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37 Dee St. Timaru. Always start with yourself and work backwards.

 research a South Canterbury family's history [THOMSON] from a far - via the internet.

How to research NZ records in NZ.
National Library of NZ Getting started with family history research

Do a quick search on South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project

The search engine spiders the website every Monday morning and will pick up any updates. To use the site effectively use the search engine but remember some pages are not picked up by the search engine e.g. the guestbook, sheep owner returns, directories, Cyclopedia of New Zealand -South Canterbury section on this site, Electoral Rolls, NZSG newletter and any images e.g. Timaru's Memorial Wall and pdf pages, e.g. Waimate Centennial 1854-1954 index War Memorial names, labourer awards for teachers, shearers etc. are pages that are not searchable. Check the index. To find the index page use the drop down menu near the top of the Home page.

Newspapers  Cemeteries   BDMs  Obituaries  Passenger Lists  War Records  Mailing list  Search

Start with now all the newspapers are fully searchable and free.

The Timaru Herald 1864-1920 is fully searchable.
Remember to use proper nouns e.g. Thomson and Dalkeith
Use the advance search and the narrow the date and select one paper article only
To copy and paste from Papers Past use your keyboard - find article:
a. Go to view page so you don't have any highlighting
b. On keyboard press the keys Alt  Print at the same time or fn  prt sc at the same time
c. Copy - Ctrl C and paste Ctrl V, into MS Paint
d. Reduce size, trim in up, and clean up and save as jpeg. with the subject, name of the newspaper, date, and page number in the name of the file.
e. Google Advanced search there is a field to add the PPast website.
To exclude the Maori results add -"l=mi" [a minus sign plus "l=mi" which is the PPast code for language=Maori]
f. To find for example T. Thomson in 1887 papers on PP via Google copy and paste into the Google search engine:
"T. Thompson" 1882 -"l=mi" site:
g. Google The plus (+) symbol forces a key word to be INCLUDED. The staple of genealogy research is vital records - +Loch +Fergus +ship -eden The minus (-) symbol forces a keyword to be EXCLUDED.
h. You can shorten all papers past urls down to this formula by removing the 3rd & and all past it and remove cl=search&
Evening Post, 15 November 1917, Page 4 KILLED IN ACTION.
Histen T. J., 14104, C.I.R. (D. Histen, Temuka, f.), 12th October
Thomson, S.B., 23/305, Sgt., R.B. (Mrs. E. Austin, Dannevirke, m.)
j. Another way to search Papers Past
k. To organise saved images in a folder use the following format: Year-month-day-newspapername-pg no.-brief description

Easy Google Genealogy Searcher

Timaru Herald, 24 December 1884, Page 2 Marriage.
Steven — Thomson. — On the 23rd December, at Manor Croft, Timaru, by the Rev. Wm. Gillies, assisted by the brother of the bridegroom, the Rev. John Steven, Papakaio, Oamaru, George Steven, English Master, Timaru High School, third son of John Steven, Esq., Port Molyneux, to Agnes Jessie, second daughter of James Thomson, Esq., draper, Timaru.

Timaru Herald March 1885 Marriage
THOMSON - NEWMAN - On the 19th March, by special license, at St, John's Church, Christchurch, by the Rev. H.C.M. Watson, James Porteous Thomson, of Timaru, to Catherine, youngest daughter of Mr William Newman, Wincanton, Somerset, England.

Timaru Herald, 6 January 1888, Page 2 Marriage.
FISHER - THOMSON. At the residence of the bride's father, Munorcroft, on the 4th inst., by the Rev. Wm. Gillies, John Fisher, of Invercargill, to Lilias Porteous, third daughter of Mr James Thomson, Timaru, late of Dalkeith, Scotland.

Timaru Herald,  26 May 1898, Page 2 Marriage.
Thomson — Robinson —At St. Mary's Church, on the 24th inst., by the Rev. J. Whitehead, Thomas Thomson to Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Mr S. Robinson, Dee street.

It is helpful to determine their religion so you know where to look for marriage records.

Trevor Griffiths wrote in Jan. 2009 in the Timaru Herald Stafford Street North
Millers Fashions was a hugely popular shop in the 40s and 50s. Their clothes and materials were always reasonably priced, which suited the customers of the time after the Depression and the Second World War. Next along the street came Woolworths and McKenzies. Across the small access driveway came T and J Thomson's Department store. It was a large area at that time and had an excellent reputation for quality goods. My brother Colin joined the men's department when he left Boys High School in 1934 and then joined the army in 1939. For two weeks one Christmas I joined him there as a parcel boy.  I believe the next business was S.A. Bremford's photography shop.

The Timaru Herald 6 Oct. 2009 Past Times - Friendly store serves out a century.
The article includes a photo of the Thomson store in 1902. The original Thomson's store in Timaru, although now home to Farmers, the building is still called the Coronation Building. T and J Thomson's Christmas promotion, about 1949, featured Father Christmas riding on the back of an elephant, surrounded by a crowd of excited children. The Farmer's store started out as the ornately styled drapery business of Thomas (Tommy) Thomson. Established in 1883 by Thomas and his brother James, the family firm passed in 1935 to Thomas' son Charles. Thomson's was bought by Hay's Ltd in 1961, and came under the Farmers banner in 1982. Competition in Timaru was fierce, with the town boasting the Canterbury Farmers Co-operative Association, McGraw and Davies, Beaths, Ballantynes and Woolworths.

It can be fun looking into a family you have not researched.

