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Dunedin's Buried History

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Mrs Anstiss Dottin Silk (c.1839-1899)

Anstiss was born 14 January c.1839 at Totnes, Devon, England to Nicholas Mills (1809- 1877) and Ann Mills (née Fry, 1805 - 1886)

Anstiss emigrated from England with her parents and brothers , Henry(15) and Edward(13) to Victoria, Australia on the ship "Blackwall" in October 1857. She married George (William) Silk in 1859. George's parents were Edwin/Edward Silk and Esther (nee Holloway/Hunt). George emigrated to New Zealand as a steerage passenger on the "Rangitoto", departing 12 February 1868 with Anstiss and four daughters following him on the ship "Alambra" 8 October of that year.

The Silk family settled in Otago at Lawrence. George mined for gold while Anstiss ran a successful baking and catering business.

Anstiss moved to Dunedin in 1887 after George’s death from emphysema and asphyxia and in 1889 took over the Leviathan Hotel. She also kept in touch with her mining interests and she had on display at the hotel a 2.3kg cake of gold from one of her mines. It was said she ruled the Leviathan with an iron hand and the business prospered.

She died at her daughter’s home in June of 1899 and on the 9th August that year, the Leviathan Hotel Co. was incorporated to run the hotel. The Leviathan Hotel is still locally owned and operated.

[Note: The name Leviathan is from the Bible and means a huge creature, usually of the sea. When the Leviathan Railway Temperance Hotel was built in 1884, it was situated close to the harbour, inside the original railway station, on reclaimed land. With 150 bedrooms, the Leviathan was reputed to be the largest hotel in Australasia.In the year 2002, the restored dining room was named after Antiss Silk as a memorial to her time there – the ‘Silk Room’.]

Notes from ‘Heritage Hotel’ by Peter Laing, 2002

Anstiss' husband George died in Lawrence and is buried there in the Lawrence cemetery with Anstiss' parents, Nicholas and Ann Mills. Her brother Nicholas and his wife Annie, née Dunwoodie/Dunwoody are also buried in the Northern Cemetery, Dunedin in block 126 plot 12-13.

(Information from Lorraine Young, relative.)

Research by Jane Davidson

Monumental Inscription

A. G. Silk

Died 10th June 1899

Aged 59 Years

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