Given names: 
Serena Margaret
Given address: 
214 St Asaph St
Sheet No: 210
Central Christchurch

Serena Margaret Bishop was born in 1869 to Margaret and Alfred Charles Bishop in Christchurch. Serena was the eldest of fourteen Bishop children.

Serena was twenty four when she signed the 1893 Women’s Suffrage Petition. She signed alongside her mother, M. Bishop, and another signatory: A. C. Bishop. This could have been Serena’s father, Alfred Charles Bishop, or, a more likely possibility is that it was Serena’s younger sister, Caroline Amelia Bishop, who, in other records, has inverted her name, so that her initials would also be A.C. All the signing Bishops recorded their address as 214 St Asaph Street in central Christchurch.

On the 1893 electoral roll, Serena is listed as a tailoress. The women’s suffrage movement had a close relationship with the unions and it’s possible that Serena was encouraged to sign the Women’s Suffrage Petition through an involvement in the Tailoress' Union. 

Serena married Samuel Skinner in St John’s church on Latimer Square in Christchurch on November 18 1896, when she was twenty seven.

Serena and Samuel had seven children: Samuel Bishop (b. 1897), Serena Maude Louisa (b. 1899), Milford Bishop (b. 1903), Doris Bishop (b. 1904), Elva Bishop (b. 1905), Clarice Bishop (b. 1906), Halma Bishop (b. 1908).

Sadly, Serena's and Samuel's second child, Serena Maude Louise, died in 1900 when she was only seven months old. And in 1904, Doris Skinner died at six weeks old.

More misfortune was to find the family when, in 1906, the Skinner's eldest child, Samuel, died when he was eight years old. At the time, the Skinner family were living in Maori Hill in Dunedin, and Samuel (the elder) was working as a photo engraver.

The newspaper report stated that “while playing on the scaffolding a new house he fell off and was treated at home for a fortnight. A few days ago, one of his legs was amputated, but he did not improve and he died today.” A later inquest into the death found that poor Samuel had ruptured a kidney, which later became septic. The sad report states that “the boy got out of bed and tried to catch a bird which had got into the room, and this act was followed by a severe increase in the discharge of blood.”

Samuel Skinner died in Lower Riccarton, Christchurch, in 1934 at the age of sixty five. At the time of his death, his occupation was listed as a bootmaker.

Serena lived for another twenty years after her husband passed away. She is recorded as voting in the 1949 general election. She died in Riccarton, Christchurch in 1953 at the age of eighty four.

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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