The Hey Family of New Zealand

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The Hey Family of New Zealand

Descendants of Emily Wooster



Ca. 1914. Emily Hey (nee Wooster) with her husband James and sons Harold (standing) and Herbert and grandson Leslie (Harold's son)

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             Emily Wooster was born in Bledlow, Buckinghamshire, England on the 28th October 1857. She was the first child of John Wooster, a farmer at Forty Green and Eliza Folley and granddaughter of James Ives Wooster and Sarah Eggleton.

By the time of the 1871 census Emily was thirteen and had six younger siblings, Sarah (b. 08 Oct 1859), Jane (b. 25 Oct 1862), Frederick (b. 24 May 1864), Julia Ann (b. 08 Mar 1866), Ruth Caroline (b. 1868) and Bertha (b. 17 Dec 1869). Around 1878 and with three more sons added to the family, Ebenezer (b.1872), Arthur William (b. 1874) and Frank (b.1877), Emily's family made a major change to their lives by moving north to Colne in Lancashire.

We may never be certain what prompted this move but the most likely explanation (and the one passed down through the family) is work. At that time Colne was a thriving industrial town with many more jobs than people to fill them, especially in the weaving industry. It would seem quite possible and maybe very likely that, at the age of twenty, Emily and her siblings were a major influence on this decision. Was there any reason for picking Colne? Well that is an easy one, Emily's uncle Joseph Folley1 and his family had been in Colne for at least six years. Had Emily and the other older children and their mother visited Joseph in Lancashire? Had they liked what they had seen with the better employment opportunities available? It would all seem very likely.

The move was completed and by the time of the 1881 census the family were living at 11 Exchange Street in Colne, Emily's younger sister Sarah was married to John Pickles and Emily and her working age sisters were all employed in the weaving industry, Emily being a worsted weaver.

The Wooster and Hey families at the Stone Chair Seat at Bolton Abbey2 nr. Skipton ca. 1890. Emily is in the centre holding the parasol. The older couple on the left are Emily's parents John Wooster and Eliza Folley. Sitting on the rock are Emily's husband James Hey, her son Harold Hey and youngest sister Edith Mary Wooster. The ladies on the right are believed to be Emily's sisters and the man on the right is thought to be her brother Frederick.

 The Stone Chair Seat today.






Emily married James Hey in 1882. James' family were wool waste dealers and had come down over the decades from similar occupations - at any one time family members were weavers, combers etc. Originally from Haworth then Laycock (Goose Eye) the family eventually moved to Colne. John Hey James father was a delaine manufacturer. He and Hannah moved to Colne in about 1854.

There were 9 children - Joseph and James being towards the end of the family. Apparently they were quite close as brothers - they would hike together and enjoyed one another's company.

The two older sons William and Stephen took up the wool waste dealing with their father, John, and James and Joseph went into partnership calling themselves J & J painters and decorators. Joseph became an artist later in life and was a very popular chap in Colne - certainly in the Methodist church. James and he must have decided to go their separate ways when James and Emily moved to Moorgate just south of Kelbrook as James and his sons took up farming. They moved from there to Worsley - Moorside which today is a restaurant . James purchased a milk vendors business with the chattels and plant that went with a small farmlet plus the tenants rights.




 Moorside Farm

















In 1911 the family immigrated to NZ and purchased a farm of 151 acres near Te Awamutu. James never lived there as he and Emily bought a house in Auckland and left the two boys Harold and Herbert to it. He was in his 50's by now.

Both the sons really preferred to entertain as both we very good at it. One singing and the other playing the piano. In those days concerts were the thing in small rural communities at the local hall. They were very popular and travelled quite widely performing. However they did work on the land as well draining the swampy parts and felling the bush. The farm of 58 acres had been given to a soldier in 1864 after the Land Wars by Governor Grey and the Heys were only the fourth owners. Previous owners had added to the size which stood at 151 acres when they bought it. This July it will have been in their possession for 100 years.

The family photograph at the top from left in James Hey, Harold Hey, Emily Hey, Harolds son Leslie, Herbert Hey. It was obviously taken just before Herbert went to the first World War. [He came home again.] Harold's wife was pregnant at the time and would not have her photo taken. Harold and Mary had another son - Douglas and then these two took over the farm.


Les & Doug Hey Emily with daughter-in-law Mary MacPherson


Both sons married but there are no living sons to take over the farm today  so the female cousins have done so - employing a sharemilker to stock and run it. No doubt it will continue in that vein for some time yet.

That is their history in a nut shell.


Bespoke wallpaper at Heydon The farm today


Modern day descendants of James and Emily Hey


1. Emily's cousin, Joseph Folley's third son, was Ebenezer William Folley who became a local schoolteacher, sportsman and author. He wrote the book "Romantic Wycoller" and became known as "Mr Colne". He was still active at the age of 93.

2. On a bank holiday weekend in the 1890's tens of thousands of people would visit Bolton Abbey from towns and cities all over the north of England by train. At that time the Colne to Skipton line was open and this would explain the presence of both Emily's family and a Colne-based photographer who would no doubt have found a lucrative trade at such a popular bank holiday destination.

Story written by Hon Katherine O'Regan QSO JP and Beverley Bryant (nee Hey)




  Page last updated

  01 December 2013