Edith Sherwood Letters 1910-1911

These explain some of the detail of how Edie came to plan to visit New Zealand. The Manttans may well be related to others of the name Manton, originating in Warwickshire England. John (who married Rachel) appears to be the son of John Manttan (a tin plate worker) who marr. Jane Parsons 13 Mar 1837 at All Saints, Leamington Priors, Warwick. John Manttan (Ironmonger) and Rachel Thompson married 28 Oct 1875, St. Marks, Wolverhampton (England). They had 5 children born in England before emigrating in 1886 to Australia and New Zealand where they had five more. There are records of John Manttan going bankrupt (in NZ) in 1898. When Edie visited his jewellery business appears to have been solvent, and following his death was taken over by his sons for at least a year, although the shop may have moved or was bust by 1918 (record of totally different business at the same address).

A John Manttan of Wolverhampton went bankrupt in 1876, according to the London Gazette. This may have been John Senior, but if it were John (b. 1851), who would have been about 25 years old at the time, that could be a factor in why he and Rachel decided to emigrate to NZ.


Letters in Edie's collection, 1910-1911, transcribed as faithfully as I could:

To: Miss E. Sherwood, Royal Mount, Tettenhall Road
Wolverhampton England
Postmark = Christchurch NZ 21 Jul 10

Queen's Avenue, Fendalton, Christchurch July 20th/10

My Dear Edie
You will be surprised to know that Gilbert is on his way to England. He left by cargo steamer “Matatua” due to arrive in London about Aug 17th. Your Uncle John's sisters are in Walthamstowe, & he will stay with them for a time, as he wants to matriculate before he leaves for America.

Their address is Miss Manttan or Mr J. Forward, 4 Church Hill Road Walthamstowe. I thought perhaps you would ask Charlie to communicate with him, or go to see him, or he might visit Charlie. Mrs. Coward, your uncle John's younger sister has five daughters, & the elder sister is unmarried. Perhaps Charlie might like to know them. We were so sorry about your father being so unwell. I hope the change will improve his health. I suppose we are too far away for you to come to see us for a holiday & change. Please give my love to Katie Bowater. I think of her as a little girl, & remember her quite well. It seems strange that she should remain your friend through all these years.

I hope Annie & her family are getting well & strong again. Please give my love to her. I was very sorry to [sic] that she had so much sickness & sadness together. Our Annie has been troubled with her legs. The Dr. says the nerves & muscles & ligatures have given way. She has to take private physical culture lessons. But it will take some time for them to get right – otherwise she has perfect health. Did you receive the photo of our group of boys, which we sent about six months ago.[sic] We thought perhaps those boys might never be together again, & that it would be nice to have them taken together.

Please give my love to your Auntie Burman & each of the girls. I am afraid I shall get no time to write this mail. We have our eldest boy Harry with his wife & five children here from Palmeston they intend living in Christchurch now, it will be nice to have them near us. Your cousin Jessie seems very interested in aeroplanes, but I think we will not trust ourselves in one just yet. I suppose you have seen them in Wolverhampton this year.

With best love to you & your dear father,

I remain dear Edie,
Your loving
Aunt Rachel

I don't know who you are, but I am your cousin Willie. I have just read this letter over & corrected all mistakes, so mother said I must fill up this page. When you get that aeroplane fixed up just take a trip out here in it. You wouldn't want to go back again. I expect you would feel just as strange out in the colonies as we would at home. I often wish I could have a trip round the world (before I settle down) to see all my Uncles & Aunties & fair cousins. I expect it will be my turn next, as my last remaining elder brother is going the way that all young people go. He is getting married next month. I'm to be the best man for him. They will be settling down here in ChCh so they won't be lonely. Will you have seen of any of the processions that have been taking place lately in connection with the death of the King. We often see the pictures in the Graphic & Black & White. I suppose they give a very fair idea of what does take place. Oh well when I have made my fortune I'll come to see you all in England. It would be strange to us having other relations about, only just seeing our own families. Well, I must say good by enow, next time I won't be able to say I don't know you.

