An Atcherley in Albertland (Part 1)

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It was the afternoon of Saturday, 11 January 1896. Mary Ann Perkins (nee Atcherley), some of her children and a few family friends were returning from an enjoyable day-trip to an island in the harbour. Suddenly, a gust of wind turned joy into fear: the boat capsized, and everyone in it was thrown into the water. Thomas Edwards, who was in charge of the boat, was the only member of the party who could swim. He tried his best to save the others, pulling them out of the water and instructing them to hold on to the boat and its rigging, but great waves were washing over their heads. The only course of action left to Edwards was for him to swim for help. He was the only one who reached the shore of Kaipara Harbour alive.

The Mere, Ellesmere

The life of Mary Ann Perkins, which ended so tragically in the treacherous waters of Kaipara Harbour, began in 1847 on the other side of the world, in a town situated beside a smaller and far more placid body of water. The town was Ellesmere, in Shropshire, and Mary and her parents Richard Atcherley and Eliza (nee Baugh) were still living there, in Cross Street, when the census of 1851 was taken. Both Richard and Eliza were described as a draper and mercer.

Also in the Atcherley household were Mary’s brother and sisters: Elizabeth (aged 5), Richard junior (1), and Jemima (just one month old). Missing, however, were four of her older siblings, who had died before Mary was even born. Also absent was Mary’s oldest brother, William Baugh Atcherley: he was one of 16 pupils boarding with the independent minister of Ruyton Chapel. The choice made regarding William’s education is one of many pieces of evidence showing that the members of this Atcherley family did not belong to the Church of England – they were noncomformists.

Not long after the 1851 census was taken, the Atcherley family moved to Liverpool. There, Eliza bore her tenth and last child, who died within weeks of his birth. He was followed to the grave by Eliza herself within a year. The impact of this loss on the family, and particularly Richard, can only be imagined. The family remained in Liverpool until at least 1856, but by 1861 Richard Atcherley and those of his children who were still dependent on him – including Mary – were living in Manchester.

It was almost certainly through her family’s religious beliefs that Mary Ann Atcherley met Euler Perkins while she was living in Manchester. Euler, who was born in the city in 1846, also came from a nonconformist family. Although his parents, John Perkins and Mary Hargreaves, had a Church of England marriage in Manchester Cathedral, John Perkins’ birth had been registered in the General Register of Protestant Dissenters, by the Dissenting Deputies at Dr Williams’s Library in London.

Euler Perkins’s family had more in common than their nonconformist beliefs – they also shared a love of music. This is apparent from a notice in the Bury Times of 31 December 1859, at the foot of a column dedicated primarily to advertisements for tea parties and temperance meetings organised by Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist and other independent chapels:

Facsimile of advertisement in the Bury Times

Although the Atcherleys later returned to Ellesmere, the bonds that had formed between Mary and Euler could not be broken. The young couple were wed, at Ellesmere’s independent chapel, on 8 August 1868. Euler and Mary began their married life together in Manchester, where their first child, Ernest Atcherley Perkins, was born on 6 June 1869. They did not remain there for long.

The clipper ship Chile, captained by William Culbert, departed from London Docks on 22 August 1869. Among the passengers on board were Euler and Mary Perkins, Euler’s brother Walter, a Miss Mary Perkins and presumably (though his name does not appear in the lists compiled at the end of the voyage) the infant Ernest Atcherley Perkins. The Chile crossed the equator on 25 September, and the meridian of the Cape of Good Hope on 23 October. A large iceberg, along with a quantity of drift ice, was passed on 2 November, and another iceberg was encountered two days later. Did the Perkins family look upon these sights with wonder, or with trepidation? Perhaps they felt a little of both.

The worst part of the voyage was experienced soon after the Chile passed the second iceberg, when the ship was buffeted by strong gales. The gales, no doubt accompanied by heavy seas, were endured for 12 hours. Everyone on board must have been relieved when they abated. I imagine even greater relief was felt on 8 December, first when the Three Kings Islands came into view, and then when the North Cape of New Zealand’s north island was rounded. The Chile finally arrived in Auckland harbour on the morning of 13 December 1869, after 112 days at sea.

