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Henry Augustus DALBY - NZ

Henry Augustus Dalby (my ancestor's nephew) was one of the earliest NZ settlers, arriving New Plymouth on the Amelia Thompson in 1841. This isn't the mystery. He set up first as a carter (having the only bullock cart in town), and later opened a general store.

In 1844 he married Elizabeth Naomi Pilcher (who had arrived on the Timandra in 1842). There was an 1852 census which records Henry but not his wife, but lists him as having two female children under 7 years of age. There is no further record of either wife or children in the NZ records. That is the mystery.

In 1858 Henry advertised a closing-down sale in the Taranaki Herald because he was returning to England - but then he changed his mind and stayed, still running the shop, until his death in 1876. His belongings were then auctioned, so it's clear there were no relatives nearby.

Question - how do I find out if his wife and possibly two children returned to England? No sign of any of them in 1861 or later censuses. Possible of course that she just left Henry and lived with someone else - and changed her (and children's) surnames. She would then be quite untraceable.

Intriguingly, on the Royal Charter (the ship that sank off North Wales in 1859 on a voyage from Melbourne to Liverpool) there were a Mr and Mrs Pilcher and two children, all drowned. However, these were travelling first class, with a servant. I don't think it's very likely they are connected in any way. Why would Elizabeth have reverted to her maiden name and who would the Mr Pilcher have been? Her father had died in Wellington in 1848 and her only brother in Auckland asylum in 1854.

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