Bottle tale lifted gran

16:00, Jan 21 2014
Emily Crowhurst
INCREDIBLE DISCOVERY: English fisherman Steve Gowan hands Emily Crowhurst the World War I-era message-in-a-bottle written by her father, which Mr Gowan found in the River Thames.

A woman who once was the focus of international news will be remembered as a private person who was devoted to her family.

Emily Crowhurst died on January 10, aged 101.

In 1999 the Royal Oak resident was the focus of worldwide attention when a message-in-a-bottle written by her father during World War I was discovered.

Mrs Crowhurst was born in Stockton-on-Tees, England on August 25, 1912.

Her father, Private Thomas Hughes of the Durham Light Infantry, died in a battle in France in 1914 just days after writing the note, which he dropped from a troop ship into the English Channel.

The letter to his wife was signed off "Ta ta sweet, for the present. Your Hubby".


English fisherman Steve Gowan found the bottle 85 years later in the estuary of the River Thames.

Mrs Hughes' daughter Mrs Crowhurst was tracked down in New Zealand after her cousin in England responded to a newspaper article.

Mr Gowan hand-delivered the note and Mrs Crowhurst's story was featured by the BBC.

"She was a very private person and was devoted to her family. If it wasn't for the message-in-a-bottle incident her life would probably have gone by quite unnoticed by others," her daughter Elizabeth Pretty says. Mrs Crowhurst was only 2 when her father died. Her mother remarried and the family came to New Zealand in 1922.

Mrs Crowhurst married her husband George in 1937 at St Marks Church in Remuera. He died in 1989.

The pair had four children, 10 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, and seven great-great-grandchildren.

Mrs Crowhurst lived at the Catherine Lodge rest home in Royal Oak.

"She was very proud of her English heritage. One member of her church called her ‘a lady without a title', and she was recognised as such by both the residents and staff at Catherine Lodge," Mrs Pretty says.

She was a member of the Spiritualist Church in Newmarket and a memorial service was held for her there on Saturday.

Central Leader