Percy Frederick Cobb 
7 March 1875 - 7 July 1958

Percy was born in Christchurch, Hampshire, England on 7 March 1875. He immigrated to New Zealand on the ship Lady Jocelyn with his parents and eight siblings in 1883. The family arrived in Wellington on 1 January 1884. Percy was eight years old at the time.

Joseph and Harriet with their children, 1883. 
Percy is probably the little boy to the 
immediate right of his mother.
(Photo courtesy of G J Bland)
The Cobb family boarded the ship 'Kiwi' to take them to their new home in Napier. They arrived in Napier on 5 January 1884. Below is the notice of arrivals to Napier.

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There they were met by Percy's aunt, Emily Lydford, and her husband Richard who had arrived in New Zealand in 1879. There were three little cousins for Percy to meet: Richard Jnr, William, and baby George.

The Cobb family lived in Port Ahuriri for a short time then shifted to Hastings.

Nothing is known of Percy's childhood at this point. We assume that when his parents Joseph and Harriet moved from Hastings to Napier in 1889, he remained behind with his older brothers. At some point he learnt a trade and moved to Palmerston North where his oldest brothers, Alf and Robert also lived for a time.

According to Salvation Army records, Percy was converted in 1897 and joined the Salvation Army Church. His future wife, Charlotte (Lottie) Mary Drury (1881-13 Nov 1918) is recorded as joining the church the same day.

Percy, it seems, was very musical. He played the cornet in the Salvation Army band, and the photo below indicates that he also played the violin.

Percy Cobb.
Photographer and date unknown.
(Photo courtesy of L Buckle)

The Electoral Roll of 1900 it states that Percy was living in Palmerston North and was working as a tailor. His older brothers, Alf and Bob were also living there.

On 16 April 1902, Percy (27) married Charlotte (Lottie) Drury at the Salvation Army Barracks in Palmerston North. Lottie was the daughter of English-born immigrants, John Drury [originally Amos; Drury was his mother's maiden name] (Apr 1853 - 27 Mar 1927), a labourer (later a gardener), and his wife, Emily Jane Couper (Jan 1856 - 21 Mar 1930). The Salvation Army band, of which Percy and Lottie belonged, played during the wedding ceremony. The reception was held at Lottie's family home. 

The wedding of Percy Cobb and Lottie Drury, 16 April 1902.
John and Emily Drury (Lottie's parents) are pictured here with presumably some of their ten children.
Photographer unknown, but possibly Mrs Cobb.
(Photo courtesy of L Buckle.)

The following announcement of the wedding was printed in the Manawatu Standard on 17 April 1902.

The newly married couple set up their home in Albert Street, Palmerston North. Later they moved to Church Street. Percy and Lottie had three daughters:
  • Marjory Gladys Cobb (10 February 1904 - 9 December 1977
  • Clarice Evelyn Ashcroft (3 February 1907 - 27 December 1969
  • Joyce (Joy) Harriett Burgess (9 May 1910? - 1994)
The Electoral Roll of 1905/06 states that Percy and Charlotte lived on Ferguson Street. Family records suggest their home was at number 269.

Both Percy and Lottie played in the Salvation Army band. The photo below shows Percy with a cornet and Lottie with a euphonium.
The Salvation Army band.
Percy is sitting in middle of the front row holding his cornet,
while Lottie is seated on the far right of the middle row
holding her euphonium. Photographer and date unknown.
(Photo courtesy of L Buckle.)

In August 1905 Percy had become partners in a tailoring business named Cobb, Oliver & Purcell which was located in the Theatre Buildings in The Square, Cuba Street. In the newspaper advertisement below, we notice that Percy had 12 years experience prior to this, as a cutter.

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In September the business had been shifted to better premises on Cuba street in the Palmerston Buildings. Mr Purcell didn't last long in the business, because, by the end of 1905 it was advertised as simply, Cobb and Oliver.

