Topic: Norman and Ellen Nash

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Ann Ellen Webster, known as Ellen, was born in Windsor, Liverpool in 1845.  She came to New Zealand at the age of 3 or 4 with her mother, a widow.  Her mother married Captain Lemon, master of a small vessel trading between Wellington, Marlborough Sounds and Te Awahou.  They lived in Dixon Street in Wellington and their home was badly damaged by the 1855 earthquake.  In 1859, when she was 14 they left Wellington to live at Te Awahou.  Entering the heads the small schooner ran aground.  The passengers were lowered over the side into Maori canoes and taken to Te Awahou.  Three years later she married Norman Nash and went to live near Paiaka where Norman’s parents also lived.  Norman, who was born at Sandhurst, Kent in 1836, was that fortunate boy who was washed overboard from the 540 ton “Bolton” and rescued.

Their first baby, born 1863, was named Ann Ellen, and then came Louisa, Miriam (1864), Norman Henry (1866), Frances Eliza (1867), and George Andrew (1868).

At this stage Norman successfully tendered for the contract let by the Foxton Highway Board for the Whirokino Road.  It was one pound seven shillings per chain for 33 chains of side drain and partial formation of the road.

Little Frances died in 1869 but James Slyman was born later that year - he died in 1870.  The next child was James Alfred (1871) then Ernest John (1872) and William Charles Thomas (1875).  William died in 1877 and the following year 10 year old George Andrew died after being dragged by a horse.  That year Charles Percy was born.

In spite of all this grief Ellen loved to play the piano and have family sing-songs.  She did all the family sewing and also took in dressmaking to help make ends meet.

Norman was making good progress developing his land for farming but his parents wrote urging him to join them in New South Wales where a new goldfield had been discovered and gold was said to be plentiful.  They arranged for a caretaker for the land and packed their belongings and went gold prospecting.  However the new field was a failure so they decided to return to Foxton.  In the meantime their property had been sold so Norman was forced to find a job.

He got employment with the Government Survey Department but in 1880 when a valuable piece of equipment fell from the wharf into the river, Norman dived in and retrieved it.  He remained in his wet clothes and as a consequence contracted pneumonia and died on 21st July, 1880.  Their eleventh child Ethel Maude was born in November after Norman’s death.

Ellen moved to Palmerston North in 1883 in the interests of her family - her eldest daughter Ann Ellen was then school teaching at Rangiotu (known as Oroua Bridge).  She later married Mr. S.J. Watson.

Son Norman Henry started in the printing trade with the local newspaper, “Manawatu Herald”.  He then worked in Dannevirke on the “Dannevirke News” for many years.  He moved back to Palmerston North and in 1903 he and John Coombe purchased the “Manawatu Evening Standard” until 1981. Their partnership continued until 1935 when John Coombe sold his interest on joining “The Dominion” but the Nash family retaind control of “The Standard” until 1981.

In 1884 James Alfred commenced work at Nathan’s Ready Money Store for five shillings per week.  After nine years his wages were one pound ten shillings per week.  He then became an insurance agent and valuer.  In 1907 he was elected to the Borough Council and became Mayor in 1908 and remained undefeated for 15 years.  He was elected to Parliament in 1918 and was the member for Manawatu for 17 years.  He was Chairman of the Hospital Board for 25 years and Chairman of the Power Boards Association for the same length of time.

Ellen lived many years in Palmerston North where she was active in raising money for the Palmerston North Hospital opened in 1892.  She also devoted much time to the work of the Salvation Army and spent her last years in the Salvation Army Eventide Home in Wellington.  She died in 1938 at the age of 93 and was buried at Foxton beside her husband and their children whose lives were so short.



When referencing this book please use the following:

Pioneers of Foxton : Book Two. p14-15. [Foxton, N.Z.] : Foxton Historical Society, 1989.


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