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The Woods Family

by | Jul 21, 2021 | Exodus, Village Folk | 2 comments

The Woods family information is a little scattered but I hope by recording what we have here we might be able to pull it together. There is no doubt about their religion however.

The first report I have is from an article written by Margaret Richardson and published on our website about the origins of Chrishall Chapel:

“It seems that a family called Pitches lived in Camps Cottage and opened it for the church services. They then decided in that period of serious agricultural depression, to go to Australia. The membership of the church was growing fast and they needed bigger premises and moved to the barn owned by Chapman and Anne Woods. Anne became the second female leader of the church at that time.”

On the 1841 census we have an entry for Chapman Woods (35) with wife Mary (30) and children Josiah (12), William (10), Eliza (8), Rebecca (7), Thomas (5) and James (4). Note that in the article mentioned above Mrs Woods is referred to as Anne but in the census we find Mary. Mary-Anne was a common name so I wonder if this is the cause of the difference.

On the 1851 we have a few more details as we can now see Chapman and Mary are at Broad Green – there were no details of residence on the 1841 census – and Chapman is listed as a Straw Carter. Four more children have joined the clan – Chapman (9), Mark (8), Martha (5) and Amos (2).

Four years later there is this entry on the Wikitree website:

Chapman Wood (48) Ag Labourer from Essex emigrated with his family, wife Mary Wood (47) and children Mark Wood (11), Martha Wood (8) & Amos Wood (5), Methodists. They departed from England, leaving Southampton on board Constant and arrived in Portland, Australia on 22 Feb 1855.

There was an article published in the Chrishall village magazine that we have in the Archives from the 1990s. This article was originally published at the Essex Society for Family History and details what happened to the Woods and also some of the other families. Sadly it seems that Amos suffered a heart attack at the age of 16 on the way home from Sunday School with his sister. He fell into a fire and was dead when pulled from the fire.

Also from the Wikitree website is this report:

1864 Victim of Highway Robbery

A highway robbery was committed on Monday evening, just after dark on the Deep Creek Road, between the Essendon Hotel and the Traveller’s Home. An elderly man, named Chapman Woods, residing at Essendon, was coming along the road when he was accosted by a man, who demanded his money, and ultimately took his purse from him. It contained two sovereigns and about 7s. in silver. He returned some papers that were in the purse and 1s. Woods is unable to give a very clear description of the man who described himself as being Gardiner.

He passed away in 1892, aged 87 and was buried at the Melbourne Cemetery

In Memoriam – 1893

Woods. —In sad and loving memory of my dear father, Chapman Woods, who departed this life on the 5th March, 1892. We shall meet again. — Inserted by his loving daughter, Martha

However generally the Woods fared very well in their new country. To go back to the article from the Village Magazine, Essendon was the gateway to the goldfields. There were few homes in Essendon then apparently but the track from Essendon led to the Victorian gold fields. Josiah Woods sailed with Joseph and Mary Pitches in 1849. In 1852 Josiah married Eliza Pitches and they had ten children. Two years later two more of the Woods family came out. Rebecca who had married James Brand of Chrishall and William who married Anne Dye of Heydon.

I then found this report relating to Eliza:

The Methodist Sydney NSW Sat 5 Sep 1908

The Church Triumphant

Mrs Eliza Griggs

“This beloved sister was called home to her reward on Sunday afternoon, June 28, from Arncliffe, where, surrounded by affectionate children and friends, she gently passed away to join the redeemed in heaven. The story of her beautifully consistent Christian life can soon be told. Mrs Griggs, whose maiden name was Eliza Wood, was born in a little village called Chrishall, county of Essex, England, on November 3, 1832. In those days educational and religious advantages were comparatively unknown to the peasantry in the rural districts in the old land. But God raised up the Primitive Methodists, whose evangelistic methods of works, and burning passion for souls, was owned in the conversion of thousands of souls in those neglected villages. Chrishall, where the subject of this sketch lived, was one of the places missioned, where many were saved, a society formed, and a place for worship secured. It was at that time when our sister – only a girl 10 years old – intelligently gave her young life to Jesus. At the age of 17 she commenced to preach the Gospel and became known as the girl preacher. Her name appeared on the Saffron Walden Circuit Plan. The Circuit being very extensive, journeys were long fare hard, and persecution rife; but none of those things cooled the ardour of her soul. She sometimes walked more than 10 miles to her appointments, and preached three times a day. ….

