KENDALL and MITTENS ANCESTORS
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THE STORY OF THE KENDALL and MITTENS FAMILIES
Thomas Yates was apparently an Englishman, who lived on St Helena
Island. St Helena is a small island in the Atlantic Ocean.
It was on St Helena that Napoleon Boneparte was imprisoned after
his defeat at the hands of the British, arriving there in
1815, and dying there in 1821. The population at the time
was several thousand, of whom the majority were black slaves.
Thomas Yates was a publican and had a daughter, Sophia, to a
mulatto woman (almost certainly a slave and not a wife). A mulatto
is the child of a white person and a African slave (and therefore
at that time a slave), and Sophia could be described as a
quadroon, (that is 1/4 African). Shortly after the birth of Sophia
Yates, her father Thomas Yates married for the first time in 1771
to a Mary Paddom, who died 1781. Thomas married a second
time to a Sarah Seager in 1781 and had at least two children.
Joseph Mittens probably was also a Negro slave, as was almost certainly Joseph and Sophia's son, Thomas and his wife Margaret Thomas. A photocopy of a photo of Maria Mittens (with husband William Kendall and one of their children, in which Maria shows some negroid features.
Joseph Mittens married Sophia Yates 16 May 1812 although the
first of their eight children (Joseph) was born in May of 1791.
One possible explanation for this is that they were not free until then. Also in the 1814 census for St Helena Island, Joseph is listed as having 3 cows and 3 calves.
This would indicate that he probably owned land and to do this he would have to be freed from slavery.
Thomas Mittens and Margaret Thomas probably married about 1817 or
1818 on St Helena Island although the actual date may have been
They had about seven children, all born on St Helena. It is of interest to note that an additional piece of information (Both free) has been written at the end of the baptisms record in a different (and later style) handwriting. This seems to confirm that they were slaves .
Birth/Baptism records for the first four children circa 1823
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Maria was born on 15/1/1825, the fifth child. It seems that in the late 1830's or early 1840's the Mittens family moved from St Helena to Cape Town.
In the late 1820's or early 1830's Britain freed all slaves in its dominions as a follow on from Abraham Lincoln's decision in the United States. Thus the Mitten's family became free. Also, Britain had acquired the Cape Colony (as South Africa was then known) as a war prize after defeating the Dutch in a war at the start of the 1800's. By 1830 they were having trouble getting settlers to go there, and as a partial solution they encouraged the Noble Negro's (as the freed slaves were known) to move there. It seems that this is what the Mitten's family did.
William Kendall was born somewhere in England round about 1825. He may have been born at Kingston-on-Hull, Leeds, Yorkshire, but there is also a family tradition that he came from Nottinghamshire where the family engaged in the lace trade. How and why he came to Cape Town is uncertain, although he may probably have been a soldier. In the early 1850's he met and married Maria Mittens (although no marriage record has been found and it would appear that Maria may still have been married to Thomas William WATMAN, as he did not die until 1888). Charlotte, was born about 1847 at Cape Town the father is unknown (most likely, Maria was unwed). Michael Thomas was born in 1850 in Cape Town, the son of Maria and Thomas William WATMAN. In the early 1850's Maria and William KENDALL got together and with Charlotte and Michael Thomas, they moved to Paarl, about thirty miles from Cape Town, where another six children were born to Maria and William KENDALL and William worked variously as a labourer and as a prison guard at the local prison. The last two children (making ten all told) were born at Onehunga, New Zealand after the family's move there.
What brought on the decision to move from South Africa to New
Zealand can only be guessed at today. The feeling is
that it was because of Maria being a African. Mixed marriages were
certainly frowned upon back then by the British and William
may have felt that life would he better in New Zealand,
where mixed white/Maori marriages were looked upon much more
favourably. There it would be easier to pass Maria off as a
Maori, or if not her then certainly the children. In any
event late in 1864, the family boarded the Eveline and
sailed for New Zealand, where the settled at Onehunga,
living in Church St.
William KENDALL Maria KENDALL (nee MITTEN)
The Kendall family's arrival in Auckland.
Extract from the shipping passenger list
Ship: 814 tons
Captain: James Taylor
Sailed from Cape of Good Hope 1864 - arrived Auckland January 22nd 1865
William 34 Stonemason
George William 11
William Harry 8
Sarah Ann 6
Mary Jane 3
James 3 months
Two more children were born in New Zealand, Charles Henry
KENDALL, 25 June 1866 (it is belived he died in infancy) and
Arthur henry KENDALL, 11 February 1868.
William Kendall's health apparently started to deteriorate after their arrival in New Zealand since he apparently had an inflammation on the lungs about 1865 from which he never totally recovered. On 19/6/1873 he was admitted to the Auckland Lunatic Asylum suffering form "Melancholia". He was discharged as "relieved" on 7/11/1873 but was re-admitted the following year. He died at the Asylum on 29/5/1875. Maria apparently made ends meet by working as a washerwoman. She died 23/2/1877. Both are buried at St Peter's Church, Onehunga.
St Peter's Church circa 1866
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Kendall grave at St Peter's Church
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Family tree for William KENDALL Family tree for Joseph MITTENS
I would like to acknowledge my immediate family, Peter McKay and the research of the Kendall researchers in NZ for contributions to this page.