Thomas George Gummer

Thomas George GUMMER = Jane Taylor MOGINIE

b 13/11/1848 b 10/1/1855

d 23/8/1941 d ??/5/1932

Children and Grandchildren of Thomas George and Jane Taylor GUMMER included:

Children Grandchildren

Eva Beatrice GUMMER b 29/12/1879 Alan

= Dr. Robert WALTON


John Gummer
had a position in the Supreme Court, London, and married Jane, born around 1817, the daughter of Captain John Jerwood of the Merchant Service. Between 1854 and 1858 John and Jane Gummer
had four sons, who all lived 86 years or more. The whole family migrated to New Zealand on the Tyburnia in 1963.

Thomas George Gummer was the only one of those sons who married, his wife being Jane Taylor Moginie.
They had
eight children from whom we are all descended.

What can we say about our English forebears? They were literate, steady, reliable, and had good jobs. Like other Congretionalists and Wesleyans, they adhered to the precepts and practices of the
non-conformist church. They were in no way frivolous or pretentious, and we can vilualise them as home-loving and community-minded.

They came out to NZ because they wanted freedom from religious persecution, a prospect of worshipping in their own quiet unostentatious way, and the opportunity to found their own community,
working together as pioneers in a new land.

Like the Moginie family, and bonded together by common aims and a degree of inspired enthsiasm, they joined the Albertlanders Special Settlers Assocation1, sailing for the south seas with high hopes quite unfettered by any practical knowledge of how to farm their intended new country.

The Gummers with their 4 children aged 9, 12, 17 and 19 came on the Tyburniain 1863., and the Moginies and their family of whom Jane was aged ?? and was later to marry Thomas George Gummer came on the Gertrude in 1864??. Neither family ever saw their English relations again.


The Tyburnia on which the Gummers sailed was a vessel of 965 tons. To carry its 350 passengers, the main deck was divided into small cabins for married couples, while single men were stowed away in coffin-like bunks, forming upper and lower tiers on the fore-peak of the ship.

Th evolage from England to New Zealand took three months, and the migrants were subjected to a heady mixture of excitement, anticipation, danger, sea-sickness and boredom – as well as the
inevitable tensions of living together at close quarters over a prolonged period. Salt provisions and sea biscuit were their main diet.

Constantly present was the smell of disinfectant, the living area being scrubbed out daily, whilst the passengers were sent to the upper deck. Thanks to these stringent precautions, only one person
died through the voyage, though thrity-six contract smallpox.

Necessarily confined for a month under quarantine and canvas, volcanic Rangitoto Island near Auckland was their first NZ landfall. It had no more fresh water visible on it in 1863 than today, and much less vegetation. Though it was barren and dry, and though their tents were not waterproof, and shipboard rations remained their daily diet during their period of isolation, it was the first NZ home for the Gummers and their fellow passengers.

It was a relief to be freed from quarantine and arrive in Auckland on October 5th, having sailed from London on June 2nd.The Kaipara Harbour was to be their destination. Descendants of
Albertlanders deserve to feel thoroughly a home on the shores of the Kaipara, where pioneers travelling mostly by boat were adept at penetrating the far reaches of the harbour in small flat-bottomed

Often they had to wait hours for the tide, so boats floated across extensive mud flats to the nearest creek bank or sandpit. Kaipara country and shore lines are famous for their mud, the softest and
best in all Northland. Building jetties must have been a top priority, though some had other priorities, like E. S. Brookes of Wharahine who built a hut first and two days later had maoris obtain
and erect a flagpole. (The
Gummers had a flagpole too, but later.)

John Gummer and others in an advance party set out to explore their land prospects at Maungaturoto by travelling first to Helensville.Here for £1 {$2] a head they hired a passage across the harbour in a six-metre open whale boat – ostensibly a two day trip. Seven days later, consoled only by gales from all directions, extensive sea views, and a few biscuits, they finally reached the Bryderwyn stream/Wairau creek junction, where they pressed on to select a bush section with a view to tis purchase. Camping experience at Rangitoto had at least taught them how to set up a tent for shelter! For a Cour officer aged 44 with a homless wife and four children, no ground cleared, and no crops planted, it was a daunting challenge. John Gummer, it seems only looked forward. Most of his peers were in a similar plight.


