Agnes Nancy Oliver and Nicholas Augustus Woods

Agnes Nancy Oliver was born about 1819 or 1820, probably in the county of Roxburghshire in Scotland, the oldest child of Isobel Easton and Peter Oliver. Agnes' birth or baptism registration has not been found to date. Agnes was just 7 when her father was tried for sheep stealing and ultimately sentenced to transportation. Along with her mother Isobel, Agnes, aged 11, joined him in Van Diemen's Land in September 1830.1

Agnes Oliver was known to be in a relationship with Nicholas Augustus Woods about 1845 although no marriage ever seems to have been registered. Nicholas was born about 1824 in Ireland, the son of Roger Henry Woods and Ann Olley.2 Roger Woods -

…arrived in Van Diemen's Land from London in the Bussorah Merchant on 18 January 1830. He was accompanied by his wife Ann, five children, his wife's mother, Mrs Margaret Fenton, and brother Richard.

Lieutenant-Governor (Sir) George Arthur had stressed the need for an officer with a wide knowledge of local affairs, and he must have been distressed to learn from P. A. Mulgrave, who had known Woods in England, of the habits of his new appointee. It was clear that Woods was an incorrigible tippler although he claimed that rheumatism in the head sometimes made him appear far from sober. He had imbibed heavily on the ship and continued to do so in the colony. His salary was to be £300 and he had been advanced £310 in London. Arthur offered him a position of assistant police magistrate at the same salary, and when he declined Arthur wrote to London in March officially complaining that Woods did not appear fully qualified for his post, and in a personal letter to Twiss listed his doubts about Woods more candidly. Meanwhile Woods proceeded to carry out his duties in a state of confusion which brought the Convict Department close to chaos. He convicted offenders wrongly, abused a magistrate in open court, left work undone, and employed absconded convicts in his own garden. His aberrations were listed by the colonial secretary, John Burnett, in the form of thirteen charges, and in September 1830 he was called before the Executive Council to answer them. He failed to attend and was promptly suspended from duty.

In a long letter Woods attempted to refute the charges, but in November Arthur reported the suspension and requested confirmation by the Colonial Office. Woods loudly protested his innocence and in December was finally permitted to defend himself before the Executive Council. The case dragged on for thirteen days until 4 January, when a letter arrived from the Colonial Office giving Arthur authority to replace him as he thought fit. Woods was then formally dismissed and his salary ceased. Out of sympathy for his family Arthur offered him the post of under-sheriff. Woods refused and his persistent demands for a free passage to London to defend himself at the Colonial Office became so insulting that Arthur declined to correspond with him.

Soon afterwards Woods left the colony, and although only £86 of his salary advance had been repaid Arthur recorded: 'It was utterly impossible for the Government to call upon Mr Woods for the balance before his departure as it was evident that he had no money'. Woods left his family behind, and about a year later his wife went to Sydney, allegedly eloping with an overseer, leaving four children to be brought up in the King's Orphan School.3

Nicholas was eight when he was admitted to the Orphans School on 23 March 1832 and he was discharged to the care of Alexander Brunton on 22 December 1838.4 Agnes and Nicholas had their first child in 1846 and would go on to have five children in all. The first four were as follows:

  • Nicholas Augustus P(eter). H(enry). Woods was born on 2 October 1846, Oatlands, Tasmania5
  • James Charles Edwin Oliver Woods was born on 9 June 1849, Oatlands, Tasmania6
  • George William Richard Thomas Woods was born on 22 April 1851, Oatlands, Tasmania7
  • Agnes Isabella Woods was born on 29 August 1854, Oatlands, Tasmania8

In January 1855 Nicholas Augustus Woods of Oatlands was granted a wholesale license by the Internal Revenue department.9 In April 1855 Nicholas was in court when two of his servants were indicated for stealing.

