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Home Michael Page - Will

Michael Page
c1817 - 11 June 1891

Four Generations of Pages


Mary Page

Eliza Huett nee Page (daughter of Mary)


Elizabeth Jane Huett (daughter of Eliza)


Noela Mary Sawyers nee Brennan (daughter of Elizabeth)

In the early part of the 19th century, Ballynakill, a parish in the Barony of Leitrim together with the town of Woodford, boasted some 13,000 inhabitants.  The parish comprised 12,000 acres, 800 of which were woodlands and the remainder arable and in pasture.  There were nine pay schools and one national school, and chapels at Cloncoe, Loughtorick, Marble Hill, Knockadrian and Woodford.  Fairs were held in the area twice a year.

The village of Gurteeny near Woodford is the birthplace of Michael Page  c1817.

Irish research has shown baptismal records for Woodford Parish commenced in 1821, too late to record Michael's baptism.  However, the records do show Michael's sisters, four daughters born to  William and Margaret Page (nee Egan):

 

Born/Baptised

Sponsors

Jane

born 20 March 1823
baptised 23 March 1823

Thomas Fahy and Maria Page

Letitia

baptised 24 February 1833

Gerald Burke and Frances Lynch

Judith

baptised 9 September 1834

Patrick Burke and Fanny Page

Ann

born 20 April 1837
baptised 25 April 1837

Patrick Egan and Fanny Page

A marriage entry was  found in the Woodford Parish Church records for Judith Page:

On 6 June 1853 Pat Lynskey married Judith Page. The witnesses were Daniel Lyons and Anne Page.

On 20 March 1835, at the age of 18 Michael joined the army from Limerick and served in the 13th Regiment of Foot.  On the 7 July 1835 he embarked for India where he arrived on 11 April 1836.  A long  journey indeed.  Did they stop along the way, and if so, where? 

On arrival in India, he joined the main part of the regiment which was stationed in Bengal.  His rate of promotion was not rapid - five and a half years to make Corporal and a further two and a half years to reach the rank of Sergeant.

 Michael served in many campaigns during the first Afghan War including the storming of Ghuznee in 1839, in Kurdistan in 1840 and was present at Jellalabad for the general engagements in 1842.  His regiment gained the nickname "the illustrious garrison" for their gallant defence of Jellalabad.   Indeed, Queen Victoria saw fit to grant the regiment a mural crown subscribed "Jellabad" as a badge, as a memorial to the fortitude, perseverance and enterprise evinced by that regiment and the several corps which served during the blockade of Jellalabad.

 In March 1845 at the end of their tour of duty, the Regiment embarked for England arriving on 7 August 1845.  Michael was by then a sick man and was invalided at Chatham on 12 August 1845 and admitted as an outpatient to the Chelsea Royal Hospital on 11 November 1845.  He was 28 years of age and was suffering from a "shattered constitution from severe fever contracted in India". 

 His entry in the Chelsea Register in 1845 (WO 116/53) describes him thus:

     Height:             5'7"
     Hair:                Dark brown
     Eyes:               Grey
     Complexion:    Sallow
     Character:       Very good
     Place of Birth:  Ballinakill,Woodford, Galway
     Age:                 28
     Trade:               Labourer
     Disability:          Shattered constitution from severe fever contracted by service in India

His pension of sixpence per day in 1845 was later increased to nine pence in 1850.

Whether Michael could see no future for himself in Ireland, or he could see no end to the potato famine which had just manifested itself, or perhaps he was just restless, but after spending sometime with his family in Gurteeny (which he describes in his army pension book as "behind the world"), he enlisted with the Royal New Zealand Fencibles.  The lure of an acre of land and a free cottage after seven years service must have been strong and he was off again on another adventure, this time of  a more permanent nature.

 Michael arrived in New Zealand on 13 December 1852 aboard the "Berwick Castle".

The Fencibles were established in response to Hone Heke's rebellion in 1845 which exposed Auckland as dangerously insecure.  It was decided to build a perimeter of four military settlement villages at Onehunga, Otahuhu, Panmure and Howick to cover the southern approaches to Auckland which was then the capital of New Zealand.

The assisted immigrants, retired but proven soldiers were to staff these villages and numbered over 700 former Army personnel with their wives and children - more than 2,500 souls in all who arrived in Auckland between 1847 and 1852. The attraction was free passage to New Zealand for the Fencible and his family, a promise of a wage and a cottage with an acre of land, to become freehold after seven years of uncompromised service.

 During the years Michael served as a Fencible, he was required to attend six days drill in the Spring, and six days in the Autumn, as well as Church Parade every Sunday.  The condition of enlistment made it clear that non-attendance at Church Parade would be a punishable offence i.e. "he would be liable to the penalties of desertion in addition to the forfeiture of pension".

 Michael married his wife Mary at the Howick Catholic Church on 27 January 1853, six weeks after arriving in New Zealand.  It is thought they met aboard ship and married on their arrival in New Zealand but this has not been confirmed.

 Michael and Mary had nine children.  Their first born Mary Jane was born in Howick on 24 October 1853 and lived only one day.  Their other children were: 

Born

Died

William

26 November 1854

17 February 1828

Michael

21 December 1856

26 February 1902

Patrick

10 January 1859

9 August 1927

John

15 October 1860

11 November 1926

Elizabeth

23 October 1862

2 August 1936

Thomas

4 September 1864

21 December 1894

Edward

16 November 1866

19 August 1953

Dennis

9 October 1868

19 February 1955

Michael's original one acre Grant from the Crown was on the corner of Abercrombie and Moor Street, on the Cook Street side in Howick. In 1855 he purchased six acres on the point between Howick and Mellons Bay beaches. He paid the handsome sum of 12 guineas. This area is still known as Page Point today. He sold this land to Mr Cooper in 1865. In 1867 he bought 13 acres, Lots 180 and 181.

 
In 1857 he moved his family to Maungamaungaroa Valley, Whitford where he and the family lived in a sod cottage for some years (picture of similar cottage above). He was a hardworking man and he broke in the land turning it into a profitable and productive small farm which was willed on his death in 1891 to his son Edward. 
The Pages grew oats which they cut into chaff. It is said they thought they would be late for market if they had not crossed the Panmure Bridge before the sun was up. The children used to carry a potato baked in its jacket in their pockets for lunch. This was considered a poor person's lunch by the other children. 

Their orchard contained plum trees, per and apple trees and old fashioned flowers. Their farm was called "Puriri".

 Michael died at the age of 74 on 11 June 1891.

When his Will was drawn up in 1888, his eldest son William had been married just six months. Michael had been married for four years and was living in Mercury Bay. Patrick was a builder and not married. John was also unmarried and possibly in Western Australia goldmining at that time. John died in New Guinea in 1926. His only daughter Elizabeth was married and five months pregnant with her only child. Edward (Ned) lived and worked on the farm and this is probably why Michael left Ned the farm. He would also have taken over the care of his mother who lived to the grand old age of 95.
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