William Alfred Stanaway 1875 – 1900

William the name sake of his father was born on 13th August 1875 (birth certificate number 1875/83085) in Mangawhare area of the northern Kaipara region, we suspect in Aratapu.

We can only assume that his childhood was much the same as his siblings, however it has been discovered that he had a medical condition – when this condition started is unknown.

Our first document on William is from the New Zealand Herald on 21st May 1881, he was 6 years old, where he has badly broken his arm and is transferred to Auckland Hospital for further operations and treatment. It states that he broke it in the Mill at Te Kopuru – which is not far from Aratapu (a short walking distance) we are not sure if this was the mill his father worked in or if he had walked off and was playing at the mill.

“A very delicate medical operation was performed at the Provincial Hospital on Thursday by Dr. Philson, assisted by Dr. Goldsbro’, under the following circumstances :- A young man (a half caste) named William Stanaway had his arm broken at the Te Kopuru mill; the arm was re-set by a medical man, and made what is called a false join. He came down to the Auckland Hospital in order to get further treatment. A senton was put in without avail, and Dr. Philson determined to try another plan. On Thursday, assisted by Dr. Goldsbro, he sawed a piece off the bone at each place where fractured, and replaced the arm in splints. The patient is doing very well, but it will take some little time to tell whether the operation has been successful in effecting a fresh join of the fractured parts.”

The next mention of William is in the New Zealand Herald on 17 October 1894, aged 19, this time he is in some trouble. It is revealed that he suffers from fits, and seems to be not in control of some of his actions. It could be he may have some mental issues, and may explain him perhaps wondering off and ending up in the mill previously.

New Zealand Herald 17 October 1894

New Zealand Herald 17 October 1894

“Breaking Windows. – William Stanaway, a youth, was charged with breaking three panes of glass in the R.C. (Roman Catholic) parsonage, Kopuru. Mrs. Stanaway said the boy was subject to fits, and not responsible for his actions. Case dismissed, with a caution to parents to look closer after him.”

We could assume it was well known in the community that William was perhaps special and that controlling him may have been a full time occupation for his parents, especially his mother who by this time had up to 8 children to look after and a house hold to run with her husband at work (5 day working weeks had not come into being).

At the age of 20 William is in more trouble, this time for steeling. The New Zealand Herald 6th August 1895 states the following;

“William Stanaway, a youth, was charged with stealing 28lb of gum valued at 7s 6d, from the dwelling of Henry Spurr, of Kopuru, also with entering the dwelling and stealing 20lb gum, valued at 5s, the property of H. Spurr. Prisoner pleaded guilty to both charges. Evidence having been given, the Bench did not like sending the prisoner to gaol, but saw no other way of checking him in his evil course, and he was sentenced to one month with hard labour.”

Unfortunately Williams behaviour did not change, on 23rd November 1895 the New Zealand Herald has him being sent to Auckland to the Criminal Sessions of the Supreme Court for breaking and entering and stealing.

“A telegram was received yesterday from Constable Scott, of Aratapu, stating that William Stanaway had been committed for trial, on a charge of breaking into the shop of George Meredith, Aratapu, and stealing money and goods to the value of £4. Accused will be brought down to Auckland today, for the Criminal Sessions of the Supreme Court.”

The New Zealand Herald followed the story 26th November 1895. It looks as though he may have been by this stage uncontrollable.

“Our Northern Wairoa correspondent writes:- On Tuesday night the shop of Mr. George Meredith, of Aratapu, was broken into through the back window, a pane of which was broken sufficiently to allow of a hand being put through to draw back the catch. Entrance being thus obtained, the thief secured about 19s from the till, but failed to empty the cashbox. Some tobacco, a Waterbury watch, and other articles, of a total value of about £4, were also taken. Suspicion rested upon a lad named William Stanaway, who had been in the shop till late in the evening, and had not returned home during the night. Constable Scott was informed, and acting with promptitude, he had the boy arrested by Constable Kelly at Helensville on arrival of the “Osprey” there on Wednesday afternoon. The stolen goods were found upon him, and Constable Kelly brought his prisoner back to Aratapu on Thursday. He was taken before the police courts and committed to take his trial at the Supreme Court.”

Both the Auckland Star and the New Zealand Herald continued the story on 26th November 1895.