Cemetery databases online -  Cemeteries

Surname Forenames 		Burial Date Timaru Cemetery 
32800 THOMSON JAMES 		22/Apr/1906 for 40 years draper in Dalkeith, SCT, a resident of Timaru for 25 yrs.
32806 THOMSON STILLBORN 	17/Jan/1916 
32818 THOMSON GEORGE 		20/Mar/1929 3rd s/o late James Thomson, Dalkeith Scotland, aged 64 yrs
36896 THOMSON F S R (MAJOR)     Died of wounds in Tunisia 28 March 1943
36897 THOMSON J W (PRIVATE) 	KIA Tunisia 23 April 1943
36898 THOMSON ARCHIBALD JAMES 	26/Jan/1991  born 1907
32820 THOMSON ELIZABETH SAUNDERS nee ROBINSON 01/Jun/1929 w/o Thomas Thomson, draper
32824 THOMSON THOMAS 		29/Mar/1935  born Dalkeith 19 Feb. 1855 
38770 THOMSON LUCY ELIZABETH 	19-07-1908   09/Nov/2001 d/o Thomas & Elizabeth

By looking at the photos of the headstones online - additional information can be obtained.  John Fisher and Lilias had six children.

Timaru Cemetery - Section GENERAL,  Block G, Plots 524, 525, 526,  New Row 4
Address: Timaru
Born: Dalkeith, Scotland
Age at Death 80
Date of Death 27/Mar/1935
Date of Interment 29/Mar/1935
Plot 524
Third son of the late James Thomson
Born: Dalkeith, Scotland
Age at Death 72
Date of Interment 20/Mar/1929
Plot 525
Address: Timaru
Dalkeith, Scotland
Age at Death 87
Date of Death 20/Apr/1906
Date of Interment 22/Apr/1906
Plot 526
Age at Death 52
Date of Death 31/May/1929
Date of Interment 01/Jun/1929
Plot 524
Address: Maniototo Hospital Ranfurly
Date of Death: 24/Sep/1991
Date of Interment: 26/Jan/1999
Plot 525

Age at Death 85 (Years )
Date of Death 10/Jul/1991
Plot 524
wife of Charles
Charles Edward Thomson
Born 12.6.1902 - Died 10.5.1992
Mayor of Timaru 1962-1965
Born: 19-7-1908
Age at Death:  93 (Years )
Date of Death:  02/Aug/2001
Date of Interment:  09/Nov/2001
Plot 524
Loved d/o Thomas & Elizabeth Thomson
KIA - Tunisa
Date of Death 23/Apr/1943

Died of Wounds
Age at Death (Unknown )
Date of Death 28/Mar/1943

KIA in France 12 Oct. 1917

Forenames MONA OLIVE
Age at Death 85 (Years )
Date of Death 10/Jul/1991
Plot 524

Lilia Frances 21-3-1904 - 28-5-1996
Loved daughter of Thomas & Elizabeth Thomson and her husband Robert Kershaw HOLDGATE 3-3-1902 - 8-4-1969
Plot 526

No connection - I just like to check the records.


Narrow down the date of death using BDM NZ Historical records searchable online site and then search Papers Past for an death notice.
To obtain the DOB or DOD of an event - narrow the range down for records post 1875 does give the correct date.
Sort by clicking on the headings at the top of the sorted page - will sort by any of the columns.
Order certificates online. Start a certificate collection.
WWII deaths were registered in 1945, not the year of the death occurred.
War deaths do not have the date or age, and are recorded as for 1918 (WWI) or 1945 (WWII), with the age NR = Not Recorded. They have a 5-digit Registration Number e.g. 1918/22915 O'Callaghan Leslie George NR,  1945/36277 Cordes Leslie David Eldred NR 
There are transcription errors especially spelling.
Check the old fiche system and District keys to work out districts.
Births that occurred at least 100 years ago
Deaths that occurred at least 50 years ago or the deceased's date of birth was at least 80 years ago.
Marriages and eventually Civil Unions that occurred 80 years ago.
If you put in the maiden name of a woman when you search deaths, in more recent times it will show her registration under her married name.
You can find siblings of a family you already know mother’s maiden name under births:
No parent's names are included for births prior to 1870.

1904  Fisher Lillian Porteous 37Y 16 Jan.
1945 Thomson Frederick Sleigh Roberts
1945 Thomson John William

Records date back to:

  • Births 1848
  • Deaths 1848 
  • Marriages 1854

Australian Birth, Marriage and Death Index 

Burial Record information

NZSG Cemetery Collection - CD
Research centres at local libraries and museums
Southland District Council Otautau (new)

Otautau Cemetery (New)
FISHER, Jane Anne  Age: 71 years
DOD: 10 Oct 1932 Age 71
Matches the obituary in the Otautau Standard
Location of Grave: Block A X 1

FISHER, John Given Age: 87 years
Undertaker: W R Ireland
Date of Death: 02 Nov 1950 Age 87
Location of Grave: Block A X 1

FISHER, Lilias Porteous
Address: Otautau
Undertaker W R Pankhurst
Date of Death:16 Jan 1904, Age37
Location of Grave: Presbyterian Section Row 1 of E 9

Source: Hokonui Heritage Centre
Record Type: Cemetery register
Year of Death: 1904
Surname: FISHER
Given Names: Lilias Porteous
Age: 37
Location: Riverton


Lilias Porteous wife of John FISHER Otautau age 37 years and Nellie STEVEN their niece age 14 years who were accidentally drowned at Riverton 16 Jan 1904.
Margaret Grace Dalkieth their eldest daughter died at Otautau 22 Jun 1919 age 29 years.
George Edward FISHER Otautau 24 Aug 1926 age 87 years.
Margaret Gibson FISHER his wife died at Invercargill 8 Dec 1928 age 89 years.

"The plot deepens. You never know what you will unearth!"


