Friday, 6 March 2015

James Hartley Warburton: A West Aucklander who served in WWI

Eli and Selina Warburton of Lancashire, England, had 2 children, James Hartley and Edna, while living in England. The Warburton family immigrated to New Zealand in the early 20th Century.

The Warburton family: from Lancashire to New Lynn
The 1901 UK census shows that at 3 years old James Hartley Warburton was living with his father Eli Warburton (31 years old), cotton weaver, his mother Selina Warburton (26 years), and his sister Edna (2 years old) at 18 Merton Street, Lancashire. The NZ Electoral Rolls show that the Warburtons were living in New Lynn by 1911. 


If you would like to search the 1841-1911 UK Census records they are easy to access for free at any of the Auckland Libraries through the Ancestry and FindMyPast databases in the Digital Library. The New Zealand electoral rolls are available on microfiche at Auckland Libraries’ Research Centres as well as online at Ancestry.

Opening Day at New Lynn School

Ref: Opening day at New Lynn School, 1914, West Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, New Lynn Print Collection.

Hartley enlisted in 1917 and served in World War One.

Warburton Family - son Hartley, off to World War I.
Left to right: Eli Warburton, daughter Edna, son (James) Hartley in uniform, and Eli’s wife Selina.

Ref: Warburton family, 1917, West Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, Warburton Collection: 2006.11

James Hartley Warburton in Uniform

Ref: James Hartley Warburton, 1917, West Auckland Research Centre,  Auckland Libraries, Warburton Collection: 2014.88.

The Auckland Museum Cenotaph database shows that, before the war, Hartley Warburton was a farm hand. He served with the 29th Reinforcements Auckland Infantry in the N.Z. Expeditionary Force.

Hartley’s military personnel file at Archives New Zealand shows that he was invalided out of the war before it ended, and was awarded a British War Medal.

After World War One Hartley came back to live with his parents in New Lynn. Before the war the Warburtons had a poultry farm in New Lynn.

Eli Warburton, Margan Ave

Ref: Eli Warburton, Date unknown, West Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, Warburton Collection: 2014.88.

Hartley’s father Eli’s occupation was listed as “news agent” in the NZ 1928 Electoral Roll for Auckland Suburbs.Hartley Warburton’s family started the store opposite New Lynn School, on the corner of Margan and Hutchinson AvenuesThe store caught fire in 1934. Below are photographs comparing how store looked before the fire and then the damage that it received in the fire:

Before 1934 fire

Ref: Warburton’s store, c.1934, West Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, Warburton Collection: 2006.11.

After 1934 fire

Hartley’s sister, Edna Murray Warburton, and her husband, Alex Murray in front of the store.

Ref: Warburton’s store after the fire, 1934, West Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, Warburton Collection: 2006.11.

The Auckland Star reported that Eli died on 13 January 1935.

The rebuilt store, 1936

Ref: Rebuilt Warburton’s store, 1936, West Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, Warburton Collection: 2006.11.

Hartley married Flora Amy Riddiford on 22 June 1932 (New Zealand Herald, 6 July 1932, p. 1).  The couple lived in New Lynn after they were married. Their daughter Pamela June Warburton was born in June 1933.

Hartley was a mechanic and had a bicycle shop in the Foresters Building, on the Great North Road in New Lynn. Here is an advertisement for the shop taken from the New Zealand Herald, 7 December 1936, p. 2.


Hartley Warburton’s Cycle Shop, Foresters Building, Great North Road, New Lynn

Ref: Hartley Warburton’s cycle shop, c.1939, West Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, New Lynn Print Collection.

Hartley Warburton baritone singer

Ref: Hartley Warburton baritone singer, date unknown, West Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, Warburton Collection: 2014.88.

James Hartley Warburton was also an accomplished baritone singer according to his obituary in the New Lynn News, 3 July 1958, says that, “From 1927 onwards Mr Warburton’s splendid baritone voice was heard throughout New Zealand over the then, quite new, broadcasting system, and his services were in constant demand at theatrical shows and various other entertainments.”

James Hartley Warburton died in 1958, aged 60 years old, according to Births, Deaths and Marriages Historical records, and on 14 April of that year, according to Auckland Museum’s Cenotaph database.

By 1957, Hartley (retired), Flora Amy, and their daughter Pamela June Warburton had moved to Palm Beach on Waiheke Island in the Waitemata Harbour. His mother Selina died about this time.
Sometime after 1963, Hartley’s daughter, Pamela June married, becoming Pamela June Dervin.  

Below are a couple of photographs of Pamela:

Ref: Pamela Warburton on a motorbike in the New Lynn School grounds, c. 1951, West Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, Warburton Collection: 2006.11.

Waitakere Week, 19 March, 1997, has the above photograph, accompanied by an article about Pamela. She was a member of the Lynnette’s Marching Girls.

The Lynnette’s Marching Girls, of New Lynn:

Ref: Ray Studio, Lynnette’s Marching Girls, 1954, West Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, Warburton Collection: 2006.11. 


Pamela Warburton is sitting in the front right of the photo. See also West: the history of Waitakere, edited by Finlay MacDonald and Ruth Kerr, 2009: p.416 for a copy of this photo.

She moved back to West Auckland where she was living until her death in July 2014.

Author: Carolyn Skelton, West Auckland Research Centre

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