The Adnams family was mostly associated with 28 High Street, where John Adnams (and later his son John Corderoy Adnams) ran a Corn and Seed business from the 1870s. There is much about this under 28 High Street.
David Broad kindly contacted the Virtual Museum (Mar 2012) with further information on the Adnams family:
"Thank you very much for your kind response and the attached photo. It is very much appreciated. John Adnams (Constable of 1912 - 13) was the son of John Adnams (snr) (Constable 1878) and the "son" in Adnams and Son corn & seed merchants based at "The Pillars", 28 High Street, Hungerford. John Adnams snr was originally in partnership with William Adnams (of Newbury). I think they were brothers but am yet to confirm. On 30 Dec 1871 that partnership was dissolved by mutual consent and the business (corn merchants) divided: John Adnams retained the Hungerford business and William the Newbury business.
It was the William Adnams connection that lead me to Hungerford and thus to your Website and the two Johns.
My aim was to discover (if possible) why William, a member of a prosperous family which had interests in farming, brewing and as corn/seed merchants should have given up his lot to emigrate to the then still relatively young and very distant colony of New Zealand. From what I can discover thus far it was two - fold: financial and reputation.
After the split with John Adnams (snr), William had financial problems. The London Gazette shows a meeting of his creditors was called May 1877, with a dividend being paid in the following September.
Financial stress continued unabated. In Spring 1883 William was finally declared bankrupt (published London Gazette 29 May 1883). On 3 August William contracted with Shaw Savill & Albion for passage to New Zealand, leaving from the East India Docks within the month bound for Christchurch.
His misfortune though continued to dog him. Once out in the channel, their boat (The St Leonards) on its thirteen voyage to the NZ, was damaged by a storm and forced to return to Gravesend for repairs (Lloyds List). It set off again 17 September, but now a worst calamity overtook it. 18 miles off Berry Head it was run down (in fog) by the SS Cormorant. She sank in about 8 minutes (Lloyds Report).
William and his family (6 children & Harriette (sic) his wife) thankfully managed to escape harm but only in the clothes they stood up in.
Everything else went to the bottom including 300 sovereigns (a tidy cash sum in those days). Some 7 hours later,bedraggled and no doubt in some stake of shock they were landed at Dartmouth. Undaunted, or perhaps with no real alternative, they secured a new passage and arrived in New Zealand some months later just in time to be met by a recession that was to last without intermission until 1895.
Meanwhile, back home the other Adnams seemed to have prospered as reflected in many of the documents you have on your Website, which I must say is very well put together and a real treat to read.
My personal interest is as a great great grandson of the said William. My mother (nee Adnams) marrying an Englishman which rather brings the family back in a full circle as it were. My real interest is to compare the two branches of the family (NZ & English) from 1883 - 1983+ and in my own non - scientific way compare the promise that the colonies held for succeeding generations in contrast with the fortunes of those that remained here in England.
Thank you again for your marvellous help.
27 Mar 2012