John Herbert Sinnott

John Herbert Sinnott[1]

Male 1913 - 1997  (83 years)

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  • Name John Herbert Sinnott 
    Nickname Jack 
    Born 24 Sep 1913  Auckland, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location  [2, 3
    Mt Albert 
    Gender Male 
    Died 2 Jan 1997  Te Awamutu, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location  [4, 5
    Matariki Private Hospital 
    Cremated 7 Jan 1997  Te Awamutu, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location  [6
    _UID EB1D9A8502B44C81AEF7AA9C3374FB3D7479 
    Person ID I4  Treefive
    Last Modified 15 May 2019 

    Father William Edmund Sinnott,   b. 22 Jul 1866, Collingwood, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1 Jun 1917, France Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 50 years) 
    Mother Emily Belfield Haddock,   b. 28 Jul 1880, Ngaruawahia, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 31 Oct 1957, Te Awamutu, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 77 years) 
    Married 27 Nov 1903  Auckland, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location  [7
    the house of Rev C. H. Garland, Karangahape Rd 
    Family ID F11  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Natalie Frances Jacombs,   b. 14 Jul 1912, Wellington, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 20 Nov 2007, Hamilton, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 95 years) 
    Married 8 May 1948  Auckland, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location  [8, 9, 10
    All Saints Church, Ponsonby 
     1. Living
     2. Living
     3. Living
    Last Modified 12 Sep 2019 
    Family ID F1  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    01017 Jack Sinnott
    01017 Jack Sinnott
    00069 Haddocks, Sinnotts and Stewarts
    00069 Haddocks, Sinnotts and Stewarts
    Karamu abt 1935
    00196 Jack, Emily, Gert, Bill, Ellie Sinnott
    00196 Jack, Emily, Gert, Bill, Ellie Sinnott
    Mutu St
    00206 Jack and Emily Sinnott
    00206 Jack and Emily Sinnott
    Mutu St, Te Awamutu
    00274 Sinnotts, Stewarts and Kites
    00274 Sinnotts, Stewarts and Kites
    Bill, George, Charlie, Jack, Lou, Ellie, Gert, Natalie at Rotorua 1972
    00303 Jack Sinnott
    00303 Jack Sinnott
    00304 Natalie and Jack Sinnott
    00304 Natalie and Jack Sinnott
    Auckland 8 May 1948
    00325 Sinnotts - Bill, Jack, Ellie, Gert
    00325 Sinnotts - Bill, Jack, Ellie, Gert
    00434 Bill, Emily and Jack Sinnott
    00434 Bill, Emily and Jack Sinnott
    Mutu St

  • Notes 

    • Early life – Auckland, Karamu and Te Awamutu

      Jack was born in Mt Albert in 1913. The family lived in the Auckland area, with Jack's father William Edmund Sinnott working as an Able-Bodied seaman and later as ship's captain on the Auckland harbour, before enlisting for war service in late 1915. Jack never knew his father, who died in 1917 while fighting in World War 1 in Europe.

      Jack was very young when his mother moved from Avondale, Auckland to Te Awamutu. Emily, Gert and Jack stayed with Bert Haddock at the farm at Karamu, while Ellie went with Bill to the McGhies (at Kihikihi).

      For Jack, memories of the enforced separation remained for a long time, and he always had more of a bond with Gert than the older two.


      Jack went to school at Te Awamutu District High School between 1919 and 1927. His school reports showed him as a good, careful worker but with examination results that did not always reflect his efforts. He was awarded a Certificate of Proficiency (Standard 6) in 1927. He left school in December that year aged 14 to help out the family finances. His brother Bill stayed on at school longer.


      Much of Jack's life history, as outlined below, is based on a conversation at 737 Bank St, Te Awamutu between Jack and Rex Sinnott on 2 Jan 1996. When this biography was shown to Jack some months later, he indicated that there were some errors, but he did not correct them; at that stage he was already in failing health, and the corrections were never done. It is believed that the errors were minor, and that the general outline is correct.

