A’deane of Ashley Clinton – Jenifer Adam

Rose Chapman: I’d like to introduce our first speaker this morning, Mrs Jenifer A’deane …

Jenifer Adam: Adam …

Rose: Adam, I’m sorry … from the A’deane family; her ancestors were A’deanes. And she lives down at Ashley Clinton and has come up today to give us a talk about her A’deane family who are [were] very early settlers in that area, and have a few interesting aspects to their lives. So I’ll hand the floor to you, Jenifer.

Jenifer: Thank you; and my poor daughter, who I’ll probably embarrass. [Chuckles]

I’m delighted to be here with you all this morning, although most of you may not know me from Adam. [Chuckles] I was asked by Rose if I would repeat my recent contribution to a gathering of the Hawke’s Bay branch of the New Zealand Founders’ Society, so here goes. I am fourth generation from the original settler, whose name was John Tucker, in 1853. My husband, Michael Adam, and I arrived from England in Wellington on the ’Rangitata’ in August 1950. We came because my mother had suggested that we could make a better future here on her property, Ashcott, Takapau Hawke’s Bay. So out came the atlas, and we rather imagined that it would be a south sea island paradise. [Laughter] It’s a paradise, certainly. [Chuckles]

Now I had listened with great interest to [a] speaker at the Taradale lunch gathering of the New Zealand Founders’ Society; all sorts of details about her forebears were described so that the listener could better visualise their experience upon coming to New Zealand. It posed a question for me as I sat at my desk chewing a pencil: What in particular could I recount to you all about Ashcott and the A’deane family, concertinaed into the ten minutes allowed? My main source of reference was an old copy of ’History of Hawke’s Bay’, by JG Wilson and others. It had been commissioned as a centennial memorial in 1939. Here it is. This book is well worth browsing through – if you can find a copy. It makes fascinating reading, and I kept becoming sidetracked; however, it did help me confirm various dates against family records and anecdotes, which often differed.

It all began in 1853 when Great-Grandfather, John Tucker, and younger brother, Walter, arrived from Ashcott, Somerset in England. They took up, as the expression goes, fifteen thousand nine hundred and twenty acres, which had just become available when an intending settler named George Rich failed to finalise his already granted application for seventy thousand acres of the newly available Ruataniwha block. So this land, which lay between the Tukituki and the Tukipo Rivers, was referred to as a ’depasturage licence’, being a fourteen year lease for the princely sum of five shillings [5/-] per acre. The first stock returns listed in Hawke’s Bay showed that they had nine hundred and ninety-eight sheep and two horses. It was all go then, for by 1860 there were four thousand four hundred and eighty sheep.

The two brothers built two whares, which constituted the original part of the Ashcott homestead as it is now. John Tucker even made time for local body politics, being elected to the new Hawke’s Bay Provisional [Provincial] Council in November 1858, which was newly separated from being part of the Wellington Provisional [Provincial] Council. He took on the role of Speaker from 1867 to ’71. He also acted as Chairman of the Port Ahuriri Harbour Management Committee … whatever that involved. In 1862 he returned to England with his brother who had not found farming to be to his liking, so he then sold his one-third share of Ashcott back to his brother, John.

Now once in England, John, who possibly was looking for a wife, met and married a Maria Lydia Bayly in 1864. Now in order for her to inherit a fortune from a relation called Margaret A’deane, who did not wish the name to die out, Maria needed to persuade her husband to change his surname to A’deane. Whether he was tempted by her wealth, or it was true love, I cannot say. [Chuckles] But they did have three sons and four daughters, [chuckles] and all except the youngest born at Ashcott homestead.

Maria’s experiences of New Zealand were not entirely enjoyable; a culture shock no doubt. The province was in a high state of fear around that time because Te Kooti had escaped from the Chatham Islands, and he was creating havoc wherever he went. There are accounts of the times that she, Maria, with her children, fled to the Block house nearby for safety.

