A WINDOW INTO THE LIFE OF VIOLET DACRE (1875 - 1951)
One of the spin-offs in having an interest in writing family history is the enjoyment of building up networks of like-minded people. If you are lucky, an occasional long-lost relative will drift by in the sea of names. This is how I came to know of Sandra K.
Our common ancestor is one Samuel Cochrane (1813 – 1879), my 2x great grandfather. Sandra is descended from Samuel’s younger daughter, Sarah Cochrane, and me, Sarah’s brother, Samuel Charles Cochrane, the younger of Samuel’s two sons.
Perhaps it’s best not to continue Violet’s story without looking first into her family background, and in particular her grandfather, Captain Ranulph Dacre. In his obituary of 11/10/1884, he was described as “the oldest identity of Auckland”. First visiting New Zealand in 1820 soon after the infamous massacre of the Boyd, at the time of his death he was regarded as the oldest living person to have seen Auckland in its “native state when not a European dwelling was in existence.”
Born at Marwell Hall, Hampshire, England, Ranulph Dacre chose a seafaring life. After a lifetime of globe-trotting and multi-national business ventures, he settled in Auckland with his family in 1859.
One-time business partner to both James and Thomas Macky, both of whom had strong family ties to the Cochrane family, it was perhaps inevitable that a marriage between the two families should take place. And that’s exactly what happened when a young James Marwell Dacre, by this time in partnership in the auctioneering firm, Samuel Cochrane & Son, married Samuel’s youngest daughter, Sarah, in 1871. James would become the mainstay of this Auckland auctioneering business for many years to come.
James and Sarah acquired land in inner Auckland suburbs of Ponsonby and later, Parnell, with their four children, Ranulph, Violet, James and Margaret, known as Meta. To follow is a brief window into their daughter Violet’s life.
A life of music
Like many young women of Violet’s social background she indulged a passion for music. Although perhaps groomed for this lifestyle, it was still a very competitive vocation and you had to exhibit talent and dedication to win any sort of personal acclaim.
Violet’s her sister Meta faired just as well in her musical vocation, and the pair was frequently mentioned in the Auckland newspapers for their success and talent. Also mentioned was their cousin, Ella Macky. All three were pupils of piano-forte master, John Frederick Bennett.
The girls had the opportunity to put their talents to the test not only in local piano-forte recitals organised by their teacher, but sit examinations in practical and theory with the Associated Board of the Royal Academy and the Royal College of music in London.
In 1902, Meta, Violets’ sister, was the first music student in Auckland to receive a special certificate in recognition of her being successful in the entire range of the Associated Board’s series. Violet also achieved the same recognition along with the coveted gold medal from the Associated Board in 1901. (NZ Archives R10228461).
On 23/5/1902, just prior to her marriage to Alfred Stanley Orbell, Violet’s teacher, JF Bennett, tendered a valedictory concert in her honour. Violet was presented with a silver salver from her teacher and fellow pupils by visiting French soprano, Antonia Dolores Trebelli.
Violet married Alfred Stanley Orbell just a few days later, on the afternoon of 28/6/1902. An account of the wedding can be found in “The Observer” of the same date.
Ranulph Dacre m. Margaret Sea (1831)
Children: Julia, George, Ranulph, Henry, Frederick, Harriet, James Marwell, Charles Cravan, Life Septimus, Frances Catherine
James Marwell Dacre m. Sarah Cochrane (1871)
Children: Ranulph George, Violet Sarah, William, Margaret Esther
Violet Sarah Dacre m. Alfred Stanley Orbell (1902)
Children: Joyce Dacre Orbell, Yolande Violet Dacre Orbell, Nyree Dacre Orbell
Yolande Violet Orbell m Carl Turner (1934)
Children: Derek Daken Turner, Carole Yolande Turner, Diane Turner