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Woodward, Francis (1846–1905)

by Chris Cunneen

Francis Woodward, 1896

Francis Woodward, 1896

from gaol entrace record

Francis Woodward (1846-1905) gaoled solicitor, politician

Birth: 22 June 1846 at Goulburn, New South Wales, son of John James Woodward (1810-1861), a storekeeper born in St Marylebone, Middlesex, England, and Christina, née Downie (1822-1901). Marriage: 9 March 1871 in Wollongong, NSW, to Emily Mary Anne Allen. They had three sons and five daughters. Death: 14 September 1905 in Newtown, Sydney. Religion: Anglican baptism but Congregational funeral. 

  • Commenced practice as a solicitor in Wollongong in May 1870. Among his community activities he was vice-president of the Albert Memorial Hospital committee. In 1876, described by the postmaster as “a clever and careful lawyer and honorable man of business” when he moved to Bathurst.
  • Returned to Wollongong and resumed his practice in October 1877. Advertised extensively his money-lending practice. Was worshipful master of the the Star of the South Masonic Lodge in 1880 and president of the Wollongong Agricultural Society in 1883.
  • Defeated in 1885 by Andrew Lysaght in the election for the seat of Illawarra in the Legislative Assembly, as a Free Trader and supporter of Sir Henry Parkes. He won the seat from Lysaght on 18 February 1887 and held it until 6 June 1891, when he was defeated by Lysaght.
  • A zealous local member, he actively supported families of miners killed in the 1887 Bulli mine explosion. Appointed Justice of the Peace in January 1894. The following year he was coroner for Wollongong.
  • On 16 August Woodward was struck off the roll of solicitors “for irregularities in connection with his professional duties. Bankrupted in 1896, he said that as an MP his business was neglected. His creditors included several of his own family.
  • on 10 April 1896 in Wollongong he was convicted of larceny as a bailee of £100, and sentenced to penal servitude for three years. His gaol description records recorded that he was 5 ft ¾ inches (cm) in height, bald, stout, weighed 13 lb (kilo), and had brown hair and brown eyes. After remission he was released from Parramatta gaol on 8 August 1898.
  • In 1904 his 13-year-old son was accidentally shot dead.
  • Woodward was described as a shorthand writer at his death.
  • Cause of death heart failure.

Sources
C. N. Connolly, Biographical Register of the New South Wales Parliament 1856-1901 (ANU Press, Canberra, 1983);

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Citation details

Chris Cunneen, 'Woodward, Francis (1846–1905)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/woodward-francis-32774/text40757, accessed 3 October 2022.

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