Also in the 1860s terrible fires raged nearby, as Takapau was at the edge of the great bush felling and burning as land was being cleared for more settlement. So I can imagine that she did not argue when her husband, now John A’deane, decided that it was best to take his growing family back to England, as was the custom then, in order for them to have a good education. He leased Ashcott then to a trusted and respected neighbour, one Henry Hamilton Bridge, of Ongaonga, who would live in the now quite large house and run the farm until they returned. The lease was dated 2nd February 1876, and was minutely documented for every aspect you could imagine; especially looking after the forty horses. The schedule at that time referred to them having eleven thousand six hundred sheep and a hundred and thirty cattle.

Regrettably, John Tucker A’deane died there in England in 1889, aged only sixty-three, which meant that Grandfather, being the eldest son, was required to return to New Zealand much sooner than he might have wished, to learn how to manage Ashcott for his mother, who remained in England.

So we come now to the second generation. John Robert Bayly A’deane had been educated [at] Hailary [Haileybury] College and then Cambridge University, where he apparently excelled at rowing, rugger (rugby now), and cricket, then went on to complete two years in a London solicitor’s office; all of which equipped him, as you can imagine, very well to be a sheep farmer in what was only a colony. [Laughter] Judging by the letters exchanged, he seemed to be answerable to his mother for the minutiae of running such an estate; from providing details about the cost of fence posts to the sale of stock, and also asking in the nicest possible way for some more money for his personal use. And being her favourite son, Mother dear would oblige; but with a lecture about his spending habits, especially when it came to racehorses. [Quiet chuckles]

There had been at that time many and various land transactions of all sorts going on between the already established settlers and newly arrived immigrants buying and selling; some deals more questionable than others, especially when it came to the acquisition of Māori land – a bit like the game of Monopoly. In the 1890s however, towards the end of that century, Prime Minister Seddon – not without some objections – introduced the Lands for Settlement Act, and a graduated land tax where the larger estates were obliged to sell some of their land to enable closer settlement. So early in 1900, Grandfather took the hint … sold twenty-seven sections, large and small, and kept forty-one sections or paddocks. (Interested to peruse that monstrous map.) In his wisdom he retained both the land and the native bush towards the foothills of the Ruahines, and the outstation nearer to Waipukurau which was swampy, but … grew grass well, so when there were drought periods stock could still be grazed. Ironically, he relinquished the middle sections which were prone to drought; and when I say ironically, so the present farmers who all seem to have converted to dairying, find they need extensive large-scale irrigation to feed their cows.

There have been many changes to farming methods, and only a few original families remain in the area. JB, to his friends (Grandfather to me), was a very sociable man. Horses certainly played a big part, and a costly part, in his life, be it racing, playing polo, or hunting with the Hawke’s Bay and the Dannevirke Hounds; playing cricket and of course, fishing. He worked hard and played hard.

Being an eligible bachelor, [he] was in much demand socially. In 1899, finally, aged thirty-four he chose to marry a Margaret Robertson from a Scottish family in the South Island. She might just have caught his eye with her red hair, blue eyes and lovely figure; and being somewhat younger. Apparently she taught mathematics at the Port Ahuriri School. Unfortunately all records were lost when that school burnt down. She then wisely took lessons from her mother-in-law, Maria Bayly, on the etiquette of that era, and quickly adapted to being the wife of a local squire with all that it entailed.

Coming to the third generation … they had two daughters; Margaret, my mother, and Violet five years later; educated at home, and then sent, as they did, to a finishing school in England.

In the winter hunting, with ladies riding sidesaddle, was a frequent social activity; house parties and also going to balls, especially at Government House in Wellington, in the days when ladies had dance cards and gentlemen put their initials on the [?waltz?] or the polka. And something I came across amongst my mother’s possessions was one which had the initials of the Duke of Windsor, because he was out in New Zealand at that time, before he abdicated. Perhaps that was where they met their future husbands.