The celebrated iron clipper ship Chile

I think it very likely that Euler and Mary’s religious convictions, which in all probability had helped to bring them together, also played a part in their decision to undertake their voyage to New Zealand. The area in which they settled – then known as Albertland – would certainly have appealed to them. Inextricably linked to the Perkins’s nonconformist Christian faith was their support for the temperance movement (Euler was said to have been “an enthusiastic prohibitionist”). This passage by James Malton Murray, published in 1930, may explain the attraction of Albertland:

In the history of the Temperance Movement in New Zealand, a place of honour may well be given to what were known as the Albertland settlers. Albertland is the name of a district in the North of Auckland, adjacent to Kaipara. It was chosen as the place of settlement by the members of what was called the English Nonconformist Association. [... This] Northern Nonconformist settlement has contributed in no small degree to some of the best elements in the moral and social development of New Zealand. Albertland was by no means the best favoured part of the country to be chosen for settlement, and the original settlers had a back-aching and heartbreaking experience that might well have driven them to despair. But among them were men and women of intelligent conviction and sturdy moral purpose in relation to social reform. Their devotion to high ideals has favourably influenced the whole Dominion even to this day.

Albertland, also known as Port Albert, was named for Queen Victoria’s late husband. It was the last organised British settlement of New Zealand. The first settlers arrived en masse in 1862 and hundreds more arrived over the next three years. But, as Murray explains above, conditions were tough. In fact, of the 3000 people who intended to settle on Kaipara’s shores, half never went there, and only half of those who did persevered. The Albertland project very quickly came to be regarded as a failure. In a letter published in the British press in 1866, a New Zealand correspondent wrote: “The Albertland settlement, to found which a number of well-conditioned English Nonconformists came out in high hope some years ago, is all but abandoned.”

Although most of the 40-acre plots of poor quality scrubland on the swampy shores of Kaipara Harbour were deserted or never settled, many of the “Congregationalists, Baptists, Wesleyans, and other more independent-minded Protestants” who had intended to set up their homes there remained in the vicinity. New lives were made in the remote country north of Auckland, and those lives were led according to the ideals and religious convictions of the original settlers. Albertland, and the Albertlanders, persisted, and the Perkins family – not just Euler and Mary Ann but also Euler’s brother Walter – became part of that community.

Euler apparently had “some knowledge of medicine”, and “at a time when doctors were scarce, he gave free aid to English and Maori settlers, and frequently travelled long distances in the course of this work.” Euler’s work as a collector of rates, to which role he was ‘gazetted’ in 1873, may have been less welcome, but he and Walter also contributed to their community in other ways – as performers.

On the Thursday after Christmas Day, 1872, “the first determined steps towards raising a fund for the erection of a Settlers’ Hall” were made in Albertland. These steps took the form of a public tea followed by entertainment: music and recitations. Mr W Perkins – Walter – played a solo, Pretty Jane, on the cornopean (a cornet), and towards the end of the entertainment he gave another solo performance on the piano, which was encored.

The fund raising efforts were successful and the opening of the hall, in what was referred to as Albertland North, took place on 13 February 1873. A cricket match was held, after which cake and tea was provided. Then came the music, recitations and other performances. Walter played two piano solos, and Euler gave, “in excellent style”, a recitation, The Quack Doctor, which was ”vociferously applauded.” Next, Messrs. Lester, Perkins, and Browne performed The Bachelor’s Wants. This was reported to have been “so well received as almost to call for an encore, except for its length. … Sandy, a Scotch character (by Mr. Browne), was very naturally given, as also was Robin, a country man (by Mr. W. Perkins); but the best part was given by Mr. E. Perkins, as Phelim O’Blunderwit, an Irish character.”

It was also in 1873 that a Band of Hope was started at Port Albert. According to James Malton Murray, one result of this was that it was impossible for anyone to establish a licensed public-house within 20 miles of the settlement. In the years that followed, the growing family of Euler and Mary Ann Perkins would be very much involved in the Band of Hope movement. As for the Band established at Port Albert, I would be very surprised if they were not ‘instrumental’ in its foundation.