“BREAKING AND ENTERING. William Stanaway, a young man over 20 years of age, although he looked younger pleaded guilty to having on the 19th of November, at Aratapu, broken into the shop of George Meredith, and stolen £2 9s, a watch and other articles. He made no statement in answer to the challenge. Constable Nixon Scott was called by His Honor. He had known accused from boyhood. He did nothing for a living, but lived with his father who did not put him to anything as he was subject to fits. He had previously been convicted of breaking into premises and stealing, and was now undergoing a sentence His Honor, remarking that accused had already had a warning and a light sentence of a month’s imprisonment, sentenced him to twelve calendar months, and ordered that the money, 27s, and other articles found in his possession be handed over to Mr. Meredith.”

Again in November 1898, William was arrested and found himself in the Aratapu lockup (a single cell standalone wooden structure built in 1885 from local kauri and was 8 feet x7 feet). From a letter written by the then Constable, William apparently escaped the Aratapu lockup on the 18 November 1898 while being let out for some exercise, no doubt this escape had an effect on the sentence he received when he was recaptured. The Bay of Plenty Times on 23 November 1898 William is sentenced to 18 months prison, again for breaking and entering (no doubt extra time for escaping from custody), the article reads;

“William Stanaway, a youth, for breaking and entering a house at Aratapu, was sentenced to 18 months jail.”

After serving this second period in jail (we assume Mt Eden Prison), William finds himself again in trouble with Constable Scott, this time William’s life ends tragically the Auckland Star on 7th July 1900 reads as follows;

“A PRISONER BURNED TO DEATH A telegram received by the Inspector of Police to-day records the tragic fate of a prisoner arrested yesterday at Aratapu. A man named William Alfred Stanaway was arrested by Constable Scott, yesterday morning on charges of housebreaking and theft was lodged in the lock-up at Aratapu. The lock-up caught fire at four o’clock this morning- and was burned to the ground, the unfortunate prisoner being- burned to death. The cause of the fire is not known. An inquest was proceeding this morning. Our Aratapu correspondent telegraphs that Constable Scott saw prisoner at 10.20 last night. He had previously taken matches, etc., from him. The constable’s son arrived with the North Shore footballers at 2.45 am, and on passing the lock-up saw no sign of fire and heard no noise. At 3.50 flames burst through the roof and were seen by the postmaster, who lives near and was just turning in. He roused the constable, who immediately broke open the door. The inside was a mass of flames, and the inmate must have been dead some time. The adjoining buildings were saved and the charred body recovered. Stanaway was a kleptomaniac, and was only recently released from an eighteen months’ term of imprisonment. He was a heavy smoker and it is believed that he must have hidden matches within the lock-up. The fire started inside.”

His prolific ways did not change, the Daily Telegraph on 7th July 1900, it seems he kept on breaking and entering, but this time the stealing gum to the value of £1 cost him his life.

“The Aratapu lock-up was burned down at four o’clock this morning, and a prisoner named William Alfred Stanaway, arrested yesterday on charges of housebreaking and gum stealing, was burned to death. The cause of the fire is unknown. Stanaway was a heavy smoker, and must have hidden matches. The lire started inside the lock-up.”

The Bay of Plenty Times on 9th July 1900 concludes the findings from an inquest;

“……At the inquest on Stanaway, at Aratapu, the jury returned a verdict to the effect that deceased came to his death accidentally by burning, that the fire arose from the inside of the lock-up and that no blame was attached to the Constable. It is supposed that Stanaway secreted matches in some way or other being a heavy smoker.”

From the Coroner’s Report, and written statement from Constable Scott stated that he searched William the day before and all matches and cigarettes had been removed, however relatives after the fire informed him that he would hide such items in the stitching of his clothing.

William had been recorded in the Police Gazette in 1895, page 142, 1896 page 177 and 1900 page 50.

He is buried in the local Oturei Cemetery, (51 Te Tuhi Road), Aratapu aged 25 a tragic end to a troubled life (Death Certificate number 1900/4062).

2 thoughts on “William Alfred Stanaway 1875 – 1900

  1. Pingback: William Stanaway – Portrait uncovered | Captain John James Stanaway 1813 – 1874

  2. Pingback: Wirimu Taniwe – Wesley College 1896 | Captain John James Stanaway 1813 – 1874

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