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In a cemetery where most people were of English or Scottish origin, it is interesting to find someone who was born in France.

Amicie Francoise Meurisse was born in Paris about 1844.

It is not known when she arrived in Australia, and the first reference we have for her is when she married John Haydon in 1877.


On the 26th ult., by the Rev. Canon Handfield, at St. Peter's Church, Melbourne, John Harry Haydon, only son of the late George Haydon, captain Scots' Fusilier Guards, to Amicie Françoise, eldest daughter of the late Jean François-Xavier Meurisse, of Paris.  (The Argus, 01 Oct 1877)

There were three children of the marriage, Claude Meurisse born about 1884, Amicie Eleanor Kathleen born 1885 and Jeffery Peter Meurisse.

In about 1893 Mrs Haydon had a book published. It was titled “The Accidence of the French Verb.” Arranged and simplified by Amicie Francoise Haydon (nee Meurisse) Diplomee a l’Universite de France.

General Remarks.  The following Tables exhibit a short, simple and complete scheme for conjugating all the verbs of the French language.  

Published about by Ferguson and Moore of Melbourne in about 1893, and reprinted in 1913.

The Accidence of the French Verb

Amicie Françoise Haydon


John Haydon died in 1900 at Hawthorn Victoria.

In 1920 her daughter Amicie was appointed principal of Queen Margaret College in Wellington. It must have been at this time that Mrs Haydon, daughter Amicie and son Claude moved to the Wellington area.

 In the Evening Post of  10 November 1920 there appears the following article:

Miss Amicie E. K. Haydon, M.A., of Melbourne, who has been appointed to the position of principal of Queen Margaret College, is a brilliant ex-pupil of the Presbyterian Ladies' College. She had a distinguished career at the Melbourne University, and in her final honours examination secured second place in her year. She has been for the past 17 years on the staff of the Presbyterian Ladies' College, and has for some time been in charge of one of the houses attached to the college. She is described by the principal of the college, Mr William Gray, M.A., M.Sc., formerly of the Teachers' Training College, Wellington, in the following terms: "She has just the qualifications for the position of head of your college. I know of none better; in my teaching experience I have met few who could approach Miss Haydon in point of teaching ability, power and tact in management, courteous and unassuming bearing."


On 3 January 1924 Amicie Eleanor Kathleen Haydon married Edward Ulrich, and they appear to have settled in Melbourne.


On the 3rd January 1924 at St. John's Presbyterian Church, Wellington,  New Zealand, by the Rev. James McCaw, Edward Darling, eldest son of Augustus Ulrich, of Park street, Brunswick, and the late Mrs. Ulrich, to Amicie Eleanor Kathleen, only daughter of the late John Harry Haydon and Mrs. Haydon, of Wellington New Zealand formerly of Melbourne. (Present address, 67 Park street east,) 

Amicie Francoise Haydon died at home on 1 September 1927. Both notices are from the Evening Post.

HAYDON—On 1st September, 1927, at 9 Brunswick street, Lower Hutt,  Amicie Francoise, beloved mother of Jeffery and Claude Haydon and of Amicie E. K. Ulrich; aged 83 years. (2 September 1927)

FUNERAL NOTICES. The Friends of the late Amicie Francoise Haydon are invited to attend her Funeral, which will leave her late residence, 9, Brunswick Street, Lower Hutt, To-morrow (Saturday), 3rd September, at 2 p.m., for the Cemetery, Karori. W. Moss and Co., Funeral Furnishers. Tel. 801. Main street, Lower Hutt.

The only reference in the Karori Cemetery Records is:  Amilia Francis Haydon 3 September 1927, Crematorium.

It would appear likely that her ashes were scattered or buried at Blackbridge, and a monument erected. The names of her children Claude Haydon and Mrs Ulrich are on the memorial stone, but I doubt whether either was buried or had ashes left at the cemetery.

In 1930 Claude Haydon married:

On 2nd July, 1930, at Knox Church, Lower Hutt,, by the Rev. James M'Caw, Claude Meurisse, son of the late Major and Mrs. J. H. Haydon, of Melbourne, to Lily Edith, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. G. A. H. Hall, of Lower Hutt.