From obituaries in newspapers on Papers Past and The Cyclopedia of New Zealand articles the arrival vessel may be named. The arrival year and the name of the vessel may be off by a year or so and incorrectly spelled. The Thomson family came out on at least three different vessels. In Mrs John Fisher's obituary her Christian name and maiden name were not mentioned. She turned out to be Jane Anne Thomson who arrived on the "Loch Fergus" and married John Fisher in 1906. The name of the vessel in her obituary lead to the passenger list and by submitting a query on the NZ mailing list at RootsWeb lead to the news that John Fisher married Jane A. Thomson in 1906.

Otautau Standard and Wallace County Chronicle, 11 October 1932, Page 2 MRS JOHN FISHER
[Jane Ann Fisher (nee Thomson) the eldest daughter and fifth child of James Thomson and Lilias Porteous (who married in Dalkeith (Scotland) on 11 April 1854]
Amongst her friends, which took place yesterday morning, at her home. "Aldersyde". Born Dalkeith, Midlothian, Scotland, deceased received her education at Miss Moutar's private school in that town, finishing at the Watson Academy in Edinburgh.... The eldest daughter of a large family, bereft of her mother at an early age, she assumed control of the household and practically "brought up" her younger brothers and sisters. Deceased, with her father and the rest of the family arrived in Port Chalmers by the ship
"Loch Fergus" on 1st August 1881, and after stay of two years in Dunedin, the family settled in Timaru. Mrs Fisher, as a young woman had a rich cultivated contralto voice and was a member of various Choral Societies and Church Choirs. In 1906, she married Mr John Fisher and had since lived in Otautau, with the exemption of brief periods when visiting other parts of the Dominion and Australia. Buried at the new Otautau Cemetery. Rev. W. H. Howes performed the service.

Lookout for spelling variations

There appears to be two spellings...Lilian/Lilias
The spelling ...Lilias also appears in burial records and Lillas on passenger list and Lilian on marriage records
Lilias Porteous Fisher was the 3rd daughter and eighth child of James Thomson and Lilias Porteous.

Passenger lists  

-NZ Immigration passenger lists images  (search first)
 - Canterbury 1855 - 1884
 - Wellington 1872 - Jun 1888
 - Auckland 1872 - June 1890
 - Otago 1872-1884

- A commercial site covering passenger lists leaving the UK 1890 - 1960. Free to search.
- Victoria, AUS  PRO Outward Passengers to Interstate, UK, NZ and Foreign Ports 1852-1876 
- Search Gavin's site for the port, year and vessel and there are links to passenger lists.
- NZ Bound lists other sites
- Archives NZ, the CHCH Library and the Canterbury Museum

Page 14 Otago Witness June 25th 1881
Per Messrs P. Henderson and Co.'s
Loch Fergus from Glasgow (April 28th)
Captain Cumming, consigned to Messrs Cargills, Gibbs, and Co, Dunedin.

Second Cabin
Thomson 	James
Thomson 	Jane Ann 
Thomson 	Agnes Jessie
Thomson 	George
Thomson 	Lillas Porteous
Thomson 	Harry Knight
Thomson 	Mary Hutton
Thomson 	David Hugh

Muir & Moodie postcard, 1905. Stafford St., north

Cyclopedia of New Zealand -searchable. Don't just search Canterbury, search all provinces. 
The Cyclopedia of New Zealand
[Canterbury Provincial District] 1903

Thomson, Thomas, Draper, trading as T. and J. Thomson, Stafford Street, Timaru. This firm was established in 1883 by Mr. T. Thomson and Mr. J. P. Thomson, the partnership being dissolved five years later. The fine new block of two-storey brick buildings was erected in 1902. The business premises include three double-fronted shops. About 70 per cent of the total goods sold are imported direct, and a large staff is employed by the firm.

Looking south on Stafford St. c. 1906. General - Draper - Thomson - Silk - Mercers - to the right. Later Hay's LTD.
Also on this side of the street was On the west side of the street were the Old Bank and Empire hotels, Beckingham's Furniture Warehouse and Cowans clothiers.

Farmers, Timaru, 256-260 Stafford Street, Timaru

Mr. Thomas Thomson, the Proprietor, was born in 1855, at Dalkeith, near Edinburgh, Scotland, where he was educated. His father had owned a drapery establishment in that locality for over forty years, and the son had a thorough grounding in every branch of the business. In 1874 he came out to Port Chalmers by the ship “Invercargill,” and after a few years of station life he moved to Timaru and took a position as book-keeper in a drapery house, but started on his own account in 1883. Mr. Thomson served as a member of the Timaru Borough Council for three years, and has been identified with the Beautifying Association and other kindred associations for the advancement of Timaru. As a volunteer in the Old Country he was a member of the Glasgow Engineers, and was afterwards connected with the second Midlothian Regiment, and in the colony he attained to the rank of sergeant in the Timaru Rifles. Mr. Thomson likes social recreations and a good horse, but he is at the same time studiously attentive to business. He was married, [Elizabeth Saunders ROBINSON] in 1898, to a daughter of Mr. S. Robinson, of Timaru, and has one daughter and one son.

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Taranaki, Hawke's Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts]
[This is the uncle of Jane Ann Thomson and Lilias Porteous Thomson]

Councillor James Porteous Thomson was born in Dalkeith, Scotland, in the year 1859, and is the son of Mr James Thomson, draper. He was educated in Dalkeith, and was afterwards apprenticed to his father. Mr. Thomson then went to London, and was for six years in the old-established drapery house of Messrs John Lewis and Company, in Oxford Street, where he be came buyer for the fancy department. He came to New Zealand in 1885, via Melbourne, by the s.s. “Garonne,” and was for a year in Dunedin, as manager of the fancy department of Messrs S. II. Carter and Company. He then removed to Timaru, and began business with his brother, under the style of Messrs T. and J. Thomson. He sold out his interest to his brother two years later, and opened his present business in Napier. Mr. Thomson joined the volunteers in Dalkeith in 1878. He joined the Napier Rifles in 1888, obtained a lieutenant's commission in 1895, passed for a captain's certificate, and received the rank of captain in August, 1898. As a member of the council of the Highland Society since its inception, he takes an interest in Caledonian sports, and is a director of the Star Bowkett Building Society. Mr. Thomson is a Justice of the Peace, a member of the Napier Borough Council, has been president of the Napier Bowling Club, and as a Freemason is secretary of Lodge Scinde. He married a daughter of Mr. William Newman, of Wincanton, Somerset, England, in 1885, and has one son and one daughter. Mr. Thomson is further referred to as a draper and importer in Emerson Street.

