Story: Goddard, Victorine

Page 1 - Biography

Goddard, Victorine

1844–1935

Homemaker, hotel-keeper

This biography was written by Mary Donald and was first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand BiographyVolume 1, 1990

Victorine Rogers was the 10th child of a blacksmith John Rogers and his wife, Mary Faul, New Zealand Company settlers who emigrated from Nancegollan, Cornwall, England, and arrived at New Plymouth on the Essex on 20 January 1843.

John and Mary Rogers rented a whare at Waiwhakaiho, Glenavon, near the settlement of New Plymouth. It was here that Victorine Rogers was born, probably on 5 October 1844. She was baptised on 13 July 1845 at St Mary's Church, New Plymouth.

Her father died in September 1853. Three months after his death the family purchased four acres of land at Omata. Joseph Cassidy moved with them. He had been their boarder for some three years since his discharge from the 65th (2nd Yorkshire, North Riding) Regiment of Foot in 1850.

Almost one year after the death of her father, on 14 September 1854, Victorine saw Joseph Cassidy murder her mother. Cassidy had wanted to marry Mary Rogers, but she had spurned him for another suitor. In a fit of jealousy Cassidy had stabbed and beaten her to death. Victorine was a key witness at Cassidy's trial in Auckland on 1 March 1855 and was described as 'an intelligent little girl'. Cassidy was found guilty and condemned to hang, but the death sentence was later revoked on the grounds of insanity. As an orphan Victorine was probably placed under the guardianship of her brother William Rogers.

In 1860 Victorine was courted by Thomas Frederick Goddard, a gunsmith by trade but at that time a publican at Bell Block. This relationship was interrupted by the outbreak of war in Taranaki. Victorine Rogers was one of 1,200 women and children evacuated to Nelson. Thomas Goddard followed and they were married in Nelson on 11 February 1861.

On returning to New Plymouth, they managed the Bell Inn and later the Prince of Wales, both licensed hotels at Bell Block. Here Victorine assisted Thomas with the running of the hotel and raised their family of six daughters and three sons. Thomas Goddard died of cancer in 1879.

Victorine Goddard moved to Inglewood, where she purchased property, but little is known of how she managed to support her family. On 12 November 1883 at Inglewood she married Arthur Dennys Palmer, a tea merchant. They had two sons, and a daughter who died in infancy. The Palmers moved to Brighton, Victoria, Australia, where, on 1 September 1893, Arthur died. Widowed for a second time, Victorine Palmer returned to Taranaki. She lived with her daughter and son-in-law, Clara and George Marshall, and assisted in the running of their boarding house. Victorine Palmer died at Waitara on 12 October 1935 and is buried in the town cemetery.