Rush Family History

The Story of the Rush Family


This page has information about the three places of special interest to the Rush family, and contains excerpts from the family stories, and links to internet resources for listings, photos and maps.

Place names

Essex, England

Essex is the county just north-east of London in England where the Rodgers and Rush families came from (see map below). Essex is a county in southeast England, between London and the North Sea. It's just across the Thames River from Gravesend.

Map of Essex, UK.

Click on the image above to go to a Google map zoomed in on the area to see the towns listed below.

Richard Rush was born in Orsett, while his parents Joseph and Sarah Rush lived at Langdon Hills in the 1780s. They both died in the early 1800s in Dunton.

Cecilia Eliza Herbert, born in 1819, and baptised in 1822 in Waltham Abbey, married Charles Rodgers in the Chapel of St Paul, Waltham Abbey. Their residence at the time was Mott Street, High Beech.

Meaning and relevance of Essex Place Names

  • Aveley - a woodland clearing of a woman called Ælfgyth - native village of John George Rush
  • Bulphan - fen near a fortified place - marriage place of Richard Rush II and Maria Steel, 1819
  • Dunton - place of death of Sarah Martin 1823, Maria Steel 1827 and Joseph Rush 1807
  • East Hanningfield - open land of the family or followers of a man named Hana - birthplace of Rebecca Stevens, c1730
  • Gravesend - Port on River Thames from which Charles and Cecilia Rodgers sailed on the Oriental, 15 September 1839
  • Langdon Hills - long hill or down - place of marriage of Richard Rush and Rebecca Stevens 1756, and (presumably) the birthplace of their children
  • Orsett - (place at) the pits where (iron) ore is dug - birthplace of Richard Rush 1799
  • Waltham Abbey - a residence in, or near, a wood - place of marriage of Charles Rodgers and Cecilia Eliza Herbert 1838
  • Chelmsford Prison - prison where Richard Rush was held until his deportation in 1832 - read about Chelmsford Prison

The Hutt Valley, New Zealand

The Hutt Valley was the first place of residence of the Rodgers and Rush family members in New Zealand.

On 31 January 1840, the "Oriental" dropped anchor off Somes Island, and after a storm passed, the passengers began disembarking on the 5th of February. The new arrivals decided to settle on the banks of the Hutt River, about a mile up the mouth at Pito-one beach. By 6th March, the last of possessions had been ferried ashore, and the settlers began clearing bush, and building shacks.

Re-enactment of early settlers landing on Petone beach.

Re-enactment of early settlers landing on Petone beach.

View of Petone and Hutt Valley today.

View of Petone and Hutt Valley today.

Charles Rodgers and his wife Cecilia built a raupo and manuka shack at the edge of the bush, where Cecilia gave birth to her first child, Thomas - who was the first while child born in Wellington. We have not found any records of exactly where Charles and Cecilia lived during those first few months until Charles was drowned in a storm in August 1840 while returning to Petone from Port Nicholson, but we presume it was on or near the beach. Several other men also perished.

Model of a whare typically built by the early settlers in Petone.

Model of a whare typically built by the early settlers in Petone.

Te Puni Urupa site - Petone foreshore.

Te Puni Urupa site - Petone foreshore.

When Cecilia married Richard Rush in early 1841 and they moved to a plot in Taita. Following his tragic death on 15 June 1846 at a place known as Barton's Paddock, Cecilia was living in Taita with her four children, and Richard's son, John George Rush. It is believed the murder occurred near the Hutt River, on the site of the current Lower Hutt Railway station.

Cecilia married John in July 1852 and together they farmed in Taita for the next thirty years. It is believed their property was near the stockade which garrisoned with a small party of the Hutt Militia. In the marriage notice for his daughter Alexanderina, the farm is known as Waltham Abbey Farm.

A title deed dated 25 November 1858 shows that John George Rush paid Charles Mabey the sum of 430 pounds for a piece of land known as part of Section 53 (24 acres 3 roods 28 purchases).

Links to more information

You can view the links for the history and more information from the Links panel on the right.

Palmerston North, New Zealand

Palmerston North became the final location for members of the Rush, Rodgers and McDowall families and they are all listed amongst the earliest settlers of the area. A large number of the family are now buried at Terrace End Cemetery and Kelvin Grove.

John and Cecilia Rush moved to Palmerston North in 1882, but his son John Henry Rush is listed amongst the earliest Palmerston residents in 1872.

On 17th March, 1872, John Henry Rush took part in the first Roman Catholic mass in Palmerston North, acting as altar assistant to the French priest, Fr Moreau, taking charge of the congregation. This took place in a surveyor's thatched hut, and was attended by about a score of people, almost exclusively members of the Rush family.

Plaque in Coleman Place, Palmerston North.

Plaque in Coleman Place, Palmerston North.

