(Charlotte) Rachel Grimmett (1835-1921)
Grimmett was born into a poor English family.
She married Bert Grimmett, a New Zealand-born
carpenter and the couple lived in Faringdon
Villa, the smart brick double-storey house
built by Bert's father in Fitzroy Street,
Caversham. The couple joined the Salvation
Army in the 1890s. Rachel enthusiastically
embraced the Army's Christian brand of feminism.
It allowed women to hold positions of authority
and rejected the idea that woman's place
was only in the home. She often marched
alone through the streets to worship at
the Barracks in town or to help out at the
Army's soup kitchen. She also confronted
the demon drink head-on, standing outside
the Waterloo Hotel on the street where she
lived. Staring down the male drinkers as
they came out, she would collect money for
the Army's work and sell copies of its newspaper
The War Cry. Grimmett was a member
of the Women's Christian Temperance Union
and an ardent supporter of a woman's right
to vote. Her voluntary work for the Salvation
Army made her a well known local identity.
Meanwhile in her own household Rachel reigned
supreme. With her daughter Leah she carried
on the whole range of domestic duties involved
in a substantial family home. She also managed
the family finances, receiving payments,
paying the bills and doing the banking.
Her support played a crucial role in the
success of Bert's contracting business.
Decades later her grandchildren remembered
her with awe.
(Photograph, Otago Settlers Museum Collection)
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