Rebecca Coley (Massey)
Wife of James Coley
Written by Verna Coley Great Great Granddaughter
Rebecca [Rebekah] Massey was born on 9th February 1832 her parents were James Massey and Mary Poole, she was born in Hobart Tasmania, Australia. Her father James Massey was in the British Military he may have been sent to Tasmania as a British soldier to look after the convicts. This must have taken place before 1830 as both his daughters were born there, the family sailed back to England, between 1832 and 1842 as they were living in Cambridgeshire, England in 1842 it was stated in the New Zealand shipping records that Rebecca's brother Robert was born there in 1842.
The lore of a better life and the promise of land and a small cottage drove Rebecca's parents to immigrate to New Zealand in 1847.
Rebecca sailed to New Zealand with her parents, her older sister Mary Ann and brother Robert on the ship called "Sir George Seymour". It left Gravesend, London, England 12th August 1847 and arrived in Auckland, New Zealand on 26th November 1847. There was a great deal of illness on board the ship and Rebecca was admitted to the Colonial Hospital on her arrival in Auckland.
Rebecca's father, James Massey was a "Fencible" in the British Army based in Auckland, New Zealand, he was a private in the 63rd regiment.
The Royal New Zealand Fencibles were enrolled in England in 1846 - 47. The Corps consisted of discharged British soldiers and sailors, who were of good character, under 48 years of age (it was later lowered to 41), with a minimum of 15 years’ service. Each were enrolled to serve seven years and were offered free passage for themselves and their families with pay ranging from 6 pence to 1 shilling and 3 pence a day, in addition to their pensions, they were offered an acre of ground and a cottage.
Rebecca's father, James Massey sadly died in May 1848 six months after their arrival. He is buried St Thomas Church yard, Kohimarama Rd, Tamaki, Mt Eden, Auckland. Mary Massey, Rebecca's mother then married George Washington at St Pauls Church on 9th October 1848; the same year James Massey her first husband died, George was also was also a Fencible. George Washington’s, first wife Esther and son George Jnr, immigrated to New Zealand on the same ship as James and Mary Massey aboard the "Sir George Seymour” his wife Esther died of dysentery on board ship just four days out from arriving in Auckland. George Jnr. their son, died shortly after arriving in Auckland in 1847. Although Mary's first husband James had died she was granted land a 6 acre farm at Pakuranga, Auckland (near Howick) this was granted on 20th May 1852 number [A3-561-5G-102] George Washington was granted a 6 acre farm number [A3-560-5G-313] on the same day next to Mary's who was now his wife. Mary Massey-Washington, Rebecca's mother died on 12th June 1865 at the age of 60 years of breast cancer. George Washington, Rebecca's stepfather married again in 1865 the same year that Mary died to a Fencible's widow Ann Harcourt who was the widow of James Harcourt.
Rebecca married James Coley when she was 16 years old on 8th May 1848 at St Pauls Church, Waitemata, Auckland. Rebecca had her first child on 10th September 1849 in Howick, Auckland. They named the child William James and he was registered by his material Grandmother Mary Washington but his name was misspelt and is spelt as Colley. Rebecca and James settled in Onehunga, Auckland where they had 4 more children.
Rebecca and James had 11 children they are as follows:
|William James Coley (Colley) ||b 10 Sept 1848, Auckland |
|Elizabeth Rebecca Coley ||b 12 July 1851, Auckland |
|Henry Coley ||b 9 July 1853, Auckland |
|Robert John Coley ||b 23 August 1855, Auckland |
|George Charles Coley ||b 1 February 1856, Auckland |
|Mary Jane Coley ||b May 1862, Otago |
|Alfred Coley ||b 24 July 1865, Wellington |
|Charlotte Ann Coley ||b 1867, Wellington |
|Frederick Theophilus Coley ||b 11 Aug 1869, Wellington |
|Edward Arthur Coley ||b 1872, Wellington |
|Alice Maud Mary Coley ||b Jun 1879, Foxton |
Rebecca was 47 years old when she had her last child.
Rebecca moved with her husband James Coley to the Otago goldfields, where he was a carter, then Wellington before they settled in Foxton. Rebecca lived to see two of her sons become councillors in Foxton these sons also owned Flaxmills and were also in the Carting business. One son owned shops in Wellington and had rental properties. The other sons worked as carters, farm hands and in the Flaxmills.
It was said that Rebecca was a skilled nurse, she was the local midwife and helped many babies into the world around the Foxton area. It was said that she was kindly and hospitable, held in great respect by all that she was acquainted with. She was one of the first women on the electoral roll in 1883. It is interesting to note that Rebecca spelt her name as Rebekah. Rebecca died 11th June 1908 she was 76years old, [her death certificate states she was 64 years old] she died of a intestinal obstruction, pneumonia, heart failure she lasted 10 days. Her last address was Johnston Street, Foxton. At the time of her death Rebecca had 67 grandchildren and 34 great grandchildren. Rebecca is buried alongside her husband in the Foxton cemetery. Their graves were revamped some years ago, James and Rebecca are both true pioneers of the Foxton area.
Written by Verna Coley
Great Great Granddaughter
Copyright 2005 Revised 2010, Revised Jan 2014