As the family activities grew, so did the household – the long standing housekeeper, a Mrs Chase, who had been in charge well before JB had married and whose ghost occasionally still makes her presence felt there; the cook; Julia, the parlourmaid; and others. There was a cowman, two gardeners, a chauffeur, stableboys for all those horses; a twelve stand wool shed, still standing but no longer used; and all those many shepherds to go with all the now eighteen thousand sheep.

In 1924, unfortunately Grandfather died aged only fifty-nine, before his two daughters married, in 1926, two naval officers off [from] HMS [His Majesty’s Ship] ’Dunedin’. This was a double wedding at the old Takapau Church, and they were given away by their mother and with a naval Guard of Honour.

As yet again there was no son to carry on the name, as with John Tucker, a concept that was very important for my grandfather, his daughters felt obliged to do something of that sort. So my father became Roger Marshall A’deane, and my uncle became Lionel A’deane Tollemache – probably sounded better that way around. It so happened that HMS ’Dunedin’ was in Devonport in February 1931, so they were amongst the sailors who came to the aid of Napier after the earthquake.

After that my mother packed and followed, as all good naval wives did. My two sisters and I, and a nanny, went to wherever he was sent. We were all in England when World War II broke out. In 1941, Daddy, now aged thirty-eight, was captain of HMS ’Greyhound’, which went down with all guns blazing in the – disastrous for the Royal Navy – Battle of Crete. Apparently he had been rescued, but chose to dive overboard, trying to help save his few still surviving sailors in the water. For this he was awarded a posthumous Albert Medal, having already won the DSO [Distinguished Service Order] and DSC [Distinguished Service Cross].

My Aunt Violet’s husband was stationed in Hong Kong when it fell to the Japanese; was captured, and actually survived the infamous Changi prisoner of war camp. She had undertaken the farming at Ashcott during those war years, and I was full of admiration and respect for her. She taught me, or helped me learn, the disciplines of farming – mud, sweat and tears, to be a custodian of the land, not just own, occupy and enjoy. She once said to me that if you have an acre of land you’ll never starve, and you cannot eat diamonds. Make of that what you will.

The fourth generation – the two A’deane heiresses only had daughters; my mother, four, and my aunt, two, so once again, the surname has gone. The homestead has been sold; most of the original sixteen thousand acres have gone; most of the family have gone their separate ways; only myself at Oakcott and my cousin, Ngaire, at The White Pines, still farm. I am fortunate in that my fifth generation daughter, Pheasant – with me here – will be carrying on the good work, and all things being equal, her daughter, Madeleine, will serve after her.


I have covered a range of things which may all seem quite unconnected, but in a way they have been significant milestones as I sit chewing my pencil and looking back. And it’s one of the things about being nearly eighty, is there’s a lot to look back on. And I don’t know about you, but the older I get the more interested I am in history, especially of New Zealand ’cause it’s a country that’s gone from rather rapacious early beginnings, through its various forms, to an upmarket, small but very noticeable country. And it’s a privilege to be here, and I think I was bloody – I mean, very lucky – [chuckles] to’ve had the opportunity, being at an impressionable age, to come out and, like a tree being planted, you put down roots.

And my older sister, ’cause needless to say I only had sisters, [chuckle] married a naval officer, and they didn’t come out to [from] England until much later, and they found it very hard to adjust because they had grown up in it. [England]

So on that happy note, I will field any questions if anyone isn’t already exhausted with listening to my voice.

Question: So were you born in New Zealand or England?

Jenifer: No, no – England, in Cumberland, so I’m still a pommy bastard. [Laughter] I still have a British … I’ve never been naturali[sed], ’cause I didn’t think I had to. But now I have to have a re-entry permit [laughter] after the first … however many years is it? A hundred and fifty years?

And no fingernails to speak of, ’cause as my daughter will tell you, I sort of breathe down her neck every now and again, and mention thistles. [Chuckle] ’Cause if you leave a thistle they become a hundred thistles.

Do feel free to look at the map – I lugged it around and to the previous Founders’ thing, because it shows something of the land that … I was going to say for two rifles and a blanket … but John and Walter Tucker managed to take up that particular amount of land because they were there at a strategic moment when George Rich, who you may have read about; it’s all in the book. There were a lot of very large land grabbers, and he had claimed his seventy thousand acres, but neglected to formalise it properly, so suddenly it was up for grabs; and probably they took the opportunity and broke it in.

