Samuel Woolley and The Plough Inn, Dunedin, New Zealand


Maria Woolley Obituary Evening Star 19th Oct 1886
Maria Woolley Obituary Evening Star 19th Oct 1886

There are a number of key resources available in New Zealand which cover extensive researches into the Woolley family; unfortunately, the cost of acquiring copies to view them in their entirety remotely is prohibitive but it would be great to hear from anyone able to spend time in the relevant libraries and to report back! The articles below are based on material we have been sent from these and other resources (referenced, below).

  • We now have a precise location for Samuel Woolley’s Plough Inn in New Zealand but we would like to find specific dates, if possible. We are also looking for clues to his links to a Plough Inn in the Melton Mowbray area in England (dates, location and ownership information). In addition, we are keen to establish whether or not there any links between Samuel Woolley and Mark Starbuck.

We are very grateful to Tom at the Hocken Archive and Jenny at the Toitu Archive in Dunedin for all their help.

  • Samuel Woolley’s Journal of the voyage to Dunedin on The Ajax 1848-9; held at The Hocken. “Journal of a voyage from London to New Zealand kept by Saml. Woolley passenger on board Ship Ajax… Commenced Sept 6th 1848 ended Jany 11th 1849 (1848 – 1849). The short daily entries are concerned mainly with weather, health, food, and complaints about treatment generally to emigrant passengers especially by the ship’s surgeon. The entries for January 8-16 cover the landing at Port Chalmers and the first days in Dunedin. The back of the journal has been used to record cattle breeding information and the Mount Pleasant Station butter and cheese account, 1852-1854.”
  • Wild ‘n’ Woolley by Jim Mitchell; a privately published family history of the Woolley family; held at The Toitu Archive.
  • Park, C.A. : ‘The Woolley Story’ (1808-1928). “The collection includes family history information on Samuel and Maria Woolley, written by a descendant, and other related papers”; held at The Hocken.
  • Ballantyne, S.A., Mrs : Papers relating to Samuel Woolley and his descendants (1848-1952). “This collection consists of photocopied material gathered in the process of compiling a genealogy. It includes birth and death certificates, a brief history, newspaper clipping, genealogical list and New Zealand Company notice. Mrs S.A. Ballantyne is the great-great grand-daughter of Samuel Woolley who immigrated to New Zealand in 1848 on the ‘Ajax’.” Held at The Hocken.

The Highs and Lows of Local History

or: when the story seems to be everything that you could wish for but you end up with more questions than answers and a hint of disappointment …

Hocken Collection Dunedin 1851
Hocken Collection Dunedin 1851

Sometimes an enquiry comes through to the local history group and it is immediately exciting; so when I opened up an email from a lady in New Zealand explaining that her ancestor had once owned The Plough but had sold it in 1848 to buy passage to New Zealand for himself and his family I was immediately  interested. Then she wrote that when Sam Woolley (a good, familiar local name) arrived in New Zealand he built a new hotel near Dunedin in NZ which he also called The Plough Inn and that he wrote a journal of his emigration—well, now I am positively excited.

We don’t know very much about the early years of the Plough (although we do have the Hives family listed there at this time), we know the Woolley family are local in those years, we know that many from this area did emigrate to the New World at this time, too. Can we find the Deeds to The Plough? Can we trace this part of the Woolley family? What does his Journal say about his life in England? Is the Plough in Dunedin still open—could we twin our Ploughs?!

Hocken Collection Dunedin 1869
Hocken Collection Dunedin 1869

These are the highs!

Then come the lows …

We have no trace of a Sam Woolley in Hickling at the time but there is mention of one witnessing a Will in Stathern and Stathern also has a Plough Inn. Then a copy of the journal is found in the Hocken Library in New Zealand and there is no mention of any village (in fact nothing from before the voyage at all), just mention of the general area of Melton Mowbray. There’s no Plough Inn in Melton now and after some extensive research by a kind gentleman at the Leicestershire Archive Office, it seems that there wasn’t at the time that we are looking at, either.

It’s a really great story but sadly, unless we can positively link the family (Woolley and/or de Lacey) to Hickling before 1848, it looks as if the links are local but not Hickling-local. We are still working with this lovely lady and, at the moment, we are waiting for more names and dates from New Zealand or new finds at this end.

