Caroline Emma Austin1

(14 January 1854 - 21 January 1899)
FatherWilliam Mallars Fitz Austen (cir. Jan 1829 - Oct 1905); Emma's father's surname varies: on her 1882 mar. cert to Matt Rowe, father's name given as William Austin Gibson; on her 1854 bap. entry it is William Austin; on her 1899 dth cert given as Austin forenames unknown, step-father John Gibson2,3,4
MotherEmma Parker Clinton2,5,4 (Mar 1827 - Jun 1894)
RelationshipGreat-grandmother of Lorna Henderson

BMDB data

     Caroline Emma Austin was born Melbourne, VIC, AUS, bet. 1854 - 1857 the exact year varying according to source. Her age was given as 26 when she married in Feb 1882, ie born 1856; 42 when died Jan 1899, ie 1857; 31 on dtr Honor's birth cert July 1886, ie 1855 and her mother Emma's 1894 dth cert. shows a surviving 40 yr old dtr, ie 1854. Emma is also shown, without an age (unusual on VIC certs), as being an elder sister to John Gibson on his 1859 birth cert.4,6,3,1,7
     Caroline Emma Austin was actually born on 14 Jan 1854 Melbourne, VIC.2 She was baptized on 8 Feb 1854 in the Parish of St James, Melbourne, Bourke, VIC, AUS; entry #7211 reads: Baptised Feb 8th 1854 by G C Varner. Born 14 Jan 1854, Caroline Emma, Parents: William and Emma, Austin, of Little Bourke St West, profession ginger beer manufacturer.2,7
     Caroline Emma Austin Gibson married Matthias Rowe, son of William Rowe and Honor Daw, on 4 Feb 1882 in the Office of the Registrar of Marriages, New Plymouth, TNK, NZ, Folio #201 cert. reads: 1882 in the District of New Plymouth on Feb 4, Matthias Rowe, 28, laborer (sic) bachelor born Plymouth, England, s/o William Rowe, farmer and Honor Daw married Caroline Emma Austin Gibson, 26 (really 28), spinster, b. Melbourne, Victoria, d/o William Austin Gibson, laborer, and Emma Clinton (NB this turns out to be an interesting mix of fact and fiction, as Emma's father was really William Austin and her step-father John Gibson). Both resident New Plymouth and signed their names. Wit: Ellen Maria Martin and N Martin Turner (Turner may possibly be occupation not surname. Not known to be any relation or connection.)8,9,5
     Emma Rowe died on 21 Jan 1899 Huirangi, nr Waitara, TNK, NZ, at age 45; cert almost illegible #191 reads: Emma Rowe, aged 42 (!) of intestinal obstruction, collapse, duration 1 week, father given as "Austin (no forenames given) step-father John Gibson" and mother as "Emma, maiden name unknown". Buried 23 Jan 1899, Huirangi; Born Melbourne, Victoria, in NZ 30 years. Married New Plymouth at age 28 to M Rowe. Three children still living M 14, F 12,7 (ie Henry Matthias, aka Harry; Honor and Clara Elizabeth. NB the given age at marriage corrects that given on her actual marriage cert.)4 She was buried with Matthias Rowe Huirangi Cem., nr Waitara, TNK, NZ, Emma buried 23 Jan 1899, Matt 30 Dec 1901, grave is next door to Matt's parents. The h/stone has been cleaned between 1993ish and 2005.4,8,10
     This lady led me a merry dance out of proportion to her short existance. Genealogy on recent generations is meant to be easy: "start with the known and work backwards". No problem thought I, her death and marriage certificates should be available in NZ, and I should therefore be able to easily find her parents and date/place of birth.
     From her dtr Honor's 1908 marriage cert I found that Honor's parents were listed as Emma Gibson and Mathias Rowe. Honor's 1886 birth cert gave her parents as Matthias Rowe b Plymouth, ENG and Caroline Emma m.s. Gibson born Melbourne Victoria. Honor's dth cert confirmed the Emma m.s. Gibson.
     So she was an Australian, formally known as Caroline Emma, usually known as Emma, surname Gibson, so far so good, but then the plot thickened.
     As she had died while her 3 children were still quite young (14,13,7), her dtr didn't know that much about her relatives, and her granddtr (my mother) even less, so it was time to get Emma's own official certificates.
     I thought her 1882 mar. cert would be the most accurate as being presumed to have been from information she herself provided. In this her name expands to Caroline Emma Austin Gibson, age 20, father William Austin Gibson, laborer and mother Emma Clinton, but we are still looking for a Gibson. When asked, all my mother could remember about any Gibsons was that: "Uncle Harry was sent to a Gibson farm after his parents died", she didn't know why; and that the family seemed to be friendly to the Gibsons of Smart Rd, again, without knowing why. Two photographs added to the existance of the Gibsons: one labelled "4 generations of Gibsons", and the other believed to be Honor on her Grandmother Gibson's knee, labelled "Grandmother Gibson".
     With the additional statement from Emma's dth cert that John Gibson was her stepfather and her father's forenames were not known at her dth, more work was obviously needed to track her birth and actual parents down. Her mother was found to have died five years prior to Emma, but her death cert was singularly uncommunicative about any marriage prior to that to John Gibson, adding however that she had been born in England and married at age 28 in Victoria. Even her mother's 1855 marriage cert showed her as single with no children by any former marriage. Poor Caroline Emma, who, by Dec 1855, was now nearly 2 according to the birth cert. for Emma that was found matching most of the information available to date (a Caroline Emma Austin/Austen to a William and Emma Austin/Austen in Jan 1854).
     So what had happened to William, and were he and Emma married or not? Shipping records provided the next clue, as a fellow researcher and Clinton relative had found the familys' emigration to Australia, showing a 24 yr old William Austin, miner, travelling with a 25 yr old wife Emma. A London marriage certificate dated Feb 1853, 3 mths prior to the ship sailing, was also found for William Austin and Emma Clinton. On the same voyage were a Henry Clinton, 22, miner, with Jemima, 65, "mother", ie Emma's mother and brother.
     We still do not know what happened to William Austin in the short time span between his arrival in Australia in Jul 1853 and his wife's remarriage as a "single" woman in Dec 1855, but we do know that their dtr Caroline Emma was born Jan 1854, when he was described as a ginger beer manufacturer. I am assuming that if he was already dead by then that the cert. would have said so, but that is an assumption on my part, and we now have Caroline Emma hatched matched and despatched, albeit with some mysteries surrounding the life of her mother Emma.11,12


