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Meet the Hermans - Oxford, Canterbury farmers

the Hermans

The Coopers' Creek Hermans, c1913

the Hermans' car

The Hermans' motorcar, c1913.

Herman family portrait day - indoor shot. Jack and Annie's youngest son, Doug, is yet to be born.
Outdoor shot. The Herman car was said to have been one of the first in the district.


Francis and Harriet Herman (nee Chapman) were bakers in Clapham, London, England. One son - 'Sailor Jack' Herman, born 1861 - migrated to New Zealand in the 1870s. As the parents passed away, innovative and successful Jack paid the fares of siblings out to join him here, making one trip back. One brother worked at Parliament in Wellington, and a son represented Canterbury in rugby. Countless interesting tales of the rural homelife have been passed down through the years. This is an historiographical reconstruction of a happy, NZ-made Anglo-German family's lives. The second 'n' in Hermann had been dropped by the parents in London, though would occasionally appear reinstated.

Biography of Charles and Annie Elizabeth Herman

The received tradition that Sailor Jack "jumped ship" in Lyttelton, around 1876, seems to be an example of the man's jovial humour, if not a true story. Jack Herman was not an assisted migrant, like most arriving that decade. An arrival can be traced for a J Herman, who stepped off the Friedeburg (or Friedelburg) from Hamburg on 31 August 1872.* This person was one of just five first class passengers on a full transport of 'mainly Scandinavians and Poles'. Had Jack utilised his London language skills to act in some shipping agent employed capacity for this voyage? A well-known company owner had the vessel specially built, of iron, in Glasgow, so this boatload was a special arrangement. But Jack's working class roots don't seem to align with this earlier possibility, when he would have been aged about 11. More likely he became a teenage deck hand, six years later, and entered New Zealand in preference to continuing service at sea.

Charles's next legend is of having heard of work available, making his way out to the wood-cutting settlement of Oxford, where most local Vogel Scheme German migrants were being shepherded. Here he found work at 'Woodside', the farm of Joseph 'Uncle Joe' and Martha Proffit (nee Cook). It is said that Jack held the Proffit's baby daughter Annie Elizabeth at her christening, and promised to marry her when she came of age. He waited, saved up, and duly did so when Annie had turned 17. [Joseph Allan Proffitt b.c1850 d.16 Oct 1912 Aged 67 Oxford + Martha Maria Proffitt d.8 July 1919 Oxford plot pair. Of their offspring, a Joseph Proffitt remained, presumably farming Woodside, another/true 'Uncle Joe' to the Herman children we may assume, 1876-1949 Oxford plot]

Charles and Annie made their home at Coopers' Creek. They had a traction engine and did contract harvesting, on which some of the sons worked, initially. Then they became sheepfarmers. The Hermans had the first local electricity, with a turbine in the creek and a battery system in the barn. The Herman motorcar was said to have been one of the first in the district. They contributed to the local school and church. They were friends and supporters of the cheated and suffering Langer farming family from Moravia.[1]

The war years and aftermath were difficult for this family, suffering persecution. One son, Stan, required surgery after a cruel rugby kick to the base of the spine, and so died young of hospital-induced pneumonia in 1926. Pressures drove them out of Oxford farming. The young women developed a quirky, charming and unusually 'bolshie' disposition, with lively and amusing terminology and anecdotes. They played piano, sang, and voted Labour.

Move to Christchurch: Couldn't pay land tax in 1930s, so lost the Coopers' Creek farm equity. The move to town gave relief for the health services available there. Jack became a night watchman (at Dainty's Confectionary, Dundas St / the Aulsebrook's factory?). He died in 1943, aged 82 , well-liked by his grandchildren. d. 14 August 1943 82 years (b.c1861) - Christchurch burial record - Annie Elizabeth Herman d. 27 July 1945 67 years (b.c1878).


The Press had no Charles Herman obituary in 1942.? No GR Macdonald index entry for Charles Herman (Canterbury Museum library, 1964)?

Parents, and siblings of Henry Ernest Charles 'Jack' Herman:
Francis Herrmann 1829-1878 (father #0) Hessen German Catholic m. 17 Jan 1856 St. Marks Kennington Anglican to: Harriett Chapman 1824-1914, Anglican - Harriett Herman. Perhaps see Friends of West Norwood Cemetery re grave sighting.

