John FORTNAM (1884 – 1959)


John Fortnam






Barnet, Hertfordshire, England



Date of death

25 June 1959

Place of death



  • Albert Fortnam


  • Florence Jane Fortnam, nee Ashenden (3/8/1888-1973)


  • Ada Florence Fortnam (born 1909)
  • Jenny Fortnam (born 1910)
  • James Albert Fortnam (2/3/1912 - 1973)
  • John Fortnam (born 1914)
  • Dora Fortnam (born 1916)
  • Ruth Fortnam (18/10/1918, Hastings - 29/8/2008)
  • Hazel Fortnam (born Hastings)
  • Betty King (12/1/1924, Hastings - 11/2/2008)


Information from Peter Trask –

John Fortnam was born in Barnet, Hertsfordshire in England. At the age of three, John’s mother died and his father left England for the United States of America. After he had established himself there, the family consisting of John, his brother Harry, his sister Helen, set sail to join their father. In America, it appears that John’s father, Albert, took the children to Rome (New York) where he hired a housekeeper, Nellie Walder. whom he later married and with whom had three more children, William (Bill), Albert (Bob) and Mary.

At the age of nineteen John emigrated to New Zealand and persuaded his Father to join him. John had sailed aboard the “Teutonic” on Wednesday, January 7 1903. The family agreed and moved from New Hampshire, sailing from New York to Liverpool on May 6, 1903, before joining John in Auckland.  After some time, Albert and the family moved to Northland to work on the gumfields. Here John met and married Florence Jane Ashenden in Auckland and the couple returned to Northland to work where the first five of their eight children were born.

In 1918 John moved to Hastings to work in Horton’s nursery. Florence came down by train later with the five children, Ada, Jenny, Jim, John and Dora. A few months later Ruth was born, and she was followed by Hazel and Betty. John then took up a position with Walker’s Nursery and later in life started his own business growing and selling seedlings. He died on the 25th June 1959 of a pulmonary oedema and was buried in the Hastings cemetery. While in Northland, John developed an interest in photography and later purchased a quarter-plate camera which he carried around on the back of his bicycle. His photographs give a glimpse of his family life and the Hastings district in the 1920s.

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