From these sources we learned that Ernest was born 8 Mar 1828 in Lot 17, Prince County, Prince Edward Island, Canada, the son of William Spencer COMPTON and Harriet Clara HAZARD. He was baptized in the local Anglican Church in Richmond on 13 Apr 1828. As extracted from the above book:
He moved to Melbourne, Victoria, Australia and embarked in business.
About 1872 he settled in Auckland, New Zealand, where he erected the substantial buildings in which he carried on business until his death.
He was managing director of the Auckland Tug Company, and was for several years a member of the Harbor Board, and Chairman in 1881 and 1882.
He died leaving a widow, 2 sons and a daughter.
From his obituary (in part, below), published 24 Jun 1890 in the New Zealand Herald, we now know more about Ernest’s life and timeline:
“ Death of Mr. F.E. Compton …
Mr Compton was well known in the city, particularly in shipping circles, and bore the reputation of being a shrewd business man and of strict integrity. He was born in Prince Edward Island in 1828, and migrating from his birthplace at manhood, sojourned for some time in San Francisco. After a somewhat long stay there, he came down to Victoria and embarked in business as a drysalting merchant in Melbourne, meeting with considerable success. Eighteen years ago he decided to come to New Zealand, and took up his quarters in Auckland, carrying on his provision business in Lower Queen street. When the Harbour Board reclamations were finished, Mr Compton leased a section and, in conjunction with Mr John Batger, erected the substantial premises where he carried on business till his death. About four years ago he disposed of his provision business to Mr R S Reynolds, and devoted his energies to the furtherance of the interest of the Auckland Tug Company. This concern, whose inauguration was due to his energy, was conducted by him as managing director with spirit and success up to the present time. Mr Compton took great interest in all local maritime concerns, and was for several years a member of the Harbour Board, and in 1881 and 1882 presided over its affairs as chairman, during which time he proved himself to be one of the most energetic and persistent advocates for the construction of the Calliope Dock. He leaves a widow, two sons and a daughter to mourn his decease. His eldest son, who has reached maturity, is in business in San Francisco, but Mrs Compton and the younger children reside in Auckland. His funeral is arranged to leave the Waverly Hotel tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon at three o’clock for the Symonds street Cemetery.”
Another version of his obit offers a few additional facts in these extracts:
In his early life Mr Compton was at sea on Nova Scotian vessels for some time, and there gained that practical maritime experience which proved so useful to him in after life.
Mr Compton leaves a widow, two sons, and a daughter. About a year ago, his second son died. His eldest son is now in business in San Francisco.
Ernest Frederick’s death at the age of 62 was caused by a sudden heart attack during dinner. The misfortune here was that he died too young. And although he had a known heart condition, he seemed to be on the mend at the time of his collapse. But as it turns out, there was a lot of family-related tragedy in his life that wasn’t mentioned in his obituary.
We don’t yet know exactly when Ernest emigrated to San Francisco USA and then to Australia. By 1863 he was in Australia, still single and listed as departing Melbourne Australia for Sydney Australia. Sometime in 1864 he married Emma Louisa ABBOTT (although one index I found lists her first name as Donna). They were married in Tumut, New South Wales. Ernest would have been age 36.
From Australia and New Zealand birth and death indexes, the following sad story emerges:
- 1866 - Their first son Ernest Spencer COMPTON was born in 1866 in Balmain Dist and died that same year in the Albury Dist of New South Wales, Australia.
- 1867 - Their second son William Spencer COMPTON was born in 1867 in Albury Dist NSW, and survived his father. He was the “oldest son” listed in his father’s obituary, then living in San Francisco. He may also have been the one who worked aboard ship as a cook, travelling regularly between San Francisco and the southern colonies.
- 1869 - Their third son George Frederick COMPTON was born in 1869. He died 7 months later in 1870.
- 1871 - Their fourth son Thomas COMPTON was born in 1871. According to his death notice in the Auckland Starr, published 13 March 1889, he died of typhoid at the age of 19 (probably 18). This was the year before his father’s death.
- 1872 - Their fifth child and first daughter was Emma Louisa, born 1872 and died age 10 months (although the index says 10 years).
- 1874? - I haven’t yet proven that they had another daughter, also named Emma Louisa, reportedly born 1874 and died 10 months later (no supporting index entries).
- 1876 - Their next child born in 1876 was Ernest Frederick Jr. who we think outlived his father.
- 1878 - Daughter Maud (middle name Slevna, Plevna, or Plona?) was born in 1878. She was only 12 when her father died.
- 1879 - Their youngest child was Elizabeth Florence, born 1879 and died the same year when only 4 months old.
This family's onslaught of grief certainly makes me count my own blessings. Is it any wonder that his widow Emma took her 2 underaged children back to Australia soon after Ernest died to try and put the past behind them?
The search for more connections and stories about Ernest and Emma and their descendants continue, in collaboration with Australian researchers.
Book, “The Hazard Family of Rhode Island, 1635-1894”, Caroline Elizabeth Robinson, 1896 for the author - https://archive.org/details/hazardfamilyofrh00byurobi
NSW Australia BMD Index (historic) - http://www.bdm.nsw.gov.au/Pages/family-history/family-history.aspx
New Zealand BMD Index - www.bdmhistoricalrecords.dia.govt.nz
New Zealand Infant Mortality Rates - https://teara.govt.nz/en/interactive/30308/new-zealand-infant-mortality-rate-1862-2015
Regional Infant Mortality Trends in New Zealand, 1873-1940 (including comparisons to Australia) - https://www.nzae.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Sadetskaya.pdf