Sarah McKinlay and Charles Ralph

Sarah McKinlay and her husband Charles Robert Ralph

Charles was born in 1862 in Glasgow and Sarah in 1863. Charles’ parents were Charles Ralph and Ann Duncan. Who Sarah’s parents were is not clear.

At aged 19, Charles was boarding with the Reilley family and working as a blacksmith. The couple married at Dennistoun, Glasgow in 1883. They first appear on New Zealand Electoral Rolls in 1894, living at Victoria Place [Victoria Street], Wellington.

By 1899 they had moved to Regent Street, Petone.

In 1902 Charles obtained a licence for a boat skid on the Petone foreshore. The cost was 10s 6d per annum.

Sarah died on 21st August 1905, age 42. Her funeral departed Petone at 1:15pm and arrived at Wellington train station at 2:30pm, and then went on to Karori Cemetery. Over the next few years, Charles placed memorial notices in the newspaper which echo her headstone inscription: ‘Gone but not forgotten’.

Charles was the secretary of the St John Ambulance society at Petone which offered first aid training to the public. Initially this was just for men, and then a year later a women’s class was formed, initially presided over by Charles. The hurdle in establishing the class was the fees demanded by medical professionals to teach the women. ‘Those whose need for the instruction is greatest are unable to afford the subscription demanded’ (NZ Times 17 May 1909). He was also a member of the Northern Star Lodge of which he was Chief Templar.

Charles wrote his will on the 6th January 1910 and died on the 28th, age 47. His funeral departed the house of Mr W Williams, Petone at 1pm, passing Thorndon esplanade at 2:30pm before making its way to the cemetery.

In his will he specifically bequeathed his leather suite of furniture, one duchesse chest, one grey parrot, and one lady’s gold watch and chain to Mrs Jean Williams. His estate was valued at under £100.

In his will he also refers to his widowed sister in Auckland, Agnes McCabe, and a nephew William Williams and niece Annie Brett. But we have been unable to piece these family connections together.

Plot Public 2/L/23