The perils and pleasures of Christchurch

These days if feels as if quite a lot of our the peril lies in being in Christchurch. In the early days, it was getting here that held most of the dangers. In Unsung Heroines, our own Richard Greenaway points out how lucky Lizzie Coker and Samuel Butler were to get here. It happened only because they changed their minds about which ship to travel on:

Another Burmah passenger, Samuel Butler, later a famous writer, transhipped to the Roman Emperor. Luck was with Lizzie and Samuel. The Regina arrived in December 1859, the Roman Emperor in January 1860. The Burmah sank with all on board.

No need to expand on what happened to Samuel, but Lizzie went on to have “considerable status in musical circles” and marry the prosperous George Allen, leader of a rates revolt (yes it’s all happened before).

After Allen’s death Lizzie married John Coker the founder of the famous Coker’s Hotel. A third marriage took her travelling around the world and left her very well-heeled. Not bad for a girl who left England because she qualified only for “genteel but poorly-paid position of governess.”

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