Picture credits. The Mere, Ellesmere: By Liam Higginson; taken from his Flickr photostream, adapated, used and made available for re-use under a Creative Commons licence. Facsimile of advertisement in the Bury Times: By the author. The Celebrated Iron Clipper Ship Chile: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London object PAH8555; image adapted, used and made available for re-use under a Creative Commons licence.


[1] Ohinemuri Gazette, issue 214, 18 Jan 1896, page 4. Terrible Fatality.
Birth of Mary Ann Atcherley registered at Ellesmere, December quarter 1847; volume 18, page 55.
[2] 1851 census of England and Wales. Piece 1994, folio 225, page 51.
[3] 1851 census of England and Wales. Piece 1993, folio 37, page 27.
[4] Birth of Robert Pembrey Atcherley registered at Liverpool, March quarter 1853; volume 8b, page 112.
[5] Death of Robert Pembrey Atcherley registered at Liverpool, March quarter 1853; volume 8b, page 118.
[6] Death of Eliza Atcherley registered at Liverpool, December quarter 1853; volume 8b, page 123.
[7] Liverpool Mercury, issue 2545, 14 Oct 1853, page 7. Deaths.
[8] Liverpool Mercury etc, issue 2913, 5 Dec 1856. Sales by Auction.
[9] 1861 census of England and Wales. Piece 2949, folio 16, page 24.
[10] Birth of Euler Perkins registered at Manchester, March quarter 1847; volume 20, page 645.
[11] 1861 census of England and Wales. Piece 2970, folio 44, page 5. Cheetwood Lane, Cheetham, Manchester, Lancashire. Head: John Perkins, 37, engineer & [draughtsman], born Manchester. Wife: Elizabeth Perkins, 40, house work, born Manchester. Son: Alfred Perkins, 16, born Manchester. Son: Arthur Perkins, 15, born Manchester. Son: Euter [= Euler] Perkins, 14, born Manchester. Son: Walter Perkins, 12, born Manchester. Son: Herbert Perkins, 11, born Manchester. Dau: Ada Perkins, 8, born Prestwich.
[12] Manchester Cathedral, Lancashire, marriage register covering 1844; entry for John Perkins and Mary Hargreaves. Copy viewed at Ancestry – Manchester, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1930 (Cathedral).
[13] Nonconformist Registers and Records. At Dr Williams’s Library website (accessed 22 Sep 2014).
[14] General Register of Protestant Dissenters compiled at Dr Williams’s Library, London, covering 1824; entry for John Perkins. Copy viewed at Ancestry – England & Wales, Non-Conformist and Non-Parochial Registers, 1567-1970.
[15] Bury Times, 31 Dec 1859, page 1. (Advertisements)
[16] Marriage of Euler Perkins and Mary Ann Atcherley registered at Ellesmere, September quarter 1868; volume 6a, page 1163.
[17] The Wrexham Advertiser, 15 Aug 1868, page 4. Marriages.
[18] Birth of Ernest Atcherley Perkins registered at Chorlton, September quarter 1869; volume 8c, page 601.
[19] Brocas family tree. At Ancestry (website) – tree no longer online.
[20] Daily Southern Cross, 14 Dec 1869, page 3. Copy viewed at Papers Past.
[21] New Zealand Herald, 14 Dec 1869, page 4. Copy viewed at Papers Past.
[22] New Zealand Herald, 13 Jul 1925, page 10. Copy viewed at Papers Past.
[23] James Malton Murray (1930), Temperance and Prohibition in New Zealand. Pages 27 – 31. Electronic version viewed at New Zealand Electronic Text Collection.
[24] Albertland. At The Encyclopedia of New Zealand (website, accessed 23 Sep 2014).
[25] Rachel Barrowman (2003), Mason: The Life of R.A.K. Mason. Page 22. Previewed at Google Books.
[26] Dundee Advertiser, 17 Aug 1866, page 3.
[27] Paul Moon (2013), Encounters: The Creation of New Zealand. Previewed at Google Books.
[28] Daily Southern Cross, 18 Jun 1873, page 2. Copy viewed at Papers Past.
[29] New Zealand Herald, 10 Jan 1872, page 3. Copy viewed at Papers Past.
[30] New Zealand Herald, 21 Feb 1873, page 3. Copy viewed at Papers Past.

