Given names: 
Given address: 
Bower Street
Sheet No: 438
Hawke's Bay

Biography contributed by Kathy McKee

Caroline McKee was born in the Townland of Derrycreevy, near Castleblayney in County Monaghan, Ireland and baptised at St. Maeldoid’s Church of Ireland in Castleblayney on 27 October 1846.  Witnesses at her baptism were Josh and Anne McKee and John Doran. She was the 4th of 7 children born to Samuel McKee and his wife Mary McKee, tenant farmers in Derrycreevy.

On 24 February 1871 she married Francis Tuft at St. Mary’s Church, Kirkdale, Liverpool and the 1871 Census shows them living at No 90, Benson Lane, Everton, Liverpool. Francis gave his occupation as Cooper.

A daughter, Ann Elizabeth, was born on 14 April, 1872 and Caroline Maud Agnes was born on 23rd June 1873, both baptised at St. Mary’s, Kirkdale.

On 14 February 1876 they boarded the Bebington, together with Caroline’s sister Elizabeth McKee, who acted as Assistant Matron, and Caroline’s brother, Louis, bound for Auckland. However, the Tufts were disembarked at Gravesend because one of their children had whooping cough. This was, unknown to them, a lucky escape. The voyage of the Bebington was dreadful, with bad weather, collisions, lack of food and disease.  The Tuft family eventually sailed on 14th April 1876 in the Camperdown and had a speedy passage to Nelson. They were in Auckland when their son, Francis John, was born on 29 August that year.

They settled in Clive, Hawke’s Bay, near Caroline’s eldest brother, William McKee, and her sister Elizabeth. Five more children were born there and attended the Clive School. There would have been plenty of work for Francis, as Coopers were in demand to make barrels for the tallow which came from the boiling down works in Clive.

While in Clive, but at an unknown date, Caroline nominated her friend Fanny Warner, a widow from Everton, Liverpool to emigrate to New Zealand and Caroline’s signature on the nomination form matches that on the Suffrage Petition.

By 1900 Caroline and family were living in Parramatta, NSW.

Francis died 29 November 1919. Caroline died 17 December 1929. They are buried at St. Bartholomew’s Church of England at Prospect, Sydney.

Caroline Tuft was my husband’s great aunt.


St. Maeldoid’s parish register                                         

Marriage Certificate 1871                                                                       

1871 UK Census                                                                       

Article ‘The Row on board the Bebington’ by Linda Cocks, The NZ Genealogist Jan/Feb 1997

Clive School records

NSW Electoral Rolls

St. Bartholomew’s records

Click on sheet number to see the 1893 petition sheet this signature appeared on. Digital copies of the sheets supplied by Archives New Zealand.

Community contributions

1 comment has been posted about Caroline Tuft

What do you know?

Viv Bearpark (Weekes)

Posted: 22 May 2022

Hello there, my name is Viv Bearpark my Great Grandmother was Elizabeth McKee. I have been hunting for more information about her and how she came to New Zealand. My searching found the story about the ship the Bebington and then I found this information about her sister.
I would love to know more about Elizabeth, photos, if possible. I know that she died in childbirth and her husband remarried.
My Grandmother lived with us and took care of me while my mother and father worked, we were very close, I loved her dearly.