John Tankard, free, and Edward Dounes, f s., charged with, stealing, on the 22nd Dec. last, 5 lbs. mutton value 3s., and other articles, the property of their master Nicholas Augustus Woods (second count charged Dounes with receiving). The prosecutor keeps the Inn at Oatlands, the prisoner Tankard was cook in his service, and the prisoner Donnes was ostler. On the night in question, the prisoners were apprehended with certain cold meat, which had been removed from the table after the passengers in the mail had left. Verdict-Tankard guilty, Dounes guilty of receiving.10

In June and July of the following year, 1856, Nicholas Woods, as Augustus Nicholas Woods, referred to as a licensed victualler in Oatlands, sought money owing from a number of parties who had been registered as insolvent.11 One of the insolvents was William Foster.

Fuither adjourned first meeting of creditors.

Proof: Augustus Nicholas Woods, Oatlands, licensed victualler, by Mr. Brewer, further proof, £78 10s., bill of exchange...

By Mr. Brewer.-Mr. Woods has two bills of exchange; the first bill was given for bullocks ; the second bill for £78 was for some steers and lambs ; they were sold by the assignee ; they are put down in the schedule as four bullocks ; the bullocks for which the first bill was given were sold, I think, either by Messrs. Brent and Westbrook, or by Mr. George Kemp; I did not think I should be insolvent till Mr. Kemp sued me, and I then called a meeting of my creditors ; I saw Mr. Kemp, and he said the bills must be paid.12

The colony generally was in a state of rancor about the economy and the imposition of taxes. In February 1857 a meeting was held at Nicholas Wood's hotel to develop a submission to be presented to parliament:


AT a Public Meeting of the inhabitants of Oatlands, convened by public advertisement, upon a Requisition addressed to the Police Magistrate for that purpose, and held at Wood's Hotel, Oatlands, on the 7th day of February, 1857.

Present:-John Whitefoord, Esq., P.M., in the chair; Messrs. Samuel Page, George Wilson, Thomas Jillett, Richard Harrison, Nicholas Augustus Woods, William Sawford, Charles Ellen, Thomas Hall, Isaiah Fish, William Nelson, James Cogle, James Bradshaw, George Roberts, William Cuppaidge, James Smith, Edmund White, James Maclanachan, J.P., and William Coop...13

In January 1861 Nicholas Woods appealed his listing on the valuation rolls:

Nicholas Augustus Woods, of Tunbridge, appealed against an insertion in the Roll to the effect that he occupied 500 acres of agricultural land, and also on the ground that he was over assessed.

The Chairman said the Court had made a calculation and found that the appellant was assessed considerably below the rateable value of agricultural land, so that his appeal cut against his pocket.14

Nicholas and Isobel's fifth child was Frederick Alfred Woods, born on 8 November 1861, Oatlands, Tasmania. Frederick's father, a farmer at Tunbridge, registered the event on 3 December 1861.15

In February 1862 a servant of Nicholas Woods appeared in court for absenting herself from her duties:

BEFORE the Warden and Councillor James Lord, J. P.

Jane Kennedy appeared to answer a summons for absenting herself from the service of Mr. N. A. Woods, her master, without his consent and before her engagement had terminated. The defendant indignantly denied the accusation.

Mr. Woods stated that on Wednesday last the defendant without permission left his house, where she was engaged as a general domestic servant, and on her return she became very violent in her language and demeanour, both to him and Mrs. Woods. She was remonstrated with, but she only grew more frenzied, and having packed up her clothes, she slipped away. Witness saw no more of her till the next day.

The defendant said she had been pushed out of the complainant's house, by him, and that was why she went away.

The Bench, considering the complaint sustained, ordered the defendant to forfeit one-half of the wages due to her, and to pay the costs.

The defendant exclaimed :-"I know Mr. Woods wanted my wages."

The Warden-That is a very improper imputation, the magistrates have no other way of dealing with you. The case against you has been fully established.16

On the same day Jane Kennedy was also charged with threatening Nicholas bodily harm:

THREATENING BODILY HARM.-Jane Kennedy again stood charged with threatening to do Mr Nicholas Augustus Woods some bodily harm.