      Jack worked as a paper boy – he started off at 3s 6d per week, doing a round covering Tawhio St, College St to Mutu St in Te Awamutu. Later, got the 'top' round earning 5s 6d. It involved meeting the train at 7:30am (if late, he had to cycle into town, collect papers and do the round in reverse order), cutting open a bundle and counting out 56 papers, and delivering to Alexandra St, College St, Rewi St, ...... ending at Mutu St.

      After leaving school, Jack was an apprentice motor mechanic at Ernie Holmes' garage earning 7s 6d per week, later 10s per week. After 5 years, he came out of his time with an “A” Grade Certificate and got paid 5 pounds per week. He stayed 3 more years at that rate. Then he threw in the job, he had had enough. At one stage he was working all weekend with Ernie overhauling Model A Ford trucks used on the Arapuni Dam project (for an extra 1s per hour). Trucks came in on a Friday afternoon needing engine, gearbox, or diff overhaul and were sent out repaired on the following Monday morning. This was about 1931.

      Jack then contacted Alf Dobbs at Warkworth, was offered a job, and drove up to Warkworth in his old Essex. He contacted his new boss, as he had no accommodation and was told about Bridge House to go there, then report back. So Jack checked in, returned to the boss, asked for a few days to find his way around Warkworth. He was told to start 8am the following day (Monday). Others at Bridge House included bank clerks – Jack considered them a good lot of people, who got on well. At lunch times, those who ate earlier told Jack what food to avoid when they met him on their way back to work.

      It was hard work (as a motor mechanic) but Jack stayed 18 months or so. His mother was on her own in Te Awamutu, and struggling, so Jack resigned and returned to Te Awamutu. While walking along the street he met Steritt, Whitehouse, Spooner(??) who asked what he (Jack) was doing - the answer was "nothing". So was offered a job at Advance Cars as a mechanic, and stayed there until the outbreak of World War 2.

      Sport - general

      Jack’s passion was hockey, and he represented Waipa and Waikato on several occasions. His success on the hockey filed has since been emulated by his children and grandchildren who have, at various times, represented Waipa, Waikato, Auckland and Central Otago. Jack was also a capable tennis player. With Dick Finn, Jack was instrumental in starting Junior Cricket in Te Awamutu in the late 1950s. He played the occasional round of golf in later years, and was a keen lawn bowler.

      Sport – details from newspaper reports

      Jack was in the Te Awamutu Tennis Club B Grade team that played the Te Kuiti B Grade team 31 Jan-1 Feb 1931 at Te Awamutu. Jack lost all 3 of his matches - singles, doubles and combined doubles.
      He was a half back in the Waipa hockey team that lost to Rodney at Matakana in Jun 1932.
      Jack was elected to the ground committee of the Te Awamutu Lawn Tennis Club in Sep 1934.
      He was named in the team to play Rodney in the Waipa-Rodney Shield match at Te Awamutu on 3 Jun 1935.
      Jack was named as a full back in the Waipa hockey team to compete for the White Horse Cup in the annual Country Week tournament at the Remuera Hockey Grounds, Auckland. He was also in the team at the 1936 and 1937 tournaments held in Auckland.
      Jack was in the Waipa hockey team that played in the challenge match for the Norden Cup at Wanganui on 7 Aug 1937.
      J. Sinnott was named in the Rodney B team to play the C team as a curtain raiser to the Rodney v Waipa representative teams match on 4 Jun 1938 at Warkworth. He was also in the Rodney B team to play the A team on 11 June. It is not clear why Jack was playing for Rodney.
      However, he was back in the Waipa team when it played Rodney on 16 July at the Warkworth Showgrounds. Rodney won 7-1. Jack was one of 4 Waipa players noted by the Rodney and Otamatea Times as being outstanding.
      In the doubles final at the Te Awamutu Tennis Club championships in Mar 1939, R. Goodall and A. Ross beat J. Sinnott and E. Holmes 6-3, 1-6, 6-3.
      At the annual meeting of the Waipa Hockey Association in Apr 1939, J. H. Sinnott was elected to the grounds committee.
      Jack was in the Waipa hockey team to play King Country in May 1939, and to compete in the White Horse Cup competition in Auckland in June.
      The official programme for 2 hockey matches at Hobson Park, Auckland on 19 Aug 1939 named Jack (as "A. Sinnatt") as a full back in the Waikato team. Waikato played Auckland in the NZ Challenge Shield Match.