In August 1854, she was married to Mr Griggs, a devoted young man of God. Within a few weeks after they left England for Australia and settled for a few years in Victoria; from thence to St Peters, New South Wales where they abode 37 years. … From St. Peters they went to reside at The Warren.”

After her husband sadly passed away she moved to Arncliffe to be near her children. When Eliza passed away she left three sons, four daughters, 45 grand children and six great grandchildren.

You can read the full report here:

And sure enough, on the Recording Uttlesford History site I found details of the Saffron Walden Primitive Methodist Circuit Members where Eliza and her family are listed for Chrishall. For Ashdon there is a James Griggs listed but the earlier article I have been quoting suggests Eliza married Charles Griggs who was from Chrishall. However I have no Griggs listed in Chrishall currently so cannot confirm Eliza’s husband at present.

Update: Denise, our ‘foreign correspondent’ (as they used to say in all the best British Newspapers!) has done some further research on the Woods family and rather wonderfully has found a photograph. Here are Denise’s findings:

Josiah Woods came to Australia on The Maitland arriving on 7 January 1849. He was on the same ship as Joseph and Mary Pitches and family.  He was 19 years of age.

In 1851 Josiah married Eliza Pitches, fourth child of Joseph and Mary Pitches, Australia Marriage Index Victoria 5799/1851. Josiah and Eliza had 11 or 12 children – John 1853-1935; Amos 1855-1946; Martha 1856-1945; Sarah Ann 1857-1858; Chapman 1857-1936; Emma 1859-1859; Eliza 1861-1924; Alfred 1862-1928; Robert 1863-1943; Arthur 1867-1945; Esther 1871-1947; Mary 1872-1940

The following photo of the family shows Eliza and Josiah with their children. This photo was on Ancestry for public use. I don’t know the date the photo was taken but would guess late 1890’s, early 1900’s. One son is labelled as Joseph but I believe it is Arthur as I can’t find any supporting evidence for a Joseph. Some family trees have a Joseph 1867-1945 which is the same record as Arthur. Maybe Arthur went by his middle name. Evidence for Arthur is in the Australia Birth Index, Victoria Registration 14870/1867; parents Josiah Woods and Eliza Pitches. Death registration Australian Death Index- Brunswick Victoria Registration 11124/1945; parents Josiah Woods and Eliza Pitches.

I’m also not sure about Sarah Ann. There is no supporting evidence of her being born to Eliza and Josiah, apart from people’s entries in Ancestry. There is definitely evidence of an Emma Woods being born to Eliza Pitches and Josiah Woods in 1859 – Australia Birth Index – Victoria Registration 11994/1859 Parents listed as Josiah Woods and Eliza Pitches. Also a death record – Victoria Death Index 7289/1859 father Josiah.

Woods family


Thank you for this lovely extra information Denise. If anyone has anything else to add to this or other articles on this site please get in touch. The more help we get with the jigsaw the easier it gets to put the pieces together and see the picture!


  1. Denise Ewin

    I would assume The Warren is in Marrickville, a western suburb of Sydney where I grew up. I found this information about The Warren where Eliza moved to from St Peters ( a suburb not far from Marrickville). Scroll down on the article to read about The Warren. We used to call a block of shops on a hill not far from where I lived The Warren and I didn’t know anything about its history until now.

    • Rosemarie Gant

      That’s very interesting – thank you for that Denise.



  1. Exodus - Chrishall Village History - […] might like to start with our Interactive Map or dive straight into some family stories: Pitches / Woods /…

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