James Scrimshaw was born at Belmont, Lower Hutt, on the 28th of August 1855. His parents were George and Margaret Scrimshaw nee Cox. His father was English and his mother was Irish. He was the fifth of eleven children. There were 8 boys and 3 girls.
James worked on various farms in the Hutt Valley.
On 7 September 1874, James married Martha Jolly at the Catholic Church in the Hutt. Martha was not a Roman Catholic. George Scrimshaw gave consent because James was a minor - 19 years old. Martha was 23. The priest was Father McLaughey. They were to have 14 children.
* Their first son, Thomas, was born in 1875. At some stage Thomas married Annie Mary Rhode. They had two children: Herbert Arthur and Florence May. His wife Annie died in 1901 while milking the cows. In 1903 Tom married Eva Beatrice Fletcher. They had two children - Rex Thomas and Phyllis Virginia. Thomas died in Trentham on 2 June 1963.
* On 31 May 1876 their first daughter, Mary Ann, was born at Lower Hutt. She married James Whall at Trentham in 1899, and lived at Darfield, Canterbury. They had fifteen children - James Hector Francis, John Victor Claud, Rita Margaret, Charles William Frederick, Mary Ellenor Millicent, Thomas Arthur, George Robert, Frederick Louis, Stanley Herbert, Margaret Ethel, Gertrude Helone Emma, Doris Pamella, Phyllis Jessie Elizabeth, Leslie Edward, and Malcolm Kenneth. Mary Ann, died in Christchurch on 4 January 1954.
* On 22 July 1877 their second son, James Hector, was born. At one stage he lived at Hunterville. At another time Jim used to work on the Grace's farm in the Wairarapa. He never married and died in 1968. The name of Hector comes from his father's brother who drowned in the Hutt River aged 9.
* A second daughter, Martha Margaret, probably called Maggie, was born on 5 April 1879 at Taita. She married Thomas Alfred White in 1908. They lived in Templeton near Christchurch, and had two sons: Frank Charles and Bert James. Both sons died young - one in World War II and the other of tuberculosis. Maggie died in Christchurch.
* Their third son, Robert Arthur, was born on 17 August 1880 at Whitemans Valley, Upper Hutt. He was known as Arthur. On 2 September 1914 he married Isabel Coffin at Raurimu where they lived. The marriage was dissolved in Napier on 13 March 1924. At one stage Arthur lived in the Wairarapa.
* On 2 March 1882 their fourth son, George William, was born. He died the following year on 21 April, and is buried at Saint Joseph's Church, Upper Hutt.
* On 25 September 1883 their fifth son, John Benjamin, was born. At one stage he lived on the Rangitikei Line, Palmerston North. He was a farmer. He died unmarried, at the Awapuni Home on 9 January 1941 of carcinoma of the ear.
* On Sunday 8th November 1885 their third daughter was born - called Minnie Elizabeth. She was registered on 15th January 1886 - which might help account for the fact that some sources say she was born in 1886. Minnie married Albert Goodman. Minnie had five children: Eva Mary (Dorrie), Frank, Rene Mavis, Roy Albert and Keith William. Minnie died in 1948 and is buried at Akatarawa.
* On 22 April 1887 their sixth son, Henry Patrick, was born. He was known as Pat or Paddy. He married Mary Brady and they had four children: Thomas Patrick, Harold Joseph, Kenneth and Eileen Beatrice. He died 6 July 1968 in Lower Hutt and is buried at Taita.
* On 5 September 1889 their seventh son was born. He was called William Hector, but known as Kemp or Kempthorne. He was baptised as Kempthorn William. His wife was Nancy. They had no children. He died at the R.S.A Home in Levin on 26 July 1966 aged 76 years and is buried in the Levin Cemetery.
* On 8 August 1891 their fourth daughter was born. She was called Martha, and in 1912 married John Williamson. Their children were Patricia Ann, Maureen Kathleen, Myrtle Iris, John, and Denis Michael. Martha died in Lower Hutt in 1974 and is buried at St Joseph's Church, Upper Hutt.
* On 5th April 1893 their eighth and final son, Archibald, was born. Archie's wife was Rosina. He died in the R.S.A. Home in Levin on 7 January 1976 and was cremated. They had no children.
* On 9th October 1896 they had their fifth daughter, called Beatrice Alice. She married an American called Louis Gender. He was chief engineer on the Golden Rod Line that traded between China and the U.S.A. He died at sea and was buried at sea. Beatrice died in Oakland, San Francisco, in 1982. She was cremated and her ashes were scattered in San Francisco Bay. Their daughter Betty Alice, born in 1930, died in 1984 in California.
* On 13 June 1899 their sixth daughter and final child, Ethel May, was born at Upper Hutt. Ethel never married, and died on 19 September 1971 in Wellington and is buried at the Akataraua Cemetery.
James' brother, Michael Reuben Scrimshaw, died in 1889 aged 27. His father, George Scrimshaw, died on 3 October 1898.
Throughout all this time, James was working as a farmer - sometimes at Mungaroa and sometimes at Silverstream. In 1888 he was declared bankrupt.
In 1905 James' mother, Margaret Scrimshaw, died aged 80.
Several years earlier Martha and James had shifted to Palmerston North where they lived in Tram Street. In 1917 Tram Street was renamed Heretaunga Street.
In 1913 Martha had a tooth removed. Blood poisoning followed and on Sunday 7 September she died at the Palmerston North Hospital. She was 63 years old. It was James and Martha's 39th Wedding Anniversary.
James Scrimshaw lived to see at least three sons - Kemp, Jack and Archie - and a number of grandsons, go to the First World War.
James Scrimshaw became very melancholic after he lost his wife. He was admitted to the Porirua Mental Hospital on 25 January 1916 aged 63. The diagnosis on admission was senile dementia. He died on Thursday 7 November 1929 and was buried with his wife at Palmerston North.
James' wife Martha
James' daughter Mary Ann
James' daughter Minnie Elizabeth