Elizabeth Scott - The Shanty Keeper's Wife

‘We’ll never see England again, will we?’ I asked my sister.

‘No.’ Annie entwined her arm through mine. ‘A better life, Betsy my dear, is what we go towards,’ she mimicked Mr Fitzwater, giggling.


Emma Beach and Cheryl Burman, The Shanty Keeper's Wife, 2016



Queens Square, Twickenham, where Betsy Luckett's family lived at the time of the 1851 Census, shortly before emigrating to New Zealand. Courtesy of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames Local Studies Library and Archive.


The Canterbury Association

Mrs George Fitzwater (Betsy's mother) and her four daughters were amongst the first immigrants to Port Lyttelton on the south island of New Zealand. Mr George Fitzwater didn't accompany them.

Those who came to Canterbury on the First Four Ships were divided into two main groups: ‘colonists’ and ‘emigrants’. Colonists travelled as cabin passengers and had the money to buy land in the new settlement....

The ‘emigrants’ were mainly agricultural labourers, tradesmen, domestic servants and young married couples....Emigrants were required to be under 40 years old, to provide their own tools, and to supply testimonials as to their qualifications, medical certificates and certificates from the minister of their parish, countersigned by a Justice of the Peace.

Each ship carried a chaplain, a surgeon and a schoolmaster, all paid for by the Canterbury Association.


Image by permission of Canterbury Museum, Rolleston Avenue, Christchurch, New Zealand

Twickenham 1862. Queens Square is marked with an X. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Lyttelton immigration barracks, January 1851. Sumner Rd. William Fox.

The scene which greeted Betsy, her mother and sisters on their arrival in October 1851.

Source of image

Collins Street, Melbourne 1853 by Charles Nettleton.

By autumn 1852 Mrs Fitzwater had relocated her family to thriving Melbourne, then in the first flush of the gold boom.

 Source: The State Library of Victoria