Above : Baptism record for John Henry yarker and his cousin Annie Elizabeth Yarker

The earliest records found for John Henry Yarker is his birth on the 10th October 1874 in Liverpool to parents Henry Yarker and Margaret Yarker (nee Spruce). Henry and Margaret had John baptized on the 20th October 1875 in the Parish Church at Toxteth Park, Liverpool, England. This was a churched used by Henry's brother Edward Yarker and his wife Elizabeth Yarker (nee Patterson) when they baptized daughter Ann Elizabeth Yarker on 27th October (as can be seen on the same registration record above). It is also interesting to see the baptism for George MacDuff by parents James & Margaret MacDuff as they can also be found on this site. John's father, Henry and his Uncle Edward are both listed as being a Mariners on the baptism record above.

Above: This 1871 Census shows 
Henry Yarker in the home of his future wife Margaret Spruce (This is John Henry Yarker's parents to be)

Above: Margaret Yarker's 1911 Census Record - at this time John Henry Yarker was already living in New Zealand
John Henry Yarker and his brother, William Steeley Yarker, both followed in their father's footstep and became a mariners. They would have worked as dock laborers or as able bodied seamen, rather than in the same positions of Mate & Master as their father Henry Yarker had done. Their father, Henry, was absent for most of the census records and can only be found on two. In 1851 he is listed as an eight year old and in 1871 he is listed as a 28 year old seaman in the home of his future parent inlaws John & Sarah Spruce. His future wife, Margaret Spruce, aged 23 is also in the home (as can be seen in the 1871 census above). John's  travels must have taken him to the Island of St Helena as he meet Margaret Evelyn Maud Leo (1882-1916) (visit Margaret Leo's page). There is no trace of a marriage record for John & Margaret but Margaret's 1911 census record shows that they had been married for nine years (see 1911 Census Record above). There is also no trace of them on passenger lists, but this may be because John was a crew member on a vessel and he may have procured work on board for his wife also, for the return journey to England. It is also possible Margaret's parents had returned to England and that Margaret and John meet in England. (If anyone has further information on Margaret's parents or about John & Margaret's travel or marriage it would be very much appreciated - email: )

Above: * This most probably refers to 
John Henry Yarker being at Wellington Port - 13th October 1910
It is presumed, for now, that John was serving time as a merchant seaman on a vessel which called into St Helena Island where Margaret was born and returned to England with her. Margaret and John had four children together before John left England's shores for the last time. He may not have originally intended to, but he did, desert his wife and children leaving them to face hardship and poverty. In the 1911 Census John & Margaret's son, Francis Victor is aged two and Margaret had another child, John Henry aged 10 months who was said to be illegitimate in the poor law records. This would put John's departure from England around 1909-1910 and the newspaper clipping ( *above) may be a clue to the nearest confirmation of a date - 13th October 1910 that places John in New Zealand. The Mission To seamen novel games in Wellington Port for 1910 lists a Yarker (sailor or worker) as winning three prizes in the games. John had decided to settled in New Zealand before the 1911 UK Census was conducted as Margaret is already living alone and the Poor Law Records records (view here) her struggle to survive and having born an illegitimate child, named John Henry Yarker prior to the census being taken. John (snr) is recorded on the New Zealand Electorial Roll for 1911. The life John Henry Yarker creates for himself in New Zealand is recorded, from time to time, in New Zealand's Papers Past. He was known to have been a waterside worker on the Wellington Docks but little is known of this part of his life. The papers record more of his personal life than anything else and it is from these articles, and some surprising acts, that a vague picture emerges of what kind of a man John Henry Yarker may have been. Sadly there, has so far, not come to light any known image of John for us to know what he looked like.