     Emma Gibson was assumed to have travelled to New Plymouth, TNK, NZ, with John and Emma Parker Gibson bet. 20 Jun 1864 - 3 Aug 1864; from Melbourne, presumably as a family group, Capt John and wife Emma Gibson, eldest (step)dtr (Caroline) Emma aged about 10; and sons John, 4 and William Henry a baby, another son, James, having died in Melbourne in 1863. The actual date varies depending on the source, starting with the certificates nearest in time: son William Henry's dth cert implies c 1864/5; mother Emma's 1894 dth cert c 1864; however dtr Caroline Emma's 1899 dth cert implies 1868/9; brother John's 1932 dth cert also implies c 1868. It is possible, but unlikely, that in 1864 Emma and John stayed behind in Victoria with family then followed their parents out 4 yrs later, aged 14 and 8 respectively. So, I presume they all emigrated together when John took up his appointment as Harbour Master in New Plymouth in 1864. The "Jun to Aug" was drawn from correspondence in the Taranaki Provincial Papers in the National Archives offering him the position, and after his arrival.13,14

Census/Where lived/Occupations

     In 1892 Emma and Matt were living Huirangi, nr Waitara, TNK, NZ, when dtr Clara born.15


     No probate for Emma has been found (not indexed as either Caroline or Emma Rowe.16)


     As of 1854, her surname was possibly also spelt Austen as on her baptism entry if there is a dot over the i it's hard to spot, and the i/e looks fat enough to be an e. However a Rootsweb search shows that by far the more common spelling would be Austin, which clearly appears on other records.2 Caroline Emma Austin was also known as Emma Gibson this surname being stated explicitly on husband Matt's 1901 dth cert and being implied from Emma's appearance as an elder sister on 1859 birth cert. of John Gibson, (now known to be half siblings)
Myth perpetuated on dtr Honor's marriage and death certs.6,8,17 She was also known as Caroline Emma Austin Gibson as shown on her 1882 marriage cert.3 On her death, in 1899, her name was recorded as Emma Rowe.4 The name shown on her headstone was Caroline Emma Austin Rowe.18

All the other info

     Emma Rowe was not listed on the electoral roll of 1893, the first to include women (although her mother was.)19 Alice Henderson nee Andrews remembers her mother telling her that when her grandmother Rowe died young (1899) the three children were spread around the relations: Harry went to live on the Gibson's farm (now believed to be that of Lance's father John), Clara was sent to live with Uncle Alf (Rowe) and her mother was sent down to Petone to her Uncle Henry (Rowe.)20 She was given as the mother of Honor Rowe on 26 Apr 1971 Knox Pres. Ch, Waitara, TNK, NZ.21,22,20

External links

     Click here to see Caroline's page on WikiTree, a (free) collaborative on-line tree.23
     Caroline Emma Austin belongs to a DNA tested line. There may be more information available on DNASurnames under the DNA project for his/her surname/line.


