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Elizabeth Letitia SLADDEN (née COSTER) (1841-1922)

Bessie Sladden c1866 at the time of her wedding.
Bessie Sladden in 1876 with her daughter Maidie.
Known As
Aunt Bessie
Biographical Details

Elizabeth Letitia Sladden, née Coster (1841-1922), was the widow of Julius Sladden’s elder brother, Dilnot (1842-1906).

Elizabeth (Bessie) Letitia Coster was born in 1841, the fourth of five children of John William and Letitia Hunt Coster.  She was baptized at Castle Cary, Somerset, on 6th October 1841.  Her father was the doctor in Castle Cary.  On her mother’s side of the family, her maternal grandparents, the Husey-Hunts, were the owners of nearby Compton Castle.  [This was a Gothic fantasy castle built between 1826 and 1830 by John Hubert Hunt who died childless in 1830 and left the castle to Bessie’s grandmother, Elizabeth Husey who had married Lewis Goodin Senior in 1809.  Lewis Goodin Senior assumed the name of Husey-Hunt by royal licence in 1833 under the terms of the will of John Hubert Hunt.  The family never lived there but let it out to tenants.]

Bessie’s father died in 1844, aged 37.  At the time of the 1851 census, Bessie was at boarding school in Bexhill with her two sisters, whilst her widowed mother was living in Bruton, Somerset, with her brothers who attended King’s School, Bruton.

Around 1860, Bessie went to New Zealand to visit her two brothers, Lewis and Stafford, who were farming on South Island.  There she met Dilnot Sladden from Kent whom she married on 8th March 1866 at St Mark’s, Opawa, Christchurch, New Zealand.  Dilnot had emigrated to New Zealand around 1860 to farm and run a timber mill.

Bessie and Dilnot had eight sons and three daughters:  Lewis Coster (1867-1939), George Edward (1868-1921), Francis Dilnot (1870-1939), Arthur Julius (1872-1940), Percival John (1874-1947), Mabel Bessie (1876-1952), Mary Agnes (1878-1967), Bernard (1879-1961), Hubert (1880-1952), Edmund Mourilyan (1882-1962), Violet Susanna Coleman (1884-1955).  They were known collectively as “the Oxford Eleven” (because they lived in the Oxford district of Canterbury on the South Island).

In 1887, Bessie and Dilnot and family moved to the North Island and settled in a newly-built home at Britannia Street, Petone, a suburb of Lower Hutt, Wellington.

Bessie’s husband, Dilnot, died on 1st September 1906 whilst on a visit to Sydney to say goodbye to his sister, Charlotte Hayward, and niece, May Sladden, who had been visiting New Zealand and were about to embark on the voyage back to England.  Bessie had stayed behind in New Zealand, so was not with him when he died.

Bessie Sladden remained living at Petone with her unmarried daughters, Maidie and Dolly, until her death on 28th December 1922.

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