A family history blog

Robert Lowe Brewster / Martha Howard

A short history of the lives of my great-great-grandparents Robert Lowe Brewster and Martha Howard.

Robert Lowe Brewster was born in 1853 in Preston, Lancashire, the second of seven children. His father was a draper and Robert learned the trade from him, working as an assistant in his shop. In 1879 he emigrated to New Zealand on the “Auckland” and started employment as a draper in Blenheim. His brother Charles also came to New Zealand, but not until 1881.

Martha Howard was born in 1861 in Blenheim. Her parents were early settlers of Blenheim, then called Beavertown. Her father James Howard, who was born in Middlesex, north London, was a carpenter who had immigrated to New Zealand in 1855. Her mother Frances Read, who was born in Lincoln, was aged twelve when she travelled with her family to Melbourne in 1853, then to Blenheim two years later. James and Frances were married in Blenheim in 1858.

Robert Lowe Brewster and Martha Howard were married in 1885. They had four children in Blenheim before moving to Levin in 1904 and spent the next few decades moving around the North Island, perhaps in an effort to find profitable work. ┬áIn 1911 they were living in Hamilton where Robert worked as a clerk, though he was still listed as a draper in the local street directory. In 1919 Robert was working as a storekeeper in Glen Massey near Ngaruawahia. In the 1920’s they moved to Auckland and lived for a time in Mt Eden and eventually settled in Ponsonby with their spinster daughter Dorothy and their granddaughter Florence Walkley. Here Robert worked as a storeman and ran a sideline business of writing freehand letterheads for local businesses. Martha ran the family home as a boarding house with help from her daughter and granddaughter. Martha died in 1941 and Robert died in 1942. They were both buried at the Purewa Cemetery.

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