Sarah Maria Style was baptised on 10 August 1823 at Wraysbury, near Windsor, England. She was the daughter of Robert Style, a farmer, and his second wife, Elizabeth Haines. Sarah Style married Charles Decimus Barraud, pharmacist and artist, on 17 March 1849 at St Lawrence's Church, Southampton. Shortly after her marriage, on 1 May 1849, Sarah and her husband emigrated to New Zealand on the Pilgrim.
The voyage took its toll on Sarah Barraud's health and when the ship reached Wellington on 20 August 1849 she was 'so reduced in strength as to be unable to walk – though previously a healthy young woman.' Her first home was at Judge H. S. Chapman's property in Karori. Chapman, a cousin of Charles Barraud by marriage, provided the couple with a cottage '20 feet by 10 – divided into two rooms with a loft over.' It was here in August 1850 that William Francis (Frank), the first of Sarah's nine children, was born.
Sarah Barraud wrote numerous letters to relatives in England, describing her new life in New Zealand. The letters contain vivid descriptions of domestic events. Probably in 1851 the Barraud family moved to a larger house, Fernglen, which was built for them on The Terrace. They planted a garden of English trees, grew vegetables and reared their own pigs. Sarah Barraud's time was spent in household chores, preserving fruit, salting pork, cooking, cleaning, and working in the garden. At Fernglen eight of her children – Florence Elizabeth, Sidney Clark, Charles Lewis, Edward Noel, Laura Cottam, Frederic, Jessie Sarah and Martin Henry – were born. Martin, the youngest, died in infancy.
Sarah Barraud was largely responsible for raising the children. As she was a schoolteacher before her marriage, she taught them herself before they were sent away to school. In 1873 she wrote, 'Jessie and Fred read Roman history with me. I must say Fred's reading is a "trial"…I have determined to urge him on, for it is time he was at a Boys school & he is not fit to go to one yet'.
Engaging servants was a perennial problem for many women in mid nineteenth century New Zealand and Sarah Barraud had her share of difficulty. In 1852, as the mother of two young children, she wrote to her brother William Style describing her domestic arrangements: 'I have got two servants now their united ages not reaching twenty…I have four children instead of two to look after, but I am better off, more comfortable with the two little ones than one big one for I can make them do what I tell them but an older one will not bear to be spoken to.'
Charles was often away for months at a time on business and sketching trips and Sarah was left to run the household alone. Later, as Charles became established as an artist and a pharmacist, Sarah was often called on to entertain many of the notables of the day, including Honiana Te Puni-kokopu and Sir George and Lady Eliza Grey. She was also involved in the ladies' circle of St Paul's Church in Thorndon.
In 1875 Sarah accompanied Charles and two of her daughters, Laura and Jessie, on a trip to England. This trip enabled Sarah to meet with her family again and to take the girls sightseeing around London. On her return to Wellington in 1877 she resumed her role as mistress of Fernglen. Sarah Barraud died on 8 March 1895 at Wellington.