A Kiwi in search of her ancestral tribes

The Nunns from Yorkshire

Sam Nunns and Alice Cockerham, my great great grandparents, were from the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Sam was born on February 8th, 1874 in Rothwell, to Henry Nunns and Tamar Dickinson.1 Sam became a stone mason.

Alice was born on March 9th, 1878 in Oulton, to Alfred Cockerham and Sarah Ann Kemp.2 She worked as a domestic servant.

Sam and Alice married on January 11th, 1896 in Oulton Church3, and on November 27th that year, their first child, Elsie, was born.4

What prompted them to sail to the other side of the world?  Whatever the reasons, they sailed aboard the Delphic in 1902 and disemarbarked at Port Chalmers, Dunedin, New Zealand.  Also travelling with them was Sam’s brother Charles.

The family settled in Lawrence, then Ashburton, and had six more children, before moving to Gisborne on the East Cape of North Island in 1914.  Sam and Alice’s first grandchild, George Alexander Wright (my grandfather) was born just three weeks before their last child, Harry, was born.5 6

  • Elsie NUNNS (1896 – 1985)
    • m. 07 Jun 1917 Alexander WRIGHT7
  • Gordon Eurwin NUNNS (1903 – 1964)
    • m. 1925 Elsie Adelaide SHERWOOD
  • Hector NUNNS (1905 – 1990)
    • m. 1927 Elsie Elizabeth WILLAN
  • Hazel Alberta NUNNS (1906 – 2001)
    • m. 1924 Thomas RHODES
  • Charles Dickinson NUNNS (1907 – 1995)
    • m. 1930 Kathleen Marguerite REILLY
  • Margaret Annie Gwendoline NUNNS (1910 – 1990)
    • m. Robert SHULTZ
    • m. DOWNEY
  • Norman Eric NUNNS (1913 – 1994)
    • m. 1938 Mavis MARSHALL
  • Harry NUNNS (1918 – 1997)
    • m. 1942 Mauville BIRKETT

A lot of the information I have about the family is from research done by a first cousin twice removed and her husband. They are currently working on a book about the family, so I don’t want to steal their thunder by posting some of the stories on here. Can’t wait to read the book!  They also kindly supplied the photo of the family, seen here in a recent Wordless Wednesday post.

  1. England, birth certificate for Sam Nunns; 07 Feb 1874, Rothwell; citing Mar 1874 [quarter] Hunslet 9b [vol] 338 [page], General Register Office, Southport.
  2. England, birth certificate for Alice Cockerham; 09 Mar 1878, Oulton; citing Jun 1878 [quarter] Hunslet 9b [vol] 349 [page], General Register Office, Southport.
  3. England, marriage certificate for Sam Nunns and Alice Cockerham; 11 Jan 1896, Oulton; digital image, from original held by [NAME AND ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE]; citing Mar 1896 [quarter] Hunslet 9b [vol] 363 [page], General Register Office, Southport.
  4. England, birth certificate for Elsie Nunns; 27 Nov 1896, Rothwell; photocopy, from original held by [NAME AND ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE]; citing Mar 1897 [quarter] Hunslet 9b [vol] 303 [page], General Register Office, Southport.
  5. [NAME FOR PRIVATE USE], Nunns Family Tree, GEDCOM file supplied 2011.
  6. NZ Dept of Internal Affairs, “Birth Search,” database, Births, Deaths & Marriages Historical Records (https://www.bdmhistoricalrecords.dia.govt.nz/search/ : accessed Jun 2011), entries for Gordon Eurwin Nunns (1903/591), Hector Nunns (1905/12247), Hazel Alberta Nunns (1906/22306), Charles Dickenson Nunns (1908/4031), Margaret Annie Gwendoline Nunns (1910/24707).
  7. New Zealand, marriage certificate for Alexander Wright and Elsie Nunns; 07 Jun 1917, Napier; citing 1917/3264, Birth, Deaths & Marriages, New Zealand.


