Belfield Woollcombe (1816-1891). South Canterbury, NZ

Obituary - Belfield Woollcombe (1816-1891)

First ash tree planted by the late Capt. B. Woollcombe, R.N. 1861. Ashbury Park, Timaru. Photo taken by Margaret Todd, Nov. 2007.
The Woolcombe Ash 1861-2010
The ash planted by Capt. B. Woollcombe, Ashbury Park, Timaru. Photo taken in 2007.

On 8th July, 2010 the Woollcombe Ash tree was removed from Asbury Park. It was no longer structurally sound and children were playing in and around the tree. Recently the external circumference of the tree had decayed further so that it was only alive in two or three thin sections. It was the first ash tree planted in Timaru. A replacement ash is to be planted at the site.

Ashbury Park, Timaru. Photo taken by Margaret Todd, Nov. 2007.

 In every aspect he was the father of Timaru. 

Timaru Herald, 11 June 1914, Page 7 A FORTNIGHT'S JOURNEY.
CHRISTCHURCH TO TIMARU. In 1861 the late Captain Woollcombe brought his bride from Christchurch and the journey occupied a fortnight. Miss Woollcombe told a representative of the "Herald" some of the adventures they experienced, as she had heard the story from her mother. They set forth from Christchurch with a bullock dray, two bullock drivers, a dog cart towed behind the dray, and a dog. They had great trouble with the rivers, and the dog cart breaking its axle, had to be brought most of the way on the dray. The Geraldine Creek was to high for them to cross, and a stay of several days had. to be made with Mr Alfred Cox, of Raukapuka. When at last they reached their home at Waimataitai it was impossible to use the dog cart because the road from there to Timaru would not allow it to be used. Journeys to the settlement or to distant neighbours were not made then by the road so often as in a direct line "across country." When the Woollcombes' present house was being built, Bishop Harper had occasion to hold a meeting at Mr Herbert Belfield's house, on the adjoining hill, and the foundations of the Woollcombes' dwelling were taken to serve as chairs for the assemblage. Mr Belfield, who was afterwards proprietor of the "Herald," was the first milkman of Timaru, carrying the milk himself, so simple were the times, in two large vessels.

The Timaru Herald Thursday 23rd July 1891

Death: WOOLLCOMBE - On July 22nd, at his residence, Ashbury, near Timaru, Captain Woollcombe, R.N.; aged 75 years.

Obituary page 3
Another old identity, Captain Belfield Woollcombe, passed away very suddenly on Tuesday night, being nearly seventy-six. He had been seized with a fatal stroke of apoplexy, or heart failure. Dr Hogg was sent for.