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Llewellyn William Atcherley, Inspector of Constabulary

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On 20 January 1919, Major-General Llewellyn William Atcherley C.M.G., C.V.O., Chief Constable of the West Riding of Yorkshire, was appointed to the position of H. M. Inspector of Constabulary. It was a role which would see him not only inspect the police forces of England and Wales, but also influence their development and operations. The position naturally involved a great deal of travel, taking Llewellyn to many different towns and cities from Stourbridge to Sunderland, from Dover to Derby, and from Nottingham to – New York!

Llewellyn actually began his duties as an Inspector of Constabulary six months before being appointed to the post, shortly after his return to civilian life following nearly four years of military service (see Llewellyn Atcherley’s World War One). As Acting Government Inspector of Constabulary he inspected members of the Hull police force on 20 July 1918. He also inspected members of the Middlesbrough Constabulary some seven weeks later on 5 September.

A “high state of efficiency” had been maintained in the Middlesbrough force despite the difficulties of the war, the impact of which was visible in part from the reduced numbers of police officers on parade. Those numbers were swelled by 41 special constables, and Llewellyn thanked them, on behalf of the Home Office, for their services. Another reminder of the toll inflicted by the war was the presence of officers who had been wounded or (in one case) gassed while serving with the armed forces. One of those men had lost an arm. After inspecting the men, “Major-General Atcherley examined the various police-stations, cells, offices, and books, and expressed himself as highly satisfied with the police administration in the borough.”

Because of his “excellent police work in the West Riding”, it had been recommended back in 1912 that Llewellyn Atcherley should be considered for a post in the Home Office. That recommendation had been made by none other than Winston Churchill. Evidently Llewellyn showed, during his time as Acting Government Inspector of Constabulary, that he was more than capable of undertaking the duties involved. And so it was that Churchill’s recommendation was finally acted upon when Llewellyn was appointed to the position on a permanent basis in 1919.

The Times of London reported that Llewellyn’s appointment to this post had “given rise in some quarters to the assumption that the Home Office may contemplate the constitution of a new National Police Force, and the consequent appointment of a controlling head”. It went on to say that “nothing had occurred to support the supposition that any drastic changes in police administration were contemplated.” Changes affecting the police forces of England and Wales were certainly in prospect however.

On 13 August 1918 there had been a strike by members of the Metropolitan Police, organised by the National Union of Police and Prison Officers (NUPPO). At issue had been pay, bonuses and pensions, issues with which there was great dissatisfaction in many other police forces across the country. In response to these widespread concerns, on 1 March 1919 the Government convened a committee chaired by Lord Desborough to review the pay and conditions of the police across England, Wales and Scotland.

As an Inspector of Constabulary, even though newly-appointed to the post, Llewellyn Atcherley gave evidence to the Desborough Committee along with his colleague Sir Leonard Dunning. The two Inspectors were not singing from the same hymn sheet however. Howard Taylor, in a thesis written in 1997, has suggested that Llewellyn’s appointment by the Home Office was made in order to balance Dunning’s views:

Sir Leonard Dunning, 1st Bt. © National Portrait Gallery, London.

Quite possibly the second Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Llewelyn Atcherley, was appointed by the Home Office to counter Dunning’s influence since the two Inspectors profoundly disagreed on so many policing matters. Dunning was the leading urban policeman, Atcherley was an innovative county police chief. The timing of Atcherley’s appointment, ‘a few weeks’ before the Desborough Committee, suggests that politics may have played a part in his selection. However, if that was the case, although Atcherley had long enjoyed great status and prestige in the police service, his appointment appears to have come too late for him to exert a decisive influence in the formative period, immediately during and after Desborough, when police establishments were under particular scrutiny.

