JOHN AND REBECCA HOOPER
John Thomas Hooper was born in c.1824 in Bethnal Green to parents James and Rosa Hooper. John followed in his fathers footsteps and was a Plasterer by the age of 25. John was living at 9 Gibraltar Walk, Bethnal Green and Rebecca Page was living at 12 Charles Street, Bethnal Green, when they married in 1849. The wedding ceremony took place on 30th May 1849 in St James The Less Church in the parish of Bethnal Green. The marriage was witnessed by Rebecca's father, William Page (a Shoe Maker) and William Samuel Eastman. John signed his name and Rebecca signed with an X. This indicates that she could not write which was not an uncommon occurance in the 1800's. Rebecca's mother was Sophia Sifton.
St James The Less Church in Bethnal Green
Bethnal Green was a 'slum' area. It was over crowded, dirty and considered a place of moral degradation but in comparison to other nearby locations it was by no means the worse place to live. John would have seen a influx in the population during his childhood and adolescent years. Employment had become increasingly hard to come by. Up until the 1820's Bethnal Green was a pretty area with decent Cottages amidst flower-beds. By 1840 Bethnal Green had over 30,000 inhabitants living in a half mile square. In 1850 the description had changed to being an area of ruinous tenements, reeking with abnormalities. The description of Charles Street in 1848,at the time when Rebecca and her parents lived there was; 'Charles Street - Garbage and refuse are freely distributed on the surface of this street'. In the 1820's a baby born in a large town, in England, might be expected to live to 35. In the 1830's life expectancy was a miserable 29. In later years Bethnal Green took on an even more sinister and dark reputation. In 1888 Jack the Ripper operated in the western end of Bethnal Green and neighboring Whitechapel. In the 1960's gangsters Ronald and Reginald Kray, better known as 'The Kray Twins', were the crime leaders in Bethnal Green.
Wellington Independent Newspaper Clipping of 1st April 1857
The 1840-1852 an immigration scheme of The New Zealand Company offered a New World for many of the families living in this squalid district of London. Of the 18,000 to immigrate during these years 14,000 settlers were bought out by the Company or it's successors. In 1839 there were only 2,000 immigrants in New Zealand but by the end of 1870 there were over 250,000 immigrants living in New Zealand. John, Rebecca and son William Hooper immigrated to New Zealand in 1857.
Wellington Independent 1st April 1857 Newspaper Passenger list for the Ann Wilson
The Ann Wilson was a schooner of 432 tons under the command of Captain Rutherford. It departed from Liverpool, England on 30th November 1856 and arrived in Wellington, New Zealand on 29th March 1857. The Ann Wilson was owned by R and J Wilson and chartered by Messrs. James Baines and Co. to bring out emigrants. The passenger list, as can be seen above, includes John, Rebecca, Sophia and William Hooper. Soon after the vessel dropped anchor it was rumored that great sufferings had been undergone by the passengers and investigation proved the rumor to be true. Eighteen deaths had occurred during the voyage. There is no trace of Sophia Hooper in New Zealand after the family reached New Zealand's shores and it is believed Sophia was one of the eighteen to die on-board the Ann Wilson. Not a very promising start to John and Rebecca's life in the New World. Several passengers were landed in deplorable condition, and one died soon after arrival. A bitter complaint against the quantity (lack) of water and food during the voyage was made by passengers.
Information found in White Wings, Volume Two, states; At the inquest of the dead body some dreadful facts were bought to light. It states the Ann Wilson left Liverpool on 30th November 1856 having on board 222 emigrants, 7 saloon passengers and a crew of 21. Although the vessel experienced average weather it made a fair passage of 120 days and it was apparent that she was overcrowded. Toward the end of the voyage the passengers were limited to one pint of water per day. The Doctors evidence showed that the medicines and medicinal comforts were lamentably deficient. The sufferings which were shared by both saloon and steerage passengers alike were said to have been caused by poor ventilation, lack of medical comforts and insufficient badly cooked food. At the conclusion of the inquest the jury strongly censured the charterers of the Ann Wilson, the emigration officer at Liverpool and the ships captain was specially blamed for not putting into the Cape for fresh water and other provisions. In explaining his position, the cook said that cooking apparatus was only sufficient to cook for 60 persons.
By the 1850's, when John and Rebecca arrived on the shores of New Zealand, Wellington had recovered from earlier recession. Merchants were prospering and sheep farming was booming in the Wairarapa. New settlers where able to find someone to build their house, transport them and their goods, provide food and accomodation, or to marry or bury them. There was a full range of stores and services and a population of about 500. On 26th July 1865 Parliment was offically opened by Governor Grey and John appeared on the Electoral Rolls for that year. Also in 1865 the Native Land Court was established by the Crown and had authority to decide who owned Maori Land. Up until 1873 the Court did not recognise that the land can be owned by more than 10 people making the sale of Maori land easier to arrange. The Crown leased land for grazing sheep throughout the South Island and part of the North Island, especially in the Wairarapa. Some of the land was bought by the people leasing it. On 23rd November 1867 at the Wellington Crown Land Office it is recorded the John Thomas Hooper was awarded a Deed of Grant for land in the Wairarapa. We do not know what Rebecca and John did when they first arrived in New Zealand until they took up their Grant but eventually John, Rebecca and William Hooper started farming their land at Carterton. In the late 1870's wool and wheat prices fell and what was known as the 'Long Depression' began in 1880's and lasted until 1895.
THE FAMILY TREE OF JOHN AND REBECCA HOOPER
(a) John Thomas Hooper (1824-1904) married 1849 Rebecca Page (1831-1908)
(b) Sophia Rebecca Hooper (1850-1857) died at sea ?
The headstone of John Thomas Hooper at Clareville Cemetary, Carterton
(a) John Thomas Hooper died on the 16th March 1904 and Rebecca Hooper nee Page died on 28th October 1908. They are burried together in Plot 75 in the Clareville Cemetery at Carterton, New Zealand. The headstone, above, was not standing upright nor was it on the correct site when I visited but has since been placed on the correct grave. Rebecca does not have a headstone. Buried in the same grave is the child of John and Jessie Hooper, Vernon who died on the 2nd May 1924 at 4 days old. There is no headstone for Vernon.