You'll know me by the photo mother sent.
I remain your Loving Cousin

Auntie Burman is Rachel's sister, Elizabeth Ann (Thompson., b. 1844) who married Charles Greenhill Burman and had 7 children. They also had a brother named Spencer Percival (b. 1853) who married Emma Craggs and had 5 children. Remaining siblings were Edie's mother Anne, Ambrose and James. Rachel seems to be youngest, born 1856.


Queen's Avenue
Christchurch Feb 2nd 11

My Dear Edie,
I cannot tell you how grieved we were to hear of your great sorrow and sad bereavement, again. But you must be comforted to know you have had the health & strength to have nursed & tended your dear Mother & Father, through all their sickness & sorrow. You must have been a great comfort to them the last few years, and such a blessing for them to have had a loving daughter always with them. But my heart aches for you dear Edie, in your sorrow and loveliness. Are you going to stay on in your home or shall you live with Annie or Gertie? Will you please convey to them our deepest & heartfelt sympathy & love and also to the boys. Poor boys I am so sorry for them. It is a blessing they all have wives to take care of them.

It would do you a world of good to come over with Gilbert to see us, only it is such a far away journey. I fear Annie & Gertie would not like to lose you for so long a time. But we shall always welcome any of you who could possibly come. I wonder whether you have seen Gilbert. I do hope he is getting strong & will be able to come home soon.
With best love & deepest sympathy
from each of us
Your loving
Auntie Rachel

Queen's Avenue
Feb 28th 1911

My dear Cousin Edie
I have been going to write to you for a long time now. But have let it go on so long that I was too ashamed to write. We were very sorry to hear the sad news about your father, and do deeply sympathise with you in your sad bereavement. We received a great shock when the second cablegram came about Gilbert. We were thinking he was getting on so well and now he is bad again. We shall all be glad when he is home again.

We all think that the best thing will be for you to bring him home. It would be good for you and lovely for us. He will never be able to go out as a missionary now.

March 8th
This letter was commenced a week ago but did not get finished. Gilbert will be quite over his operation now. Mother wishes me to thank you for your kindness to him. We are not worrying so much over him while he is staying at Wolverhampton. We were very sorry to hear Cousin Gerty has not been at all well but hope she is better by now. You must be getting quite a large number of nephews and nieces putting them altogether. It must be lovely living near each other. I always say before my days are done I am coming over to England to see you all. But we seem to know you all better after Gilbert's letters. Would you believe Gilbert spoke in his last week's letter about working his passage home again but he did not feel able to yet. He also spoke about coming home by the Red Sea because it was a little cheaper. He would have got such a scolding if he had been here for even thinking such things. He must come by the best boat and with every comfort. London will be getting quiet crowded with people by now. It will be very exciting until after the Cornoation. People are leaving New Zealand for England already. Gilbert ought not to come home in a crowded boat if he is not home before the Coronation is over, he ought to wait until the rush have left. It is very hard work writing letters because I have not any news to send you. Everybody here sends their love to you, and again thanking you for your kindness to Gilbert.

With much love
Believe me
Your loving cousin
Annie Manttan


22 Playfield Crescent
East Dulwich SE

July 10th 1911

Dear Edie
I hope you are enjoying the journey and have got over any internal trouble you might have had – you are having splendid weather aren't you – Gilbert was wishing he had taken the boat from Tilbury as there was nothing to fear from the Bay of Biscay. He saw a bit in the Daily Mail that said the Premiers of Australia and Western Australia and also Mme Melba were on board the Osterley, so you are in good company.

You looked quite contented sitting up there on the top deck. We wished we were coming with you, but wasn't it a shame not giving us time to look over the boat. So you didn't wait until four oclock – we didn't stay to see the boat start on her journey as you couldn't see us.

As it was so early we had the rest of the day at the White City Exhibition after visiting the Popular for dinner. We went in the Maories Side show and heard the singing & had a look at their village. I expect Gilbert will tell you about it. It was fine singing and I enjoyed it very much. Gilbert said he was coming round yesterday but he didn't swim up. I suppose we shall not see him now as he starts tomorrow morning. You didn't put the menu in your letter to us (thanks very much for writing so soon) send one if you can spare it as we should like to see it.