Even if the links don’t turn out for us, it is fascinating to be involved in a family’s search and it all helps in a broader sense, after all.

I’m including some bits taken from Sam Woolley’s story—just because it is interesting and just in case it jogs someone’s memory of an old family story!!

(JF September 2020)

Sam Woolley's emigration (Ref. to follow)
Sam Woolley’s emigration (Ref. to follow)
Sam Woolley's emigration (ref. to follow)
Sam Woolley’s emigration (ref. to follow)
Hocken Collection Dunedin 1851
Hocken Collection Dunedin 1851
Sam Woolley's emigration (ref. to follow)
Sam Woolley’s emigration (ref. to follow)
Sam Woolley's emigration (ref. to follow)
Sam Woolley’s emigration (ref. to follow)
Sam Woolley's emigration (ref. to follow)
Sam Woolley’s emigration (ref. to follow)
Hocken Collection Dunedin 1862
Hocken Collection Dunedin 1862

Click here to access the Hocken Collection.

Click here to access the Toitū Otago Settlers Museum

Sam Woolley's emigration (ref. to follow)
Sam Woolley’s emigration (ref. to follow)
Sam Woolley's emigration (ref. to follow)
Sam Woolley’s emigration (ref. to follow)
Hocken Collection Dunedin 1869
Hocken Collection Dunedin 1869

The Ajax 1848:

Ngaio Press; passenger lists –

AJAX, 767 tons, sailed from London, 8/9/1848; arrived at Otago on 8/1/1849. Captain John Young; Dr Robert Stewart, surgeon, who remained two years in the settlement, then returned to India. The Ajax was wrecked at Anjer on her voyage from Manila to London, 12/3/1850.

Woolley, Samuel [ag., innkeeper; Waikouaiti; d. 21/7/1890]; Maria née DeLacy, wife (30) [d. 13/10/1886]; Samuel (11) [unm. d. 4/5/1909]; Clarissa (8) [m. Charles Richard Nelmes; Waikouaiti; d. 9/1935]; Eliza (6) [m. Thomas Alcock, Waikouaiti; d. 13/2/1922]; Maria (3) [d. Hampden 13/11/1928]; Sarah Lucy (2 months) [m. Charles Haynes; d. 16/10/1928].

(the website link, above, gives detailed notes about how these lists were compiled and possible errors)

Further Research as it emerges:

At present, we are searching for any evidence of Samuel Woolley in the Melton Mowbray/Vale of Belvoir area and we are also trying to track any evidence of Inns named The Plough in 1848. We are particularly looking for evidence that link the two.

Possible Plough Inns (Melton area):