The information they provided was as accurate as memory—and honesty—permitted.

War Records

Auckland War Memorial Database -
The South Canterbury War Memorial Project. It is not unusual to find a soldiers name on multiple war memorials.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission provides personal and service details and places First or Second World Wars
Archways - For WW1 records add: AABK as the Agency, 1914 1919 for years and Held at Wgtn
The London Gazette editions for 1914-1920 and for 1939-1948 are online
The Timaru Cemetery Thomson headstones photos gave us the clue that three Thomson soldiers died while on active service:

- Major Robert Ross BOWIE, Canterbury Mounted Rifles, NZEF.
Born Timaru NZ. Married; Store manager, of Timaru, New Zealand.
NOK: Wife; Elizabeth Bowie (nee Thomson), of Wai-iti Road, Timaru, New Zealand.
S/o Robert Hislop Bowie and Julia Bowie; husband of Elizabeth Bowie, of 83, Wai-iti Rd., Timaru
Died of other causes (dysentery) in Egypt, on 10 July 1915, aged 42.
Grave: Cairo War Memorial Cemetery. Service # 7/920

- Sergeant Stanley Bowie Thomson WWI, KIA 12 Oct. 1917, Ypres, Belgium.
Service Number: 23/1305 Tyne Cot Memorial 
1st Bn. 3rd NZEF
Born 31 Jan. 1890 in Enmore, N.S.W. to Helen Broom Thomson nee Bowie & George Thomson.
Grandson of Emma Harriet Bowie, of 117, Sherbourne St., St. Albans, Christchurch
Mrs E. Austin, mother, Dannevirke. [HBT's second husband was Edgar Austin]

Timaru Herald Nov. 1888
THOMSON - BOWIE. On October 26th, at St. Stephen's Church, Sydney, by the Rev. Dr. Steel, assisted by the Rev. J.H. Inglis, M.A., George, third son of James Thomson, Timaru, to Helen Broom, eldest daughter of D.B. Bowie, Christchurch.

- Major Frederick Sleigh Roberts Thomson photo
NOK: J.W. Thomson (brother), Timaru, New Zealand
23rd Bn. Inf. NZEF2
Service Number: 7565
C/o T.J. Thomson, Timaru, New Zealand
Occupation before Enlistment: Draper
Military Cross awarded 1944
Born: 5 August 1912
Died of wounds - 28 March 1943, age 30
Mentioned in Despatches (
Frederick Thomson was the s/o Thomas and Elizabeth Thomson
Buried: Sfax Cemetery, Tunisia

- Private John William Thomson KIA, age 24, (photo) s/o Thomas and Elizabeth Thomson
Died: 23 April 1943. 26th Bn. Inf. NZEF2
Enfidaville War Cemetery, Tunisia

Make your query work:

Who: State the names of people as completely as you can.
When: If you don't know the date try to put in a period e.g. 1920s.
Location: Mention the district or at least North Island or South. e.g. Otago.
Why are you searching for these individuals? Describe your connection.
Tell: What you know and don't know and want to know.
Surnames: In all caps in subject lines and the first time you write them in the body of a query. THOMSON, Timaru, 1883-1965
Check: Spelling, grammar and format. Watch your spelling for Lyttelton. This is the correct way.
Save: Once you have an acceptable looking query, save it and update as necessary.
Consider: Posting to the New Zealand mailing list which is monitored by some very helpful individuals.
Your locale: Include where you live. Get a better response if you are across the pond and cannot go to a library in NZ to check.

Search the NZ mailing list at RootsWeb to see if anyone else is looking for the family.
Submit a well written query the list is monitored by many generous individuals and often you have a reply in a couple of hours.
If you face a problem, get a second opinion, ask the list.
Researching family history involves sharing. Share. Help others.
Make note in the message where you are located. e.g. Houston, ChCh etc
Make your subject line work: SURNAME, Locale, date.  THOMSON, Timaru, draper, 1880s.
Say "Thank You"

Contact the local family history groups. e.g. NZSG -South Canterbury Branch especially for School Admission Registers and church records, their library is at the South Canterbury Museum.
Lookups available for free.

Sign the South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project guestbook but prepare the query. In MS Word do a spell check. 
Add input regarding migration in and out of the area.      Why did the settlers select South Canterbury to settle? Hint: Construct your entry off line, do spell check, then cut and paste.


Rootsweb Search all the mailing lists at once  World Connect
Google books Archways for WWI service records and probate items. Transcribe reference numbers correctly!   Google


Contact the facilities before you visit, so they have time to prepare and order files, keep emails and letters brief. Note the opening times, especially in winter. Study the history of the area.