      World War 2

      On 24 Nov 1939 the Te Awamutu Courier reported: “Word comes that Mr J.H. Sinnott, an Air Force trainee from Te Awamutu, now at the Otahuhu Training Depot, has been successful in securing first place in the recent examinations". On 18 Mar 1940 the Courier noted: "Mr J. Sinnott, of Te Awamutu, who four months ago entered the air service training division, is one of two candidates to qualify as leading aircraftsmen. There were 24 trainees, and Mr Sinnott's success is a meritorious one."

      Jack enlisted in the Royal New Zealand Air Force at Hobsonville on 23 Oct 1939, serving as leading aircraftsman and rising to the rank of Flight Sergeant. His trade was described as Group I Fitter II.E: Supervision in the maintenance and assembly of aircraft engines.

      Jack was based at Hobsonville, Woodburne, Whenuapai and Gisborne until leaving to serve in the Pacific Islands on 5 Jun 1944 at Esperitu Santo (Vanuata) and Guadalcanal. He was back in New Zealand at Ohakea on 3 Jul 1945 and had short spells there and at Swanson before being transferred to the Reserves on 23 Sep 1945. He continued to serve in the reserve, until his discharge on 18 July 1955.

      He was awarded the 1939/45 star, the Pacific star, the 1939/45 War Medal and the New Zealand War Service Medal. He did not qualify for the Defence Medal as he spent only 160 days in a non-operational area.

      On enlistment in the Active Reserve on 18 Jul 1950, he was described as height 5 feet 9½ inches, chest 35 inches, hair dark, eyes brown and complexion sallow. He carried out annual training in 1951 and 1952. He later transferred to the General Reserve, upon an unspecified change in his circumstances, and was discharged on 18 Jul 1955.

      Mechanic and Garage proprietor

      After returning from the war, he got a job with Hodgson Motors which ran bus services. The manager was ex World War 1, and knew of the problems of re adjusting to civilian life, so suggested Jack work part time, knocking off when he wanted to. But Jack never did, he worked 8 hour days from the start. He stayed about 18 months, but found the work tough, working on Hodgson Motors' buses. So he left, and started his own garage, in the same building as brother Bill (an electrician), at their property at 95 Sloane Street. Next door to them beside the garage was a printing workshop run by Ron Wilkinson and, for many years, Dr Riethar’s clinic. Then a Dr Gower took over his practice and was there up until the workshops closed.

      Life in Te Awamutu

      K.E. Wolfe, a lifetime friend of Bryan Sinnott, recalled Jack as a good bloke – intolerant of fools. He remembered Jack and Natalie Jacombs courting. It is understood that Jack met Natalie, a school teacher in Te Awamutu in the 1940s, when she took her car to his garage. In 1948, they married at All Saints Church, Ponsonby, Auckland.

      The house at 12 Downes St was not ready when Jack and Natalie returned from honeymoon, so they stayed with Jack's mother at 4 Downes St until it was. Later, Jack built an extension on, with 2 extra bedrooms. He also built up the rockery along Wallace Terrace, built the shed and garage, and low concrete walls along the Downes St and Wallace Terrace boundaries. Jack maintained the property himself, including rebuilding the laundry when the wooden framing rotted.

      For many years Jack collected stamps in current use and packed them for future generations.

      Jack and Natalie’s children Rex, Gary and Linley were all born in Te Awamutu and grew up at the Downes Street home.

      For many years, the letterbox at 12 Downes St had attached to it a brass plaque with the name "Claymore". Jack's father William Edmund Sinnott was a crew member on the S.S. Claymore on its maiden voyage from Port Glasgow to Auckland in 1902. According to Norma White (Jack's niece) there was a similar plaque at 34 Rewi St, Te Awamutu, home of Jack's brother Bill, and there may also have been a plaque at Jack's mother's old house at Mutu St, Te Awamutu many years ago. To add to the mystery, Linley Downey saw another "Claymore" plaque at the Mangawhai Museum in April 2016. The origin of the plaque is unknown, but could have been made or purchased by William Edmund to commemorate his service on the Claymore.