In 1906 the following notice was printed in the local paper on 28 August, and we believe the Mr Cobb mentioned in it refers to Percy:

A large calico sign recently erected

in front of his property in Church street
east by Mr Cobb, to give notice of a
sale, was torn down and carried away
last night by some maliciously-disposed

On 3 February 1907 Percy and Charlotte welcomed baby Clarice into their family. She was born at their home on Church Street East, Palmerston North. The birth notice in the Manawatu Standard read as follows:

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Percy and Lottie Cobb with daughters, Marjorie and Clarice.
This photo would have been taken around 1909. Photographer unknown.
(Photo courtesy of L Buckle.)

Percy had a brush with the law in January 1910 when he was convicted and fined for driving his cart without lights.

Also in 1910, P Cobb and W Cobb were present at the Oroura Lodge of Druids business meeting and were given official responsibilities for the following six months.

Joyce (later, known as Joy) was born on 19 May 1912 (date to be confirmed). Here is a lovely photograph of the three sisters

Clarice, baby Joyce (Joy), and Marjorie c1912.
Photographer unknown.
(Photo courtesy of the Masterton District Library and Archive.)

In March 1911 Percy's father, Joseph, passed away in Napier aged 70.

At some point Percy left the tailoring business, and in 1911 he was living in Pahiatua, and worked as a carter. Lottie stayed behind in Palmerston North and lived at 118 Broad Street. The reasons for this arrangement are unknown at present.

In 1914, Percy, Lottie and their girls were living at 3 Amesbury Street, Palmerston North. 

Clarice, Joyce, Marjorie c1914
Photographer and date unknown.
(Photo courtesy of L Buckle.)

Clarice was part of her Aunt Emily Drury's wedding party in December 1914 along with her cousin and two other aunts. 

Clarice, Marjorie and Joyce c1915.
Photographer and date unknown.
(Photo courtesy of L Buckle.)

Photographer and date unknown but around 1916.Photographer unknown.
(Photo courtesy of L Buckle.)

In 1916, P Cobb is mentioned as being at a half-yearly business meeting of the Oroura Lodge of Druids, along with R C Cobb.

It seems as though the Cobb girls attended the Terrence End School in Palmerston North. Newspapers reported that Marjory passed her proficiency exam in 1916 and that Joyce attended the annual picnic on 6 February 1918, and came first equal in the running race for girls under six!

Percy was put on the World War 1 Reserve Roll, 2nd Division, in 1917, along with his brothers, Alf, George and Harold. At the time he was living at 269 Ferguson Street, Palmerston North and was a Gas Company employee. 

In 1918 Percy and his family resided at 9 Oxford Street. The influenza pandemic hit the Cobb family suddenly later in the year, with Lottie contracting it. Symptoms of the pandemic were severe and the casualty list high all around New Zealand. Poor Lottie passed away on 13 November 1918 at Palmerston North Hospital, aged 37. Lottie was buried at the Terrence End Cemetery, Palmerston North, Block 052 (the Wesleyan block), Plot 023. A photo of her grave can be seen here.

Lottie's death came as a shock to the family, particularly Percy, judging by the memorial notices in the newspaper one year afterwards. It also seems that Percy struggled to cope after he lost her. The three girls were sent to live in Salvation Army children's homes. At some point, his youngest daughter, Joyce, went for a holiday to her Auntie Elsie's home and she was eventually adopted by her in 1923. The other two girls stayed at the children's homes. They ended up working as Salvation Army officers. 

Percy Cobb.
Photographer and date unknown.
(Photo courtesy of L Buckle.)

In 1921 Percy married Matilda Amelia Emma Ward (nee Cox). She was known as Emma, and was 12 years younger than Percy. Her first husband, Henry William Ward, had died in late 1919 aged 40, leaving her with five young boys: 

  • Ernest William Ward (b1903)
  • Leonard Frederick Ward (b1905)
  • Thomas Henry Ward (b1908)
  • Stanley Howard Ward (b1910)
  • Jack Richard Ward (b1915)

Percy's youngest daughter, Joyce (Joy) was officially adopted into his sister, Elsie Ashcroft's family, in 1923. It appears that Percy's new wife was not keen on keeping his three girls and seems to have actively discouraged them from having a relationship with their father although they tried.

The father of Percy's first wife, John Drury (73) died on 27 March 1927. He was buried at the Terrence End Cemetery, Block 34, Plot 49. 

