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Autobiographical Sketches by George Herbert White

This fascinating account of Laceby in the 1870s appears to have come to light in New Zealand as a result of research into emigration to the colony. John Hobson White, Emigration Agent for North Lincolnshire, who was mentioned in Volume 4 of the Chronicles of Laceby, (Hard Times: Life in Laceby 1800-1814), was the father of George Herbert White. An edited version of these Autobiographical Sketches was featured in Volume 5 of the Chronicles of Laceby, but the whole transcribed article is included here.

AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES BY GEORGE HERBERT WHITE


GEORGE HERBERT WHITE

Birth and Ancestry
It has been said that every man should record the chief events of his life, if not for the benefit of posterity, at least for the interest of his immediate descendants. It has been a matter of regret to me that my father failed to do this, for his life was particularly full and varied. Mine has been decidedly varied, but I could certainly never hope to deal with its events in chronological sequence, or even in accordance with the last three syllables of that adjective. But to have a chronological start, here goes:

I was born on the 6th August, 1867. Naturally I have no recollection of the event, but the statement is not mere hearsay, for in black and white in the Family Bible appears this entry:

George Herbert, son of the above John Hobson and Emma Jane White, born August 6th, 1867, at 9.15 p.m. Tuesday.

A few years later I learned that the weather at the time was so hot that Mother lay in bed with practically no bed-clothes on, and the nurse sat with me on the staircase to try and keep me cool. It was difficult for my juvenile mind to reconcile this with what I had been led to believe was the reason for mothers staying in bed when there was a new arrival “to keep the baby warm.” It is scarcely necessary to add that in those days there were no such institutions as maternity homes.
Among my earliest memories is that of sitting on a hassock at the feet of my great-grandmother in a thatched cottage at Ludborough, my father’s birthplace, six miles from Louth, Lincolnshire. The wonderful thing about her was that she had had 25 children, 18 of whom lived – all single births. Mugs with their names on them stood on the mantelpiece, the living on one side of the clock and the dead on the other. With so many mouths to feed she had to bake the rye bread three weeks before they ate it. Her portrait had been drawn by the daughter of the vicar, and I have a photograph of that drawing.
When the railway from Boston to Grimsby was built, it passed within about half a mile of her cottage, but she never went in a train; she thought it would be “tempting providence”. Several of her sons emigrated to Canada, crossing “the big dyke” and nearly breaking her heart, but her last days were made more comfortable by remittances from overseas.
I remember as a small boy walking in her funeral procession to the village churchyard as was the country custom in those days.
My great-grandfather, Michael White, died a long time before as the result of a fall from a stack or wagon in haymaking.
A few ancestral details may perhaps appropriately appear here. My grandfather, George Patchett White, was the son, about the sixth child, of the aforesaid. He also died before my birth, probably because of a fall when sliding on a frozen pond with his boys.
His wife was a Miss Hobson and they had a family of eight, of whom my father, John Hobson White, was the eldest. Mother's maiden name was Emma Jane Wales. They were married at Brunswick Wesleyan Chapel, Leeds. Mother had been left an orphan quite young and had been cared for by a maiden aunt, whom I always know as Auntie Wales.
Father's father was a grocer and draper at Ludborough, while Mother's father had been a jeweller in Boars Lane, Leeds. Father's ancestry was definitely Anglo Saxon, and mother was of Norman descent, so I inherited a mixture of plebeian and aristocratic blood. Father received a secondary education ( a somewhat rare thing for ordinary people in those days) in Cresswell's Grammar School at Louth. He learnt some Latin and less Greek. In my library I am proud to possess tow small copies of the new Testament, that were his, one in Greek and the other in Latin, the latter of which bears in the master’s elaborate penmanship the following inscription:

John Hobson White,
LUDBOROUGH
A Reward from
Samuel Cresswell
Northgate Academy, LOUTH
Midsummer, 1856

Later he was clerk in ironworks in Yorkshire, and then was in business at Laceby, where I was born.
Mother went to boarding school, where she learnt French and drawing and music, and then was governess in a private family in Yorkshire, where she met Father. She had learnt piano for five years and taught it five years.
Through Father my ancestry can be traced for four generations, but on Mother’s side for nine positively, and probably another seven generations beyond that. Father was fair complexioned, short of stature, quick, active and optimistic, while Mother was very dark, of medium height, and of an artistic, nervous temperament.
My parents, therefore, were contrasts in many ways, but lovingly devoted to each other and to us children.
It is scarcely necessary to say any more here about our numerous connections, except to add that in the early 1890’s we found that in one town, Collingwood, Ontario, Canada, there were 100 descendents of three branches, while in New Plymouth, New Zealand there were 30 of us, representing one branch of the notorious 25.