Exploring heavy bush country was one thing, but identifying the sections available to settlers was quite another. There were no roads through the bush, only overgrown lines cut by surveyors and care was needed to discover the servey pegs, More than one pioneer began clearing land on someone else’s secion.

John Gummer selected land between Maungaturoto and Paparoa at Huarau on the east side of the road.It was about ?? kilometers from the later township of Maungaturoto but was joined to it by a briddle track along the ridge known as Griffins road.

Their land was covered mostly in kauri, rimu and totara bush with smaller areas of manuka, nikau and ponga, materials quite suitable for building slab shelters and post and rail stock fences – once
the trees were felled, split and pit-sawn into timber! Fencing wire was not available.

It took a lot of time and hard work to clear bush, prepare ground for gardens and crops , plant vegetables and sow grass. Little wonder that by 1866 after two years of slog they had only 1 ½ acres in
grass, and 2 ac in garden and wheat. As for livestock, all they could boast was one pig!

By 1869, things had improved a little, with 46 acres in grass, 1 ½ ac in garden, 37 cattle, 2 horses and 12 pigs. The pigs were useful in keeping down fern regrowth.

Religious freedom (or constraints!) ensured that everyone had a day of rest on Sundays, whether or not Divine Service was held. The Albertlanders observed the Sabbath strictly, even being circumspect in conversation topics. By 1869 they looked forward to having a resident Congregational Minister, and Jane Gummer became one of twelve Foundilng Members when the Church was newly constituted in October 1877.6

John Gummer was a Lay Reader. Tradition tells how his dedicationi evantually led to his demise, after delivering the gospel message to coastal people, he was caught out in a storm on the Kaipara, and though surviving it, he contracted pneumonia and died on 16/6/1870 at the early age of fifty.He is buried in the Congretaional Cemetry at Maungaturoto in ?? Road (towards its east end), his final resting place (along with Jane Gummer’s) being marked by a headstong. In his seven NZ years he demonstrated strong leadership qualities and enriched his family with a wealth of pioneering experience.


All four Gummer sons knew a deal about pioneer farming and gardening. Indeed, our Thomas Gummer decided he knew quite enough already. Soon after his farther’s death he opted for a journalist’s job on the Southern Cross (with increased reporting of Maungaturoto news!) followed by a business career in flourishing Auckland. Even so, gardening remained his chief pastime in suburban Mt. Eden.

The other three {bachelor} brothers working hard on the farm constantly extended their education by watching trends and new technologies with interest. In Manngaturoto, grapes were being planted with stock from all over the world; and whilst the fruit provided useful income, the copious harvests also produced some potent medicines for home consumption! Even the farm animals found these remedies useful at times!8

The Gummer brothers experimented with growing tobacco; but readers will appreciate no tobacco is grown in Maungaturoto today; the soil and climate aren’t quite right. So the tobacco  experiment was a flop. The Gummers lost money on it.Worst still, prices for farm produce were falling as New Zealand entered a Depression, and though inflation was low, bank interest was surprisingly high. On Boxing Day 1877 the Gummers arranged a mortgage with the Auckland Savings Bank for £225 which four years later was renewed at an interest rate of 10%.10

The Gummers held on. Hard work and thrift were nothing new; but their mother’s poor health plagued them along with the poor times. Enfeebled in her old age, she died on August 12th, 1889.11
A year later the farm was sold. For the first time in their lives, some capital was available. Thomas was doing well in Auckland, and prospects for horticulture still looked good for willing learners.


Thomas Gummer wanted to make good, and he did, helped by useful family connections and other emigrant Albertlanders.12 Soon after his farther’s death in 1870, he left Maungaturoto and
went to Auckland to work on the NZ Herald and later the Southern Cross
13 , both highly regarded newspapers. He was in his early 20s. By 1874 he joined E. Porter & Co., a well known firm of hardware merchants, ironmongers and importers. Within this firm he came to know John Chambers (1839? – 1903) and Arthur Frank Moginie, a commercial represnetative for the firm.

In 1877, Thomas bought an acre of land at Mt Roskill Road (Dominion Road after 1912) on the corner of Sherwood (later Horopito) Road, within comfortable walking distance of the City.  Previously, when Mt Eden lots were larger, it was common for each house to have land enough to pasture a cow and grow a large orchard. Their underground water supply came from Mt Eden’s volcanic aquifer; in the 1930s, the hand operated pump was regularly “worked” by Gummer boys, Thomas’ grandchildren under the playful direction of RAG. Amidst spacious grounds Thomas named the property Sylvana and built the fine two-storey mansion in which all the Gummer children grew up.14 They respectfully called him “Pater”, Latin for “farther”, though his wife in more homely fashion was called “Mother”.

