Elizabeth Jane Qualtrough

Female 1838 - 1918  (80 years)

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  • Name Elizabeth Jane Qualtrough 
    Born 1838  Arbory, Rushen, Isle of Man Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2
    Gender Female 
    _UID 004A561822894528B5909782B98EDB50A017 
    Died 1918  Auckland, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I490  Treefive
    Last Modified 22 Oct 2014 

    Father James Qualtrough,   b. 26 Dec 1808, Arbory, Rushen, Isle of Man Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 3 Oct 1881, Pakuranga, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 72 years) 
    Mother Catherine Clague,   b. 15 Apr 1810, Malew, Isle of Man Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 19 Jun 1881, Pakuranga, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 71 years) 
    Married 12 Nov 1835  Malew, Isle of Man Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Family ID F115  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family William Andrew Cowan,   b. Abt 1834,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Married 18 Sep 1866  Auckland, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location  [4
     1. Elizabeth Mary Cowan,   b. 1868,   d. 1869  (Age 1 years)
     2. James Cowan,   b. 14 Apr 1870,   d. 6 Sep 1943, Otaki Beach, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 73 years)
     3. William Andrew Cowan,   b. 1871,   d. 1957  (Age 86 years)
     4. Robert Heron Cowan,   b. 1872,   d. 1954  (Age 82 years)
     5. John Thomas Cowan,   b. 1874,   d. 1957  (Age 83 years)
     6. Richard Henry Cowan,   b. 1875,   d. 1963  (Age 88 years)
     7. Charles Edward Cowan,   b. 1878,   d. 1908  (Age 30 years)
     8. Walter Cowan,   b. 1879,   d. 1960  (Age 81 years)
    Last Modified 12 Sep 2019 
    Family ID F137  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    00043 W.A. Cowan and family  abt 1900
    00043 W.A. Cowan and family abt 1900

  • Notes 

    • ELIZABETH JANE QUALTROUGH (1838-1918) - battleground their farm

      This biography is transcribed from chapter 7 of A Quota of Qualtroughs (authors Elizabeth A. Barlow and Joy McDougall, published in Matamata, New Zealand by Elizabeth A. Barlow in 1984), by kind permission of Elizabeth Feisst. For further information on Qualtroughs worldwide see http://www/qualtrough.org.

      Text in square brackets [ ] refers to matters in A Quota of Qualtroughs that are not included in the biography below.
      The eldest daughter, ELIZABETH JANE, more commonly called BETSY, was named after two of her father’s sisters. She was a buxom young woman of 20 when she accompanied her parents to the new land.

      She appears to have been a practical, efficient sort of girl, ‘right hand’ to a busy mother both on the Isle of Man and as a pioneering newcomer in a strange land.

      She married in 1866 (around 27 years of age) WILLIAM ANDREW COWAN, a widower, son of Irish landowners in County Down, who had emigrated to New Zealand in 1863.

      Bill Cowan had immediately been caught up in the defence service for war clouds were amassing on the horizon of South Auckland, a preliminary to the Waikato outbreak. All able-bodied males between 16 and 55 years of age were called up to train. He was stationed at redoubts in the Wairoa ranges between Auckland and the upper boundaries of the Waikato District. These would have included Howick and East Tamaki.

      More than likely Bill Cowan would have met Betsy at church functions or socials to entertain the militia.

      Following their marriage Bill and Betsy Cowan took up land in the Waikato, previously a grant to an officer of the Waikato militia, Captain T. C. Speedy, and sold to them. Part of the farm lay across the site of the famous Battle of Orakau.

      (A granite monument erected in 1914 marks the site of the battle although only slight outlines of the trenches are now evident. An Historic Places plaque indicates the Maori and Imperial troop positions at a point where the Kihikihi-Arapuni road cuts through the pa site).

      The young Cowans settled down to farming and bringing up their large family, in the first years living under threat of Maori retribution for confiscated lands. Bill Cowan was second in command of the Te Awamutu troop of cavalry under Major William Jackson of Forest Rangers fame. The cavalry patrolled the frontiers of the King Country frequently, protecting settlers from marauding Kingites. Many Maori still bitterly resented the inroads the pakehas were making into the King Country.

      Betsy produced eight children – a daughter, Elizabeth Mary, who died in infancy and seven sons. The boys were James, William, Robert, John, Henry, Charles and Walter.

      James Cowan inherited his grandfather’s penmanship, and his close association with the Maori in his boyhood gave him a deep understanding of, and respect for Maori Culture. He became an authority on Maori matters and a writer of considerable distinction firstly as a journalist with THE AUCKLAND STAR then as a New Zealand Government Historian and author of international repute. He was mad a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

      James was married twice. His first wife was Eunice Nicholas, a part-Niue Islander, who died in 1909. His second wife was Eileen Stowell, a part- Maori, daughter of Henry Matthew Stowell, a native interpretor known also as Hare Hongi. Eileen Cowell died in 1968.

      William, who made a name for himself as a horticulturalist, particularly with roses and chrysanthemums, did not marry and lived in Auckland most of his life. Robert, a civil servant (Railways), married Mabel Coldicutt, of Auckland; John (Jack) entered the New Zealand Police Force and for many years was resident constable at Pukekohe and featured in a number of headline-making trials. He married a Dunedin girl, Helen Brown.

