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Family notes - Thomas McLaren


This page has information about Thomas McLaren (known as Thomas McLernon in Ireland), his wife and children. If you can provide additional information or photographs, or want a copy of information I have, please get in Contact.


View descendants of Thomas McLaren. Individuals born since 1930 are listed as "Living" for privacy.

A manuscript by Jenny Miller, produced after the 2003 McLaren family reunion for descendants of Thomas McLaren, contains a family tree.

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Thomas McLAREN and wife

Thomas McLERNON or McLAREN (1862-1958)

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Thomas McLernon was born 21 July 1862 in Carmavey, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. He was the youngest child of James McLernon and Ann McComb. Thomas's mother died when he was an infant. Thomas's father died when Thomas was 15 and Thomas inhereted his father's farm at Carmavy, to be managed by his step-mother until Thomas was 25 years old. Thomas had a headstone erected in Carmavey graveyard with the following inscription:

Erected by Thomas McLernon, Carmavey in memory of his father James McLernon, who died 24th October 1879. Aged 63 years. His mother Ann McComb, who died 12th May 1863 aged 38 years. Also their children:- Susan who died 6th January 1852 aged 2 years Ellen who died 24th February 1877 aged 18 years.

At the age of 24, in 1886, Thomas migrated to New Zealand on the steam ship "Tongariro", arriving in Auckland on 15 September 1886. On arriving in New Zealand he used the surname McLAREN instead of McLERNON. He worked in the Captain Cook Brewery in Khyber Pass Road, Auckland. He also worked as a ploughman in Ponsonby, before leasing a shop in Devonport where his occupation was listed as "Dairyman".

Thomas's older brothers, Henry and Samuel, had emigrated from Northern Ireland before him. His oldest brother Henry McLERNON (McLAREN) migrated to Canada about 1870 where he adopted the surname McLaren. Samuel McLERNON migrated to New Zealand twelve years before Thomas, in 1874. Samuel had established successful watchmaking and jewelery businesses in Hamilton and Gisborne when Thomas arrived in 1886. Samuel and his descendants retained the surname McLERNON.

Thomas married Elizabeth Sarah (Lizzie) Duxfield on 10 April 1889 in St Lukes Church, Mt Albert, Auckland. Thomas met Robert Duxfield, Lizzie's brother, on the S.S. "Tongariro" during the voyage to New Zealand. Thomas and Robert became friends on the voyage, which led to Thomas meeting Lizzie. Thomas and Lizzie had six children while living in Devonport.

In 1898 Thomas and family moved to Manawaru near Te Aroha in the Waikato where he purchased 300 acres. The farm was named Carmavry after the area in Ireland where Thomas grew up. The farm was swamp, covered in flax and manuka. The land was cleared, drains dug to dry up the swamp, and fences built. A cowshed was built in 1906, a herringbone (with a pit for milking). Experimental work on early milking machines was done with Dr Wallace from Rurakura. Further land was purchased in 1908. This additional land was subdivided into four farms and sold after WW1, enabling Thomas and Lizzie to take a holiday back to England and Ireland in 1921. A transcript of one letter written while on holiday can be viewed on separate page: Letter from Ireland.

Thomas and Lizzie retired from the Manawaru farm to Te Aroha where they lived with Ethel, their youngest daughter. Lizzie died in 1944 and Thomas in 1958. Both are buried in Te Aroha.

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Elizabeth Sarah DUXFIELD (1861-1944)

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Elizabeth Sarah Duxfield, the only daughter of John Duxfield and Elizabeth Dickinson, was born in 1861 at Willington, Northumberland, England.  A description of Willington North Farm where the family lived in the 1860s is given on a separate page. John was a farmer in Northumberland, who had 496 acres by the 1881 census.  Elizabeth's mother died in 1864 when she was a young child. Her father remarried in 1868, marrying Hannah Haig. Hannah died in 1871 aged 38.

An outbreak of foot and mouth disease made John Duxfield decide to migrate to New Zealand. In 1886 John Duxfield and his children emigrated to Auckland on the steam ship "Ruapehu", arriving in Auckland on 15 September 1886. Robert Duxfield, Elizabeth's brother emigrated to New Zealand after he completed his M.A. degree at Edinburgh University.

As mentioned above, Elizabeth married Thomas McLaren in 1889,  had six children in Devonport, moved to Manawaru, had her last child in 1901 and died in 1944.

Elizabeth kept a small notebook where she wrote the words of poems and what appear to be the lyrics of songs. The words of "The Englishman" by Eliza Cook (1818-1889) are in the notebook. She wrote the following in the book about 1894.

I have been married five years. The happiest years in my life. My husband is good and kind to me but a bit rough spoken at times. He does not mean all he says. I love my dear children. Sometimes I think I may not live to see them grow up. I often thought I would have liked to have known my mother and have a message of love from her. I am writing this to my children in case of my death before they can remember me. You are dear to me!

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Children of Thomas and Elizabeth

James McLAREN (1890-1967)

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James McLaren, known as Jim, was the eldest child of Thomas McLernon and Elizabeth Duxfield, born on 17 March 1890 in Devonport, Auckland, New Zealand. He attended school at Devonport and moved with the family to Manawaru in the Waikato. Jim was a farmer. In 1918 he married Jeane Le Lievre, a widow born at Akaroa. They had one daughter, June, born in 1922.

