John WOODCOCK, a corporal with the Royal
Engineers, was born at St Martin, Birmingham in 1830. There is also
probably a connection to a James WOODCOCK who is shown in the 1841 census
in Park Place Westminster London.
Woodcock travels with the main body of
the Columbia Detachment on board the Thames City. He is remembered by
other Sappers in 1909.
"Yes, Hughie, wasn't Franklin funny when he sang 'My
Pretty Maid,' when one side of him was the maid and the other the
man, and didn't Woodcock, Derham, Sinnett, Argyle (from Brum), and
others bring down the house with their humourous songs?"
-- REMINISCENT OF PIONEERS, Daily Columbian,
Wednesday, October 13th, 1909
Woodcock, regimental number 2660, is on the
"Consolidated Pay List of the Quarter from 1st May and ending 30th June
He is listed at the rank of Corporal with a pay of 2 shillings 2 1/d pence
per diem. He has also been granted good conduct pay of 2 pence extra
for the 61 days. His second and third musters were at the Camp at
New Westminster for this period.
Woodcock also contributed to the Cultural
aspect of the Colony by performing with the RE Dramatic Club.
At this institution on Friday evening the 8th Inst., the
Dramatic club of the Royal Engineers gave one of their
theatrical entertainments. The house was filled both with
civilians and soldiers . The performances commenced by the
presentation of the romantic drama in two acts entitled "Ben
Bolt". The principal characters in this piece were Ben Bolt,
Ivan Ironlink and Reuben Rags, sustained respectively by
Messrs. Osment, Rylatt and Woodcock. The latter
gentleman as Reuben Rags was highly amusing , and received
from the audience his due need of applause. He adds to his
other accomplishments that of comic singer, and is quite a
favorite with the audience generally, frequently setting them
in a broad grin by his ludicrous representations. The former
gentlemen played their roles very successfully, showing that
considerable attention and study had been bestowed on the
parts. Between the pieces a number of songs and glees were
sung by several of the members of the Glee club, followed by a
dance, by Mr. Colston. The evening's amusements closed with
the laughable farce of "Box and Cox". Captain Luard in the
character of Box and lt. palmer in that of Cox, were decidedly
entertaining and played with a good deal of spirit throughout
the piece, giving the impression on the minds of the audience
of their possessing a very fair conception of the play. Doctor
Seddall as Mrs. Bouncer was rather in the background, having
very little room for displaying himself to advantage. He
however, acquitted himself in the character assigned to him
very well. It is hoped he will have something more prominent
where he will in fact have more room to spread himself. We
cannot close these remarks without expressing our thanks to
the club for not having forgotten us in issuing the
-13th February, 1861
The British Columbian
In March 1861 Lady Franklin and
her niece Miss Cracroft visited the Royal Engineer's camp at New
Westminster. During their visit the acting contingent of the Royal
Engineers put on two plays, "Ben Bolt and "Sent to the Tower".
Royal Engineer's Dramatic Club
This popular Club gave a special entertainment on Saturday
night in honor of lady Franklin. The Theatre was crowded, and the
performance went off well. We have not room to criticise the
different parts, but would mention the names of Woodcock,
Turnbull, Colston, Rylatt and Franklin, as having aquitted
themselves with great credit.
--21st March, 1861
The British Columbian
3rd June, 1862 - Arrived at Deep creek, on Mr.
Wrights' road, the distance from Parsonville about 13 Miles, had our traps
packed out by a Horse, marched out to camp at the request of the
Contractor, Corp. Woodcock and myself is together as Mr. Wright said it
would suit him better.
7th June, 1862 - Fine, Moved Camp 3 Miles, to a House
on the Road at a creek called the Frenchmans. Corp. Woodcock left this
morning and went back to a part on the road that was in hand, and was too
far from this camp to walk to and from, and we considered it would suit us
12th June, 1862 - Showery. Making good work, had a
visit from Corp. Woodcock.
17th June, 1862 - Corp. Woodcock returned from the
Lower Camp and will remain with as the contractor says it will suit them
better as they have all gone ahead of us to work.
