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Jemima Edwards

Signed family name
Signed given name
Given address
Sheet number
Auckland region

Biography contributed by Bernadette Siebert.

Jemima Jenkins was born in London in 1844, daughter of Charles Jenkins, a bricklayer. She married Thomas Harris Edwards in 1864 in London. They came to New Zealand on the Bombay, arriving in Auckland on 18 March 1865.

Three children were born around the Coromandel area: Elizabeth in 1867, Jemima in 1869, and Thomas Harris in 1874.

This marriage appears to have broken down. In April 1875 Thomas was up before the court in Thames for attempting to kill Abraham (John) Toovey.

Thomas “made a detailed statement as to the fact that Toovey had on three separate occasions ran off with his wife. He acknowledged to having purchased the pistol, cap, and powder, with the design of shooting Toovey, but that he only meant to shoot him in the legs. He had great provocation.” He received one month in prison and disappeared to Australia, dying there in 1923.

Jemima stayed with Abraham Toovey, and they had three children: Laura in 1876 (died 1891, at 15 years old), Abraham in 1878, and Matilda in 1880.

See 378 Matilda Toovey

Abraham died on 29 December 1879. There was an inquest held after his body was found, declaring he had drowned in the Mahurangi River with no evidence to show how. His death certificate records him as unmarried. Jemima was left with a young family to support.

In 1889 there was an advertisement in the New Zealand Herald from Laura Toovey in England, seeking the whereabouts of her brother John, last known in Auckland; His family in England obviously didn’t know that he’d died.

Jemima varied between using Edwards or Toovey as a surname. For more official purposes, such as electoral rolls and signing the women’s suffrage petition, she used her first husband’s name, Edwards. But in the local community she was known as Toovey: in 1891 a fundrasing concert was held in Mahurangi to assist "Mrs Toovey", who needed assistance after an illness in the family.

Jemima died 17 Aug 1911 aged 63 years and was buried in the Warkworth Cemetery. Her obituary read: "Death of Nurse Toovey. We intimated in last issue that Nurse Toovey was seriously ill. She had been sinking for some days, and on Thursday morning last the end came. Mrs Toovey had resided in the County for something like 40 years. For many years she kept the Bridge Boardinghouse, which with her services as maternity nurse brought her into contact with a wide circle. Her kindheartedness and cheerful disposition were well-known. The internment took place on Friday afternoon, in the presence of a large gathering."


Archives New Zealand

Papers Past

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