Jim purchased a sheep farm at Okoroire in the Waikato. Jim and Jean farmed at Okoroire until they retired to Matamata about 1950. Jim died in 1967 and Jeane in 1976. They were both buried at Matamata.

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Elinor McLAREN (1891-1971)

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Elinor McLaren, known as Nellie, was the eldest daughter of Thomas McLernon and Elizabeth Duxfield, born on 14 April 1891 in Devonport, Auckland, New Zealand. She attended school at Devonport and moved with her family to Manawaru in 1906 when her father started farming there.

Nellie married Alban Rushbrooke in 1914 and they planned to live at Te Awamutu. Within days of Alban and Nellie returning from their honeymoon, Alban began vomiting blood. He had an aneurysm in his stomach. After three months they moved to Manawaru and lived with Nellie's family.

In 1921 Alban purchased a business in Te Aroha with stables, wood and coal merchandising and horse haulage. Alban and Nellie had five children. Alban died in August 1933 at Te Aroha aged 48, leaving a young family.

Nellie's son Jim ran the wood and coal merchant business after Alban died. Nellie raised her family in Te Aroha. In about 1956 Nellie moved to Hamilton, purchasing a house next to her youngest daughter Ena. In 1963 she moved to Auckland having purchased a house close to Ena and her family. She died on 20 Mar 1971 in Auckland. Both Alban and Nellie were buried in Te Aroha.

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John Duxfield McLAREN (1893-1980)

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John Duxfield McLaren, known as Jack, was the second son of Thomas McLernon and Elizabeth Duxfield, born in 1893 in Devonport, Auckland, New Zealand. Jack was a farmer in the Waikato: at Manawaru (1914-16), Te Mawhai (1919) and later Mangaiti (1928-1935).

Jack married Frances Barron in Te Aroha on 21 June 1916. Jack and Frances had two daughters. Jack abandoned his young family in 1936 and lived with Matoa Te Ota Ormsby, known as Martha, for the remainder of his life. Jack and Martha lived in Te Kuiti where Jack worked as a carpenter until he retired.

Frances and Jack divorced. Frances and her daughters never forgave Jack. Frances died in 1950 and is buried in Te Aroha.  

Jack and Martha adopted a child in 1936 and had a daughter in 1941. Jack and Martha are buried at Pirongia in the Waikato.

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Thomas Henry McLAREN (1895-1957)

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Thomas Henry McLaren, the third son of Thomas McLernon and Elizabeth Duxfield, was born in 1895 in Devonport, Auckland, New Zealand. Thomas was a dairy farmer, farming at Manawaru near Te Aroha. Thomas's farm was close to his father's farm. In 1927 Thomas married Doreen Foote, a school teacher born in Whangarei.

Thomas and Doreen had five children. Thomas died in 1957 and Doreen then moved to Bethlehem in the Bay of Plenty, now a suburb of Tauranga. Doreen died in 1985. Both Thomas and Doreen were buried at Te Aroha.

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Frederick Archibald McLAREN (1898-1989)

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Frederick Archibald McLaren, known as Pat, the youngest son of Thomas McLernon and Elizabeth Duxfield, was born in 1898 in Devonport, Auckland, New Zealand. Pat was a dairy farmer at Manawaru near Te Aroha. He took over his father's farm. In 1933 Pat married Una McKelvie Ellett, and the couple had a son. Una died in 1941.

Pat remarried Rita Marie Ham in 1944. Rita and Pat had two children. According to Electoral Rolls, Pat and Rita retired from the Manawaru farm to Te Aroha about 1963. Rita died in 1968 and Pat in 1989. Pat, Una and Rita were all buried in Te Aroha.

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Elizabeth Dickinson McLAREN (1900-1991)

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Elizabeth Dickinson McLaren, known as Bessie, the second daughter of Thomas McLernon and Elizabeth Duxfield, was born in 1900 in Devonport, Auckland, New Zealand.

Bessie married Kenneth William Neeve in 1927. The couple farmed at Manawaru in the Waikato and had two daughters and a son. Ken died in 1949 leaving Bessie with a young family. Bessie continued to work the dairy farm with her teenage children until an opportunity came to sell the property. About 1960 the farm was sold. Bessie retired to Hamilton and lived with her younger sister Ethel for several years until Ethel married in 1966. Bessie died in 1991 in Hamilton.

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Ethel Mary McLAREN (1901-1986)

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Ethel Mary McLaren, the youngest daughter of Thomas McLernon and Elizabeth Duxfield, was born in 1900 in Te Aroha. Ethel lived with her parents until their deaths. Ethel lived with her widowed sister Bessie in Hamilton after her father's death.

Ethel had wanted to get married in the 1920s to Clifford Arnold Yoeman, but her father wouldn't allow the marriage. Cliff subsequently married Gwendoline Boyde in 1925. Ethel and Cliff were finally married in 1966 after the death of Cliff's first wife and Ethel's father. Ethel and Cliff lived in Howick, Auckland. Cliff died in 1985 and Ethel in 1986. They were both buried at Manukau, Auckland.

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