Sam & Alice Nunns ~ Wordless Wednesday


Alexander Wright & Elsie Nunns ~ Wedding Wednesday


  1. John E Atkinson

    guday suggest you try woodlesfordstation.co.uk hope it helps


    I was born on Carlton nr Wakefield West Yorks in 1935.My father was George Wm Nunns. mar Annie Harrison from Rothwell.we moved to Rothwell in 1939 and most of the family still live there.I now live in Harrogate in North Yorks.

  3. Lyrs Niven

    From what i know through my mother is that Gwen Nunns was her mother so that makes it that she’s my grandmother. And that Hazel was my great aunt so am i right in saying this makes Sam and Alice my great grandparents?

  4. Keith Nunns

    I visited the cemetery in ?Rothwell, West Yorkshire where I know most of my grand parents and aunts/uncles are buried.

    My paternal grand parents Dickenson Nunns and Dorcas Townend are buried in the same grave.

    Dickenson died on 4 April 1928, aged 38 years. He was therefore born in 1890.

    My grandmother, Dorcas Townsend then married Joseph Townend but as yet I don’t have a date for this.

    Dorcas died on 4 September 1972, aged 79 years; she was born in 1892. I recall her birthday was in December.

    Joseph (Joe) Townend is buried in his family grave about 10 metres from our family grave. He died on 22 February 1973, aged 87 years so he must have been born around 1885/86.

    I only knew of Dickenson and Dorcas having 4 children. I wasn’t aware of Jacki born and died in 1923. No mention was Mae of her n family gatherings and my father never mentioned he so far as I can recall.

    My father, Alan, was the oldest of the four children, born on 9 November 1917. He married Elsie Thackeray, born 22 April 1919, on 25 August 1945. My mother died on 19 November 1977 and my father on 12 September 1985. I believe my father couldn’t bear the thought of cremation for my mother and she was buried in a separate grave to the remainder of the Nunns family. My father is buried in the same grave in Rothwell cemetery.

    Alan and Elsie had four children. Roger is the eldest , born on 23 October 1947. He is married to Susan, nee Wren and they have two children, Kerry and Lyndsay.

    I am second oldest, born 23 January 1950, and I am married to Jean Lynne, nee Rushforth, born 22 November 1961. We were married 7 July 1984. We have two children, Martin Alan, born 14 April 1987 and Nicola, born 12 July 1989.

    Next is my sister, Christine, born 28 January 1951 who is married to Norman Stewart. They have no children.

    The youngest of us is my brother Derek, born 11 August 1952 who is married to Sharon, nee Smith, birthday 6 July. They have two children, Clare and Amanda both of whom have two children, a boy and girl each.

    Back to my aunts and uncles.

    After my father came Elizabeth Nunns, always called Betty, who died on 22 January 1993, aged 74 years, and was therefore born around 1919. She married Eric Dobson, who died on 8 April 1990, aged 71 years and would have been born around 1919 also. They had two girls, Lynne who was born in 1951 and Gillian, born 1953.

    Next was Henry Collinson Nunns, always called Colin, who was born in 1920 and died on 2 October 1919, aged 71 years. He was married to Kathleen Fieldhouse, always called Kitty, who died 21 May 2001 aged 82 years so was born around 1919. They had two children, Carole and Stephen.

    Finally there was Lillian Nunns, born in 1922 and died 6 May 1993, aged 71 years. She was married to Clifford Crossland who died in 2009, born 1921.

    The ashes of Colin and Kitty, Betty and Eric and Lillian and Cliff are spread in the grave of Dorcas and Dickenson in Rothwell cemetery. My father and mother are buried in a separate grave.

  5. Lyrs Niven

    Do we know where the photo was taken?

  6. Sandy Colby

    My grandparents were Hector and Elsie Nunns, my father was Colin Greenwood Nunns, married Deirdre Olive Bodle.
    My siblings are Peter Nunns, Marcia Jayne Hawke,(née Nunns),Damian Ross Nunns, my name is Sandra ‘Sandy’ Kaye Colby (née Nunns)
    It would be great to read this book about they family, how do I get a copy?

    • Maggie

      Hi Sandy – I don’t think it’s been published yet! Will definitely post when I know more. 🙂

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