Question: I know of a chap called Owen Adeane – is he any relation?

Jenifer: I don’t know. I have heard of them – I’ve looked through the … how does he spell his name, A apostrophe?

Reply: I don’t think there’s any apostrophe.

Jenifer: No. The A’deane family originated in [?] it seems, way way back, and it’s been spelt many ways. And whether it originated in France years before then …  And so the A’deane family had land in England; they were tenant farmers. I came across old letters from one of the tenant farmers, who very politely to my … must’ve been my grandmother … to explain that the roof was leaking in the farmhouse, and could she see fit to have it fixed. In those days you couldn’t sack or fire – whatever the term would be – your farming tenants; they had to die or be bought out, which meant the continuity in the countryside of England then. And now, although I think fondly of England, it’s a bit like one’s mother – you may have affection for her but you don’t bloody want to live with her. [Chuckles] I couldn’t live in England now if I tried. Freedom of speech, and room to swing a cat. [Quiet chuckles]

Rose: I want to thank you very much, Jenifer, that was just so interesting especially because it’s so personalised, not just facts and figures.

Jenifer: It did affect the family …

Rose: Exactly … real people. I’ll just mention that this book, this wonderful centennial history which was published, as you say, for the 1940 Centennial of New Zealand, you can find copies of this in the libraries. Hastings Library’s got several copies, and even Havelock [North] has. And it’s full of interesting information and anecdotes, but infuriatingly, it doesn’t have an index, so it’s a matter, as you say, of browsing through it.

Jenifer: This is a Māori tribal …

Rose: I don’t think I’ve seen one of those.

Jenifer: And you might have to read it in the library; is it one of these books that you can’t take out?

Rose: Yes, that’s correct.

Jenifer: I put [a] couple of photographs that you might like to look at in passing; one is of my grandfather and his wife, Margaret, and my grandmother, Maria, the one who had all the money, and my mother as a baby. And the other one is of part of the naval wedding in the 1920s. And there was a cup that my grandfather and his addiction to racing, either rode races or bred racehorses, or gambled on racehorses.

Rose: He probably knew Tuki McLean from Duart here – he was into the same line of interest.

Question: Just one point … the names are still well known around Waipukurau …

Jenifer: A’deane?

Reply: A’deane’s Bush, Tucker’s Mill …

Jenifer: And there’s a garden, A’deane, which the local council a couple of years ago wanted to sell, ’cause it’s now a prime building site; and transfer the money off somewhere else. And a lot of people were very upset because it was where there was a children’s playground. And in my grandfather’s will which was fished out by somebody, it said that it could be used to be a rotunda, or a library or a museum, or for mothers and their children to come and have a place to play. So – I was able to shoot down the council, [laughter] and [just] insisted that the playground equipment had to be … wasn’t safe, it had to be brought up to date. So that was actually quite smart, and the garden looks good.

Question: Interesting connection, I suspect – there was another French family farming in the area …

Jenifer: Not de Lautour?

Reply: With the name Bayly.

Jenifer: Is it with the ’e-y’? [Bayley]

Reply: Well Bay [Bayly] de Lautour …

Jenifer: Of course, yes – Bayly de Lautour …

Reply: Bayly – that name is continued right down through the generations.

Jenifer: I think names are part of our ability to trace back.

Rose: Well thank you very much for coming all the way up; we really …

Jenifer: My pleasure …

Rose: … appreciate it.

Jenifer: … ’cause having just got me started on this and not chasing bloody sheep … [chuckles] But I’m very glad to see that those people who have not sold all their good land to dairy farmers have kept on with traditional … I say traditional, that’s sheep and cattle and a bit of agricultural work … that the pendulum has swung back a bit, and I hope it swings right back.

Rose: Thank you very much.

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Duart House Talk 21 September 2011


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