Mary's father Patrick McCarthy was a Fencible who, along with his wife Ellen nee McSweeny and young son John arrived in New Zealand aboard the 'Sir Robert Seymour' in November 1847. Mary, born a year later in 1848, was one of the earliest European births in New Zealand. Patrick was granted his block of land in Howick in 1854. This land was in Moore St, and was the top block running directly behind the existing shops in Picton St.
Apart from the fact that Patrick was a devout Catholic donating to the church in Howick, nothing is known about their daily lives. Patrick was only 56yrs old, when due to general debility, he died in 1861. He is buried in the churchyard of the Howick Catholic Church. I recently search this graveyard for a headstone but found nothing.
Following his father's death, their son John became the breadwinner. He was a seaman and was on board the 'Julia' when it foundered on the Takatu Point in 1871. Confirmation of his being onboard was confused by the thick Irish accent, and his being recorded as John McHardy, which could sound like McCarthy.
Colonist, Volume XIV, Issue 1438, 7 July 1871, Page 6:
The schooner Julia has been wrecked at Takatu Point, Auckland, and John M'Hardy, a seaman, drowned.
From the inquest:
The body was first discovered by the natives, who took the wise precaution to cover up the body with earth, to preserve it from the native dogs, rats,or birds. The following evidence was taken (from) David (a native), on being sworn, deposed. Peter Antonio interpreting, that he went down to the beach on Thursday morning, when he saw something on the sand looking white. On going near it, he saw that it was a body, which he supposed had washed ashore from some vessel, and he immediately came back and told Tenetahi, another native... He reported the circumstance to the settlers on Saturday. He could not inform the settlers before on account of the wet weather. The present decomposed state of the body renders positive identification impossible. The remains were decently placed in a coffin prepared by the settlers. Mr. G. M. Picken read the funeral service in a solemn and impressive manner.
This death is not recorded on the NZ death index, as positive identification was not possible. Meanwhile Mary and her mother remained in Howick, as far as is known. Romance was waiting however, and soon Mary met English-born John Pennell, who had come to New Zealand with his parents as an infant.
John and Mary Pennell were married in 1865. After some time at Howick, the family moved to Panmure into Pigs Rd (now Kings Rd) living in the home that later became Allen's Nursery on the corner of King and Riverview Rds. They had two daughters there, Elizabeth born in 1865 and Ellen born in 1867. John and his brother Ralph went to Thames to seek gold in 1868, with two more daughters, Mary born 1869 in Howick and Sarah in Pakuranga in 1871. Soon after that the entire family joined John in Thames, with their daughter Hannah born there in 1873. They then had two more sons, John (Jack) born 1875 and Thomas born 1878. At this stage, John and Mary moved to Paeroa and were living on the Thames Road, Paeroa by 1880 when their son William was born. They continued to add to their family in Paeroa, with James born 1881, George in 1883, Joseph in 1885, Ellen in 1889 and Nelson in 1895. This large family of 5 daughters and 6 sons were reared in the old home in Thames Road.
John's brother, Ralph married Esther Smith in 1866. Ralph came to Thames in 1870 to join his brother seeking gold but was later farming on the Rahu Road, at Karangahake. Ralph and Esther had ten children.
'Two Pennell brothers brought their families from Howick to Ohinemuri soon after the opening of the Goldfield - Ralph to farm on the Rahu Road, at Karangahake, and John and his wife Mary to live in Paeroa. Their old home on Thames Road (once surrounded by animals of all descriptions) is still occupied by a descendent, Mrs. Jim Pullan. The large Pennell family was reared there - 5 daughters and 6 sons, one of whom, George now shares the home with his niece. The others were the late Mesdames Mary Neil (Paeroa); Sarah Horspool (Auckland); Hannah Clark (Paeroa); Helen Goldsworthy (Frankton); and Mabel Shearson (Auckland) as well as the late Tom (Auckland); Jack (Auckland); Jim (Paeroa); and Harold (Paeroa). Seaver, who now lives in Auckland, married Minnie a daughter of the late Mrs. Fallon so well known in Karangahake and Paeroa, and their son Phil is in charge of Road Services in Paeroa. (George and Jack were Jockeys, who rode throughout the Auckland Province for many years.)'
