Saturday, 22 November 2014

Old Napier Cemetery Part 4

 John Robottom
On Sunday 11th November 1878 the community of Napier were excited.  Today was the day of the annual fete.  To get to the fete there was a grand procession which was led by the organisers of the fete - the Friendly Societies of Napier.  A huge crowd followed them to the railway station.  There they took an overcrowded train that also had seven high-sided open trucks connected to it and took 2 engines to pull it all to the park.

It was a successful fete.  It was all over by 5pm.  Tired crowds got back onto the train.  The band, of which John was a member stood on the outside facing platforms of the two carriages.   The train gained speed.  The young men, who had been drinking, played a game where they had to tap one another between the carriages.  Although this was silly behaviour they were not growled at by the conductor.  As the train arrived at the Napier station John leant on the handrest with another band member holding on to him so he wouldnt fall.  This man however was distracted and let go of John.  Next minute he saw John swinging round the stanchion of the carriage with one arm.  He tried to get hold of John by the shoulder but couldnt.  Instead John fell and was hit by the carriage behind.

The procession to his funeral was lead by the Napier Artillery Voluntary Band followed by the Napier Artillery Volunteers and Cadets and the Napier Engineers.  He was buried with military honours.

Henry Morrison's headstone has the Napier Rifle Volunteers insignia carved into it.  He was wounded in action and died a fortnight later.    

Henry was a shipwright when he enlisted in the Napier Rifle Volunteers.  He was married to Anne and they had 4 children.

On the night he was wounded he heard the call to arms.  He prepared to leave.  His wife would have spent the rest of the night alone, worried and concerned about him (she was not the only one, many women in the neighbourhood felt the same about their menfolk).

The news that finally came the next day was that Henry had been shot in the leg and he also had a badly fractured leg too.  He was transported to Napier Hospital.  Although he was treated his leg became gangrenous.  His leg was removed.  However, Henry died from his injuries and infections that set in.  His gravestone was purchased by the Napier Rifle Volunteers in honour of him.  

 Caroline Vigor Brown was the first wife of John Vigor Brown (see below) she mothered 6 children before she died of peritonitis.

 John Vigor Brown was the Mayor Napier for 18 years.  He was al;so a successful businessman and was involved in many clubs and organisations.

On Thursday I told you about the Northumberland.  The ship that sunk in a terrible storm on the 10th of May 1887.  When the Northumberland sent out its SOS six small steamers including the S.S. Boojum sailed out to assist with the rescue.  At first they thought they would tow the ship out to sea however this plan turned out to be impractical.  S.S Boojum got into trouble in the storm and ended up sinking.  Her crew went with her including Archibald Waddell.  On the day of the funeral fire bells rung.  This was out of respect especially for Waddell who had been a volunteer fireman.  His body was taken to the cemetery on the fire engine.  

Lastly today is the grave of the Mr and Mrs Powell whose grave I thought looked like a double bed and even had steps to get up into it. 


  1. I find looking at these photographs a great sense of poignancy.

  2. Im sorry you feel that way
    there was sadness however I think there is a great deal of history too