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.
- 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 …
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?!
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)
The Ajax 1848:
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):
What we know about Samuel Woolley before his emigration.
(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 – Will & Probate records:
- 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.
- 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!
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):
- 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:
- 50th jubilee early settlers – Woolley names & details – 27th March 1899.
- Toitou Archive: OASES – Samuel Woolley
- Samuel Woolley – Otago Settlement Jubilee document 1898 p16 & first page only.
- Samuel Woolley – Otago Settlement Jubilee document 1898 p41.
- Samuel Woolley – Otago Settlement Jubilee document 1898 p45.
- Samuel Woolley jury service 1852 – labourer.
- Samuel Woolley electoral roll Hawksbury 1862 – occupation not recorded.
- Gold Fields – manual of the Otago gold fields 10th March 1863.
- Samuel Woolley freeholder electoral roll 1863.
- Samuel Woolley electoral roll Hawkesbury Waikouaiti 1865.
- Hocken – Ex MS 2583 Park re Woolley family; an extract from one of the Woolley family histories locating the Plough Inn Hotel in Waikouaiti.
- Otago Daily Times – Early Waikouaiti by Donald Malloch 13th May 1939; locating The Plough Inn on Pratt St. Waikouaiti.
- S Woolley Waikouaiti electors petition 1875.
- Samuel Woolley electoral roll Hawksbury Waikouaiti 1881 – hotel keeper.
- Samuel Woolley death record 1890 (born 1808).