The Class Meeting
Another very early memory was going with Mother to a Sunday afternoon class meeting - meeting in class was a test of membership of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in those days. The class leader was Mr. Charlie Horton, an old man with a cleft upper lip, who started the tunes, and was also the chapel keeper, living on the premises, who in the winter had to get up at three in the morning to light the furnace in the basement, from which hot air came up through the gratings in the aisles to warm the chapel. This building was of brick erected in 1853 at a cost of £1200, and would seat 478 persons in a village of 1000 population, in which there was also a Primitive Methodist Church Chapel, and of course the established English Church. Our chapel stood on the corner of New Chapel Lane, while my birthplace was at the bottom of the parallel Old Chapel Lane.

The Corner Shop
The counters in the little old shop at the bottom of Old Chapel Lane, where I was born, were of course of the usual height, but to me they seemed far too high.
We sold both drapery and grocery.
I think of Ludborough as a typical Lincolnshire village of moderate size, with a village green, a smithy, a grocery and drapery store, a cobbler’s shop. It had commonly been known in the neighbourhood as “Lurbur” but when the railway came the station showed its real name in bold capitals as “LUDBOROUGH”. In the same strange manner the neighbouring village of Covenham had been called “Cortrup”.
Ludborough was the birthplace of my grandfather, my father and numerous uncles and aunts of at least two generations. The home where I stayed for various short holidays was attached to the only grocery and drapery shop in the village.
My grandma was then the head of the household, her husband having died before my birth. I know she was a very good woman, but I thought her very strict – she had kept a dame’s school in earlier life.

The Rounds
But one of the highlights of a visit to Ludborough was to be taken by Uncle Tom on one of the ‘rounds’. A fairly heavy two-wheeler made the round, one day of the week in one direction and another day to a different village. The goods ordered one week would be delivered the next and a new order taken. In this method of business no hawker’s licence was needed. We would start off with a heavy load, including bags of flour, sharps, pollard, bran, etc, and the usual run of household groceries and somtimes on the return journey I should be allowed to drive a very quiet horse. I remember encouraging it, but not disturbing it, by singing lustily that touching song, very popular at that time:-

“My Grandfather’s clock was too tall for the shelf
So it stood ninety years upon the floor.
It was taller by half than the old man himself,
Though it weighed not a pennyweight more.
It wa bouught on the morn of the day that he was brorn
And it always was his treasure and his pride,
But it stopped short, never to go again,
Wen the old man died
Nenety years without slumbering, tick-tock, tick-tock,
His life seconds numbering, tick-tock, tick tock,
It stopped short, never to go again
When the old man died
Ninety years without slumbering, tick-tock, tick-tock
It stopped short, never to go again
When the old man died.

I must confess that I could not as faithfully quoted many of the songs that I have heard and known in more recent years.

Waltham
Of Waltham, where for a time Uncle Stephen had a shop I have not nearly so many memories. Possibly I spent only one short holiday there. Waltham was about equidistant from Grimsby and Laceby, the three places farming angles of an almost equilateral triangle. The mail was carried by a postman on foot in all weathers from the head office at Grimsby to Waltham, where he left his first mail-bag. Then another four hour mile journey brought him back to our village, and during the afternoon he had to make his way back home to Grimsby.
I remember once walking to Waltham with Uncle Stephen most of the way across fields and getting very tired. To relieve the tedium of the last mile or so, we counted together how many steps it took to reach the next stile.
During this visit, an event which stands out distinctly in my memory was one day when I was allowed to go up a sort of loft in a detached warehouse to turn a tea-mixing machine and a coffee-mill, and Uncle, having to leave me, had to close a trap-door, which could not very well be opened from above, so that there was no danger of my falling down the ladder. Though possibly a bit lonely, I felt very important then.

