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By Adele Pentony-Graham
Webmaster's Note: This article appeared on "Atavus" the online magazine for Burke's Peerage & Gentry subscribers May/June 2004. Adele was the person who contacted me years ago regarding the John Stuart Forbes memorial in Edinburgh. She also assisted in getting the photos that appear elsewhere on this website.
Whilst walking around my local Clareville Cemetery, where I am currently researching the early settlers, as I feel they have not received any recognition for the toil they put in, towards making New Zealand what it is today, a fairly new country...they left their homelands to start afresh, spent months on sailing ships to reach the shores of the south pacific, not all plain sailing, many adults and children were buried at sea.......now one headstone stood out to me:
Marion Stuart-Forbes wife of William Stuart-Forbes Bart, died 12 December 1889. Hilda Hiley died 19 May 1887, Katherine Evelyn died 19th May 1895. Also listed is their daughter Emma Louisa, eldest daughter of the late Sir William, and Lady Stuart-Forbes who passed away 4th April 1939, as well as another daughter buried in the cemetery under her married name of Renwick.
Now I had no idea that in the early days of this area, that they had a titled family, so decided to conduct some research into them.
What I have found out about the brother of Sir William has been sent to his old school, and they are very pleased with the information, as they had no idea as to what he did after leaving Rugby. They have noted it for their archives, and I will eventually complete Sir William, but this time, it is for his brother John, the interesting one!
The family resided in Rugby, at 17 Warwick Street, and as residents with sons, they could apply to have them enrolled at Rugby and acquire a free education at this prestigious school. The boys were in Town House at the school, William being the eldest, entered Rugby in 1849. His younger brother Alexander Charles also entered the school, and John Alexander went up to Oriel College in 1856 and took Holy Orders. William would have left about 1855, according to the archivist at Rugby.
The family originally were from Scotland.
I even have the list of members of the household in 1851 from the parents, children down to the staff. What interested me after receiving some information on the family, was that John used his brother-in-laws surname, Rev Walter Hiley, and this name was handed down to one of his nieces, whose name I found on the headstone, Hilda Hiley. She was very young when she died sadly.
After Sir William lost his wife, he was left with his young family, and moved out of the area down to Blenheim, and he re-married. I am also in contact with members of the present family, one actually being a member of the Society for which I am their present secretary, Carterton District Historical Society. It was only through reading one of our newsletters that Liz telephoned me and said you have written about my family! She had no idea that the family were buried down in Clareville, and lived in Carterton until reading my research.
I researched into John, learning that he used the name of Hiley, and was enlisted to join Custer's Army. He had been living with his sister Henrietta and her husband Walter Hiley. John was listed as a banker of San Francisco.
For whatever reason, John left his home in England - I would prefer not knowing - I have some idea, but it is not for everyone to know.
But for his brother, I have read a lot about this family, and other family connections have come to light. Throughout his service with Custer, he was with 7th Calvary and under Hiley, listed in the Muster rolls of 1873 and 1876, as well as on the monument at Little Bighorn as Hiley.
At the Battle of Little Bighorn, in June 1876, John was killed, and he was buried in the mass grave, along with the other members of the 7th Cavalry in 1881.
Copyright 1999-2013 Bob Reece
Friends Little Bighorn Battlefield, P.O. Box 636, Crow Agency, MT 59022