A travel blog of Ireland, Europe, and New Zealand

Peter John Annan

FamilySearch Code LV82-KR7

Press Play for his life story
Peter John Annan circa 1918-1920

Born Peter John Love on 18 April 1870, married 18 December 1890, died 6 June 1951. His name, John, is from Mary’s father John Flanigan but there is no Peter in the earlier families. Possibly that is the name of Theophilus’ grandfather (his father was William).

Given that Peter was under 2 years old when he began living with William Annan, it would have been natural for him to have used the Annan surname, particularly if Mary’s split with Theophilus had been acrimonious.

Did Peter ever know that he was actually a Love? Passports became mandatory for international travel after WW1 and Peter travelled overseas extensively. He may have needed a birth certificate to obtain a passport – it is not clear what was required, so perhaps he did know, perhaps not. But if he did, it seems that he did not tell his children. When his son Fred started tracing the family tree in the 1960s, he believed himself to be a Scot, a proud member of the Annan clan. He knew that his grandmother, Mary Flanigan, was Irish, of course, but to say that he was dismayed to find that his grandfather was also Irish was putting it mildly. And to rub salt in the wound, his wife Annie Isabella Macrae came from an impeccable line of Scots able to be traced back hundreds of years!

It is worth noting that Peter’s record of birth cannot be found on the NZ Births, Deaths and Marriages website – all his known details have been taken from the St Patrick’s Cathedral register in Auckland. Transcription errors are not unknown on the official NZ site so it may just be that he cannot easily be found but it is still a little odd.

Edith and Peter Annan at their 50th wedding anniversary in 1941.

Peter’s wife was Edith Sarah Cann, daughter of Samuel Trengrove Cann, an immigrant mining engineer from Cornwall, and Sarah Ann Catling from Manchester, UK. Peter, aged 20, and Edith, not yet 17, married in what were probably less than ideal circumstances, since three months after their marriage, their first child Mary Gertrude was born. Sadly, Mary died in February 1892 aged just 10 months.

In the first 10 years of their marriage, Peter and Edith had 7 children (including one set of twins) so he must have worked close to home. An advertisement in the Auckland Star in November 1892 sees Mrs P Annan, Sussex St off Newton Rd, Auckland, wanting a “respectable nursegirl” – the twins had been born in June of that year. Tragedy continued when one of the twins died aged 2 years, in 1894.

In May 1898, the NZ Gazette reported that Peter was granted his Master’s Ticket for coastal shipping. From 1900, at the age of 30, he was master of the sailing ships “Kauri”, “Era”, “Ranger” and “Excelsior”, which were Niccol & Co ships on the East Coast run trading in and out of Napier. His last trip to Napier was in the newly-built (by George Niccol) scow “Korora” in 1906. From then on, he was always known as Captain Annan.

From the NZ Gazette
Korora under full sail under Captain Annan (photo courtesy Peter Farnell)

In November 1906, the Annans left Auckland and settled in Napier.

(Historical footnote: the ship they sailed on was a substantial vessel, the SS Talune, with accommodation for 175 and a crew of 56. In 1918, it was this ship which took the Spanish Flu from NZ to Samoa and other Pacific Islands.)

In 1907 he purchased the Crown Hotel which was sited on the corner of Waghorne and Barry Sts, Napier. In 1916, he was also the proprietor of the Railway Hotel, Port Ahuriri.

In October 1917, the Hastings Standard reported that Mr P. J. Annan, Railway Hotel, Port Ahuriri, has returned to Napier after a visit to Great Britain. ln London he spent several days with his son, W. G. F. Annan and other New Zealanders. (This was during war time, and must have been quite a hazardous trip.)

Peter and his son Fred were two of the shareholders in a Napier taxi and service car business called AAPW (Annan, Annan, Peach and Williams). Mr Peach ran the Ford dealership further down Dickens St. It is unknown who Williams was – possibly the Crown Hotel architect (see below) as a sleeping partner, but that is pure conjecture. A more likely possibility is Fred Williams, one time Mayor of Napier and founder of Williams and Kettle. He is mentioned in a newspaper article alongside P J Annan – almost certainly they would have known each other as they were both men of substance living in Napier.

In 1921 Peter and his wife Edith plus their two daughters Edith and Daisy, travelled by SS Niagara from Auckland to the USA.

In January 1927, the Herald reported that Mr Annan’s freehold land upon which stood the Napier Hotel would be offered for lease.

He was the first owner of the Crown Hotel in Napier, which was completed in 1932 in Waghorne St. It was built in Spanish Mission style over two storeys for a contract price of £7,245. The architect was E Arthur Williams. This hotel was already under construction, replacing the earlier Crown Hotel, when the earthquake hit in February 1931. As a result of damage from the earthquake, the planned three storeys were reduced to two.

In 1937, he sold the Napier Hotel and the Crown Hotel to NZ Breweries for 30,000 pounds. This is the equivalent of about $NZ1.6 million in 2021, so he would be well cashed up and maybe this is why he and his wife embarked on a two year trip to Europe from 1937 to April 1939.

Their departure (Auckland Star, 16 Aug 1937) was on the Wanganella, travelling first class to Sydney. The Auckland Star, on 17 April 1939, said “They went to Europe by way of Australia and Africa and made an extensive trip through the continent. They toured the entire coast of England and Scotland and crossed the Atlantic to America in September 1938. They left San Francisco in March 1938 for Honolulu, where they spent 15 days before returning home.”

From about 1930 to December 1940, he owned the Logan Bros. 60 ft. yacht Thelma. A history of this yacht can be seen by clicking here and a diary of sailing trips in 1935-36 that once belonged to Peter Farnell can be seen within that link under the heading “The chronicles”. In August 1939, the NZ Herald reported that “the well-known A Class yacht Thelma has been converted into a ketch from a cutter. No expense has been spared by Mr Annan in fitting out Thelma, and when she takes the water early in the 1939-1940 yachting season, she will be one of the most comfortable vessels afloat.”

The Herald reports a number of racing successes for Peter on the Thelma, including a number of wins and high placings in the Anniversary Day Regattas in January each year. It was clearly an important part of his life. And yet, within a year of that major refurbishment, he had sold her. Was it because he was no longer young, and sailing this sort of yacht is a young man’s game? In April 1940, he turned 70 and in those days this was an advanced age. On top of that, in July 1940, one of his grandsons, Donald Annan, was killed in the Battle of Britain. It was certainly a low point.

However, in 1944 things must have improved because he purchased quite a different vessel, the 45′ Lidgard-built bridgedecker, Valsan, and renamed her the Lady Edith. (Reference: https://waitematawoodys.com/tag/valsan/page/2/ ) After four years of “sailing” in a more sedate manner, in 1948, he sold her again, and this was the end of Captain Annan’s time at sea. By now he was 78 years of age.

Edith died in March 1951 and within three months, on 6th June 1951, Peter also died.

The Lady Edith. (Photo from Peter Farnell)