The STRONGs of Ulster, Ireland, Chapter 7

The "STRONG Family" section of this site is divided into 13 chapters and 9 appendices. Please read in sequence by following the links at the bottom of each page or use the "Quick Nav" at top right. If you wish to select individual chapters, please click on the top left link to the "Sitemap" page. Note that the chapters develop the story of our family and the appendices contain supporting data… for example the Descendancy Report in Appendix 1 with BDM records and photos of family members.

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Robert STRONG's son: William Aberdare STRONG

William Aberdare STRONG was born on 5 Feb 1875 on the ship "Baron Aberdare" xxiii), xxiv). William's son, Robert William, later said about his father's birth:

"In due course they boarded a vessel called the Baron Aberdare xxvi) and set sail. Conditions on board were very crowded and the food was not of the best. On board there were a number of pregnant women and the captain ordered that food from his own table be sent to them to supplement their rations. My grandmother, Jane STRONG, was one of these and as the ship rounded the Cape of Good Hope my father was born. He was named after the ship: William Aberdare STRONG." i)

William attended reunions of surviving passengers and descendants of passengers in 1925 and 1935 xxii), and the following newspaper clipping was found in his grandson's possession:

Ship Baron Aberdare. Diamond Jubilee Reunion.
A reunion will be held on Tuesday afternoon, when a party of about 30 persons will assemble from different parts of the North Island to celebrate the jubilee of the arrival of the ship Baron Aberdare. These 30 are not all surviving passengers, but many of them are descendants. The Baron Aberdare was a clipper ship of 1541 tons, which left London for Auckland under the command of Captain Edmonds, with a general cargo and heavy passenger list, dropping her pilot at Plymouth on December 14 1875; and arriving at Auckland on March 19. She was a new ship, flying the house flag of the New Zealand Shipping Company, and owing to light and variable winds through a great part of the voyage and having to make a dead beat to port after rounding Tasmania on March 2, the passage was a longer one than was anticipated, the run from Plymouth occupying 95 days. The voyage was uneventful, and the adult passengers all enjoyed good health throughout. There were two births at sea, and one infant died. The surviving infant, Mr. William Aberdare Strong of Drury will attend the reunion. xxii)… (c)

William lived with his family at least until he was 16, when their home was at Victoria Ave, Eden Terrace. His father Robert entered a family census in the family Bible on 5 Apr 1891, showing that three children still lived at home ..... Mary (aged 18), William (aged 16), John (aged 10) ii).


William Aberdare STRONG. William Aberdare STRONG at various ages. Courtesy: Brian Strong.
Compare with his probable Sydney photo, bottom right.

William Aberdare STRONG is pictured at various ages, both above and later in this page. Photos: Courtesy of Brian Strong.

Margaret Jane STEEN. Margaret Jane STEEN
Courtesy: Brian Strong

When William left home, we traced his movements through Postal Directories and Electoral Rolls. He was a saddler in Coromandel in the 1896 & 1899 Directories. These same details were recorded when he witnessed his sister Mary's marriage in 1898. The Electoral Rolls then showed he was a saddler in Drury just before 1905 iv). It is probable that William moved from Coromandel to Drury to work as a saddler in the military depot at Drury during the Boer War (11 Oct 1899 - 31 May 1902). There is a family tradition that when William was young, he worked for the army with his saddlery business, visiting outposts etc iii).

On 1 Jan 1903 when William was 27, he married Margaret Jane STEEN, pictured on left. Margaret was the daughter of William John STEEN & Margaret WALLACE, who were fellow immigrants on the "Baron Aberdare" in 1875 vi). The marriage took place in the STEEN family home at Pukekohe, NZ v). Robert William continues his family's story:

"The STEEN family came from a farming district in Northern Ireland (Grandmother Margaret was born at Omagh, Co. Tyrone). My grandfather STEEN was very well educated so the captain made him the schoolmaster to instruct the children on the boat. The Steens rode out on the railway to Pukekohe where eventually they got a few acres of land at Pukekohe West, which is about three miles from the present township of Pukekohe. The land was covered with heavy bush. In those early days if a fifty-pound sack of flour was required my grandfather had to tramp through the trackless heavy bush to the military depot at Drury. He tied the sack of flour on his back and tramped away back home. In time the land was cleared. It was very fertile and eventually became a good dairy farm. Grandfather also grew crops of potatoes and onions which were sent to the markets in Auckland for sale. My mother Margaret was born there in a whare (a term applied by pioneers to any small hut) several years later. The two families, the STRONGs and the Steens were always on friendly terms and visited one another. In due course my father, William Aberdare STRONG met Margaret STEEN and they were married." i)

Robert William's account may need correcting. According to William & Margaret STEEN's marriage certificate xxviii), xxix), they were married in the parish of Clogher, William lived in the nearby townland of Farnaghindrum , Clogher, and Margaret lived at the adjacent townland of Knockmany, Clogher xxviii). These places were about 4 miles north of the town of Clogher, on the road to Omagh, which was about 10 miles away. Was "Grandmother Margaret" born at Knockmany or Omagh? Was "grandfather STEEN was very well educated"? His marriage certificate is signed with his own signature xxviii) showing he could read and write, which supports RW's statement.