The house was complete with breakfast and [with]drawing rooms, whilst the sun cound be enjoyed from venadas at two sides on both stories. It was sold after Gertrude Gummer’s death in ??, became a boarding house with burnt down, and was subsequantly bought by the Government for the Rehabiliation League for World War II veterans. A few of the trees originally planted by Thomas have survived into 2001, and flowering rhododendrons once grown may still be found on adjoining residential properties.

WHG recalled as child watching from the gate the twice-daily passage of Winstone’s wagons heavily laden with building materials, drawn by a magnificient team of draught horses [probably Clydesdales].

Thomas Gummer:

Thomas is remembered as being a rather dapper little man, stepping sprightly off the tram dressed in black suit, bowler hat and umbrella. It was a far cry from the Maungaturoto farm. Merchandising and property investment became absorbing interests. When a mere 69 years old in 1907, he and his sons Charles and Alf bought a general store at Morrinsville. General stores in those days
were comprehensive shopping centres, and the Gummer’s business included a grocery, bakery, hardware and drapery. Other shops in Gummers Buildings were let to tenants. Outside work, his main
interests were his garden and Church affairs.

Like others of his profession, Thomas was skilled in mentally adding up three columns of pounds, shillings and pence simultaneously [no need at all for electronic calulators!]; and either through
competence or persistence – or perhaps a bit of both – he remained with E. Porter and Co. for 52 years, eventually as secretary-accountant. It was a long stint; he was 77 when he retired, compelled then only by the death of Mr Porter and the winding up of the business. Pity the long-suffering assistant who pined for his job!

To the end of his life he was conservative in financal matters. He valued education but his concept of it was to finish school to 14 or so, the continue learning through work. Having made good that way himself, he thought others should benefit by similar experience.15 The straitened circumstances of his youth probably account for his thrift, illustrated bya n experience of JBG when visiting Sylvana as a child. When lunchtime came JBG was washing his hands at the basin, Grandpa scolded him severely for wasting soap: “Don’t let me catch you putting soap in the water again! Put the water in the basin first, then run the dry soap on your dry hands before you wash them!” Grandpa knew that wetting the cake of soap was bound to dissolve some and waste it!

After his retirement in 1926, he continued to live at Sylvana with this wife Jane until her death in 1932, after which is daughter Gert cared for him until he died in 1941 at the age of 92.

Jane Taylor Moginie and her “Gummer” descendants

The Moginie family has an interesting background. They were Hugeuenots, French speaking Protestants, who migrated to England before 1742 on. There are a variety of spellings of the name in the records researched by “Moginier” [Moginié] is probably nearest to the original French. Other Moginie family memembers lived in Soho near a French-speaking Protestant Church St. Anne’s.

The Continental origins of the Moginié family are now part of the Switzerland previously comprising several independent cantons or states. I think the nearest city associated with the Moginie family is Lausanne, in the Vaud Canton, where some Moginies today live, including an esteemed baker. Others have been medical people and writers.

In ancient times, the name Danie Moginie was quite well known. It seems he caem from Chesalles or Chezalles near Moudon, Switzerland, presumable in the Lausanne region. He was an
adventerer, and some fantastic stores are told of him.

The Moginie family are cousins of another Huguenot family, Champtaloup, who also emigrated from London to NZ. Moginies and Champtaloups regularly kept in touch with each other up to the 1960s, and are still found in NZ phone books. 


As parents, Thomas and Jane Gummer, where much loved by their children, despite their conservative ways. Looking at the serious faces photographed in the late 1800s and early 1900s when film speeds were slow and long exposure times requireing everyone to keep very still, one might imagine stern attitudes devoid of fun and affection; on the contrary, surviving letters of WHG to
his parents and family show their concern for each other’s welfare.

Amongst the younger family members especially , there were strong bonds of friendship. Lots of tennis was played on the scrupulously mown tennis court of fine English grasses, and photos show they loved picnics, excursions to the West Coast beaches, and Sunday afternoon drives in the motor car.  Like others, these parents also had to face the realities of family life; three young men going off to war, a business failure, and an unintended pregnancy.