J. Pennell contributed 2s 6d to the McAuliffe Relief Fund Subscription List in 1874 and was working at the Queen of Beauty Mine, Thames. (Thames Advertiser, 12 Jun 1874.)
Ellen Pennell was a pupil of the Thames Convent School in 1875, showing 'general improvement'. (Thames Advertiser, 5 March 1875.)
John and Mary were living at Thames Road Paeroa when their eldest daughter, Bessie Stonehill/Stonell died in 1897:
Ohinemuri Gazette, 29 May 1897:
DEATH. STONEHILL.-On May 21, Bessie, beloved wife of H. Stonehill. Aged 32 years. The funeral will leave Her Parents Residence, Thames Road at 3 pm.
Bessie's two sons, Harry and Thomas Stonell were brought up by John and Mary Pennell, their grandparents, at the family farm in Paeroa. The boys' father, Harrison Henry Stonehill/Stonell died in 1908.
Tragedy struck the family again in 1908. William Pennell, a son of Mary and John, was a worker at the Crown mine at Karangaheke. He had married his sweetheart Agnes Rolton in 1903. In May 1908, they had two children with another due any day when William tragically died. Ohinemuri Gazette, 8 May 1908:
Quite a gloom was cast over Paeroa last night, when it became known that Mr William Pennell had passed away at the Thames Hospital. Deceased had been working in the Crown Mine at Karangahake a few weeks ago, and contracted blood poisoning, being ordered to the hospital. He gradually became worse, and died last night. Deceased, who was quite a young man, was well-known and popular both in Paeroa and Karangahake, and sincere regret is felt for his relatives in their sad affliction. He leaves a wife and young family to mourn their loss.
Despite being the mother of a by now large brood of children, Mary became an early midwife in the Paeroa and Thames areas.
'NURSE MARY PENNELL By Ivy Hawkin.
Long before Paeroa had a hospital or even a Doctor, it was customary for housewives to go to the assistance of those who needed medical care. There were many who did this, particularly in the case of neighbours or friends, but one who devoted her life to the work was Nurse Mary Pennell, often referred to as 'The Grand Old Lady of Paeroa'. A Ward in the present Maternity Hospital is dedicated to her memory.
She thought nothing of walking for miles when the call for help came, and whether it was a case of sickness, accident, birth or death, her reassuring presence would be there at the first possible moment. Not for money did she do her good deeds, for, to her, being able to help was ample reward.
Early Paeroa Doctors who valued Nurse Pennell's help were Dr. Forbes (1895 - 98); Dr. Buckley (1896 - ) and Dr. Smith (1900 - ) while Mr. Fraser and Mr. De Castro were Chemists.'
When official registration of Midwives commenced in New Zealand, provision was made for experienced midwives to be officially registered by the New Zealand Government, without further training:
The New Zealand Gazette: 1916 p 1073:
'Class B: Midwives registered under the Midwives Act, having satisfied the Registrar that at the Commencement of this Act they had been for at least Three Years in bona fide Practice as Midwives, and that they bear a Good Character.'
The New Zealand Gazette 1916 Vol 1 p 1076: Midwives, Class B includes the Registration as a Midwife of:
This same notice appeared in The New Zealand Gazette 1917, page 1372, the year before Mary's death.
Auckland Star 3 December 1918:
'OLD COLONIST'S DEATH. Born in Howick 73 years ago, Mrs Mary Pennell, who died recently from influenza, was one of the first European babies in that township. Deceased had resided for many years at Paeroa, and came to Auckland to nurse her son, who was attacked by the epidemic, with the result that she also caught the disease, which in her case caused death. Of her seven sons, four have been on active service.'