Above: 1913 Wellington Waterside Workers stike - 
John Henry Yarker was a Waterside during this time at Wellington
  From the various articles found in Papers Past we can trace a little of John Yarker's living arrangements and places.The majority of his time appears to have been spent in or near Wellington which would place him in one of New Zealand's busiest ports and in the right place to find employment as a wharf labourer. In 1913 New Zealand experienced a massively disruptive Waterside Workers Strike, in which John Henry Yarker was no doubt very involved in. In later life his son, Albert, also became involved in the Waterside Workers Union. On the 11th July 1914 a Papers Past news paper article mentions John Henry Yarker receiving an award from the Wellington Municipal Fire Brigade for three years service. (*see below). So we now know he had been in Wellington from 1910 up until this award in 1914 - a total of at least four years. On the 24th February 1914 Papers Past also lists the arrival of the 'Rangatira' with four young unaccompanied passengers named Albert Yarker aged 11, Edith Yarker aged 9, Francis Yarker aged 5 and Jno Yarker aged 3. The children had been removed from Margaret and sent to New Zealand to live with their father John Henry Yarker. Margaret had become seriously ill and died in the Whitechapel Infirmary on the 25th March 1916 (see this page for further insight into her life and death). Another Papers Past article dated 25th January 1915 tells of a housekeeper named Elizabeth Brady who is convicted with being idle and disorderly who appears to have resided, or in the very least associated with, John Henry Yarker and/or James Francis Wallace. She was charged on the 28th December 1914 for this offence and had also been convicted for another offence, the same, on the 19th October 1914. Inspector Hendry describes John Yarker and James Wallace as ''despicable blackguards''. The article also mentions that John Yarker's children had already been sent to an industrial school (*see clipping below). The charge of supplying Elizabeth Brady with liquor was dropped against John Yarker but on a second simular charge on the 2nd January 1915 he was penalised one pound and costs, if in default a three day imprisionment ruling would apply (*see clipping below).

Above: * In 1914 John Henry Yarker receives an award for three years service in the Fire Brigade

Above: * 
John Henry Yarker & his housekeeper Elizabeth Brady face charges & Industrial School

 The placing of John Yarker's children into an Industrial School would have been due to the children being neglected and because John's house was said to be frequented by thieves and prostitutes (* said in above clipping). Industrial School's were set up in the later 1860's to cater for neglected and delinquent children, Sometimes an orphanage was part of the institution. Some industrial schools became special schools for children who were physically and/or intellectual impaired. Responsibility of these schools remained with the Department of Education because a social welfare department in government was not established until many years later in 1925 when Industrial Schools were phased out. The Neglected and Criminal Childrens Act 1867 empowered provincial government to establish Industrial and reform Schools for children under 15 years of age. A distinction was made between the neglected children and delinquent children. The two differently labelled children were kept separate. Provided that a child spent at least half the period of committal in an industrial school, s/he could otherwise be boarded out with foster parents, friend, or be placed in employment. As was the case with some of the Yarker children. Some where placed into foster care but what or where the other, younger, children where during these turbulent years is unknown except we do know that Edith was at Berhampore School in 1916. Within this foster care they were usually required to work on farms and rarely spoke of this time of their life with affection but more with a feeling of having been used as exploited child labour. Bearing in mind that the oldest of the children, Albert, was only twelve years old and the youngest was five years old, it would be fair to say they had every right to feel like this, if they indeed did. The children had left England because they lived in squalor and poverty, and possibly within the Workhouse for awhile until arrangements had been made to send them to their father in New Zealand. To a father unable or unwilling to do so and who lived in conditions highly unsuitable for raising children in. Then placed into an Industrial School or Orphanage and fostered out to work to earn their keep. All before the age of 12. One can only imagine that the journey out from England was possibly the best time of their sad young lives because they had food in their bellies and a roof over their heads on board the 'Rangatira' (pictured below).


Above: The 'Rangatira' - the ship that Albert, Edith, Francis & John (jnr) Yarker sailed to NZ on
Life for John Yarker (snr) appears to have continued on down the same road. Having his children taken from him does not seem to have influenced him to clean up his home life. On the 11th February 1915 John was faced with an inebriate charge for drunkenness and violently resisting the police. He was convicted and fined two pounds in default of which he would given seven days hard labour (**see article below). On the 16th December 1916 Papers Past has an article that lists his daughter, Edith Yarker, as receiving an attendance award at the Berhampore School. She was in standard 1V (** see the article below). This school had an orphanage nearby which was known to have taken in neglected children. With there being no doubt that Edith was a neglected child it is likely that she was placed in the orphanage by the courts (***see the two articles below). On the 21st March 1921 John Yarker was elected the assistant - secretary at the Wellington Waterside Club (**see article below). On the 27th June 1922 Evelyn Yarker (as Edith was known), aged about seventeen, must have been so traumatised by life that it is recorded that she was placed on a charge having attempted suicide at Day's Bay for which remand was granted for a week (**see article below). At this time the News Papers go very quite on the life of John Yarker with only one report and charge being found on the 9th January 1926 (** see article below). Once again John was arrested for drunkenness and for casting offensive matter on the footpath. He was fined two pounds and default was set at sevens days imprisonment.

