People | Surnames

List of people in the Cooper and Clifton Family Tree database

Samuel Clifton

Born 9 SEP 1851, Bethnal Green, London
Died 30 SEP 1894, Karori, Wellington, NZ

Child of John Clifton and Mary James

Married Eve Morgan, 1882, Wellington, NZ
Children Arthur Clifton, Albert Clifton, Lillie Clifton, Ernest Clifton

Ancestor Chart

Coroner's Report: Ref - J46 COR 1894/629 - National Archives
Cause of Death - Stroke (apoplexy). Occ - Train Stoker.
Samuel Clifton is a bit of a mystery because there appears to be no rec ord of his immigration to New Zealand and there is no recorded link bet ween him and his parents.
What he looked like is known because there is this photograph of Eve an d Samuel in a typical Victorian husband and wife pose which was taken i n a studio in Ingestre Street(which later merged with Vivian Street) in Wellington and it is thought that this may have represented their marr iage ceremony in 1882(approx).
From an official point of view Samuel first appears on the New Zealand s cene in 1883, as the father, on the birth record of Arthur Clifton, (th e first of the CLIFTON children) - who was born on 22 February 1883 in A ramoho, Wanganui. On Arthur's record Samuel is shown as a Stoker(of tra in engines), born in London, aged 33. This would make his birth around 1 850/51. The London Birth records have been searched for a period of 6 y ears around this date and only two Samuel Clifton's were shown. One has been eliminated as still being in England in 1883 and the other is ass umed (for this family history) to be the correct one.
The "Red-headed" Cliftons family legend:
At a later date when two red-headed children were born to one of Samuel 's children(Albert) there was a contretemps over their parentage - betw een Eve and her daughter-in-law - until Edwin Phillips, who worked on a Coastal steamer mentioned that he had met up with a red-headed Clifton family on the West Coast, who were related to Samuel. Upon investigati on this legend was confirmed in that Benjamin Clifton (sandy haired), l iving in Westport was found to be the younger brother of the child Samu el, born in London. From following Benjamin's migration record and his m arriage and death records the London family's details were easily revea led. Unlike Samuel, Benjamin's migration, marriage and Death are fully r ecorded and they clearly show the link between him and his parents.
There is one other piece of information that seems to add weight to the "evidence". This is the fact that Benjamin's emigration record shows t hat he was sponsored by someone to come to New Zealand . Unfortunately t he records of the sponsorships for that period are not held by NZ Natio nal Archives and it is assumed that at some stage they have been destro yed. It is conjectured that Samuel arrived in NZ at an earlier date and then became sponsor to his younger brother, Benjamin. There appears to be no-one else in New Zealand that is remotely linked with Benjamin or his family. Benjamin arrived in New Zealand on the ship "Gainsborough" in 1878 and was in Wellington when he married in December 1883. By thi s date Samuel was settled in with Eve who was pregnant with her fifth c hild, Albert, and on the move from Wanganui to Palmerston North. He doe s not appear as a witness to the marriage.
Samuel Clifton was born on 5 September 1851 in Bethnal Green, London to John and Mary Clifton. In the 1851 Census (as at March 1851), just bef ore Samuel was born, the family is seen as follows:
Their address was 15 Hague Street, Bethnal Green.
John Clifton, Head of Household, age 25, foreman of a braid factory, bo rn in Whitechapel.
Mary Clifton, wife, age 23, Frimmaker, born in Bethnal Green.
Lavinia Clifton, age 3, born in Bethnal Green.
John Clifton, age 1, born in Bethnal Green.
Five other children are recorded as being born later:
Samuel - 1851
Benjamin - 1857
Mary - 1859
Lucy - 1865
Elizabeth - 1870.
The Cliftons were obviously a very poor family and this is witnessed by the fact that the eldest son , John, in the 1861 Census was shown livi ng in the Bethnal Green Workhouse. The circumstances surrounding this a re not known but it is presumed that there was insufficient income to s upport the whole family.
From their Birth Certificates it can be seen that in 1871 the family ha d moved to Shoreditch (85 Worship Street) but the 1871 Census records a re scanty and details of the family cannot be traced.
It should be realised that Bethnal Green and Shoreditch were two of the poorest London suburbs and as this quote from "The Immigrants" about t he state of Britain in the nineteenth century shows there were very ser ious housing problems in many cities:
"Most cities contained large areas of ramshackle, unhealthy and overcro wded slum housing, a legacy more often than not of 50 years' too-rapid e xpansion of towns to accommodate industries, and their masses of worker s. The sanitary officer for the London parish of Shoreditch, for exampl e, drew attention in 1868 to the severe overcrowding in his area, which he attributed to the widespread demolition of dwellings to build facto ries, workshops, railways and other constructions. 'Numbers of the work ing classes' he reported, 'are by these means driven from their houses t o seek shelter elsewhere, whose occupations compel them to live near th eir daily employment. They are therefore obliged to get into almost any place, often places totally unfit for many to reside in, frequently th ey are underground dwellings, contrary to the public health act'. This s ituation worsened significantly by the eighties. Housing densities of n ine persons to a small dwelling were not uncommon, and in the worst are as of some cities might rise as high as 13.
The 1881 Census shows the family back in Bethnal Green(they had moved t o Shoreditch for a period in the 1870s):
