Subject: Ruxton - Scotland/New Zealand cont.
Ian, Duncan & Jenny
This is the next instalment of the Ruxton saga. This letter was sent to my uncle Alexander in 1979 from a Donald Walter Woodward and his wife Rose Victoria Ruxton living in Saanichton, British Columbia, Canada.
"It seems strange to be writing to another "Ruxton". but here goes! Apropos of that comment, perhaps I should say first that, in terms of appearance, characteristics etc. I have long considered myself more of a Ruxton than a Woodward. Moreover, my maternal grandmother (Mrs J.J.Ruxton - mother of my uncle George M.) exercised a considerable, & beneficial, influence in my formative years - all this probably accounting later for ny interest, akin to yours, in Ruxton family history. Also I am about the only survivor (one brother in Australia - a real Woodward) of that once large family ex the New Zealand branch!
First I must apologise to you - and indirectly to Miss Gilbert of Sumner - for the long delay in replying to your original inquiry last year. The good lady promptly sent your first letter forward to me - and fortunately so, this because of a single reference by you as a postscript i.e about a Miss Moseley - a reference or clue which did not appear at all in your latest letter of 18 October to me. Yet it was that original "Moseley" reference which had led me to hold a reply in abeyance due to inability to locate some old Ruxton papers which I first wished to peruse before replying - and I was not even sure I still had the particular reference I had in mind. And the basic reason I have been so tardy is that, for the last two or more years, I have been in a regrettable state of "muddle" ; from which I am now only recovering. That has not entirely been my fault for I have had many family calls over the past several years; moreover our home here gradually became a depositary foe residual effects, papers & records ex my late parents & deceased relatives. Even now, we are considering - linked to elderly family-visiting N.Z early 1980. Anyway, after intensive search, I did locate the particular Moseley letter I had in mind, even though it seems I destroyed some relevant newspaper clippings among which I have a hunch was an obituary notice & career decription of the Miss Moseley, Headmistress Ballarat -- of course your letter was of some 23 years ago so I could be right.--conversely it could have related to her mother -- see later.
Perhaps it is best to refer first to the "Mozley" (using the spelling as I have it on a letter from Mrs Mary E.Mozley in 1941) association. I take this first for, prior to that reference by you in the postscript, my off-the-cuff reaction to your inquiry was that your Ruxton "branch" was not related to mine - see later info. Then, the one word "Moseley" did "ring a bell", for I had long ago seen a letter, from such a name, to "Dear Cousin George" (Captain G.M.Ruxton - my uncle). Therefore, if you had a Moseley connection then ipso facto, you and I would have a connection. Therfore I felt I had both to re-sight my "Mozley" reference - if I still had it - and then to assess just where the Mozley/Ruxton relationship rested, of which I was not sure. I have found the letter and have clarification re the relationship but now, on reading your P.S. feel I may have mis-interpreted your situation. I had taken from the P.S. that you were a connection of, or related to, Miss Moseley, then Headmistress of the school at Ballarat - and I have recalled our own connection with that "Mozley". However, I now see that I probably misinterpreted your reference , which was:- "As a postscript, on the overleaf, you may discover that you may be related to one of my contemporaries in Australia" (underlining mine). I had interpreted that as meaning you were a relation or connection of Miss Moseley. If so, you would be connected with 'my' Ruxton clan. Conversely, if you meant only one of similar age etc i.e. strict meaning of the word, then - lacking such a connection, there would be little indication as yet that we are linked. Nevertheless I am happy to give you hereunder some history of my Ruxtons.
Perhaps it would be easiest for your understanding if we moved backwards from (missing).M.Ruxton, my uncle who retired in Sumner. He was one of nine children including, of couse, my mother.
The father was Capt.James Johnston Ruxton, born in ARBROATH, FORFARSHIRE,SCOTLAND, in 1832. I know he was still in Arbroath in 1851 because I have an old book of his on Astronomy labelled & signed that year; but believe he went to New Zealand about 1853.
