Letter from Bill Woodhead.

Dear Eoin and Netta,

I can”t begin to tell you how much I have enjoyed your wonderful book! The stories are great, and the pictures wonderful. I have done a fair amount of research on the Woodhead family, and together with Judy Bennett and the Higham family have gathered a fair amount of information on the Woodheads, Wandesfords and Combers. My father was William Dudley Woodhead, grandson of Henry Joseph Plumridge Woodhead.

Your book had filled in many details on my ancestors, and several of the pictures are quite new to me – for which I thank you . Your mother sound like a fascinating person, I wish I had known her.

Yours very respectfully
Bill Woodhead

Message from Woodhead relative.

I too am a great great granddaughter of Henry Joseph Plumridge Woodhead and found your wonderful family history site today when looking through the Google entries for my late grandfather, Henry George Wandesforde Woodhead who you mention as being one of the two sons of Thomas ‘Wombie’ Woodhead and who was a journalist and newspaper Editor in China for all his working life.

I too am a great great granddaughter of Henry Joseph Plumridge Woodhead and found your wonderful family history site today when looking through the Google entries for my late grandfather, Henry George Wandesforde Woodhead who you mention as being one of the two sons of Thomas ‘Wombie’ Woodhead and who was a journalist and newspaper Editor in China for all his working life. Like you, I have started to compile my family history for our grandchildren, although it will never be as expertly done as yours and I would have no idea how to present it all so professionally on the internet for others to enjoy – congratulations on your wonderful ‘site’!

I am the daughter of the fifth of HGW Woodhead’s six children – he had three boys and three girls and my mother Marian Elizabeth, or ‘Betty’ as she was always called, died aged 86 in 2003. Her younger sister, Margaret Louise (‘Peggy’) died 18 months ago and it was while I was sadly clearing her flat in Barmouth, North Wales, near to where we now live in retirement, that I found some portraits of our ancestors, including the well-known Ingres portrait of Joseph and Harriet Woodhead, (Henry Joseph Plumridge Woodhead’s parents) with Harriet’s brother Henry Comber, one of Henry JP Woodhead himself and another two of his son Thomas Wandesford (my great grandfather). That aroused my interest, as did letters from Thomas to his sister Alice, and now, here I am, thinking about family history almost every minute and spending far too much time sitting in front of my computer doing research! Luckily for me I have two cousins in New Zealand, the eldest two of the four sons of my late Aunt Eileen who was the eldest of HGW Woodhead’s children, who had already done extensive research on the Wandesford, Comber and Woodhead families and they shared their research with me, which gave me a flying start.

I am so delighted to have found your site by a lucky accident and would love to share any information about the Woodhead and Clements families. Search as I may I simply cannot find the origins of Henry JP Woodhead’s father Joseph and it would be too good to be true if you can help! I know he was born in 1774 and died in 1866 in Brighton, and there is almost too much information on the internet about his business affairs as a banker and naval agent, his bankruptcy in 1816, etc. I have a date for his second marriage to Harriet Comber in Sidmouth Devon in 1815 and also the date his first wife died in Valletta on Malta in 1814. But I simply cannot get any further back from him with certainty as there are so, so many ‘Joseph Woodheads’ (mostly from Yorkshire where the Combers came from which makes me wonder whether his parents also came from there before moving to London where our Joseph was born) that I am finding it impossible to know which of the many he might be, and I would be so, so grateful if amongst all your wonderful photos and letters about the Woodhead family you have any information about his origins, or even just a clue which could be the ‘missing link’!

If there is any information at all about the Woodheads or Clements families that you could send me I would be absolutely delighted and so grateful and would of course reimburse you for any postal costs involved if post would be easier than the internet. I am sure you know so much more than I do; have any of your family visited Brighton where I recently went to see 12 Norfolk Terrace? It is a huge Georgian terraced house (rather essential for a family with 12 children!) in a rather beautiful tree-lined road leading down a hill to the sea front and it must be worth a fortune – what a shame none of the substantial family fortune filtered down to our generation! I can send you a photograph of the house if you would like one. I also visited St. Nicholas’s Church which was where many Woodhead family baptisms and weddings were held and it was a rather strange feeling walking up the aisle where they all walked so long ago. I am returning to Sussex (where luckily one of our sons now lives with his family) in July and will then find Belvedere Terrace where Joseph and Harriet Woodhead lived, and also go to the Extra Mural Cemetery to find the family vault. While I was in Sussex I went to Old Heathfield where as you will know, as well as living in their Brighton house, Henry and Emily were tenants for many years in a beautiful Queen Anne house in extensive grounds – what a ‘holiday cottage’ that must have been! Sadly it was replaced in the early 1900s by an Edwardian one which is not nearly as attractive as the original. I have made contact with a local historian who has recently sent me information about the Woodhead family from parish magazines which show how much they were loved by the villagers. Henry JP was a very well-thought of school governor and he also contributed to the repair of the church steeple and to Queen Victoria’s jubilee commemorative window. Emily held the yearly children’s ‘Treat’ at Heathfield House – no mean undertaking with nearly 200 children attending!

I must stop – as you can tell I am so thrilled to have found other Woodhead family members from our ‘branch’ who share my great great grandparents.
With all good wishes and I do so hope I shall hear from you.