7 months ago

Fitzgerald's Town

Mary Gordon as the much

Mary Gordon as the much needed assistant teacher. At her farewell Miss Fee was presented with an inlaid walnut writing desk, a small jewellery case, and an address of appreciation read by one of the senior girls 9 . As reported in The Press it reads: Dear Miss Fee – We the undersigned, on behalf of the whole of the children attending Lincoln School, beg to express to you our sincere regret that you are about to sever your connection with us as our school teacher. We desire to assure you that during the time you have been amongst us we have felt great affection and esteem toward you, and that you have by painstaking and diligent labor endeavoured to promote our education and to set before us an excellent example for imitation. We beg, therefore, that you will kindly accept the accompanying testimonial of our esteem and gratitude, as but an humble expression of our feelings, and wishing you much joy in the future years with a continuation of health and happiness, we subscribe ourselves yours very affectionately. Although Miss Fee was present, Mr Bishop thanked the assembled children and parents on her behalf for the presentation, spoke of her regret at leaving, and said that she “would long remember the happy days she had spent with them”. In 1880 Mr Bishop was ill for so long that it was necessary to bring in a relieving teacher. However, the following year both Mr Bishop and Miss Pannett, who by then was an assistant infant mistress, resigned. Mr Bishop, who was to take up a position in Southbridge, was honoured at a farewell dinner in the Perthshire Arms where he was presented with a generous gift of 20 sovereigns. For some reason, Miss Pannett’s resignation was received with so much consternation that a committee member was asked to interview her on the matter. The interview apparently satisfied the committee member for she too, enjoyed a farewell function one afternoon at the end of the school day where she received a Davis Vertical Feed sewing machine. She thanked the gathering herself and after she was honoured with three hearty cheers, the function ended with a lolly scramble for the children 10 . By the time Mr Bishop resigned the school roll had risen to 153. His position was filled for a year by John Hook and then in 1883 by W. A. Banks who was to remain at Lincoln until the closing years of the 19 th century. Besides his role as headmaster Mr. Banks was a keen member of the local rifle club, and there is a report that in 1897 he was granted six months leave to travel to England in order to compete at Bisley as a member of the New Zealand rifle team. Because of his long service in teaching the Education Board granted him one month’s salary towards his costs. During 96

his tenure there was a period when roll and staff numbers fluctuated and because of the long depression salaries were reduced. Of the staff who taught under Mr Banks, Sophia Elizabeth Haughton is one of the most interesting. She began her teaching career in Lincoln in 1887, after a number of teaching positions in Christchurch, and retired twenty years 11 later during Arthur Cookson’s tenure as headmaster and Banks’ successor. According to the souvenir booklet it was believed that she had come to New Zealand with Sir John Cracroft-Wilson’s household in 1859, and because of this, and her dark complexion, some thought that she was of Indian extraction. Her death certificate records that she was born in London in 1840, to Sophia and John Curtis, a doctor, and she died in Lincoln in 1927 at the age of 87. It is further recorded that she had lived in New Zealand for 65 years, and so had come to New Zealand in about 1862, at least three years after Sir John finally settled in Christchurch. A year after arriving in New Zealand she is said to have married Francis Haughton in Wellington, but no record of the event has been found, and shortly afterwards the couple apparently moved to Lyttelton where their daughter Ada was born. Besides her job as school teacher she used her musical talents to act as accompanist for the local choral society and performed at various functions, including fund raising concerts for the Lincoln library. Nothing is known of her husband and it is assumed that she came to Lincoln with her daughter Ada as a widow. Given her London background it seems unlikely that she came to New Zealand with Sir John Cracroft-Wilson but until more information comes to hand there remains some uncertainty about this. For some time the Haughtons, mother and daughter, lived in the pound house built when the school playground belonged to the Lincoln Fair Company, but later moved to a house in Robert Street and then in her retirement lived in a small cottage on a section now designated as 4 Lyttelton Street. She and her daughter Ada were locally active in the suffrage movement, and with their friends would have rejoiced when the franchise bill was finally passed in 1893. As previously mentioned, the Education Ordinances gave school committees the right to exercise control of the school outside school hours and thus could allow use of the school room to any worthy group, an especially important role when the village had few suitable meeting places. Fundraising was a common event in the 19 th century, as it still is, and the committee was always glad to help a good cause. In 1878, for example, the Presbyterians were permitted to use the room for a soirée and bazaar and Mrs Durham, the doctor’s wife, was given use of the room for a 97

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