Cemetery tour highlights local women’s suffrage
A conducted tour of Woodville’s Old Gorge Cemetery by Friends of the Gorge Cemetery will take place on Sunday September 30 commencing at 2.30pm.
The focus will be stories of some Woodville women who signed the Suffrage Petition 125 years ago.
A total of 125 Woodville women signed the 1892 petition, and 222 women are listed on the 1893 petition that swayed the government to give women the vote 125 years ago. On quick review I found 37 women buried at the gorge Cemetery. Using Papers Past, family histories and local knowledge here are the stories of some of these women.
Margaret Grinlinton was 26 when she signed the petition in Woodville and younger still was Esther Mary Walker, daughter of Jane and Enoch Walker, who was 24.
Included in the tour is Annie Westoby who was 36 years of age when she signed in 1893 and age 79 when she died 30 March 1937.
From April 1 1937 Manawatu¯ Standard her obituary reads : “One of the earliest residents of Woodville district passed away in Christchurch on March 27 with the death (occurred at the residence of her daughter, Mrs W Aitken), of Mrs Westoby, born at Balclutha in 1857. Mrs Westoby was the daughter of Mr and Mrs A McNeil. She received her education in Dunedin being one of the first pupils to attend the Dunedin Girls’ High School. After leaving school she accompanied her parents on an extended trip abroad and on their return to the Dominion the family settled near Napier. After her marriage Mrs Westoby and her husband went to live at their farm on the Masterton Road, Woodville. On the death of her husband many years ago Mrs Westoby and her family moved to the township.
Mrs Westoby was of a very kind and generous nature and took a keen interest in all movements for the benefit of the town. During the war years she was an ardent worker for the Red Cross and was for years a member of the Woodville Horticultural and Plunket Societies. For many years she was president of the Holy Trinity Church Ladies’ Guild and on her retirement was made a life member.
Mrs Westoby is survived by one son, Mr R W Westoby, manager of the Bank of New Zealand, Sydney and two daughters. Mrs R H Rhodes (Woodville) and Mrs W Aitken (Christchurch), and one sister, Mess U McNeil (Greennmeadows).”