Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ellen (Bee) Peacock

Taken From the Bee Family Reunion Book 1986

Chapter Two

Ellen (Bee) Peacock

This is a pen portrait of my grandmother, Ellen Peacock (nee Bee) as I knew her in the latter years of her life, and of recollections of events narrated by my father.

She was the eldest child of Francis and Annie Bee and journeyed to New Zealand with her parents at the age of ten weeks on the sailing ship London in 1841/42. Her early childhood days were spent in Wellington under fairly rugged pioneering conditions. From there her family moved to a sheep farming situation in coastal Hawke's Bay. Schooling must have been a problem there, as it was a remote location, and so is up to the present day. Never the less a tutor was engaged and to my recollection she was well read and well informed on many matters. According to records, Ellen could not have attended any school until the family went to Havelock North in 1862, and by then would have been twenty one years old and approaching her marriage to Gavin Peacock, an event that took place in 1863.

According to her sister, Ann, Ellen and Gavin took up a lease of Maori land at Te Apiti station, about fifteen miles south of Waipuka station, Ocean Beach. The homestead was as primitive as that endured by her mother at Waipuka. The nearest neighbours were the Williams family at Mangakuri, fourteen miles south. A church service was held at Mangakuri every Sunday, which they attended, having to travel by horseback along a rough coastal track and across a tidal river. Gavin Peacock was instrumental in forming a road along this coast from Te Apiti to Kairakau Beach, and although time and tide had eroded much of this road some traces of it can still be seen to this day.

From Te Apiti the couple moved to Meeanee in 1866 where Gavin's brother Jack Peacock owned a property. I do not know the location of that place, but it must have been low lying, as my uncle, Frank Peacock, (Ellen's eldest) told me about massive floods. On occasions they had to rescue stock by swimming them over fences. The next move was in 1874 to Wharerangi, where they purchased "Brooklands" station of two thousand acres from the Hutchensons. The property had a good ranch styled homestead, and I suppose Ellen would be a proud hostess of such a locality within twelve miles of Napier. Travellers passing along this road to Puketitiri and Patoka usually made a visit or stop over there, and they would be always made most welcome.

Ellen's family had increased to six by 1875. Frank (Francis) born 1863, Gavin Graham born 1866, William Irving born 1869, Florence born 1871 (married H. Woolmer), Evelyn who married J.I. Cato, the youngest, Hutton Richardson was born in 1875.

Unfortunately Gavin Peacock died about the year 1881, and Ellen was widowed with a family of six, and a property of two thousand acres to manage. She enlisted the help of her sister Anne, and the eldest son Frank, then aged nineteen, who took on the responsibilities of management under Trustee supervision for a number of years, but was not equipped for the job, and times were not favourable. About 1894 William Irving Peacock and my father Hutton took over the management and Frank went to Argentine. The property consolidated and prospered until 1907 when Ellen and her sons decided to sell "Brooklands". Ellen purchased a nice two story home at Korokipo alongside the Napier Golf Club at Waiohiki. It was here about 1918 at the age of six that I came to know my grandmother, then a woman of seventy five years, and l formed a lasting impression of her character. A Matriarch of the family, she was kindly and with the aid of a housekeeper ran an efficient house and ten acres of land with fruit trees and cows. She had a very down to earth approach to life and did not appear to be sentimental with her grandchildren, but encouraged them to be independent. During early 1920 Ellen sold "Korokipo" and lived for a few years with her daughter Evelyn Cato at her home at Poraiti, before purchasing a house in Napier in 1925, where she lived out her life with her sister Annie Bee as companion.

H.B. Peacock

Ellen Bee, Born 1841, Died 1929.

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