Ohinemuri Gazette, 29 November 1918:
OBITUARY. NURSE PENNELL. THE MOTHER OF PAEROA. 'A GRAND OLD LADY'. THE END OF AN ACTIVE LIFE.
The sad news that Mrs M. (Nurse) Pennell had passed away at Auckland at Nine o'clock on Thursday morning was received in this town with profound regret. Learning that her son Harold (Puckey), who went to Auckland some three weeks ago, had contracted influenza, she left immediately to nurse him. While there she was stricken down and as a result of a relapse double pneumonia set in, and she passed away as above stated.
To say she was a 'grand old lady' is not giving her credit which is her due, but no words of our - or any other - pen could describe her sufficiently. The deceased lady was born at Howick on December 10 1845, and was amongst the first European women to be born there. She lived through and saw all the stirring times of the pioneers of the Dominion, and could relate many instances of early life in Auckland. When the Thames goldfields broke out she went with her husband to Thames, later removing to Waitawheta, and then to Paeroa, where the family has been settled ever since. She was familiarly called the Mother of Paeroa, and there were few homes, especially in the early days, for miles around that she did not visit. Wind or hail did not deter her from visiting the sick, whether or not there was any fee. She nursed the sick, and to her lasting credit walked miles if there was no conveyance to do her duty. She was one amongst thousands, and her open-heartedness and charity was felt by hundreds, often giving her last shilling to help along some poor unfortunate, and as the proverb says 'Did not let her left hand know what her right hand was doing.' Her work was never done, night and day she would go out with a smiling face to do something for humanity's sake, and never for one moment thought of herself. Her many kind actions will live in the memory of thousands of households for many years to come. It was her nature - she could not do an unkind action to anybody, and where there was sickness of any kind, it was to Nurse Pennell that the appeal went forth, and she never refused. She was the mother of one of the largest families on the goldfields and during the past war had no less than ten representatives at the front, all of whom have given a good account of themselves. Of her seven sons, four have seen active service, namely, Tom, Jim, George and Harold; her son-in-law, William Clarke who was killed in the battle of the Somme, and five grandsons, Willie Pennell, Monte Neil and Herbert, Frank and Tom Stonell. A record to be indeed proud of. The three sons remaining at home are Jack and Joe of Paeroa and Percy of Opotiki, who died of pneumonia on the 15th inst. The daughters now living are Mesdames Neil (Paeroa), Horspool (Auckland), Clarke (Paeroa) and Goldsworthy (Morrinsville). Two sons William and Nelson, and two daughters Mrs McConnell and Mrs Stonell predeceased her.
Naturally with so many of her own at the front, she took a very keen interest in the war, and it was her great joy when she learnt of the armistice and the thought that she would have around her once more those dear ones who had been spared. She was looking forward to the day when they would return, but God has willed it otherwise. All her brave lads have, however done their duty and done it well, and we hope to publish at some future date the doings of each.
We extend to her sorrowing husband and family our sincere sympathy in their sad affliction.
The remains were interred at the Waikaraka Cemetery, Auckland today.
Ohinemuri Gazette, 29 November 1918:
DEATH. PENNELL. —On November 28, at Auckland, of double pneumonia, Mary (Nurse) Pennell, dearly be loved wife of John Pennell, Thames Road, Paeroa, aged 72 years. Rest in Peace.
Ohinemuri Gazette, 16 Dec 1918:
Mr J. PENNELL, senr and Family of Thames Road, Paeroa, wish to express their sincere thanks to all kind friends who sympathised with them in the loss of their dear wife and mother; also their beloved son and brother, Percy: Also for telegrams, letters, cards and floral emblems received.
