Garmonsway family of New Zealand

Descendants of Letitia Anne King

Letitia Anne & Edward Watts Garmonsway 17

Letitia Anne Kingwas born on 21 Dec 1809 1 in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, and was baptised on 25 Jan 1810 2 at St. John's, Portsea, Hampshire. She died on 25 Jan 1892  3, 7 at Pirongia, New Zealand, and was buried in Pirongia Cemetery. She married on 10 Jan 1831 3,16 in St. John's Parish, Church of Ireland, Limerick, Co. Limerick, Edward Watts Garmonsway born 21 Jun 1809 4 in Parish of Shoreditch, London; and christened 9 July 1809 at St. Leonard's Parish, Shoreditch. He died 16 Sep 1875 5 at Paterangi, New Zealand and was buried in Pirongia Cemetery. He was the son of John Garmonsway and Rosina Jane Willson (a daughter of John Willson and Grace Wilhelmina) who married on 30 Jun 1793 at St. Boltolphs, Bishopgate, London. Church parish records indicate Edward likely had six older brothers and an elder sister 6.

Origins of Garmonsway Name

         Surnames can be locative derived from the place the bearer lived such as a town, village, road, track or geographical feature. In the case of Garmonsway there is only one such named feature in Britain. It appears on the 1979 Ordnance Survey map as Garmondsway Moor on which is marked a place named Garmondsway Village. The village is located about 10½ km SE of Durham city and east of trunk road A177.
        The Garmondsway locality name could have originated from Garmundus the Dane. Garmundus was a Latinized form of the Old West Norse name of Geirmundr, a name found in the Old Danish and Old Swedish as Germund, which in its two elements meant "spear protector". Garmundus the Dane is recorded in histories of the early conflicts between the Saxons and invading Danish. The Penguin Dictionary of Surnames (1967) has Garmondsway in County Durham as Old English meaning 'Spear Protector's road'.
       Apparently at least one authority has Garmundus as being recorded in these histories under other names of which one was Guthrum. This suggests the possibility that Guthrum, the first Danish King of East Anglia, who died in 890 A.D., and who was appointed Governor of Northumberland by Alfred the Great after being defeated by him, could have traveled to Northumberland at some time and, as an important personage had his passage remembered by the naming of a feature of the landscape such as the road he traveled as 'Spear Protector's road'. However such a scenario for the origin of the locality name seems to this compiler to be astray, for the reason that firstly there is no evidence Guthrum ever traveled to Northumberland, but more significantly it is unlikely Guthrum could have also been known as Garmundus. As the derivations differ the Garmundus and Guthrum names are unrelated. Guthrum was an anglicized form of the Old West Norse personal name of Gušžormr or Guttormr, of which the first element derived from a Germanic noun meaning 'god, god-like being' and the second element (žormr) or (ormr), meaning respectively' to protect, show respect to' and 'serpent, snake, dragon'. Hence Guthrum would not also have been known as Garmundus which in derivaton meant 'Spear Protector'.
       The earliest available record of Garmondsway as a place (or road) appears in an ecclesiastic history of Durham, titled Ilistoria Eccesiae Dunelinensis, written by Simeon (or Symeon) of Durham between 1104 and 1108 AD. The passage of relevance refers to a pilgrimage by King Knłt (Canute) the Dane, sometime after he became the ruler of England in 1017, to the tomb of St. Culhbert in Durham via a road or track known at the time of his journey, or at the latest by the time Simeon of Durham wrote at least 70 years later, as Garmundi Via which translates as ‘Way of Garmundus’. This passage establishes the Garmon(d)sway locality name origin is at least 900 years old.
       It would seem the family name is derived from this feature, identifiable from the Middle Ages as a place from written sources other than maps. It follows those named Garmonsway descend from one or more persons who were once occupants. In the custom of that period, even if an occupant moved elsewhere, he or she would still have been known as being of the former place, usually in the form of "given name" de "place" - as for example "Ralph de Garmonsway". Such as it once existed Garmondsway village is long gone. A 1823 history of County Durham described the moorland and once village land as:- "Garmondsway, an extra-parochial Constablery belonging wholly to Sherburn House. There is no village, only some scattered farmholds." This locality was listed as Garmondsway Moor by Lewis in his 1844 Topographical Dictionary and by Whellan in his 1894 Topographical Directory.
       The earliest authoritative reference establishing Garmon(d)sway as a place is found in Bolden Book - a 1183 survey ordered by Hugh de Puiset a Norman Bishop of Durham. The only earlier survey was ordered in 1086 by King William I (William the Conqueror) but it did not include settlements north of the river Tees, thus personal and place names exclusive to the areas of Northumberland and Durham, which later became those counties, were not in the Domesday Book compiled from the survey. Hugh de Puiset, who appears frequently in Durham records as Bishop Hugh de Pudsey, featured large in early records of the lands comprising Garmondsway Moor and village, the transfer of which he effected to Shelburn Hospital at Durham - still the owner today. In respect of the moorland, estimated by surname origins researcher Allan Garmonsway to have comprised approx. 1100 acres, Boldon Book has it in the year 1183 in the ownership of Bishop Hugh, in part by way of his purchase and in part by way of forfeiture from the previous owner his sheriff Ralph Haget. In 1184 part of the village lands were obtained from its then lord Ralph de Garmondsway, a son of Paulinus of York, and the transfer of such and the balance from the ownership of Ralph de Garmondsway to Shelburn Hospital was effected. This followed upon the settlement by Bishop Hugh de Puiset of a dispute between several parties, of whom more than one bore the de Garmondsway name, concerning a one third share in which the Bishop held that Ralph de Garmondsway had ownership of the one third in addition to two thirds he already owned. These village lands had been a gift over forty years previously from Bishop Rufus of Durham to Ralph de Garmondsway's father Paulinus and his brothers. The short time frame of 70-75 years from the Norman Conquest to the gift of the land suggests either the father or the grandfather of Paulinus was likely a Norman who came to England with William the Conqueror 8.
       At the commencement of the new millennium, with the exception of the south-east of England where the majority of the twenty-five listed in the current U.K. electoral roll with the name were residing, the name was hardly noted outside of New Zealand. In the year 2000 forty-two Garmonsways' were listed in the New Zealand telephone directory all of whom are believed to be of this family. By comparison the Australian directory had two - one in Sydney - and the other in Perth. The London directory had one and the surname was absent from all the major USA and Canadian online telephone directories. It has been suggested the rarity of the name in the U.K. today may be explained by a low proportion of males to females in past times, as evidenced by the 1881 census in which females greatly outnumbered males. Excluding name variants, of the twenty-two who appear on the LDS Church's CD-ROM index to the 1881 census, eleven were born in Northumberland and Durham, three in London, and there was a family of seven in Surrey that included five daughters. So 1881 census points clearly to the north of England as the area of surname origin 15.

