CHARLES WOOLCOCK, MHR, New Zealand :: Genealogy
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Journal by figikk

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 of typhoid fever in March 1852. She never married and went on to be a Wesleyan deaconness and was the matron at Dr. Stephenson's children's homes in England ending up in Chadlington, Oxfordshire. It is interesting that many of the extended family moved to Chadlington and there are Woolcocks there to this day.

By 1861, he was a farmer of 430 acres at St. Mellion. Obviously, there were problems with the marriage, as in 1863, with the help of his brother, John, Charles deserted Betsy, and according to Betsy's later court documents, he no longer felt anything for her because she was too old. Betsy took out an order to protect her earnings and assets from Charles or his creditors through the Divorce Court. He appears to have left funds in trust for her and Lydia. Charles had travelled to New Zealand by early 1864, as Mary's brother, Walter Lawry who had come to NZ on Queen of the Mersey in 1862, met him in Canterbury. Walter reported Charles's presence to Betsy.

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 area, 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 (1874).

Because it was discovered that he had not paid his rates, 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 although he contested it. I suspect he fled to Australia. He died of influenza in 1891 and was buried at Woolongong in NSW.

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

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by figikk Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2010-06-12 23:56:35

figikk , from Motueka, New Zealand, has been a Family Tree Circles member since Jun 2010. is researching the following names: LOVELL, EDWARDS, GREY and 4 other(s).

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by ngairedith on 2010-06-13 04:07:56

Hi figikk,
You have probably seen this but in case you overlooked it, it states that Charles was a widower when he married Mary in October 1865

by figikk on 2011-06-02 01:20:51

I have since found out that he was actually divorced, but chose to say that he was a widower. When he re-married again, he was also listed as a widower. I wonder if part of the cause of his second divorce was that news came from England that his first wife, Betsy had died.

by Obrien1 on 2013-11-12 04:14:02

Hi I'm Kath Woodley
I am researching children who were admitted to the Wallis Family Children's Home(Hulmer's) in Motueka.
Admitted to Hulmers June 4th 1877
Mary 11
Cjarles 9
Jessie 7
John 5
William 3
James 2
I would love to know what these children did in their lives and how you fit in
Sureties Thos Lovell Farmer Motueka and E.F.Jones
Sent to Wellington after 1 year 3 months on Sept 2 1878

Kath Wooodley

by Robynbrooks on 2013-12-13 23:10:24

I'm Robyn Brooks (nee Jury) and my great-grandfather was John William Lovell, who lived in New Plymouth. I know he was born in Greymouth to Charles Woolcock and Mary Jane Lovell. He married Mary Wilson and they had three children: Robert (Bob), Jack and Margaret Alexandra. John and Mary farmed, first of all on a property on Frankleigh Road then later on at Bell Block. Margaret was my grandmother and she married Edmund Percival Jury and had four children: Margaret (Peggy), Elaine, Wilson (my father) and Lyn. They all still live in New Plymouth.
John is always referred to by family as 'Tanker' - Dad thinks that started with his grandchildren. Tanker was a keen bowler and died on the bowling green at the age of 83 in 1955, the year I was born, and is buried in the Hurford Road Cemetery along with his wife and daughter.
Robyn Brooks

by figikk on 2013-12-14 18:16:55

Hi Robyn
Obviously many of the Lovells (Woolcocks) stayed in New Plymouth. My great-grandfather was Charles Lovell (1867)either born in Greymouth or Motueka. (always referred to as Charlie). He gave evidence at the divorce proceedings in Wellington, aged 10. He married Rebecca Lacey in 1894 and had 6 children: Vera, Clarice, Lawrence, my grandfather, Dora, Ella and Marjorie. He died in late 1954. Charlie was a newspaper journalist and spent many years in Auckland where most of his children settled. I think he retired to Taranaki and is buried there (although I haven't actually checked.)

My grandfather, Lawrence Lovell, married Marcia Adeline Mary McMinn (who also has an interesting pioneer background)in 1926 and had three children including my mother (Eda) Fay. Lawrence worked for the railways and was laid off in the depression in Taihape. He eventually managed a dairy farm in Morrinsville in the 40s, retiring to Tauranga in the late 1950s. He was worn out with terrible arthritis and died in 1960 in Tauranga.

My mother Fay, knew all her Lovell aunties and many of them attended her wedding in Morrinsville in 1950. She always spoke very fondly of her grandfather, Charlie, as Pa Lovell and would have loved to have followed him into journalism. After his death and the death of her father, Lawrence, she lost touch with the Lovell aunties and cousins though she did reconnect with them in the 1990s before her death in 2006. Her sister is still alive in the Wellington area.

I have been quite interested in the Woolcock children and I have done a bit of research on Paperspast. I am really pleased your great-grandfather was not the John Lovell who drowned in a swamp in Hawera in 1919!


by jjls on 2014-12-02 16:21:15

Hello Robyn,
I am your cousin, 2nd cousin I guess, John Lovell Shipp, (Named for Pa) and new your father and mother and stayed on their farm at MataMata, or Morrinsville.. You forgot two sisters, Audrey, and Noelle, Audrey was my mother. This is all most interesting. I of course new Pa Lovell, (Charles) and Ma, Rebecca Lacey. I also knew Fay and her sister and their horse Beau.

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