Percy, who was actually the eldest son of John and Mary's daughter Hannah, had been married less than a year when he died:
Ohinemuri Gazette, 8 April 1918:
MARRIAGE: PENNELL-SKELTON: On April 1, 1918, at St Mary's Church, Paeroa by Rev. Father Dumphy, Percy the sixth son of Mr and Mrs J. Pennell, Thames Road, Paeroa to Grace, eldest daughter of Mr J. F. Skelton of Opotiki.
Mary's eldest son John Robert (Jack) Pennell also died of influenza on 23rd December 1918:
Ohinemuri Gazette 23 December 1918:
DEATH. PENNELL.-On December 23, at the Thames Hospital of pneumonia, John Robert, dearly beloved husband of Edith Pennell and dearly loved eldest son of John and the late Mary Pennell of Thames Road, Paeroa; aged 43 years. Rest in Peace. The funeral will leave from his father's residence, Thames Road, tomorrow (Tuesday) morning at eleven oclock for Paeroa Cemetery.'
Also their grandson, William Roy Neil: Auckland Star 16 Dec 1918:
Owing to a regrettable oversight the name of William Roy Pennell appeared in the 'Star' on the 6th inst. as having succumbed to the epidemc. It should have read William Roy Neil. Young Neil was a grandson of the late Mrs J. Pennell of Paeroa who succumbed to the malady a few days before in Auckland. Mrs Pennell had eleven represenatives (seven sons, three grandsons and one son-in-law) at the front, viz., George, Harold, James, Tom, Bert, Frank and Willie. The grandsons were Harry Stonehill, Tom Stonehill and Monte Neil: the son-in-law William Clarke was killed in action at the battle of the Somme. Another son, Percy was carried away by the epidemic at Opotiki a few weeks ago.'
The following show the high regard in which Mary was held.
Ohinemuri Gazette, 30 May 1919:
'NURSE PENNELL MEMORIAL. Sir,—Would you please hand to Mr Charles Brunskill enclosed cheque for £5 I read his letter in your issue of the 23rd inst His eloquent tribute to the memory of the late Mary Pennell touched my heart and must have struck a responsive chord in the hearts of all who knew her in life. She was the most self-sacrificing woman I came in contact with during my 30 years' ministry in New Zealand. You, sir, paid a splendid tribute to her memory on the occasion of her sad death at Auckland. But; we must not allow the name of Mary Pennell to go the way of the perishable pulp of the linotype machine. We must keep it "green," as Mr Brunskill says, in the form of some fitting and lasting memorial.—l am, etc., MONSIGNOR HACKETT- Ellerslie May 27, 1919.'
Ohinemuri Gazette, 9 June 1919:
'THE NURSE PENNELL MEMORIAL: In response to the public notification given by his Worship The Mayor (Mr P.E. Brenan) a meeting was held at the Coronation Chambers on Friday afternoon to discuss the matter of erecting a memorial to the late Nurse Pennell... The meeting had been called upon requests made to him as the Mayor to consider the question of a memorial to that 'Grand Old Lady', the late Nurse Mary Pennell, who as the majority knew lost her life whilst doing what she could for humanity during the epidemic, which swept through the country at the latter end of last year. The deceased lady who can be termed the Foster Mother of Paeroa, is better known amongst the older residents of our town, and the surrounding districts, and it is from amongst them the feeling is that it is but right and proper that some form of memorial should be erected to commemorate the memory of the late nurse. Mrs Pennell he could remember for the past 25 years, and older residents for upwards of 40 years, and he ventured to say that during the whole of that time no call for help ever came to Mrs Pennell that did not meet with prompt assistance. He remembered but a few years ago the deceased lady was asked to attend a lady taken suddenly ill on Christmas Day. The call reached the nurse whilst she was enjoying her Christmas dinner, and she immediately left her dinner to attend to the sick and suffering. That is only one of the many instances in the life of the late Mrs Pennell. The matter is now in our hands. He suggested a committee of say 15 be elected, also a secretary to get to work and obtain necessary funds to erect a memorial. The form the memorial would take should, he thought, he left to a later date, with a view to seeing what funds are available. The deceased lady was buried in Onehunga, and it is questionable whether her remains can be transferred. The memorial would, he thought, be better erected in the town where she had lived and laboured so well. He thought it would be advisable, seeing that Mrs Pennell's activities were not confined to Paeroa, to elect to the committee some living outside the town...
