Author: John McLeod

Recipient: Henry Woodcock

Date: 27 December 1876

Location: Henry Edwin Woodcock Papers, Record Group 30/81, Series 1. Correspondence, Oberlin College Archives

Document Type: Autograph Letter, Signed by Author



This final letter is from a different part of the Woodcock collection, as it was written not by Lucy Woodcock herself, but by a fellow missionary, John McLeod, after her death.1

John McLeod was married to a “Miss Jane,” who had lived with Lucy for many years, and whom she viewed as an adopted daughter. McLeod’s letter seems to suggest that, unlike Henry, he never really knew Lucy Woodcock. Pay particular attention to his description of her in the third paragraph, and then compare that Lucy to the one who emerges through her conversations with Henry (particularly in her commentary about the Beatties, or her comments on her nephew Miles.)

6-1Eliot Dec. 27th 1876

Rev. H E Woodcock

Dv. [sic] Sir

I beg to acknowledge the recpt. of your Kind favor of 16 Nov. which came to hand on the 15th inst. . [sic] both myself & wife fully agree to with the arrangement yourself and friends has come [inserted above the line: to]. we think it quite right that the Bills & other Expencis [sic]2 in connection with the Sickness & death of your b [sic] sister3 should be paid out of her effects. your Bro.4 has not as yet replyed [sic] to my Letters. as soon as he dose, [sic] I shall apply for the money funded and also offer the Cattle for sale, provided the authorities here is satisfied with the qualifications sent me to act. I am however rather apprenhenciee [apprehensive] that we shall have some difficulty and expencis, as our Laws requires in such cases a rejular [sic] Legal process. the Crown [Chancery?] asertain [sic] portion.5 It is I must admit very offenscive [offensive, or possibly oppressive] but __ [sic] so it is and we are obliged to submit. I shall however do my best in the matter

we both thank yourself and friends for allowing us to contribute our mite towards the Erection of a monument6 to the memory of our dear departed Sister and Friend. as soon as I get particulars from your Brother I shall have the [illegible]7 Executed and forwarded. I never interfarned [interfered] with your Sisters papers. my wife8 with hoom [whom] they 6-2were intrusted tells me She carefully examined them and commited [sic] them tl to fire in accordance with your Sisters request [on?] leaving. she says there was nothing found among them of concequence [sic] to be [preserved?]____ [sic]9

I thank you much for your Kind [ink blot] expression of Friendship towards me and can assure you that both my self & wife feels the strongest attach= [sic] to all the relitives [sic] & Friends of our Dear [inserted above line: departed] Friend. we miss her Evey [sic] day and shall Ever do. She was so very Kind in Evey respect Ever ready to oblige and to make all about her happy. we lived under the same Roof over two years and I do candidly say I never herd [sic] a word uttered by her or Saw a look in her countenance that was calculated to covey [convey] unpleasant feeling. She was indeed Kind and condicending [sic] to the most humbleest [sic].10

In her the Grace of God was to be seen. yes [illegible]11 she is now we veryly [verily] believe reaping the reward of [inserted above line: her] toils & Labours of Love. I believe she had to Endure much more privations and sufferings in this Island than her friends ever knew of. My wife lived with her for over 18 years and states that at one time her pay was stoped [sic]. She got very sick. at the same time her american friends then in the Mission here paid no attention to her and were it not for the [Kindness?] of a physician (a native) who is very cleaver [sic] She must have died at that time; He attended her free of charge.12 My wife & her struggled through many difficulties, which is now unnecesary [sic] to mention. you will therefore [perceive?] why she was so anxious in assisting to provide a Home for miss Jane as she always called her. as soon as I get a Letter from your Bro. and learn particulars respecting your Sisters effects I shall write you and shall be happy to do so from time to time, though I am a poor hand at Letter [writing?]

[Remaining?] Rev.  & [illegible] [Jane?]

[yours?] Very Sincerely13


Transcribed by Rebecca Debus.

1Apart from the facts stated in this letter, we know nothing else about John McLeod. Though the letter does seems to indicate that he was a missionary, even this is uncertain. It is possible, given his last name, that he was a member of a “Scotch Mission” that Lucy mentions in an earlier letter, which was apparently two miles away from Elliot Station. She also mentioned that a girl who worked for her was a part of that mission; this girl may have been John’s future wife, Jane. (Oberlin College Archives, Henry Edwin Woodcock Papers, Series 4. Files Relating to the Woodcock Family. 1987/67. 1989/141. RG 30/81.)

