Given names: 
Given address: 
Bluff Harbour
Sheet No: 341

Biography contributed by Katherine Blakeley

Janet was born about 1850 in Scotland – she emigrated to Otago with her husband Neil McGilvery in 1874 on the Invercargill and they had seven children, two who died in infancy.

In 1899 their 11-year-old son David drowned when he was knocked overboard from a boat in the Invercargill estuary.

When Janet signed the suffrage petition she was living in Bluff.

Neil had left the family home in 1891. In 1896 he was charged with failing to 'contribute to the support of his wife and her children.'

Janet said that since he had left home he not contributed to the family, 'prior to that he had been violent and abusive to her and the children, and on several occasions while drunk had smashed her furniture.'

Neil denied the charges and said he was willing to live with the family and maintain them. Asked if she would be willing to have her husband back Janet said she had given him three chances and that 'she was afraid of him.'

Neil was ordered to pay maintenance.

Janet died on 16 June 1900 – she was travelling from Invercargill to Bluff on the evening train, sitting outside with her feet on the step. She fell from the train which derailed one of the carriages and appears to have been killed instantly.

An inquest was held which found that Janet was sober and, although urged several times to sit inside, had insisted on sitting on the step, no blame was attached to anyone else.

She is buried in the Bluff Cemetery.

Neil died in Invercargill in 1917, he is buried in the Invercargill Eastern Cemetery.


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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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