Captain Woollcombe was one of the oldest settlers in South Canterbury, he had been engaged in many public capacities. He was born 1st January 1816, in Pellerton (North Tawton), on the borders of Devon and Cornwall, of which his father, the Rev. Henry Woollcombe, was Rector. The family presently moved to High Hampton and Ashbury, after which latter place the deceased named his residence near Timaru. Losing his father when he was but two or three years old, the future naval officer and colonist was brought up by his grandmother Lady Louis, until he was thirteen, at which age he entered the Royal Navy, 26th Nov. 1829, as a midshipman on board the H.M.S. Thunderer, and his memory carried him back to the demonstrations on board, in 1830, while the vessel was in the West Indies, in respect for the death of George the Fourth, and the immediately succeeding demonstrations in honour of the accession of William the Fourth. Later he took part in the "Opium War" with China, of 1839-42, for his services he received a medal. Promoted to lieutenant 8th June, 1841. The later portion of his naval career, which closed in 1850, was spent as Staff Lieutenant at Plymouth, under his uncle Admiral Sir John Louis. After completing 21 years service Lieutenant Woollcombe retired from the Navy, with the service pension. Subsequently he was ranked as commander, and still later as Post-Captain. He came to New Zealand in 1852, and became a partner with Messrs Lee, Mallock and Lance (all well known names) on the "New Zealand Wool Growing Company" at Mount Parnassus, in the Nelson Province, just over the Canterbury boundary. In October, 1857, Lieut. Woollcombe came to Timaru, and buying a small section whereon he has since lived, he built himself a small whare, which still stands to attest the honesty and thoroughness of his handiwork. At the time of his arrival there were only one or two dwellings on the site of Timaru, occupied by the late Sam Williams and Captain Cain (if indeed the later had then come here.) The country was however being rapidly taken up as sheep runs, and there was a good deal of travelling to and fro, and already some wool to be shipped by whale boats of from the beach.  Lieut. Woollcombe was appointed Government Agent at Timaru, a multifarious office, which he held for some years and which required him to be by turns Resident Magistrate, Immigration Agent, Post-Master, Customs Officer, Harbourmaster, Beachmaster, Pilot, Register of Births, Marriages, and Deaths, and Health Officer.  His naval experience was brought into play in the survey of the Timaru harbour, which is often appealed to as a standard survey.  When the town and district increased in population these duties were divided among other officers. Lieut. Woollcombe retaining the post of Resident magistrate, adding to it that of returning Officer.  He held the Resident Magistrateship till September 1878, when he relinquished it and was succeeded by Mr Richmond Beetham.  Since then he has frequently sat on the Bench as a Justice of the Peace.  Captain Woollcombe has always taken a keen interest in the harbour question, and lately had been a useful member of the harbour board.  In every aspect he was the father of Timaru.  Beside his official duties his work as a member of the Anglican congregation deserves special attention.  He has not only been a pillar of the church; he was the architect of the first church of St Mary, and did a good deal of work upon it with his own hands, and the energy and Christian zeal thus displayed at the outset has been maintained to the last, he having been the Incumbent's Churchwarden for many years.  In December 1878 on leaving the Bench, he entered into partnership with Mr George Clulee, and up to the very day of his death took an active share on the work of the well-known firm.

The deceased married a daughter of the Rev Mr Fendall, of Fendalltown, near Christchurch, and leaves to mourn for him, besides the widow (who is unfortunately an invalid) one son and five daughters.  The son is in the Eastern Extension Telegraph Co. in Sydney the eldest daughter is married to Mr Bradshaw, of the Hook, and the other three daughters are at home.  The funeral will take place on Saturday afternoon, at an hour to be advertised tomorrow.

Timaru Herald  Friday July 24th 1891 Funeral Notice
The friends of the late Capt. Woollcombe, R.N., are respectfully informed that his Funeral will leave his late Residence, Ashbury, Waimataitai, near Timaru, on Saturday, the 25th instant, at 2 p.m. arriving at St. Mary's Church at about 2.30 p.m. J.E. Beckingham, Undertaker

Timaru Herald Monday July 27 1891
The funeral of the late Captain Woollcombe took place on Saturday afternoon, and was largely attended. The coffin was first taken to St. Mary's Church where the funeral service was performed by the Ven. Archdeacon Harper, and then, about 3 p.m. the cortege started for the cemetery.  The hearse was followed by two close carriages, and an open one containing the members of the Vestry of St. Mary's, then came about 50 persons on foot, most of them very old residents of Timaru and districts, and following them about a score of vehicles, containing the townsmen and persons from the country districts.  Several business people in Stafford street put up their shutters, expecting the cortege would go along the main thoroughfare, but it was taken by Sophia and Barnard streets to Shepherd's corner. 

Timaru Herald  July 27th 1891
Correction. The partners in the 'New Zealand Wool Growing Company' at Hawkswood (an adjoining property to Mount Parnassus) were Messrs Woollcombe, Stewart Wortley and Thomas Hanmer. They sold out to Mr J.S. Caverhill, and the present owner of the property is Mr John Mcfarlane. The original owners of Mount Parnaasus were Messrs Edward Lee and Edward Jollie. 
P.B. Boulton, Christchurch, 24th July, 1891. 