Visit Timaru

Museum - database offline -waiting for it to come back
BDMs notices appearing in the Timaru Herald. This is a work in progress and notices included currently cover:
- Births, deaths and marriages 1900-1920
- Deaths 1996 to present
- Births and Engagements 2006 to present
Town rate roll - 1865-1867, 1882, 1885, 1894, 1895
Presbyterian marriages  (1865- 1992)
Timaru Congregational Church marriages covering 1881 to 1939
Hamilton file

Waimate District Library

Waimate links

Visit Christchurch

& cemetery database & CHCH Street names
Archives - Christchurch Archives.
Ashburton District Family History Group Incorporated
Ashburton District Family History Group
Ashburton Art Gallery & Heritage Centre,
327 West Street, Ashburton.
This complex also houses the Ashburton Museum & District Archives, and the Ashburton Art Gallery. A one stop shop for Genealogical records.
Library opening hour for the group are Mon, Wed, Fri 1 - 4pm and Sat 10am - 1pm. Closed public holidays.

probate reference number from Archways.
DAFG 9066 D328/16  FISHER Lilias Porteous - Otautau - Wife  1904 Invercargill High Court - Dunedin Archives

Ships AJHR = Appendices to the Journal of the House of Representatives  online searchable
National Library

Register of Marriages, belonging to Dalkeith Church. Rev-d Robt Wright, Minister.
1854-April 11th. Man's Name and Parish: James THOMSON, Dalkeith.
Woman's Name and Parish: Lilias PORTEOUS, Dalkeith.
Witnesses: Thomas Porteous and George Thomson.
April 9th, 1854. One day.
By the Rev-d Dr. Brown, D. U. P. C.

Timaru Herald, 19 March 1896, Page 3 Lecture
NOTES OF A TRIP HOME. There was an excellent attendance at the Barnard street hall last evening to listen to an address by Mr Thomas Thomson on his recent trip Home. The proceeds were in aid of Trinity Recreation Club, and the president, Mr George Cooper, occupied the chair. Mr Thomson, who is an esteemed business man of Timaru, was received with applause, I which was renewed at the close of the chairman's brief introduction. Mr Thomson kept the audience fully engaged for two hours with the exception of two short intervals when Misses Straehan, Malthus, and Livingstone (appropriately costumed to represent Scotland, England and Ireland), sang a trio, and Miss S. Donn rendered an appropriate song. Mr Thomson, though not one of our foremost platform orators, is a good speaker, and he treated what proved to be a very interesting subject, very well. In his visit to the border town he found signs of prosperity everywhere, and found much change for the better on visiting his native town of Dalkeith. Mr Thomson is an enthusiast in hunting, and it was only appropriate that he should at this stage touch on a run with the foxhounds, over fine hunting country....In his visit to the border town he found signs of prosperity everywhere, and found much change for the better on visiting his native town of Dalkeith. Mr Thomson is an enthusiast in hunting, and it was only appropriate that he should at this stage touch on a run with the foxhounds, over fine hunting country.

Mr James Thomson, the draper, from Dalkeith, Scotland to Timaru 

Otautau Standard and Wallace County Chronicle, 24 April 1906, Page 2 Jas. Thomson, Senr.
Timaru Herald, 24 April 1906, Page 5 DEATH OF AN OCTOGENARIAN.
There passed away on Friday. 20th inst at the ripe age of 87, at the home of his son in-law, at Totara Valley, South Canterbury - James Thomson, draper, late of
Dalkeith, Scotland, and the father of Mrs John Fisher, Otautau. The deceased was born in Dalkieth in 1819, from 1841 till 1861 was in business in that town, when be emigrated with his family to New Zealand. Four of his followed in their father's line of business, Mr Thos. Thomson, Timaru, Jas. P. Thomson, Napier, and H.K. Thomson, Hastings, each having large businesses in these towns, while Mr D.S. Thomson is in charge of the dress department in Messrs Thomson and Beattie's Invercargill. Mr Thomson was an ardent abstainer for 67 years, during which time he never had had a day's illness, and for over 50 years had not been confined to bed for a single day, so perfect was his health. A great reader, and blessed with a splendid memory, he was a most agreeable and instructive companion to those enjoying his friendship. During his residence in Scotland he took an active part in public matters, and was for many years a a member of the Borough council of his native town. He was also a keen volunteer and an officer the corps' at Dalkeith, holding several valuable prizes for rifle shooting. In Scottish church history he was almost an authority, and was conversant with the Church of Scotland. He had personally come into connection with many of the church celebrities, and there appeared scarcely a parish in Scotland that he did not know something of the minister or the minister's father before him. Mr Thomson was a keen and ardent Liberal in politics, and had taken part in many a tough campaign. He was a member of Mr Gladstone's committee at the great Dalkieth election when the Liberal Premier displaced the Duke of Bucleugh. A man of strong -religious convictions, he had been a great worker in all church activities for uplifting his fellows. A Sunday school teacher for over half a century, for years among the very outcast of his native town and Edinburgh, he believed to the centre of his being in the power of the gospel to teach men and women the way of elevation. Endowed with an intellect of great keenness, enriched by contact with men of rare ability, he was satisfied that absolutely the only source of true happiness was to be found in an unflinching faith in Jesus Christ and he lived up to his belief. As a consequence there was a breeziness and buoyancy about his life that inspired with hope and courage all he came in contact with. He died as he had lived, without a doubt on the horizon of his faith, and without a tremor or fear in entering into the eternal world. In additions to the sons named Mr Thomson is survived by three daughters, Mrs John Fisher, Otautau, Mrs George Steven, Totara Valley and Miss M.H. Thomson, of Invercargill. His wife predeceased him by nearly 30 years, the remains were interred in the Timaru cemetery on Monday, 23rd inst, in the presence of a large concourse of followers.  For some time past the deceased has resided with his son-in-law, Mr Steven, of Upper Rosewill, where he passed away peacefully.
[He lived on Elizabeth Street, Timaru.
Timaru Herald, 26 January 1894, Page 3]

Otautau Standard and Wallace County Chronicle, 24 June 1919, Page 2
FISHER, At "Aldersyde," Otautau, on Sunday, June 22nd, Margaret Grace Dalkeith, eldest beloved daughter of John Fisher ; aged 28 years, Till the day dawns. The Funeral will leave "Aldersyde" at 1 p.m, sharp on Wednesday, 25th June, for the Riverton Cemetery arriving there 2:30 p.m. Friends please accept this (the 1 only) intimation. ROBERT SHATTER, Undertaker.

