Maids of Misfortune

Every year on the 14th February we celebrate St. Valentine’s day with the exchanging of small tokens of our love and affection with our significant others. As so often is the case, the exact origins of this holiday are clouded in mystery. It is commonly believed to have begun as the pagan festival of Lupercalia, which was celebrated by young Roman bachelors and maidens by drawing out ballets from an urn revealing the name of their ‘valentine’ for the ensuing year, and was followed by raucous feasting and festivities.

During the third century, the Fathers of the Christian Church substituted the pagan festival for a more subdued festival in memory of St. Valentine, who was martyred on the 14th of February. While the exact hagiography of the saint is debated, one popular account suggests Valentine was martyred for secretly marrying Christian couples against the will of Rome, and while imprisoned is said to have written a note to the daughter of his jailor which he signed “from your Valentine”. This Christian St. Valentine’s festival also involved a feast at which rejoicings and amusements were indulged in (though of a more subdued kind than the pagan festival it had replaced), as well as the simple and innocent exchange of tender amenities between the sexes.

It was during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that St. Valentine’s Day became a very popular festival with the aristocracy, and expensive presents began to be exchanged between Valentines. The Duke of York, for example, is recorded to have sent his Valentine (Miss Stuart, later the Duchess of York) a jewel worth £8OO! Presents were not always confined to jewels. Perfumes and articles of attire were  common gifts — mantles, girdles, gloves, and even shoes adorned with diamond buckles were bestowed (Globe 14/2/1881: 3).

By the eighteenth century the festival had been more significantly embraced by the lower classes. Couples eagerly anticipated a token of affection from their significant others on St. Valentine’s morning, while young singletons would anxiously await secret communications from the object of their adoration. During the first decades of Christchurch’s settlement the popularity of these billets d’amour (love letters) is evident in the increased number of letters being sent through the postal service. In 1878, it was reported that 13,430 letters were received and dispatched through the Christchurch post office on St. Valentine’s day alone (Lyttelton Times 16/2/1878: 2). The commercialisation of the holiday is also evident in the local newspapers, as advertisements by booksellers and stationers for valentines pop up in the count down to the big day (Lyttelton Times 27/2/1891: 1; Star 4/2/1871: 2). The holiday was celebrated not only with the exchanging of letters but also by public fetes and moonlight excursions where music and dancing abounded (Auckland Star 12/2/1881: 1; Lyttelton Times 11/2/1865: 6). By the 1880s however, the popularity of St. Valentines day seems to have dropped from its once esteemed position, which is particularly evident in the declining number of letters being sent through the post (Ashburton Guardian 19/2/1887: 2; Lyttelton Times 15/2/1888: 4; Star 15/2/1881: 2; 14/2/1882: 3; 15/2/1883: 2; 15/2/1889: 3).

Despite the decline in its popularity, the celebration of St. Valentine’s day provides an insight into an area of Victorian daily life that is not always clearly evident in the archaeological record – love, romance, and relationships. So, in honour of this historic day of love and romance, our historians have selected to share two tales which provide insight into nineteenth century relationships, and which cover everything from love, marriage, defiance, illusion, and manipulation. Enjoy!

Blind Love

Today, many of us may not think twice about asserting our right to follow our hearts and make our own decisions about who we date and choose to spend our lives with. But for many in the nineteenth century (particularly women) this freedom was not always a given. Our first tale is about a woman whose life was not always her own to direct, but who, despite a strict and controlling upbringing, managed to follow her heart and become one of the most loved women in Christchurch. This is the tale of Annie Quayle Moore.

