Mary Waterhouse Rice, Part 1

Mrs. Mary Waterhouse Rice celebrated her 81st birthday July 26, 1928, at her home, Hale Nani in Lihu‘e, where she had lived ever since her marriage to William Hyde Rice on Oct. 17, 1872.

She is “Mother Rice” to the island of Kaua‘i and Aunt Mary to a large group of the younger generations of the Rices, the Waterhouses and allied families on Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, and Maui.

The fifth child and third daughter of John Thomas Waterhouse Sr., Mary Waterhouse was born on July 26, 1847, in Hobart Town, Tasmania, and was brought to Hawai‘i when she was not quite 5.

Some centuries ago there was a family in Normandy by the name of LeEau Maison. One of who, Baron de Lemesin, became the first Waterhouse in England, his name being Anglicized to Roger de Waterhouse with a later Latin appellative of Aquaedomus.

A descendant of the Roger de Waterhouse was Thomas Waterhouse, a farmer and wool manufacturer, who was born at Rawdon near Leeds, England and who married a young Quakeress named Hannah.

One of their sons was the Rev. John Waterhouse who was born at Rawdon May 10, 1786, and went to Van Diemem’s land, afterwards Tasmania, as superintendent of Wesleyan Missions in the South Seas. This Rev. John Waterhouse was the grandfather of Mary Waterhouse Rice.

Thomas Waterhouse and his wife Hannah were communicants of the established church until their son John was 12 years old, when they became Methodists.

At the age of 13 John converted and at 19 he began to preach as a Methodist probationer.

After several years of preaching in Circuits he was accepted in 1813 in full connection as an accredited minister.

On Aug. 12 of that year he married Jane Bestnill Skipsey, and they moved to Huddersfield. She was born Feb. 24, 1792, one of the three daughters of Thomas Skipsey, ship owner whose vessel traded to Hamburg.

The first child of the John Waterhouses was a daughter Jane, born in 1814 at Huddlesfield.

In February, 1816 the family moved to Reading, where John Thomas Waterhouse, father of Mary Waterhouse Rice, was born May 16th of that year.

The other children, all younger, were Royland Skipley Waterhouse, William Waterhouse, Jabez Bunting Waterhouse, Joseph Waterhouse, George Mardsen Waterhouse, Mary Ann Waterhouse, another Joseph Waterhouse, Samuel Waterhouse, Emma Waterhouse and Hannah Waterhouse. Two died in infancy.

The other seven sons and three daughters accompanied their father and mother, when the call to the South Seas in 1838 took the Rev. John Waterhouse to Van Diemen’s Land, where the family settled in Hobart Town.

Jane, the eldest daughter, was her father’s secretary and kept his journal during his travels as General Superintendant of the Wesleyan Missions in Australia and Polynesia.

With residence in Hobart Town the duties of the episcopus, he had use of the missionary ship, the “Triton” to facilitate his visitations in his five districts, which were New South Wales, Van Diemens Land, New Zealand, the Friendly Islands (Tonga), and Fiji. In his journal he told of a vivid experience with a cannibal feast in Fiji in June of 1841.

The Waterhouses arrived in Tasmania on Feb. 1, 1839, and the arduous strain of the apostolic journeys undermined the health of John Waterhouse, who died in March 1842 at the family home, a large stone house on Campbell Street, since occupied by Russell Dean and then John Parker. He was buried in the old cemetery at Lansdown Crescent. The body was moved to Cornelian Bay, but the tombstone was left at Landsdown.

 In later years nearly 200 descendents of John Waterhouse in Australia, New Zealand, Norfolk Island, Java, Rotorua, the Soloman Islands, Hawai‘i, the United States, Great Britain and India subscribed to an obelisk of red granite in Hobart Town in front of the Melville Street church under the trees which he had planted. His widow, Jane Skipsey Waterhouse, died in 1867 at the age of 75 years.

John Thomas Waterhouse, father of Mary Waterhouse Rice, was educated at Wood House Grove, in England.

At 16 he was apprenticed to an ironmonger, but disliking the trade he was released from his indenture. Following a temporarily unsuccessful love affair with Eleanor Dickerson, who was born in Birmingham, Feb. 14, 1813, he went to America at the age of 19 with a stock of toys on which he made a profit and was urged by the first John Jacob Astor to go into the fur business.

For a while he taught school in the New Jersey wilds, being located at Camp Gaugh, Franklin Township. Bergen County.

Returning to England he married Eleanor Dickerson on July 6, 1838, in time to include her in the Waterhouse family when it set sail for Van Diemens Land. They celebrated their golden wedding on July 6, 1888, at the Cedar Rapids home of their son William.

In Hobart Town, where John Thomas Waterhouse lived from 1859 to 1861, he conduced a hardware store, the stock for which he took out from England, and in Hobart Town six of his seven children, including Mary Waterhouse Rice, were born.


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