Austen Family History

This site details the ancestry of my grandparents Robert Austen Young (1910-1985) and May Aroha Free "Maisie" (1911-1981). Who were married in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1935 and have four children and ten grandchildren.
The menu bar, left, allows quick access to the main areas covered. The portrait to the right is of Robert Austen Young, painted, by his wife, Maisie Young.

The initial purpose of my research was and still is to establish and understand where the family name of "Austen" came from. In January 2004 a significant break through occured with the arrival of a copy of Joseph Austen Chamberlain's "Notes of the families of Chamberlain and Harben". This book, which is available for sale on this website as an eBook, positively identifies Robert Austen, (1710-1786), as the oldest 'Austen' found to date, his daughter, Mary Austen, is pictured below. However, in the years leading up to finding this book I have amassed a considerable quantity of family history from many extended branches of the family - some of which has not been publicly available before now. In particular the material on the life of William Henry Free (1825-1919) is close to the level required for an entry in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography and he is certainly a deserving subject for this publication (and was included in the 1950 edition).
Increasingly my interest is biographical rather than just charting the names of my forebears - although there are many charts to be found here. The detailed listing of individuals and the collected clues to their life and times is by far the larger, and I hope more interesting, part of this site. But, for many individuals the clues are regrettably few.
A wide range of individuals have contributed to the material presented here. Although they should not be held responsible for typographical errors. Two family history documents formed the initial core information for this web site: the Young Family Bible and Edmund Gillow Young "Uncle Ted" (1913-1988) July 1986 edition of "Biographies of descendants and relatives of Andrew Davidson and Emily Young (nee Harben)". More recently, and as mentioned above, the information in Austen Chamberlain's 'Notes of the families..', and the Kingswell Family Bible. In June 2005 the family records of Edmund Gillow, updated by his son George Gillow, and again updated by his son John Gillow, have also been incorporated. In these Gillow family records there is a covering note dated 3 October 1928 from Edmund Gillow, signed father, to George Gillow which is reproduced to the right, to quote the last line "... we must keep up the record."
My research began in 1997 and as I have become grimly aware it has only just begun. Corrections and additions are very welcome. Please contact me via email at

This site does not provide details of any living person - other than some references to my great aunt Margaret Ruth Austin (sorry Margaret) and her cousin John Gillow (sorry John).

Austen Sinclair
18 Oswald Cres
New Zealand

Last Update October 2009


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