New Zealand Family History

        Letitia King, whose father's name is unknown, was born 2½ years before her mother Ann married on 2 May 1812 in Portsea, Hampshire, England then Limerick County (Ireland) militia regiment soldier Robert Gordon whose regiment arrived in Portsmouth from Ireland in August of the previous year for a two year tour of duty guarding the docks. She did not accompany her parents and a half sibling on the Matilda which arrived in Sydney from Cork, Ireland on 3 Aug. 1817 and was not listed in the family group in the 1828 Census of New South Wales. Perhaps at the time of embarkation in Ireland she was ill or not considered strong enough to undertake the long sea journey down to Australia which in the case of the Matilda took 130 days. Three months before her mother's marriage to Robert Gordon her mother's sister Martha married George Lambert also a soldier in the Limerick County militia regiment serving at Portsmouth. Following his return to Ireland in August 1813 and, disembodiment of the regiment, Robert Gordon joined the 48th Northhamptonshire Regiment of Foot in 1816 at Naas near Dublin whilst brother-in-law George Lambert seemingly must have opted for a civilian occupation in Limerick city where his and Martha's last eight children were baptised from 1815.
        Letitia was likely raised in Limerick by the Lambert's or perhaps by her step-father's Gordon family there as on the 10 Jan. 1831 in St. John's Church of Ireland in Limerick city, under her mother's maiden name of King, she married then twenty-one year old English soldier Corporal Edward Watts Garmonsway. On the surviving in NZ original of the church parish marriage record the crossing out of her King surname and insertion of the words "a Gordon" evidences a clumsy attempt in later years by a descendant to hide her illegitimacy perhaps associated with the obvious contradiction presented by the certificate not supporting the family ancestry that for much of the 20th century was being claimed in NZ that had Letitia was of the same family as Major-General Charles Gordon who died at Khartoum in 1885 and became a hero figure throughout the British Empire. However from when Ann and Robert Gordon's eldest daughter Caroline died in 1853 no such illusion prevailed in the Australia resident lines. Henry Gordon's daughter Ada writing in April 1889 to Letitia in NZ recounted how it had became known Letitia was Ann's but was not Robert's daughter. She wrote - 'My father also says that his mother was a very reticent woman and never told them that you were their sister till Caroline was dying then she told her family that Letitia who they had thought was a sister of Grandma's was their eldest sister'. The claimed relationship to the Major-General seemingly had its genesis in the most certainly mistaken recollection late in life of a 1871 born grandson Charles Garmonsway that as young boy he addressed envelopes for letters that Letitia wrote to the later to become famous Major-General. Astonishingly that relationship claim was noted as being repeated as late as 1958 in the obituary of 95 year-old Francis Henry Garmonsaway plus for good measure it also had that his grandfather Edward Watts had arrived in NZ in 1852 as Sergeant-Major of the 68th Regiment of Foot when in fact he came as a soldier/settler in the Fensibles in 1851 and his highest rank held in NZ was Sergeant. It was actually William Moir, the husband of Letitia's half-sister Sarah Ann Gordon, who was a Sergeant-Major (a regiment's senior non-commissioned officer). His regiment was the 58th Rutlandshire Regiment of Foot and he arrived with it in NZ in 1844 and was promoted to commissioned officer rank as the Quartermaster before his retirement in 1858.