Dunning’s view was that the police should expand their role into the social sphere, working with voluntary agencies to prevent crime, and that minor offences should be targeted “before the offender had a chance to develop serious criminal habits.” Atcherley, on the other hand, wanted ‘top down’ organisation of the police with strengthened Home Office power or even a Police Ministry at its apex. “He believed,” says Taylor, ”the scope of policing should be limited to the obvious, serious targets and that policing was not a social service.” He certainly did not see a role for ‘policing’ by voluntary organisations, as the following words, taken from the 1921 Report of the Departmental Committee on the Duties of Women Police and attributed to Llewellyn, clearly show:

I do not like separate voluntary organisations. I do not like the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; I do not like the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children; I do not like a Society for the Protection of Girls. I think all these should be comprehended in police work and dealt with in police practice, and that they should be unnecessary, because the policy should be a policy accepted by all and under proper government. If you get voluntary organisations you get cranks. …

The findings of the first report of the Desborough Committee were accepted in full and were implemented by the Police Act 1919, passed by Parliament on 15 August that year. It outlawed NUPPO (the Police Federation was formed in its place) and abolished the right of police officers to strike, but it also removed, for most serving officers, any desire to strike by providing much improved pay and conditions. In his report for 1918-19, issued within months of the Police Act being passed, Llewellyn Atcherley wrote: “A great improvement is evident already, due partly no doubt … to the excellent influence of the Desborough Committee’s report.”

Other recommendations were made by the committee (which issued a second report in 1920) regarding the structure and organisation of police forces. One which was close to Llewellyn Atcherley’s heart was “the development of cooperative arrangements between police forces, for example ‘clearing houses’ for information about crime and criminals”. However, Llewellyn’s call for at least seven more Inspectors of Constabulary to be appointed, covering all of the ‘Chief Constables Conference’ areas, was watered down to a recommendation for just one additional Inspector, “to enable the Inspectorate to cope with its new responsibilities”. Even that recommendation was rejected by the Government, on grounds of cost.

The Desborough Committee also rejected the nationalisation of the police (the ‘National Police Force’ which The Times had referred to in 1918. Instead, it proposed uniformity across the various police forces, and these were delivered by the police regulations which came into effect on 1 October 1920. In the report issued by H.M. Inspectorate of Constabulary for 1919-20, Atcherley agreed with Dunning that the new regulations were “working towards uniformity of the Service”. That report, which has been described as “upbeat and optimistic”, was followed by a report in similar vein for 1920-21.

During this period Llewellyn continued his inspections of police forces in his Northern District, with visits to constabularies, divisions and sub-divisions across that area. Among the places he travelled to were Blackburn, Blackpool, Blyth (Northumberland), Cambridge, Derby, Grantham, Hartlepool, Hull, Leeds, Lichfield, Nottingham and Preston. The inspections, which were attended by various civic dignitaries and officials in addition to Major Atcherley, typically followed a set format with the officers parading and conducting drills before Llewellyn inspected the forces’ books and methods of operation.

Llewellyn Atcherley photographed at the Waldorf Astoria, New York, during the International Police Conference of 1922.

In 1922 Llewellyn got to travel rather further afield. An International Police Conference, organised by Commissioner Enright, took place at the Waldorf Astoria in New York in September that year and was attended by Llewellyn and by “Police chiefs from all parts of the United States, from Canada, Cuba, Porto Rico, Haiti, Belgium and Denmark”. The delegates got to see “The latest novelties in electrical burglar tools, the most up-to-date bombs and infernal machines, new finger-printing apparatus and the ‘modus operandi’ system of detecting criminals by the characteristics of their crimes”. The modus operandi system, developed by the New York Police Department, was based on the system devised by Llewellyn in 1913.

On 14 September the New York Times reported:

The methods of the New York Police Department are closely studied by the police of other great cities, according to Major General L. W. Atcherley of the British Constabulary. He said he believed the National Police Conference called by Commissioner Enright would be followed eventually by a world police conference. In time, he said, the countries of the world would co-operate to pursue criminals and stamp out crime. He predicted that an international police clearing house for fingerprints, criminal identification and international detective work would be established.

