Sisters at a Glance #5 Mary Rendel Weyergang née Harris

By Michele Leggott and Brianna Vincent

Close-up of photo of Mary Rendel Weyergang née Harris from Roseanne Cranstone. Correspondence. August 2020.

Mary Rendel Weyergang née Harris
26 August 1845-2 March 1932

Since our last letter on the receipt of the box we have had an addition to our family of a little girl which we have called Mary Rendel, she is now 2 months old and is very healthy. (Edwin Harris to father James Pasco Harris, New Plymouth, 1 December 1845)

I managed to get my things to the show. Mrs Wilson came and helped me get them ready. The Epergne I took to the Hall the night before, most fortunately because Wednesday was very wet and windy. I got about 20 prizes out of 30 exhibits. I got 1st for collection of ferns, 1st ditto Lycopodiums, 2nd for native plants — these are not in the paper sent. The Epergne was mostly pink & white, the basket all shades of orange & red, & the table had a great deal of blue in it. (Mary Weyergang to Emily Harris, New Plymouth, 16 Dec 1888), quoted in Emily’s diary)

My dearest Gretchen

I have been thinking that you all would like specially left to you some memo so I have made a list of some small thing for each of you. Leaving you to do as you like with the others. There are lots of things that your nieces would value that are of no value to you, and I do hope you will not let any sentiment stand in the way. Always remember that those little girls are very dear to me and I think they will make their way in the world and I do hope their mother will be long spared to them, for with all her faults she is a grand woman. As for poor Hermann, he will never be any different, and my heart aches for him. You will miss me very much, apart from the care you will miss the talks on the flowers we both love so much. The weekly letters when away. For Ted I have always looked on as a dear elder son and am very thankful for all his loving care of me. I hope the boys will marry, they are very dear to me.

Now I must close

My hand is tired


(Mary Weyergang to Gretchen Briant, Marton, 28 June 1927)

Mary Rendel Weyergang (1845-1932) was the fifth daughter of Edwin and Sarah Harris. She was born 26 Aug and baptised 12 Oct 1845 at St Mary’s Anglican Church, New Plymouth. She married Carl Philip August Alexander Weyergang (1829-1904) in New Plymouth in 1871. The Weyergangs had 2 sons (Carl Herman Alexander and Otto Philip August) and 1 daughter (Ellen Gretchen). Mary was close to her Nelson sisters and corresponded regularly with them. After August Weyergang’s death, Herman, Otto and Mary moved to Havelock North, where the boys became orchardists. Mary moved to Nelson around 1912 and lived there when not staying with her daughter Gretchen in Marton. In 1927 she moved again to New Plymouth to live with her nieces Constance and Ruth Moore. Mary died in New Plymouth 2 Mar 1932 and is buried with her sister Catherine and brother-in-law Alfred William Moore.

Children of August Weyergang and Mary Harris (2 sons, 1 daughter):

Carl Herman Alexander Weyergang (1872-1932), orchardist, married Minnie Constance Gilbert (1876-1971) in 1909. 3 daughters.

Ellen Gretchen Weyergang (1875-1954), married Edgar Llewellyn Briant (1870-1934), coach-builder and farmer, in 1898. 2 sons.

Otto Philip August Weyergang (1878-1918), orchardist, unmarried.

Photo 1

Mary Rendel Harris in the Family Album, Page 12.

Full length photo of Mary Rendel Harris standing beside a small table with tea service, at some distance from the camera. She wears a dark dress with a white collar and white cuffs on her sleeves. Her hair is drawn back simply to the nape of her neck. Mary wears a long thin draping necklace, one hand rests at her skirts, and the other holds something that is hard to distinguish- possibly a hat? Beneath the photo is a pencil inscription ‘Mary Rendel Harris’. The verso of the photo is blank. The details of the photo, particularly of Mary’s face, are hard to make out. At a guess, Mary would perhaps be in her 20s or early 30s.


Photo 2

Photo of Mary Rendel Weyergang née Harris from Roseanne Cranstone. Correspondence. August 2020.

Head and shoulders portrait of Mary Rendel Harris. She is looking to the right of the camera, her expression serious. Her hair is drawn back tightly behind her head, she wears a metallic earring resembling something like a cross or a snowflake. She wears a high collar of white lace on a dark dress with buttons down the front. Around Mary’s neck is a delicate brooch and chain and below it is a necklace of two strands of large round beads.


Photo 3

Photo of Mary Rendel Weyergang née Harris from Roseanne Cranstone. Correspondence. August 2020.

Head and shoulders portrait of Mary Rendel Weyergang in her older years, facing to the left of the camera. Mary’s face is resting on the palm of her gently closed hand. Her hair is greying and neatly swept up behind her head. Her collar is white fabric tightly fitted around her neck, with a large brooch at the front of her throat, and is part of the white underlayer shirt or petticoat visible with her dark dress layered over it. The dress has a flower pattern on it, visible on the right hand side, and has a cuff of white lace attached to tight sleeve of the arm that Mary has propped up.


Photo 4

Weyergang family photo from Roseanne Cranstone. Correspondence. August 2020.

A group photo, taken outside, with August and Mary Weyergang sitting in the centre in front of a small table with a tea service. The men wear suits with jackets, waistcoats, and undershirts. The women wear dresses with puffy shoulders, form-fitting bodices with detailing (or a dramatic collar in the case of Mary), tight sleeves, and simple skirts.


From Roseanne, great granddaughter of Mary:

I will also send a group picture which I love. It is of August and Mary as older parents and Mary is wearing the brooch that I still have. They are having afternoon tea with my grandparents Edgar and Gretchen (who look very young) and Hermann and an unidentified woman. There is a silver tea service on a dear little three leg table with a white cloth and china teacups. But where they are sitting outside is pretty messy with long grass all around them and macrocarpa trees in the background. There is a small dog beside Gretchen. I am guessing it was taken in Taranaki but not sure. Maybe 1898-1900?

Photo 5

Mary Weyergang. MS letter and list to Gretchen Briant, Shirley, [Bonny Glen, Marton, NZ.] Written at Shirley, Bonny Glen, Marton, NZ, 28 June 1927. Cranstone Papers. Leather Pouch.
Mary Weyergang’s list of mementos to be distributed to family.


List of Bequests for Gretchen

Ted. Kirks book on New Zealand flora

Hermann. The ring made of N. Z. gold and news paper Scrapbook, he will remember so many of the people and places.

Gretchen. My blue emerald broach and locket

Connie. The broach made from the sphere of sea egg

Philip already has Otto’s album, and he may like to have the old fashioned watch key [egg is written here then crossed out] about 100 years old belonged to his Great Grandmother Sarah Harris

Godfrey. Otto’s scrapbook and old scarf pin 100,  [years] old also his Great Grandmother’s Margaret. My silver watch and chain

Friedl Mary. The bracelet, Mrs Moore gave me

Faith. A small gold locket with pink stone

I think this is all

Mary Rendel Weyergang

P.S. Grace would like work basket

Further reading
Emily Harris after 1900: Moore and Weyergang Collections
Otto Weyergang Writes Home

Sisters at a Glance: Navigation
#0 Introduction
#1 Emily Cumming Harris
#2 Catherine Harris
#3 Unnamed Daughter
#4 Frances Emma Harris
#5 Mary Rendel Harris: Here
#6 Augusta Harris
#7 Ellen Harris

Lead writers: Michele Leggott and Brianna Vincent
Research Support: Roseanne Cranstone, Dasha Zapisetskaya, Makyla Curtis, Betty Davis


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *