The New Zealand Descendants
Frederick Nicholls & Gertrude Kemsley


Gertrude Kemsley

Frederick Nicholls

Gertrude Kemsley, daughter of Frederick and Mary Ann Kemsley, and grand-daughter of John and Charlotte Kemsley, brought this Kemsley line to New Zealand in 1919.

Gertrude was born on 11th October 1893 at 6 North Castle Street in Stafford, to Frederick Kemsley and Mary Ann Kemsley (formerly Owen). At that time her father was a Blacksmith Journeyman [birth cert].

Her daughters recall that Gertrude's siblings were Florence (Flo) Moore, Lucy Johnson, Walter Kemsley, Edward Kemsley and Frederick Kemsley [informant: Mrs G.A.Himona].

On a postcard from Flo to her brother-in-law Fred Nicholls, she says:

"Mr Dear Fred, I have treasured this card for a good many years but I thought you might like it so I hope you will like it & recognise the young lady in the picture when she lived in peaceful Queensville before the days of the motor cars etc & that is going back a bit. Tell Gert she was a nice young girl when this photo was taken. Love from Flo. What a surprise?"

Gertrude married a New Zealand soldier, Frederick Nicholls, on 23rd December 1918 at Saint Paul's Church in Stafford. Her sister Lucy Moore and her brother-in-law, David Johnson, signed the marriage register as witnesses [marriage cert].

She told me that one day she saw a group of German prisoners-of-war being marched down the street in Stafford by a handsome New Zealand soldier in uniform, and she decided on the spot that she was going to marry him. And she did.

Frederick Nicholls was the son of James and Elizabeth Nicholls who emigrated to New Zealand from Truro in Cornwall in 1872. Fred enlisted for World War 1 in the New Zealand Army, and was injured at Passchendale in France on 24th October 1917 shortly after he arrived there. He was invalided to England and stationed at Brocton Camp near Stafford for the rest of the war.

They had one child Lucy Elizabeth Mary, in Stafford, and they sailed to New Zealand in 1919.

In civilian life Fred was a bushman and he returned with his city-born British wife to the bush (forest) at the remote mill town of Puketitiri in Hawke's Bay, New Zealand. They raised five daughters and a son at Puketitiri before Gertrude moved in with the children in 1935 to East Clive in Hawke's Bay, where Fred's parents and some of his brothers and sisters also lived. She moved to be near to medical help for the children's asthma.

Some time later Fred was badly injured and spent some time in hospital. He bought a small house at East Clive from his brother Sam. For almost all the rest of his life Fred worked at the Whakatu freezing works (abbatoir).

They lived at East Clive for the rest of their lives, except that Gertrude spent the last few years of her life living with her daughter and son-in-law, Annie and George Himona, at Te Aute and at Hastings.

Fred died at East Clive on 4th August 1957, aged 81 years. Gertrude died at Hastings, Hawke's Bay on 24th September 1963.

Fred and Gert's children were Lucy Elizabeth Mary, Gertrude Annie, Winifred, Elsie May, Doreen, and James Henry.

I lived with my grandparents Fred and Gert at East Clive for 12 months in 1949, so that I could go to school at Clive, as at that time we lived in a remote coastal area with no school.

Gert loved taking the bus to go shopping in either Hastings or Napier which were both about 6 miles from Clive. She seemed to go shopping most days. To catch the bus she had to walk about 2 miles to the bus stop, and two miles back home. She was the original power-walker; fit as a fiddle and long striding. Everyone in the district called her "Galloping Gert".

As a five-year old she taught me never to believe anything I read in the newspapers, or anything I heard, and only half of what I saw with my own eyes. From time to time it's been good advice. Her cooking was basic British and her piece de resistance was corned beef and cabbage (or brussel sprouts). She bought fizzy drinks in a big stone gallon jar, and Fred always grumbled that she and I drank it all before he could get his share. For a sore stomach she gave me brandy in milk. She made a potent parsnip wine as well, which I was not to sample until I was much older.

Frederick and Gertrude are buried together at the Stortford Lodge cemetery in Hastings, Hawke's Bay.

List of descendants of Frederick and Gertrude Nicholls
Frederick's army details