Given names: 
E. T.
Given address: 
Avenal Invercargill
Sheet No: 351

Originally transcribed as E L Jenkins

Biography contributed by Jan Schrader (great-great neice)

Elisabeth Turnbull [Lizzie] Jenkins was born in overcrowded Glasgow in 1870. As a young teenager, she arrived at Bluff on the Electra in March 1883 – along with her parents and two older brothers.

Lizzie already had family here – her mother's sister Mary and her husband Robert Allison were farming near Mataura. But being ‘city’ people, the Jenkins family chose to settle in Invercargill. As the town grew, Lizzie’s brothers built successful careers in the grocery and general store business. But her dad wasn’t at ease in his new country – he died two years after arriving.

Lizzie's mother had been a dressmaker before her marriage. I imagine she taught her daughter this skill set for Lizzie was listed as a tailoress on electoral rolls before she married. She likely had a taste for textiles since her dad came from a family of weavers back in Scotland. It's easy to see the mother and daughter putting their sewing skills to work in their new community.

When she signed the 1893 Women’s Suffrage Petition, Lizzie was at the family home at Avenal. I assume she maintained an interest in politics for she was still on the electoral roll in 1935 at her Dalrymple St home in Invercargill. Her surviving daughter was also living there.

In 1898 Lizzie married schoolteacher Thomas Kelly, also Scottish-born and seven years older, at her mother’s home – her cousin and a fellow tailor witnessed the marriage. Although Lizzie and Thomas had at least four children, their eldest daughter, also Elizabeth, had no children and Annie died when she was only 13. [I’d like to learn more about George James and Margaret Love Kelly.]

The Kelly family moved around Southland for Thomas' work, but in 1911 they were at Brydone – at a very new school north-east of Invercargill. It's probably fair to assume Lizzie also had a teaching role at school.

By 1935 she and Thomas were back in Invercargill. Lizzy died a day after her husband, in September 1935, aged 65. They were buried on the same day at Eastern cemetery in a plot with many others of her whanau, including her daughter, and her Scottish mother and grandmother.

Click on sheet number to see the 1893 petition sheet this signature appeared on. Digital copies of the sheets supplied by Archives New Zealand.

How to cite this page

'E. T. Jenkins', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 29-Sep-2020

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