It would have been wonderful to
have read those letters sent back to the Homeland - to learn first hand
of their struggles and difficulties and to view through their eyes the
country as it was then. They would have conveyed so much of the writer
and the atmosphere of the time. Each of us have had stories, often true
experiences, told to us at a time when we are too young to comprehend;
then life gets in the way and by the time we are ready to listen, the
teller of the tales is no longer there.
From the images and experiences of
others we realise what John and Ann Guilford and their three young sons,
William, James and Henry John had to contend with as they left England
in their small sailing ship - a trying and dangerous voyage of many
months in duration and to admire their grit and determination as
they stepped ashore at Lyttelton, breaking that last link and
severing the past.
Their life began again under what
must have seemed bewildering conditions. Gone were the habits and
customs, routine of living, occupations, duties and interests that had
remained unchanged from generation to generation. In this new land they
had to make practically everything they required, carrying on an endless
variety of work which was often new to them.
A home had to be established - very
different from those of today and although primitive at first, a real
home, under conditions which were inconceivably difficult and arduous.
The country had to be tamed as it was practically roadless except for
mud tracks, fit only for sledge or bullock dray. The work was hard and
the hours long; the food was simple and frequently far from plentiful.
Thrift was a necessity, leisure limited and an outing was a pleasure to
be looked forward to and the memory of perhaps the one great event of
the year, something to be treasured. A home, humble in dimensions and
equipment, food and clothing, all achieved by the utmost effort of every
member of the family, young and old, who were able to assist. Their
faith, was their strength. We, their descendants, are the reward of each
generation's individual effort and enterprise.
The gift of a Diary, written in
1911 by Henry John, one year before his death at the age of 65 years, is
a legacy that will not be lost with time. Henry died the following year
of Epthelionia (cancer of the tongue which had been removed some years
before his death) and this misfortune resulted in his writing the family
details. A man of courage and determination, his daughter Mary Cowen
Angus stated" He dominated the household with a pad and pencil even
after he could no longer speak."
My father was named after him and
Nancy Winstanley wrote to me: "This is a story that your Dad, Henry
Guilford told me at Christchurch at our first Guilford Reunion in 1976.
He said: " Old John had much in common with Noah. He arrived in a new
country with three sons and when they were grown, told them to go forth
and multiply. In those days, they always did what their father said!" My
father was a wise and astute man.
Cicero, a Roman statesman and
orator said - "Not to know what happened before we were born is to
remain potentially a child. For what is the worth of a human life unless
it is woven into that of our ancestors".
Winsome Griffin (nee