Laceby Temperance Hall
One of the outstanding events of my pre-school days was the erection of the Temperance Hall, which was a pretentious undertaking for a village. Father felt the need for an un-sectarian building, apart from the public houses, where people could meet for labourers' meetings, lodges, entertainments, lectures, and so forth. The practical sympathy of several kindred spirits in the neighbouring town, who could help financially, having been secured, a subscription list was opened and the scheme launched. I well remember the laying of the foundation stones , four in number, bearing the names of those who could place substantial amounts on them. I was one of the youngest of a considerable number who, watched by the assembled crowd, laid bricks, on which we placed our smaller contributions.
The building was on a good site, opposite the Post Office, and consisted of an assembly hall, seating perhaps 200, with a stage, and smaller rooms in two storeys, which could be occupied by a caretaker and family if desired, or let as apartments. At the opening bazaar, I had part charge of an electrical machine - a novelty in those days - and the small dynamo in a mysterious little box with two brass handles attached by fairly long connections produced some current and much amusement. The venturesome were permitted, on payment of a penny towards the funds, to feel the mysterious thrill of the electricity, and when a number joined hands and formed a semi-circle, the more susceptible to the current would give such squeals and, unable to release their hold, would perform such antics as were most interesting and amusing to the spectator.

The Laceby Postmaster
Mentioning the post office, suggests one of the most versatile characters of the village - Horace Watson, the Postmaster. I think that I must have been a favourite of his, for when I went alone to have my first tooth extracted and told him Father would pay when he saw him, he took me behind the scenes, lifted me into the chair and did the deed with his forceps and I trotted off home.
Mr. Watson's reply to Father as to the charge was, "Oh, nothing - would pull twenty out for him with pleasure; he is such a good boy”. Naturally the pleasure would have been his.

The Servant
The mention of Ann brings to mind another little episode of childish days. During my earliest years there had been relatives assisting with household duties, thus setting Mother to some extent free to help in the shop. Then we were to have a servant, and I was strictly told that I must not order her about, but Father or Mother would tell her what to do. The first morning I was first downstairs after Ann, and while putting on my boots, I noticed that she was placing the wrong cups and saucers on the table for breakfast. How I enjoyed seeing the table rearranged after Mother's arrival, which would not have been necessary had I not been such an obedient boy as to keep quiet.

Unpopularity
In the early years at Laceby, Father began to get into disfavour with some of the upper classes in the neighbourhood because of his radical sympathies and his interest in the labouring classes. I do not think that he ever went to the extreme of becoming the secretary of a labourers' union or anything of that kind.
You may have heard of the Tolpuddle Martyrs. It will help to explain things somewhat if I remind you that it was less than a decade before Father's birth that the six Tolpuddle martyrs, farm labourers in Dorset, had been sentenced to seven years' transportation to Botany Bay because they had formed a small union or friendly society, which was protesting against the reduction of their wages from 9/- a week to 6/-. They were respectable men of the Wesleyan Methodist Connexion, in which three of them were Local Preachers, as was Father.
It is only fair to say that, as a result of agitation in the Old Country, within a year or two, they were released and brought home again. It is difficult for us to realise what conditions were then, or to sense the unfairness of treatment in such comparatively recent times.

Emigration
Father took the chair for a lecturer - I fancy Duncombe was his name - when they were offering free passage for farm labourers to New Zealand. Next day some of the audience were asking him if he thought what the speaker had been saying was true. He explained a little of what he knew of the Antipodes, told them of his uncles who had gone years before to Canada, and got further information from Headquarters. Later he filled up application forms for them, and as a matter of fact helped to send some of his good customers to New Zealand. Afterwards, the Agent General for New Zealand wrote him, pointing out that this was just the class of emigrant they wanted, used to the land, accustomed to hard work, not like the unemployed town and city loafers who were bound to be unsuccessful.