It was also reported during the course of the conference that Llewellyn’s view on illegal drugs was “the supplier of the drug be heavily punished rather than the wretched user and that if it is the intention to start an International bureau that this question of preventing the distribution of the narcotic supply be made a branch of it.”

Though it did not come about as a result of Llewellyn Atcherley’s suggestion nor with his involvement, it is interesting to note that the International Criminal Police Commission, which later adopted the name Interpol, was established in 1923, the year following that in which Llewellyn made his prediction of an international police clearing house.

Llewellyn, with Commissioner Staneland of Victoria, B.C. and Commissioner McKay of New York, examines “captured ‘jimmies’, burglars kits which had been used on safe-cracking expeditions.”

Picture credits. Extract from London Gazette, issue 31136, 21 Jan 1919, page 1072 used under the Open Government Licence v2.0. Sir Leonard Dunning, 1st Bt.: Picture by Bassano Ltd, © National Portrait Gallery, London (NPG x120233) and used under a Creative Commons licence. Llewellyn William Atcherley at the Waldorf Astoria: Picture by Central News Photo Service, US photo from before 1923 and therefore in the public domain. Llewellyn William Atcherley, Commissioner Staneland and Commissioner McKay at the Waldorf Astoria: Picture by Central News Photo Service, US photo from before 1923 and therefore in the public domain.


[1] The London Gazette, issue 31136, 21 Jan 1919, page 1072.
[2] Hull Daily Mail, 22 Jul 1918, page 4.
[3] Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough, 5 Sep 1918, page 4. Middlesbrough Police Force.
[4] Churchill College Cambridge, Archives Centre item CHAR 2/56/81 shows: Letter from Reginald McKenna (Home Office) to [Winston Spencer Churchill], dated 1 May 1912.
[5] The Times, 31 Jan 1919, page 5. Constabulary Inspectors.
[6] British police strikes in 1918 and 1919. At Wikipedia (website, accessed 22 Sep 2014).
[7] Fight the Power? At Police (website of Police magazine , accessed 22 Sep 2014).
[8] Richard Cowley, Peter Todd, Louise Ledger (2006), The history of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary. The first 150 years. (PDF)
[9] Howard Taylor (1997), The Politics of Crime in Interwar England and Wales. (PDF)
[10] Lancashire Evening Post, 1 Jul 1919, page 3. Blackpool Police.
[11] Sheffield Evening Telegraph, 4 Sep 1919, page 8. Police Inspection.
[12] Cambridge Independent Press, 5 Dec 1919, page 11. Inspection of Police.
[13] Hull Daily Mail, 3 Mar 1920, page 3. Hull Police Inspection.
[14] Nottingham Evening Post, 16 Mar 1920, page 5. A Smart Force.
[15] Lancashire Evening Post, 14 May 1920, page 6. Preston Police Inspection.
[16] Morpeth Herald, 25 Jun 1920, page 12. Blyth Police Inspection.
[17] Tamworth Herald, 18 Sep 1920, page 5. Borough of Tamworth.
[18] Hartlepool Mail, 8 Apr 1921, page 6. Police Inspections.
[19] Grantham Journal, 7 May 1921, page 8. Grantham.
[20] Derby Daily Telegraph, 11 Jul 1921, page 3. Derby’s Police Force.
[21] Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 6 Aug 1921, page 10.
[22] Lancashire Evening Post, 6 Oct 1921, page 3. Police inspection at Blackburn.
[23] Tamworth Herald, 15 Jul 1922, page 5. Borough of Tamworth.
[24] The Police Journal, Volume X, September 1922, number 3.
[25] New York Times, 22 Aug 1922, page 11. European Police Officials Coming.
[26] New York Times, 12 Sep 1922.
[27] New York Times, 14 Sep 1922.
[28] Interpol. At Wikipedia (website, accessed 21 Sep 2014).

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