      Post-War service

      Jack’s personal Air Force file includes an attestation, on 18 Jul 1950, for the Active Reserve in which he agreed to “serve in the Regular Air Force if called upon in time of war or imminent national danger”. At this time Rex was one year old. Jack was an active member of the Te Awamutu Returned Services Association for many years, and was also involved in the Waipa ex-Air Force Association.

      Family holidays

      Early family holidays were at Laurenson's Bay, Raglan. Vehicle access was at low tide only. Foot access was a narrow bridge, which Rex and Gary managed to fall off at low tide so they got muddy. Both boys hated walking through the mud, they lifted their feet right up to try to avoid it. Other holidays were taken at Castor Bay at the house of Aunty Pauline's (Pauline Durrieu, a friend of Natalie's mother), Roberts' bach at Takapuna, Booth's house at Takapuna and the family bach at Whangamata Camping Ground.


      Jack sold his garage business to Bob Newton, and the family moved to Red Beach in early 1961 to run the beach store there. The family returned to Te Awamutu in early 1962, and Jack worked as a storeman/clerk for Auto Electric (owner/manager Cuth Andrews) until retirement.

      Jack came out of hockey retirement in 1963 to play in an "Old-Timers" match. Participants were former New Zealand, North Island and representative hockey players. The abilities of the players were previewed by the Te Awamutu Courier which noted: "Jack Sinnott: Shorter on top than previously - should "Jog" through the first half at least."

      Jack and Natalie sold the Downes Street house after all three children left home, and moved to a flat in Fraser Street for a short while before buying a 2-bedroom house on a rear section at 63 (later numbered 737) Bank Street. This was close to the croquet and bowling greens, and a short walk from town. They spent their retirement there. Jack's sport was bowls, and Natalie took up croquet, both remaining active club members for many years.

      Jack represented Te Awamutu in the National RSA Bowls championships at Hawkes Bay in 1983. He assisted at the Te Awamutu Bowling Club, and was Green Keeper at the adjacent Croquet Club for some years in the 1980s – and received letters of appreciation for his services.

      In retirement, Jack and Natalie enjoyed travel – frequent trips to the South Island, several to Australia and Norfolk Island, with a world trip in 1978 which included Spain, UK, Singapore, Malaya, Greece, Switzerland and Hong Kong. Jack was an occasional fossicker for gold on trips to the South Island, and even held a Prospector's Right.

      Jack died at Matariki Hospital in Te Awamutu on 2 Jan 1997. He had suffered strokes over a period of a year caused by a brain tumour. He lived at home until he needed care beyond Natalie’s physical capabilities, and spent his last month at Matariki. He was cremated and his ashes buried in the RSA section of the Te Awamutu Cemetery.

  • Sources 
    1. [S232] Biography Sinnott, John Herbert.
      Another version of this biography was prepared in 2011 for insertion in Jack Sinnott's notes in Rootsmagic - see BIO005

    2. [S38] BIR006 Birth Sinnott, John Herbert - birth entry, BIR006.

    3. [S43] BIR012 Birth Sinnott, John Herbert - birth certificate, BIR012.

    4. [S312] DTH101 Death notice Sinnott, John Herbert (Jack), DTH101., death notice; 4 January 1997; page F8 column 9.

    5. [S1120] DTH119 Death Sinnott, John Herbert - bereavement card, DTH119.

    6. [S94] BUR002 Burial - cremation Sinnott, John Herbert, BUR002.

    7. [S215] MAR066 Marriage Sinnott, William Edmund and Haddock, Emily Belfield - transcript, MAR066.

    8. [S8] MAR036 Marriage Sinnott, John Herbert and Jacombs, Natalie Frances, MAR036.

    9. [S213] MAR064 Marriage Sinnott, John Herbert and Jacombs, Natalie Frances - transcript (Judy Sinnott), MAR064.

    10. [S366] MAR077 Marriage Sinnott, John Herbert and Jacombs, Natalie Frances, MAR077.