An Agency
Father accepted an agency, and felt that he was doing philanthropic work, useful to both the Old Country and the New Countries, sending the mouths where the mutton was. The population of the United Kingdom was increasing a thousand a day, even with a thousand a day leaving for other lands, it was natural that the departure of some of the best workers made those who remained more independent.
He was never transported because of his work, but he was looked at askance by some good people, who quoted the scriptural injunction, "Be content with such things as ye have" and for a few years he received no appointment in any of the three largest chapels in the country circuit.

Mr. W. M. Burton
At a later period, Mr. W. M. Burton, from New -Plymouth, worked with Father, sending out large parties to Taranaki, who, on arrival, were landed in surf boats, and housed in the Barracks, which were on the top of Marsland Hill. They had been built during the Maori Wars, and some 60 years ago were moved and were now the old mountain house on Egmont at an elevation of about 4000 feet.
Many of the descendants of these sturdy pioneers are today comfortably settled in Taranaki, a number of them known to me personally. During the years Father sent about 8000 to New Zealand, and about 11,000 to Queensland, working with Mr. George Randall, of Brisbane.
Mr. Burton and Father found so much in common in their views that they became fast friends and regular correspondents, their letters for years being signed respectively David and Jonathan.

A Publication
Between them they published in 1876 an 86 page book with this title page:

EMIGRATION to NEW ZEALAND
With Illustrations. Considered.
Socially Landowners
PoliticallyCommerciallyReligiously asitaffects CapitalistsTenant FarmersMechanicsFarm Labourers, &c.

AN INTERNATIONAL SUBJECT
by
An Englishman and a Colonist.
Price Sixpence

Printed by H. Watson & Co „ at their Steam
Printing Works, Laceby, near Grimsby.
London: Jarrold & Son,
3, Paternoster Buildings.

Illustrations
It is to be remembered that in those days there were no half-tone process blocks photographically reproduced, which makes the illustrations, etched by hand from the original photographs, look to modern eyes rather crude and old-fashioned, but they were attractive pictures then.
The first is, “Settler’s Home in New Zealand, Houses built by George Hall, Winterton, Lincolnshire”, the other picture is “A Garden in New Zealand”, showing a lake surrounded by tree ferns. The garden and lake have been non-existent for many, many years now, but were near where the New Plymouth City Council Building and Telephone Exchange stand today, and long before the Railway, crossing the Carrington Road by an overhead bridge, or the famous Pukekura Park had been formed.

Advertising Methods
Father frequently adopted unorthodox methods of advertising. Sometimes he would borrow or hire a big bell and become his own Town Crier. He had a strong voice, and after ringing the bell would begin with the usual “O Yes!

“Oh Yes! Oh Yes!
Something to tell that you can’t guess
There’ll be a meeting here tonight
Speakers, Messrs Burton and White.” etc.

Opposition
It was no unusual thing for the opposition to the movement to be so strong that it was impossible to arrange a hall or a room even in an Inn, in which to hold a meeting, so it was frequently necessary to address a gathering in the open air.
One little incident will serve to illustrate this.
In one village, when the lecturer in the light of a lantern was standing on a borrowed chair, addressing the gathered audience, a man came round to Father in the dark, and said confidentially, “We know that the Publican here is forbidden to take you in for the night, and it is some miles to the nearest place, so the wife and I have agreed that if, after the people have gone, you will come unnoticed to our house, you two can have our bed, and we well sleep on the floor, but you must promise to be away before daylight in the morning, for it would be more than our place is worth if it became know we had harboured you.”
So that was how they were accommodated in Merry England.

A Girl Friend
I well remember on one of his early visits to England, seeing Mr. Burton coming down the Lane to our shop, accompanied by an adopted daughter, Rose Patterson, the youngest of three girls, whose father had been killed by the Maoris. They were brought to England and the Continent for education and Rose became my first intimate acquaintance other than relatives, but to her there will probably be further references later..

The Cemetery
For a long time no-one was buried on the right, the unconsecrated side. When at length someone was rash enough to request to be buried there, the undertaker, the local joiner, just before the funeral, went for the tressles on which the coffin was supported at intervals to give the bearers a rest during the procession to the cemetery, their use was forbidden for a nonconformist, and some hurried substitutes had to be provided.
It may be appropriate to mention here that our baby brother James Edgar, who died with teething convulsions on January 13th, 1880 , was about the second to be buried in the unconsecrated ground, though there were many graves on the left, and years later, when there were many more on both sides, Aunt Wales expressed a wish to be laid to rest there, and we journeyed from Grimsby to place her near to Edgar.