Above: ** LOCAL AND GENERAL Evening Post, Volume LXXXIX, Issue 35, 11 February 1915, Page 6

Dominion, Volume 10, Issue 2953, 16 December 1916, Page 7

Above: *** The Orphanage & JUVENILE OFFENDERS  Evening Post, Volume LXXXVI, Issue 59, 6 September 1913, Page 6

Above: ** WATERSIDE CLUB- Evening Post, Volume CI, Issue 68, 21 March 1921, Page 4

Above: ** Edith 'Evelyn' Maud Yarker's attempted suicide charge

Above: ** MAGISTRATE'S COURT Evening Post, Volume CXI, Issue 7, 9 January 1926, Page 9

 During the early-mid 1930's John Henry Yarker meets Margaret Emily Speakman. Margaret's life was also one of turmoil and insobriety. Margaret was born about 1899. In 1924 she married Herbert James King. What happened to this marriage or Herbert is a mystery. In 1929 she is recorded as marrying Eugene Doherty (alias Halfarthy) whom later refutes this marriage saying he already had a wife in Melbourne. This marriage was very turbulent and Papers Past records some of the couples outbursts (*** see articles below). Having separated from her husband, Eugene, she moved in with and lived as man and wife with John Yarker. There is no record of a marriage having taken place between Margaret and John. With this being the same case with his first wife Margaret Leo, there probably never was a marriage to be found in records for either. John shows us, in 1929, that he must have had a humorous side to his complex personality. He came across a set of false teeth that had been washed from the harbour and decided to advertise them in the Lost & Found section of the newspaper (*see below). At the time he was living in Kaiwarra, near Wellington. Margaret and John's life did not run smoothly together. They are recorded with being charged with more drinking offences. This even included them drinking methylated spirits (** see article below). On the 28th June 1935 John was in an accident that resulted in only slight injuries. He was knocked down by a car in Vivian Street, Wellington and received slight concussion and abrasions to his left eye. The newspaper article says he was employed as a waterside worker at the time of the accident (** see article below).

Above: Fox, William, 1812-1893, “Wellington from Kaiwarra Hill.,” | OUR Heritage , accessed October 17, 2013, - See more at:

Above: * 1929 John Yarker's funny side or was he hoping for a reward?

Above: *** Margaret & Eugene Doherty's turbulent life in print

Above: (left)** SPIRIT DRINKERS Evening Post, Volume CXVII, Issue 58, 9 March 1934, Page 5
& (right) Margaret Emily Doherty and John Henry Yarker face charges 26th April 1934

Above: ** Page 16 Advertisements Column 1
Evening Post, Volume CXIX, Issue 152, 29 June 1935, Page 16

Above: John Henry Yarker's 1937 shop lifting charges

 John Yarker and Margaret Doherty (nee Speakman) lived together with John providing for her as best he could. This was not always legally as the 13th August 1937 newspaper article reports (see article directly above). John was charged and convicted of stealing two nightgowns valued at 5s 10d from J.R. McKenzie Ltd in Cuba Street, Wellington. He was aged 62. He was fined 30s and costs, in default seven days imprisonment. Margaret was possibly not a very well woman by this time and the nightgowns could have been because she was bedridden. A newspaper articles lists her funeral in December 1937 in Wellington. The burial plots 51 & 52 were purchased in Karori Cemetery by John Henry Yarker and Margaret was buried in it in 1937. On the 1st February 1939 John's married daughter Edith Evelyn Maud Winter died and on the 2nd February two separate funeral notices, in the same wording as each other and to Margaret's one and a half years earlier, are place in the newspaper. One is placed by her father John Henry Yarker and one by her husband Alexander Herbert Winter (see three clippings below). Edith Winter (nee Yarker) was buried in one of he graves that her father had purchased in Karori Cemetery. A fellow Waterside worker Charles Watkins died on the 29th August 1938 and John Yarker also buried him in the same family plot. John Henry Yarker died in 1946 and is buried in the same grave as his daughter Edith and defacto wife Margaret on the 8th June 1946. He was aged 72. His name has never been placed on the headstone (see photograph of the headstone below).



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