          At the time of his marriage Edward Watts Garmonsway was serving with the 56th Regiment of Foot which he joined in London on 12 Feb. 1827 at the age of seventeen years. He attained the rank of Corporal on 29 May 1830 and held it for a little over two years until demoted to private effective 27 Sep. 1832. On 30 Oct 1835 when stationed in the West Indies at Falmouth in Jamaica he faced a regimental Court Martial on a charge of ‘highly unsoldiered & disgraceful conduct whilst in charge of a Regimental Guard’ for which he served 14 days imprisonment. After a decade of service in the 56th, with the rank of private, he transferred effective from 1 March 1837 to the 8th Kings Own Regiment of Foot where his regimental number was #1330. Two years later on 1 Jul. 1839 he regained the rank of Corporal that he had last held on 26 Sep. 1832 and was promoted to Sergeant effective from 1 Aug. 1841 holding that rank for the ensuing 6 years and 79 days until released from active duty on medical grounds on 18 Oct. 1847 whilst he was serving in East India.
         In all Edward Watts spent twenty years and 236 days on active service in the British army of which 8 years and 102 days were spent outside of the UK. Of the latter period 4 years 153 days were spent in the West Indies, followed by 2 years 235 days in North America, where in 1839 and 1840 Letitia had children born in the British colony of Nova Scotia. His final foreign posting was to East India for 1 year and 79 days. Following him ceasing active service he returned to England. Formal verification of his service particulars and approval of his discharge from the army was made by a Regimental Board hearing held at Chatham in England dated 11 Jul 1848. The record of the hearing stated he had received all pay and entitlements due to him up until he ceased active service on 18 Oct. 1847, and that quote: ‘with the regard to the character and conduct of No. 1330 Edward Garmonsway, the Board have to report, that upon references to the Defaulters Book, and by the Parole testimony that has been given, it appears that they have been Excellent, altho tried by a Reg'l Court Martial at Falmouth, Jamaica, on 30th October 1835 for highly unsoldiered & disgraceful conduct, while in charge of a Reg'l Guard’ 9, 10.
       The medical report incorporated in the Board's record, in reference to his hospitalisation and his medical condition prior to ceasing active service, stated: ‘‘his physical incapacity for duties of a soldier, attributable to the effects of climate, belong in a constitution more or less predisposed to disease’’. It stated he had suffered since arrival in India from an intractable form of a specified gastro/intestinal condition which was associated with functional derangement of the hepatic (liver) left, and that in addition to constipation he was frequently subject to paroxysms of pain in the dorsal region where between the seventh and eighth dorsal vertebrae there was a small tumor which gave rise to much suffering. He was described in the record as aged 39 years, height 5ft 8 1/2 inches, brown hair, hazel eyes and of fair complexion without marks or scars on face or body 10.
       As a British army pensioner (presumaby a "Chelsea pensioner" receiving an invalids benefit) Edward joined the Royal New Zealand Fencibles as a soldier/settler. Those who joined signed on as armed settlers for a period of seven years received with their families free passage to New Zealand and upon arrival a cottage and a small land holding which was their's upon completion of the period of service 9. Edward and his family left from Gravesend bound for Auckland, New Zealand on 14 Jan 1852 aboard the Inchinnan in a complement comprising 78 ex-army pensioners, 68 women and 113 children. On embarkation the surviving children accompanying their parents were: John (1835), Edward Jr. (1840), Thomas (1843), Caroline (1845) and Jane (1849). Only 11 days after departure and before the vessel had even cleared the Bill of Portland in the English Channel a sixth child Martha was born on 25 Jan 1852. During the voyage a severe outbreak of measles and chicken pox occurred and Jane was one of twenty-three who died before the vessel reached Auckland on the 27 May 1852 after a voyage of 135 days. Edward served as a constable during the voyage for which he was paid £2  11. When the Inchinnan arrived the seaside village of Howick where he was to be stationed was already settled. It was one of a chain of such fencible settlements. Sergeants and Corporals in the Howick Fencibles corps were granted one acre lots in the village. The dwellings they lived in after they first arrived were just Raupo Whares but cottages were later built. Edward Watts Garmonsway owned lots 42 and 43 in the village 12.

