Monday, April 25, 2011

Pat Nidd writes to Alex Latto - Gill Family information 31 July 1994

Alex Latto was the youngest son of Jim Latto and Mary Tarling.  Jim Latto was Mary Nidd nee Latto's brother, hence Alex was Pat's first cousin.  

Pat had known Violet, David and Eric Latto, as they were all around his age, however until we started with the family history, he was unaware that there was a third son, the younger Alex Latto.  

Alex Latto's father, James Latto was born in Swannanoa, North Canterbury to David Latto and Janet Latto nee Hislop in 1883.  He married Mary Tarling around 1909 and died in Christchurch aged 81.  He had worked on the railways and had apparently fought in the Boer War.  

Here, Pat writes to Alex:

Dear Alex, 

Well this would be a surprise to you getting a letter from your cousin, Pat Nidd.  To avoid any confusion, any reference to Pat refer s to William Thomas, the names I was christened.  Pat is a nick name and it has caused endless confusion over the years. 

I don't know how to start.  I always knew of Violet, David and Eric but did not know of you.  It was only when I spoke to Violet on the  phone when I was in Christchurch in March that she mentioned you.  I am 80 and you are a few years younger.  

It is possible that my sisters in Christchurch both who died a year or two years ago may have mentioned you as apparently they used to see Vi, David and Eric now and again.  They used to get things a bit muddled up and I used to get garbled messages from them.  

Now, interesting it is that some research into the Latto's has brought this about.  Philippa my granddaughter said to me a few months ago that she was going to do some research on the Latto's - who was my grandmother, where did she come from , where did she live, cousins, uncles, aunts.

I had some papers which I got from Isabel Butler.  They were copies which she got from Violet and were compiled by Baden her son.*

Over the years I was a bit interested in the Latto families, the only ones I knew anything about was your family.  I did not know anything of the others although I had heard my mother talk of the Falloons - but I never was sure of the relationship.

I was born in Wellington on 17 February 1914. missing

... Edward Michael still living, Francis Gerald still living, Angela Adelaide deceased and Joan Hilary deceased.

In the Gill family there were eight - four boys and four girls.  They were Maurice, Gerald, Mary, Adelaide, Frank, Paul, Monica and Kathleen.

Maurice and Paul followed their father in the tailoring business. Gerald became a Marist Priest and taught at several colleges and was Rector at St Augustines College, Wanganui and St Patrick's, Silverstream - he died in 1991.  Maurice and Paul are both dead. 

Mary and Adelaide both married and are now dead.

Frank, you probably have heard of.  He joined the air force in NZ in 1936 and went to the UK in 1938.  He had a fairly distinguished record in the RAF during the war awarded a DSO for an exploit on Berlin and rose to the rank of Wing Commander.  On return to New Zealand after the war in 1948 he continued in the air force here and became an Air Commodore as deputy chief of air staff.  He retired when he was commanding Operations Group at Whenuapai and went to live up the East Coast Bays raising cattle when Muldoon talked him into standing for Parliament in the East Coast Bays seat, which he won.  He was Minister of Defence, Police, Health and Immigration.  He then went to Washington USA as our ambassador.  When he became ill with cancer, he returned to NZ and died in Auckland in 1981.

Jennie, whom I have mentioned married a Falloon and George, her son, became a Presbyterian Minister and was the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in 1970.  

Monica and Kathleen Gill are still alive and live in Wellington.  Monica is married and not in very good health - result of a stroke a couple of years aog.  Kathleen is a Catholic nun - she served in the Islands for a year or so and is now looking after the welfare of islanders around Wellington.

So you have ten cousins still living in New Zealand.  There may be some in Perth but I don't think so.  There are eleven Latto's in the Perth phone book.  Mary Pearl Latto - see under George Latto in the family tree** visited Perth about thirty years and the Latto's there made her most welcome. 

When I write further I will enlarge on your cousins.

In our family we have one boy and one girl - Michael, 49, and Jennifer, 45.  I married Kathleen Todd of Wellington who was a close friend of Adelaide Gill - that is how I met her.  

Michael is Philippa's father.  He lives in Feilding with his wife Pauline.  Philippa has two younger sister Jacquelyn and Victoria.  Jacquelyn is at university at Wellington and Victoria is in her last year at college in Feilding.  Michael has been in the meat business all his life with Agriculture Dept and Borthwicks but ten years ago he set up his own consultancy business in Feilding.  He has operations in NZ, Australia, Saudi Arabia, UK and has been pretty sucessful.  

