Woodleigh_St.jpg Woodleigh Street sign (2014). Mike Gooch. Word on the Street image collection.

This street got its name from an old estate established and owned by Captain Henry King's son, William Cutfield King. King named the estate after a little village and parish in Devonshire.

William Cutfield King arrived in New Plymouth on the Amelia Thompson in 1841 at the age of 12. He lived on his parents' farm at Brooklands until he established his own farm at Woodleigh.

During the first years everything was going well for King. He had a home, a wife and two daughters, was made a captain of the Volunteer Rifles, and he was elected to represent the Grey and Bell districts in the General Assembly.

King's luck changed when his home was set on fire on 1 September 1860, during the First Taranaki War. King and his family were unharmed, but they had to abandon the Woodleigh estate. The family found shelter in the city, but the cattle had to stay. So King made regular visits to the estate to check his stock.

On a fateful night of 8 February 1861, King entered Woodleigh for one of these visits. He was ambushed and shot by a raiding party. The watchers at the barracks on Marsland Hill saw this but were unable to help their young captain. King was buried with a small civilian ceremony in St Mary's churchyard. After King's death Woodleigh changed owners several times. In 1905, the estate was divided into different parts that presently form the suburb of Frankleigh Park. The name Woodleigh was changed to Frankleigh Park in 1905 by Thomas Kelsey.

The name is a combination of the names of the estates Frankley and Woodleigh. Nowadays Woodleigh Street in Frankleigh Park commemorates the old estate and reminds us of those tragic events that took place nearby on 8 February 1861.

This story was originally published in the Taranaki Daily News.

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