Burkes Colonial Gentry page 354
Married Frances Anne, 2nd d/o the Rev. Henry Fendall, deceased. Married 1 January, 1861 Heathcote Valley, near Christchurch, issue:
i. Laura Russell b. 17th June 1862
ii. Jaquette Mary b. 29th July 1863
iii. Catherine Jane Luxmoore b. 12th Feb. 1865
iv. Effie Caroline Fendall b. 11th June 1867
v. Belfield Morth b. 11th Dec. 1868
iv. Frances Chrysta Acland b. 13th April 1871

The visitations of the county of Devon: Comprising the herald's visitations - Woolcombe

Jaquette Harriet Woollcombe born 22 April 1817 of Morth Grange, Exbourne.
Birth of a sibling 13 April 1819 Rev George Woollcombe
Death of mother 14 April 1819 Jane Frances Louis
Death of father 1861 (Age 44) The Rev Henry Woollcombe (Age 80)
Death of a sibling 1891 Captain Belfield Woollcombe (Age 75)

Press, 19 November 1928, Page 10 [1889 Jaguetta Mary Woollcombe married Frank Warrand Bradshaw]
MR F. W. BRADSHAW. The death occurred on Wednesday night of an old colonist� Mr Frank Warrand Bradshaw, of Harris street, Waimate. Mr Bradshaw was born in Lancashire, England, in 1858, and educated at Winchester, where he captained the school football team. He left England when he was eighteen years of age, and after a few years spent in various countries, he arrived in New Zealand in 1878, taking up farm life in the Ellesmere county. Eventually, he settled on a farm in the Waimate district, where he has resided ever since. He was a member of the Church of England, and comparatively late in life he undertook the position of Sunday School superintendent, which he held for many years until failing health compelled him to give it up. Forty years ago he married Miss Woollcombe, the eldest daughter of Captain Wollcombe [sic], of Timaru, and he leaves a widow, one son, and four daughters to mourn their loss.

Grey River Argus, 26 March 1914, Page 5
Timaru, March 25. The death is announced in his 87th year of Frances, relict of Captain Woollcome, R.N., first magistrate and harbour master. He held many other public offices in early Timaru. Deceased was a daughter of the late Rev. Mr Fendall, Christchurch, and is survived by one son and several daughters.

Timaru Herald, 22 January 1873, Page 2
Sailed. January 21 Maori, s.s., 118. tons, Sinclair, for Dunedin. Passengers Mrs Woollcombe, 4 children, and nurse.

Francis Ann Woollcombe is buried in the Timaru Cemetery with her husband. Plot 205. Row 25.  General section, block C. No headstone.
Her daughters are buried in plot 205. Katherine Woollcombe who died 10 June 1936 aged 72, and Laura R. Woollcombe, died 21 Oct. 1948, aged 86 years. In May 1918 the Misses Woollcombe were living at Trafalgar Street, Timaru

Laura Russell Woollcombe, the eldest child of Captain Belfield Woollcombe. She left New Zealand at 25, trained at St Bartholomew's London, where her uncle was surgeon-in-charge, and gained her certificate in 1892. This was presented to her by Florence Nightingale. She joined the Army Nursing Service and was a sister-in-charge of the first unit of nurses to leave England in 1899 for South Africa. They arrived Cape Town October 1899. She served on No 2 Hospital Train with its headquarters in Pretoria. 1900 During World War I Miss Woollcombe was sister-in-charge of a dispensary attached to a munitions factory for some time, and attended to the injuries of the girls who worked there. In 1933, after an absence of 40 years, she returned to Timaru and lived with her family until her death in 1948.  She returned from Durban to New Zealand aboard Troop Transport Montrose, arrived 15 August 1902. photo in Army Nursing Service uniform. The standard divided verso also credits production to H. Craven, 46 Hall Lane, Armely, Leeds.
Auckland Star, 19 August 1902, Page 4
Arrivals, Montrose, s.s., 5431 tons, from Capetown, via Melbourne. Had the Tenth Contingent onboard. Had on board five New Zealand nurses. Sister Steele. Nurse Rowley.

South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project


Ashbury Park, Timaru. Photo taken by Margaret Todd, Nov. 2007.

Ashbury Park, Timaru. Photo taken by Margaret Todd, Nov. 2007.

