The Book of Common Prayer that is up for auction this Saturday in Nelson. Photo: Andrew Board.

250 year old book up for auction


A Nelson newspaper clipping from 1960 carefully tucked inside the front cover of The Book of Common Prayer reads: “Published in 1763, presented to the Every family by a Rev John Brutton in 1765. As in so many family bibles and similar volumes, any event of note, particularly birthday, deaths and marriages, have been faithfully recorded, providing a fascinating saga of the Everys over a period of 200 years.”

The newspaper clipping provides a fascinating insight into what is already a fascinating book.

Owned by John and Cynthia Savage, the book is one of 4000 up for auction at Lipscombes Auction House this Saturday.

The Book of Prayer is bound with brown leather and gold stitching. It is an awkward read for modern eyes but the prayers aren’t the attraction – the handwritten notes chronicling the lives of the Every family are, as the Nelson Evening Mail reported, the fascinating piece of the book.

The book was gifted to the family in the village of Stratcroft in Devon, England.

“The family apparently lived quietly in Stratcroft for about 100 years, generation after generation continuing in the placid, rather conservative, ways of village life,” reported the Evening Mail.

“At the end of the [19th] century however, one of the more adventurous of the sons decided to make a new life for himself and his family in New Zealand, and among the few belongings he took with him and his emigration was the Book of Prayer.”

Mr Every settled in Dunedin and became an “influential and respected foundation citizen”.

Surviving branches of the family then began to make their way to Nelson in the early and middle part of the 20th century.

The book was put up for auction in Nelson after the death of sisters H M and R Every. The book was included in their estate and then auctioned, which is probably how John Savage came across it.

A brother of the sisters, Mr Fred Every, was still living in Nelson at the time.

There are no Everys in the Nelson Whitepages, or on the electoral role, but Lipscombes owner Warwick Savage says he’d love to see a relative come to bid on the book.

“It’s fascinating, it really is, and that there is this history here in Nelson is just great.”