Extract from the Book "Upper Hutt History"
Francis was a widower and sheep farmer, aged 40, and he had a young family with him when he arrived at Wellington in the ship Gertrude in 1841. He came ashore with two sons, George - 13 and William - 7, and a daughter Jane - 9. Descendants understood the Whitemans came from somewhere near the site of the Battle of Hastings, and so it has proven to be. Udimore, near Rye, Sussex, is in Hastings country, on a rise between two valleys in which the rivers Brede and Tillingham run. Parish records indicate that the population of Udimore in 1841 was 480. Whiteman farms were known by such names as Hounster, Cross and Stocks. Church registers show Francis Whiteman, son of William and Mary Whiteman, as sixth in a family of 11. Besides a younger brother, Spencer, deported for smuggling in 1828, three other Whitemans from Udimore are recorded as having sailed to New South Wales in 1842, in the ship Neptune Trader, and having settled in Camden, near Sydney. Although he left a daughter in Udimore, and the name Spencer has been carried on in the family, the deportee has not been tracked since he began to serve his sentence. The UDIMORE CHRONICLE, in an issue raising funds for roof restoration at the parish church, reported that the quiet situation and access to the sea of the area made it ideal for smuggling. Sunken roadways led down to the old shore line,and Dumb Woman`s Lane was a deep cutting for most of its length. The Whitemans and another family led a gang of smugglers who met at the Red Lion, Brede. The top of Dumb Woman`s Lane was known as Whiteman`s Corner. In 1827 a battle between Customs men and smugglers at Fairlight, six miles from Udimore, resulted in three smugglers being killed and several others wounded. The following year Spencer Whiteman, two of the Miller family and five others were indicted at Horsham Assizes for armed assembly for the purpose of smuggling. They were committed for trial at the Old Bailey where they were sentenced to death. This was commuted to transportation, and they were sent to Tasmania. It was reported that Spencer Whiteman left a child in the care of John Whiteman of Stocks.
In Wellington, Francis Whiteman was soon confronting the only options available to manual workers; road building or forest felling. The forest at hand was in the great valley behind Petone beach. An obvious site for sawmills was on the river, or on a tributary. The Waiwhetu stream, navigable then, became the sawmilling strip of early Wellington. When his sons joined him on the job it was as Francis Whiteman and Sons, pitsawyers located on the Waiahwtu stream or further up the Hutt, in the days when scows could find their way to the Hutt Bridge. The river was ideal for moving timber into the harbour; the market was across the harbour basin. With their bush felling and milling, the Whitemans moved north to Taita, at the entrance to the gorge that isolated northern valley from southern. About 1846 some of the family were pig-hunting, out of Stokes valley in the Taita gorge. George is credited with being the pig-hunter, but he could have been accompanied by his father, possibly by his 12 year old brother. Following a pig over the hills, George found himself in a valley east of the Hutt and parallel to it, but smaller and higher. And no one knew it was there. George Whiteman had sufficient confidence in a genuine discovery to report the find to the Governor, Sir George Grey. In the militia during the land disputes with Hutt Valley and coastal Maori tribes, including the aftermath of the fatal attack by visiting tribes on Boulcott stockade, Lower Hutt, in early 1846, George Whiteman had as much service as anyone. The highlights were his inclusion in the force called from Taita to clean out any remaining snipers, and two months later the expedition to Pauatahanui to capture Rangihaeata`s pa. The chief had moved north ahead of the combined force of militia, armed police and Ngatiawa. George Whiteman seemed to have the pick of the first 20 blocks, surveyed in 1846 according to a reference in family records to a '46 ' peg. The grant made to him was dated 1847, when he would have been 19. With his father he had cleared some land, as required in a condition of the grant, and had erected a dwelling-a punga whare. It was the first in a succession of dwellings erected by the Whitemans on the same property. A search of earliest marriage records in the national registry showed that George Whiteman, bachelor, and Eliza Hooper, spinster, married at St.James Church on 25 July 1849. A Registrar`s statement described them as being of the River Hutt, a term used in those days to indicate the river side settlements, particularly of the lower valley. No form was involved. The Anglican church at Lower Hutt was and is St.James. The registration of marriage, solemnised (as it noted) within the district of Wellington within the Province of New Munster, set out that the couple were ' married by banns with consent of parent s'. In the registration, no ages were required, or details of parents. The bride and bridegroom supplied a mark, witnessed it seemed, by I A Petherick and William Coching. A son, John, was born at Taita in 1850. One of the first events in his life, according to one report, was his rescue in an earthquake from the upper storey of 'the shaking home then occupied by the family'. George's sister Jane would have been 18, his brother William 16, when George married. Jane married Matthew Shirley at Wellington. His parents, Thomas and Ann (nee Hallett) Shirley, who had married at Horsington, Templcombe, Somerset early in 1825, left Dartmouth for Wellington in mid 1841 in the ship Arab, with Matthew and six younger children. Matthew and Jane moved from the Hutt to Invercargill in 1859 . Jane's husband Matthew became a farmer at Long Bush, South Wyndham. Jane`s father, Francis Whiteman, accompanied or followed his daughter south. His funeral left the residence of Matthew Shirley, Long Bush, for the East Road cemetary on 29 October, 1872. Matthew Shirley died at his home in South Wyndham on 8 May 1886. His age was given as 58. At this time the property was named Cherry Farm. Jane died at her residence, Wyndham on 8 April 1891. Her age was given as 59. The death notice invited Hawke's Bay papers to copy. Matthew and Jane were both buried at Wyndham, between Invercargill and Gore. The Loyal Rose of Sharon Lodge was opened on Saturday, 25 April 1857, at the house of Matthew Sharley, Sign of the Shepherd Inn, Upper Hutt. Minutes are still held recording the event. It was only the seventh lodge to be established in the Wellington district, and the 19th throughout New Zealand. As Lodge 4675 Manchester Unity Independant Order of Oddfellows it was a pioneer in the establishment of these friendly societies. Only four of these early lodges still existed in 1987, when Brother Rex Aldridge reviewed all minutes that could be located. Matthew Sharley appears to have been an early licensee of Brown's hotel, known to have been called The Shepherd and then developed into the Criterion. Many of the first members of the lodge were minuted as being engaged in timber milling. In February 1858, host Sharley notified that he was moving away, and the lodge decided to move too, down the road to the Highland Home, at what would be one day called Quinn's Post. The licensee there, John McHardie, had become a lodge brother.3