1841 Census; Woolley family entry.
Samuel Woolley census record 1841 image
Samuel Woolley census record 1841
  • Melton Mowbray: this is the area that Samuel Woolley quotes in his journal. However (so far), there is no trace of a Plough Inn in Melton Mowbray town in 1848.
  • Hickling: this is the location that the family in New Zealand fixed on in their first internet searches. Hickling has a Melton Mowbray address and had a Plough Inn in 1848. However, current records show Abigail Hives at The Plough although she is also referenced at the Wheel Inn, Hickling in the same period and the records that we do have are very vague. We haven’t been able to trace the Deeds for The Plough in Hickling, either. There is a strong history of the Woolley family in Hickling but no Samuel Woolley has been identified that fits what we know, so far. (there is a highly speculative link in New Zealand between the Woolleys and Mark Starbuck who was born in Hickling – see, below.)
  • Scalford: a recent suggestion. There was a Plough Inn in the 1840s and information goes back to 1849 when John Hourd was running the Inn. This may indicate a recent sale that coincides with Samuel Woolley’s emigration in 1848?
  • Stathern: as with Hickling – there is a Plough Inn with a Melton Mowbray address. We have made an initial enquiry but nothing has come back yet. We do have a Will from 1817 which mentions a Samuel Woolley in Stathern but the dates point to a previous generation (perhaps this is Samuel Woolley’s father? Samuel Woolley was a surveyor and architect in the Melton area at the right time and it is quite possible that he would have been asked to witness a Will as a local professional. Might the child Samuel Woolley have travelled around the Vale with his father when he was working?).
  • Leicester/Hinckley: The Woolley family that emigrated to New Zealand on the Ajax are recorded on Watts Causeway (St. Mary’s Parish), Hinckley Rd, Leicester in the 1841 census (see attachments in the gallery and above). Samuel Woolley is recorded as a bookkeeper – how did he go from bookkeeper to innkeeper? There is a New Plough Inn in Hinckley (perhaps there used to be a Plough or Old Plough Inn nearby, too). At the moment, this location seems unlikely because of the references to Melton Mowbray which don’t fit geographically with Leicester or Hinckley; however, we would like to find out where the Woolley family were between 1841 and their emigration in 1849. (Although, Hickling and Hinckley are frequently confused with each other, this doesn’t seem to be an issue in this situation.)
  • Is it possible that the bookkeeper travelled to New Zealand with fond memories of a/his local Plough Inn and aspirations to reinvent himself and to build and become a hotelier himself (there are strong Inn/Hotel ties on his mother’s side of the family and from his sister Lucy’s marriage)?
  • Nottingham: There are references in the brewery & newspaper records for Nottingham that seem to answer lots of what we are looking for; John and Samuel Woolley are placed at The Old Plough Inn on Beck Lane (now Heathcote Street) in Nottingham – the Old Plough stood on the corner of Heathcote Street & Lower Parliament St. [sources: Nottingham Review and General Advertiser for the Midland Counties, 9 Mar 1832 and Nottingham Journal, 10 Mar 1832] Death notice; “On Saturday last, at his father’s house, the Old Plough, Beck lane, Mr. Samuel Woolley, after a long and severe affliction which he bore with Christian patience, aged 29.” Also, from the Nottinghamshire 1834 Dearden Tavern directory; “Old Plough, John Woolley, Beck Lane”. John is likely to be the father mentioned, above. This has all the right names mentioned in the same context but this Samuel’s dates don’t tie in with what we know of Samuel Woolley’s family (to date) and the New Zealand journal specifically references Melton Mowbray, not Nottingham. (more investigation needed on this option …)

What we know about Samuel Woolley before his emigration.

