On their own - Britain's child migrants

William Nevin – New Zealand farm boy


A studio portrait of William taken around the time of his departure to New Zealand in 1911. Reproduced courtesy Barry Parr.

William Nevin was born on 13 July 1897 in Everton, Liverpool. He was part of a large family, with 10 brothers and sisters. He attended Major Lester Public Elementary School, Liverpool where he excelled. Due to his prowess at school, he was selected to join the youth migration scheme – even receiving support from the famous Liverpool shipping company owners the Holt family.

On 9 November 1911 William, aged 14, travelled to Wellington in New Zealand on board the Shaw, Savill & Albion Line ship 'Arawa'. He was accompanied by four friends who had also been selected: Joseph Morton, Fred Ryan, Richard Waterson and James Hamilton. His occupation was listed on the passenger list as ‘farm boy.’

Detail of official passenger list, with hand written entries giving the name, ticket number, class and occupation of passengers Detail of passenger list, showing William Nevin's occupation as 'farm boy'. Reproduced courtesy National Archives.

William married Helen McMillan on 21 August 1920 and they had a daughter Mary. He enjoyed a successful life in New Zealand and, although he never returned to Liverpool, he always remembered his family.

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