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EVANS, ANN nee CLIVE

 

Ann Clive (occasionally known as Sarah Ann) was born on the 11 November 1834, and was baptised in St Philipps Church, Birmingham, on the 20 November 1834. Her parents were Robert and Ann Clive nee Regan. The family were living in army barracks at the time, as Robert was serving with the 12th Royal Lancers.

 

Ann Clive entered professional training as a nurse at the age of 18, and was in the first party of nurses who served with Florence Nightingale at Scutari in the Crimea arriving in the war zone on the 4 November 1854. She came back to England from the war in February 1856, and soon found a position as a relieving nurse. Later, much against her father's wishes, she left a good home, and came to New Zealand. Ann had an idea that she could start her own hospital in the new land, and arrived in Dunedin on the 14 February 1863 on the John Duncan.

 

At this time there was a serious imbalance of the sexes in Otago due to the gold rushes, and the Provincial Government went to great lengths in inducing young women to come out. The men stood waiting at the gangway to grab them. On the same voyage was Maria Rye who became famous for her work with female emigration. (see A Woman of Good Character by Charlotte Macdonald)

 

Inflated costs and insufficient capital forced Ann Clive to abandon her plan for a hospital. Instead she worked as a housemaid with the family of Queenstown runholder, W G Rees, during the winter of 1863. She returned to Dunedin to marry Thomas Evans, a former schoolmaster, on 22 September 1863. They settled in Napier, and later Wanganui where Thomas worked as a painter. In eight years Ann gave birth to five children and nursed Thomas, who had contracted lead poisoning. He died on 25 October 1871, their youngest child being two months old. Apparently kind friends came to her aid and bought her a house on St John's Hill, but it seems that Ann did not want to stay in Wanganui.

 

Twelve months after Thomas's death, Ann loaded her five children and all their belongings on to a wagon and moved to Waihi, the main Armed Constabulary camp in Taranaki which was situated near Normanby. Initially she ran a store, but as there was no doctor between Patea and New Plymouth, her skills as a nurse were quickly in demand. She tended injured and sick soldiers and settlers, and as a midwife gave valuable assistance to local women. Before long she became known throughout South Taranaki as "Ann the Doctor".

 

The Evans family shifted to Hawera in the late 1870s. Their house at Waihi was moved to Hawera by bullock team, and was sited in what is now the Price Chopper carpark.

 

 

 

 

One day a party of Maori came to her home and asked her to go with them to treat a sick man. She agreed to accompany them and was blind-folded for most of the journey. Eventually she arrived at a whare where the outlawed resistance leader Titokowaru lay suffering from pneumonia. During the six to eight weeks in which Ann nursed him and other sick Maoris, regular messages and gifts of food were delivered to her family.

 

When Titokowaru recovered he thanked her for what she had done and handed her a folded note. It was 100. "I don't want it," she said. "Take it," said the chief. "My life is worth more than that!" At that time Titokowaru had a 1000 reward on his head. Ann returned home blindfolded and had no idea of the location of the hiding-place.

 

After this, for more than 20 years Ann supported herself and her family by working as a nurse and midwife. Her patients, many of whom lived at some distance, included Maori as well as settlers. In February 1878, she offered her services to run a hospital in Hawera for 20 per annum with a Dr Cole, who offered his services at 25. This offer came about as the result of a meeting called in Hawera. The government was going to remove the subsidy from the Patea County Hospital which meant it was faced with closure. It appears that this hospital did not go ahead. As a trusted, regular traveller along bush tracks Ann often carried money and valuables to the Bank of New Zealand agency in Patea before an agency opened in Hawera. With settlement increasing and medical men residing in Hawera, her work grew gradually less.

 

Granny Evans, as she known, then operated a boarding house for some years, and in 1894, opened refreshment rooms at the Hawera railway station. For the last 20 years of her life, with help from one of her daughters, she served travellers with tea and buttered scones. Ann then met up with some of the soldiers she had nursed in the Crimea as they passed through the town.

 

Ann Evans died in Hawera on 4 July 1916, aged 84 years, a well-known and loved local figure. She is buried in the Hawera cemetery.

 

SOURCES

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

I Shall Not Die by James Belich (p281)

Obituary "The Hawera and Normanby Star" July 1916

Research by Geraldine Manning (great-granddaughter)

Mrs Ann Houghton, New Plymouth

 

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