Interment Society
A related subject, though by no means controversial, was the Laceby Interment Society. I cannot say when it was established, but Father was one of the early members - probably a foundation member. It was a very crude and primitive form of friendly society. Each member contributed 1/- to assist in paying the funeral expenses when a fellow member died.
But what most interested me in connection with it was its crockery. It was let out on hire, and at many of our Methodist tea-meetings, there would be cups, saucers and plates marked in bold characters LACEBY INTERMENT SOCIETY. It never appeared that anyone's appetite was affected by the striking announcement probably many who saw it did not know what it meant,
but it strikes one now as being somewhat peculiar.

Notice To Quit
The time came when we got notice to quit. The house and shop were the property of a firm of wholesale grocers in Grimsby, and they were going to put a married man as manager. It seemed rather strange, but they turned out to be Wesleyans too.

New Premises
There were no premises available in the village, so Father decided to build. Mr. Worth, the village joiner and builder, had a piece of land which went through from New Chapel Lane to Old Chapel Lane, only about two sections higher up than the old corner shop. He had previously had a sawpit in part of it, where I had sometimes interestedly watched one man on top and another in the pit, hard at work cutting a log with a long crosscut saw.
As I cannot draw a plan, let me try to give a verbal description of the premises. Looking at the frontage in New Chapel Lane, you would see two storeys. On the ground floor on the left was the front door to the residence; then two show windows of the shop with a central door, which rang a bell when a customer entered. On the right were large folding doors that gave entrance to a drive leading straight through to the other street .
However, I got ahead of her when I was invited to tea at the Burton’s who were then living in the rooms at the Temperance Hall, and Rose took me through into the Hall, where there was a harmonium, also without stops, and showed me middle C and how the white notes followed in alphabetical order, and taught me E, G, B, D, F, etc. She got me started on a road which meant a great deal to me and other people, though I have never been a brilliant musician.

The Census
In at least one census, perhaps more, Father was the enumerator for the village. Naturally it was a difficult matter for many to fill up the forms ... a good many men and women could not write so assistance was in many cases sought from the better educated. Mr. Smith, a shoemaker, had helped quite a number, and apart from his handwriting you could tell which forms he had filled in, because under the heading "Sex" was the answer "none".

I.O.G.T.
The Independent Order of Good Templars had a strong lodge at Laceby. The Burtons and the Whites were among its members. Scoffers said the initials stood for, "I Often Got Tight". We youngsters sometimes saw the regalia, and knew about the meetings with musical programmes and such like. Rose could play and sing, and using the kitchen table as a platform we had at home some interesting programmes.
When Aunt Tillie and Uncle Carter did their courting in the Ludborough kitchen, I was old enough to be interested and to take mental notice, which no doubt stood me in good stead in due time.

White Bros.
I have no clear recollection of the order of formation or the organization of the firm of White Bros., in the new shop, but it included Father, Uncle Stephen and Uncle Joe. I think the Waltham shop was soon relinquished. There was also an Assistant, Mr. Enderby, who did the rounds, and an apprentice, Jack Garnet, to whom I looked up as a very clever young man. Uncle Joe seemed to spend a good deal of his time in the general work and correspondence of the Emigration Agency.
As time went on I was occasionally employed at the rate of a penny an hour in such duties as sweeping, dusting, tidying, etc. A task I liked decidedly better was mixing the ingredients for "White's Baking Powder", especially packing and sealing it in the tidy little packets in which it was sold.

B.O.P.
When the Boys’ Won Paper, the first weekly for juveniles was published, to be followed shortly by the Girls’ Own Paper, Sydney and I became subscribers from the first number. Our regular income at that time was one penny a week each “sugar money”, for going without sugar in our milk and water or tea, so it took 50 per cent of our income at first to become subscribers, and we continued for many years until we were grown up. I once even obtained “honourable mention” in one of the very early competitions. There was a picture of a man being rescued from drowning, the incident to be described in a short poem. It is amusing now to note in the copy of the manuscript I have of the poem the spelling in the line,
“And as from scores of mouths it porod”.
I remember Father advised me to read it carefully through before posting, but he never in any way suggested what was wrong.