Francis 'George' Augustus Herman b. 15 Sep 1856 Lambeth, baker m. Mary Ann Collin 15 Oct 1878 d. 30 May 1939 @82 - UK
William 'Arthur' John Herman b. 4 Dec 1859 Lambeth, Surrey. Occupation Bakersman - to Australia (? - Jack's fare)
Henry Ernest Charles 'Jack' Herman b. 14 Jun 1861 Lambeth - NZ c1878 @17, d.@82 Christchurch burial (father #1)
Kate Harriet Alice Herman - b. 26 Jan 1864 Lambeth, d. Nov 1865 aged 1 - UK
Albert Edwin Herbert 'Bob' Herman b. 12 Mar 1866 Lambeth - to NZ c.1879? d.@79 Christchurch burial (father #2)
Rose Amy [Florence] Walker Herman ex Robinson b. 3 Mar 1869 Lambeth d. 15 Feb 1951 @81, Christchurch burial
The children of Henry Ernest Charles 'Jack' and Annie Elizabeth Herman (nee Proffit):
Martha Maude Herman b.12Mar1897 c.31Mar1898 m.Watt d.c1985 @87
Edith Herman b.1899 m.Jack Morris d.1961
Alice May 'Ali' Herman b.7May1901 c.4Aug m.Jenssen, Batt d.c2000
Stanley Ernest 'Stan' Herman 1908 c.8May d.'1927 at 20' (18) "24 September 1926", Christchurch burial
Reginald J 'Reg' Herman b.4Jan1908 c.8Mar d.200?
Stella Muriel Herman b.1909 (twin #1) m.Jack Bartley d.10.9.1992 as S.M. Urquhart (m. Colin Urquhart 1991 ex Police Commissioner)
Irene Pearl 'Rene' Herman b.1909 (twin #2) d.1948
George Clarence Herman b.26Sep1911 c.22Jun1913 d.c1993
Douglas Haig 'Doug' Herman b.18Mar1917 c.3Jun d.c2000

Relatives and other NZ Hermans from that time and place:

*? John Herman d. 29 August 1947 "93 years" [b.c1854], Christchurch burial
Gertrude Herman d. 1 January 1872, Christchurch burial 2 December 1943
Elias Herman d. 1 January 1876, Christchurch burial 2 December 1943

From Cheryl Price, 2.4.2015 - "My Great Great Aunt Harriet Ellen (known as Ellen or Nell) Foster grew up in Oxford, and married a Albert Edwin Herbert Herman (known as Edwin) in 1892. They had one son Arthur, born 1897. At some stage they moved to Taranaki. After Nell died, Edwin returned to Canterbury, and is buried in the Ruru Lawn Cemetery (see below). I have no details of Edwin arriving in NZ (from below I calculate this to be around 1879), and no details of their marriage - or whether it was in Oxford or Taranaki." - (father #2)
Edwin 'Bob' Herman
Christchurch City Council Cemeteries Database
Result Detail
Surname: Herman
First name(s): Albert Edwin Herbert
Date of death: Sunday, 9 September 1945
Cemetery: Ruru Lawn
Date of burial: Tuesday, 11 September 1945
Block number: 22
Plot number: 114
Age: 79 years [b.c1866]
Occupation: Labourer
Place of birth:
Years in New Zealand: 66 [arr.c1879]
Hermans at Auckland War Cenotaph
Hermans at Auckland War Cenotaph

Edwin Herman, 43 Glenbervie Tce, Wellington; c/o P.W.Dept Molesworth St [Albert Edwin Herbert 'Bob' Herman]
(son) Rifleman Arthur Herman, Whangamomona; 'b.8.4.1895' (not), CofE / b.8.3.1895 24/455 2nd Trentham Battalion Attestation / "Age 22" at demob 13.3.1919 = b.8.3.1897 (father #4)**
(father #3) Percival (Percy) Arthur Herman, Christchurch, m.Rose? m.Rebecca "Beck" nee Moeller
(son) Capt. Cedric Arthur Herman, Christchurch; Solicitor, Carlton Gore Road, Auckland; b. 8 Aug 1890, Napier - Christs College Cadets, 1st Canterbury Regiment, 3rd Auckland Regiment
(son) 2nd Lt. Roy Percival Herman, Clerk of Papanui Road, Christchurch; b. 15 Nov 1891, Napier - NZEF Attestation (12 Aug 1914 Medical History "22 years 9 months") :

2nd Lieut. Herman, R. P.
6/65 2nd Lieut. Herman, R. P., 1st Canterbury Battalion - KIA 8/7/16 Armentieres, France - Auckland Weekly News, 1916

2nd Lieut. Herman, R. P. RIP
Canterbury fallen, Great War, 25 April 2018 memorial
Canterbury fallen, Great War, 25 April 2018 memorial
Fields of Remembrance World War One Commemoration April 2018

"Age 23, Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery, Armentieres - Son of Percy and Beck Herman, of Christchurch, New Zealand. Also served at Gallipoli."
Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery/memorial reference: II. D. 37. - "6/55" Jewish memorial 3/24097

Search: - "b.Napier 1891"
Clerk, H Matson & Co. - This [probate] record (R22393179) is held in Archives New Zealand, Christchurch Office - Mr P.A. & Mrs Rose Herman, 7 St Georges Bay Road, Auckland
Notes: Mrs R Herman-Prospect, Remuera Road, Auckland + R Hepworth c/o BNZ Victoria St