Annie Moore was the only daughter of George Henry Moore and Anne Kermode. George Moore emigrated to Tasmania from the Isle of Man in 1830 with his friend, Robert Quayle Kermode, to work on the Kermode family sheep run, which was called Mona Vale. Almost a decade after his arrival, on 9 July 1839, Moore married his friend’s eldest sister, Anne Kermode (The Hobart Town Courier and Van Diemen’s Land Gazette, 12/7/1839: 2). Was this a love match? A way for Moore to solidify his position within the Kermode family and their sheep run? Or simply a marriage of convenient proximity – a match made in the Tasmanian countryside where men were abundant and women were few? The answer to these questions is not known. However, despite the relationship producing four children (only two of which survived to adulthood), the marriage appears to have been a loveless and unhappy one, and after a few years the pair were separated (Gardner, 1990; MacDonald 1952-1964: M544).

While young Annie was sent to be raised at her father’s birth place on the Isle of Man, the man himself travelled to New Zealand in 1853 to investigate prospects of runholding in Canterbury. Despite his separation from Anne, Moore was bankrolled by his estranged wife’s family, and he was able to select the large Glenmark sheep station, which contained one hundred and fifty acres of freehold and leasehold land. Moore proved to be an able run manager, and at one point he had extended the estate to a remarkable 81,000 acres of freehold land, upon which he managed 90,000 sheep (Acland, 1946: 271-275).

It is at this point in the tale that our heroine re-enters the scene. At 19 years of age Annie left the Isle of Man to travel to Canterbury to keep house for her father (Christchurch City Libraries, 2019). This appears to have been no easy task as, by all accounts, Mr. Moore was a difficult man to deal and live with. Moore was known as the “king of scab” and nicknamed “Scabby Moore”, because he refused to clean his sheep of the pestilence. Keeping his country scabby was believed to be a tactic which allowed him to buy up the neighbouring land cheaply (Acland, 1946: 271-275). When questioned about his obligation to his neighbours, he retaliated by asking: “What are my neighbours to me? What do I care for my neighbours?” (Lyttelton Times 15/5/1879: 7). Another account of Moore’s harsh nature is the story of a begging swagman, who Moore not only turned away from his own door on a wet bitter night, but also commanded his servants to refuse the man entry to their own homes. Being thus turned away, and with no anticipation of shelter, the man committed suicide. With no remorse for his actions, it is said that Moore even refused to let his carpenters build a coffin for the poor dead man. When news of the incident spread, the local newspapers chastised Moore as a “mean, hard-hearted, barbarous, blasphemous man” and implored their readers that “no hand of a Christian should clasp that of Mr. Moore till he has done penance for his deep crime against the laws of God and man” (Lyttelton Times 21/3/1860: 4).

For young Annie, living with this severe and harsh man dictated the way she was to live much of her life. It is believed that Moore insisted that any would-be suitors seeking Annie’s hand in marriage could only be after her money, and thus Annie spent her youth as an isolated spinster (was Moore’s assumption regarding the suitors’ intentions based on his own experience of marrying Miss Kermode for her money?). Despite the strict conditions, Annie appears to have at least lived in comfort, especially after 1888 when the construction of Moore’s grand castle-like mansion was finally completed on the Glenmark run, and allowed the father and daughter to live in secluded splendour (Figure 1). Unfortunately this was short lived as the uninsured structure was gutted by fire a few years later (Christchurch City Libraries, 2019).

Photograph of the Glenmark Station house prior to its destruction in the 1890s. Image: Glenmark Station, Waipara. Ref: 1/2-127240-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23134000

In his later years Moore began to go blind. It is at this time that Annie finally appears to have seized her chance to take control of her own life. In 1900, Annie entered into a secret union with Dr. Joseph Henry Townend. Dr. Townend was born in Wolverhampton and studied medicine at Guys Hospital, London. He arrived in Canterbury on board the Rakaia in 1875 as a medical officer in charge of 500 emigrants. He was married shortly after his arrival to Miss Harriet Cox, with whom he had five children. Dr. Townend appears to have enjoyed a successful career, as well as a happy marriage until Harriet died in 1893 (MacDonald 1952-1964: T345). By all accounts Dr. Townend was a well-liked man, being described at one time as Christchurch’s “popular Doctor” (New Zealand Herald 24/1/1901: 3). It is not clear when Annie and Joseph’s paths first crossed (was he the Moore family’s doctor?) but it was almost certainly a love match as the two secretly conspired to be married. Annie and Joseph’s wedding took place at St. Barnabas’ church at 11 o’clock on Saturday 15 September 1900. Contemporary newspapers described the wedding as “a very quiet one” with the only witnesses being two friends, Mr R. W. Stringer and Mr. H. W. Bishop. One conspicuous absence from the wedding party was Annie’s father, and indeed it was Mr H. W. Bishop who is recorded as walking Annie down the matrimonial isle. Annie was fashionably attired for the event in a fawn silk poplin, richly trimmed with silk velvet and Maltese lace, and with a hat and sunshade to match, all made by well-known local drapers J. Ballantyne and Co. (Press 18/9/1900: 5). This romantic elopement feels like it could have come straight from a Jane Austen novel!