Nicholas Augustus Woods, said, on Wednesday evening last the defendant asked Mrs. Woods' permission to go out for a short time, which was granted. One of witness' sons went into the kitchen and gave the reapers a leg of mutton. When the defendant returned she entered the kitchen, and demanded "who the ------ told you to give that leg of mutton to the men ?" Witness' son said he did. The defendant then forcibly ejected him from the kitchen. Witness heard a noise next to the kitchen, and reasoned with the defendant. She instantly ran up to witness with a knife in her hand, and said, "You ------, I'll rip your --- open !" Her language and conduct were so violent that witness had to send for a constable. She then packed up her things. After having done this, she asked witness to settle with her, and let her go, for she would not stay. Witness told her he would do nothing of the sort, but that if she would control her temper, and stay till her time had expired, he would settle and let her go. She then began to use filthy language and went away. The next day she returned and resumed her former attack, and said "You----- I'll go down and burn every bit of corn you have in the field," and attempted to break witness' windows, and threw stones at him. Witness then for the protection of his person and property acted as his own constable, and with assistance placed the defendant in a cart and secured her in the lock-up.

The Bench ordered the defendant to enter into her own recognizance of £10, and one surety of £5 to keep the peace for three months.17

Nicholas was back in court in September 1862 on another matter

CROSSIN V. WOODS.-This action was brought to recover £7 5s. upon a dishonored cheque drawn by the plaintiff, for interest thereon, for the balance of the price of a cow, and for rye sold and delivered.

The defendant pleaded -1st. That he never bought a cow of the plaintiff, nor did he give him a cheque for a cow.
2nd. That the defendant purchased four quarters of beef from the plaintiff, who did not hold a slaughtering license to sell meat, and that therefore he could not recover for the same.
3rd. That the defendant did not buy any rye from the plaintiff.
4th. That the defendant never agreed to pay interest.
5th. Set off of £1 for manure supplied to the plaintiff.

The Plaintiff is Patrick Grossen, living at Sorell Springs, and the defendant Nicholas Augustus Woods is a farmer residing at Tunbridge.

The plaintiff stated that in July, 1861, he sold the defendant a cow for £6 10s. and that he gave him (plaintiff) a cheque for £5 on account of that cow. The cheque produced was that cheque and had been dishonored. It was written by the defendant in his (plaintiffs) presence. At defendant's request he killed the cow for him, as he was busy, ploughing he
said. Plaintiff accordingly killed the cow on the day mentioned, and told the defendant that the cow would not stand him in much more than three-pence per pound. The defendant
took away the carcase of the cow and the hide. He left the head and pluck behind. The former he forgot to take : and plaintiff deducted 2s. in consequence. He had a bushel of rye from him (plaintiff) at a charge of 8s. He charged 9s. for interest upon the cheque since July, 1861.

Cross-examined : Plaintiff did not sell the defendant four quarters of beef. Defendant did not arrange with the plaintiff for the cow by per lb. Plaintiff did not know the weight of the four quarters. Plaintiff declined to say whether he held a slaughtering license in 1861. He lent the rye for two bushels of the same in return.-

John, Robinson proved having sent the cheque in question to the bank and that it was returned " not sufficient-funds."

Ann Crossin corroborated the evidence of the plaintiff, as to the taking away of the beef.

Stephen Wiggins proved that he heard the defendant say to the plaintiff that he could have what manure he wanted from his (defendant's) premises.

The defendant was sworn, and stated that on the 8th of July 1862, he saw the defendant at Tunbridge, and asked him to supply him defendant with a carcase of beef as he had done before. The plaintiff agreed to kill a beast between 4 and 5 cwt., and to charge him defendant at the rate of 3 1/2d. per lb. The plaintiff fixed a day and he (defendant) went to his residence and fetched it away without the offal and hide. The beef weighed 439 lb. which at 3 1/2d per lb was £6 8s. Defendant had delivered the rye to Higgins by plaintiff's order. Defendant never arranged to pay the plaintiff interest. Defendant had found out that the plaintiff had sold meat without a license, and that he held no license in 1861. Defendant accounted for the cheque being marked no funds, because a bill of his had not been discounted. He took measures to stop payment of the cheque, subsequently because he found that another party besides the plaintiff had applied to him defendant for payment.

