suffrage_petition
Surname: 
Smith
Given names: 
Mary Sybil
Given address: 
Woodend
Sheet No: 253
Town/Suburb: 
Woodend
City/Region: 
Canterbury
Notes: 

Biography and image contributed by Wendy Crane.

The third child of William and Sarah Judson, Sybil was born in 1853 in Eastwell, a village SE of Nottingham.

Sybil was 7 when in 1859 the family of five children left to emigrate to N.Z. on the Clontarf. While they were living in the barracks at Gravesend waiting to board ship, Sybil contracted measles, prevalent at that time. Then the journey was a terrible 4 months of violent storms and a fire, plus the measles - 5 adults and 28 children died, including baby Martha, and Sarah Ann (2) was nearly thrown overboard as dead.

In 1870, at the age of 17, Sybil married Frederick William Smith, and lived on land they purchased on Woodend Beach Road. Their wedding present from Sybil’s parents was a house cow, a highly-prized possession.

Mary Sybil Smith

Sybil Smith and daughter

Frederick, born in Kinver Staffordshire, had emigrated aged 17, in 1860 on the Gananoque, the next ship to arrive after the Clontarf. He worked for a timber merchant in Rangiora, then, with his boss’s son went off to the West Coast goldfields. Ill-prepared on poor claims, with little money, no experience, continuously wet conditions and lack of food, they were lucky to survive. The hardships no doubt affected his health in later life. He had a heart condition and once was in Hamner Springs for convalescence.

The couple had 13 children. Frederick was a strict disciplinarian, noted for not allowing his children to talk at the table during a meal.

Sybil’s sister Sarah Ann, husband Samuel Ayers and children, regularly visited from Rangiora, travelling by horse and trap. Samuel had a great weakness for Sybil’s fresh-baked bread. On these occasions, in addition to her normal meal preparation, Sybil would cook half a ham and bake extra bread so Sam could be given some to take home.

Frederick’s death in 1900 resulted from a struggle when trying to tether a bull. This left Sybil to raise their young family on her own, the youngest child only 2. They all grew and married, creating a large extended family.

She was 40 when she signed the Suffrage petition.

In her later years, Sybil lived in Rangiora, but when incapacitated by a stroke she returned to Woodend to live with her daughter Flossie Dorothy, and died in August 1944, aged 91.

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

How to cite this page

'Mary Sybil Smith', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/suffragist/mary-sybil-smith, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 16-Jan-2018

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