George Moore is believed to have never found out about his daughter’s wedding and subsequent marriage (Christchurch City Libraries, 2019). This begs the question: where did the newly married couple live after their wedding? Did Dr. Townend quietly sneak around the Glenmark estate concealed from Mr Moore’s blind eyes? Or did the new Mrs Townend come to live at the Townend family home in Park Terrace where some of Dr. Townend’s children still resided? Surely if it is the latter, then Mr Moore would have wondered at the absence of his daughter from their family home? Or was the truth hidden from him by some fiction of her travelling abroad or taking up a house of her own? Unfortunately the answer to these fanciful questions are uncertain. Mrs Townend’s place of residence is not listed in the contemporary street directories or electoral rolls, and while Mr Townsend is still recorded in 1900-1902 as occupying premises on Park Terrace, this could merely be a reference to his family doctors practice and not a true representation of his place of abode (H. Wise & Co. 1900: 220, 1902: 339).

Sadly, Dr. Joseph Henry Townend died just two years after he and Annie were married (Star 11/7/1902: 3). It is interesting to note that Dr. Townend bequeathed all of his estate to his widow, Annie, without any inheritance being set aside for his children (Archives New Zealand, 1902). This shows the trust Dr. Townsend had in his wife to continue to provide for his family (sadly records from the Probate Court show that this is not always the case!).

Annie’s father died in July 1905 at the good old age of 92 (Star 7/7/1905: 3). Annie was the sole benefactor of Moore’s large fortune (Moore’s son, William, had died young and estranged in London in 1865). The inheritance made Annie the wealthiest woman in Canterbury, but even in death Moore managed to ensure one last input in Annie’s future and scare off any suiters who were after her money. In his Will he included a clause that if Annie were ever to marry, her future husband was to have no control over her money:

I give and bequeath to my daughter Annie Quayle all my real and personal estate for her absolute use and benefit and I wish her to have all the powers to deal with it that I possessed in my lifetime. Should she marry it is my most earnest wish that her interest in my estate both real and personal be so securely settled upon her that her husband can have no control over it (Achieves New Zealand, 1905).

With Moore’s money Annie purchased the Karewa property on Fendalton Road, and renamed it Mona Vale after her mother’s house in Tasmania. Annie continued to own Mona Vale until her death in 1914 (Oamaru Mail 18/5/1914: 5). Unlike her father (or maybe in spite of him?) Annie was a very charitable woman. This is not more evident than in her Will in which she generously bequeathed a large portion of her extensive estate (which was estimated at £800,000!) to her step children, cousin, servants, friends, and to various public institutions. So generous was her endowments that local newspapers even published part of her Will for all to read:

Copy of Annie Quayle Townsends Will printed in the Press in 1914. Image: Press 30/5/1914: 11.

Annie’s obituary printed in the Oamaru Mail in May 1914, succinctly summarises her kind nature and charitable spirit, and reveals how she became one of the most cherished women in Christchurch:

The deceased lady, who led a most retired life, was chiefly known for her charitable work. She was one of the kindest and most humane of women. She was a most liberal contributor to charitable and deserving objects, in many cases anonymously. She was greatly loved by all who knew her (Oamaru Mail 18/5/1914: 5).

