year as her youngest child, Jack, was born and the eldest, Thomas, was only five.  Goodness knows how the young widow managed.

George remembers that during her last years Keziah lapsed into dementia.  The story of her struggle to bring up four little children single handed after her husband's death remains as yet untold and may well have to remain so.  I am surprised that there are no letters or records of her, in the tin trunk of family archives handed down from Mary Ann to Bess, and that I  remember my mother mentioning her name but not talking about her.  Certainly Moses and his family had great affection for "Aunt Kizzy".  She left the memory of a woman who had to struggle through hardship and great sorrow in her life.

Judith Cranefield  


Keziah's grandson, George Clarkson.

Her nieces, Joyce Hickling and Muriel Calvert.

Also Wendy Moses for genealogical information.          


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