Emily and John Chapman

From London to the South Seas

A baker and his family relocates to the far side of the world

Joanna Ryan (neé Chapman), a member of Friends of Symonds Street Cemetery, has been researching family history. This lead her to the Symonds Street Cemetery where her paternal great-great grandparents are buried.

Joanna’s notes describe her own progress – and the excitements of discovery – of tracing her interesting forbears. She uncovered the amazing journey of her great-grandfather, from London baker to South Seas entrepreneur and adventurer:

“My great-great grandfather John Chapman was born in 1835 inMinories in London and was baptised at St Botolopf without Aldgate, in Central London, England. He was the fourth child of Mark Hughes CHAPMAN (B: 1803) and Emily Chapman (nee Sharpe)’s, family of seven children. He followed his father’s trade and became a Master Baker.

“John married Emily Hepworth in September 1855, at the Parish of St Leonards, Shoreditch, and they had seven children.

After John’s father Mark Hughes Chapman passed away in London, John and Emily Chapman left their two eldest children in London, and sailed out of England and arrived in Fiji in 1872-1873, with their two year old daughter Annie Agnes Chapman.

“While in Fiji, John and Emily had another child in 1873, Mark Hughes Chapman . They opened a bakery in Levuka, Fiji. Fiji became part of the United Kingdom in 1874. They lived there for about two years and then Emily Chapman, their two small children, sailed to Auckland, New Zealand.

“They had a bakery next to the Epsom Stone Store, on Manukau Road, Epsom Auckland. The stone store has now been relocated to MOTAT. The bakery was too run down for renovation and was demolished.

“While in New Zealand, John and Emily Chapman had another child, John Hepworth Chapman in 1876.

“Emily Chapman passed away a year later, in December 1877 at the young age of 40 years. The family lived in Duke Street, Auckland Central. Her funeral notice, in the local paper, advised that they would start the procession at their Duke Street residence.

“As the family were Anglican she was interred at the Symonds Street Cemetery.

“It appears that John may have commuted between New Zealand and Fiji. John appears to have been a property owner.

After his first wife passed away, John Chapman was remarried in February 1888, in Christ’s Church in Ellerslie, Auckland, to Emily Matilda Mary Coldicutt. She had been born in Australia – and died in 1942 in Papakura.

John Chapman subsequently passed away on 20 September 1916, in Auckland. He was buried with his first wife in Symonds Street Cemetery. His funeral was held in St Peter’s Church in Onehunga. His burial/interment was recorded as an “Out of parish burial” when it was registered with the Anglican Church. He was subsequently buried next to his first wife in Symonds Street Cemetery in 1916 in a private family internment.

The Symonds Street Cemetery had closed for burials in 1866 but as John Chapman’s wife was there they allowed him to be buried with her. If there was a family member already buried in Symonds Street, there was an allowance for family to also be buried there.

“In 2013 our family visited the location of the bakery my great-great-great grandfather Mark Hughes Chapman (1803-1866) had in the Minories, in London.

“The building is still standing and the sign shows that recently it had been a French Patisserie, which has since closed. We were also able to find the church as it was a very short distance up the road from the bakery.

“A service was held for the 100th Anniversary of the passing of John Chapman on Sunday, 25 September 2016, at the Symonds Street Cemetery at the family plot. The headstone had been restored immediately prior to this event.”

See Joanna's notes on how she went about getting the headstone restored - in the link below.