Do you have a talent, gift or skill that could be enhanced by receiving a Storry Scholarship? Scholarships are awarded annually to a maximum of $2,500 per scholarship. Recipients must be under 20 years of age at the start of the assistance.
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Janet Elspeth Storry (1895-1973) and her younger brother Leonard Wilson Storry (1896-1965) were the only children of John Wilson Storry (1856-1944) and Mary Ann White (1856-1922). They were named after an aunt (paternal) and uncle (maternal). Neither Janet nor Len married.
Their father, John Wilson, was born in Scotland, second son of five children. He emigrated as a child with his family to New Zealand in 1863 and grew up in Southbridge. He spent much of his life as a sheep farmer on the family farms at “Crofthead” (until it was divided into four farms and sold in 1924) and at “Northfield”, south of the Rakaia. His main interests were in agricultural and pastoral affairs, books and New Zealand history. He was a member of the Selwyn County Council in 1910. When the family farms were sold after his wife’s death, he moved to Christchurch to live at 426 Hagley Avenue which had been part of his wife’s inheritance and died there at the age of 88 years.
Their mother, Mary White, was the third of four children and the only daughter of Elizabeth and William White (Snr) (1824-99), early pioneers who had arrived in Canterbury in 1852 from England. A practical settler who was once described as Canterbury’s best untrained civil engineer, William White was also a very astute businessman. He built the first bridges over the Waimakariri and Rakaia rivers for the Provincial Government. He also built inland roads, river protection works, hotels, saw mills and the Little River tramway for the new settlement. In payment for his work, he received bridge tolls and substantial blocks of land in different parts of Canterbury. One property in Little River at “Chiskan” was described as being the best property on the Akaroa Peninsula, another as being the pick of 5000 acres of Rakaia land. He was one of the original owners of the Halswell quarry and a partner in the Mount Pleasant run which included almost 20,000 acres of land on the Port Hills.
Their second son was Leonard White who never married and left his only sister Mary and the Storry family ‘his great wealth’ when he died in 1934. Leonard White had responsibility for managing the White family farms. He became a large importer of valuable stud stock from England and Scotland and one of the first private exporters of Canterbury frozen lamb with much success on the London market. Later in life, he bought a thoroughbred stud at “Langleydale” in Tai Tapu and shared these interests with his brother-in-law John Storry and nephew Leonard Storry.
John Storry married Mary White in 1893. They settled on the family farm in Southbridge where Janet and Leonard spent their early life. Both had a governess and were later sent to Christchurch for their secondary education.
Janet was a first-day pupil at St. Margaret’s College, Christchurch, when it was opened by the Anglican Sisters in 1910 on a property at 28 Armagh Street. The Anglican influence and connection remained strong throughout her life. Her fellow students (including Dame Ngaio Marsh) remembered her as being a person of great character and ability. During her four years at the College, she became a school prefect, hockey captain, won the School Honour Medal and shared the Holmes Challenge cup. Janet retained close links with the College, becoming a Life member of the Old Girls’ Association and the first Old Girl to be elected as its President (1931). She donated the Storry Essay Cup for creative writing; the Janet Storry Bursary (from 1935); and the Storry Tennis Shield that is still competed for in February at the Elmwood Tennis Club at an annual tournament of old boys and old girls from St Margaret’s College, Rangi Ruru School, Christ’s College and St Andrews College.
After leaving school she trained in Domestic Science and Dietetics and obtained a City and Guilds of London Institute cooking qualification at the Christchurch Technical College. In 1919 she was awarded the NZ Red Cross medal for her war work. Janet once confided to a neighbour that her fiancé from the Canterbury Yeomanry Cavalry had been killed during World War One. She remained unmarried.
Janet lived in the family home at 426 Hagley Avenue, Christchurch, opposite the present Westpac Trust Netball Centre. The original house had been built by William White in 1872 in a one-acre property regarded by adults as being in a fashionable residential area of Christchurch but described by his children as being located ‘out in the wilds’. It was passed on to Janet’s mother in 1905. Before her mother died in 1922 when Janet was only in her mid-twenties, she promised to look after and care for her elderly father and younger brother. She did this faithfully until her brother’s death in 1965. She also cared for her father’s unmarried brother and sister until they died. She was said to have kept a beautiful home, which included many of the White family treasures, furniture and collection of books that had been shipped out from England.
She was known to be a kindly but private person who had a great love of books, both classical and those relating to New Zealand’s history. She was a Life Member of the Canterbury Pilgrims and Early Settlers’ Association and wrote a book in 1939, entitled “Records of an Old Pioneer”, about the life of her grandfather, William White, and his contribution to the new settlement. A copy is kept in the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Her research notes and manuscripts for this book are held at the Canterbury Museum. In 1970 she presented the University of Canterbury library with some 1200 books, pamphlets and journals, mainly on New Zealand. These are held in the University’s Macmillan Brown Library. She also contributed many household treasures to the Canterbury Museum, which held a strong interest for her. Before she died, she donated a Gibb painting to the Anglican parish in Burwood.
Janet Storry knew all about life on a farm and about exhibiting sheep and cattle. Like her brother Len, she was a Life member of the Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association. Together they donated the Storry Wool Cup (1923) which is still competed for. They also established the Leonard White Perpetual Challenge Shield (1923) in memory of their favourite uncle.
She was described by friends as having ‘an unfailing interest in people, a thoughtful, generous and unostentatious giving, not only of what she had but also of herself and her time.’ She died in 1973 at the age of 78 and is buried in the Linwood cemetery.
Her younger brother Leonard (commonly called ‘Len’) was a well-known Canterbury farmer and stockbreeder. He went to a private preparatory school and then from 1910 to 1914 attended Christ’s College where he was a dayboy in “South Town” (subsequently renamed Harper House). He worked closely with his uncle, Leonard White, and supervised his farm in the Rakaia area as well as the sheep farm that his grandfather bought in Southbridge. His stock included Corriedale and Crofthead Shropshire sheep, Clydesdale horses, Shorthorn cattle and Berkshire pigs. A number of these won many championships for him in Canterbury Show rings and at Sydney Royal Shows during the period from 1923 until 1925, when ill health caused him to sell all his stock and property. He went on to establish a thoroughbred horse stud with his father and uncle, initially in Tai Tapu and then at Upton Farm, Yaldhurst. Many of these yearlings went on to become successful race winners in Australia and New Zealand.
Coming from a long line of farmers, Leonard served on the committees of both the Canterbury and the Ellesmere A & P Associations. He too was a Life Member of the Canterbury Association, a member of the Canterbury Jockey Club, the Canterbury Society of Arts, the Canterbury Pilgrims and Early Settlers Association, the Royal Society of New Zealand (Canterbury branch) and the Royal Commonwealth Society. He was also an avid book collector and a Friend of the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington. He never married and died in 1965 in Christchurch, at the age of 68.
Anglican Care was one of 17 local organisations and 16 individuals to benefit from Janet Storry’s will when she died in 1973. She had no direct family descendants.
The Storry Scholarship helped Rebecca Dini discover her calling to youth ministry