Usual spelling is Fernaghandrum, as in Griffiths valuation, 1901 & 1911 Census and current Geograph Project.

In chapter one I have mentioned that Robert William STRONG thought the STRONGs came from "Knocknancy", which I suggested was the townland of Knocknagoney in the Parish of Holywood. I have wondered, did RW get confused between his grandparents STRONG & STEEN, and Knockmany became "Knocknancy"? Confusion was evident in William & Margaret STEEN's Golden Wedding Anniversary announcement:

STEEN—WALLACE.—On July 3, 1873, at the Presbyterian Church, Carentall, by the Rev. R. Robb, William John, eldest son of the late James and Elizabeth Steen, Roveagh, to Margaret, second daughter of the late Hugh and Eliza Wallace, Knockmancy, Clogher; both of Co. Tyrone, Ireland. Present address, Papakura, Auckland, New Zealand.—Home papers please copy. xxx)

This announcement seems inaccurate, and shows that the the Knocknancy error probably originated from the STEENs and not the STRONGs. Knockmany became Knockmancy to the STEENs, and further changed by the STRONGs to Knocknancy and strangely applied to the origin of the STRONGs? Other names were distorted in the Golden Wedding announcement. Carentall should have been Carntall (townland of the Clogher Presbyterian Church), Roveagh probably should have been Raveagh (a nearby townland to Knockmany). Margaret's mother's first name should also have been Margaret and not Eliza, if Margaret's death certificate is more accurate. In this certificate xxix), xxxi), xxxiii) her mother is recorded as Margaret WALLACE (née SOUTTER).

Young William Aberdare STRONGYoung William Aberdare STRONG.
Courtesy: Brian STRONG

William continued as a saddler in Drury for the rest of his life iv). A history of the Drury School and Districts locates William's saddlery business next to a blacksmith's forge, which was opposite the Presbyterian Church vii)… p10. He appeared active in the local community and served on the Drury School committee vii)… p20. Another source said the saddlery was a brown building, which was moved bodily in the late 1940's viii). This event probably followed William's death in 1947. The family home was near oak trees, which are in modern times at a bend in the motorway at Drury xiii), iii). Robert William said that his father had two houses in Drury. William's parents used the old house when they moved from Auckland in 1905, while William lived in the new house. When William's father Robert died in 1910, his mother Jane moved in with him i).

In 2002 I visited Drury and was given permission to look through the Drury Presbyterian Church records. I found that William's family was active in this church. The Communion Roll had entries for Mrs. W. STRONG, which extended from 1924 to 1937. Her son R.W. STRONG made his "Profession of Faith" in March 1925 ix).

My father, Robert STRONG, remembered (accurately) William Aberdare visiting his branch of the family in NSW Australia. He said in a letter: "I met Uncle Willie of Drury... he had 3 sons, 2 of them (I think) were school teachers" x). I found a photo in my father's collection when he died, and became convinced that it contained a photo of William Aberdare, when he visited Sydney, Australia. See the collage of photos above, as well as a description of the problem photo in Appendix 4: Similar.

William's niece, Olive LOWE (née STEEN) d. 30 Jun 2006, remembered him as a tall man the family called Willie xi).

When I first became interested in our family history and knew nothing about my NZ relatives, I found a newspaper clipping of William's funeral notice in our family Bible, kept in NSW Australia ii). It said:

"STRONG. - On March 2, 1947, at his residence, Drury, William Aberdare, beloved husband and chum of Margaret STRONG and loving father of Robert, William and Joseph LANE, Auckland, and David Wallace (Suva); aged 72 years. - At rest. A short service will be held at the Papakura Presbyterian Church at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday), thence to the Papakura Cemetery, to arrive at 2 p.m." xii)

Note also that the newspaper inserted a comma between Robert and William giving William Aberdare an extra son... Robert and William rather than just Robert William! William's obituary said:

"Mr William Aberdare STRONG, of Drury, has died, aged 72 years. He was born on the ship Baron Aberdare, which arrived in New Zealand in 1875. After receiving his education in Auckland, Mr STRONG established a saddlery business in Coromandel, but later moved to Drury, where he conducted a similar business. He retired a few years ago to take up poultry and mixed farming. Mr STRONG was associated with many sporting organizations in the Drury district, and was a steward of the former racing club. He is survived by his wife and three sons" xxv) .

Note that the Papakura Museum has been collecting oral histories. An informant told the museum that in the decade before she was born in 1910 (and not after), there was a "race track on the Henry farm in Drury". Another informant said: "Punters arrived from Auckland on a train, and the races were served by bookies". Perhaps the track discontinued during World War I and never re-opened xiv) .

William Aberdare's will was made on 29 Oct, 1912 and left everything to his wife Margaret Jane Patterson STRONG, which created a problem at the time of probate in 1947, since his wife found that her birth had only been registered in the name of Margaret Jane. William Aberdare's estate and effects were valued for probate as under £1,600, and his occupation was given as a saddler xv).

