Unfortunately we do not have his birth certificate and his birth year estimated from his age on various certificates, could be between 1859 and 1864. The GRO in Belfast have not been able to find his birth records in a search from 1864 to 1868.
Ellen was christened on 14 January 1868 at St. Trea's R.C. Church, Newbridge, Magherafelt, Co. Derry, witnessed by Edward O'Neill and Hanna McCormick. 2
It would be intersting to know whether Michael and Ellen knew each other in Ireland. They lived only about 20km apart and so it is possible.
After emigrating to New Zealand, Michael wrote a number of poems. Initially they were on Ireland and life in New Zealand and later the poems were more political - about elections and people in the community.
In his poem "Lough Beg Shore" Michael talks of leaving a sweetheart called Nora in Ireland, was Nora actually Ellen?
"Oh Nora dear pride of this heart of must I leave thee too".
Both Michael and Ellen were of the Roman Catholic faith.
From the same poem, it is evident that Michael lived an active life as a teenager:
When young and wild I blossomed forth a merry thoughtless boy
With brave friend Dick and cousin Tom and comrades many a score
Some joyful hours I merrily spent around the Annah Shore
With dog and gun around its banks my time it did employ
Or fishing with my hook and line a light gayhearted boy
How oft' I quaffed the poteen clean with comrade full of glee
That he had the time for leisure activities and could afford guns and dogs implies that the family was relatively well off.
An alternative explanation based on the terminology apparently points to Mike being a Fenian supporter. Certainlt, reading the poem with this in mind puts a different twist on it.
James had settled in in Hastings in New Zealand in about 1880 and Patrick probably also lived there, but Michael first settled in Gisborne.
As noted above, we do not know if Michael and Ellen knew each other in Ireland or if they first met in Gisborne.
Michael remained registered in the Hawkes Bay Electorate until his death in 1941.
Ellen was also registered there until 1919 (listed as wife of Michael).
His occupation is also given as flaxmiller in the birth certificates of his sons Michael Thomas (1901) and John (1906).
In the 'Wises' directory from 1914 to 1923 he is listed as a carrier.
These sources give very little idea of what he actually did, however one of Mike's poems "Lines Composed While Flaxmilling at Pakipaki" starts to fill in the picture. He says:
Given the location of Paki Paki, it would seem likely that he was the Lynn referred to in the flaxmilling database at Koeke Junction website (unsourced), which lists a Flaxmill called Poppelwell and Lynn at Paki Paki.
The Hastings Library confirmed that Sebastian Bell Poppelwell owned the flaxmill at Pakipaki (8 km from central Hastings on the main road to Wellington).
And the following clippings confirm that it was Michael and that he was a partner in the mill with Sebastian Poppelwell.
Interestingly Sebastian Poppelwell's name (or his father?) also crops up in association with another of Michaels poems How Long, O Lord, How Long? (see the sidebar). The poem is about Michael Davitt, a famous Fenian who visited New Zealand in 1895. When Davitt visited the Hastings Branch of The Irish National Federation League an S.G.Poppelwell Secretary, was a signatory to the letter of thanks to Davitt. It would be interesting to know if Michael was also at the meeting as I have the suspicion from another of his poems (Lough Beg Shore) which shows Fenian leanings, that he was also a Fenian in Ireland.
(ca 1860- 1941)
Tom lived in the Hawkes Bay and in the electoral rolls gave his occupation as driver and later labourer. He left New Zealand in about 1940 and worked as a drover in Queensland for a short time before joining the Australian army on 8 July 1942. He served in the army (Service Number: Q270974) until 25 January 1946, working in the "Allied Translator and Interpreter Section".
He married Marie Pearl Clarke on 3 January 1944 at St Stephen's Cathedral in Brisbane.
Tom died of Heart Failure, Hypertension and Myocardial Infarct on 25 August 1961 at Mater Misericordiae Public Hospital, Brisbane. He was buried the following day at Toowong Cemetery in plot Grave 17 in section 15, portion 22. Marie died 11 Jan 1983 as is buried with Tom.
He was educated at the Hastings Convent, Hastings. He attained the Senior Free Place examination in his final year in 1920 (which was in "an advanced class at Hastings Convent, standard 7, equivalent to first year at high school"), studying book keeping, general science, mathematics and English.
He later passed government examinations for amateur radio operator in 1927 and for radio servicing in 1932.
From 1920 to 1928 John was employed as a clerk by Hastings Bakery Ltd and he was a private in the Territorial Service in the Hawkes Bay Regiment from 1921 to 1926 in Hastings. While in the territorial service he also received some Pilot training.
From 1928 to 1930 John was employed as a radio serviceman by Rees Radio Ltd. and then from 1930 and 1940 he ran a radio servicing business located at the Lynn family home at 414 West Lyndon Road.
On 20 March 1940 he joined the Royal New Zealand Airforce (service number 40878) as a Wireless and Radar mechanic. He was based at Wigram, Omaka (now Blenheim airport) and Rukuhia (now Hamilton airport) and was discharged on 26 10 1945.
While he was in the RNZAF he was involved in the development of the early Radar systems including the design of antennae and in training other electronics specialists.
After the war he remained in electronics and was employed as a designer and serviceman by Columbus Radio Ltd (later called Robert Francis Ltd).
John died of Heart failure due to an old Myocardial Infarct on 12 December 1961 in Christchurch and was buried 2 days later at Memorial Park Cemetery in Christchurch.
He served in the New Zealand Army between 1942 and 1945 in New Caledonia as a Gunner in the 28th Light Artillery Battery. He was discharged in 1944, along with a considerable number of other servicemen, when a manpower shortage in New Zealand threatened supplies of food and wool to the British and American armies.
After 1944 he lived near Otaua, south of Auckland, until his death.
He never married.
He died on 4 September 1957 and was was buried at Pukekohe Cemetery in plot 57.
She died on 23 July 1983 in Waipukurau, New Zealand and was buried 3 days later at Waipukurau Cemetery in plot Block 8C, plot 50.
Ellen died on 1 January 1920 in Hastings of myocarditis (which was diagnosed 3 months earlier) and had been suffering from chronic eczema. She was buried 2 days later at Hastings Cemetery in plot 201E.
Michael died of Arteriosclerosis on 21 December 1941 in Hastings, while playing draughts with his grandson, Bob Camden. Michael was buried on 23 December 1941 at Hastings Cemetery, Hastings in plot 202E.
Their son Patrick and Ellen's mother Ellen Walls (nee McCormick) are also buried in the same plot.