Er steht einfach nicht auf Dich (He’s just not that into you)

Nineteenth century Canterbury was to be the bastion of an Anglican utopia, a prime colonial example of good social order. But even a brief foray into the records of the day unveils that the love life of the early settlers was often the cause of the more interesting accounts of the Canterbury settlement. Love manifests in many ways and can create a heady concoction of misjudgement, illusion, and sometimes manipulation.

Some of us (or a lot of us) have had that brief but embarrassing delusion that someone is totally into you. Sometimes in that haze of infatuation (sometimes mistaken for the real deal) we get that niggle of reality that all is not what it seems. The wakeup call is either getting dumped unceremoniously, ghosted into oblivion, and the oh-so often allocation to the ‘friend zone’, or in the case Wilhelmina Klaus (despite her tenacity) completely replaced by an imported wife…

Johann Grabau had been part of a migration of German settlers to the Halswell/Tai Tapu area in the 1850s and 60s. In 1864 Grabau, a single man at the time, had gone into a brief partnership with another German immigrant Wilhelm (William) Klaus. Wilhelm was married to Wilhelmina (cute I know!). Current research indicates that Wilhelm and Wilhelmina were married circa 1858 in London. Klaus and his wife were recorded immigrating from London to New Zealand on the Regina which arrived in Lyttelton 4th December 1859. Klaus was listed as William Klaus, aged 43, and his wife Wilhelmina, aged 28 (Figure 1). By 1862 Klaus was naturalized and listed as a farmer originally from Hanover, Germany.

The Klaus couple’s arrival to New Zealand. Image: Archives NZ, 1859: 4.

By 1866 it appears all was not well in the marriage as William advertised in the Lyttelton Times that he would not be answerable for any debts that his wife, Wilhelmina Klaus, may contract from this date: 20th September 1866 (Lyttelton Times 21/9/1866: 4). From research conducted in a later court case, it was noted that Wilhelmina (possibly affronted by this development) took things into her own hands and on the 1st December 1866, it was alleged that she cohabitated with Johann Grabau.

By March 1867 Klaus was suing Grabau (also recorded as Graban or Grabow) for £500 over the alleged cohabitation of Grabau and Wilhelmina (Lyttelton Times 8/3/1867: 2). During the Supreme Court case the legality of the Klaus marriage was called into account – were they actually married? Two witnesses who knew the couple in London attested that they were married as they witnessed the couple coming out of an East End church in London approximately five years prior. Historic documents show that a Wilhelm Heinrich Jacob Klaus, aged 41, married Wilhelmine (Wilhelmina) Johanna Wespfahln (Westfall), aged 28, on the 31st of October 1858 at St. George’s German Lutheran Church in Whitechapel, London. The cross-examination of the witnesses even covered the sleeping arrangements of the married couple’s one roomed cottage on Lincoln Road, Christchurch. Apparently, Wilhelmina had other ideas for her sleeping arrangements. Whilst staying at the Wellington Hotel in Tuam Street (which she had stayed at on a prior occasion with Mr Klaus) she was collected by Mr Grabau, along with all her boxes.  Some two weeks later Wilhelmina was back at the hotel this time with Mr Klaus. Grabau arrived at the hotel to inquire of her whereabouts only to be told that Wilhelmina was booked in at the hotel with her husband. Grabau infuriated at the situation stated he had a great mind to go upstairs and knock the old *&^%$’s eye out! Mrs Fuchs, the proprietor of the hotel, reminded Grabau of the married state of Mr and Mrs Klaus, to which Grabau retorted “why does he not keep her!” Grabau, good to his word, stormed up the stairs of the establishment causing a great commotion. Back down in the bar after his outburst, Grabau was soon joined by Wilhelmina speaking German in low tones. Grabau then went to get a horse and carriage, while Wilhelmina collected herself and later left with Grabau. Various other witness testimonies also confirmed that Wilhelmina and Grabau were indeed cohabitating for weeks at time (Lyttelton Times 8/3/1867: 2).