Saving
Perhaps here it might be explained that we two boys shared a post office savings bank account, in which Father in pencil alongside each entry for a shilling or more, how much belonged to H and how much to S, otherwise we should have been much longer before we received any interest on a ‘complete pound’.
In my teens I invested my savings in a watch. The firm sent me several to choose from; their address was Ludgate Hill, London. They promised me a reduction of £1 in the price of any of them, because the head of the firm had learnt his trade from Mother’s father in Boar Lane, Leeds. I chose the best, which did me excellent service for many years both in England and New Zealand.

Migration
The migration microbe was attacking a later generation of the Whites than those who earlier in the century had crossed "the big dyke" to Canada. Father and Mother always felt it was their duty to remain in the Old Country as long as Aunt Wales lived, but Uncle and Aunt Stephen heard the call of the Pacific, and set out with their two boys, Percy and George.
There was at that time no direct steam to New Zealand, so they travelled by the Orient Line to Sydney, and then by inter-colonial steamer to New Zealand and settled at New Plymouth. Aunt Tillie was the next of the Whites to leave the Old Country. She had married Christopher Carter, and they took the long tedious voyage by sailing ship to the “England of the Pacific”, where they joined those who were already in New Plymouth. Father and I accompanied them to London, where we saw them on the ship, and this gave me my first visit to the Metropolis. While in London we went to Madame Tussaud’s Waxworks, and even entered the Chamber of Horrors.

The People’s Mart
The Shop, “The People’s Mart and Village Store”, which had been occupied for many years by Grandfather, and after his death by Grandmother, belonged, as did the whole village, with the exception of the Established Church and Parsonage with its glebe, to one man, an absentee landlord; it was administered by an agent. One day Grandmother as tenant received “notice to quit”. That was imagined to be in order to take the sons as tenants, on account of her increasing age and infirmities. As time went on, my uncles, who had long been managing the business, could get no satisfaction from the agent. They therefore travelled to Bath –I think it was – to interview the owner. They returned satisfied with the result of their journey. Very near the expiry of the notice, the agent wrote reminding them that they must be out by the appointed date. They then telegraphed the owner, and in reply had a wire from him that they could stay. Armed with this, they saw a lawyer in Grimsby, who told them to their surprise and dismay that in English law a telegram was not accepted as evidence. He said there was a possibility of the roof being taken off, and I was allowed to spend the critical night there to have the excitement, and perhaps be of some assistance, but nothing happened. It was a physical impossibility to remove all the furniture and heavy stock in a day or two, and there was nowhere to take it. No other shop in the place, and every house under the same agent. Neither was there any shop in any neighbouring village. Uncle Tom was therefore obliged to take two cottages in another village and remove everything as rapidly as possible, and endeavour to work the old “rounds” as best he could.
An additional cruelty connected with it was that through the years Grandfather had added to the property brick warehouses, etc, which could not be removed, and for which no compensation could be obtained, as the land they occupied was only rented.
What the reason for the hostility of the agent was I never ascertained. It might be that the family were all too radical and outspoken for his taste, or perhaps their views differed from his on Sabbath observance and temperance.

Postal Irregularity
I remember my uncles at one time having a dispute with the postal officials over a postcard. The postman returned it to them for the correction of some evident slip in a date or something. They contended that the man had no business to read a postcard. Curiously, the official reply to their complaint was that it was the duty of the postman to read it lest there should be some blasphemy on it. For a while after this they frequently wrote in block letters on a postcard the word BLASPHEMY in addition to the ordinary message.
….appears as a soloist. The Association also organized occasional country rambles and special railway trips in a through saloon carriage to the seaside at Mablethorpe. I notice that in 1891 we had a membership of 53 ladies and 69 gentlemen …..

Emigration
We must turn back a little in dates to deal with the office in Osborne Street. The depression in New Zealand had put an end to the granting of free passages to farm labourers there. Queensland was the main field for such emigrants, and was abliy represented by Mr George Randall, of Brisbane, a successful colonist.
Uncle Joe, who had been working with my father in the office, decided to go to that colony, though of course as a paying passenger. He was not cut for pioneering life in a young country, and the family soon moved to New Zealand, where the climate was more like the English, and where the relatives were already settled.