All Saints, Howick.

       The vertical planned slab All Saints Church at Howick built in 1847 still stands with its small associated graveyard. In 1848 the school was built just beyond the South Eastern corner of the churchyard. In respect of this school it has been written:- "On January 13 1851, the Rev Lush had 27 pupils but by the end of the year he was ‘tired beyond measure’ so he employed Edward Hills ....... On October 5th 1852 however, Rev Lush discovered that Edward Hills was a bigamist! His first wife in India received part of his pension but did not accompany him back to Britain or to New Zealand, and Edward Hills had a second wife in Howick. Two days later Rev Lush appointed Sgt. Garmonsway, who came from Shoreditch, London as the school master" 13.
       The earliest available N.Z. electoral roll is that for 1865/66. It listed Edward as the holder of Lots 42 & 43 in Howick Village. He remained listed there in the next 66-67 roll but thereafter did not appear. Also in this electorate from 1865/66 was his son-in-law Thomas Rogers listed as leasing a "house" in Otahuhu known as the 'Commercial Hotel'. Edward's British military pension record shows that he moved to Alexandra (now known as Pirongia) in April 1866 13. His widow Letitia Ann appeared in the 1882 Free holders list as the owner of land at Alexandra with a value of £85 and of a £50 value at Kihikihi located on the southern outskirts of nearby Te Awamutu.
       Two grandchildren of Edward Watts & Letitia with the Garmonsway surname enlisted for the 1900-02 South African Boer War and some served in WW I. Harold Gordon Garmonsway (son of Thomas) who was killed in 1918 is the only one of the surname listed in the 1914-18 War Death Indexes.

