Freeborn Parsons was a cousin once removed of Edward Parsons who was Sidney Alfred Parsons’ grandfather. Their most recent common ancestor was William Parsons the inn-keeper and land-owner from Holton in Somerset.
Freeborn was the seventh child and youngest son of John Parsons, a farmer and cheese merchant from Dorset in South-West England, and his wife Sarah (née Case). He was born on Christmas Eve in the year 1854. His father John was a farmer and cheese merchant in the parish of Motcombe at the bottom of Tout Hill, which leads down from the hilltop market town of Shaftesbury. In 1861 the family moved to a much larger farm in Pylle in Somerset (which is very near where the Glastonbury Festival is now held) and that became Freeborn’s home for much of his childhood. He was educated at a public school in Weymouth, the Taunton Wesleyan College and Westbury College in Bristol. His father John died when he was only thirteen years old and in later years he said that helping to run the farm gave him experience which stood him in good stead when he later established himself in New Zealand and helped him to become one of the largest pastoralists in the Marlborough district.
In October of the year 1875 Freeborn married Emily Antonetta Phabayn whose father was the vicar of Charlton Horethorne, the village where Freeborn’s father John Parsons had been brought up and where his uncle Uriah Parsons lived in the manor house. Reverend John Findon Smith Phabayn had been born in Alresford in Hampshire and after taking a degree at Oxford spent almost his entire working life as the parish priest in Charlton Horethorne where his church, St Peter & St Paul’s, was next door to the manor house. He was a wealthy man; when he died in 1889 his personal estate was valued at £24,784 12s 8d.
Soon after they married Freeborn and Antonetta decided to move to New Zealand and, in the following spring, they set sail on board the Countess of Kintore, a wooden barque of 737 tons. They landed at Lyttleton, near Christchurch on South Island, in April and settled in the Pelorus Valley which is in the northern part of South Island.
Freeborn had three cousins who had also emigrated to New Zealand: George Estcourt Parsons, Henry William Parsons and John Athelstone Parsons. They lived in Kaikoura, a picturesque settlement on the coast north of Christchurch which had originally been established as a whaling station but the whaling had not been economically viable. Their parents, Freeborn’s uncle George Parsons and his aunt Elizabeth, (née Gale), had joined them there in 1873. In 1876 Freeborn and Antonetta decided to leave the Pelorus Valley and join their relatives in Kaikoura.
In Kaikoura, Freeborn farmed sheep, but not on a particularly large scale and the income would not have supported his life-style. He was a man of independent means with wealth ultimately derived from his family’s connections to the Peters and Portman families.
Freeborn led a busy and active life. He served on the Kaikoura County Council and the Marlborough Land Board, he became a director of the Scales Shipping Line, and he founded the Kaikoura Agricultural and Pastoral Association of which he became a life-long member.
He had always been a keen sportsman and, in England, a follower of the hounds. He was an oustanding shot and in 1896, in Kaikoura, he achieved a world record score at 700 yards with the Martini Henry rifle. The following year he returned to England with the New Zealand rifle team to compete at Bisley. He also represented New Zealand during the Commonwealth celebrations in Sydney.
In 1909 Freeborn, Antonetta and their children paid a visit to England and also spent a fortnight in Paris. He paid several other short visits to England and, at least once, to Canada.
In his later years Freeborn spent much time at his city home which was in Oriental Parade, Wellington.
In October 1935 Freeborn and his wife Antonetta celebrated the diamond jubilee of their wedding with family and friends at their home, Benmore Station near Ward. Two months later they were back in Wellington when Antonetta passed away at the age of 81 years.
Six months after his wife had died Freeborn paid another visit to England where he stayed at the manor house in Charlton Horethorne with John Newton Parsons who was his cousin once removed.
On the 26th of April 1937, while he was staying at Benmore Station, Freeborn died. His body was taken to Wellington for cremation.
There is a memorial to Freeborn and Antonetta at the Ward Flaxbourne cemetery about 30 miles south of Blenheim and 50 miles north of Kaikoura.
Children of Freeborn and Antonetta Parsons
At the time of their deaths Freeborn Parsons and his wife Emily Antonetta had five surviving children:
• John Douglas Parsons, who was a farmer;
• George Harold Parsons, who lived at the Mount Victoria sheep station near Wellington;
• Ralph Baron Phabayn Parsons, of Blue Duck Station;
• Mrs. Edith Antonetta Storrie, who lived in Australia with her second husband having divorced her first;
• Mrs. Muriel Marion Parsons, who lived in Ward, a small town north of Kaikoura. She had married her cousin Milo Parsons (Claude St George Milo Cole Parsons) who was a son of her uncle George Parsons who was a hotel-keeper in the central part of New Zealand’s North Island.
There had been another son, Richard Reginald, who was known as Rex. He had qualified as a pilot at his own expense before travelling to England in 1918 to join the newly formed Royal Air Force. His training at the Sockburn (Canterbury) Aviation School took only fourteen days. After the war ended he returned to New Zealand but in 1923 he had been killed in a motoring accident when, as several newspapers reported, a wheel collapsed causing his car to capsize.
Ancestors of Freeborn Parsons
Father — John Parsons, a farmer and cheese merchant from Motcombe in Dorset who later moved to Somerset
Mother — Sarah Case, a girl from a Methodist family who lived at Enmore Green near Shaftesbury in Dorset
Grandfather — George Case, a farmer and landowner from Enmore Green
Grandmother — Hannah Broadway, who came from Motcombe, the parish within which Enmore Green is situated
Great-grandfather — William Parsons, an inn-keeper, land-owner and farmer from Holton in Somerset
Great-grandmother — Mary West, who came from East Stour in Dorset
Great-grandfather — John Peters, a farmer and landowner from Maperton in Somerset
Great-grandmother — Jane Gatehouse, John Peters’ wife, who came from West Stour in Dorset
Great-grandfather — Abiah Case, a farmer from Motcombe
Great-grandmother — Sarah Huse, his wife
Great-grandfather — Cornelius Broadway, a farmer and land-owner from Motcombe
Great-grandmother — Ann Singer, Cornelius’s second wife
You are free to make use of the information in these web pages in any way that you wish but please be aware that the author, Mike Parsons, is unable to accept respsonsibility for any errors or omissions.
Mike can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
The information in these web pages comes from a number of sources including: Hampshire County Records Office, Somerset Heritage Centre; Dorset County Records Office; Southampton City Archives; the General Register Office; several on-line newspaper archives; several on-line transcriptions of Parish Register Entries; and several on-line indexes of births, marriages and deaths. The research has also been guided at times by the published work of others, both on-line and in the form of printed books, and by information from personal correspondence with other researchers, for all of which thanks are given. However, all of the information in these web pages has been independently verified by the author from original sources, facimile copies, or, in the case of a few parish register entries, transcriptions published by on-line genealogy sites. The author is aware that some other researchers have in some cases drawn different conclusions and have published information which is at variance from that shown in these web pages.
Copyright © 2013 Mike Parsons. All rights reserved.