The family of Denis and Monica Cross
"Family life is full of major and minor crises -- the ups and downs of health, success and failure in career, marriage, and divorce -- and all kinds of characters. It is tied to places and events and histories. With all of these felt details, life etches itself into memory and personality. It's difficult to imagine anything more nourishing to the soul." - Thomas Moore

Our family stories...

This is a collection of our family stories, of the characters, the places, the events and histories that have shaped who we are.

First of all it's a record of those who are not with us, our ancestors whose stories are in danger of being forgotten. This is a celebration of their struggles and triumphs.

It is also a celebration of our family at this time, at the beginning of the 21st Century, and a record for future generations, so that, in knowing where they came from they will understand who they are.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
- T. S. Eliot, Little Gidding, Four Quartets.

300 years of the Cross family

The name Cross probably first became associated with families who lived near one of the religious crosses that were once a feature of English countryside and market towns. Less common was an association with cross-roads, which could also carry a religious significance. The word itself comes from from Old Norse kross, which in turn derives from the Latin crux.

Our branch of the family comes from a small area of Oxfordshire north of Oxford, between the market town of Chipping Norton and Stoke Lyne, some 25 km to the east. Much of the area is characterised by green countryside and picturesgue villages and was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1966.

The earliest member of the family we know of is Thomas Cross who married Mary Scasbrook in the village of Fritwell in 1758 and then went on to have seven children. Other than this we know very little about him (or Mary), other than he probably came from Stoke Lyne, some 5 km from Fritwell. The family seems to have remained in Fritwell for the next sixty years until Thomas's grandson, Henry, married Eunice Ward in the far-off village of Chadlington in 1813, some 25 km away. From then on, the family seems to have become more mobile, living in numerous villages in the area around Chipping Norton: Finstock, Enstone, Charlbury, Lidstone. Nevertheless, they still remained within a remarkably small area of Oxfordshire, within a triangle of sides of no more than 25 km. This makes the voyage of Lot Cross to New Zealand in 1858 all the more astonishing because it was so contrary to anything the family had done before.

Others followed: Lot's nephew Daniel in 1871 and then Daniel's nephew George in about 1890. The Wairarapa region, north of Wellington, became the center of this new branch of the Cross family, as far from the villages of Oxfordshire as it is possible to be.

For every Cross, there is also a spouse and a connection to another family: Talbot, Potter, Fabien, Reid, Hercock, Ward, and many, many more who have contributed to the Cross story. Their stories are also included.

The farthest promised land

Our ancestors were immigrants, coming to New Zealand from England, Scotland and Ireland in the fifty or so years between 1840 and 1890.

During the research for these stories, the following questions kept coming to mind. What sort of people were they? Why did they come here and what lives did they leave? How did their culture, developed over thousands of years on the other side of the world, influence their expectations and their success in this country? How did we, as their descendants, change from being immigrants to seeing this remote place as home?

Adding your stories

It is hoped that this project becomes more than just a list of names, dates and places. Its success will depend on having the bare bones fleshed out with the details of everyday life. Histories are made up of such day to day details, ordinary stories in ordinary settings. Invitations are therefore extended to everybody in the family to contribute their own stories in order to give texture to individual histories.

You can email your stories and comments to Dan at


There have been lots of people who have been a great source of encouragement, information and photos. I'd like to thank these people especially: Brian Williams who started it all off with his sketch of the Cross family tree, Meagan Holland, Maureen Leach, Colleen Dale and Jane Jackson. Thanks to the rest of the whanau for showing so much interest.


Monica and Denis Cross

This project is dedicated to my father and to the memory of my mother. This is one of my favourite photos. Click on it for full-size.

This page last modified 3 July 2012.
Copyright © 2012. All rights reserved.
Dan Cross: Ph: (09) 6290052