2It seems that John McLeod was less educated than Lucy, as his spelling is significantly worse.

3Lucy died on 3 August 1876 in Wellsville New York, but it appears all her possessions were left in Jamaica (Clark et al, The Congregational Quarterly, 19 (1877)).

4It’s unclear which brother he is talking about here; Lucy and Henry had 3 living brothers at this time, John Quincy Adams Woodcock b. 1824- d. 1914, Elijah Woodcock b. 1832, and Hugh b. 1826 (see Woodcock Genealogy). Based on the rest of the family’s correspondence, it seems most likely that the brother in question is Elijah. There are several letters between Elijah and Henry included in the University of Kansas Library Collection, and in Lucy’s letters, she records that Elijah corresponded with her as well. None of their other brothers appear to have been in as close contact with Henry and Lucy, making it unlikely that they would be the ones being consulted about arrangements after her death. (“Harry Edwin Woodcock family Collection,” Kansas Collection, RH MS 729, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries, web address, accessed 23 June 2015; Oberlin College Archives, Henry Edwin Woodcock Papers, Series 2. Writings).

5Mina Ferguson suggests that this phrase is “the Crown claiming a certain portion” which makes sense in context but does not seem to fit the actual words written by McLeod. It is possible that they are simply badly misspelled, and that tittles, crossbars and other markings have faded. (Oberlin College Archives, The Henry Edwin Woodcock Papers, Series 4. Files Relating to the Woodcock Family).

6The monument in question was erected over Lucy Woodcock’s grave in New York. It reads “In Memory of Lucy Woodcock, This [stone] is dedicated by her friends in Jamaica where for nearly twenty two years [she was] a faithful and devoted missionary. A woman of esteem and respected for the many estimable qualities which adorned her Christian character” (Ruth H. Wicks, “Lucy A. Woodcock.” Find A Grave. web address, accessed 22 June 2015).

7Mina Ferguson transcribes this illegible word as Tablet, which makes sense in the context of the letter. However, as written, this word clearly contains an “i” and appears closer to “Joblit” than “Tablet.” Either McLeod’s spelling is unusually inaccurate, or it is a different word. (Oberlin College Archives, Henry Edwin Woodcock Papers, Series 4. Files Relating to the Woodcock Family).

8John McLeod’s wife, Jane, was referred to by Henry Woodcock’s family as Lucy Woodcock’s adopted daughter (McLeod to Henry 1876, Envelope). She seems to have grown up on Jamaica, but other details about her are unclear, and her last name is unknown. A “Jane” also seems to have served as something of a nursemaid and companion for another missionary, Sarah Penfield, but if John McLeod is correct as to how long Jane lived with Lucy, they would not have been the same person (Charles G. Gosselink, Sarah Corban Ingraham Penfield, and Thornton Bigelow Penfield. Letters from Jamaica: 1858-1866: Thornton Bigelow Penfield, Sarah Ingraham Penfield. Silver Bay, NY: Boat House Books, 2005; Oberlin College Archives, The Henry Edwin Woodcock Papers, Series 1. Correspondence).

9This is likely the reason we have none of Henry’s own letters to Lucy, or any other documents from her.

10Compare this assessment of Lucy with the commentary she offers on the Beatties in her 1858 letter, or her comments on Miles in the 1871 letter.

11Mina Ferguson renders this phrase “yes, oh yes.” As written on the page, the “oh yes” portion appears to be one word, does not seem to contain an “h” and does contain an “i” making her transcription seem unlikely, though plausible. (Oberlin College Archives, Henry Edwin Woodcock Papers, Series 4. Files Relating to the Woodcock Family).

12If Jane had lived with Lucy for 18 years, as McLeod states, then this could have been the serious illness Lucy talks about in her 1860 letter, as that would have meant that Jane had lived with Lucy since at least 1858. However, if this is the case, then John is incorrect about Lucy’s lack of care from her friends, since the Thompsons cared for her during that time. It seems more plausible that he is referring to the period after her visit home, when it appears her pay was stopped for several months, but there is no record of her contracting such a serious illness during that time (Oberlin College Archives, Henry Edwin Woodcock Papers, Series 1. Correspondence, Series 4. Files Relating to the Woodcock Family, Microfilm).

13Mina Ferguson transcribes the closing as “Remaining Respectfully, Yours very Sincerely” however, once again, this does not seem to match the letters written, though it makes sense in context (Oberlin College Archives, Henry Edwin Woodcock Papers, Series 4. Files Relating to the Woodcock Family).