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John Harold Griffin and Dorothy Wilkes

John Harold Griffin left his family in England and emigrated to New Zealand. After a stint in the military, he married Dorothy Wilkes and had a family.

When John Harold Griffin was born on December 28, 1885 in Kingston Seymour, Somerset, England, his father John Griffin (1860-1937) was 25 and his mother, Sarah Jane (née Goodland) (1857-1931) was 28. He was the eldest child of six, and he was born within nine months of his parent’s marriage on March 24, 1884.

John lived with his parents until at least 1901 and appears on the 1901 census in their home.

Specific records after this time are difficult to find, but an electoral record indicates that by 1911, he was living in Wairau, Malborough, New Zealand.

A 1911 electoral roll from Wairau, New Zealand, has John Harold listed as a horse driver.

A review of his military record indicates John Harold enlisted with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force on November 16, 1915. The record indicates that John Harold was a horse driver during WWI.

New Zealand, World War I Army Nominal Rolls, 1914-1918 (image via

After the war in 1919, John Harold is in Masterton, New Zealand, listed as a contractor on the Electoral Roll living at 111 Bannister Street.

111 Bannister Street, Masterton, New Zealand (image via GoogleMaps)

The specifics of his marriage are unknown, but John Harold married Dorothy Wilkes in 1920.

When Dorothy was born on October 26, 1895, in Manchester, Lancashire, England, her parents Edward Fleming Wilkes and Ada (née Greenhalgh) were 28. Dorothy was baptized on November 30, 1895, at the Cathedral and Collegiate Church of St. Mary, St. Denys and St. George (now known as Manchester Cathedral).

The couple had three children during their marriage, all born in Masterton, Wellington, New Zealand:

  • Charles Owen Griffin (1922-2018) (named for his uncle, Charles Owen Griffin who died four years before his birth) m. Jocelyn Winnifred Francis (1931-2014)
  • Dorothy Elizabeth Griffin (1922-2006) (named for her mother) m. George Dunphy (1924-1983)
  • Joan May Griffin (1923-1974)

From the 1928 Electoral Roll, until his death in 1943, John and Dorothy are listed as farmers in Te Ore Ore, New Zealand (which is near Masterton).

John Harold died on May 14, 1943, in Masterton, Wellington, New Zealand, at the age of 57.

Western Daily Press May 29, 1943

Dorothy died just short of her 79th birthday on October 5, 1974, in Paraparaumu, Wellington, New Zealand. The couple are buried in the Archer Street Cemetery in Masterton, New Zealand.

New Zealand Cemetery Records (image via


Headstone, Dorothy Wilkes Griffin
Headstone,, John Harold Griffin


AG Knapper

AG Knapper

AG has been researching her family tree since 2004, and it now includes over 7,000 ancestors and their descendants. She aspires to permanently record the stories before they're lost to time. Do you want to read her latest research? Use this link to sign-up for a weekly newsletter so you never miss a story! Do you know this family? Comment below or use the contact form and help make these stories richer.

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