Lucy Woolley baptism 1811 - mother maiden name Oldham
Lucy Woolley baptism 1811 – including detail of
family background
  • Samuel Woolley’s parents were Samuel Woolley (born 1774, St. Margaret’s, Westminster, Middlesex – his parents Josiah (Gent.) and Susannah) and Lucy Oldham (born 1786, Melton Mowbray – her parents; Joseph Oldham, Innkeeper of Melton Mowbray and Dorothy (nee Swift); they seem to have been married 24yrs before Lucy’s birth so there may be a generation missing …).
  • Samuel Woolley was born in 1808; he was baptised – St George, Hanover Square, Middlesex. His parents are given as Samuel and Lucy.
  • His two younger siblings were born in Melton Mowbray which is mother, Lucy’s, home town; so that it would seem that soon after marrying, the family moved from London to Melton Mowbray and Samuel settled in the area as a surveyor/architect.
  • However, when Lucy Woolley is married to William Mason (1839); the Leicester Herald records that her father, Samuel Woolley is ‘of London’. It would seem that Samuel (and his wife, Lucy?) returned to London but that Samuel (junior) emigrated to New Zealand in 1848 and that Josiah and Lucy stayed in the Melton Mowbray area. We would like to establish where William Mason was innkeeper and also his place of birth.
  • Images of the original baptismal records for Samuel’s siblings, Lucy (born 1811) and Josiah (born 1813), in Melton Mowbray Parish have survived and they give useful background family information: when Josiah is baptised in 1813 his father’s occupation is given as ‘painter’; however, all other references describe him as a surveyor and/or architect. Lucy’s baptismal record contains a great deal of detail; Lucy is the couple’s eldest daughter (it is possible that there was a child Clarissa born in London who didn’t survive). Samuel is ‘of Melton Mowbray’ and he is an architect. Lucy’s grandfather is given as Josiah Woolley (Gent.) of St. Margaret’s Westminster, Middlesex.
  • What does seem clear is that the Woolley family has an educated and prosperous background; Samuel’s grandfather is a ‘gentleman’ and his father has a reputable profession as a surveyor/architect.
  • Lucy’s baptismal record also gives detail of the Oldham family; her grandfather is Joseph Oldham, of Melton Mowbray, Innkeeper. A later notice of Auction in 1841 places Joseph Oldham at the Black Swan in the cattle market in Melton Mowbray – ‘… many years occupied by …’
  • Lucy Woolley married William Mason in 1839 – he was an hotelier; The Harborough Hotel, Melton Mowbray.
  • Samuel Woolley married Maria Lacey in 1838; both are resident at Sanvy Gate which is in Leicester.
  • In the 1841 census the family can be found on Watts Causeway, St. Mary Parish, Leicester. They have two children; Samuel (b. 1838 d. 1909) and Clarissa (b.1841 d. 1935; marries Nelmes). It states that Samuel is aged 32 and Maria is aged 25. At this point, Samuel is listed as a bookkeeper; this fits in with his family’s educational/professional background but doesn’t link to later family histories where he seems to have described himself as a hotelier/innkeeper
  • Two more children are born before the family leaves for New Zealand; Eliza (1842 – 1922; marries Allcock) and Sarah Lucy (1848 – 1928; marries Haynes).
  • However, according to Samuel’s journal, there was also a third child, Jane, born in c.1844. Samuel’s journal records that their daughter Jane (aged 4) becomes ill with croup during the journey and ‘after much suffering’ dies on November 14th and is buried at sea. He writes that had he known this was going to happen ‘he would never have left his native land’. Jane isn’t mentioned on the passenger list for the Ajax but these are often based on arrivals rather than departures …
  • So far, we are missing information that directly links Samuel & Maria Woolley to an Inn or a Hotel in Melton Mowbray or its immediate vicinity (although his sister and mother have clear links to the hotel/pub industry in Melton itself); how does he go from bookkeeper to innkeeper and what is behind The Plough Inn reference in his journal?

(thank you to the ‘Friends of Memories of Melton Mowbray’ for help and suggestions on these sections)

What we know about Samuel Woolley in New Zealand.

