What is this all about?
It is about a book - a very old book - that was left to me by my late mother a couple of years ago, and which belonged to my grandfather Charles Edwards before her. The book is titled New Zealand Ferns and contains 29 pressed fern cuttings from all over New Zealand which was made around 130 years ago in Auckland, by Mr Eric Craig.
What has also come with this book is a bit of a family mystery. The inscription on the first page of the book gives us some clues … “A present to Miss F Schofield from her brother Robert, Auckland New Zealand 29th April 1879” - so what is Robert's connection with the Edwards family tree? Who in our distant family travelled all the way to New Zealand in the middle of the 19th century and why? What would the journey have been like and how did he afford to embark on it? Already, so many questions and yet so few answers.
In the current age of fast cheap travel it is difficult to comprehend what an undertaking a journey to New Zealand must have been in the 1870’s. Today we may take a summer holiday on the Florida coast or perhaps stay in a ski chalet in France during the winter, and think little of it. But back in the 19th century, just getting to the UK coast for a break would have been an expensive adventure that few could afford, so New Zealand must have appeared like travelling to another world, beyond the reach of all but a few lucky souls prepared to endure a hazardous four month sea journey. Hopefully by unearthing some additional facts and dates we can determine why Robert travelled to the other side of the world, what happened to him, and how he may or may not be distantly related to me. That is what this website is all about.