Given names: 
Clara M.
Given address: 
Sheet No: 185

Biographical information provided by Canterbury Museum for the He Tohu exhibition:

Clara Buckingham was born in Norfolk in 1866 and attended Surrey House Day School for Girls in Norwich. When she was 16 she emigrated to New Zealand with her family, who settled at Imell; Clara became a governess. As a young women she returned to England for a visit, and on arrival back in New Zealand married Frederick Alley, a teacher. After their marriage Clara and Frederick lived first at Springfield and it is while they lived here that Clara played a part in collecting signatures for the women's franchise petitions, and also, with Susanna Isherwood, led the Malvern Women's Institute. Both women represented the Institute at the first meeting of the National Council of Women (NCW) in 1896.

Clara had seven children altogether: Eric, Gwen and Rewi were born at Springfield: Philip, Geoffrey, Kathleen and Judith came later. Eric died in the First World War, creating a deep and lasting hatred of war for Clara; Rewi also served in the war and later became a well-known peace activist and social reformer.

From Springfield, the Alleys moved, in 1897, to Amberley where Clara became involved in the Women's Christian Temperance Union and attended meetings of the Canterbury Women's Institute in Christchurch. In 1906 the family moved to Christchurch where Frederick Alley was headmaster of Wharenui School.

In 1950 when the NCW held a Golden Jubilee Conference, Clara Alley was the only member of the first Council meeting, still alive. A message from her to the members of the NCW was published in the Council's Monthly Bulletin. 'Women of all nations should have a larger part in World Affairs. Their influence and guidance is needed, not only in the lesser individual Home but in the Universal Home of all mankind ... Woman's part is to bring the spiritual values of understanding, forbearance and love and so work for reconstruction and Peace.'

A tribute to Clara written after her death said that, 'Even in her eighties, she was still the student, intensely interested in all that was happening, keen to know what others were doing and thinking.'

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

3 comments have been posted about Clara M. Alley

What do you know?

Rosie Alley

Posted: 26 May 2022

Sorry, Anonymous in 2018- Frederick and Clara did have a child named Joyce, as the other anonymous poster here has clearly shown in 2020 with the gravestone of Joyce Amy Alley. Judith Alley was Clara's granddaughter- her father was Geoffrey Alley (National Librarian and All Black). Please amend the article to show the correct child (Joyce). Thank you.


Posted: 09 Mar 2018

They did not have a child named Joyce. Her name was Judith. She was a teacher and married a man named Malcom Tait. I would know because she is my grandmother.