Women’s History Month

March in the United States is Women’s History Month and the theme for 2020 is “Valiant Women of the Vote” to honor “the brave women who fought to win suffrage rights for women, and for the women who continue to fight for the voting rights of others.”

White camelia, symbol of the suffragists. (image: Golladay, Wikimedia)

I got to thinking about New Zealand, the first country to grant all women over the age of 21 the right to vote. 
In 1893 as part of a continuing campaign the suffragists organised thirteen separate petitions to extend the vote or franchise to women. The largest was signed by 31,872 women nearly 25% of the European women in the country. Only one of these petitions survives and you can search here at Women and the Vote for more information and the database of surviving signatories (this includes a scan of each original signature). Read more

Finding Elizabeth Fleming

For the last few weeks I have been putting together a biography of a Fleming in my tree, one of my London ancestors but I can’t discover what became of his mother, my great great-great-grandmother Elizabeth Fleming. She is still a mystery!

Elizabeth was born at Portsea, Hampshire, England in 1820 a daughter of Robert King a master mariner and Sarah (Dowling) of Rotherhithe in Surrey. In 1838 at Bermondsey Elizabeth married George Fleming a corn factor and together they had seven children: Elizabeth Mary (1839-1844), Robert George (1840-1906), George Warren (1841-1864), Isabella Ann Wales (1843-1926), Katherine Mary (1848- ), Alfred (1850-1894) and William Fleming (1852- ). Read more

Mrs Jane Fleming nee Marshall

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I was recently reminded of the value of searching old newspapers at https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz

‘Death of a Pioneer: the passing of an iteresting personality was published in the New Zealand Times, 1st July 1912.  A time when most biographies were about men. 

I was tracing the story of John Stuart Fleming (1842-1904), a pioneer businessman at Westport on the wild, islolated west coast of New Zealand’s south island and later in Wellington. The obituary I found is actually of his widow but she is only named as as “Mrs Fleming” and “the widow of John Stuart Fleming”.  This practice of naming a wife as Mrs [husband’s name] was a lingering legacy of the law of coverture – when a woman and  man were married, she relenquished all her status rights to him and was considered to be under his protection. (for more on the law of coverture see Amazing Women in History) Read more