The defendant denied his liability to the plaintiff upon the facts he had stated, on oath, and relied upon a point of law which he raised, that the plaintiff had no right to recover for that which he had committed a breach of the law to gain ; and assured the Court that if the judgment went against him he should like the opinion of the Supreme Court upon the point he had mooted.

Oliver Woods deposed that he saw no hide in his father's cart when he brought the four quarters of beef from the plaintiff.

The Court gave judgment for the plaintiff for £6 8s. and costs.

The defendant then gave notice of appeal.18

In May 1864 Nicholas Woods was advertising the auction of wheat and barley from his premises at Tunbridge.19 In December 1864 he applied for a license to operate a public house:

Mr. Nicholas Augustus Woods applied for a certificate of approval of a license being issued to him for the old established house known by the sign of the Coach and Horses, Lemon Springs. The application was immediately unanimously granted.20

James Charles Edwin Oliver Woods (21) married Fanny Fleming (19) on 10 May 1871 in the Presbyterian Church in Oatlands, Tasmania. The witnesses were John Fleming and Mary Ann Barwick.21 Fanny was born on 25 July 1851 in Oatlands, Tasmania, the daughter of Thomas Fleming and Anne Jane Griggs.22 James and Fanny had ten children that have been traced.

Agnes Isabella Woods (22) married William Davidson Peacock (28) on 3 August 1876 in Oatlands, Tasmania, although the event was registered in Campbell Town. The witnesses were George Richard William Thomas Woods and Fanny Weeding.23

PEACOCK-WOODS. - On the 3rd of August, at the residence of the bride's father, by the Rev. J. S. Greer, W. D. Peacock, second son of Mr. C. M. Peacock, Cinderford, Gloucestershire, England, to Agnes Isabella, only daughter of Mr. N. A. Woods, Oatlands.24

George (William Richard) Thomas Woods (28) married Maria Willett (22) on 11 September 1879 in St. Peter's Church, Oatlands, Tasmania. The witnesses were John Adams and James Weeding Jnr. George's rank or occupation was recorded as contractor.25 They had eight children that have been traced.

Nicholas Augustus Woods Jnr. (as Augustus Henry Woods, 31) married Mary Ann Harris (20) on 24 March 1880 in Oatlands, Tasmania.26 They had two children that have been traced.

Frederick Alfred Woods (28) married Ella Phillips Tapp (26) on 26 March 1891 in the house of Mr. Tapp, Oatlands, Tasmania. Frederick was recorded as a clergyman and Ella as a teacher. The witnesses were Val and Clara Tapp.27

Nicholas Augustus Woods died on 29 October 1892, Franklin, Tasmania.28

WOODS.-On October 29, at Franklin, Huon, Nicholas Augustus Woods, aged 72 years. Funeral will leave his late residence for the Congregational Cemetery on Wednesday, at 2.30 p.m.29

Agnes Nancy Woods, nee Oliver, died on 5 May 1906 in Oatlands, Tasmania.30

WOODS. - On May 4, at the residence of her son, Mr. T. woods, Oatlands, Agnes, the relict of the late N. A. Woods, in her 87th year. Funeral This (Monday) Afternoon, at 3 o'clock.31

In 1921 James Charles Edwin Oliver Woods and his wife Fanny advertised their golden wedding anniversary:

WOODS-FLEMING. At Oatlands, on May 10, 1871, by the Rev. W. A. Quick, J. E. C. Oliver, son of late Mr. and Mrs. N. A. Woods, to Fanny, daughter of late Mr. and Mrs. T. Fleming. Present address: 36 Burnett-street.32

On that basis, the following death notice may refer to James Wood's death in June 1924:

WOODS.-On June 11, 1924, at Hobart, Oliver, the dearly beloved husband of Fanny Woods, of 60 Burnett-street, North Hobart, aged 75 years.

WOODS -Funeral of the late Oliver Woods, of 60 Burnett-street, North Hobart, will move from his residence on Thursday Afternoon (This Day), at 3.30, arriving at Cornelian Bay cemetery at 4 o'clock.33

James has also been recorded as dying on 19 June 1924 but that event cannot be located. Likewise, the reported death of George William Richard Thomas Woods in 1927 on King Island cannot be verified.

