Thomas Maddock and Lucy Knight of Marlborough
Just an old Marlborough man and his daughter
When the first waves of settlers landed on the beaches of Nelson many were shocked at what they saw. The promise of plenty of land seemed to have gone straight out the window as more and more settlers arrived and filled up the valleys of Nelson. The calls for better farmland were answered when surveyors ventured over land to the vast golden seas of the Wairau Plains. This brought a new breed of people to New Zealand, people who became the typical back country farmers who became such an important part of early New Zealand life.
One of these early farmers was Mr. Thomas Maddock. Thomas was almost thirty years old when he, his wife and son landed at Nelson in 1842 after ninety six days at sea on board the Sir Charles Forbes. This was the first ship to sail from London to Nelson direct, and Thomas may have been appointed overseer.1 The small family had lost a son back in England and was now looking for new beginnings in the colony.
The family likely resided in Waimea, where he and his wife Ann added more children to their family. They lived in an area between Wakefield and Spring Grove named Maddocks Bush. Some of the bush still remains today.
In the late 1840’s, before the founding of The Beaver, Thomas (or Tom) came out to what is now the Renwick area and managed the Bankhouse owned by Sir David Monro. He may have gone there by himself and sent money back to the family in Nelson as, on the 22 June 1853, his wife Ann passed away in Waimea. It is believed she was buried in the Old Trafalgar Street Cemetery, one of Nelson’s earliest cemeteries and now known as Fairfield Park.
In 1848, after the big earthquake, Thomas was appointed manager and overseer of Starborough Station which he worked on until his death. He first worked there when it was under the ownership of Captain Richard Newcombe, possibly after the period when George Kemp was managing the station. Starborough (now Seddon) was a large station in the Awatere Valley which bordered the Flaxbourne Run to the north west. Thomas was kept in the same position when the run was purchased by Joseph Tetley, a man who fled the country only a few years later with 40,000 pounds of investors' money.
In March 1858, it appears that Thomas Maddock remarried - to Charlotte Courtney of Waimea East.2 His business affairs may not always have flourished, as he was declared bankrupt in 1886.3
After Tetley left, Starborough Station was taken up by Mr Richard Beaumont who owned it until Tom's death. Thomas was also a member of the Awatere Road Board which he was a part of until his last few months. He resided at Starborough for the remainder of his life until 1887, when he moved in with his only daughter Lucy Jane Knight at Maxwell Road, Blenheim.
It was there he passed away in his bed on the 21 September, 1887 aged 76.4 His funeral took place within the next two days. His remains were taken to the Omaka Cemetery where he was laid to rest. Although a farmer he must have had many great friends, as his pallbearers were some of the founders of Blenheim. They were James Sinclair Snr, founder of Blenheim, James Edmund Hodson the fifth mayor of Blenheim, Sutherland John MacAlister, Mr Joseph Taylor, the father of freemasonry in Marlborough and Denis Broughan.
Thomas lies in an unmarked grave in the grounds of the cemetery. He left behind five sons and a daughter, with most residing in the district. His property at Omaka was auctioned off after his death, in 1890.5 His son Enoch by this time, followed in his footsteps and worked for the Awatere Road Board as an inspector.
Thomas's daughter Lucy
Thomas' daughter, Lucy Jane (later Knight) was born to Thomas and Ann Maddock on 22 July 1847 in Waimea where she is believed to have lived for all her childhood. A month away from her sixth birthday her mother Ann passed away and was interred at the Fairfield Cemetery in Nelson. Lucy met and fell pregnant with a man named Joseph Wilfred Rennell in Spring Grove in 1864. She gave birth on the 22 February, 1865 in Wakefield to a son, also named Joseph. Two months later her husband was riding his horse from the Motueka Valley to Spring Grove and came upon the river near William Loudens house. He attempted to cross, but the horse refused and reared sending him into the river. Job Flower swam down the river to catch him but cramped and had to cease hold of a manuka branch. Mr Orchard rode down the river and saw the body many times before losing sight of him and had to turn back to aid Mr Flower.6 Rennell's funeral took place at Spring Grove Church. It's unclear if his body was ever found.
It would seem that after Rennell's death, his son Joe was put in the care of Rennell's aunt and uncle Angelina and Edward. Edward was the School Master at the Spring Grove School for 19 years, taking both a day and evening class. In the evenings he'd teach children who could not attend the day class under the light of homemade candles to ensure all got an education. When Joe was nine months old Edward passed away and was buried in the Spring Grove school grounds, as he was a much loved teacher. Angelina was taken in by the Rutherfords and Jefferies families and then later her sister Rhoda lived with her in Jefferies Road.
It would seem Lucy was left broken-hearted by Rennell's death. She married a tailor named Alexander Knight and started a family with him in Marlborough. It is likely she would have visited her first son now and then in his home in Spring Grove. Lucy raised seven children with Alex in Marlborough, all going their separate ways in life. Their son Richard had a footwear business in Blenheim called Copp & Knight. Alex owned a tailoring business8 in Maxwell Road until his death in 1912 at the age of 88, he is interred at Omaka. Lucy went to live with her daughter in Hawera. She died there in 1935 and is buried with her daughter and son in law. She was 88 years old. Alex’s stone has since fallen over by the roadside of the cemetery in the Number one lawn.
Sources used in this story
- unverified newspaper article
- Married (1858, March 13) Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle
- Advertisements [bankruptcy] (1886, April 19) Marlborough Express
- [death] (1887, September 21) Marlborough Express
- Auction sale of land (1890, February 20) Marlborough Express
- News of the day: coroner's inquest (1865, May 4) Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, p.2
- [bankruptcy notice Alexander Knight tailor] (1880, July 29) Marlborough Express, p.2
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Further sources - Thomas Maddock and Lucy Knight of Marlborough
- [death] (1887, September 21) Marlborough Express
- [death] (1887, September 21) Thames Star:
- The Awatere (1906) The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Nelson, Marlborough & Westland Provincial Districts], p.432