Ethel sends her love & hopes you are enjoying yourself.
With love from us both
Your loving sister & brother
Ethel & Charlie


October 2nd 1911
Queens Avenue
RMS Osterley (crossed out) Ch.Ch

My dear Agnes,
Many thanks for your letter to hand. I'm sorry you'll have to wait for this. Hope you're exercised a little patience. So you want a dairy of my journey do you. Well to sum it up it was a most delightful trip but somehow I've missed your company in my travels. Well, I left Tilbury in good spirits! Charlie & Ethel came to see me off. Gilbert didn't join till Marseilles, but came down with us to Tilbury. It was a glorious day. We had to go over to the boat by tender & unfortunately only allowed the visitors a few minutes on board. They just came with me to my cabin & the first bell went so they had to clear off soon after. My cabin mate was a nurse in grey uniform. She looked so sweet & had a lovely bunch of roses her brother came to see her off & his name was Charlie. We got on splendidly together the whole trip. I thought at first she was going to be a warm customer, but she was only seeing which of the men was best. There was only about 2 decent amongst them, sort of nice all round men. She had the top bunk & I the lower. We were on deck & with the engines alongside & the bakehouse overhead. Of course they worked thro' the night but didn't disturb us much. Only warmed us up a little. It was a nice size cabin with cupboard & drawers. Everything was nice & clean, & lovely bathrooms. We used to have our own baths at night as everyone seemed to go mornings, some were able to just to help ourselves when we wanted. A good supply of hot fresh water to put in the small bath & salt for the large bath. We had to have soakers nearly every night. The food wasn't so bad but it got a bit monotonous not nearly so nice as the boats since Sydney cup of tea7. Brk 8. Bovril or Ice. 11:30 Lunch (?) 1.30Aft Tea 4. (rubbish) Dinner 6.30 Cocoa at 9-10. Had a fair amount of fruit, used to get round the steward for more inbetween times. The Company was pretty fair but the stewards say they never knew such a well ? Sort of unsociable set. There were various quarrels amongst the different committees. Games clashed with sports & they rushed everything thro in one week. I found my double on board a Miss Duce – about the same size & colouring ie only she was very straight like a poker. She made up a Macaroni (as we called him, Marconi boy) a smart conceited little chap. But we had to visit him on his boat deck & saw all the appartus & afternoon teas ie just to pass the time like she was rigged up in a marconi costume. A small instrument fixed over her heard & wills dc? pasted over her dress at the Fancy dress ball. I didn't think of going but a lady sent me down at the last minute, a Miss Muffett dress, a pretty blue & white striped dress to ankles, little muslin apron & cap & I was enquiring for a spider & Miss Melba's maid said she had one. Madam had brought it at Pt. Said so she lent it to me a beauty by told?blk? one.

The first set of lancers a couple was wanted we went up (a Sydney bootmaker) a? To a behold it was in the swanky set. Madam & her son & 4 more 1st class passgrs who came down to see the fun – so my werd we did the big for worst. The 1st Lady's prize was taken by a dainty little woman as an “Early Victorian” she was splendid. A pretty little face – curls & bonnet. Teeny Sundad?? loops & pantaloons. The other was a nice girl dressed as a cowboy. The Gents prize won by a Dr. by fat chap as a stewardess. He kept us in roars next morning telling us how he got dressed – His wife helped him he said he was clothed properly, but Oh to get the stays on, well, you may guess. He saw of course they by no means met at the back & the dress in front was covered by a pinner. He acted the part splendid. The 2nd was an early settler, a man with just a sack coat of hurden & blacked all over clay pipe & knapsack. He was very good too. He would keep joining the set dances & won a wager by having a waltz with a lady. His wife was so angry with him, but it caused some fun.