Samuel Woolley - jubilee document 1898
Samuel Woolley – jubilee document 1898
  • The main source of information from New Zealand has come from Papers Past, a New Zealand government newspaper archive.
  • Samuel Woolley wrote a Journal (now kept in the Hocken Collection) during the voyage and, in the same notebook, kept the family’s accounts until the mid-1850s (farming and cheese-making). We do have access to a copy of the Journal – please contact us, if you would like to know more about it.
  • Samuel Woolley’s journal is kept in the Hocken Collection – we have access to a copy, please contact us if you have any queries. We have copies of two separate book and newspaper articles describing the Woolley family’s story (see gallery, above) but, for the moment, we don’t have references for these.
  • Family histories of Samuel Woolley tell us that he sold The Plough Inn, Melton Mowbray in 1848 to fund the family’s emigration (although, the book account of the family refers more generally to, “… the hotel which the Woolley family previously owned in Melton Mowbray”).
  • The family set out for Canada in 1848 but a chance conversation on the docks brought a change of mind and they boarded The Ajax bound for New Zealand, arriving in January 1849.
  • Samuel and Maria had 4 more children after arriving in New Zealand; Josiah (1851 – 1866), Mary Jane (1853 – 1881; marries Crawford), Phillip James (1855 – 1866), Louisa Ann de Lacey (1860 – 1938; marries Bartholomew). In the Dunedin Jubilee document in 1898 there is a comment that Samuel can be viewed as a founding father as he contributed so many children and grandchildren to the settlement!
  • Samuel Woolley is counted as one of the ‘fathers’ of Dunedin reflecting the family’s early arrival in what was a very small settlement when they arrived in 1849 – a population of only about 450 people. These were the early days when areas for settlement were being agreed with the Maori indigenous population but, as the goldrush built in momentum and the different religious affiliations of the settlers conflicted with arrangements, these settlement boundaries quickly dissipated.
  • It seems that in their early years (Otopopo area and Goodwood), the family worked where they could – there is reference to Maria making cheese (successfully enough for it be exported back to England) and Samuel ‘splitting shingles’. It certainly wouldn’t have been an easy life (see the newspaper and book descriptions of floods and bridge building in the gallery, below).
  • By the 1860s the family are in the Waikouaiti area (then known as Hawkesbury), north of Dunedin and Samuel begins to build his three hotels; first The Beach Hotel, then The Plough Inn and finally The Railway Hotel.
  • We are told that he moved just after their arrival because Samuel disliked the lawless and irreligious behaviour of the whalers and seamen that they found themselves living amongst in early Waikouaiti and later, when his hotels are in business, we are told that he insisted that the family and everyone who worked in his hotels stopped for prayers at 10am each morning.
  • There are a number of newspaper references to Samuel Woolley over these years – not all of which can be firmly linked to the Samuel Woolley that is our subject (see list, below). Later references are also confused by his son also being named Samuel and following in the family building/hotel business.
  • (Samuel Woolley may have had problems with debts in 1863 and is then recorded as being discharged from bankruptcy in 1884. – assuming this is the same Samuel Woolley; it is quite possible that it refers to his son, Samuel b.1838)
  • In 1866, Samuel and Maria’s sons, Josiah and Phillip die in an epidemic of scarlet fever.
  • Maria Woolley died on the 13th October 1886, aged 70 and Samuel Woolley died on July 21st 1890, aged 82. They are buried in the same grave in St. John’s Anglican Cemetery, Waikouaiti, Dunedin City, Otago, New Zealand.
  • Interestingly, Samuel’s birthplace is recorded as Melton Mowbray on records of his death although we now know that he was born in London before his family moved up to Melton Mowbray in the early 1800s. However, we also know that he was aware that he wasn’t born in Melton Mowbray because the 1841 census shows him born outside Leicestershire.
  • Otago Daily Times – Otago Settlement Jubilee number: in March 1898 the Jubilee (50 years) of the settlement is celebrated – the document published includes full listings for the original settlers, photographs and some fascinating statistics; for example, the population of Dunedin was just 445 when the Woolley family disembarked. However, there are warnings about the accuracy of some of the family histories which were largely put together anecdotally. This document includes a photograph of Samuel Woolley (above).
  • “Wild ‘n’ Woolley” by James A. (Jim) Mitchell; This book traces the descendants of Samuel Woolley who arrived in Dunedin on board the “Ajax” in 1849. Includes a transcript of Samuel’s diary aboard the “Ajax”, illustrations, charts and biographies. Includes: Allcock family, Crawford family, Familton family, Haynes family, Park family, Woolley family.

Samuel Woolley – Will & Probate records:

(or click here)

  • The Will of Samuel Woolley (the elder) is dated 9th June 1885.
  • Samuel Woolley’s probate records refer to him as a publican, and ‘of Waikouaiti’.
  • His son, Samuel Woolley, is his executor.
  • He leaves everything to his son with provision made for his wife, Maria, during her lifetime; ‘to receive the income and profits arising out of my real and personal estate during her lifetime or until such time as she shall marry again and after her death or marriage to divide the said real and personal estate equally amongst my two daughters Sarah Lucy and Louisa Ann and my said son, Samuel in equal shares.’
  • There is no detail of his properties/estate.

Locating the Plough Inn, Dunedin:

We have had the same problem in New Zealand as we have in England; there are several Plough Inns in the Dunedin/Otago area which complicates linking people to places and people to people. There are clear records of at least two Plough Inns in the town of Dunedin itself and of at least one other Plough Inn further out and west of Dunedin in the Waipori/West Taieri/Maungatua area. These areas were characterised by small townships and sparsely populated rural and remote environs; this means that very general descriptions of a location would have been sufficient to tell who, what or where was being referred to.