Otautau Standard and Wallace County Chronicle, 24 June 1919, Page 3
Miss Margaret Grace Dalkeith Fisher, eldest daughter of Mr John Fisher, Otautau. Having been born in Invercargill in 1891, she was 28 years of age when she died; She moved with her parents from Invercargill to Otautau in 1901 — 16 years ago. Shortly after the outbreak of "The Great War" She entered the Christchurch Hospital to train for a nurse, and spent 2 years 3 months there. In the final examination she passed very highly. After qualifying as a nurse, she was sent to nurse in the fever ward of Christchurch Hospital, where she contracted fever, which led to a serious illness, the returned home, and after nine months' confinement to bed she has passed away.

Varcoe's NZ Marriages Index

Marriage CD NZSG

John Fisher married his sister-in-law two years later.
John Fisher (born Clifden 8 July 1863 and died Otautau 2 Nov 1950) first married Lilias
Porteous Thomson in 1888 and following her drowning at Riverton on 16 Jan. 1904 married her sister Jane Anne Thomson in 1906. Anne was older than Lillias - and 45 when she married John so may have been too old to bear children. Many followed the custom of the Scottish naming pattern. Middle names are often leads.
1889  John Porteous Fisher
1891 Margaret Grace Dalkeith  Fisher
1893 Lilias May Gibson Fisher
1897 Allan Thomson Aorangi Fisher
1901 Jean Glenburn Fisher
1903 George Eric Fisher

It is easy to work out who married who - find one person and then search for the same folio number. NZ mailing list members do lookups from the
1906/148 Jane Anne Thomson  - John Fisher
1888/724 Lilias Porteous Thomson - John Fisher

Year 1888
Folio 0617
Given Names Lilian Porteous
Sex F
Year 1888
Folio 0617
Surname FISHER
Given Names John
Sex M

Southland Times, 19 January 1904, Page 2 Deaths.
Thomson. At Riverton, on 16th January, 1904, as the result of a bathing accident, Anne Emily, beloved wife of David Sligh Thomson, loved wife, and daughter of V. B. Scandrett, Esq., Invercargill, and daughter-in-law of Jas. Thomson, Timaru; aged 32 years. The funeral will leave the residence of Mr W. B. Scandrett, Spey street, at 3.30 p m. to-day (Tuesday), the 19th inst, for the Eastern Cemetery. Friends please accept this (the only) intimation. Kingsland & Ferguson, Undertakers

Fisher - At Riverton, on 16th January, 1904, as the result of a bathing accident, Lillias Porteous, beloved wife of John Fisher, Otautau, Southland, and third daughter of James Thomson, Timaru; aged 37 years. Funeral private.

Steven — At Riverton, on 16th January, 1904, as the result of a bathing accident, beloved only surviving daughter of George and Jessie Steven, of Glenavy, South Canterbury, and grand daughter of James Thomson, Timaru; aged 14 years.

Southland Times, 18 January 1904, Page 2
Sad Drowning Fatality at Riverton
THREE LIVES LOST. A particularly distressing accident occurred at Riverton at Saturday about 11 o'clock, by which two ladies, well-known in Invercargill, and their niece, lost their lives. These were Mrs Thomson., wife of Mr. D. S. Thomson, employed in Messrs Thomson &. Beattie's, Invercargill; Mrs Fisher, wife of Mr John Fisher, formerly manager of the Ward Farmers' Association, Invercargill, and now resident in Otautau ; and Nellie Steven, aged 14. niece of Mrs Fisher, and daughter of Mr Geo. Steven, schoolmaster, Glenavy, South Canterbury, and formerly of Winchester, in the same district. The morning was bright and calm, and the ladies decided to go for a bathe near the Pilot 1 Reserve, about a mile from the township. Unfortunately the bottom of this spot, as is well-known to local people, is extremely steep and dangerous, although a few yards away there is a perfect shelving beach. The little girl was the first to enter the water, and she speedily got out of her depth, and the strong flood tide carried her up the river. The ladies, recognising her peril, with a generous disregard for their own safety, rushed into the water to rescue the girl, but were themselves overcome and drowned. When the girl was seen to be in danger the ladies screamed for assistance and their cries attracted the attention of others who were on the beach. nearer the town. Mr J. Beer put off in a boat with all speed, and recovered the bodies of the two ladies, which were floating up the river, about a quarter of a mile from where the accident occurred. Mr Beer landed the bodies with all possible speed, and every effort to restore animation was made. Both the local doctors were out of town, but their places were ably filled by Miss Williamson (nurse, lately in charge of the N.Z. nurses in South Africa). Mrs L. W. Petechell (formerly matron of the Riverton Hospital), and Mr. J. Livesay, who had assisted in previous cases a similar nature. Their ministrations. which would undoubtedly have been effective if life had not been extinct, were continued for some considerable time, when they wore given up as hopeless. The body of Nellie Steven was recovered yesterday at 5 a.m. by Mr Foster, who had been out for two hours previously. The body was fully half a mile from the scene of the accident. The Coroner (Mr S. E. McCarthy), has decided that an inquest is unnecessary. The fatality was reported in Invercargill shortly after noon, and both in town and at Riverton intense sympathy is expressed for those who have been so suddenly bereaved. On Mr Thomson the blow falls very heavily, as he loses at one stroke wife, sister, and niece. Mrs Thomson was a daughter of Mr W. Scandrett. than whom no citizen of this town is better known, and her sudden cutting off at the age of 32 will be a severe blow to her parents and husband. The tragical occurrence is further intensified by the fact that Mr Scandrett is away with most of the members of his family on a driving tour in the Western district. He was expected to be somewhere in the neighbourhood of Manapouri on Saturday, and steps were taken to recall him. Mrs Thomson leaves two children, both young. Mrs Fisher was aged 37 and the daughter of Mr James Thomson, a very old and highly respected resident of Timaru. She was an enthusiastic lover of the sea. and whether she spent her holidays at the Bluff or Riverton, bathing occupied a good deal of her time She was well-known as an energetic and kindly worker in the causes of temperance and social reform, and when in Invercargill held for some time the position of treasurer for the Victoria Home, as well as being a member of the W.C.T.U. She leaves six children. the eldest aged 14 and the youngest a year old. Miss Steven was on a visit to her friends in Southland, and her death will be much regretted by those who knew her The present fatality must of necessity recall that equally deplorable one which occurred at Riverton about the same time last year. The occurrence suggests that steps should be taken to render the beach safe for bathers by placarding dangerous places as such. Any steps which may have the effect of indicating danger would be much appreciated by visitors to this popular watering-place. Sympathetic references to the fatality were made in several of the local churches yesterday morning and evening.

