Castle Camps: Families


Absalom John Rook(e)s 1852-1924

Absalom John Rooks was born on 31 Oct 1852, was baptized on 25 Dec 1854, the fourth son of his parents Joseph and Jane. When he was 18 (June 1871) he joined the Royal Scots Guards at Warley and moved to Aldershot in 1872. From there it was Edinburgh in 1874, and then to Fort George by January 1875. in January 1877 they went to Mullingar in Ireland. He was made a Lance Corporal in March 1877, promoted to Corporal about two weeks later in April 1877.

Thought to be Ab and Mary Rookes on their wedding day July 13 1877.

In July of that year he married Mary Ann Stewart (he was 24, she aged 21) in Dundee, which was close ot Mary's birthplace of Auchterhouse. About this time the surname seems to have changed to RookEs, which descendants have borne ever since. He left the army later the same year, being discharged to the Army Reserve at the Curragh in Ireland on 12 October, intending to live in Dundee. Ab and Mary spent the next 30 years in Dundee raising their family of six sons and three daughters. Sadly Annie Matilda died in 1907 when aged 7 years. It seems that they both worked in the jute mills and joined the Episcopalian Church in Lochee where their children were baptised.

In the the late 1870's Mary's older sister Euphemia had emigrated to New Zealand and after some hardship settled on a Taranaki farm. There were a lot of letters between the sisters and Mary frequently sent studio protraits of her growing family over to New Zealand. 

Northeast View of Camp's Castle in the County of Cambridge
Ab and Mary Rookes c 1902, in Castle Camps.

In 1903 Robert Rookes joined his aunt Phimmie in New Zealand and finally persuaded his parents to follow in 1907. By this time Jeannie, the eldest child, was married to William Watt, and living in Gosport where navy man William was stationed. Alfred, the eldest son, was a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy and we think the brothers William and Alexander had also previously joined Robert in NZ. Ab and Mary with their younger children, Joseph, Elizabeth and David left the UK in May 1907, journeying south from Dundee to farewell family in Castle Camps. It seems that a photo held by William Taylor Rooks descendants and by Absolam's descendants may record this last meeting. Once in New Zealand they farmed on the Taranaki coast for a few years and their children married into other immigrant farming families. When aged in their late 60's they retired to the town of New Plymouth where Ab died in 1924. Mary then moved to live with her eldest son Alfred and his family who were farming near Stratford and died there in 1931.


Siblings: William | George | Job | Mary Mahala | Joseph | Sampson

Parents: Joseph & Jane

Ab kept a diary to record the voyage to New Zealand. It is reproduced below for your interest.



DUNDEE 20TH May 1907

We left by the SS Pearth about 11.30pm retired to bed about midnight all tired evening

Sunday 26 at sea. Mother Lizzie & Joseph see sick david eate like a horse all day had ? concert in 1st saloon at night Beaded about 10pm

Monday 27th
Arrived in London about 1.30am booked luggage bags? On Board from Limehouse Pier got train from Limehouse station to the bank from the bank to Waterloo by 2d tube Left Waterloo for gasport at 12.50pm Arrived at Jeannies about 5pm starving found them all well/ and had mackeral for tea Beaded about one AM after getting filled properly up

Tuesday 28 & 29
took long lay got brekfast about 9 walked to fort blockhouse with Willie got a few drinks of navel rum went on board submarine 6 A got a good sight of  Electric plant for charging them with the same ready for use went home to dinner dog tired Beaded about 1.30am-

30 the last day on English soil up at 4.15 got a cup of tea tramped to gosport station with luggage all on bus back farewell toWillie at 15am arrived at Lond at Waterloo at 9.45am from Waterloo to Cannon St Station and lumped from there to Fenchurch St Sta Miss E Bull Lizzie got a gold broach pin present from her we had only about 3 minutes to speak to her before leaving for the Ionic of which we reached about 12.14 and got on board passed the doctor got our dinner and started on our journey about 2.45pm got our bearths No 45 and 32 for the Mistress and Lizzie and enjoyed a last look of Kent and Essex while going down the Thames at pretty slow speed left Gravesend behind about 4pm went to tea at 5pm ? words had a good walk upper deck got supper and after a good Donald of rum retired to bed at 9 had a good nights sleep

