The 1st “Kiwi Kemp” in our family line?
Benjamin was born on 27th March 1832 . His baptism is recorded on 27th April 1832 at St Margaret’s Church, Kings Lynn, England. His residence at the time of baptism was recorded as All Saint’s Street, South Lynn near the banks of the Great Ouse river . Benjamin came from England to Australia as a cabin boy on a sailing ship belonging to his father John Kemp. So the story goes, he jumped ship and came over to New Zealand.
His mother was Mary Ann Gunton and she passed away when Benjamin was only 2 years old. Another relative, Gilbert George Kemp recalls that Benjamin was brought up by an elder sister. It is clear from the 1841 census that he was at Boarding School in St James’s Street, Kings Lynn aged 8 years. This was easy to confirm as his schoolmaster “Mr Carver”is also recorded on the Census and is mentioned in one of the letters below. Benjamin had two brothers named John and James and three sisters named Abigail, Susanna and Mary Anne. His father John was a Master Mariner and owned a ship called the “Sarah Mills”. It is clear that his father cared deeply for his youngest son Benjamin, and missed him terribly in his later years. Read the letter John sent to Benjamin.
Another letter sent to Benjamin after John’s death, likely from a sister, also makes poignant reading. In those days, it might take more than a year to send a letter and receive a reply…
Before his marriage to Mary Ann Windebank, he was a sawyer in partnership with Charlie Wan at Takaka, Nelson, New Zealand.
Benjamin, his wife Mary Ann and seven of his children survived the great flood of 1877.
Most of their family were born in the Moutere area where they farmed for many years. Benjamin and Mary retired to Motueka when their youngest son Wilfred went off to the First World War. Sadly, Wilfred did not return home – which must have been devastating for his parents and siblings.