Mr Hanna said he thought the most suitable form of memorial would be to collect sufficient money to build a cottage hospital and to name one of the wards the 'Mary Pennell Ward'....
Dr Smith said that as one connected with the late nurse for 19 years, he would like to add his appreciation of the good work she had done. She was absolutely devoted to her duty, and he would suggest that an endeavour be made to get a cottage hospital and add her name in some way. He thought that this would be the most typical form of recognition. If however they could not get a cottage hospital, they should endeavour to founder a maternity home.
Mr Geo Keeling said that they should not be afraid to launch out, and that they could not aim too high. From what he knew of the late nurse, and what she had done, surely £500 or even more would be easily collected....One speaker said that if some people were to give £100 they would not then be paying sufficient for money could never repay the many acts of charity and kindness that had been performed by the late Nurse Pennell.'
The Pennell boys and their immediate family were not slow in enlisting for WW1, with one loosing his life:
SONS OF JOHN AND MARY PENNELL OF PAEROA WHO ENLISTED:
GRANDSONS OF JOHN AND MARY PENNELL WHO ENLISTED:
SON-IN-LAW OF JOHN AND MARY PENNELL, HUSBAND OF THEIR DAUGHTER HANNAH WHO WAS KILLED IN ACTION:
Ohinemuri Gazette, 11 October 1916:
FAREWELL SOCIAL. NEXT FRIDAY EVENING:A social is to be held in St Mary's schoolroom on Friday evening next to afford friends of Mr P. Martin and Private W. Pennell an opportunity of bidding goodbye to these two young men... Private Pennell, who is on final leave, has resided in Paeroa all his life, and is well known. He is also a member of St Mary's choir, and is the eighth member of the Pennell family to proceed to the front, a record that is hard to beat, and one that should be honoured by the townspeople.
Ohinemuri Gazette, 11 October 1916:
A DEPARTED SOLDIER. Meeting old friends. The late Corporal Beresford-Wilkinson, writing to a friend in Paeroa from Aerodrome Camp, Heliopolis, under date 30 Nov 1915 says: .... Yesterday I was very much surprised when I met Puck (Harold) Pennell. My word he does look well. He is at present about 14 miles out of Cairo on transports. Jim (Pennell) he and the rest of the Paeroa boys had a great chat together. Dick (Stonell) has gone to England and so has George (Pennell)... Amongst the horses that 'Puck' is looking after is 'PAEROA'. Puck says he is looking very fit...'
Ohinemuri Gazette, 13 November 1916:
A FIGHTING FAMILY: Of late we have heard a good deal about Fighting Families and not that they wish to boast of what they are doing or have done the Pennell family of this town will rank high in constituting a record of fighters. Four sons, five grandsons, and a son-in-law is the proud response to the Empire's call, and all were brought up under the roof of Mrs John Pennell, of the Thames Road, with the exception of one grandson, Private Monte Neil and the son-in-law, Private W. A. (Ponto) Clarke. -The four grandsons, who have been reared from infancy by Mrs Pennell, have always been looked upon as part of the Pennell family, in fact it was not until they actually enlisted that the public, knew that they were not members of the family. The eldest Tom (Tike) Pennell left with the Tunnellers. George, who was famous throughout the Dominion as a horseman, joined the 23rd Australian Battalion; he has had an experience at the front that few others will ever have. At the big battle at Pozieres he was reported missing, and some weeks elapsed before he was reported safe and rejoined his unit. A photograph taken with three other members who were the only survivors of his unit show the awful time they had. From last reports he is now in Belgium with the Australians. The fourth son, Harold (Pucky), was the first to enlist, and left with the First Expeditionary Force, with his nephew Harry Stonell; Tom Pennell, the second grandson, left with the 17th Reinforcements; Monte Neil with the 18th Reinforcements, and Will and Bert Pennell are leaving with the 19ths.