Office Experience
After teaching for a year at the Collegiate School, I was engaged helping Father at the office. At the peak of our work we dealt with about 5000 letters in a year. The arranging and advertising of lecturing tours for Mr Randall and Father in the agricultural districts of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire meant close study of large scale county maps and of Bradshaw’s time table to secure suitable connections on the various railways to reach the villages remote from any station, there lived the class of people most desired by the colonies.
I took down in shorthand many of Mr Randall’s and Father’s letters, to transcribe during their absence and copy in the old-fashioned copying press – no typewriters with carbon copies then.
Sydney used to assist me, and one wintry night we rushed out of the office to post for the mail closing time at 7.45 pm, I with an armful of letters and Sydney with the book packets. Jumping down the steps, I slipped and fell on the footpath which had frozen over during the evening. I lost my hat but not my letters; Sydney recovered by headgear and followed, and we caught the mail. The distance to the Post Office was short; we could cover it in a few seconds under a minute, and I frequently posted after 7.43. We rather prided ourselves in always being in time to catch the mail trains travelling through the night.
During these years, the British Post Office introduced Postal Orders, (Postal Notes in N Z terminology) and the series of high-coloured, bi-coloured postage stamps; also the great novelty of Parcel Post, which in the towns necessitated the introduction of covered handcarts painted the usual post-office red.

Echoes of the Past
More than a quarter of a century after this, Mr Randall on a holiday visit to New Plymouth, complimented me on the work of the old office, saying that he often used to wonder how I managed to get through it all with so few mistakes. During that visit I took down in shorthand his impressions of New Plymouth, and typed them out, so that they came in handy for the sub-editor of the Taranaki Herald when he interviewed the visitor from Brisbane.

Travels
My employment at the office gave me the opportunity for some interesting trips. On one of the lecturing tours, Mr Randall took me as well as Father with him. To reach one of the remote villages on the advertised list of meetings for the week, we had to walk several miles up one of the Yorkshire dales. (Nidderdale?) En route we peered into a strange natural tunnel, whence a river emerged after two or three miles underground. During the week we also explored the wonderful ruins of Fountains Abbey, which was founded early in the twelfth century, and is “one of the largest and best preserved Cistercian houses in England”.
On one occasion I went with Father when Mr Randall was hindered, helping to carry the load of literature for distribution, and do some clerical work while Father did the talking to the gathering in the pub.
Two or three experiences of that week may be of interest. One night we had gone to bed in a room over the bar, and when it closed at 10 o’clock, some of the men – not the worse for liquor, but perhaps a little excited by it – continued the discussion of some debatable topic in loud voices under our window. I remarked that I could have probably understood as much of the conversation of Frenchmen or Germans in their own tongue as of these Englishmen speaking rapidly one of the Yorkshire dialects.
As regards dialects, on one of my train journeys, there was a country yokel telling another that he would “gang tiv Yulo” which being translated into the Lincolnshire dialect would be “goa t’oll” rhyming with ‘wool’) or interpreted in English, “go to Hull”.

Country Inns
To one of the inns we arrived just in time for tea. They were expecting us, and Father had mentioned in his letter that we liked hot buttered toast. After a wash we were shown into the dining-room, brightly illuminated for those days, where a table that would accommodate nearly a score was filled with plates of toast, cakes and small goods to feed a crowd, and we two hungry travellers, the only guests, did our best to show our appreciation.


…………………………………………….


It would appear from the Register of Parliamentary Voters, that in about 1883, John Hobson White, his brother Joseph, and their families moved to Dudley Street, Grimsby, probably to concentrate on the Emigration agency.

Joseph White emigrated to Queensland a few years later and then moved on to New Zealand where many relatives were already settled.

In about 1890, John Hobson White moved to Osborne Street, Grimsby and eventually emigrated to New Zealand himself in 1893 on the ship "Rimutaka", having waited until after the death of Aunt Wales in 1890. He joined the Wesleyan Ministry some time afterwards.


Jenny Chambers