The upshot of the instance was to prove a case for Klaus to divorce his wife, and to be remunerated for it. Prior to this accusation, Klaus and his wife had planned to travel to America, resulting in the conveyance of a rural section to Grabau. The case eventually concluded that adultery had occurred, with the verdict to the plaintiff with damages of £40 (Press 8/3/1867: 2). It must be noted that Grabau’s conduct as recounted by witnesses, appeared to be reluctant. When confronted of the fact of taking another man’s wife he replied he did not want Klaus’s wife, and that she had come after him.

In 1877 (yes all was not over yet) Johann Grabau became naturalised at the age of 42 years. Grabau was also recorded in 1877 in newspapers as noting that all money due to him must be paid in full to Mrs Klaus (it seems that no trip to America eventuated…) during his absence from Canterbury (Press 13/3/1877: 4). By 1879 Grabau and Klaus were back in the district court, with Klaus claiming wages for his wife – yes, they were still married! Mrs Klaus (Wilhelmina) deposed that she had been living with Grabau as a housekeeper for eleven years and had paid her £200 in 1873. In March 1877 Grabau left for Germany and returned the following year. During this time, Mrs Klaus acted as farm manager for his property and was to receive all payments regarding the farm. On cross examination, Mrs Klaus said she had argued with Mr Klaus, and was living with Mr Grabau as a result of having nowhere to go. During her management of the farm the property had produced a good profit. On Mr Grabau’s return in 1878 he had promised payment of her wages. Grabau did return but not with payment of wages, but with a wife! Grabau had married in Germany. Grabau testified saying the £200 was a goodwill payment as they were going to part ways and it would pay for the construction of a dwelling. Grabau also stated that Mrs Klaus persuaded him to keep her as his wife. Mr Klaus at this time lived not far away. The rather convoluted court case had the judge dryly commenting that the witness, Mr Klaus, after being cross examined and insisting that Mrs Klaus was living with Grabau as a servant, that servants must very scarce if it was necessary to take such energetic exertions to secure one. Mr Klaus replied (with poor English), ‘how could she (Mrs Klaus) have two mans?’ The case closed in favour of the defendant with no costs.  The judge commented that the judgement was with regret as there was no doubt the contract between Mrs Klaus and Mr Grabau was an immoral one (Lyttelton Times 21/2/1879: 3).

To be honest it is hard to say who was playing who in this unfortunate triangle of monetary tit for tat and whether the concept of love and romance ever entered the equation. Whatever was the truth, Grabau produced his trump card in the form of a legitimate marriage, to remove himself from Wilhelmina’s entanglement. Nothing more was recorded of Klaus and Wilhelmina in local newspapers, suggesting that they left the region and Grabau to live a much more uneventful but by all accounts, happy married life.

Lydia Mearns and Annthalina Gibson

References

Acland, L.G., 1946. Early Canterbury Runs and Glossary of Station Words. Whitcombe & Tombs.

Archives New Zealand, 1859. New Zealand, Archives New Zealand, Passenger Lists, 1839-1973.

Archives New Zealand, 1902. Probate, Joseph Henry Townend. Archives New Zealand, Christchurch Regional Office, CAHX-2989-CH171-123-CH4478/1902. Available at: https://familysearch.org/

Archives New Zealand, 1905. Probate, George Henry Moore. Archives New Zealand, Christchurch Regional Office, CAHX-2989-CH171-144-CH5328/1905. Available at: https://familysearch.org/

Christchurch City Libraries, 2019. Annie Quayle Townend. [online] Unsung Heroines. Available at: <http://christchurchcitylibraries.com/Heritage/Publications/UnsungHeroines/AnnieQuayleTownend/>.

Gardner, W.J., 1990. Moore, George Henry. In: Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. [online] Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Available at: https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/1m52/moore-george-henry

 

 

 

 

 

 

One thought on “Maids of Misfortune

  1. An entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable read, Lydia and Annthalina! Who knew life in the days of the early settlers was so scandalous!

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