John and Cecilia built a new home on Broad Street (known today as Broadway Avenue), on the site that is now Garden Supplies, and some time later, John purchased six and a half acres in Avenue Road (now Park Road) on the eastern side of town. Here he turned the bush into pasture, planting several acres in apples, plums, pears and other fruit trees. Although some reports claim that he named this orchard Ake Ake, after the hedges that surrounded it, the Cyclopaedia of New Zealand maintains that he actually called it Aveley, after his native village.

Thomas Rodgers farmed the 50 acres of land in the Hutt given to him by the Provincial Government for being the first white boy born in Wellington, for about seven years after his marriage, until he sold the land and used the proceeds to purchase a 100 acre block on Rangitikei Road, in Palmerston North.

Thomas paid two pounds per acre for his land on the deferred system, and always declared that his purchase was a double bargain because it had given him the bush for nothing. Thomas farmed the land for the next sixty years, until his death at the age of 93 in 1933.

John George Rush's daughter Alexanderina Rush married William McDowall in Taita in 1871. Soon after their marriage they moved to the Manawatu and were amongst the first settlers in Palmerston North, living in Rangitikei Road. They are listed as being present at the first Catholic Mass held in Palmerston North on St Patrick's Day, 1872. They probably would have travelled by sea to Foxton and then transferred to a canoe to paddle up the Manawatu River to the Palmerston North bush settlement.

The Manawatu was just being opened up for settlement in the early 1870s, and William and his brother Andrew saw it as an opportunity to acquire their own farms since there was a land shortage in the Hutt. They applied for land on a deferred payment system as noted in the transcript of the land documents.

It took six years to secure a grant for land in the Manawatu. According to the New Zealand Government Gazette, dated Monday 23 February 1874, under the return of Lands Sold and Deposits Received in the Province of Wellington from 1-31 January 1874, three applications were made in December 1873 for land in the Manawatu under the deferred payments system from:

  • John George Rush - 50 acres
  • Andrew McDowall - 100 acres
  • William McDowall - 50 acres

In 1875/76 they reapplied and were still listed as applicants, but from the transcript of the Certificates of Title, William McDowall finally secured half of Section 553 (50 acres), and Andrew McDowall received 100 acres of Section 428 on 7 July 1880. William's property had the mortgage discharged on 11 October 1895.

William's brother Andrew McDowall is listed as being a settler and one of the first ratepayers in Palmerston North for the year ending 31 March 1879, situated on Section 428 in the 1879/80, 1885, 1887 Palmerston North electoral roll, along with John Henry Rush and his father John George Rush, and again in 1890; this time Alphonsus Rush is also listed. According to the Palmerston North and Kairanga County Rate Books, Andrew McDowall owned Section 428 between 1878 and 1905.

This is situated on the corner of Rangitikei Line and Flygers Line (formerly Richardson's Line) and appears from maps to be a 100 acre block which is now being farmed for crops. Between 1878 and 1883 Andrew also owned and paid rates on Section 301, lots 60 and 61 (with house and stables) at number 23 Taonui St. By comparing an 1895 map with today's street map of Palmerston North, these sections are near the intersection of Walding Street and Taonui Street (now commercial premises).

In 1893, William and Alexanderina's son Stanislaus McDowall of Rangitikei Line, a farmer, is listed, along with Alphonsus and Sylvester Rodgers, Ambrose and Cecilia Rush. Later in the 1905-06 Electoral Roll, the entries include:

  • Andrew McDowall, Taonui St, settler
  • Henrietta McDowall, Taonui St, married
  • Douglas McDowall, Tram St, engine driver
  • Minnie Grimshaw McDowall, Tram St, married
  • Clementina McDowall, Taonui St, spinster
  • Robert McDowall, labourer
  • Alexanderina McDowell, Rangitikei Line, widow
  • Vincent McDowell, Rangitikei Line, farmer
  • William McDowell, Rangitikei Line, farmer

There are also 11 members of the Rush family listed in 1905.

View of Thomas Rodgers' farm, Rangitikei Line.

View of Thomas Rodgers' farm, Rangitikei Line.

However in 1911, only Andrew and Henrietta McDowall of 21 Taonui St, and Douglas and Minnie Grimshaw McDowall of Boundary Rd East are listed in Palmerston North. Robert McDowall of Featherston St is listed on the Supplementary Roll as a Blacksmith. Clementina had married and moved to Taihape. Vincent and his brother Stanislaus had moved to the outskirts of Dannevirke.

Many Rush, Rodgers, and McDowall family members are buried in Terrace End Cemetery, and later Kelvin Grove Cemetery.

Links to more information

You can view the links for the history and more information from the Links panel on the right.

Much more specific information about the location of the family properties is held in the family archives, including maps and transcripts of deeds, and in the two family publications:

  • A Humble Beginning - the Story of the Rush Family 1730-1999
  • From the Thistle to the Fern - the story of the McDowall family

These books are located in the Palmerston North, Porirua, Hutt City and Wellington libraries, and at the National Library. If you are interested in finding out more details, please contact me with your questions.

Contact details

If you have any information or photos to add to the site, or any corrections, please contact Dale Hartle in Levin, New Zealand, by phone +64 021 45 34 24.