After William's death, Margaret left Drury and lived with her sister-in-law Mary GEE (née STRONG) and her daughter Dolly at 20 Thornton Road, Cambridge NZ. The family knew them as the "Three Widows of Thornton Rd xvi). See my page Mary for a photo of the house as well as the three widows. When Mary died in 1955, it is assumed that Margaret had to move on at the age of 75 to live in the Shalom Rest Home, 4 Kingsview Rd Mt Eden, Auckland, where she later died on 26 Dec 1968, at the age of 88 xvii). Her death notice said:

"STRONG, Margaret Jane. On December 26, 1968, at a private hospital, Auckland (formerly of Drury), beloved wife of the late William Aberdeare (sic), loved mother of Robert, Wallace (Auckland) and Joseph (Wellington) and loving grandmother of Brian, Heather and Penelope; in her 89th year. At rest. A service will be held at W.H. Tongue and Son's chapel, 1 Mt Eden Rd, on Monday at 12 noon, funeral then leaving for a committal service at Papakura Public Cemetery at 12.45 p.m. All communications to 15 Coleman Ave, Mt Roskill." xviii)

Gravestone of William and Margaret STRONGGravestone of William and Margaret STRONG.
Photo: PD Strong, 2002.

The latter address was for her son Robert William, who organized the funeral xix). Both Margaret and William were buried in the Presbyterian Section of Papakura Cemetery Auckland xx). (Above is the gravestone of William and Margaret STRONG. Photo: PD Strong 2002.) Their headstone reads:

In Loving Memory of
William Aberdare STRONG
Dearly loved husband of Margaret
Died 2-3-1947, aged 72.
And Margaret Jane, his beloved wife
Died 26-12-1968, age 88

      i)  Robert William STRONG: Interviewed by Brian Strong. 1978.
      ii)  STRONG Family Bible, held by Philip Strong.
      iii)  Pers. comm Brian and Irene STRONG.
      iv)  Postal directories & electoral rolls.
      v)  Marriage of William Aberdare Strong & Margaret Jane Strong. Reg# 1903/251. Registrar of BDM, NZ.
      vi)  Baron Aberdare. Southern Cross; 20 Mar 1875.
      vii)  Clarke, Ernest. Chalk Cheese and Chimney Pots- A History of the Drury School and Districts. Wright & Jacques, Auckland NZ; 10, 20.
      viii)  Pers. comm. Jill Cargill.
      ix)  Drury Presbyterian Church records.
      x)  Pers. comm. RGD STRONG.
      xi)  Pers. comm. Olive LOWE (née STEEN) d. 30 Jun 2006
     xii)  Death Notices: William Aberdare STRONG. New Zealand Herald; Auckland; 3 & 4 Mar, 1947.
      xiii)  Pers.comm. Heather TRIGG (née STRONG).
      xiv)  Pers. comm. Kay Thomas, Papakura Museum.
      xv)  William Aberdare STRONG’s Will and Probate file from the NZ Supreme Court Northern District (Auckland Registry) # P 293/1947. Agency: BBAE. Series: 1570. Box/ Item: Box 768. Record: 293/1947.
      xvi)  Pers. comm. Rita Neve.
      xvii)  Death of Margaret Jane Patterson STRONG . Reg# 1968/1/5386. Registrar of BDM, NZ.
      xviii)  Death notice of Margaret Jane Strong. New Zealand Herald; 28 Dec 1968.
      xix)  Funeral Director’s Records. WH Tongue, 1 Mt Eden Rd, Auckland NZ.
      xx)  Papakura Cemetery burial records in print-out kept at sexton’s shed in cemetery grounds.
      xxi)  Family Bible: Owned by Margaret STEEN (née WALLACE), b. 4 June 1854.
      xxii)  Ship Baron Aberdare. Jubilee Reunion. Auckland Star; (a) 17 Mar 1925: 3. (b) 20 Mar 1925: 10. (c) 16 Mar 1935: 11.
      xxiii)  Birth of William Aberdare STRONG. Reg# 1875/542. Registrar of BDM, NZ.
      xxiv)  Statement of Births and Deaths amongst the Government Emigrants by the Ship (Baron Aberdare).
      xxv)  Obituary. Mr. W.A. Strong, Pukehohe, Friday. Unidentified newspaper clipping.
      xxvi)  Immigrants expected: immigrants per Baron Aberdare. Daily Southern Cross; 24 Feb 1875: 2.
      xxvii)  Port of Auckland: Baron Aberdare. Daily Southern Cross; 20 Mar 1875: 2.
     xxviii)   Marriage of William STEEN & Margaret WALLACE, 3 Jul 1873. Registered 1873 at Clogher, Co. Tyrone, vol. 13, page 89.
     xxix)   Pers. comm. Elisabeth Cradwick.
     xxx)   Golden Wedding: William & Margaret STEEN. New Zealand Herald; 3 Jul 1923.
    xxxi)   Pers. comm. Jen Steen
    xxxii)   Death of William John STEEN. Reg# 1929/000549. Registrar of BDM, NZ.
     xxxiii)   Death of Margaret STEEN. Reg# 1936/023306. Registrar of BDM, NZ.

The Story Continues