Matthias Rowe (Oct 1852 - Dec 1901)
  • Henry Matthias Rowe24 (Oct 1884 - Aug 1960)
  • Honor Rowe25 (Jul 1886 - Apr 1971)
  • Clara Elizabeth Rowe24 (Apr 1892 - May 1980)
ChartsMy direct DAWE line
ROWE descendant chart
My pedigree chart
Maternal ancestors of Lorna
Maternal timeline
Last Edited14 Jun 2019


  1. Honor ANDREWS nee ROWE (4), Birth, Folio 2455, Inspection p/copy held, Jul 1993 (24 Jul 1886).
  2. Caroline Emma AUSTEN (8), Baptism/birth, 1854 #7211, Inspection p/copy held, Oct 1993 (Bap 8 Feb, birth 14 Jan 1854).
  3. Certificate, Matthias ROWE (9) & Caroline Emma Austin GIBSON (8) marriage of 04 Feb 1882 1882 Ref 99 Inspection p/copy held, Aug 1993.
  4. Caroline Emma Austin ROWE (8), DC ROWE, Emma nee GIBSON or AUSTIN, Jan 1899 TNK, NZ, Illegible inspection p/copy dated Aug 1993 held, as is a p/copy of a certified copy taken Waitara Dec 1985, rcvd Aug 1993 from Marie C, Edgecombe.
  5. Certificate, Matthias ROWE (9) & Caroline Emma Austin GIBSON (8) marriage of 04 Feb 1882 1882 Ref 99 Inspection p/copy held, Aug 1993, scanned Jan 2012.
  6. John GIBSON (1648), Birth cert, VIC ref #18714, Inspection p/copy held, rcvd Oct 1993 (03 Aug 1859).
  7. Emma GIBSON nee CLINTON prev. AUSTIN (12), DC GIBSON, Emma (nee CLINTON, previously AUSTIN), 1894, TNK, NZ, Inspection p/copy held, Nov 1993.
  8. Matthias ROWE, DCC: ROWE, Matthias 1901, Huirangi, TNK, P/copy of certified copy dated Sep 1985, rcvd Aug 1993 from Marie C, Edgecombe.
  9. NZ births deaths marriages (index on fiche), ROWE/GIBSON mar. 1882 extracted Mar 2002.
  10. Various Cemetery transcriptions, NZ Geneaological Society, Auckland, AKD, NZ, H/stone Matthias and Caroline Emma Austin ROWE, photo taken Jun 2005.
  11. "Lorna's Family History Musings", Dec 2003.
  12. Letter, Frances RADFORD to Lorna Henderson, Passenger Schedule for the "Roxburgh Castle", 2 May 1853, rcvd Feb 1994.
  13. Emma GIBSON nee CLINTON prev. AUSTIN (12), DC GIBSON, Emma (nee CLINTON, previously AUSTIN), 1894, TNK, NZ, Inspection p/copy held by L McIntosh Nov 1993, scanned Mar 2006.
  14. Appointment of John Gibson to position of Harbour Master, Letter, May 1864 National Archives, Wgtn NZ, Extracted c 1994.
  15. Clara ROWE, Birth, (05 Apr 1892).
  16. Assorted indexes, NZ Soc. Gen. Index, Probate Index, searched Dec 2003.
  17. BDM: NZ Certificates, Marr. 2 Sep 1908 George Ernest s/o George Gibson ANDREWS & Ellen TURNBULL; Honor d/o Mathias ROWE & Emma GIBSON, Waitara Wesleyan Ch, TNK, folio 4857, inspection p/copy (scanned Mar 2013) dated/rcvd Aug 1993.
  18. Photo of H/Stone, unknown repository, Huirangi Cemetery, TNK: Caroline Emma Austin ROWE and Matthias ROWE, taken Aug 1993.
  19. Assorted indexes, NZ Soc. Gen. Index, 1893 Electoral Roll (Women), searched Dec 2003.
  20. Interview, Alice HENDERSON (1:2), Family memories from say 1960 to 2005.
  21. BDM: NZ Certificates, Dth 26 Apr 1971 Honor ANDREWS nee ROWE, Knox Pres. Church, Waitara, aged 84, widow of George Ernest ANDREWS, d/o Mathias ROWE and Emma, mother m.s. GIBSON, p/copy of certified copy, dated 16 Oct 1985.
  22. Taranaki Herald BDM transcriptions, 1852-1880, New Plymouth Genealogical Computer Group, Photo (blurry) of Dth Notice 1971 Honor ANDREWS from 27th Apr 1971, taken Waitara Genealogy Rooms, Jun 2005, (didn't get focus right!).
  23. WikiTree online at, Oct 2011.
  24. Various, interviews / personal knowledge , From niece Alice HENDERSON nee ANDREWS, c 1993.
  25. Honor ANDREWS nee ROWE (4), Birth, Folio 2455, Inspection p/copy dated Jul 1993, held by Lorna McI (24 Jul 1886).

E. & O. E. Some/most parish records are rather hard to read and names, places hard to interpret, particularly if you are unfamiliar with an area.