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Later Years of the Young Qualtroughs from the book "A Quota of Qualtrough" Pages 48-70

Thomas Qualtrough (Continued) (1851-1944)
- the first to own a plough


THOMAS AND MARY ANN (POLLY) QUALTROUGH and family.From Left: Ida; Elsie; Thomas; James; Polly; Amy; Elaine; and in front, Ruby. Photo taken about 1912.

On August 4, 1886, he married Mary Ann (Polly) Prince, 23 year old youngest daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Prince, English settlers at Alexandra (now known as Pirongia). The Princes had moved from Pirongia to Ohaupo where Joseph Prince had set up the first Waikato Blacksmith business in 1877.

(This Ohaupo home, typical of its day, was demolished about 1975 and had been on the Great South Road between Ohaupo and Te Awamutu, a weatherboard cottage with its living rooms in front and sloping down room by room to a low storage shed at the back. It was not far, and on the opposite side of the road, from the small hillside cemetery where a number of Prince forebears are interred.)

Polly was very musical and played the harmonium for the Sunday services of the Anglican church at Alexandra (Pirongia) a sturdy building that had doubled as a redoubt for the settlers when attack by Maoris threatened at the time of the wars. The church was surrounded by a moat and had a drawbridge.

It was said that Polly could play the service in the dark, a feat no doubt achieved from necessity as the church had only one oil lamp hanging in the centre of the nave. After marriage to Tom Polly attended church nearer home, St. Paul's Methodist Church in Collingwood Street, Hamilton. Polly, a well-made, good-looking young woman of strong character and lively personality, had the voice of an angel, so it was said (but, alas, not a temper to match, also said!).

Not only did she sing in the choir for 25 years but passed on her musical abilities to others in the family. (A daughter, Elaine, had an outstanding contralto voice and was trained by a leading teacher of singing of the day, Mrs. Cyril Towsey.)

Tom and Polly produced six children, two of whom were the oldest - and nearest - direct descendants of the emigrant family at the time of our Reunion in 1979.

The children, five girls, one boy, were : Catherine Amy; Elsie Mary; James Thomas; Ida Emily; Elaine Annie and Ruby Constance.

Amy married Charles Hardley, one of a plumbing supplies family business in Auckland; Elsie married George Smith, a builder, of Te Awamutu; James worked for the (then) Farmers' Auctioneering Company as an insurance assessor in Hamilton and married Scots born Minnie Creighton, of Auckland;

Ida married William Martin, a storeman, and lived in Te Kuiti for many years; Elaine married Douglas Hooper, a contractor then farmer of Otorohanga who later retired to Morrinsville; Ruby married Norman Lee, a watchmaker and jeweler,of Te Awamutu.

(It is an interesting sidelight that Norman's father, the Rev. William Lee, minister of the Grafton Road Methodist Church in his last circuit, used to conduct services at Pakuranga at times then dine with the Qualtrough family in their farmhouse afterwards.)


THOMAS QUALTROUGH in middle age. Photo taken about 1900

Tom had set up in business as a butcher in Hamilton in 1879. His slaughterhouse and run-off then occupied 30 hectares land which is now part of the Frankton Junction railway yards.

He and Polly first lived in Victoria Street (now the centre of the city) situated on the same section as the butchery business but about 30 meters behind and to one side of the shop, up a wide driveway..

A story from an early copy of the WAIKATO TIMES, written by G.H. Roche, concerns a practical joke perpetrated at the time:

" It seems there were persistent rumours of a 'monster' having been seen in the Waitewhiriwhiri Creek which fed into the Waikato River at the (then) No 1 Bridge."

"A couple of pranksters acquired a bullock's head from Qualtrough's slaughterhouse, dressed it in a white sheet and set it up in a tent in the saleyards while a sale was in progress. They charged one shilling per person to witness the unveiling of the 'monster' which took place when the tent was full."

"The joke was not appreciated, verified, wrote Mr Roche, by the fact that no-one could be found in town who would admit to having seen the show - although, later, the Waikato Hospital benefited from a donation of a couple of pounds (sterling) paid in single shillings." (Twenty shillings to the pound in those days)

Did Tom ever learn who the practical jokers were? No-one could get more from him than a quiet smile.

Somewhere about 1902 the Qualtroughs moved to a house a mile further down Victoria Street, then a few years later they bought a large, villa-type house in Clifton Road, on the banks of the river. Tom frequently acted as interpreter for the Maori Land Courts and Law Court in Hamilton and his daughter Ruby can remember coming home from school at times to find the. Front lawn of their property a Maori meeting-place. "Some of the older women looked like Goldie paintings with their dark-blue moko (tattoo on chin), white hair under black headscarf and smoking pipes. They would call out to me in Maori and wave as I hurried inside, just a little bit frightened by their strangeness."

Tom was for a period of about six years a Borough Councillor then, having disposed of his business - business was not his forte -he returned to contracting. He was very fond of animals and somehow it is not easy to picture him involved with the slaughter of beasts.

He kept horses for the family's use. Later on transport was by 'gig' in those days prior to motor coaches.

After the family had married and left home Tom and Polly gave up their big house and bought a smaller place in Mill Street. Polly had poor health for many years but Tom, a big, robust man, kept a beautiful garden. Polly predeceased Tom, dying in 1933 at the age of 70. Tom, then aged 82, went to live with his eldest daughter, Amy, and her husband Charles Hardley, in Herne Bay, Auckland.

Tom took up bowling for an interest and became a popular figure at the West End Bowling Club. Always a good walker, he would trudge old haunts for miles, even in his late eighties, whenever he went to stay with his youngest daughter, Ruby, and her family in Te Awamutu from time to time.

He died in Auckland in 1944 in his 94th year and is interred alongside Polly in the Hamilton East cemetery.

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