Richard W. Masters

Of Misterton-Walcote, Leicestershire, England

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William R. Marsters

Published on Tuesday, 06 July 2004 22:00 Hits: 10093

Category: William R. Marsters

The family of William Marsters
of Palmerston, Cook Islands


(more about William Marsters can be found at http://www.williamrmarsters.com

William Marsters was an enigma to his family here in the Cook Islands. The family often talked about finding out more about where he came from and solving the mystery that surrounded his origins.

There was always something missing from the tales he told his family of his life before he arrived in the Pacific. He was never really specific about where he had grown up, or much about his family. The only facts that he did reveal which I have since found were related to the truth about his earler life were :

        * his mothers name was Ann
        * his father's name was John
        * he was a farm boy

Several years of research, mainly looking in the wrong direction took a turn when in 2004 I met up with Gerald McCormick, a scientist working on Rarotonga in the area of biodiversity and natural history, and who for years had also had an avid interest in this interesting character, William Marsters.

Gerald had focused his investigations on the name Joel which was the name William Marsters gave his first son. It seemed significant. But although Gerald was able to find a family with a father called JOHN and a mother called ANN who had a son called JOEL and their surname was MASTERS, they had two other children - a son named RICHARD and a daughter named ELIZABETH. There was no WILLIAM.

These Masters family names rang a bell in the Marsters family tree. Helm and Percival's "Sisters in the Sun" about Palmerston also provided a significant reference. Their subject was introduced as WILLIAM RICHARD MARSTERS.

From there I decided to follow this track and carry on with my research into my ancestor with a little more direction and therefore a little more determination. The result of this search was my book entitled "The Masters of Walcote: the family of William Marsters of Palmerston, Cook Islands ".

In this book, further facts are revealed that link some of the stories that William Marsters told his family.

        * his mother's surname was not Armstrong but Armston. She came from a village to the north east of Leicester called Twyford. Ann's brother, also called Richard, changed his name to Armstrong while Richard/William was quite young. As the families were quite close and saw each other regularly, Richard/William may have assumed that Armstrong was his mother's maiden name. .

        * his father's name was John Masters. He was a farmer in Walcote (and after Richard left his daughter with his parents, John and Ann later became innkeepers). William would have been brought up in a village of farm workers and learned a lot about working hard and being a general fix-it man when equipment failed. It appears he had a disagreement with his father. It is significant that none of Sarah's children were called John, yet he gave many of them the names of his brother, sister, mother, uncles and aunts.

        * he married Charlotte Farmer and he had a son called John.

        * he also had a daughter to a woman who may have been the love of his life. She was named Sarah. Their daughter was named Ann Elizabeth Joel and was baptised in 1856 in the same church in which he was baptised in 1831 - St Leonards in Misterton. Something must have happened to Sarah which caused Richard to seek help from his parents John and Ann Masters, and to ask them to raise his daughter. Their condition may have been for him to leave and never return. He had still not addressed his desertion of his wife Charlotte and son John who continued to live in Walcote and maintained contact with John and Ann because of their grandson. 

        * It is significant that Richard/William named his Penrhyn wife, Sarah, and his first three children were named Ann, Elizabeth and Joel. - after his mother, his sister and his brother    Richard/William's first three grandchildren who were born on Palmerston were named Joel, Elizabeth and Richard - the names of the three children in his family - the children of John and Ann Masters of Walcote. 

Palmerston Island, Cook Islands