19th June, 1862 - Showery. In Company with Corp.
Woodcock rode to the other side of the Mountain to see a party at work on
a new grade laid out by a civil surveyor which is very good but as time
was short we could not see it all but purpose going again before the bulk
of their party sets in to work, we might if the day had not turned out so
blustery, but with hail and rain we were wet to the skin and had no
blankets with us turned home to our Camp.
27th June, 1862- Fine. Started at 7 am from Parsonville and Chained the Road 14 Miles, putting up Mile marks, the
Contractors will fix boards on them with the miles pained on them. We had
two men with us to cut posts and dig holes to fix them, Corp. Woodcock and
myself used the chain.
28th June, 1862 - Fine. Stared at 6:30 am, chaining
and finished at 12 at the Bridge across Pavillion Creek 8 miles being in
all 22 Miles from Parsonville, gave a certificate for the 22 Miles with a
Guarantee from GB Wright.
2nd July, 1862 - Fine. Rode across the Mountain with
Corp. Woodcock. The party is getting on very well cribbing the road going
down the mountain. There are 56 men at it, preparing the road and chopping
the line for grading. There are 330 men in the employ all told.
12th July, 1862 - Fine. Going on well, Corp. Woodcock
returned today about 12:30 from a trip through the Mountain Gap, to Lytton
reports a fine level grassy country the length of the gap is about 15
miles. The Chinamen all left work today their 2 months having expired, an
offer of 5 dollars per month extra offered them and they all joined work
25th July, 1862 - Fine. Corp. Woodcock rode back
towards Parsonville to examine and report upon a place that was left
unfinished, on account of a Miners Ditch Trough that was on the upper side
of the road and going through a slide.
30th July, 1862 - Showery. Three large trains passed
up this day, Sapper Turnbull arrived from New Westminster and Corp.
Woodcock joined from Parsonville where he went to examine a piece of road
that was being improved, about 5 miles from Town says that anything more
cannot be done until the Miners Ditch is altered.
31st July, 1862 - Fine. The work is progressing
favourable 346 employed. Corp. Woodcock rode out to Green Lake, 152 beasts
packed passed up today.
1st August, 1862 - Showery. A train of 36 beasts
passed up today. Corp. Woodcock will send his monthly return when he comes
back from Green lake.
-- From the Journal of Serjeant John McMurphy
"Oct. 27, 1862: "...on my arrival in Camp found that
a serious accident had taken place by the explosion of a pistol
belonging to Corpl Woodcock which he had left in a Bag with part of
his clothes. The packer, a poor man named Latrae...was taking
the Bag out of my Tent, he threw it on the ground and the ground was
so hard with the frost that it exploded and Bullet entered his
thigh...it may have injured him seriously."
--Journal of Serjeant McMurphy, RE
Royal Engineers Theatre
On Wednesday evening the members of the Royal Engineers' Club
gave a dramatic performance for the benefit of the Royal Columbian
Hospital Fund, on which occasion the pieces performed were Douglas
Jerrold's Domestic Drama of "The Rent Day" and Poole's amusing farce
"Deaf as a Post".
The Rent Day is too well known to need much description. It
may suffice to recall its features to those not present if we say
that the interest centres in the endeavours of Martin Reywood (W.
Deas) to keep the farm of his forefathers from the grip of the
unjust steward, Old Crumbs ( W. Harvey) of his absentee landlord. There are various complications introduced, owing to the discovery
made by two highwaymen that the steward is an "ex-minion of the
moon" for whose apprehension there is a reward of 50 Pounds. Owing
to the power they consequently possess over Crumbs, they obtain
permission to enter the Squire's house, where they propose to rob a
guest. The guest is saved from their attempt on his property by the
courage and devotion of Rachel Heywood, Martin's wife (R.M. Rylatt)
and proves to be the absentee landlord himself, Squire Grantley. Of
course, with so powerful a Deus ex machina, everything is easy. Martin keeps his farm, the unjust steward is dismissed, the
highwaymen punished, and, as the old fairy tales conclude, everybody
lives happy ever afterwards. We would particularly notice the acting
of R.M. Rylatt as Rachel, W. Deas, W. Harvey, and H. Dransfield,
whose drolleries in the character of Bullfrog, an appraiser and
creature of Old Crumbs, were very amusing and well rendered.