Jennifer was married, now separated.  On separating she bougth a small farm near Masterton which she is now leasing.  She is working looking after P.J. Borthwick, on of the partners of the Borthwick Empire.  He is... missing

...reading "The River rules my Life" that I read in the fly leaf where Mona thanked her Aunt Mary Latto for information and photos.  She also mentioned her brother Mick Tarling.

I am pretty certain that Mick Tarling is the one I knew here in the 1960s and was an Instructor at the Police School.  It was in the six o'clock closing days for the pubs.  He and a cobber of his, Lance Bandwell, used to drink at the old Te Aro Hotel where I used to drink.  It was owned by Jim Smither from Christchurch who I used to go to Marist School with.  Anyhow one Saturday night when I was not at the pub they turned up home here with a load of beer with a cobber of mine.  I got to know Mick and Lance pretty well - both finished up Chief Superintendents.  

When I was down in March I think it was Violet who told me that Mick had the pub at the Hill Top, Little River.  

My father was married twice.  It was, I think, in 1907 he had the Wellington Hotel lease.  His first wife died in child birth with her second child.  yes, it was 1907 the year his father died at the Wellington.  Dad's mother died in 1900 and they are both buried here in Wellington in the Mount Street Cemetery. 

After the Wellington Hotel he had the Te Aro Hotel where mother was a barmaid.  Mum told me that she was one of the first barmaids who were required to be licensed in 1908.  Eventually he married mum and I was born there in 1914.***

Mum and Auntie Addie must have come to Wellington about 1905 I think.  If only I had talked with your father (Uncle Jim of Addington) about this.  

Auntie Addie married a Thomas Gill who boarded at a private hotel here in Wellington.  The Gills, I think, came from Darfield.  Old Mrs Gill - Tom's mother - used to live in Jerrold Street - she was still alive in 1938.  Tom Gill and a brother boarded at this hotel - the brother was Arthur.  They were tailors by trade.

Tom Gill eventually started in business here as a tailor and stayed such all his life.  he had two sons Maurice and Paul who came into the business.  Maurice and Paul are both dead.  

Arthur Gill went to Dunedin where he had a pretty substantial tailoring business. Another brother, Jim, was a carrier.  He had a horse and flat top and lived at the top of Lincoln Road near Sunnyside.  I remember him well.  

Arthur Gill - at Tom and Addie's Wedding 1910
I think that my mother may have been engaged to him (Jim) before she came to Wellington.

As for religion, it was a proper mix-up.  According to Kathleen Gill, Mum and Auntie Addie were as Latto's, Presbyterian.  Their foster parents were Anglican. They shopped around and when they came to Wellington became they became Roman Catholics.  I have their certificates in 1907 and 1908.  

Now I come to a most controversial part which has always been obscure but which Philippa has solved.  Perhaps she may have told you about it.  It concerns our grandmother.  Janet was a most peculiar person.   You are aware of the background.  Wherever she was from the time David left them and went to Australia we will never know now.  Obviously she turned up in Wellington and it must have been about 1892.  Mum and Auntie Addie must then still have been in Christchurch.  From what we have discovered Mum and Addie must have married in Wellington while their mother was also here.  I wonder whether Janet went to their weddings?  I don't think so.  I have never heard my mother mention her mother - it was always a mystery to me.

In 1922/24 I remember going often to see a relative with my mother in Tennyson Street.  I  always understood the person to be Mum's mother - but of course it could not have been her.  She (Janet) died in 1922.

I discussed this with Isabel and almost certainly it was Mary Latto, the wife of George Latto, we used to visit.  I also remember a woman there and this would have been her daughter Pearlie.  George is buried in Oamaru, and his wife also, and Pearlie.    Pearl died in 1969 and Isabel has told me that George Falloon took her ashes to Oamaru and placed them in her mother and father's grave.

I have been out to Cust and have seen the grave of James Latto and Mary - our great grandparents.  James died May 20, 1907 and Mary Nov 5, 1888.  I have taken a photo and must get some copies made. 

You can imagine the surprise I got when Philippa unearthed Constance Amy.  Constance was born in 1892, father shown as David - which is most unlikely.  Janet did not register the birth until 1920 - Constance then aged 28 and married to Temperley in 1914 - how most strange.

Then Janet married to Beckett.  It would be interesting to find out where he came from.  I expect Philippa has told you all of this in her letter.  

Philippa has now discovered that Constance married again to a D.N. Wilkinson who lived opposite their house in Hataitai Road, Wellington.  She had a daughter in 1930.  This daughter, Philippa is sure was Judith and married a Knowles.  She thought she had traced her as living in Hastings but it is not her.  There is another Judith Knowles living in Mt Roskill, Auckland so she is trying to contact her. 

