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Damico, John - how did he get to New Zealand

John Damico married my great grandmother in Dunedin, New Zealand. The marriage took place in a Roman Catholic Chapel 29 December 1863. He was 24 years old, and a miner. She was Mary Sarah Jamieson, aged 18 years. They travelled from Dunedin to the goldfields of Central Otago by dray. They slept under it at night. That is the last record of him until Mary Sarah married again in the eighties. There was a statement on her marriage certificate that she was a widow, as from 7 April 1877. I do not know why this would appear on a certificate, especially so exactly, unless perhaps there was a wait of seven years, or something, for him to be declared dead. Has anyone else ever seen that on a marriage document? Mary Sarah ended up in Waikaia, Southland, New Zealand. My grandmother appears to have been her first child.

I would like to know how John Damico got to New Zealand or if he left here. The name Damico could be Italian, where, I am told that it is as common as 'Smith'. Or this name could be Portuguese. I say this because there is a vague connection with Portugal.

The witnesses to John Damico's wedding in 1863 were Joseph P. Cesere, and Ann/Tom Kemp (I cannot read the name clearly)

Mary Sarah Jamieson (born c1845) came to New Zealand in her teens with her mother Sarah Jamieson, nee Macdonald, so it could have been as late as 1863 that they travelled to NZ, possibly through Australia. I have wondered if they were all on the same ship. Joseph Cesare was listed as the Master of the Aldinga (or a word like that) and then there is the word 'Restaurant', but I wonder if that is related to the other witness. Mary could write and so could Joseph, but Ann/Tom could barely manage, and John used a cross for his siganture.

I have wondered if John Damico was a member of the crew of a ship. Where can I get information about that?

I know that there was a ship named Aldinga, one of two, that plied the waters beteen Australia and New Zealand frequently, with our post. I thought there was also a place in Australia called Aldinga?

One aunt, born in the 1880s, said, 'Oh that'll be the Jamaican.' Nothing else. Subsequent research shows that that connection probably applied somewhere else though.

The name Damico is quite common in the USA, but the entries that I have seen are all too late for our John.

Any suggestions welcome. I've been in front of this brick wall for forty years.

13 comment(s), latest 2 weeks, 3 days ago

Lammas, Martha - Looking for marriage of Martha Lammas to T Griffin

Martha Lammas!


I am trying to find out how my great grandmother, Martha, made her way to New Zealand from Australia between 1857 and 1865. This is proving difficult because Martha could have been known by any one of three surnames by this time. Her father, Leonard, was born to Harriet Lummis (Lammas) and his official records show his surname to have been LAMMAS, even though he appears to have adopted the surname BROCK for family life when his mother married later on. Leonard LAMMAS married Phoebe PUNCHARD.


Martha LAMMAS, born in 1844 in Norfolk, emigrated to Sandhurst (Bendigo) Australia with her family on the Grand Trianon in 1857, aged 14. They were all listed in the passenger list as LAMMAS, but upon reaching Australia they adopted the surname BROCK or LAMMAS-BROCK.


Most family members stayed in Australia, but Martha, and probably another Lammas relative, came on to New Zealand some time later. I have not been able to find what ship or ships brought them here. They were in Hokitika in the early 1860s before the gold rush began in earnest in 1865 (and BEFORE the imaginary nasties populating Eleanor Cattons novel The Luminaries arrived, naturally!!)


People had a confused notion that a goldfield meant a sink of iniquity . . . But on the West Coast, at any rate, there was a remarkable absence of crime and lawlessness. A miner on being asked if he did not think that the Coast was unlike the fields in California in the orderly nature of the Population, replied, Ive got the matter of 25 ounces of gold on me and if I was in California Id have a couple of revolvers too; you wont see a weapon here on any miner, and Ive never yet heard of any case of sticking up or robbery except those Australian bushrangers, who didnt belong to the place . . . its something in the country, and the people somehow. Law rules here, and it dont there
(Source The Greymouth Borough Council Centennial Book O H Jackson)


In looking closely at their lives, it is clear that emigrants from Britain left a country where they could see no future. A very large proportion came to New Zealand simply for a better life. They took what work they could get, and that generally included hard work like mining and menial work. All of our ancestors knew the meaning of hard work.


Martha appears to have married either before leaving Australia or shortly after arriving in New Zealand but I can find no record of this. In 1865, she was legally recorded as Martha, wife of T GRIFFIN, formerly Lammas. No mention of the surname Brock in New Zealand.


Martha LAMMAS, after working as a barmaid and singer in Hokitika, moved on to Southland, but her relative remained on the Coast. This relatives life and family are well documented in Nelson, but I have no actual proof of relationship as yet. It was in discussion with a ninety year old member of this Lammas branch of the family, thirty years ago, that I first found out about a name change. She told me about it, and remembered a cabin trunk that had one name inside and another name on the outside, even though that trunk had only ever belonged to the Lammas family. Unfortunately she could not remember the new name, thinking only that it could have been Randall. Our minds ran riot!


That name-change convinces me of a definite link between the two branches of the Lammas family in New Zealand.


An old Hokitika newspaper clipping revealed that Martha LAMMAS was requested to communicate with her mother, Mrs BROCK, Sandhurse (sic) urgently, in 1868. Eventually we discovered that Sandhurst was an old name for Bendigo, and then we found the rest of Marthas family there. What this indicates to us is that Phoebe Brock did not know that her daughter had married. Must we therefore assume that the marriage occurred in New Zealand? I cant find it. Phoebe obviously did not know that Martha had already left Hokitika at least three to four years previously.


So, Martha married firstly T GRIFFIN, secondly(?) James JOYCE (father of her first child William James), and thirdly George MOFFITT in 1868. Our grandfather was raised as William James MOFFITT, and was, according to family legend, the first European child born in Nokomai, Southland, New Zealand, in 1865.


Martha intrigues me. Her early life was clearly varied and colourful, but she was a strong woman who went from strength to strength. Widowed in 1879, she raised her children alone, making sure that they all married well; she ran a farm; she bought and sold property; she managed a shop, and later on a boarding house; all the while fulfilling singing engagements. What a woman!

3 comment(s), latest 4 weeks, 1 day ago