Topic: Emily Sara Barnes (nee Mason)

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Emily Sara Barnes (nee Mason) 1849-1884.

Emily Sara Barnes was born at 16 Redcross Street, St Giles, London in 1849. The eldest survivingm daughter of George and Eliza Mason, she came to Canterbury with her parents and elder sister on the Castle Eden in 1851 and spent her childhood years at Lyttelton, Horsley Down and Birchdale.

In 1867, the Mason family settled at Springbank where the following year Emily married James Edward Barnes, who had been working for Mallock and Lance for about seven years. The stages of thier courtship can be traced in the diary which Emily kept at the time. Initially he is referred to as 'Barnes', then 'James' then 'Jim'. The Masons were pleased with Emily's choice of husband, for James was well-spoken and had previously assisted in educating Emily's younger siblings. What they did not know was that he had abandoned a wife and child in London, and that his late father was not a barrister as they were led to believe  but a wheelwright of St Pancras. Despite this James prooved to be a loving and faithful husband to Emily and a good father to their children.

Emily and James' first home was The Retreat, a remote hut in the Virginia country where James was shepherding. Years later, Emily's sister Mary recalled how her father had taken Emily and James out to The Retreat after their wedding, with all their possesions loaded onto the wagon. Immediately they set about making their home more comfortable. A pantry was added, fences built and a garden planted. Emily was pleased to have her own establishment. Her mother described her as strong-willed and very hard-working. Besides the household work she found time for reading and letter writing. She was a fearless horsewoman, riding astride when she thought she was unobserved, and adept at handling her father's bullock team.

 About 1870, Emily and James left The Retreat to live at Birchdale where most of their children were born. On winter nights, Emily would place a lighted candle at the window to guide James home over the snow. By 1881, James had accquired a small holding near Birchdale that he called Swynford, and here a fine cob house was built with a chimneystack at each end and a veranda along the east front. He continued to work for Mallock and Lance and also had a tree nursery at Swynford.

Emily and James had eight surviving children: Lina, Emily, Jim, Bertie, Effy, Roly, Acton Fred and Syd. Emily collapsed and died suddenly on February 13, 1884 aged just 34. Her husband and children mourned her deeply. Throughout the farm diaries , the anniversary of her death is noted and visits to her grave were frequent. She was imbued with the same strength of character as her mother, and her descendants are numbered in the hundreds.

Contributed by Alice Clayton and Ann Loffhagen.

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Emily Sara Barnes (nee Mason)


First Names:Emily Sara
Last Name:Barnes (nee Mason)
Place of Birth:St Giles, London
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Emily Sara Barnes (nee Mason) by hurunuiadmin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License