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She was born Vera Gwendoline James in Wellington on 2 April 1892, the eldest child of William Francis James and Alice Jane James. Her brother Frederick Charles James was born ten years later, in 1902 and her sister Ngaire Doreen (James) Neill in 1910.
William Francis James 1867–1949 was the 3rd of nine children of Elizabeth Neville and Charles James, a Greymouth engineer. His mother’s death in 1916 was noticed by the Otago Witness,
There passed away recently another of the old identities of New Zealand, Mrs Elizabeth Neville James, of Greymouth. The deceased came to New Zealand in the ship David G. Fleming, with her parents, 56 years ago.
She lived for a time with her parents in North Canterbury. In 1865 the deceased was married to the late Mr Charles James, who was then an engineer, in
Christchurch. From Christchurch they removed to Greymouth. On the death of her husband Mrs James removed to Wellington, where she had since resided.
Mrs James leaves a family of five sons and three daughters. The sons are Messrs J. C James (Auckland),
W. F. James (Dunedin), H. D. James (Greymouth,
proprietor of the Grey River Argus), L. B. James
(Timaru), and H. F. James (Hawera). Deceased had
many friends in various parts of New Zealand.1
He and Alice Jane Hill of Dunedin were married in 1891 and lived till about 1900 in Wellington where Vera was born. In 1903 he was acting manager of the tramways and engineer to the Mornington Borough Council in Dunedin.