Percy and Emma moved homes frequently. In 1928 they were living at 22b Bourke Street and in 1935, at 201 Princess Street. Percy was working as a pastry cook during this period.

Percy's mother, Harriet died. 

The mother of Percy's first wife, Emily Jane __ (73) died on 21 March 1930. She was buried next to her husband at the Terrence End Cemetery, Block 34, Plot 51. 

The Auckland Star newspaper reported that on 16 March 1934, Mr P Cobb was staying at the Metropolitan Hotel, which was situated on the corner of Fort and Queen Street, Auckland. It seems that Percy was up in the big city looking for work. It seems his search was successful, for in 1935, the Cobbs moved to Auckland for a short time and lived at 90 Ponsonby Road. Percy worked as a cook there. When they moved back to Palmerston North in 1938, they returned to 201 Princess Street. 

When Percy retired around 1946, he lived at 700 Main Street with Emma, then in 1948 they were living at 32 Ashley Street. In 1954, the Cobbs lived at 26 Savage Crescent.

Percy died on 7 July 1958, aged 83 years. Emma died on 11 September 1970, aged 87 years. Their last place of residence was Flat 2, Papaeoia Place. The are both buried at the Kelvin Grove Cemetery in Palmerston North, in Section M (the General Lawn), Block 014, Plot 045. A photo of their grave is shown below.

The children of Percy & Charlotte Cobb

The sisters: Marjorie, Joy, Clarice.
Photographer and date unknown, but around 1960.
(Photo courtesy of L Buckle.)

Marjory (Marj) Gladys Cobb (10 February 1904 - 9 December 1977
  • After her mother died, their father remarried. The new step-mother was not favourable to having the girls around. Marjorie and her sister Clarice were sent to live in an orphange. Their youngest sister was adopted into the Ashcroft family. (Elsie Ashcroft was their father's elder sister.) 
  • Marj loved reading.
  • Marj never married. She became a Salvation Army officer. In 1928, Marjory was living at 18 Hereford Street, Palmerston North. In 1929, after her training, she was appointed to work at Wallaceville Home in Upper Hutt, which seems to have been an orphanage for young boys. Electoral Rolls record the places she lived in:
    • 1928: Palmerston North, then Wellington North
    • 1935: Avon, then Wellington North
    • 1938: Wanganui
    • 1946-72: Mirama, Wellington
  • Marjory died in Wellington, aged 73, and was cremated.

Clarice Evelyn Ashcroft (3 February 1907 - 27 December 1969
Clarice Cobb.
Photographer and date unknown.
(Photo courtesy of L Buckle.)

  • Clarice was a Salvation Army officer. She spent most of her life in Palmerston North near her father and step-mother but moved many times: Electoral Rolls give the following addresses for Clarice: 
    • 1935: 117 Ruahine Street
    • 1938: 37 Queen Street
    • 1946: 28 Dahlia Street
    • 1954: 631 Main Street
    • 1957: 453 Church Street 
  • In later life, around 1957-9, Clarice married her cousin, Eric Arthur Cobb (8 February 1896 - 1 November 1959), who was her Auntie Elsie's son (wedding date unknown at present, but between 1957 and 1959). This was Clarice's first marriage, but Eric's second. In Eric's military files, the 'Notification of Death' certificate (1959) indicates that Clarice was his next of kin, and that they lived at 110 Weymouth Road Extension, Weymouth. This means they were married less than two years before he passed away. Clarice had no children. She died in Wellington, from cancer, aged 62, and was cremated. 
Elsie Ashcroft at the wedding of her son Eric,
to Clarice Cobb. c1957-59.
Photographer and date unknown.
(Photo courtesy of L Buckle.)

