It was during a holiday to New Zealand in 2006 that I found myself in the vicinity of the Wellington branch of Archives New Zealand. Deciding I couldn’t pass up this opportunity, I wandered inside and thought I would just have a quick look at their various card indexes for any family surnames – including Wintle.
James Wintle married Margaret Hamilton Forsyth at Hartley Vale, New South Wales on 26 January 1889. James had been born at Abinghall, Gloucestershire, England on 8 August 1858 and for years I had struggled to find his arrival in New South Wales. Also living at Hartley Vale was James’s older brother John, who had been baptised at Abinghall on 7 January 1855. Abinghall is one of the beautiful villages of the Forest of Dean.
But back to James and Margaret. Following the birth of their first child in 1891, the new family moved to Waihi on the North Island of New Zealand. Armed with this knowledge, I thought I would see if I could locate their date of arrival in New Zealand – post-1891 – by perusing the card index for passengers arriving held at the Wellington archives office. Instead, I found something that had eluded me for years. James and John Wintle had actually arrived in New Zealand from England in 1877 per the Rangitikei as government assisted immigrants. No wonder I couldn’t find their arrival in Australia – I had been searching the Sydney passenger arrival lists from England NOT New Zealand!
The ultimate cost to the New Zealand government for the passage of James and John was £13/11/6 each with the brothers declaring they were a bricklayer’s labourer and a farm labourer respectively. The brothers, however, went on to a life of mining. And, unfortunately, we will never know the reason why James and John chose to travel to Hartley Vale from New Zealand – or why James eventually returned to New Zealand, with his wife and child, but John remained in New South Wales.