War / history sources:
Roy Percival Herman "Roy was born to Jewish parents, Percy Arthur and Rebecca Herman nee Moeller, in Napier 1892. His father was a hotel proprietor who ran Warner's Hotel in Cathedral Square. His grandfather, Phillip Moeller, was also a hotel proprietor" Kete Christchurch, has illustrations + Warner's Hotel history Wikipedia, Percy Arthur Herman
2nd Lieutenant Roy Percival Herman
The History of the Canterbury Regiment, N.Z.E.F. 1914 - 1919 Chapter VI. - From Egypt to France: Trench Warfare at Armentieres
The History of the Canterbury Regiment, N.Z.E.F. 1914 - 1919 Killed in Action 6/65 2nd Lieut. Herman, R. P. 1st 8/7/16 [+ 15470 Private Bartley, G. 2nd 7/6/17]
A standard for the people : the 150th anniversary of the Wellington Hebrew Congregation, 1843-1993 edited by Stephen Levine, Wellington

(father #5) Major/Capt./Lieut.Col Cedric Arthur Herman, WWI 12/2901 +
WWII 803315
Lieut.Col Cedric Herman 1946Roy & Cedric Herman WWI Jewish memorial NZ
"Captain Cedric Arthur Herman is a native of New Zealand. His father is also a native of New Zealand, and his mother is of purely Irish descent. It is understood his grandfather on his father's side was a German." Parliamentary Debates: House of Representatives, Volume 175, p.274, 19 May 1916.
Percy Herman "was born ... 1866 to Isaac Herman and Rebecca Herman (born Jacobs). Isaac was born in 1835, in Sluzew, Mazowieckie, Poland. Rebecca was born in 1844, in Graudenz, Kujawsko-Pomorskie, Poland. Percy had 10 siblings: Ruby Zander (born Herman), Florence Rosetta Zander (born Herman) and 8 other siblings. Percy passed away in 1935, at age 68" & "Percy Arthur Herman, 1866 - 1935.. born 1866 to Isaac Herman and Rebecca Herman. Percy had 10 siblings: Pansy Herman, Alfred Samuel Herman and 8 other siblings. Percy married Rebecca Herman in 1889, at age 22. They had 3 children: Doris Leslie Sievwright and 2 other children. Percy passed away in 1935, at age 68"
Percy Arthur Herman d. 26 March 1935 Age 68 [b.c1867]
Rebecca Herman d. 26 September 1950 Age 80 [b.c1870]

** (father #4) HERMAN, Arthur - WW1 24/455 - Army (R16794697)
'Arthur 1897-1947 [Anglican] m.1920 Hetty 1896-1963 [Waitara, Taranaki store-keeper]':
(son) Dennis Arthur Herman (1922 - 1944) "Born 1922. Son of Arthur Herman and Hetty (Woods) Herman. Died 30 Nov 1944 in Italy" Private 452201 21st Infantry Battalion
Dennis Herman 1922-44 from search:
Arthur Herman d. 29 November 1947 @50
Hetty Herman d. 16 August 1963 @67

Search: +

Francis Herrmann was very likely a youthful Eighteen-Forty-Eighter, emigre to liberal Great Britain, escaping political repression. Full circle was turned through descendants.

More on Aulsebrook's factory:'s Cocoa helps to "Put It Over" pix etc Jo Featherston - factory looks same as: "iconic building on the corner of Colombo and Sandyford Streets"
Colour Photograph: Aulsebrook's Flour Mill, Antigua Street, 1985
Aulsebrooks & Company: Steam biscuit manufacturers. Gold medal awarded to Aulsebrook & Co. Christchurch. New Zealand International Exhibition 1882. Whitcombe & Tombs Limited litho [1880s]

[1] Noteworthy friends of the Oxford Hermans were the Langer family. These Vogel-era, 1874 Emperor-encouraged Austro-German migrants from [Engelswals? in] Moravia, came to broad notice in the 1930s as the impoverished, View Hill "Rampaddock Hill hermits", Rose Langer and her brother Joe, remainder of three brothers, three sisters and parents who'd initially settled there. Much was published in newspapers at that time with a few charity appeals. Rose b.c1858 died in 1940 (news item, burial detail not yet known) and Joe, b.c1872 on 8 September 1951 age 79 in Christchurch. There's a Bernard (&/Bernhard?) Langer b.c1870 in Oxford cemetery d.3 Sep 1957 age 87 "son of Bernard and Johann pioneer settlers of Oxford"; also a Margaret Langer b.c1861 d.19 October 1932 age 71 with a Rose Langer b.c1880 d.20 August 1940 age 60 in Sydenham cemetery, possibly related. See The Hermits of Cooper's Creek blog by Jo Bailey for completed research. Best source outside Oxford Museum is by a descendant, Embracing the Pioneering Spirit. ...

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