I had a nice time with Melba's little Italian maid. She was only about 20, been in London 3 mnths. So found her very interesting as she could hardly speak /english at first but she picked it up very quick. One or 2 of the men tried to make fun of her English but she gave them one back & if they came again she scowled & said “Me no like that man, me” & she pretended to prod him with stilleto. Another couple on board a captain about 47 & wife 17 she was such a simple, pretty girl. Fair hair & blue eyes. Grannyreared [sic] he was in the Lancashire Reg. & was coming out on the chance of being taken on under the new compulsory service in Australia. Fancy bringing out a girl like that & she scarcely a change of clothes & she would hardly speak to him at the last. It seems dreadful to think of . About a doz. of us used to go down with them into the dining saloon in the evening & play “up Jenkins” until it got too hot, a soft game but still it was great fun at time. Dining Tues & Thurs for 1 hr. I was able to have some nice waltzes with a New Zealander, such a nice pleasant fellow. One of the 2 best it was great fun watching him teach Amelia (the little Italian) to waltz. & Oh it was hot, talk about a turkish bath for days we couldn't get dry. It wasn't so bad thro the Red Sea as we had 2 or 3 nights we slept on deck. Ladies one side the boat, Gents the other used our deck chairs, & pillows & rugs. The port holes were closed down 2 or 3 days & it was so stuffy. But it was nearly as bad to go down the next morning to wash & dress. After Aden we ran into tail end of a monsoon. & in ½ hour nearly every lady was bowled...?... & it turned so cold. About a doz. Of us got out of the wind & kept on top & missed my dinner that day. (the only one on that boat) one day the boat gave such a lurch, just one oclock, several of us were sitting on our chairs when all of a sudden H. of us went sliding down chairs & all into the railings no one hurt as it happened but it was sensational. In the music room – people were shot into the middle of the room. The piano went with a crash into a small table, & smashed it all up, the tables in the 1st were deprived of all the contents. Ours had the fiddler on wooden pieces with a square for each person. In the 3rd a big smash up of plates. It certainly gave us something to talk about. One or 2 other day were very swelly, but no actual big storm. But the boat was splendid, very steady & well balanced.

Our table steward was such a gentlemanly young fellow, he was in Berchams Opera, for some months, he'd a good voice & could play splendidly. The stewards gave a concert & he was the female impersonator, made us roar with lafteur [sic]. The librarian had been waiter on the L.N.W. Express to London, & lodged in W-ton. Such a nice little fellow. I saw Dobbs several times used to get books out of the Library for him. He seemed to have had a good time, but oh they were crowded in that part talk about sardines. He was one of 8 in a cabin – all packed up. Fortunately they were all nice fellows, really better than any on our side the boat. They all came thro the day were were anchored outside Naples, & Dobbs introduced me to them. 2 Irish, 2 Scotch, a Drs son a Parsons son. Some of the others were rough, more like beasts than anything, & swarms of children some of them looked as if they had never had a wash the whole of the journey. We had 5 nice children, the youngest 2, the others about 8, a little one Marjorie Charlies, used to play with her she was showing me how to play draughts, of course she couldn't play, but to hear her trying to explain. One youngish lady was gold medalist pianofort playing. She was splendid – the runs up and down the piano was a treat. She played a fair bit & all from memory. One tall fine looking lady, mother of the child 2 & wife of the (Swedish man) “Early Settler” was a good contralto, one fellow a good tenor so were ablet o have one or 2 good concerts.....[CAN'T READ CLEARLY]...

Port Said & Colombo best. They're so different & anything I've seen before. The nature's in their picturesque costumes. The funny shaped buildings all higgledy piggledy in Pt. Said, 4 of us went a carriage drive round, into the Mosque where had to push along in rush slippers over our boots, saw people at their devotions, outside the children gave us a welcome calling us Mrs. McGregor. Mr Fergusson – & Mrs. Melba ?dirty little bits of kids. Thro the Suez we had a most glorious sunset it was simply superb & everything so calm & still it took us about 12 hrs to go thro. We ought to have been up earlier to have seen the Arabian camps & camels along side but sorry to say we missed that.

