Given names: 
Given address: 
Sheet No: 534
West Coast

Biography contributed by Mary Simpson (great-great granddaughter)

Maria Ronson’s family name was Pritchard. She was born 23 May 1837 in Whitehaven, England. Her parents were George Pritchard and Esther Broadfoot. Maria and her parents and her sister Lucy were recorded in the 1841 English census as living in St Bees and the same family group were listed in the 1851 census as living in Whitehaven.

On 1 November 1857 Maria married William Ronson at St Nicholas Church, Liverpool, England. On 2 September 1859 Maria and William boarded the ship John and Lucy from Liverpool bound for Table Bay, Capetown, South Africa. Maria’s husband William Ronson was contracted as an engineering blacksmith and was to work on the establishment of the railway system.

On 29 October 1859 the John and Lucy was wrecked not far from Pernambuco, now known as Recife. Fortunately all crew and passengers survived and were taken on from Recife on an American ship Ceres and arrived in Capetown on 22 December 1859. Maria and William’s first child George died of whooping cough about this time. Three other children (Caroline, Lydia and Maria) were born before William and Maria left Capetown.

In 1864 agents for the New Zealand government were seeking immigrants. The Ronson family decided to leave South Africa and head to New Zealand. They arrived in Auckland on 24 December 1864 on the Maori. They were granted land in the Auckland area but eventually William decided to join New Zealand railways as an engineering blacksmith and move to the West Coast. Family members say the move to the South Island seems to have been prompted by the Land Wars. In 1875/6 William is recorded as a Householder at Coalmine Reserve, Brunnerton. William and Maria stayed in that area –Wallsend and Greymouth until the early 1900s. Their daughter Caroline (my great grandmother) was married from their home in Hospital Street Greymouth on 4 March 1882.

William and Maria both died in Auckland – William on 26 February 1908 and Maria on 19 November 1917. They are both buried in Purewa Cemetery.

Maria and William had nine children. At the time of Maria’s death there were five living daughters; Caroline (58), Lydia (56), Esther (51), Maria/Mary (47), Cicily (42) and one son George (41).

Maria signed the 1893 Women’s Suffrage Petition and voted from then on. Maria’s daughter Mary Stewart of Coal Creek also signed the Women’s Suffrage petition.


Bull, Esme (1991) Aided immigration from Britain to South Africa, 1857-1867. Pretoria, South Africa: Human Sciences Research Council.

Marriage Certificate of William Ronson and Maria Pritchard (RTA712927) issued by Liverpool City Council.

NZ Electoral Rolls accessed through Ancestry 19 March 2019.

NZ City and Areas Directories accessed through Ancestry 19 March 2019.

NZ Births, Deaths and Marriages records online Death Printout of Maria Ronson

Purewa Cemetery burial records Accessed 19 March 2019.

'M. Ronson', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 8-Sep-2011

'Mrs Stewart', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 8-Sep-2011


Photo from family 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 M. Ronson

What do you know?

Brian Ronson

Posted: 08 Mar 2022

And I, Brian Ronson (son of William, grandson of Robert), am a great great grandson.