Manorcroft, Timaru.
What was the address of the house Manor Croft?

Timaru Herald, 6 January 1888, Page 2 Marriage
Fisher — Thomson — At the residence of the bride's father, Munorcroft [sic], on the 4th inst., by the Rev. Wm. Gillies, John Fisher, of Invercargill, to Lilian Porteous, third daughter of Mr James Thomson, Timaru, late of Dalkeith, Scotland.

John Fisher and Lillias Thomson's wedding day. The best man is unknown (previously thought to be Allan Gibson Fisher, but this doesn't match other photographs) and the bridesmaid is Jane Thomson. To the right of the wedding party is the bride's father, James Thomson and next to him are his son James Porteous Thomson (carrying his daughter Lillias Porteous Thomson) and daughter-in-law Kate (Catherine Newman.) From left front are, George Thomson (I think), then George Steven and his wife Jessie (nee Thomson), who is holding their son, Harry Thomson (light suit), David Thomson and Polly Thomson. In the light suit at rear, I think, is Thomas Thomson. Photo courtesy of of Mike T. ( great grandson of Lilias P and John Fisher). Posted 4 Nov. 2012.  Jane Anne Thomson was John Fisher's second wife and sister to his first wife Lilias Porteous Thomson who drowned with her sister-in-law while they were trying to save their niece in 1904.

Timaru Herald, 9 October 1877, Page 2
WANTED — A NURSEMAID. References required. Mrs White, Manor-croft.

Timaru Herald, 18 September 1877, Page 3
White —At Manorcroft, Timaru, on the 17th inst., the wife of John White, Esq., of a daughter.

Timaru Herald, 22 March 1882, Page 1
To let. A good Seven-roomed HOUSE, with Outbuildings and One Acre of Land, known as Munorcroft, lately in the occupation of Mr G. L. Meason, Surveyor. Further particulars on application to W. O'BRYAN, to Elizabeth street.

Timaru Herald, 6 June 1883, Page 1
TO LET - MANORCROFT, a 7-roomed House, with an Acre of Grounds and paddock if desired. Apply, W. O'BRYAN, Elizabeth street.

Timaru Herald, 24 December 1884, Page 25
STEVEN-THOMSON - On the 23rd December, at Manor Croft, Timaru, by the Rev. Wm. Gillies, assisted by the brother of the bridegroom, the Rev. John Steven, Papakaio, Oamaru, George Steven, English Master, Timaru High School, third son of John Steven, Esq., Port Molyneux, to Agnes Jessie, second daughter of James Thomson, Esq., draper, Timaru.

Timaru Herald, 23 February 1888, Page 1
To Let. Six-Roomed House and Out Houses, Manorcroft, occupied by Mr Thomson. Apply to Mr J. S. BENNETT, Elizabeth Street.

Timaru Herald, 21 May 1896, Page 1
TO LET HOUSE of Seven Rooms,
Manorcroft, at present occupied by Mrs R. Turnbull. Apply S. F. O'BRYAN, Brickworks

Watch for possible Old Country family connections:

Otago Witness, 13 August 1902, Page 20
Another old resident passed to her rest on Thursday morning in the person of Mrs Jane Thomson, relict of the late Mr John Thomson, of Dalkeith, Port Chalmers, who was for many years Government Sheep Inspector for this district. The deceased lady, who was 82 years of age, had resided in - Port Chalmers for the last 54 years. She arrived here on September 21, 1848, in the ship
Blundell, from London, with her husband and two sons, one of whom (Mr John Thomson) is the present Mayor of Port Chalmers. Since her arrival, with the exception of a week or two's absence, she had continuously resided at the Port, where she was greatly respected for her kindliness and charitable disposition. Her late husband predeceased her about seven years since.

Otago Witness, 5 December 1895, Page 27
Thomson.— On the 30th November, at his residence, Dalkeith (near Port Chalmers), John, dearly beloved husband of Jane Thomson ; in his eighty-third year.

What is in a name?

A typo, a transcription error or a transposition error, could get you another location, another month, another year, another port, another publication or another film. Double check number. 

Twenty ways to avoid genealogical grief. Document all sources. Be organised, obtain a bookcase and filing cabinet.
ave on a flash drive. Back up your computer, save to a website.

Researching family history involves sharing. DIY
Write your family history and give it away to the family and place a copy in the local library or museum.

