Elizabeth Free (nee Simpson)
The Charlotte Jane

Original information:
It seems that Mrs Free is Elizabeth Simpson, who migrated when she was seven with her parents, Joseph, a whitesmith (32), and Harriett (27).

According to records, in 1900 Mrs Free was living in London Street, Richmond.

Readers' response:
Sources confirm that this is Elizabeth (Bessie) Free nee Simpson. Elizabeth married Joseph Free on September 11, 1865, at the home of Captain Ritchie; she died in 1920.1  Joseph Free (b. March 27, 1842) was born in Santry, Dublin, Ireland, and arrived on the Grassmere in May 1855.

Joseph and Harriett Simpson came to Canterbury in the service of Charles Bowen Sen. They lived at Lyttelton. Joseph apparently went to the Australian goldfields and was never heard from again. After this, Harriett married Captain Ritchie.

 In 1855, Harriett was the first matron at the original Lyttelton Hospital.

She  adopted five small children after their parents died and also took charge of a man named Thompson, who was incapacitated after a back injury.
When Lyttelton Hospital closed, Harriett became the first Matron of the new Christchurch Hospital. Later she went into business as a dressmaker in Armagh Street and founded The Pilgrims Hospital.

Elizabeth and Joseph Free owned a shop on the corner of Perth and London streets. The couple did not have any children of their own, but their nephew (William and Maria Free’s son) came to live with them for 12 years after his feet were amputated by a mowing machine at Sefton.

The couple also fostered their niece, Ivy Jane, daughter of George and Emily Free, who died. 

In 1906, Joseph Free died, followed soon after by Harriett. Elizabeth and Ivy then went to live in Harriett’s house in Armagh Street, next to Christchurch East School. Elizabeth was at this stage living on the interest off her capital, but after being embezzled by her solicitor, she went into lodgings. She died in 1920.2


1: Information provided by Alan Tunnicliffe
2: Shona Elliott, unpublished family history


POSTED BY: Alexandra Gilbert : April 14, 2010
Buried in Linwood Cemetery Block 32 Plot 1