Mrs. J.J.RUXTON was of very early pioneer stock in New Zealand, being born in Wellington in 1843 or '44. (Her elder sister" Isabella" was Mrs. Mozeley's mother--) The family name was HUGHES, presumably of Welsh origin and in that generation the name JACKSON (no doubt Mrs Hughes maiden name) was incorporated into the names of progeny as was then common e.g. JANE JACKSON (Ruxton) and ISABELLA JACKSON etc. The Hughes family went down from Wellington to Lyttelton/Sumner about 1849 and Thomas Hughes built or helped to build the barracks at Lyttelton to house the immigrants of the first four ships to Canterbury. He also operated the first ferry across the the Heathcote/Sumner Estuary; later moved his family to Lyttelton & subsequently was partner in Pavitt & Hughes large sawmill & shipbuilding at Robinson's Bay, Akaroa in 1850/60's. Must not get into detail, but in brief young Ruxton apparently worked increasingly with Hughes, the former on the extensive & increasing shipping side. Among others, the large barque "ISABELLA JACKSON" was built in the Bay (ship named after the eldest daughter) and Ruxton became master.
J.J.Ruxton & Jane were married in Dunedin in 1861. Later they lived in Lyttelton, then Christchurch. The Capt. later commanded a number of vessels, and had his own, finally the "JESSIE" of which he was owner & Master at time of death --at Balmain,NSW in 1888; only 55. The Ruxton's had 9 children. Grandmother lived until 1927! And did a marvellous job for her children - how she did it, especially financially in those days, I do not know. I have skipped - perhaps should have skipped more - over details, dates etc - I have a great deal of info I could give; but it seems rather pointless if it is not of interest to you. also I could go back further e.g. JAMES JOHNSTON'S father was GEORGE RUXTON - I have an excellent, photo of George and wife - probably taken in Scotland- very straitlaced appearance, he standing with clarinet and side-pressed trousers; she sitting with perhaps a bible in her hands. He died in N.Z.in 1883, aged 78, interred at Port Chalmers near Dunedin. He may have come with his son originally to NZ but I doubt; I recall something about dying 3 months after arrival, and it is perhaps, significant that the family plot at Addington (Christchurch) includes an inscription to him, with words "of Arbroath" --that would hardly have been the case if he had lived in N.Z. since the 1850s.
Reverting to the Mozley connection,the letter I have, ex Uncle George, is from MARY E. MOZLEY and is dated Dec. 10, 1941 (=15 years before the date of "your" Miss Mosley) & it is also from Ballarat. House name is printed as 'OPAWA' obviously taken from the OPOWA location of her mother's home "Wattke Vale", Opowa, Christchurch. She mentions other members (there were so many!) of the family, and her daughter's promotion; that she was engaged to a soldier, but he died, and she never married, and is Head Mistress of a large High School 100 miles away" etc.--obviously the same daughter who wrote to you. Written, as he says "in the eventide of life" from "two tired old people" in which she goes into interesting detail of life as a girl in Lyttelton/Sumner and how kind and understanding "Uncle Ruxton" -was =Capt. J.J. Ruxton, father of G.M.R. to whom she was writing. The explanation is that ISABELLA JACKSON HUGHES(mentioned earlier - my Grandmother's sister) married a Capt. Elmsley. They had four children, one being MARY, who x years later married one "Mosley" -yes, spelt that way on the family tree I am looking at from that side of the family! Capt. Elmsley was lost at sea, his bride being quite young --and she then married one Tregear, and produced five more children, outlived Tregear by many years --- a woman of tremendous strength of character and nobility - I can just remember her. Reverting to the Miss Moseleys "post-script" to your first letter i.e. her comments in Dec. 1956, what she stated was somewhat "out" - understandably to in view of the passage of years,generations, and the distant scene, Capt. G.M. Ruxton (of her mother's generation) whom she correctly recalls, was born in 1868, died 1955. He never owned ships; but was Master of, I believe some 26 ships (mainly Union S.S.Co) & though he commenced in sail, most of his service was in steam. The 'clipper' generation he speaks of was one further back i.e. my grandfather Capt. J. J. Ruxton and her Capt/Elmsley. Those two had been mates together both nautically & in fact. And, as was often the case then, they were both a great deal older than their brides. The Elmsley wedding, to the older sister ISABELLA (I found the church record) came first, I believe in 1860, and he was lost at sea - I don't know when; but I see her first child with her second husband (Tregear) was born in 1875 so that Elmsley must have died 1874 or earlier - maybe several years = a minimum of 82 years passed up until Miss Mosley's letter of Dec./1956 and not 60 year as she stated. That also checks with her mother's letter to Uncle G.M.R. when (Dec/41) she said she was "passed--77th birthday" meaning she was born (Mary Elmsley) approx 1864 = fitting neatly into the first marriage cycle of her mother ISABELLA. Sorry, if you are not a connection of our Ruxtons ,this will be uninteresting detail to you but my old (originally) Professionally Accounting/Audit mind still automatically asks itself whether any statement is logical and fits into the facts. (i.e. Miss Mosley's).
