A Kiwi in search of her ancestral tribes

A Temuka wedding ~ 1896

This entry is part 8 of 18 in the series The Brosnahans of Temuka

As it’s St Valentine’s Day, we’re off to 1896 Temuka, South Canterbury, for a wedding – the nuptials of Mr Patrick Dennis Hoare and Miss Mary Brosnahan.

Wedding at Temuka, New Zealand Tablet, 15 May 1896, p 29

Wedding at Temuka, New Zealand Tablet, 15 May 1896, p 29


(From an occasional Correspondent.)

Temuka, May 2, 1896.
One of the nicest weddings that has been celebrated in Temuka for many years took place in St. Joseph’s Church on Tuesday last, when Mr P. D. Hoare, eldest son of Mr Denis Hoare, of Kerrytown, was united in holy matrimony by the Rev Theophilus Le Menant des Chesnais, S.M., to Miss Mary Brosnahan, second daughter of Mr John Brosnahan, of Levels Plains. The wedding procession arrived at the church at 9 o’clock and, after the marriage ceremony, assisted at the nuptial Mass, Miss Nellie Fitzgerald (Timaru) rendering “Mendelsshon’s Wedding March” on the organ. The bride, who wore an elegant dress of creme silk mixture, trimmed with Brussels lace and ribbons, and a wreath and veil, was given away by her eldest brother, Mr P. Brosnahan, and was attended by Miss Nellie Brosnahan, as chief bridesmaid, who was assisted by Misses Bridget and Katie Brosnahan, the bridesmaid wearing a cream serge dress trimmed with ribbon and hat to match and the assistants were attired in pure white dresses and hats to match. Mr Richard Hoare was best man. The bride’s travelling dress was one of navy serge, trimmed with silk, and tats to match. On going from the Church to the carriage rice fell in abundance on the happy pair. After a drive round, the guests assembled at Mr John Brosnahan’s for the wedding breakfast, about 150 being present, and in the evening about 200; these came from all parts of the district. After full justice had been done to the abundance of good things which bad been provided, Mr J. M. Twomey proposed the health of “The bride and bridegroom,” which he did in most felicitous terms, wishing the newly married couple success and happiness. Mr Glasson, of Timaru proposed the health of “Mr and Mrs Brosnahan,” and his neat speech was brimming with mirth. Mr Brosnahan responded, and thanked those present for their attendance, extending to all a hearty welcome. I might remark that the kindness of the good old couple fully justifies the proverbial Irish hospitality. After the banquet Mr Botterfield photographed the party. During the afternoon the time was spent in all kinds of amusement, and in the evening, after supper, the grand march, headed by the bride and bridegroom, took place at 8 o’clock, and the large assembly indulged in tripping the light fantastic toe for some hours, interspersed with songs and recitations. The presents were very numerous and very nice. The happy couple left for Amberley, their future home, the following day by the express train.1

I love that expression “tripped the light fantastic toe”!  A quick internet search reveals it was originally coined by John Milton, in his poem L’Allegro, written in 1645.  The Times was using the phrase in that form in  1803.2

After that slight diversion, back to the task at hand. The article seems to be clearly referring to my John Brosnahan and family, with the names of his daughters mentioned being the same as given in his will. Information I noted here:

  • a son, “the eldest brother” P. Brosnahan, who was not mentioned in John’s will
  • Mary is John’s second daughter
  • Nellie, Bridget and Katie (Catherine?) have not yet married

I love the description of the party afterwards – gives a wonderful sense of the convivial atmosphere.

Anyway, time to get searching for Mary’s sisters’ marriages on NZ’s Births, Deaths & Marriages Online, using the spousal surnames discovered in her father’s Will, and these are the most likely ones I found:

  • 1898 – Margaret Elizabeth Brosnahan m. Frank Louis Adams3
  • 1905 – Ellen [Nellie] Brosnahan m. James Moore4
  • 1908 – Kitty [Catherine] Brosnahan m. Richard Connell5
  • 1911 – Bridget Brosnahan m. James Thomson6

Could the brother “P. Brosnahan” be Patrick? On John and Hanorah’s gravestone is an inscription for a Leo Brosnahan, “son of Patrick and Nora”.

Looking for possible marriages for Mary’s brothers, this is what I came up with:

  • 1898 – Patrick Brosnahan m. Hanoria Toohey7
  • 1907 – Thomas William Brosnahan m. Esther Byrne8
  • 1915 – Thomas William Brosnahan m. Catherine Rebecca O’Neill9

There is a death in the index for an Esther Brosnahan in 191010, which would tie in with Thomas William remarrying.  I couldn’t find a likely marriage for Matthew.

