Anna Maria WOODCOCK 
- Born: 1 Jun 1811, Ganjam India
- Marriage (1): Rt Rev Dr Francis Russell NIXON  on 5 Dec 1836 in St James Dover
- Died: 26 Nov 1868, Stresa Italy aged 57
- Buried: Stresa Italy
Anna had 6 children under her care when she sailed with Francis on the 7th March 1843 for Hobart on the s.s. Duke of Roxburgh 600 tons from Plymouth DEV. However she had 3 servants and a governess to assist. They also took the dog Leda and a cow named Duchess.
Anna was a prolific and interesting letter writer, her letters were published in a booklet "The Pioneer Bishop in VDL 1843-1863" (J Walsh & Sons. Hobart 1953)
Off Africa a month into the voyage Anna writes to her brother of "Crossing the Line":
. . . . . Hitherto our voyage has been most favourable; indeed , our original first mate - a complete personification of Masterman Ready - says that if every voyage was like this we should be having all the old women in England coming to sea! However this may be, it has been no joke to me, for I was incessantly seasick for three weeks. We had then one week of really enjoyable weather, which was followed by the intense heat we are experiencing, when the thermometer, even before sunrise, stands at 82 in the cuddy, under an open skylight. I am rejoiced to say that we are none of us actually suffering in consequence, though the poor children are rendered sadly fretful by it. We have not yet had any calms, which must be very trying in these latitudes.
We are much pleased with our Captain, who is extremely obliging and desirous to meet our wishes. And of this we have had an instance today, for, knowing that we must go through the operation of a visit from Neptune, and not liking that it's memories should interrupt the solemnities of Passion Week, we asked that the holiday might be held today instead of waiting until we actually crossed the line; and though at three degrees North, the chief mate evidently thought this premature, our wish was complied with, and the ceremony has just been completed. A large tarpaulin filled with water was placed near the forecastle, and Mr and Mrs Neptune, in May Day attire, and well smeared with pitch and tar, and the latter dressed up in an old cotton frock of Maria's and bonnet of Nurse's, appeared in a car drawn by sailors and a huge bear, and after a colloquy with the Captain, Neptune's Clerk called over the names of all his children. Of course, all the cabin passengers paid their ransom, but our servant, Bailey, and all the sailors who had not passed the Line were shaved with a rusty piece of iron and then thrown blindfold into the bath, from whence the unfortunate victims with difficulty escaped the clutches of the bear and Neptune's satellites. . . . .
Tell dear Papa we have profited much by all his comfortable arrangements, and we are enjoying his present of Bristol water. But our Captain's fare is so excellent that, with the exception of an occasional treat of jam and honey for the children, we have not required any of our stores. The poor goat gave no milk after the first ten days, but the cow has supplied us abundantly, and we have fresh bread and rolls every day. But though I am up every morning at 5.30 and get a good bath myself, besides having to bathe all the children , I cannot get one scrap of appetite for breakfast. But all the rest of the party get on very well, and the Bishop is enjoying himself and regaining his strength and spirits, and Fanny is wonderfully better since she came on board. Our ship's medico gives great hopes of recovery; he does not think she has any organic infection of the lungs. By throwing cans of water over their heads she and all the others are enjoying all the benefits of a shower and a plunging bath. I am very much pleased with both our little maids; Nurse is really invaluable, and Maria is invariably good tempered and always looks so merry that it is quite cheering to see her. Poor Bailey has been suffering from much seasickness, and is such a downhearted creature that he can make no exertion to overcome it. I am sorry to say he has gained no goodwill for himself on board, but I hope his services when we land will make up for his lack of help during the voyage. Nothing can exceed the kindness and attention of the Archdeacon.
We hope to reach the Cape in a month from this time. It will certainly be very refreshing, though the prospect of going on board again will rather mar my enjoyment. This feeling of stickiness in one's clothes, and the want of fresh water, are to me very annoying. We have not had any serious discomforts to complain of, though, of course, just now this very hot weather, with so many children, are what you would call "trying circumstances. . . . .
We are all very cheerful, and my dearest husband full of hope and trust. Pray much for us all. A.M.N.
At Cape Town they had a very comfortable stay at Government House.
Anna describes the scene on arrival in Hobart after the 4 months passage: "Mr Bedford, the senior Chaplain, and several of the clergy, Mr Bicheno and others, all came on board to pay their respects, and intimating that it was the wish of the inhabitants to receive the Bishop publicly, we delayed our landing till 1 o'clock, when a 10 oared boat took us ashore. The clergy in gowns, and Mr Bicheno at the head of the civil authorities, and a large concourse of people, awaited us at the jetty; and most gratifying it was to observe the hearty greeting they gave their first Bishop. Mr Bicheno came forward with a short speech on the occasion, and then all the gentlemen walked with the Bishop up to Government House, where we followed in the carriage, which afterwards returned again for the children. Nothing could be kinder than our reception here - Lady Franklin kindly presses us to remain here as long as it is convenient to us."
Difficulties quickly arose accommodating the Bishop and his household, Anna turned down the inadequate house offered by the Government, they settled for a 3 year lease of a residence (326 Davey St in 1953) which required considerable renovation. However the neighbour Swanston a liberal banker proved not to the taste of the Nixon's who quit at the end of their lease buying a beautiful home "Runnymede" which Francis renamed Bishopstowe. When Francis sold in 1863, much of their property remained in the house. In the 1960's the State of Tasmania purchased the property with much of its original contents, it is now preserved for posterity by the National Trust of Australia.
It would be fair to say from Anna's writings that she shared her husbands conservative religious views and expected colonial Tasmania to march to the same tune as Victorian England.
Image of Anna Maria Woodcock Ref: The Pioneer Bishop of VDL by Nora E M Nixon 1953
Anna married Rt Rev Dr Francis Russell NIXON  [MRIN: 3647], son of Rev Robert NIXON  and Ann RUSSELL , on 5 Dec 1836 in St James Dover. (Rt Rev Dr Francis Russell NIXON  was born on 1 Aug 1803 in North Cray KEN, died on 7 Apr 1879 in Lake Maggorie Italy and was buried in Stresa Italy.)