Now, to tantalise you a little bit! There is a small island off the British Columbia coast or, more correctly, off Nanaimo on the eastern side of Vancouver Island i.e. near Georgia Strait - called Ruxton Island, part of the De Courcey Group. RUXTON is not a very common name, and I have wondered sometimes whether some ancestor may not have been responsible; certainly my Ruxton forebears were sea faring types. It is common for names in this area to be linked with British or other explorers e.g. Vancouver, Cook, Quadra, Juan de Fuca etc. I had never seen the Ruxton Island name explained - until recently, when I made a note of it. Namely: "Ruxton Island - west of VALDES. --- Lt. William Fitzherbert Ruxton H.M.S. PYLEDES on this station 1859 - 1862 Admiral Retd. 1893 ( J.W.)" I have had some thoughts of writing British Admiralty for any information. But noting that "FITZHERBERT" appears in your latest letter, you may be interested to do so instead. Surely the dual coincidence of "Fitzherbert Ruxton" would be somewhat rare.
One final point, this relating indirectly to your own story indicating a "French connection ( not in the modern sensational movie sense!) i.e. Henri, Louis, St. John--dating back a feir time apparently. Would you care to give me a little enlightenment if you have it. ( We could be connected after all - maybe in the dim past). I have always been interested that my branch of the Ruxton family, going back well over one hundred years, almost invariably have been dark haired! With often a Gallic/Brittanya coast type appearance, often tall etc. rather in contrast to the typical sandy/blonde, often stocky Scot. I even feel some affinity with the Quebecqois! Moreover, in the Ruxton home at Christchurch there was an old sword (whereabouts not known) which grandmother J.J.R. told me, as a boy, was ex the Battle of Waterloo but on the French side. (Could have been captured of course, but the impression she gave me was that it came to N.Z. with her husband i.e. 60/70 years previously as a valued family possession having been used against the English) One wonders therefore whether my Ruxton origins were linked with a French ancestor - for Scots/French relationships were of course quite close in the centuries past. An old book of writings I have by George Ruxton, Arbroath 1813 - my G.G.Grandfather certainly showed no love for the Sassanachs, and much praise for Napoleon, Wallace, Bobby Burns, et al. Hope I have not wearied you unduly. and if you establish, or feel, we have a common origin I could give you much more detail, photos etc concerning individuals over the past century. Sincerely Donald Walter Woodward. born 5th Nov 1906 "
In reference to the Fitzherbert Ruxton mentioned earlier,I have been corresponding with a William Ruxton in Oxted, Surrey who says that this William Fitzherbert Ruxton (1830-1895) was his G/Father. I'm sure that this connects him with my family back to Ireland. -Don R.
That's all, wait for the next exciting chapter!
Donald Ruxton. Kyneton.Vic.Australia