If just starting out on your genealogy quest start with yourself and a family group sheet, pedigree chart or here or both, and work backwards. How to advice. Cite all of your research sources. Obtain death notices and death certificates.
Timaru District Library and the South Canterbury Museum for Timaru Herald newspapers.
Land Information for Land Titles etc. Where did my Ancestors live? presented at the NZSG 2006 conference by Ronald Hermon of LINZ.
Digitised Manuscripts and Pictorial Collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library.
TDC - district plan to locate heritage buildings and significant trees and Geospatial Information to find a property.
Maps past  There isn’t coverage of the whole of NZ but mid Canterbury has good coverage. What you are looking at is a map of the rural section numbers. Acreages are given as well. Zoom in.

Timaru                       map pdf
Waimate                    map pdf
Fairlie - Peel Forest   map pdf
Mt Cook                   map pdf
Christchurch              map pdf
Geraldine                  map pdf
1912 Wise's New Zealand Index: Every Place in New Zealand A B C D E F G H I  J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W YZ
NZ Geographic Place-Names Database
Gazetteer of British Place Names

Different ways to search a parcel of land:

1. Obtain a copy of the certificate of title through Land Information NZ Order the Historic Title. They will email you an attachment.

2. Go to Terra Link and do a search for that title number - you may or may not end up with details - order CTs through this site (have to register) and they email as PDF file - enlarge to read faint details.

3. If you are in NZ go to a surveyor, real estate agent or solicitor who has Landonline facility - they will do the search and open up the image on screen for printing out or email so to enlarge it.

How to take better photos. Just have fun. 

  1. Shoot steadily. Avoid holding the digital camera out.

  2. Learn to look at light. Daylight is best during the first and last hours for great landscape shots. Turn off your flash and work with available light. Look online for exact sunrise/sunset times.

  3. Anticipate the shot. It is easy to miss the picture because of shutter lag. Engage the shutter halfway and allow the camera to focus, then press the rest of the way.

  4. Don't turn the subject into scenery. Rule of thirds. Fill a third of your frame (left side or right) with the person standing 3 to 5 feet away, then fill the remaining two-thirds with your scenery. Shoot from a lower angle if necessary.

  5. Get closer. Photographs can be improved if the photographer moves closer to the subject. Boil the scene down to the essentials.

  6. And even closer. Fill the frame with the main subject matter for maximum drama. Don't worry about getting the entire sculpture or cathedral when a portion of it is more dramatic. Don't let your photo be ruined by a cluttered background. Zoom in. Position yourself low to the ground.

  7. Outflank your subject. Instead of shooting buildings head-on from the front, move to one side or the other (depending on the light) and shoot across the front. You get more of the building without a wider lens and the picture shows depth.

  8. It's the little things. Don't forget to shoot details.

  9. Keep it simple. Don't get hung up on equipment.

  10. Always be aware of what's in your frame and you won't get nasty surprises. e.g. a lamp above head

  11. Look for gestures. When taking pictures of people, a simple hand gesture can break a shot. Be preoccupied with detail. Group subjects together in fun arrangements. Have your subjects dress in the same colour palette.

  12. Sit. People make better subjects when they're relax.

  13. Look to the skies. Stormy weather combined with dawn light is a winning combination for landscape. Cloudy days are good for close up shots and photographing people

  14. Some new cameras have a wider-angle lens. Make sure you are close to something so there is a central focus to the picture.  For a flower set the aperture at F4.5 or lower and zoom in to put one flower in focus and background blurry.

  15. Shoot a lot. Keep shooting until you have the shot. Up, down and all around. Up close.

  16. Be prepared. Carry spares of everything, including batteries, cables, memory card and even a spare camera. Save.

  17. Simple backgrounds are best for subjects with busy patterns Look behind. have an uncluttered background. e.g. wildlife

  18. Instead of that head-on portrait, try an over-the-shoulder shot instead. choose clothing that contrasts the scene.

  19. A photo taken from below, looking up, makes your subject more dominant.

  20. Creative ways to frame your subject are everywhere.

  21. Capture reflections in a puddle or rear view mirror.

  22. Avoid red eye. Shoot from an angle, so that the flash does not fire directly into your subject's face.

  23. The trick with photographing stained glass windows on a digital camera is to turn off the flash (or cover it with your finger) and under expose by about -1.3 ev or there abouts. Sometimes a little more or less works depending on conditions.

How to take a photo of a headstone

Cemeteries should be transcribed in rows, not alphabetically as this helps to work out family relationships and makes it easier to find a particular headstone in years to come. Transcriptions are an excellent way to preserve headstone information. How many headstones will be readable in 50 years?
A visit to the graveside is helpful check dates, spelling and location and if there is still a headstone visible.
Visit when the temperature is pleasant.
Photograph gravestones in bright sunlight, with the sun to the side or top of the stone, at a 30º angle
A mirror can be used to reflect light on any shaded headstone
Wash off bird manure, take soft brush and a gallon of water. Plain water is the only solution. The best time to clean a headstone is when they are still wet, after rain.
Irrelevant and disagreeable objects in background can be eliminated by a backboard, not gray as that may blend with the headstone.
Position camera close enough to capture entire stone, with the stone sides equal in view-finder. Avoid downward angle
Or go back at a different time of day e.g. evening and see if the angle of the sun has made a difference.
Note direction headstones are facing? Does the stone have a symbol on it? Material made from? Shape of stone?
Remember to look on the back of the headstone. Sometimes there is additional information.
An aerial photograph of the entire cemetery with an indicator dot showing the plot’s location maybe useful.
Take a photo of the cemetery row - may help pinpoint the grave in years to come. 

Photo taken by Margaret Todd, May 2007.
Otipua District South African War Memorial

How I Scan Glass Plate Negatives - DIY 

‘‘There’s a community of people researching, collecting and sharing information, it’s not just me.’’