John Clifton, head of household, age 55, no occupation, born in Spitalf ields.
Mary Clifton, wife, age 52, Girdles Handler, born in Spitalfields.
Savina Clifton(Lavinia), daughter, age 33, Girdles Handler, born in Spi talfields.
Lucy Clifton, daughter, age 16, scholar, born in Bethnal Green.
Elizabeth Clifton, daughter, age 11, scholar, born in Shoreditch.
As will be seen by the change (from the 1851 Census)in birth places for the parents to Spitalfields and the spelling of Lavinia's name in this Census that not all records are completely reliable - but a check of E lizabeth's birth certificate confirms that it is the correct family.
It is thought that Samuel and Eve met in the Wellington area. Samuel's b rother, Benjamin, was living in Wellington at the time and it is possib le that Samuel was visiting him. However, the earliest official record o f their relationship is the birth entry of Arthur, the oldest Clifton c hild. It is thought that the photo of them was before this and was take n in Wellington.
The Clifton children were born between 1883 and 1889. Arthur, the oldes t, was born in Aramoho, Wanganui on 22 February 1883, followed by Alber t in Lombard Street in Palmerston North on 20 June 1884, Lillie in Taon ui Street, Palmerston North on 10 August 1885 and Ernest in Wanganui on 28 June 1889.
On all four birth records Eve is shown as Eva Phillips , the mother, wi th Samuel Clifton as the father. During this period Samuel was employed by the Railways Department
It is not known exactly when they moved to Napier except that it was be tween Ernest's birth in 1889 and 1893 when Eve and Samuel appear on the first universal suffrage Electoral Roll in Napier. It is thought that w hen the Manawatu Gorge Railway link to Napier was opened in 1891 that i t would have made things easier to move.
In the 1890s New Zealand women canvassed for the right to vote and this was decreed with the first universal suffrage election taking place in 1893. To obtain this right two huge petitions were drawn up and circul ated around the country for completion. These were signed in 1892 and 1 893. These petitions are now held in NZ Archives - it can be seen that E va Clifton of Carlyle St, Napier signed the 1893 one. Eve and Samuel ap pear on the 1893 Electoral Roll. These are the first known official rec ords of Eve using the surname of Clifton. There is no record of a marri age taking place in any of the years between when the last Clifton chil d(Ernest) was born and 1894 (when Samuel died).
Naming of the Clifton children:
In the 19th Century it was customary to name children after their paren ts, grandparents, aunts and uncles etc and this can be seen in the nami ng by Eve of William Edmund Phillips(after her husband Edmund and Edmun d's father - William) and the naming of Benjamin Clifton's daughters - M ary Lavinia and Lucy Elizabeth( after Benjamin's mother and his sisters ). But Eve and Samuel Clifton's children were not named after any of Sa muel's or Eve's family. At a later date (presumably after Ernest was bo rn) she added a second christian name of Morgan (her own maiden name) t o all four of the Clifton children. In all of their Marriage Certs etc t hey are shown as Arthur Morgan Clifton, Albert Morgan Clifton, Lillie M organ Clifton and Ernest Morgan Clifton.
On 30 September 1894 Samuel Clifton died from a stroke. At the time he w as in Mount View Lunatic Asylum, in Wellington, where he had been since 2 August 1894. His admission and death are recorded in a Coroner's Inq uest report, held in NZ National Archives (Ref No 94\629)
In part, this report shows:
"The deceased was received into the Asylum on 2nd August 1894 on the or der of Mr Turnbull RM Napier on the Medical Certificates of Drs Reed an d Marsh. He was very feeble and unable to stand properly and was put to bed from the first he could speak very little and his mind was as weak as his body he continued in this state for some time and on 19 Septemb er he had an attack of apoplexy he was diligently nursed and had specia l diet and medicated injections. He did not rally but died on 30th at 2 0 minutes past 9 at night, his wife was informed from time to time of h is condition and saw him yesterday before his death. The head attendant informed her of the Inquest but she declined to attend. His age was 42 . The cause of death was apoplexy"
It is thought that his certification was brought about by an initial st roke which left him very weak and unable to speak properly. Samuel Clif ton was buried in Karori Cemetery, Wellington in a plot which was not p urchased and had no headstone. Because of this the plot was re-used som e years later.
At this time in New Zealand the Lunatic Asylums were used to house not o nly the insane but also those people who were unmanageable. Samuel Clif ton, after suffering a stroke would have been one of these.
Documentary evidence of Samuel Clifton's link with his parents:
The reasons why there is no documentary evidence of the link between Sa muel and his parents are:
a) He did not marry Eve - marriage certificates show the parents of the bride and groom.
b) When Samuel died in Mount View, Eve returned to Napier and declined t o attend the inquest and the undertakers would have had no person from w hom to obtain information about his parents. Because of this his Death C ertificate is virtually blank of personal information. It is also possi ble that Eve did not know the details of his family as she appeared, la ter, to have no knowledge of Benjamin's link to Samuel.
As a letter from one of Benjamin Clifton's descendants shows - the link between the two families was known as early as the 1930s. A visit is r ecorded in a book to the Benjamin Clifton home in Happy Valley, Welling ton of a Miss E.Clifton from Carlyle Street, Napier. This would have be en Edith Phillips (Aunt Edie) who had adopted the name of Clifton.