Fanny Woods, nee Fleming, the wife of James Woods, died on 8 October 1932 in Hobart, Tasmania.

WOODS.-Passed peacefully away on October 8, 1932, at her daughter's residence, 3 Devonshire Square, Hobart, Fanny, widow of the late James Edward Charles Oliver Woods, of Oatlands, aged 81 years.

WOODS.-Funeral of the late Mrs. Fanny Woods, of Oatlands, will move from her daughter's residence, 3 Devonshire Square, on Monday (This Bay), at 10.15 a.m., arriving at Cornelian Bay Cemetery at 10.35 a.m.34

Frederick Alfred Woods died on 28 April 1944 in Newport, Victoria. A number of obituaries were published, of which a representative few are reproduced below.

The Rev F. A. Woods

MELBOURNE, Mon.-The Rev Frederick Alfred Woods, who died at Williamstown last week, was born at Oatlands (T), and after studying at Horton College. Ross, entered the ministry of the Congregational Church. He served in various parts of Tasmania and later at Castlemaine and Williamstown (V). Since his retirement he had been living with his daughter. Mrs Willis, of Challis St.. Newport.35


Older residents of Latrobe will remember the late Rev. Frederick A. Woods, who was in charge of the Latrobe, Don and Forth Congregational Churches some years ago, and lived in Latrobe. His wife, who was an energetic worker for the church and public welfare generally, died some years ago. Their eldest son, the late Dr. Eric A. Woods, was a former Rhodes Scholar. His untimely death in the East as a young medical missionary ended a brilliant career. The second son, Russell, joined the banking profession; and the youngest son, Ronald, entered the ministry. The only daughter, Doris, an accomplished musician, is now Mrs. Willis, Challis street, Newport (Vic.), with whom her father had lived for some years.

The late Rev. Woods was born at OatIands (Tas.), and after studying at Horton College, Ross, entered the ministry of the Congregational Church. He was stationed at Dover, Geeveston, Kempton, Latrobe and Bellerive; and after leaving Tasmania. at Castlemaine and Williamstown (Vic.).36

The Rev F. A. Woods

The Rev Frederick Alfred Woods, who died at Williamstown recently, was born at Oatlands 82 years ago. He was educated for the ministry at Horton College (T). Mr Woods was stationed at Dover, Geeveston, Kempton, Latrobe, and Bellerive, and at Castlemaine and Williamstown in Victoria. He retired from the North Williamstown Congregational Church some years ago. The Rev Ronald F. Woods, now stationed at the Loxton Church (SA), is a son, and another son is on the staff of the ES & A Bank. Mr Woods resided with his
daughter, Mrs Willis, Newport. His wife died some years ago. Another son, Dr Eric Woods, who was Rhodes Scholar in 1914, also is dead.37

Death of Rev. F. A. Woods

Rev. Frederick Alfred Woods, formerly minister of the Williams town Congregational. Church, died at the Williamstown Hospital on Friday last, aged 83 years. Born at Oatlands (Tas.), he studied for the ministry at. Horton College in Tasmania. Two sons and a married daughter were left. The eldest son, Dr. Eric Woods. who was a Rhodes Scholar, died some years ago. Rev. Ronald Woods is stationed at Loxton in South Australia, and the other son, Mr. Russell Woods, is on the staff of the E.S. and A. Bank; The late Rev. Woods, after retiring, returned to Hobart, but on the death of his sister, came to Newport, where he lived with his daughter, Mrs. Willis, at 67 Challis-st. In turn he had been stationed at Dover, Geeveston, Kempton, Latrobe and Bellerive in Tasmania and Castlemaine and Williamstown in Victoria. The funeral took place on Tuesday, from the Congregational Church at Williamstown, where a service was held by Rev. H. M. Moorhouse, assisted by the Revs. F. Wood (Newport), W. Albiston and Gerald Muller, at 3.30 p.m., after which the cortege proceeded to the Williamstown cemetery, where the remains were interred in the family grave there. Nelson Bros. had charge of the arrangements.38