Given names: 
T. M.
Given address: 
St Clair
Sheet No: 68
St Clair

Biography of Theresa Martha Fitchett nee Williamson, the great grandmother of my husband Christopher. By Judith Fitchett

Theresa Martha Williamson was born in Bolton, Lancashire, England on 9 August 1840, the second daughter of John and Ann (nee Greenhalgh) Williamson. About 1850 the family immigrated to Victoria, Australia where John was a farmer.

In 1864 Theresa married widower Alfred Robertson Fitchett. His first wife Mary Ann Wilson had died in childbirth and two of his three daughters had died of diarrhoea. Soon after their marriage Theresa and Alfred moved to Wanganui where Alfred was a Methodist Missionary and Theresa had their first child. Five babies were to follow over the next ten years as Alfred moved three yearly on the Methodist Circuit. In 1878 he said 'enough' and changed to the Church of England. The family remained at All Saints Parish, Dunedin for 49 years and from 1894 he combined the position with that of Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Two of Theresa’s children died young. The remaining four were encouraged to continue their education overseas. Alice Maud trained as pianist at the Royal Conservatorium of Music in Dresden. Alice Maud also signed the petition. Frank completed his Master of Surgery degree at Edinburgh. William graduated with an M.A. from Cambridge University and was ordained at Manchester Cathedral. Daisy trained as an artist at Kops Studio inDresdenand the Academie Julian in Paris. Maud and Daisy married Englishmen and lived in England. Their half sister Ada graduated in 1879 from Otago University and taught at Methodist Ladies College in Melbourne. Frank and William returned to Dunedin where they practised their professions.

Theresa had at least three voyages back to England to visit her family, the last being when she was 80 years old. Letters from that time reflect firm opinions including the undesirability of wives remaining in abusive marriages. She signed the 1893 petition twice which may show her determination not to miss out. She died aged 81, at All Saints Parsonage, Dunedin on 16 December 1921 and is buried in the Northern Cemetery, Dunedin.

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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Marion Fitchett

Posted: 30 Sep 2019

I am the great grand daughter of Alfred's younger brother Ashton Buddle Fitchett. It is very exciting to read this. What a wonderful person Theresa was.