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William Wood, Publican, Mayor and Grazier

Updated on September 4, 2018
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A librarian, family historian and artist, Jen loves to travel and take photographs

William Wood at Council meeting Dalby, Qld
William Wood at Council meeting Dalby, Qld

William Wood was the Mayor of Dalby in the late 1880's. In this photograph of the Dalby Council, he is the one standing at the back, underneath the arrow.

The Wood family

William was born in Ashton-under-Lyne in Lancashire, England in 1829. Son of Joseph and Hannah Fitzsimmons, (also known as Mary Ann Simmons).

The eldest of 7 children, William's brothers and sisters were:

  • Maria born 1834,
  • Hannah born 1836,
  • Michael born 1839,
  • Daniel born 1841,
  • Mary Ann born 1843
  • and Thomas born About 1845.


Ashton is a manufacturing town, earlier a market town. The spinning and weaving of cotton is its main venture along with the making of hats. Coal is abundant in supply and is distributed further. Situated 7 miles east of Manchester, and 186 miles from London. Located on the north side of the river Tame, its waters are filled with trout. Two churches stand, one built in the 15th Century. Not far from this church is a manor house once owned by the Assheton family.

— Salford Hundred Ancestry, annals and history, 1830

Where is Ashton Under Lyne?

A
ashton under lyne england:
Ashton-under-Lyne, UK

get directions

The name "Ashton" probably came from a farm, homestead or settlement close to ash trees.

The cotton industry in Lancashire

The county of Lancashire was perfectly situated for the cotton industry because the damp climate stopped the cotton thread from drying out and snapping when it was tensed. As the cotton thread was not particularly strong, wool was used to make the warp for weaving. Lancashire was well known for the number of people who worked in its wool industry, so there was a ready market for labor.

Joseph Wood was a cotton spinner in Ashton Under Lyne. A cotton spinner would operate the spinning machines which had a number of spindles to make the thread.

Williams' family left Lancashire during a bumper year for the cotton industry. The following year was pretty good too. This overproduction led to wide unemployment and riots in some towns. Known as the "cotton famine" this accounted for much hardship in Lancashire in the 1860s. Joseph and Maryanne left the country around about 1861. It appears they departed Ashton Under Lyne just in time.

Coming to Australia

In 1847 William married Mary Whitehead, 1827-1877 and had two children,

  • Joseph born 1849
  • and Mary born 1858.

William with his wife Mary and their children came to Australia on the "Glentanner" arriving in Moreton Bay in 1859. Conditions on the boat would have been crowded and unhygienic.

Measles and scarlet fever broke out on board ship and 23 passengers lost their lives. Children and older people are more susceptible to catching these highly contagious illnesses. Tragically, William's infant daughter Mary was one of those who succumbed to the disease.


New Country, New Career Mary Ann and Joseph Wood

Joseph and Mary Ann Wood (William's parents) came out to Australia, in 1861 aboard the Marco Polo, landing in Melbourne. Mary Ann predeceased her husband and is buried on her son Michael's property.

In 1868 Joseph Wood snr applied for a publicans license for his house at Gowrie Road to be a family residence plus an inn or public house, to be called the Criterion Hotel. In his application he states that he is a widower with three children and has held a publicans license before.

Joseph died in 1894 and is buried in Towoomba cemetery.

Sarah Ann Wood
Sarah Ann Wood

Sarah Ann Wood

After Mary's death, William Married Sarah Ann Allan (my great great grandmother).

Sarah was born approximately 1843 in Woolwich, Kent, England. Her parents were William Allan and Caroline Clark. Her first husband was George Clark, they had 2 children together, Caroline and Edward James. Sarah was widowed for an unknown amount of time. She married William in Brisbane, Queensland. in 1877 when she was 33 years of age and he was 47.

William and Sarah had four children, one was my great grandfather Thomas Ashton Wood Senior, 1882-1969. He was 7 years old when his father died in 1889. His siblings were:

  • Mary Ann b. 1878,
  • William Jnr.,b. 1880,
  • Sarah Ann b. 1887.

Sarah had two children from her previous marriage Ted and Carrie Clark. When William died, he left Sarah 1,000 pounds. Sarah went to Toowoomba and bought a house for 160 pounds.

Ashton Grove Station

In 1871 Ashton Grove, a small property on the outskirts of Surat is selected by Joseph Wood and takes the name of his birth place "Ashton-under-Lyne" in England.

A very small village, Surat is on the Carnarvon Highway in Queensland about 390km west of Brisbane.

A newspaper article in the Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser reports stock (850 sheep) purchased by William went out to his station on the 5th February 1879.

As far as we know Ashton Grove passed to his William's son from his first marriage, Joseph.

William's Hotels

William, nicknamed "Hungry" was the licensee of the Criterion Hotel Gowrie Road/ Bridge Street from 1865-1868. And the Golden Fleece from 1868 to 1889.at Dalby

Golden Fleece hotel, Dalby, Qld, 1990s
Golden Fleece hotel, Dalby, Qld, 1990s | Source
View of Cunningham st, Dalby, 1868
View of Cunningham st, Dalby, 1868 | Source

Dalby Council

In 1857 Dalby had a Town Council of six, led by Mayor Frederick Roche. Dalby's first town hall and council offices were in Scarlett Street.

William Wood was mayor of Dalby in 1883-1884 and again in 1887-1888. The council offices were destroyed by fire In 1889 .

The Council moved only to have the building burnt down again in 1909. After the fire, the Council set up new premises in Marble Street. This building combined the Council Chambers and the town clerk's residence. Unfortunately most of the early council records were destroyed by the fires.

Where is Dalby?

Dalby is situated north west of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia and is at the crossroads to Toowoomba, Kingaroy, Roma, Mundubbera and Goondiwindi. Dalby and the surrounding Shire is is at the centre of rich coal and natural gas reserves and are important players in the power industry for SE Qld.

The Darling Downs area is rich in agriculture and grows crops like as cotton, wheat, barley, chickpeas, mung beans and corn. Along with lamb, beef and pork. Fish, hemp and native flower production has recently been added to the diverse range of produce.

History of Dalby, Queensland

Called the "City of the Plains", Dalby is a rural town on the northern Darling Downs. Founded in the early 1840s at a place known locally as "The Crossing" on Myall Creek flood plain.

Proclaimed a municipality in 1863, it was like much of the Darling Downs taken with dairying. After the demise of the industry it was followed by beef and sorghum .

© 2010 Jen Wood

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    • profile image

      L_Verwaard_Wood 

      6 years ago

      Wow, Mary Ann Simmons and Joseph Wood are my great great grand parents. William's bro Michael was my great grandfather.. You are my relation. I hope you can help me go further than Joseph and Mary Ann, Im trying to trace their parents and birth dates. Thx 4 any help you can give me mate :-)

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 

      7 years ago from So Cal

      I have two family stories here and I like reading the others. Australia is foreign to me so learning about the early history and the people who made it happen makes it more real. Great lens. Angel blessed

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