The Starting Point:

  • Samuel Woolley is not directly recorded in association with any of these.
  • A later newspaper account of the Woolley family’s story locates the Plough Inn on the Dunstan Rd – Dunstan is west of Waikouaiti and north west of Dunedin; is it possible that this is the West Taieri Plough Inn associated with Mark Starbuck (see below)?
  • There are contemporary newspaper records linking Samuel Woolley to the ownership of The Railway Hotel and the Beach Hotel (both in Waikouaiti). The Plough Inn is recorded in the various family histories and in Maria Woolley’s obituary and is likely to have been in the Hawkesbury/Waikouaiti area.
  • (There is an extensive trail of newspaper reports of Plough Inns in the area; none of which refer directly to Samuel Woolley. These are explored in more detail separately.)
  • His activities/timeline make it possible for him to be linked with each/any of these but the family is settled outside Dunedin itself (in the Hawkesbury/Waikouati area) which makes it unlikely that he was linked with the Dunedin township Plough Inns.
  • Names of places in Dunedin town make the locations difficult to pin down (see maps and Otago Gold Rush, below).

Thanks to the help of two wonderful people at The Hocken Archive and the Toitu Archive in Dunedin we were able to discount the Dunedin Plough Inns and we now know that there was definitely a Plough Inn in Waikouaiti, that it was linked to Samuel and Maria Woolley and we now have a definite location.

Otago Daily Times - Early Waikouaiti by Donald Malloch 13th May 1939 Plough extract
Otago Daily Times – Early Waikouaiti by Donald
Malloch 13th May 1939 Plough extract
  • Discounting the Dunedin Plough Inns: ‘Pubs Galore; History of Dunedin Hotels 1848-1984’ by Frank Tod. This book records three separate Plough Inns in Dunedin itself, neither appear to have links to the Woolley family (page extracts can be found in the gallery, at the bottom of the page; also a news article based on the book from 1836) – Samuel Woolley is firmly based out of Dunedin itself in Hawkesbury/Waikouaiti.
    • The Toitu Archives in Dunedin hold the original of the photograph in this book and article; the catalogue entry reads – “Carte de visite of the Plough Inn, a woman and two children pose in the doorway. The woman may be Mary Jane Puddy, nee Hewitt, and Irish woman who married William Puddy in the early 1860s. The smallest child may be Adeliza Puddy, who was born in 1867. The hotel was on the north-west corner of Main South Road and Eglinton Road. The Plough Inn was first issued a license in 1862 for Joseph C. Atteridge. Josiah Hamilton took over in 1863, and then William Puddy held the license from 1865-1874. (See Frank Tod, Pubs Galore; A History of Dunedin Hotels 1848-1984, p.32). Photographer, unknown. Date, circa 1870s.”
  • Maria Woolley’s obituary was published in the Otago Evening Star in October 1886 and it states that The Plough Inn was the second of the Woolley hotels to be built and places it on the Main Rd in Waikouaiti. It also states that the family lived there for seven years until they moved to the newly built Railway Hotel (unfortunately, no dates are given).
  • An obituary in the Otago Daily Times of 1 August 2020; The obituary is for a Waikouaiti resident called Doreen Dunckley. Doreen’s parents moved to Waikouaiti in 1953 and took up the ownership of Patterson’s Garage – next to the Plough Inn. Although the garage appears in business directories of the time, no address has been found; perhaps because it wasn’t hard to find it in the 1950s!
  • Samuel and Maria Woolley’s granddaughter, Violet Park, wrote a short history of her family which is held in the Hocken Archive. It includes an extract which places the Plough Inn on the main road “as the coaches ran to and from Dunedin”. She writes that, “my grandfather named the Hotel the Plough inn after the Plough Inn in Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, England and which they had sold to come out to New Zealand.” At the time that she was writing, the Plough Inn was still standing but had been converted into a house. Unfortunately, there is no date on the manuscript but she writes that all of the family are now dead and that they all lived to at least the age of 80 (one aunt lived to 93).
  • An account of the early settlers in Waikouaiti written by Donald Malloch was published in the Otago Daily Times on 13th May 1939; it locates the Plough Inn on the corner of Main Rd and Pratt St.
  • We would like to hear from you if you have any information or any photographs of Waikouaiti between 1860 and 1950; particularly if they show any of the Woolley hotels – thank you!
Otago Daily Times - Early Waikouaiti by Donald Malloch 13th May 1939
Otago Daily Times – Early Waikouaiti by Donald Malloch 13th May 1939
Plough Inn Waikouaiti location - google maps at 161220
Plough Inn Waikouaiti location – google maps at 161220
Plough Inn Waikouati location – google maps at 161020
Plough Inn Waikouaiti location - google maps at 161220
Plough Inn Waikouaiti location – google maps at 161220
Otago Daily Times - Early Waikouaiti by Donald Malloch 13th May 1939 Plough extract
Otago Daily Times – Early Waikouaiti by Donald Malloch 13th May 1939 Plough extract
Maria Woolley Obituary Evening Star 19th Oct 1886
Maria Woolley Obituary Evening Star 19th Oct 1886
Hocken - Ex MS 2583 Park re Woolley family extract
Hocken – Ex MS 2583 Park re Woolley family extract
Plough Inn Waikouaiti location - google maps at 161220
Plough Inn Waikouaiti location – google maps at 161220
Plough Inn Waikouaiti location - google maps at 161220
Plough Inn Waikouaiti location – google maps at 161220

