Seeking owner of 500 year-old family tree

Tuesday 21 August 2012, 1:24PM
By Auckland Council


Auckland Libraries has a large and detailed piece of family history that it desperately wants to reunite with its owner.

The family tree, which has been intricately documented on an A2 (large poster-sized) sheet of paper, was found in the attic of a house on Waiheke Island and given to the local library for safekeeping.

Family history librarian Seonaid Lewis, from Auckland Libraries’ Central Auckland Research Centre, says the find is a remarkable example of genealogical research that someone has spent considerable time preparing.

“You might expect to find such a comprehensive family tree in England so it is ‘pure gold’ to find a piece of work like this in an attic in New Zealand,” says Ms Lewis.

“It is titled ‘A Genealogy of the Jennings’ and covers the family history of David Jennings who emigrated from England to Nelson in 1849.

“The overall research goes back some 500 years and includes photographs of significant family members,” she says.

After being turned in to Waiheke Library, the document has been restored and preserved by library preservation experts.

“It had been rolled up for some time which affected the photographs and caused some damage to the paper. We have flattened the document, restored the damaged sections and put it in a protective sleeve,” says Ms Lewis.

Auckland Libraries would like to reunite this family tree with its creator or, given that it is 43 years old, a descendent.

“It is very apt that we begin this search during Family History Month and we hope to return this information to its family,” says Ms Lewis.

Features of the family tree which may assist with identification are:

  • Titled ‘A Genealogy of the Jennings’
  • Compiled from the records of The Drapers’ Company of London and family records in ‘A Kentish Country House by Mary Adelaide, Lady Jennings
  • Detailing the line of David Jennings following his arrival in New Zealand in 1849
  • Featuring a drawing of ‘Hall House’, David Jennings’ English home
  • Noted as being ‘Sheet 1/2' and noting that Sheet 2 is the full genealogy of the New Zealand Jennings line
  • Signed and dated ‘Keiller 1969’.


To find out more about more about ‘A Genealogy of the Jennings’ contact Seonaid (Shona) Lewis on or 09 301 0101. To view a copy of the family tree, visit the Sir George Grey Special Collections, level 2, Auckland Central City Library.