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Last updated: 31 May 2010

Stewart, William Downie

Collection | Ref # ARC-0164 | Held by Hocken Collections - Uare Taoka o Hakena


Stewart, William Downie


William Downie Stewart was born in 1878, the youngest child of William Downie Stewart (1843-1898) and his wife Rachel, nee Hepburn. Rachel died on 11 November 1878 and in 1881 William senior married Mary Thomson. read more …

Dates covered:

1670 - 1957
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William Downie Stewart

I wonder how I can access your archive on William Downie Stewart a distant relation of mine, I notice his archive is drawn up by the Armitage family and I remember their visiting my Father and Mother in UK in the 1950s!
many thanks

olivia cobb nee stewart

Community Archive Manager, Auckland Art Gallery - Toi o Tamaki · Posted 26 January 2012

Thank you Don - we have added the more precise dates to Hepburn's Community Archive name record, and also to our 'Hakena' archives and manuscripts catalogue.

David Murray, Hocken Collections - Uare Taoka o Hakena · Posted 23 July 2010

George Hepburn was my great great grandfather. I offer an amendment to data on your website. His lifespan was 28 Feb 1803 (Scottish Old Parish Records) - 11 Dec 1883 (Death Entry NZ Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages). In his letters to family in Britain written between 1850 and 1883 he mentions his date of birth and age on a number of occasions.

Don Hutton

Please note this message had come through to our general enquiries.

The Community Archives Team

Community Archive Manager, Auckland Art Gallery - Toi o Tamaki · Posted 20 July 2010

Thank you for your informative comments, which we have just received. I have corrected the place of death for George Hepburn Stewart, and replaced the reference to 'arthritis' with 'symptoms of severe rheumatism'. I have quickly checked William's 1916 pocket diary, and in this he writes of being in bed all day with 'rheumatism', and of swelling in his wrists and difficulty walking.

There is a wealth of material available regarding the family. Our own collection comprises some 24 shelf metres. We also hold a further 32 metres of records of the Downie Stewart law firm. We certainly agree that the Armitage Collection is another very valuable resource.

David Murray, Hocken Collections - Uare Taoka o Hakena · Posted 31 May 2010

William Downie Stewart (1878-1949) was a 1st cousin of my grandmother Jessie Helena Guthrie nee Hepburn (1875-1966). William's older brother George Hepburn Stewart (1875-1915) actually died at Lemnos, Greece (not Egypt as stated in the article). He died of dysentery on 20 Nov and was buried 21 Nov at Portianos Military Cemetery, Greece. I have photographs of his grave.

You say that William contracted arthritis and was invalided home during World War I. According to letters in the Armitage Collection at the Macmillan Brown Library, Canterbury University, this seems highly unlikely. He certainly had a serious affliction, but it was never recorded as arthritis in this extensive family archive. Indeed whatever he suffered was apparently never accurately diagnosed with certainty, despite ongoing consultation with medical experts.

The Armitage Collection contains hundreds of family letters. The correspondence between Rachelina / Lena / Rachel and George Whitefield Armitage runs to about 2,000 written pages and is quite fascinating. notably the 1902 and 1926 letters. There are also letters about William Downie Stewart's condition on his return from France and medical treatment he received.

The collection also includes a number of William's notebooks written during his years in parliament, again with some fascinating entries and references to other politicians e.g. Labour's John A. Lee. Draft copies of some of the books Stewart wrote or edited are also included.

A comprehensive inventory of the items in the Armitage Collection can be seen on the Macmillan Brown Library website. It is largely based on work I did on the collection about a decade ago while researching my family history.

I would recommend that any historian researching the Stewart family in detail should consult the Armitage Collection.

Don Hutton
Family Historian

Don Hutton · Posted 19 March 2010

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