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.
WALTER SOUTH b 1860
We have very little information on Walter South. The eldest of the children brought to New Zealand by Joseph and Mary Ann South, Walter was born in England in 1860 and emigrated on the "Buckinghamshire" in 1874. On the ship his age of fourteen meant that he had to go to single men's accommodation instead of staying with his father, stepmother (only ten years older than himself) and younger brothers and sister in family quarters.
His youngest stepsister Bess, my mother, was 29 years younger than Walter, and I do not remember her speaking about him except to mention that he went to live in Australia. I received the impression that he left while still fairly young, even maybe leaving from the "Buckinghamshire". Members of the family of her older sister, Lena, also heard that from their mother. However the sailing ship "Buckinghamshire" did not make its voyage by way of Australia, but like all ships bringing assisted immigrants to New Zealand, sailed directly around the Cape of Good Hope, past the Snare Islands which lie south of Stewart Island, and then north to the Otago Harbour.
Walter at fourteen is likely to have started work, immediately the family settled at Anderson's Bay, alongside his father at the brickworks. When the business was expanded by also opening up at Walton Park , records show that by 1891 it was Arthur, Walter's younger brother, who was living out there. By this time Walter was 30 and away from the family business.
He married Annie Luke in Christchurch and moved to live in Sydney, Australia. The family tree shows that he had five children, Olive, Walter (always referred to as "son"), Annie, Harold and Jim. Contact was maintained within the family. My mother heard regularly from the two unmarried daughters Olive and Annie, wrote to them, and visited them in the late 1920s. I stayed with them at "St Elmo's", Binning St, Erskinville, Sydney when returning home from London in 1956. Jim and his wife who lived in Melbourne also used to write to various members of the family in New Zealand.
Three letters from the Australian Souths to members of the New Zealand family have been found in the family archive (i.e. Bess's old tin trunk). They not only tell us a little about the writers, but also indicate that affectionate contact was maintained not only with the relatives in New Zealand but also with the family in England. Joseph's children in England, New Zealand and Australia did keep up to date with each others' news and occasionally visited. This was in spite of the passage of time, the considerable distances, and the likelihood that Joseph's decision to emigrate may well have been at least partly motivated by disagreement in the family.
Walter's son Jim, in Melbourne, wrote to Eva in 1911 expressing deep concern about Florence's serious illness (she had developed cancer and died later that year). References were also made to Annie from Sydney who was visiting them. He enquired after Harry's marriage the previous year, "I suppose Harry's wedding went off alright."
In 1914 a long letter from Walter and his wife, to Mary Ann ( "mother"), complained that they had had no news from her for over a year. They wished her well for her forthcoming marriage to Mr Richard Harris, and expressed concern at hearing about the ill health of Gladys, Harry's wife, saying "Sorry to hear that Harry has a delicate wife. I think "son" (Walter jnr) has got in the same boat. She is always grumbling they have no family. She is so small alongside him." Their daughter Annie, a talented pianist who was to become a highly qualified music teacher, had completed her LSCM diploma and was working for her Teachers' Diploma. Olive was still at home. Harold was studying law.
Andrew worked with his father who had recently bought a shop. I have not been able to locate Andrew on the family tree. However he is mentioned in two of the letters that remain.
Gertie and her daughter from England had been staying with them "since twelve months ago." She was the daughter of Walter's eldest sister Annie. Her husband Jim Barnes was working as a steward on the Canadian line of the Union Co mail boat. The child, May, was fifteen. They were delighted that Gertie had brought all the news of the family at home, especially of Sam, and she thought he might come to Australia for a trip.
The third letter that remains was written in 1921 by Annie, Walter's wife, to congratulate Bess on her engagement. She wrote at some length about the coming New South Wales elections which she felt might be fought on religious grounds, and revealed in herself a level of Protestant extremism. "The Roman Catholic element is very bad. They have worked their way into everything." The Sydney family belonged to the Protestant Federation and she and the girls were joining the League of Loyalists. Olive and Andrew were living at home and the shop was doing very well. The last letter they had received from relatives in England reported how much his family were all missing Sam who had died in 1919. Samuel was the youngest of Joseph South's sons who had remained in England, and he was only a few years older than Walter.
Family ties had obviously remained strong and although as yet we do not know much about Walter himself, the contents of these few letters are of some interest in the story of the far flung South family.
By Judith Cranefield
Sources of Information:
South family chart compiled by Wendy Moses, and letters retained in the family archive by Bess Scott (nee South).