Elm - Almus Glabra 'Horizontalis'. Photo taken by Margaret Todd, 29 Nov. 2007.

The tree under which the WOOLLCOMBE memorial lies is a horizontal Elm - Ulmus Glabra 'Horizontalis'. It is just inside gate of Evans street.

Significant tress in Asbury Park pdf
Holm Oak (Quercus ilex)
Horizontal Elm (Ulmus glabra) "Horizontalis"
Ash (Fraxinus excelsior)

Lyttelton Times, 5 August 1863, Page 5 BIRTH
Woollcombe  July 29, at Ashbury, near Timaru, the wife of Belfield Woollcombe, Esq., of a daughter.

North Otago Times, 11 February 1868, Page 3
The water here stood fully as high as in the last flood in the spring, and of course where it has submerged crops, considerable damage and loss must result. The only damage that has come to our knowledge is the washing away of the culvert on the old line of road, near to Mr F. LeCren's house.

North Otago Times, 4 October 1889, Page 2 MARRIAGE.
On the 2nd October, at St. Marys, Church, Timaru, by the Rev. W. T.P. Winter, assisted by the Rev. F. Kendall, Frank Warrand, second son of the late Thomas Bradshaw, of Hopefield, Eecles, Lancashire, to Jaquetta Mary, second daughter of Captain Woollcombe, R.N., of Ashbury, Timaru.

Otago Witness, 3 October 1889, Page 16
Captain Woollcombe, one of the oldest Timaru identities, was run away with on the 25th by a young horse in a buggy, which capsized, and he had, one of his legs broken in two places.

North Otago Times, 10 February 1891, Page 2
TIMARU. February 9.
The Harbor Board election to-day resulted in the return of Captain Woollcombe, and Messrs J. L. Gibson and J. Hill. Captain Sutter, who has long been a useful member of the Board, was a defeated candidate.

Hawera & Normanby Star, 18 February 1910, Page 7
The Rev. H. C. Woollcombe, a messenger from the Church of England Men's Society, charged with a message to men in the far country, who is chaplam to the Archbishop of York, and who, because of his labor amongst men, may be written down, like Abou Ben Adhoni, "as one that loves his fellowmen," will lecture to men next Thursday, February 24, at the Opera House. The Otago Daily Times says that obvious characteristics of Mr Woollcombe are frankness, geniality, fervor, and broad-mindedness. His eloquence reminds one of a river almost at the flood � rapid, and not to be meddled with. Mr Woollcombe is half Scotch, on his mother's side � the best side always, as every man knows. He is a young man, fresh-faced, and eager as a boy on holiday. After thanking the citizens for the welcome given him, he said that he did not regard himself as an absolute stranger to New Zealand. His uncle (Captain Woollcombe), now passed, to his rest, had been resident magistrate in Timaru.

Evening Post, 12 July 1910, Page 3
In another chapter in "The Treasury" on his experiences in Australasia, the Rev. H. S. Woollcombe, the late head of Oxford House, who made the trip as the agent of the C.E.M.S., mentions that the home of the late Captain Belfield Woollcombe, his uncle, in Timaru, was named Ashbury, after the family place in Devonshire, where his brother was squire. The gully in which it stands is still called Woollcombe Gully by many of the Timaru people. In Wellington Mr. Woollcombe found one of the streets (Woollcombe-terrace) named after his uncle. In that city the traveller had "a delightful experience of colonial hospitality. I put up at the Royal Oak Hotel, and, though I stayed there for two days, the landlord refused to take any money for my board and lodging. At the same hotel a lady asked me if I were one of the waiters of the establishment. I replied that I could not claim that distinction. What we poor parsons have to put up with!"

Otago Witness, 24 November 1909, Page 72
An engagement which has been lately announced is that of Miss Anne Minnitt, youngest daughter of Mrs Minnitt, of Auckland and grand-daughter of the late Sir Frederick Whitaker, to Mr B. M. Woolloombe, of the Eastern Cable Extension Company, Singapore. Report says the wedding as to take piece in January ; and that Mr Woollcombe is to arrive in Auckland some time next month.