Newspaper References to Samuel Woolley:

  • 1852: An S Woolley is recorded doing jury service – occupation, labourer.
  • 1862: multiple job adverts to hire staff – Plough Inn, Stafford Street, Dunedin (is this too early to be the Samuel Woolley Plough? Or could this be the first opening up?)
  • (Samuel Woolley’s Beach Hotel built by 1863)
  • 1863: S Woolley reported to be chairing a meeting to arrange an international cricket tour.
  • Samuel Woolley seems to have had problems with debts in 1863 and is recorded as being discharged from bankruptcy in 1884 (assuming this is the same Samuel Woolley; it is quite possibly his son, also Samuel, b.1838).
  • 5th Feb 1868; “for sale – Country Hotel; Plough Inn plus farm, West Taieri – apply Thomas Gordon”. This Plough Inn is described as being ’25 miles from town’ which indicates that there were at least two Plough Inns in the area at the relevant time. Note: Samuel Woolley refers to his Plough Inn as a hotel.
  • (see attachments, below) – a number of newspaper reports relating to the electoral roll and electoral petitions.
  • S Woolley (son?) discharged from bankruptcy, 3rd March 1884.
  • 1886: Maria Woolley’s obituary gives a brief summary of the couple’s lives in the area.
  • 1890: in an advert for the sale of The Railway Station Hotel, Samuel Woolley (son) referred to as a ‘builder’.

Did the Otago Gold Rush bring two Melton/Hickling families (back?) together?!

This is another area which takes us in to the very dangerous waters of speculation. However, there is a significant coincidence which we have been looking into.

  • In 1848/9 the Woolley family emigrated from the Melton area and are said to have built The Plough Inn in the Otago area of New Zealand (because of memories of a Plough Inn from home).
  • In 1848 Mark Starbuck (born in Hickling) emigrates with his cousin’s family to Port Phillip in Australia. In 1863, Mark Starbuck moves to Dunedin and, in 1870, he takes over as licensee of The Plough Inn, West Waipori in the Dunedin/Otago area.
  • Initially, it looked as if these two men may have crossed paths (or even been linked to the same Plough Inn); it has been a rewarding search which has been fascinating in its own right. Sadly (for us), we now know that the two Plough Inns were different and in quite distinctly different geographical areas.
  • However, it is still possible that these two men came across each other – if you can help with extra information please do contact us.

Central Otago Gold Rush (1860s):

map - Otago gold fields 1868
map – Otago gold fields 1868
  • Gold Fields – manual of the Otago gold fields 10th March 1863 (attachment).
  • Gold wasn’t particularly prized by the Maori communities but European settlers prized it highly.
  • When gold was discovered in the Otago/Dunedin area the small colony expanded hugely; the economy, transport and townships grew quickly.
  • In 1862 the gold rush expanded inland, replacing the sheep farms and bringing hotels and an influx of people. New finds were made in the Taieri River area in 1863 and the gold rush peaked with an influx of 22,000 people and bringing revenue of about £10 million in the 1860s.
  • Water sluicing extended the life of the diggings but brought soil erosion and had a destructive effect on the landscape.

Gallery and Attachments:

Click here to access the Hocken Collection.

Click here to access the Toitū Otago Settlers Museum