Joyce (Joy) Harriett Ashcroft (born Cobb) (9 May 1910 (TBC) - 1994). 
  • Joy was Percy and Charlotte Cobb's youngest daughter. It seems that she was officially adopted into the Ashcroft family in 1923 although, some family members believe she was ten years old at the time. (Joy's adopted mother, Elsie Ashcroft, was the older sister of Joy's birth father, Percy Cobb.) At the time of adoption, Joy was told that she would not be returning to her father. Sadly, around the same time, Joy's two older sisters were put into an orphanage.
  • Joy was very close to her adopted brother Joe Ashcroft and his wife Ethel.
  • Joy married Walter Nelson Burgess (known as Nelson to Joy, but as Wally at work) (July-Sept quarter 1913 - 2 September 2002). They had two sons and a daughter. 
  • In September 1942, The New Zealand Gazette listed Nelson Burgess as living at 49 Church Street, Otahuhu (Elsie Ashcroft's home) and was working as a lorry driver. 
  • Nelson also worked as a draughtsman, and was a WWII serviceman with the service number 562756, who reluctantly left for war in 1944 from Mackay Street, Thames. He eventually earned the rank of 2nd Lieutenant in the New Zealand Infantry. Nelson was wounded during the war and was hospitalised in Sienna.
  • It seems that the Burgess family lived in Hauraki in the late 1940s, and then moved to Mt Albert, Auckland where they lived for several decades. The 1949 Electoral Roll records Nelson and Joy living at 64 Kiwitea Streat, Mt Albert. He was working as a wood pulp worker. The Electoral Roll for 1963 indicates that Nelson was living in Mt Albert and working as a 'crockery worker'.
  • According to Archway Archives NZ, Nelson and Joy filed for divorce in the High Court in Auckland in 1967. 
  • The New Zealand Census of 1981 states that Joy was retired, and living on Denbeigh Avenue, Mt Roskill, Auckland. 
  • Nelson died in 2002, aged 89, and is buried at the Waikaraka Cemetery, Onehunga, Auckland at Military Area 1 Block ROW H, Plot 6. 
  • Joy died in Christchurch in 1994.
  • Other information, and photos of Joy can be found by clicking the link here
Joy, aged around ten. c1922.
Photographer unknown.
(Photo courtesy of L Buckle.)
Joy as a teenager.
Photographer and date unknown.
(Photo courtesy of L Buckle.)
Joy Ashcroft, aged 21 years. 1933.
Photographer unknown.
(Photo courtesy of L Buckle.)
Nelson and Joy Burgess on their wedding day.
Photographer unknown.
(Photo courtesy of L Buckle.)
Joy, when she lived at Kiwitea Street.
Photographer and date unknown.
(Photo courtesy of L Buckle.)
    Joy's 70th birthday, 1982.
    Photographer unknown.
    (Photo courtesy of L Buckle.)

Sources of information:
Family held records
Papers Past
Ancestry - Electoral Rolls, The New Zealand Gazette
Births, Deaths and Marriages Online
Palmerston North City Council - Cemetery and Cremation Search
Masterton District Library & Archive
Wellington City Council - Cemetery and Cremation Search
Photographs: L Buckle (2018, 1 October). Provisional List: Victims of the 1918 Flu Pandemic in New Zealand.

Anonymous. (1902, April 17). The Last Look. Manawatu Standard. 4 Retrieved from

Notes about the Drury family (from Births Deaths and Marriages)
Emily Jane Drury (mother)
John Drury (father)
6 daughters (Lottie was the eldest of the girls)
4 sons
1879       Arthur Charles – m Sarah Ann Hall 1901. Died 1955 aged 75.
1881       Charlotte Mary – m Percy Cobb 1902. Died 1917 (influenza)
1883       Agnes Ellen – no marriage or death date located
1884       John William – m Anna Severina Bergman 1908. Died 1945 aged 60y
1886       George Henry – m Kathleen Hickey 1910. Died 1964 aged 80y
1888       Bertie Albert – no marriage record located. Died 1954 aged 65y
1890       Emily Selina – m Laxton George Berry 1913. Died 1937 aged 46y.
10/1/1893 or 1892?          Rose Elizabeth Jane – m Alexander Dempsey 1920. Died 1975 aged 83y.
5/12/1894 or 1897?          Violet Annie – married Sidney Egmont Gilshnan 1918. Died 1981 aged 83y.

2/9/1901              Elsie Agnes – married Raymond Watson 1926. Died 1982 aged 80y

Last updated 17 July 2020

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