Ohinemuri Gazette, 11 Jan 1918:
JOY AND SORROW, WELCOME HOME. On Wednesday afternoon, Private 'Puckey' Pennell returned to Paeroa, a large number of people.. assembling to meet him. 'Puckey' left New Zealand with the Main Body, and was invalided home about three months ago, and has been an inmate of the Auckland Hospital since that time. He was suffering from severe wounds in the throat, and has had a very trying time. He is looking fairly well, but is still suffering from partial loss of voice.
On the evening of the arrival of 'Puckey', his parents arranged a pleasant social gathering at their residence on Thames Road in honour of their son's home-coming. A large number of friends and relations assembled. Many words of welcome were exchanged in honour of the returned soldier, and a most enjoyable evening was spent.
Ohinemuri Gazette, 18 Jan 1918:
WELCOME HOME TO PRIVATE HAROLD PENNELL: A very enjoyable evening was spent at Mr and Mrs Pennell's home on Thames Road, Paeroa, on Tuesday evening last, on the occasion of their son's Private Harold Pennell return from the front... In dealing with the Pennell family, Mr W.J. Moore said that he had known Mr and Mrs Pennell for the last 30 years. They were honourable and upright and patriotic citizens, and when the Empire was in danger every one of them fit to shoulder a rifle rushed to her assistance.
Ohinemuri Gazette, 1 August 1919:
WELCOME HOME TO PRIVATE GEORGE PENNELL: A very pleasant social evening given by Mr J. Pennell senr and family was held at their home, Thames Road, last evening, on the occasion of the return of the last member of the family, Private George Pennell, of the Australian Light Infantry. About 20 returned soldiers were present. Mr James Donovan, a returned soldier, on proposing the health of the Pennell family, paid special tribute to the late Mr 'Ponto' Clarke and other members of the family who responded to their country's call and took part in many a hard-fought battle.
Mr W. Bain, who was also present, said he felt that he could not let the occasion pass without paying tribute to one of the oldest families in Paeroa. In fact, it was questionable if there was a family in any part of the Dominion who sent as many representatives to the war as the Pennell family. In his concluding remarks he paid special tribute to the late Nurse Pennell, who, through her many acts of kindness and generosity during her professional career in extending a helping hand to those in need, justly entitles her to be called the 'Mother of Paeroa'.
Ohinemuri Gazette, 3 October 1919:
A large number of friends and well-wishers assembled at the residence of Mr J. Pennell Senr, Thames Road, on Wednesday last, on the occasion of his 85th birthday. The function was arranged by his sons and grandsons and other relatives of Mr Pennell who took part in the war. Mr Pennell was born in Cheshire, England and came to New Zealand with his parents when he was only 18 months old, and, like all the other pioneers of his day, he saw many ups and downs. He was engaged in many walks of life, such as mining, gumdigging, waggon-driving, horse-racing, and farming. When the Maori war broke out the life of a soldier appealed to him, and at the first opportunity he downed tools and joined the colours, and fought right through the different engagements, and had many hairbreadth escapes. On congratulating Mr Pennell, the Deputy-Mayor, Mr W. Taylor, said that evidently the fighting instinct was handed down from father to son, as when the late war broke out, those who were able to shoulder the rifle shook the New Zealand dust from their feet and entered the conflict. Mr Taylor regretted that Mr Pennell's partner, the late Nurse Pennell, whose name had been mentioned on several occasions in connection with patriotic movements, was not amongst them.
John Pennell died on the 14th April 1926 at home.