I expect Philippa has told you all about Janet - Constance.

I have found the grave of Janet and Beckett here in Wellington which is in fairly good condition.  The plaque is well preserved and seems to have been placed on the grave after it (the grave) was completed.  We could not make out who placed it on the grave so now presume it could have been Constance's daughter (Knowles).  I have taken photos but its hard to read the inscription because of the age.  Will clean it up and maybe get a better photo.

Also have found the grave of Timperley who was Constance's first husband - died 1916 aged 32 - very hard to read in a photo.

It is amazing, Alex, that Janet was alive until 1922.  Never have I heard Mother or Auntie Addie ever mention her.  I wonder whether your father ever knew of her in 1922?  Somehow I have a feeling that they thought that she had  just disappeared.  In about 1922 I can remember coming to Wellington with my mother.  We stayed at the Gill's.  Could it have been that she came up to her mother's funeral?  if so one would have thought that I would have heard from one of the Gills who were older than me.

One or two things still remain a bit of a mystery - who was Auntie Addie's father?  Where was Janet from 1892?  Who was Beckett?  Perhaps we may solve it all before long.

Did Philippa tell you her background, I hope she did.  She is our son Michael's eldest.  

*Baden Dingwall was Violet's son-in-law - things were confused as Baden married Violet's daughter Molly, who was also a Dingwall - their fathers had been cousins.  Baden was a wealth of genealogical knowledge but passed away some time around 2006.
**Mary Pearl Latto was daughter of George Latto, David's brother, so was a cousin of Mary Nidd nee Latto.  
***Actually, Pat was born on the Terrace at a private hospital - but his father did own the Te Aro Hotel at the time. 


Ernest Edward Timperley  was born around 1884 in England.  I believe he probably arrived in Wellington as a third class passenger on the ship Arawa in June 1910.  Following his marriage to Constance Latto in 1914, Ernie died on 4 March 1916 aged just 32.  The following obituary appeared in the Evening Post on 6 March 1916:

The death occurred in a private hospital on Saturday, after a serious operation, of Mr. Ernie Timperley. Deceased, who was connected with the firm of Messrs. Brodrick and Co., was well known in Wellington amongst cricket and association football enthusiasts, and as a member of the Y.M.C.A. Club was considered one of the cleverest forwards in the Wellington representative team, until ill-health compelled him to give up the game. Mr. Timperley's good nature and cheerful disposition won him many friends.

The following day, on 7 March 1916 in the Evening Post, this appeared:

A service in .connection with the funeral of the late Mr. Ernest Edward Timperley was conducted in St. Mark's Church this afternoon by the Rev. C. F. .Askew, who also officiated at the graveside in the Karori Cemetery. Amongst those who attended the funeral were a number of people with whom the deceased had been associated in football and cricketing matters. Mr. Timperley, who was 30 years of age, has left a widow.

What did Ernie Timperley look like?  Here's a clue:
Article image
Ernest Timperley
Inside left forward in the YMCA and Wellington Representative Association Football Team

The above cartoon appeared in the New Zealand Free Lance paper on 24 July 1909.


  1. Interesting info on Constance and Ernest Timperley, my relatives are related to Ernest so have been looking for more information about him. Fantastic to read more about him and his relationship to the Latto side, and death details.

    1. There's also more that might be of use here and I've added some more information about Ernest Timperley to this post as well (above).

  2. Forgot to add, thanks for publishing the info online :)

  3. Hi there! Great to read your comment and glad that this little bit of information has helped in some way. :)

  4. Hi Minnie
    Interesting to read your blog - we are working on the Tarling family tree. The Mick Tarling that Pat refers to is my husband's father. He was not Mona Anderson's brother Mick, but the son of Mona's cousin Horace Tarling, so Mary Tarling that was married to Jim Latto was Horace and Mona's aunt. Our Mick Tarling was indeed an Instructor at the Police College in Trentham in the 60's and went on to be Chief Super. In the 1990s had the Hilltop Pub on the road to Akaroa. He lives in Christchurch. Lance Bardwell (not Bandwell) lives in Dunedin.
    Mona's brother Mick was Thomas Michael and was a merchant seaman and later a miner on the West Coast. As far as we know he did not marry.

  5. Thank you for posting this information online. A group of us are researching the history if South Malvern and Whitecliffs and some of these names and family lines are becoming familiar to us.