George John Thornhill (1842-1915) and his cousin Cudbert Beaufoy Thornhill (1843-1904) emigrated to New Zealand in 1861, where they engaged in farming. They were joined in 1867 by George's brother, Edward August Thornhill (b. 1848), and in 1868 by Cudbert's brother, William Robert Thornhill (b. 1847). The four men wrote letters intermittently to George and Edward's sister, Henrietta (Minnie), later Mrs C. Downe. In 1877 George married Esther Annabella McIvor ('Tassie'). Their daughter Hazel married H. McDowell Smith, an architect.
Letters written to Henrietta Thornhill from Cudbert Thornhill in New Zealand (8; 1862-1872) and India (2; 1878); William Thornhill (16; 1867-1878); Edward Thornhill (6; 1868-1875, 1910 and 1915); George and Esther Thornhill (c. 61; 1865-1915); Hazel Smith (2; 1916 and 1919); and H. McDowell Smith (3; 1918). There is also a memorial card of George Thornhill, 1916. Not all of the letters are clearly dated, and some are fragmentary. There is accompanying correspondence regarding the acquisition of the letters, 1976; notes relating to the collection; and 'Royal Commonwealth Society library notes', no. 218, April-June 1976, which includes an article on the collection, 'Hope and disappointments in New Zealand' (pp. 1-3).
Presented by Miss Mabel Downe, daughter of Minnie Downe, through the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, April 1976.
Barbara Kerr, 'The dispossessed: an aspect of Victorial social history' (1974), draws on these and other Thornhill papers.
MSS Addenda, vol. III. Indexed
This collection level description was created by RAS using information from the original typescript catalogue.