Looking back at John and Hanorah’s gravestone again, there is an inscription for a John Joseph, who died in 1900 at the age of 15. On Papers Past, I found a death notice which confirmed that he was John’s son (and his youngest)11:

Death notice of John Joseph Brosnahan, The Star, 03 Mar 1900, p5

Death notice of John Joseph Brosnahan, The Star, 03 Mar 1900, p5

At the very bottom of the gravestone is an inscription to Annie Kleim. She proved to be a bit of a mystery for a while – I could find no record of an Ann(ie) Brosnahan marrying a Kleim.

However, I did (eventually!) find a record of an Annie Orton marrying a Fritz Kliem in 191012, and then a record of an Annie Brosnahan marrying a Bruce Orton in 189813 (they actually appear twice in the index). There was a death entry in the index for a Bruce Orton in 190614, but his age was given as 7 years. Upon checking the Timaru District Council cemetery database, I found a record for a 29 year old Bruce Orton who was buried on December 11th, 1906 in Pleasant Point cemetery.15

So, could this Annie be another child of John and Hanorah’s?

This is how John’s family is shaping up so far:

  • John Brosnahan m. Hanorah O’Driscoll
    • Patrick m. Hanoria Toohey
    • Thomas William m. (1) Esther Byrne, (2) Catherine Rebecca O’Neill
    • Matthew
    • John Joseph d. 1900
    • Annie m. (1) Bruce Orton, (2) Fritz Kleim
    • Mary m. Patrick Dennis Hoare
    • Margaret m. Frank Louis Adams
    • Ellen m. James Moore
    • Catherine m. Richard Connell
    • Bridget, m. James Thomson

So far, I have come up with ten probable children for John – nearly, but not quite, the twelve as mentioned in his Cyclopedia entry!

  1. “A Weddign in Temuka”, New Zealand Tablet, Vol XXIV Issue 3, 15 May 1896, p 29; digital image, Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand (http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast : accessed 23 Apr 2011)
  2. Martin, Gary. “Trip the light fantastic”, The Phrase Finder (http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/trip-the-light-fantastic.html : accessed 14 Feb 2012).
  3. NZ Department of Internal Affairs, “Marriage Search”, database entry for marriage of Frank Louis Adams and Margaret Elizabeth Brosnahan, 1898/5006, NZ Births, Deaths & Marriages.
  4. NZ Department of Internal Affairs, “Marriage Search”, database entry for marriage of James Moore and Ellen Brosnahan, 1905/2373, NZ Births, Deaths & Marriages.
  5. NZ Department of Internal Affairs, “Marriage Search”, database entry for marriage of Richard Connell and Kitty Brosnahan, 1908/3495, NZ Births, Deaths & Marriages.
  6. NZ Department of Internal Affairs, “Marriage Search”, database entry for marriage of James Thomson and Bridget Brosnahan, 1911/3995, NZ Births, Deaths & Marriages.
  7. NZ Department of Internal Affairs, “Marriage Search”, database entry for marriage of Patrick Brosnahan and Hanoria Toohey, 1898/1849, NZ Births, Deaths & Marriages.
  8. NZ Department of Internal Affairs, “Marriage Search”, database entry for marriage of Thomas William Brosnahan and Esther Byrne, 1907/5988, NZ Births, Deaths & Marriages.
  9. NZ Department of Internal Affairs, “Marriage Search”, database entry for marriage of Thomas William Brosnahan and Catherine Rebecca O’Neill, 1915/43, NZ Births, Deaths & Marriages
  10. NZ Department of Internal Affairs, “Death Search”, database entry for Esther Brosnahan, 1910/5717, NZ Births, Deaths & Marriages
  11. “Deaths”, Star, Issue 6734, 03 Mar 1900, p 5; digital image, Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand (http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast : accessed 16 Jul 2011)
  12. NZ Department of Internal Affairs, “Marriage Search”, database entry for marriage of Fritz Kliem and Annie Orton, 1910/5520, NZ Births, Deaths & Marriages
  13. NZ Department of Internal Affairs, “Marriage Search”, database entries for marriage of Bruce Orton and Annie Brosnahan, 1898/1888 and 1898/2713, NZ Births, Deaths & Marriages
  14. NZ Department of Internal Affairs, “Death Search”, database entry for death of Bruce Orton, 190/7649, NZ Births, Deaths & Marriages
  15. Timaru District Council, “TDC Cemetery Database”, database, Timaru District Council (http://www.timaru.govt.nz/cemetery-database2.html : accessed 2011), database entry for Bruce Orton, (ref 3122, row 6, plot 126, Pleasant Point, buried 26 Aug 1926)


