Given names: 
E. M.
Given address: 
Sheet No: 108

Biography contributed by Katherine Blakeley.

Originally transcribed as E M Manson.

Esther Maud Mary Dowling (or Dowlan) was born in Ballarat, Victoria on April 5th 1863, the daughter of William Henry Brayton, an American coach proprietor and Maria Elizabeth Dowlan.

According to a later custody case, her father paid £39 for her support and after Esther’s mother married Frederick Rose in 1865 “it was agreed that the infant should be removed from Invercargill to Dunedin, where Wm. Brayton then resided, and placed in the custody of a nurse or caretaker until he should leave for the United States, whither he purposed going; and that there the infant should be educated, and that when her education was finished she should be restored to” her mother.

Esther was placed in the charge of Mrs Ester Middleton. In 1867, William Brayton returned to America without his daughter.

She on stayed with Mrs Middleton and her partner Thomas Hinchliff in Port Chalmers, where Ester Middleton ran a small school.

In 1878 Esther’s mother and her husband came to Port Chalmers to take Esther home with them. She refused to go.

The following year a custody case was held. Esther said in her statement: “I am attached to the said Mrs Middleton only by the tie of mutual love and affection, and it is of my own free will that I choose to remain with” her. “I have experienced nothing but the affectionate care and sympathy of a mother ever since I can remember.”

The case was dismissed and Esther stayed in Port Chalmers.

Frederick and Maria Rose moved to Melbourne, where Frederick died in 1893 and Maria died in 1901.

Ester Middleton married Thomas Hinchliff in Port Chalmers in 1891. She died in Port Chalmers in 1903 and Thomas died in Wahroonga, New South Wales, in 1907.

Esther married Frederick John Monson, a clerk, in 1882. They had four children.

When she signed the suffrage petition the family were living in Belleknowes, Dunedin.

In 1919 Frederick retired due to ill health and they moved to Akaroa, then Christchurch.

He died in 1921 and Esther died on September 16th 1938 in Christchurch. They are buried with their daughter in the Southern Cemetery, Dunedin.


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

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