Ceme­tery tour high­lights lo­cal women’s suf­frage

Bush Telegraph - - HEALTH & WELL BEING - By JOAN MCIN­TYRE Friends of the Gorge Ceme­tery

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).”

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