Children of Letitia King and Edward Garmonsway

1.   Edward Thomas Garmonsway b. 24 Jan 1832 3, bapt.
      St. Mars Cathedral, Limerick, Ireland; d. 17 Nov 1835 3.
2.   Francis Garmonsway b. 1 Jan 1834 2; d. 12 Feb 1834 3.
3.   John Henry Garmonsway
4.   Sarah Garmonsway b. 10 Apr 1839 3, 14, Halifax, Nova Scotia 3 ; d. 24 Feb 1840 3.
5.   Edward Garmonsway
6.   Thomas Garmonsway
7.   Caroline Garmonsway
8.   Charles Garmonsway b. 30 Apr 1848 3 ; d. 17 Oct 1848 3.
9.   Janie Garmonsway b. 17 Aug 1849 3; d. 29 Apr 1852 3 (at sea on way to N.Z.)
10. Martha Garmonsway
11. Letitia Ann Garmonsway
1   Email 14 Oct. 2000 from Beverely Dwyer, QLD. Australia, who holds a copy of the baptism record.
2   Ibid
3   Garmonsway Family Genealogy (1983) - researched & compiled by Peter Wood and Julie Fox.
4   Ibid
5   Ibid (also #1875-783 in NZ BDM Indexes).
6   Ibid
7   2 Oct 2003 email from Allan Garmonsway of Middlesex, England, advising his photocopy of NZ Registry entry #1892/125 confirms the death date as 25 Jan 1892, given on the headstone just as 1892, and noted incorrectly indexed as #1893/125.
8   Allan Garmonsway, Literary Excursions in search of Garmonsway : Interim research notes (U.K. Oct. 2000). The name origin section preceding this citation in the main is the compiler's interpretation and condensation of parts of Allan Garmonsway's lengthy scholarly paper provided to the compiler in 2001 with the author's kind permission to quote from it, and amended in June 2003 to reflect and incorporate valued advice from C.L. Ward as to how the Garmundus and Guthum names differ in derivation - thus are unrelated.
9   Ruth Alexander, Alan la Roche & Gail Gibson, The Royal New Zealand Fencibles 1847-1852 (N.Z. Fencible Assoc.).
10  LDS Church microfilm # 864815 - 8th regiment records - "Detailed Statement of the Services of No. 1330 Edward Garmonsway" - transcript provided courtesy of Judith Moor of NZ  (email 13 Jun 2001).
11  Emails dated 10 Nov 2000 & 9 Apr 2001 from Jill Van Der Reyden of N.Z.
12  Ibid
13  Diary of the Rev Lush, p.60 - quoted extract courtesy of Jill Van der Reyden of new Zealand.
14  GRO Army Indexes (8th regiment) - Jan 2001 email advice from Beverely Dwyer of QLD.
15  Email dated 6 Dec 2000 from Chris Morgan of the U.K.
16  Genealogy of the Garmonsway Family, compiled by F.C Bell in 1970 (held by Te Awamutu Museum) gives the date for the Limerick marriage as 13 May 1831. That date is clearly incorrect. According to the actual certificate the marriage was on the 10th and the Vicar prepared and signed the certificate on the 13th.
17   Image of Leititia courtesy of Kathy Edwards of Queensland & of Edward Watts courtesy of Pauline Garmonsway & Russell Gordon of Sydney, NSW.

Special acknowledgment to Judith Moor & Jill Van Der Reyden of N.Z. & Allan Garmonsway for much of the above history.

Researched and compiled by John Raymond, Brisbane, Australia
First posted 6 May 2001 - last modified 26 Oct 2004

click to return to Gordon Family History