31 fair weather not very bright passed the Isle of Weight about 4.30am got breakfast at 8ha had a good forenoon sunsoaking and getting the sights of the Channle passed a British cruiser at 12 noon Lizzie sick others all well got dinner of soup Bread Fish Mutton potato & pudding very good arrived of Plymouth about 6pm passed the Great Barrier off plymouth sound Anchored for the night boats brought merchandise including oranges only 1/- for 8 & ½ penny papers p each

June 1st at Plymouth
Up at 5.30am got one donce? On deck and enjoyed the sites of the different all? In port including 3 War vessels cruisers Breakfast at 8 with porridge Bread butter potatoes & sausages tea all well posted a ships biscuit to J McDonald to Lochee got dinner of Bread soup potatoes Mutton capers rhubarb tart took on last passengers about 4pm weighed anchor at 3.15 pleasant ? so far all sick but myself at 8pm supper time retired to smoaking heard a few songs beaded at 10.30

Sunday June 2nd
Inside the Bay of Biscay Sea choppy all sick but myself dull day and pretty cold wind cleared up after dinner only one out of 14 at our dinner table that was myself beaded at 10pm

Monday 3rd
Up at 6 Cleaned and out on deck ready for Breakfast all sick but myself Jo Lizzie & Mother not ? for two clear days this is a most heavenly day bright Sunshine overhead Smooth Sea and not a vessel in sight dinner was a happy surprise for tea in the shape of green onions B & Butter Marmalade & cold Beeff  Lizzie and Mother still in Bed seen two sharks about 4pm after supper got the highland fling from David with aclamation retired to bed usual Donald

Tuesday 4th
Glorious day not a ship or a bird to be seen untill after dinner about 4pm sighted a whale and a lot of Sea birds called Stormey petrils Lizzie still sick all other well

Wednesday 5
In Atlantic lovely day warm sunshine all at Breakfast together for the first time for 4 days no ship seen to day only living animals seen 4 petrils one porpise cool Breeze at night all in good spirits got Irish gig from David & Lizzie also highland fling they got 3/- of presend between them Bed as usual about ½ past 10

Thursday 6
Up at 5 arrived at Teneriffe about 8am got breakfast got ? tobacco 2/ cigarets 1/ Lemmons 12 1/ figs 3 a d waln? 5 a p Bananas 28/ 1/- peaches lovley very hot in forenoon nice breeze in afternoon more pleasant Green onions for tea enjoyed it concert from 7 to 8 & from ½ to 8 to 9 Lizie & David highland fling

Friday June 7
Up at 5.30 pretty hot all day not a breath of air lovley weather no vessels sighted saw one flying fish about 10am Sun straight over our heads at 12 midday distance from Plymouth 1727 Miles from Teneriffe 295 Concert at night on upper deck Irish gig by L&D after encore gave Sailors hornpipe and took the passengers by storm so far all well

Saturday 8th
Glorious weather Sea smooth up at 5.15 have a soar throat dose of fine ? nothing seen on waters Jo slept in two days running travelled 315 miles total 2042 sports on board in the afternoon lost 1 stakof  mistearisley priar meeting at night on upper deck by plymouth Bretherin Sighted the Southern cross at 8pm very warm & close not a breath of wynd

Sunday 9th
Up at 6 nice fresh breze little Sun saw Flying Fish by 1000 also porposes devine Service English by 1 & 2 mates Distance 308 miles 2350 miles Service by Evangelist 5 to 7 very hot

Monday 10
Up 5.30 very little sleep very Hot fine calm morning no Sun tropical rain fall after 9am continued up till 3pm Speed 300 total 2650 from p Lovley night Fresh breese very sultry concert L & D danced highland Fling and Sword dance after walses & polkas all well

Tuesday 11
Fine day very hot Fresh breese all day Ships Sports forenoon and afternoon obstical os sack races best funn distance 3015 totd 2955

