William Woodland

William Woodland 1844-1851

Postmaster, William Woodland, although referred to as a ‘new chum, Englishman’ when he first arrived, became a well-known figure in the St Marys district. He and his wife Ann had been working on the Jones estate of Fleurs (along Mamre Road, south of St Marys) to live at the end of a terrace built by Sir Maurice O’Connell, junior, opposite the north west corner of Victoria Park, on 1 January 1843.

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Victoria Park

O’Connell persuaded Woodland to establish a Post Office, which was opened on 9 November 1844. The same day O’Connell turned the thickly timbered square over to the public. William and Ann Woodland and two sons arrived in NSW in 1836 on the Cornwall. A further five children were born in NSW, the last four all baptised at St Mary Magdalene Anglican Church, St Marys. William and Ann and their family are buried in the churchyard.

Harriett Woodland married John Bunce from Campbelltown. Harriet gave a description of what life was like in the early days of the post office. “…when this office first opened there were neither stamps nor envelopes, it was all foolscap paper and sealing wax. Letters came by coach and had to be booked at 1pm daily and arrived some seven or eight hours later, but owing to the bad state of the roads, the coaches often became bogged and at such time postmasters had to wait up until they arrived, often past midnight’. Harriet Bunce also remembered her father having to delivery mail to Charles Marsden (son of the late Reverend Samuel Marsden), at Mamre where they kept guard dogs, so he had to take along a pitchfork for his protection!

The following tender was accepted for mail services in 1848, John Hilt, Sydney, Parramatta, St Marys and Penrith daily, by four horse coaches, with guards: and from and to Parramatta and Windsor, by two or more horse coaches, for four hundred pounds.

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Headstones of William Woodland, Ann Woodland, at St Mary Magdalene Anglican Church

Their son, Thomas Woodland became a carpenter, and his younger brother James held a variety of jobs, working in a local tannery, joined the railway service, and then joined a schoolmate William Fleming in brickworks. He later ran the Federal Tannery, in Botany and was also on the literary staff of the Nepean Times. Eventually James returned to St Marys to his home Lincoln Grove, named after his early schoolmate Edward Lincoln, who went on to become a Postmaster. Unfortunately James contracted poliomyelitis, leaving him confined to a wheelchair during his last years.

References

  • Nepean Times, 28 October 1896 p 8
  • St Marys Magdalene Church records
  • Stapleton, Eugenie, Old Times, Old Tales
  • Nepean Times, 16 June 1888, p 4
  • Albert Evans, A Unique Fraternity “The Old Buffers”, St Marys Historical Society. P 19
  • Albert Evans, St Marys Post Office History, Local Files, Penrith City Library.