The plot of the farce is very simple. Tristram Sappy (J.
Woodcock) is engaged to be married to Miss Sophy Walton. This
young lady, as is not uncommon to young ladies, we believe, prefers
a lover of her own choosing. Captain Templeton (J. Turnbull) to the
husband of her father's selection. Thus favored the captain
introduces himself at the inn where Sappy is entertaining at supper
his future wife and her father, and by pretending to be "deaf as a
post" induces an amusing series of mistakes, the ill consequences of
which fall on the head of the ill-fated Sappy. He effects a
compromise with the author of the mischief, and resigns his fiancee
to the fortunate Captain. Sally Mags (R.M. Rylatt) chambermaid at
the inn, delivered her sneers at Sappy and his meanness in the
matter of fees to chambermaids, with great relish and effect. The
appearance of R. Colston in the interlude, dressed as a ballet girl,
created perhaps more laughter than anything else in the evening. There is so much caricature in the mere fact of a man being dressed
in the short gauzy skirts of a fille be ballet, that the real
excellencies of his dancing may not have been quite appreciated.
--21st March, 1863
The British Colonist.
Royal Engineers' Theatre
The Dramatic Company of the Royal Engineers Club gave their
last entertainment on Wednesday evening, forming the ninth of the
series with which we have been amused during the winter season.
On this occasion were presented "The Sergeant's Wife" and "The
Artful Dodge". The former is of the style which Mr. Wilkie Collins
delights to terrify us with. An old house in the centre of France is
the scene of operations, where Dennis (W. Deas) and his confederate
rob and murder any unsuspecting travelers who may fall in their way. The particular attempt at murder with which the audience is
concerned of course fails, owing to a rescue at the last moment. Lisette (R.M.Rylatt) played her part with great care and skill, but
it must have been difficult to struggle with the natural weakness of
The farce of The Artful Dodge was more successful, as it
deserved to be. The Hon. Frederick Fitz-Fudge (R.M.Rylatt) was so
well played that it gives cause for regret that so good an actor
should be forced by the exigencies of the Company to assume women's
parts, the difficulties of which are necessarily great. J.
Woodcock, as Demosthenes Dodge was as funny as usual, reasoning
so ably and clearly on the social advantages of dodging, ie.,
swindling, that we feared for a moment the moral perceptions of the
audience might be blunted. The author, Mr. E.L. Blanchard, is a well
known burlesque and pantomime writer, accordingly the dialogue
bristles with puns, which were generally well delivered. We would,
however, venture to suggest to Mr. Hughes for his next appearance
that he should eat his breakfast, and not send it away un-tasted as
he did. By doing so he certainly destroyed the vraisemblance of the
part, and failed to give complete effect to some of the turns in the
In dismissing this notice we must tender one word of thanks to
the RE Club for the amusement they have afforded us and our fellow
citizens during the winter; amusement that would be acceptable
anywhere, and is particularly so in a town like ours - at present
too small to encourage the continued presence of any professional
caterers for the public.
-- 2nd May, 1863,
The British Columbian
According to Woodward in
1863, Woodcock took over an existing blacksmith business, with George
Hand RE. The business was formerly operated by W. Blackie and
situated in New Westminster.
(Editor's note: This would lead to suspicions that Woodcock had the trade
of Blacksmith in the Detachment)
WOODCOCK AND HAND
[Late W. Blackee]
New Westminster, B.C.
& HAND respectfully beg to inform
the inhabitants of New Westminster
have taken over the above business,
and are now pre-
pared to execute with dispatch all
orders with which
they may be favored.
New Westminster, October 29, 1863.
It appears that Woodcock may have returned
to Scotland permanently after this time.