As an elderly grandparent often in dressing gown and slippers, Thomas Gummer was [in RGG’s view] rather taciturn, but he allowed us to play Home Sweet Home on his music box provided we were careful, gaze at postcards of overseas places through a stereoscope giving a 3-dimensional effect; and occasionaly dip into his jar of peppermints.

Gertrude Gummer who became his caregiver in old age was always interested in “us boys”. On outings in her grand square car complete with fire extinguisher, she liked taking us to department stores with play equipment and a cafeteria for refreshments.

It was fun also to be wheeled around Sylvana by Uncle Bob [RAG] on the “buckboard”, a large trolley; hand-pumping water from the ancient bore, formerly the household supply; being thrilled with a bonfire and fireworks on Guy Fawkes night; grinding grain for making porridge, and drinking homemade grape juice laced with mint leaves.

And then there was Annie Soden the servant, God Bless her! Always dressed in black, she lived in quarters behind the house, receiving free board and lodgings and 10 shillings a week. We were her family and she loved us greatly, saving hard to give Christmas presents to all us “little ones”. Having no relatives in New Zealand, she eventually died in hospital, unknown.

There was a speical Christmas once, in 1936. Thomas Gummer’s three elderly bachelor brothers were there to enjoy the fun along with the youngsters. We were told that Father Christmas was coming over in an aeroplane, and would descnend by parachute with a kit full of presents. True enough a plan did fly over, but apparently the parachut missed the lawn and landed in the top of a huge conifer tree from where goodies were lowered by rope being then distributed by a white bearded gentlemen with red face and costume. A photo recalls the occasion. Strangely, Uncle Bob [RAG]
seemed to be missing at the time….

1The Albertlanders took their name from (and with the encouragement of) Prince Albert, the Prince Consort and husband of Queen Vicoria. Near Wellsford, Port Albert an early settlement on the Kaipara Harbour, also commemorates his name.

2The story of the pioneers journey to New Zealand is best told in:

  • Sir Henry Brett & Henry Hook, The Albertlanders;

  • ?? Whilte Sails

  • Dick Butler, This Valley in the Hills, a story fo Maungaturoto and surrounding districts.

3 It seems that after arriving in Auckland, the migrants initially camped under canvas in Auckland domain.

4The Helensville route although fairly fast was best suited to persons travelling “light”, as there were limitations in the carrying capacity of Masefield’s whaleboat.

5Huarau means ‘very fruitful’ but it probably refers to the rich bird life of the bush, mostly kereru (native pigeons); the plentiful supply of tuna (eels) as long as the bush remained and streams flowed; and the abundant kai moana (sea food) resources nearby. Haurau was a whilstle stop on the railway and the scene of an early but eventually unsuccessful attempt to grow tobacco in the district. A large corrugated iron shed for drying the tobacco leaves was still visible to the author in 1963.

6Amongst serval generations of Albertlanders, interest in Congregational Church activies was sustained until the 1970s.

7Reminiscence of W. H. Gummer

8From Butler, and Scott

9Reminiscence of W.H. Gummer

10From records held by Auckland Office of National Archives

11Health details from Death Certificate of Jane Gummer.

12Sectarian attitudes were common at the time: drinkers versus the Temperance Movement, older generations clinging to those of like age, Protestants versus others – illustrated by child saying ‘We don’t play with them – they’re Catholics! {Comment by Nancy Winterbottom, 14/10/1990, daughter of A. E. Le Roy of aristocratic Huguenot descent, canvas and tent marker, and Auckland’s first sail maker. All the canvas was hand sewn in those days, his daughters helping.}

13Thomas had useful connections: one of his fellow passengers on the Tyburnia was Henry Morton, who became publisher of the Southern Cross. It must have helped his employment prospects. The help was selective.

14Thomas bough the property from De Moulin on 5/4/1877 {Deeds 29A/232 & 1A/304}. In De Moulin’s time when lots were larger, it was common to have enough land to pasture a cow and have a large orchard.

15When WHG showed an interest in becoming an architect Pater stopped his entering secondary school on the grounds that architecture was sissy, though WHG probably receiving some financial support when studying at the Royal Academy School of Architecture in London, later becoming quite well known in that profession!