Amicie and Claude appear on the Hutt Electoral Roll in 1925, so must have become New Zealand citizens. At that time they were living at 95 Victoria Street in Lower Hutt, and Claude is described as a professional musician. In 1927 Claude is recorded as a musician living at 105 Main Road Lower Hutt, and in 1935 he and his wife Lily are living at 541 High Street in Lower Hutt.

Claude Haydon was to become a well-known composer in New Zealand, as the following newspaper article published in the Evening Post of 23 June 1933 demonstrates


To have not only the imprimatur of Mr. Peter Dawson placed upon, a musical composition but to have the desire expressed by him to produce it is surely an honour indeed. Two years ago Mr. Claude M. Haydon, Mus. Bac, of Lower Hutt, was, through the good offices of their mutual friend, Mr. Mark Hambourg, introduced to Mr. Peter Dawson, who then gave the greatest encouragement to Mr. Haydon to persevere with his composing work. Last year Mr. Haydon completed the composition of an oratorio "The Gift," which he sent to Mr. Dawson in London, receiving from him an encouraging cablegram, promising to assist in its production: During his present tour, Mr. Dawson, with his' accompanist, called on Mr. Haydon to assimilate direct, from the composer his ideas, and was then so pleased that he promised not only to produce the oratorio in Ealing, London, but to take the principal part. "The Oratorio," says Mr. Dawson, "has some very beautiful solo and choral work very cleverly worked out. The melodies are technically grateful to the singer, being written with understanding and insight, and flow naturally for the voice." Commenting on a piece of music written for him by Mr. Haydon, Mr. Mark Hambourg says: "I like it very, much. I will see what I can do with it, either to introduce it in one of my programmes or perhaps, I can possibly fix it, to record it." Specially for Mr. Peter Dawson, Mr, Haydon has written a song "Sea Call" (words by Mr. Jack Prestidge, of Lower Hutt). Mr. Dawson intends submitting this sea song to his publishers on his return to London. At the present time Mr. Haydon is busily engaged in orchestrating the score of the oratorio and preparing for a full choral and orchestral performance. For the Hutt Valley Liedertafel, Mr. Haydon has written a part song, which will probably be included in its next performance. Two programmes of original compositions have been broadcast by 2YA, and a "Ballade" for violin and orchestra twice played in "Wellington by Mr. Leon de Mauny. Mr. Haydon was born in Melbourne and secured his bachelor of music degree at the Melbourne University. His opera "Paolo and Francesca" was produced in costume and with, orchestra in the Melbourne Playhouse Theatre in1920, and the same opera in concert form was twice produced by the Wellington Harmonic Society, under Mr, Temple White in 1926. In 1920 Mr. Haydon came to New Zealand, where he has now made his home. He is the first Australian to compose an oratorio, — probably the first in the Southern Hemisphere. It is hoped that the production will take place next year.


Among other compositions, Claude Haydon set the following to music:

Break, Break, Break by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Rainbow by Alfred Lord Tennyson.   

Lullaby by Rudyard Kipling.

In 2000 Ina Duerden, a cousin of the writer’s father wrote “Brother to Miss Haydon (later Mrs Ulrich). He was a cripple but a brilliant musician. When I was on phones at the office, had to send a car to take him to church (Salvation Army)? each Sunday to play the organ.”

Claude Haydon died on 25 July, 1960. 

The third child of Amicie Haydon, Jeffery Peter Meurisse Haydon, became Professor of Languages at the Royal Military College, Duntroon near Canberra. His son, who had the same name, but was usually known as Peter, is said to be the first child born in the Territory after the naming of Canberra on 12 March 1913. 

Peter Haydon joined the RAAF, and flew a number of missions over Europe with the RAF. On a bombing mission to Duisberg in Germany 1942, his plane (a Halifax) was shot down near Waterschei (near Genk) in Belgium. Haydon and his crew successfully bailed out but he only escaped capture when he was given shelter by the local community. He managed to get back to England with the help of the Belgian and French Resistance, travelling via France, Spain and Gibraltar, arriving on 6 October 1942. For his daring, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by King George VI at Buckingham Palace.

Peter Haydon died in 2012, just short of his 100th birthday.

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