Series Navigation<< Where there’s a Will, there’s a way ~ Amanuensis MondayGolden, or Diamond Anniversary? ~ Wedding Wednesday >>


Where there’s a Will, there’s a way ~ Amanuensis Monday


Golden, or Diamond Anniversary? ~ Wedding Wednesday


  1. Megan Prendergast

    James Moore (1878-1950) son of Michael Moore and Johanna Foley, Waitohi Flat married Ellen Brosnahan (1887-1943) in 1905, they lived and died in Ashburton, and had the following children that I know of Michael John Leo b1908, Nora Doris b1910, Gordon James b? and Norman Joseph b ?.

  2. Megan Prendergast

    Hi Maggie, I am the gt grandaughter of John Moore brother of James Moore, and have been researching my South Canterbury family which is how I came across your blog, very interesting read, I have looked at your Brosnahan group shot hoping to spot James and Ellen Moore as I have a photo taken in 1916 that they are in, just not sure which ones as the photo was not named. I also have Brosnahan ancestors from Co Kerry, but they settled in the North Island of New Zealand.

  3. Megan Prendergast

    Hi again Maggie,
    This is getting very interesting , when I was posting my last reply to you I noted the O’Connell name coming up as the married name of one of the daughters Kitty. I am in fact related to the O’Connells of Levels and Seadown and Temuka and Kerrytown and also the Connells of Upper Waitohi. Richard Connell b 1882 who married Kitty Brosnahan in 1908 was the son of John Connell of Ireland and Honorah Moore (sister of Michael Moore Co Limerick, father of James Moore) I am sure they would have meet at her sisters wedding to James Moore in 1905, they had Norah Eileen Mary Connell b1909, Esther Catherine b1911. I also have an Mary Agnes O’Connell (1882-1908) daugter of Patrick O’Connell of Ballymalis, Co Kerry and Mary Horgan married to a MIchael Brosnahan of Levels 5th son of a Mr J Brosnahan of Levels Plain, there is a wedding anoucement on papers past which states the best man was a Mr M Brosnahan (maybe Matthew?) could this be one of your missing 12 Brosnahan children, Mary Agnes O’Connell died a year after the wedding with no children, I also note that their is a Daniel Joseph Brosnahan of Levels son of a John Hugh Brosnahan of Levels on the Auckland Cenotaph website for soliders in WW1, was your John this “John Hugh Brosnahan”?

    • Maggie

      Hi Megan, yes this is getting VERY interesting. I’m thinking that all the Irish Catholics in South Canterbury are related in some way or another! I wonder if that Michael Brosnahan you mention is one of my John’s sons? I came across a Michael when looking at the electoral rolls, but it’s difficult to work out the connections when there’s no street address. I don’t think I’ve seen that wedding announcement on PP either… I’ll go chase that up!

      I’m fairly sure that John Hugh Brosnahan is not my John, and is possibly a son or grandson of Hugh Brosnahan, but I’ll go take another look. I did get some military personnel files digitised (on Archway) for a few Brosnahans, though at the time I didn’t know if/where they fitted into my tree.

      Thanks so much for your comments!

  4. Megan Prendergast

    Your very welcome Maggie, keep up the good work 🙂

  5. Nancy McLaughlin

    I see you have the Brosnahan/Orton/Kleim marriages all sorted out. Bruce Orton was my great-uncle – a brother of my grandmother Caroline Orton who married Thomas Mee. Bruce and Annie had 3 daughters – wonder if you have their details?

    • Maggie

      Nancy, here is what bmdhistoricalrecords.dia.govt.nz (accessed 12 Jan 2013) have for children born to Bruce and Anne/Annie Orton:
      1898/12355    Hilda Catherine
      1901/5361      Ileen Marion
      1906/8526      Beatrice Mary
      (First part of ref number is year in which birth was registered)

      Possible marriages of their daughters:
      1923/3146   Hilda Catherine Orton   Herbert Hurrell
      1925/5149  Beatrice Mary Orton     John William Walker

      I don’t have any details on the Orton children, but I think there is a photo with some Ortons in it – will check!

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