Monday, December 5, 2011

Thames (NZ) - 'Jenny Wren' poet

Amongst the noise, dirt and hardships of the the Thames goldfields, there were sometimes the joy of riches and gold. For many this didn't eventuate, but in their new life, in a new land, there was often the need for some degree of reflection and reminder of 'home.' Often seeming out of place, it amazes me the number of poets there were in Thames. Previously mentioned was 'Rosyln' who was known world-wide. Another well known nom-de-plume pre 1900 was 'JENNY WREN'.
Thames 1 September 1885
'Jenny Wren,' otherwise known as Jane Elizabeth HARRIS nee FRANCIS and later known as Mrs HARRIS-ROBERTS. (The link provides a full biography at the Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand) Jane FRANCIS was born c1852 in London and came to New Zealand with her new husband Henry STILWELL. STILWELL had a nursery at Parawai in 1868. In 1873 Jane married Thomas HARRIS, a market gardener. From this time Jane's thirst for knowledge was nourished and expanded, with writing being the obvious vehicle. The messages were probably very political for the time, especially those coming from a woman. Jane HARRIS' beliefs took on that of those of the Christian Spiritualists and social reform; she was also a member of the Thames Mutual Improvement Society.

Jane HARRIS, spent time in Australia in the 1890s following her husbands death. Back in New Zealand, Jane married Charles ROBERTS in 1900. 'Jenny Wren' died in Paeroa 18/9/1942 aged 90. The death is registered at NZ BMD online as JANE ELIZABETH ROBERTS aged 89 years.
In her obituary, it is written, "she was one of the pioneers and founders of the spiritualist movement in New Zealand."

Jane Elizabeth HARRIS 1852-1942

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