Wednesday 12
Fine morning Fresh wind warm wife bad with bile took no breakfast distance 276 0f 3231 miles entered Southern Hemisphere at 1.15pm little cooler got oranges after dinner 7 bd & butter for tea first tea on plain Bd & butter for first time

13 Thursday Lovley day blowy Lizzie & Mother sick Liberal meeting after supper to choose a candidate for General Election on Board distamce 258 total 3489 miles

Friday 14
Fine day warm strong head wind Lizie & Mrs ill little better large ship of Mains sighted at 12 noon  passed her at 4.30 following slowley on our track meeting of concertive party at night appointed committee of Chairman distance 268 T 3757 miles

Saturday 15
Fine morning no sun dull strong wind forenoon fine sunshine distance 297 T 4054 Mrs not much better Lizie a good lot better others all well parlimentry Election broke up for want of confidence in candidates finished up with concert

Sunday 16
Fine head wind Mrs no better remainder well cooler ? devine service at 10.30 collection 204 distance 293 T 4347 very qiet day

17 Monday
fine strong head wind cool wife no better all the other well david selling for the barber distance 289 T 4636 concert in dining hall at night

18 Tuesday
Fine day Mrs very ill strong head wind Sea choppy distance 263 T 4898 family all well  Jo Lizzie Mother got no breakfast –S- in

19 Wednesday
Fine strong head wind Mother little better others all well distance 266 T 5090 L & D danced highland fling & sd danse 2nd saloon 2/10 L sailors hornpipe at concert at night 3rd upper deck

20 Thursday 
Fine day dull Mrs lay in berth all day  others all well sighted Newcastle ship at 4pm the 2nd in 16 days distance 300 T 5399 Getting very cold wintery like

21 Friday
Lovley day Mrs a little better fishing for Birds Caught one by hook it broke line and flew away with everything bad luck sighted land 5pm concert & social at night ? cape 10pm 367-5706

22 Saturday
got letter from Alf. Lovley day hot left Cape 2pm Seen big whale up fishing 2am got nothing headache Mrs a little better 120 T 5826 Took on about 40 more passengers

23 Sunday
dull day little rain fair wind all able to be at table Divine Service 10/30 evagical evening gave L & D scolding distance 299 T 6125

24 Monday
Lovley day pretty cold all at table Mrs lay all day others well washed 9 pieces of clothes Brandy & rum all finished distance 304 T 6750

26 Wednesday
Lovley day wife very bad got bottle from doctor rain at evening won 4 games at wist lost in final concert at night in 3rd saloon distance 364 T 7000 L & D dance gig & sailors hornpipe

27 Thursday
very misty day & cold wife a little better in smoking room all day distance 310 Total 7364 heavy see swell little behind wind whistle blew half night bad nights sleep

28 Friday
misty dirty day ship rollowing from side waves wind to the south west wife not so well to day too cold to walk the deck distance 310 T 7674 David sick

29 dirty misty day head wind wife & David both bad played wist lost 2nd game After dinner distance 2954 T 7659 sprained neck little sleep fog from blowing at ?

30 Sunday
dirty misty day all through david little better Mrs no better My neck right bad cannot get peace got apple B tea for Mrs heavey sea rolling all day divine worship at 10.30 evangelist at night distance 291 T 7956

July 1st Monday
Fine winter day Mrs got a seat on deck forst for 4 weeks lost at wist in 3rd round neck a little easier distance 319 T 8269 washed 3 shirts

2 Tuesday
misty hind light brese wife not so well neck very little easier got lend of Mac ? book from first mate very good 115 Fodge Ikeroa Rohatu distance 310 T 8579 meeting for colection for the Stewarts gave Stuardess 2 bob very cold day on deck

3 Wednesday 
cold misty day Wife no better david aspun sick got egg & sardines for them downright bad cold for myself headache cold shivers soar ? distance 320 T 8899 concert at night L dance sailors hornpipe very bad nights sleep

