Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday: James Gibbs

St Barnabas, Woodend, Canterbury, New Zealand

The Story of James and Elizabeth

James Gibbs was born in 1820, in Turvey, Bedfordshire, the son of George and Sarah (nee Stanton) Gibbs and cousin to our Joseph.

In 1841 he is living at home and is described as an agricultural labourer.

On the 21 September, 1846 James marries Mary Huckle and later that year their son, Thomas is born but sadly, in June of 1847, Mary dies.

On the night of the 1851 census James is visiting his aunt and uncle, James and Esther Ayres, but his son is at the home of Keziah and Ben Bailey - Keziah is his sister and I think it's safe to assume that James and Thomas are living with the Baileys.

Elizabeth Gibbs was born in 1821, in Lavendon, Buckinghamshire, the daughter of James and Catherine Drage.

In 1841 she marries William Stanton - cousin of James Gibbs - they live in Turvey and in 1844 their daughter Mary is born. But William will also die before the 1851 census where Elizabeth is listed as a widow , a lacemaker,  living with her daughter at 166 High St, Turvey.

Both widowed with a child to raise it seems natural they would find some solace together but in 1855 James and Thomas are part of the Turvey family group preparing to set sail to New Zealand on the Cashmere - and that raises questions which will never be answered but are interesting to think about.
  • Did James ask Elizabeth to marry him and go to NZ and she refused?
  • Did they see their relationship as only an interlude before each went their separate way?
And the big question - Did they know Elizabeth was pregnant when James left? My feeling is they didn't . The Cashmere left London on the 2 July - the travellers would have been gone from Turvey sometime in June. Elizabeth's baby was born in February of 1856, eight months later and she named him James Gibbs Stanton. 

Two years later Elizabeth, Mary and James are part of the another group from Turvey heading for New Zealand on the ship 'Zealandia'. They arrived in Lyttelton on 21st September, 1858 and a month later, on 27th August, 1858 , Elizabeth Stanton (nee Drage) and James Gibbs are married and settle in Woodend and in 1862 another son, Samuel is born.

A fascinating story and one that took quite a while to put all the pieces together . It deserves a 'they lived happily ever after' ending but unfortunately it doesn't. 

James Gibbs died in 1864 - he was only 44.
Elizabeth Gibbs would spend another 27 years as a widow - she died in 1891.


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