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James Adams

Birthplace: Rutland School, Urglin, near Carlow, Kilkenny, Ireland
Death: September 03, 1906 (67)
Queen Street, Auckland, New Zealand (heart failure)
Place of Burial: Tararu Cemetery, Thames, New Zealand
Immediate Family:

Son of Alexander Adams and Edith Anderton
Husband of Anne (Annie) Lalor Nixon
Father of Ernest Feltus Adams; Cecil Adams; Edith Mary Buchanan; Maria Florence Adams; John William Adams and 3 others
Brother of Sarah Adams; Anne Adams; Eliza Feltus Hare; son Adams; daughter Adams and 1 other

Occupation: Teacher and botanist
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About James Adams

Although family memoirs state that James, son of Alexander and Edith Adams, was born on 12 May 1839 in south-west Ireland, near Killarney, and that his father was a farmer, online research suggests that he was born in Urglin, about 2 miles east of Carlow, Co. Kilkenny, at Rutland School where his father Alexander was a schoolmaster.

The strongest clue linking him to the James Adams baptised on 7 July 1839, in Carlow, is an England census return from 1861. We already know that our James named his eldest son Ernest Feltus Adams (but we don't know the origin of that middle name). The 1861 census (taken on 7 April) has a James Feltus Adams, 21, assistant master at the Diocesan School in Cowley, Oxford. His birthplace is stated to be Carlow, Ireland.

Although the James Adams born in Carlow had no middle name at his baptism [original record viewed online], one of his elder sisters did. Eliza Feltus Adams was baptised at Carlow in 1836.

Another discrepancy is the maiden name of our James' mother. Family memoirs state she was Edith Anderton. But in the marriage record of Alexander Adams to Edith in Carlow [original viewed online], her surname is unmistakably Anderson.

Turning now to what we do know:

The records for London University [online] list him as follows: "Adams, James. Matr. Jan. 1862, Santry Sch. Dublin; Intermed. Arts 1863, Pr. St. B.A. 1866, Pr. St. - The High School, Thames Goldfield, Auckland, N.Z." Santry School was a prestigious boarding school in Dublin and it's likely James won a scholarship there (this based on an article by his eldest son in which it states that by his own efforts in winning scholarships and his mother's help, he eventually arrived at the University of London). As he was nearly 23 when he entered the university, he must have taken a gap year or two, which would account perhaps for a teaching post in 1861 at the Diocesan School in Cowley.

The marriage of James Adams to Ann Lalor Nixon took place in the Presbyterian Church in Greenwich, London, on 27 December 1863. The marriage register [viewed online through Ancestry] states that they were bachelor and spinster, both of full age. James' address is given as Southsea, Hampshire, and his occupation schoolmaster. (Perhaps he taught at Portsmouth Grammar School, which was close to Southsea). The witnesses were Robert and Maria Wilson. The aforementioned article by his eldest son tells us that he didn't inform his family about the betrothal. The only relative who knew was Ann's sister Maria, married to a draper named Wilson. Just after their engagement, James got smallpox and had to wait until he was recovered to have the quiet wedding. At the same time he commenced wearing the beard, which remained throughout his life, and smoking a pipe.

By 1865 James and Annie had moved to the Isle of Man, where James became Principal of the Middle School, Douglas, where they had four children before emigrating in 1870 to New Zealand, where they had five more children. Besides being a head teacher in Thames, James was also a keen botanist.

The inscription on his gravestone (see photo in media) states that he died suddenly. The Thames Star of the 3rd Sep 1906 reported: "A terrible painful instance of death from heart failure occurred in Queen St [Auckland] this morning when Mr James Adams, B.A. (London), headmaster of the Thames High School, expired suddenly. Mr Adams had just arrived from Thames by boat on a short visit to his daughter, Mrs A. Buchanan of Remuera, who met him at the wharf, together with one of her brothers. They were proceeding to catch a tram car, when Mr Adams complained of feeling faint, and almost immediately he swooned away. Willing hands quickly carried him to the chemist shop of Mr W.B. Hall, where restoratives were applied, but he never recovered, expiring shortly after being carried into the shop."

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James Adams's Timeline

May 12, 1839
near Carlow, Kilkenny, Ireland
July 7, 1839
Carlow, Ireland
May 14, 1865
Isle of Man
May 1867
Isle of Man
March 1869
Isle of Man
July 1870
Isle of Man
November 2, 1876
New Zealand