4 Thursday 
dirty mist cold day death at 4am of 3rd class consumptive passenger a little better myself today wife about the same david better but not well distance 368 T 9207 funeral of the consumptive Mr Forbes Late of Edinburgh at 5pm when dark his remains were laid on a board withiron wait to his feet and dumped overboard as if it was everyday occurrence

5th Friday 
misty heavey rain with head wind prety heavy seas rolling cleared a little in afternoon  wife no better headache myself david eating again got two eggs from waiter got knife sharped lips stewardess H also my waiter I took a sleep in the afternoon distance 270 T 9477

6 Saturday 
cold mist rainy head wind heavy swell on wife no better had the doctor who ordered her on deck to walk about Lizzie not well a lot better myself only headache & very sleepy distance 167 T 9744 good nights sleep myself

7th Sunday 
fine day head wind Mrs no better got a lay on deck a while doctor ordered brandy divine service 10/30 Evangical at evening distance 294 & 10280

8 Monday  
Rainy day head wind cold Mrs  no better Dr did not see her others well distance 300 & 10328 took seidles powder myself at night had a good nights sleep

9th Tuesday 
very heavy sea wind high sea boat rolling a little Mrs right bad sick with shaking of boat distance 300 & 10628 cannot get on deck for fear of being carried away back to England concert at night

10 fine day cold heavy sea running moderate head wind Mrs no better headache myself got her on deck a while distance 275 & 10903 collection  for sick waiter service of praise in dining hall at night

11 Thursday 
fine day showery at night Mrs no better saw rat in her cabin tried to catch it but failed wrote a letter to Alfred arrived in Hobart 4.30pm went ashore with L & D got stewed fish salmond & milk scones & T went to Masons lodge No 3 Tasmanian Constitution of Hobart were mighty entertained by the Bretherin replied to toast for visiting bretherin after a good supper went on board about 11.40pm beaded distance 342 & 11425

12 Friday 
up & ashore 6am got a bottle of milk and a walk through Hobart Lovley day Mrs a little better Snow laying top of hills Left Hobart at 8am prompt distance 35 & 11280 been ? Mother 24hrs seen her ?

13 Saturday 
This is the 30th Anniversary of my wedding day and I am happy to say the Mrs is a lot better nice day little showers a nice back or west wind moderate sea distance 320 making 11600 L & D danced highland dance to first & 2nd class in afternoon also Irish gig at night

14 Sunday
strong wind & high sea Boat rolling heaviest of the voyage Mrs improving divine service 10/30 and Evangical at night distance 312 & 11912 10.30pm very bright night with strong Lea wind & heavy waves

15 Monday
fine day strong wind and High Sea pretty cold by waves Mrs still progressing but nearly starved distanced 296 & 12208 concert at night for the last time

16 Lovley day in Cooks straights viewing both North and South Islands south hills covered with snow north sunshine Mrs getting on pretty well D & L 11/- for dancing from first second all passed the doctor before we entered port about 2pm distance 311 & 12511

17 nice day Wife 3 class up at 6 took a morning walk with david up to Brooklin saw Dougal Waldie went back to the Ionic got dinner got Rookes ready all went up to Waldies by tram got to home at Ionic again at 5pm after tea took luggage on board the Takapuna got another walk got some pastry went and bid the Ionic goodbye boarded our new house for the last voyage of our journey A lot came to see us off and some pretty heavy loaded with old scotch had a visit of Mr Waldie and a wee drop in a bucket before parting Sailed at ¼ to 12pm

18 Thursday
Lovley day on board the Takapuna Mrs been sea sick all night got a decent breakfast at 8.30 with porridge Bd Butter Steak potatoes sweet milk and Yorkshire rellish tea cups & saucers very good out on deck got a view of Mt Egmont from the sea it is covered with snow Lovley senery distance 175 total from plymouth 12686 miles landed in New Plymouth at 2pm Meet aunt Phe and Stewart had a stop in hotel all night

19 Friday
Good day left New Plymouth forenoon after getting settled with customs & arrived at Campersdown Farm a little after 3pm after a lovley drive all the road got a good supper waiting on us at the home Seen Allack in his usual way very little altered