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CHARLES WOOLCOCK, MHR, New Zealand

Charles Woolcock is my gg grandfather,but for someone who was a Member of the NZ House of Representatives, he is somewhat elusive. I believe he was born at Mithian, St Agnes in Cornwall in 1828 to John and Thirza Woolcock. His father was a farmer. The family were very staunch Methodists. His siblings were: Thirza (1826), John (1830), William (1832), Lydia (1836) and Mary (1840).

In 1853, he married Betsy Lawry, the daughter of Samuel Lawry of Roche. She was 18 years older than him. (Betsy's family were also well-known Methodists - her uncle was Walter Lawry who was a missionary in the South Pacific, including Australia, Tonga, Fiji and New Zealand.)They lived at Trethella farm in Ruan Lanyhorne and a daughter, Lydia, was born on 27 February 1854. She was probably named after Charles's sister, Lydia who had died in March 1852. She never married and went on to be a Wesleyan deaconness and was the matron at children's homes in England. (Will add more specifics later.)

By 1861, he was a farmer of 430 acres at St. Mellion. Obviously, there were problems with the marriage, as in 1865, Charles and Betsy were divorced. Betsy sued Charles for the money to set herself up in business as a draper in Croydon. By the end of 1865, Charles had travelled to New Zealand although I have still not found the ship he arrived on. He had obviously learned a lot about NZ from the Lawry relations. (Walter's daughter, Mary Australia Aldred and her husband John were in NZ at this time. John Aldred was also a Methodist minister.

He married my gggrandmother, Mary Jane Lovell, in Nelson in October 1865. At this time he was groom to Edward Stafford and Mary was the nurse to his wife. (Mary, at least was staying with her sister, Christine Johnson, in Nelson and was involved in an inquest and court case when Mary found a dead baby floating in the harbour.) They owned land in Motueka, but later moved they moved to Greymouth where they ran a store - this was the time of the West Coast gold rush. Woolcock obviously got involved in local politics and was the Secretary of Public Works who organised the illfated settlement in Jackson's Bay. He was eventually elected to parliament. He did a lot for the establishment of the Greymouth are, mining and had a lot of plans and schemes including a rail link to Amberley. Unfortunately, he does not even have a street named after him, which is a pity.

He and Mary had 6 children,a daughter called Mary Thurza Hester Woolcock in 1866 and my g grandfather, Charles in 1868. The other children born in Greymouth were Jessie (1870), John William (1871), William (1873) and Lionel James (1875).

Because it was discovered that he had not paid his rates in Greymouth, he was not able to stand at the next election. He must have owned land in Taranaki (Normanby)as he was planning to stand for Egmont, but withdrew. His opponent was Harry Atkinson who went on to become the Premier so he would have had a hard time winning.

Around this time he was divorced from Mary, and there was a lot of information in the press. (It reads like a Victorian melodrama!) During the divorce proceedings, the children spent a year and 3 months in the Wallis Orphanage in Motueka, before being sent to Wellington in June 1877 to live with Mrs. Hephzibah Medley, whom their father later married in 1879. This marriage too does not seem to have lasted as she did not accompany Charles to Australia and is buried in Wellington. Charles moved to the Coromandel where he again became a storekeeper and later to Tauranga where he leased the Tauranga Hotel. This business went bankrupt and he contested it and refused to pay the money owing. I suspect he fled to Australia. He died of influenza and was buried at Woolongong in NSW in 1891.

Mary also re-married to Frederick Bullot in New Plymouth and had a number of other children.

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