Taken from the supplement to the Auckland Weekly News 11 March 1915 p044 . Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19150311-44-1Evening Post, 13 October 1914, Page 9
The British Australasian of 27th August describes, the marriage of Miss Marjorie Michie, elder daughter of Mr. and Mrs Alexander Michie, the former a member of the London Board of the Bank of New Zealand, to Mr. Belfield Morel Woollcombe, of Singapore, son of the late Mr. Belfield Woollcombe, of Timaru (New Zealand). It had not been intended that the wedding should take place for some time � in fact, Mr. and Mrs. Michie and their family had intended to return to New Zealand last Saturday � but, owing to the war, the bridegroom had to hurry back to Singapore, and consequently a very quiet wedding was arranged for 19th August. Only relatives were present. The bride wore a gown of white, embroidered with pale pink rosebuds and white lace, and a picture hat trimmed with rosebuds, and carried a bouquet of pink carnations and lilies of the valley. She wore the bridegroom's gift � a pearl necklace. There were no bridesmaids. Mr. Michie gave his daughter away. Mr. Woollcombe was attended by Mr. Frank Shepherd as best man. After the ceremony, which took place at Holy Trinity Church, Prince Consort-road, S.W., at 12.30 on the 19th, the Rev. H. B. Coward officiating, the guests repaired to luncheon at 74, Albert Hall Mansions, Mr. and Mrs. Michie's residence. Later in the afternoon the bridal couple left by motor for Richmond, where the short honeymoon was spent, the bride wearing a very smart gown of navy blue and hat to match. The bride's mother was in suede green, with a hat to match, and she carried a bouquet of lilies of the valley.

Evening Post, 24 February 1915, Page 8 NEW ZEALANDERS AMONGST THE KILLED
A message was received in Nelson last week by relatives that Mr. Woollcombe, his wife, and a mechanic of the Eastern Cable Company's staff at Singapore, had been killed. No particulars were allowed to transpire as to how they lost their lives, but in the light of to-day's cablegram regarding the mutiny at Singapore, it is possible that it was in the riot there. Mr. Woollcombe was an old Nelson boy, and only a few months ago married Miss Michie, daughter of a former general manager, Alex. Michie, of the Bank of New Zealand, London. These particulars are now published by permission of the censor. The Woollcombe's were killed while driving in a motor-car near the depot.

Evening Post, 25 February 1915, Page 2
Mr. Morth Belfield Woollcombe, who with his wife, was killed at Singapore recently, was a son of Captain Woollcombe, R.N., of Timaru, a cousin of Dr. Andrew, of Stoke, and of Mrs. (Dr.) Hudson. He was educated at Christ's College, Christchurch, and joined the staff of the Eastern Extension Company at Cable Bay, Wakapuaka, about 1891, and was there for four years, when he was transferred to the East. For some years past he had been in the electrical department on board of cable steamers belonging to the company. Mrs. Woollcombe only left New Zealand a few months ago to be married. She belonged to Christchurch.

Hawera & Normanby Star 11 July 1916, Page 4 DEATH DUTIES.
During the month of June the estates: Canterbury - Belfield Morth Woolcombe, 1906

1901: Indeed, it not unusually happens that both the family names and the place names of the old home are thus found united in the new home. For instance, here in Devon during the past year the bench of county magistrates have had to mourn the loss of a valued colleague in the person of the late Mr. Belfield Woollcombe, of Ashbury; but in New Zealand, as I have noticed, there is another Justice of the Peace named Belfield Woollcombe, of Ashbury, New Zealand. This gentleman entered the Navy 26th November, 1829, and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant 8th June, 1841.

July 28 2010: Macrocarpa trees at the north-eastern border of Ashbury Park, near the railway track, have been felled to make way for new plantings. The trees had been damaged several years ago by snow and some were creating stress on replacement trees planted alongside.

Heading for Timaru, 14 Nov. 2010. Ashbury Park on the right where the macrocarpa trees are.