Sharp-Healy Family

The Story of the first two Generations

Margaret Healy 1887-1980

Margaret Healy was born on 30 June 1887 in Kyeburn, Central Otago. Her mother was Margaret Healy was aged 31 from Ireland, and her father Thomas was aged 40. She was baptised on 29 March 1891; father Th. {Thomas} Healy; mother Maggie Gallagher; minister John Sheehan; Omakau Book 11 (# Bap 1), pg 60/7; her sister Catherine was also baptised on the same day.

Margaret Sharp

Margaret was enrolled at Kyeburn School on 1 October 1894.

When Margaret was 18 years old she was admitted to Naseby Hospital for the removal of the cocyx in her lower spine after falling off a horse at Kyeburn. Apparently her father Thomas Healy had imported some Arabian horses, and had told Margaret not to ride the horse. The horse was put in the corral and then he went off up into the hills to muster sheep. But Margaret decided to try to ride the horse. However, according to Eileen, it threw her off and she injured her lower spine. She had great difficulty walking around for a few days. When Grandad returned home and wanted to know why Margaret was limping around the house, she had to tell him what happened, and she was immediately admitted to Naseby Hospital on 6 February 1906 for an operation.

Later, Margaret left Kyeburn and managed to get a position as companion help to a Mrs Miller and her daughter in Pitt Street. Her son-in-law also lived in the house.

Mr Miller was attached to the exchange building in Dunedin, with something to do with sharebroking and was also an artist of some note in painting. He tutored Margaret for some time in painting, and she tried her hand at this, but with the family business later on, she was not able to continue. Several family members have paintings done by Margaret which are now family heirlooms.

About 1911 Margaret became engaged to a young man named Frank Sherriff, he was an up and coming young businessman, and was of strict Scotch Presbyterian religion, and didn't approve of ballroom dancing, of which Margaret was very fond.

On 11 January 1911 Rose Healy, Margaret's sister, married William Johnson, and it was at this wedding that she met John Bently Sharp, and a courtship began, so the engagement to Frank was broken off, and as time went on, John and Margaret enjoyed their life together dancing and socialising.

On 25 January 1913 John and Margaret were married in the registry office in Dunedin, however no wedding notice or photo has been found. A friend gave them their wedding reception at her home and later they went for their honeymoon. On return from their honeymoon, John's father gave the newlyweds one of his three cottages in Caversham overlooking Carisbrook. They remained there until 1914 when they decided to go into business - a grocery shop, in Cashel Street. There were lots of grocery shops run by couples in those days, as there were no supermarkets.

See more of the story on the John Bentley Sharp webpage.

Margaret and John had 7 children:

Name Born Died
Eileen 4 July 1913 16 January 2010
Joan 1 December 1914 29 April 1975
Doreen 29 August 1916 24 September 1998
Denis John Thomas 30 August 1918 6 February 2004
John Ross (Twin) 2 December 1926 11 June 2010
Desmond Dynes (Twin) 2 December 1926 6 January 2012
Norwood (Norrie) 29 June 1931 20 February 2013

Painting and crafts

As mentioned previously, Margaret was a painter, mainly using watercolours. She was inspired to paint scenes around her home when she was relaxed, and two paintings are of the Nelson area. She also painted the Sydney Harbour Bridge and various other landscapes.

She worked in the Hyde Hotel in Hyde, Green Island and the Royal Hotel in Nelson.

She used to create bark pictures of Central Otago scenes, crochet and embroidery, and sent them to her grandchildren as Christmas presents in her later years.

Unfortunately the marriage with John Bentley split up in 1949, though they remained in touch. Margaret returned to live in Dunedin.

Margaret Sharp and Margaret Bremner. (pictured: Margaret Sharp (right) with Margaret Bremner, Dunedin. Margaret has written on the back of the photo: "This snap was taken at Christmas time. I had to go with Margaret and help her with her shopping, she is quite grown up now! and very pretty. Mum" Margaret Bremner remembers: "I do remember Grandma coming back to Dunedin from Nelson - I would have still been at primary school. She stayed with us for a while then she became the head housekeeper at the Grand Hotel [now the Southern Cross] and she was in charge of the day to day running of the maids and all the linen, cleaning up and bed changing etc. She used to live-in there and came and stayed with us at the weekends and I can remember it was a big treat on Sunday night to take her back to the hotel as it was a ride in the car at night time! After her days at the hotel finished, she had a small flat in a boarding house in High Street before she got a council flat in Helensburgh road [near where Aunty Doreen lived]. She lived there till she broke her hip and had to go into the Home of Compassion down at Company Bay. She looked after John and myself when Mum and Dad were away on business trips etc and she was always lovely with us."

Trip to Government House

Margaret Sharp at Government House.

In November 1959, Margaret was invited by the Governor-General to visit Government House in Wellington to watch her son Desmond receive his British Empire Medal. Margaret was extremely proud of her son and his award, and when she arrived in Wellington by boat, she was picked up from the wharf by Desmond and Daughan, and daughters Dale and Lesley.

Headstone - Margaret Sharp

Margaret (Grandma Sharp as she was affectionately known to her family) died on 28 September 1980 aged 93 years. She was the last of her generation to pass away. At the time she was a resident of the Methodist Home in Company Bay, Dunedin. She is buried at Andersons Bay Cemetery, Block 251, Plot 49 with her husband John Bently Sharp.

The headstone inscription reads:

In Loving memory of John Bently Sharp, died 26th June 1964, aged 78 years, and his beloved wife Margaret, died 28 September 1980, aged 93 years.

Margaret's direct descendants number over 100.

Dale Hartle at Sharp Family Plot, December 2019.

Dale Hartle at Sharp Family Plot, December 2019.