At Colombo, Mr. Wilson met me, & as he'd a busy mail in he sent us off a ride for 2 hrs. 6 of us, we had a rickshaw each & went thor dirty native parts – thro the cinnamon gardens where are lovely houses & bungalows – all beautifully kept, by the time we got back the men were pretty warm they ? Along fairly quick, they had just loose cotton jackets & short knickers on nothing on their feet. Went thro a bhudda temple there had to take off our shoes this time. Went a tram ride thro dense native quarters but oh the filth & smell, could imagine you doing your little scotty back to our little home at 6. While going thro the garden a tiny tot about 2, ran along lisping Tinkle Tinkle little star ? Had to give ??.

He crossed the line without any mishap.... seemed in the humour to do any things so ? No Father Neptune. We saw a lot of fly in fish, tiny little things flying a good distance & larger fish leaping about, some one said they saw a whale, but it wasn't really thought to be one.

I'm safely landed at Christchurch – & having a nice time thought they've rather sad over the loss of Douglas. We were to have stayed with them in Auckland & had a week there & came on down here. Must finish the story another time. Hoping you're all keeping well in spite of the strike. With best love from your loving friend

Gilbert seems better, as gone travelling south for his Father was bad 2 days on boat & then went all one day. Hope you will make this scrawl all out,
glad to hear from you any time anything & everything.

~ ~ ~ Newspaper cutting, undated, but notices arrivals at the Port of Onehunga (Auckland NZ), including one Miss Sherwood. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Oct 25, 1911
Bealey (somewhere on the map).

Dear Annie & Gert,
Hope you won't be anxious for letter this week. Am held up here for weather. Gilbert was travelling West Coast & we thought it a good opportunity for seeing that part of country. We left by train 8.30 on Sunday. Rather dull, very flat for about 40 miles, pretty hedges with gorse all in full bloom. Looked so pretty. Got to hills all snow covered. Unfortunately it commenced to rain & hasn't stopped yet.

We got to a part called Cass here we got on to the coach. 5 hours. (2 in shafts & 3 leaders), as it was wet with plenty of opportunity for back seats, covered up pretty well. But it soon came down in Earnest. However I enjoyed it, but Oh it was a drive, through some of the rivers. The last one was chronic, a man on guard (horseback) to find out the best way for us, we waded a little way up the river & then a dash across. Water up to the ankles the people inside got wet with water just splashing in. so we were not much worse off than being inside, come of the road was nearly as bad of the river, the horses went splashing thro. Water spotting right over their backs, but they seemed to enjoy it, we reached here about 1 oclock, & found a nice hot dinner all ready. Then we found the coaches couldn't go any further the worst little part is just ½ mile ahead, meeting of 2 rivers to be crossed first so here we are, & it's still raining, some of the party have just come back again to ChCh. As they say it will be a few days before we can get on – it didn't seem worth while for me to go back. Gilbert wanted a bit of an adventure so a coachman was going back with a horse, so Gilbert joined him, horseback, so hope he'll enjoy his outing. He'll go round by boat, but it seems to me he won't gain much time.

We were quite a nice little sleet party round a nice big log fire last night & Dr. & wife (Late Premier's daughter) & 2 children a judge on his way for an appeal case & another Dr. the other folks are merry in the next room trying to singa little – some of the men cutting out a tunnel a little way along – they're ? By the railway along here. To do away with the coaches, so they're having a fine time. A lady has joined them – she's had a little drop, so she's helping them to be lively

There is another letter to Aggie, dated 11 Nov 1911, which details the "primitive" & long journey from ChCh to... not sure, somewhere! Many flooded rivers to cross. Gilbert not too ill to go off on his own again and again. Quite an adventure.


Miss Sherwood co/ D. Johnstone, Shelbourne St., ? Christchurch
postmarks Christchurch and Auckland NZ
Hoptown H--
Auckland Nov 26/11
My dear Miss Sherwood
I really am ashamed of myself for not answering your letter …. Helen Coterrelle?


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