I was in Archives New Zealand yesterday, looking at deeds indexes and the like, when from the other end of the readers table came an exclamation from another researcher, viewing a will she had asked for. When she read out aloud the following, another researcher and I were just as intrigued.
Helen Hannah Harker (c.1843-1926), wife of James Harker (c.1820-1904) of Hamilton was quite disapproving of her son and daughter, and said so in no uncertain terms in her last will and testament (BCDG 4420/111/2190):
... AND I DECLARE that my reason for not making any further provision for my said daughter Hannah Elizabeth Hayter is that during my lifetime I have contributed large sums to the support of my said daughter and her family and that by reason of my said daughter's addiction to liquor any provision made for her or any legacy left to her under this my will will be dissipated AND I FURTHER DECLARE that my reason for not making any further provision than is herein made for my said son Simon John William Harker is that during my lifetime I have contributed considerable sums to his support and to the commencement and upkeep of Certain jewellery and watchmaking businesses in Hamilton and Cambridge undertaken and embarked upon by my said son and that by reason of my said son Simon John William Harker's addiction to liquor the said businesses were not attended to and ultimately had to be closed and the principal part of the money invested therein was lost and I am of the opinion that if I made any further provision for my said son or left him any legacy by this my Will then by reason of the said addiction any money or any portion of my said estate so left will be dissipated.
James Harker appears in the Waikato Times in 1880 as a member of a coronial jury. He was apparently a cattle farmer. Hannah Harker made a bit of a splash in the same paper later that year after an argument with another woman.
Assault. Anne Quinn was charged with having, on the 17th inst. at Frankton, assaulted one Hannah Harker, by beating, kicking, and otherwise maltreating her. Mr O'Neil appeared for the prosecution, and Mr W. M. Hay for the defence. From the evidence, which was of a very voluminous nature, it appealed that the complainant was stopped on her road home and ill-used by defendant. It was proved that the former used some very bad language, though she must have been suffering under great provocation. There was a cross summons, in which Mrs Quinn charged Mrs Harker with using abusive language. The evidence in this case was somewhat similar to that in the preceding. His Worship, after commenting on the principal features of the case, find Mrs Quinn £2 and costs, and bound her over to keep the peace for six months, in three sureties amounting to £40. The case against Mrs Harker was dismissed, the Bench administering a caution to the defendant.
29 July 1880
Mrs Harker used some choice language against a Mr Jolly in 1882, but the court then dismissed the case through lack of evidence.
As for Simon John William Harker, the son who his mother said had let business slip through too much of a liking for the demon booze -- it seems, according to the BDM records, that he died, aged 93, in 1960.
Update 11 December 2011: Recently found in land titles of Helen Hannah Harker's land, it appears that despite their mother's will, Simon and his sister Hannah did obtain a third share each in Mrs Harker's central Hamilton property. Perhaps the courts felt that Mrs Harker went a bit too much over the top with her disapproval.