      Henry, a bachelor all his life, inherited the family farm which he later sold and replaced with another in the Waikato. On retiring from the land he lived in Auckland. Charles died as a young man; Walter married Annie Elizabeth Gilmour and for a number of years worked in the timber industry in Auckland.

      In one of his books, SETTLERS AND PIONEERS, James Cowan writes of his early boyhood thus:

      “The farm lay with a gentle tilt to the north. Wheat was much grown and gave large yields. Memory lingers on the many peach groves and cherry groves, Maori planted, laden with the largest and sweetest fruit ever grown.”

      (The Rev. John Morgan, ‘civiliser’ of the Upper Waikato in the period 1842-1861, had introduced British horticulture to his native flock and the region was exceptionally self-sufficient and prosperous.)

      “.... The farm life was comfortable and happy, however primitive in some ways. Peaches fattened the pigs; even the horses and cattle munched those peaches. We had everything we needed; to the youthful mind that knew no other life it was endless comfort. I came to know later how short cash often was and how settler and storekeeper often had to resort to the barter system in which no money passed.

      “Later on I carried to the township (Kihikihi) every Saturday on the saddle in front of me a box of home-churned butter. We got fourpence a pound for it, not in cash, but took it out in groceries.

      “.... We were happy at home; those evenings were never monotonous. We had books at any rate. I don’t know how modern youth would survive a revival of those movie-less, radio-less, jazz-less evenings (J.C.’s words in 1940; add T.V., fast cars and fast foods to that!) the only sound from the outside dark the wailing call of the weka in the swamp and the bittern’s occasional muffled boom.

      “.... candles were made by the farmer’s wife from tallow; I remember the tin moulds used. Smelly candles they were, but better than nothing, especially when kerosene was hard to get.

      “The flax-bush was all-important. No farmer could have done without it, for a score of purposes. The down or pollen of the raupo flowerhead was a substitute for feathers or kapok in filling cushions.

      “Harness was made in the early farming days from green cowhide cured with salt and alum. Plough and bridle reins and stirrup leathers were manufactured in that way. Floor mats and carpets were made by Maori neighbours and on these were laid dressed and dyed sheepskins.

      “.... The housewife made much use of the abundant fruit. The big honey peaches were cut in slices which were strung with darning needle and thread on string and hung out in the wind and sun to dry; then they were laid out on boards or on sheets of corrugated iron, thoroughly dried in the hot summer sun and finally hung up in festoons in the rafters of the kitchen for future use in pies.

      “There was no factory-cured bacon in the pioneer days, for there were no factories. We dealt with our pigs on the farm and we had a hand in every stage from sty to kitchen.”

      Betsy’s days would be full, being a good farm wife and mother. James Cowan recalls that his mother was a very reserved person but kind.

      She would have known the infamous warrior Te Kooti for, fighting days past, he was respected and even honoured. James Cowan writes:

      “Te Kooti was our neighbour in 1884-85. He had a Government allotment, a gift from a grateful, or relieved, country; it was in Kihikihi township and he had a camp for awhile on Andrew Kay’s farm just where the Orakau defenders made their desperate, forlorn attempt to escape.

      “He was a man of middle size with grey hair and sparse grey beard. His features were finely cut, his strong nose aquiline, his expression determined, dogged. He was not tattooed, his frame was spare, his shoulders slightly stooped. One of his hands was mangled by a Government bullet in the 1869 campaign.

      “The war-worn veteran and spiritual medicine-man (he practised faith healing) often passed through Kihikihi township attended by his faithful cavalcade. In his later years he rode in a buggy with his two wives, stern, resolute looking women who composed his body-guard against revengeful attack by some old enemy. Reputedly each carried a loaded revolver in her blouse”.

      Life was not all work. One of the highlights of the year was the Kihikihi racemeeting. In 1886 Te Kooti entered a horse, a grey gelding named Panirau (‘many orphans’) for the Cup. No-one remembers now whether he won or lost.

      The Cowans left the Waikato in 1893 to settle in Auckland, living first in Lower Grafton Road and later in Devonport. Bill Cowan died in 1913 aged 73, Betsy died in 1918 aged 80. Both are buried at O’Neills Point Cemetery, Devonport.

      Nieces of Betsy – sometimes referred to rather stiffly as “Aunt Cowan” – remember her in her older age as a formal person of upright character and bearing, not given to flippancy or fripperies in dress or demeanour. [(See Genealogical Chart 4.)]

  • Sources 
    1. [S1006] 1851 Isle of Man Census, Class: HO107; Piece: 2526; Folio: 108; Page: 28; GSU roll: 105992-105996.

    2. [S2545] ancestry.com 1841 Isle of Man census, Malew: Elizth Qualtrough.

    3. [S175] MAR012 Marriage Qualtrough, James and Clague, Catherine, MAR012.

    4. [S355] MAR072 Marriage Cowan, Wm A. and Qualtrough, Elizabeth Jane, MAR072.