Captain Woodriff & The Wheatstone Collections

A selection of elegant & fashionable country dances, reels, waltzes &c. [music] : for the ensuing season 1808, including those much admired Neapolitan & Maltese pandean airs, arranged for the pianoforte or harp, alto flute or patent flageolet : with an accompt. for the piano forte or harp by Augs. Voigt. 1

The National Library holds a bound album, formerly the property of Captain Daniel Woodriff, whose interest in the colony began in 1792.
The album includes two volumes of Wheatstone’s Elegant and Fashionable Dances, and  a varied collection of music for violins, flutes, pianos, French horns, flageolets, bag-pipes, clarinets, fifes and bugle horns – an invaluable guide to music and dance in the period between 1800 and 1810.

The first volume is not dated, but is extremely similar to Volume 2 which was published in the autumn of 1807 to enable stylish dancers to prepare for the ensuing season of 1808.  For the upper classes, the fashionable London Season was the social high period of the year, with a continuous round of balls, assemblies and parties where the latest dances were seen.  From late winter, through spring and into early summer was the season for the Quality to be in town.

The majority of dances are extremely simple and feature standard movements popular at the time:  hands across and back again, down the middle and back, rights and lefts, allemande, pousette.  Several dances, for example: Lock Errock side, and Lady Mary Douglas’ Reel are slightly more complex. At least three of the dances come from the fashionable plays, The Forty Thieves and Tekeli, both of which were performed in the colony.
A large number of the dances (not necessarily the same versions) were included in other manuals 2 readily available at the time, and danced throughout the British Empire.


Volume 1 [undated] Volume 2 for the ensuing season 1808
  1. Lord Cathcart’s Welcome to Scotland
  2. Caro dolce
  3. The Mazy Dance
  4. The Surrey Yeomanry
  5. The Nameless
  6. Miss Gayton’s Hornpipe
  7. Countess of Moira’s Lilt
  8. La Belle Laitiere
  9. Harlequin’s Hornpipe
  10. Colliggi
  11. Unnamed
  12. Lady Cavendish’s Trip
  13. Paddy O’Rafferty
  14. Lady Charlotte Bentick’s Reel
  15. Lady Ann Stewart’s Strathspey
  16. Follow Her Over The Border
  17. Lady Montgomery
  18. Lady Mary Douglas’s Reel [sic]
  19. Ross Common
  20. O’er The Boggie with my Love
  21. Lock Errock side
  1. Tekeli
  2. The Fairy Dance
  3. The Labyrinth
  4. Pandean Dance in Tekeli
  5. Madam Catalani’s favourite
  6. Tars of the Victory
  7. King of the Catttie
  8. Lady Milton’s Favourite
  9. Ap Shenkin
  10. A Neapolitian Air
  11. Johnny Pringle
  12. The Ridicule
  13. Maltese Dance
  14. La Romenella & Trio [tune]
  15. Dance in the Forty Thieves
  16. Rope Dancer
  17. Andrew Carey
  18. St. Augustine
  19. Mrs C. Kemble’s Waltz

Related works:
Wheatstone’s  Occasional Repertory of Dances, Waltzes, Quadrille,  c.1820. The Mitchell Library, in Sydney.  [Many thanks to Amelia Powys for finding this].
J. Power’s Select collection of dances, waltzes, quadrilles, for 1820. Composed by Augustus Voigt. The University of Melbourne Library.

Portrait of Captain Daniel James Woodriff, c.1805. Courtesy of National Library of Australia. 3

Captain Daniel Woodriff.
Captain Woodriff first came to the colony in 1792 on board Kitty, transporting supplies and convicts, and reporting on the need for a naval base in Port Jackson.

In 1803,  HMS Calcutta, captained by Woodriff, was commissioned for the purpose of establishing a new colony at Port Phillip Bay.  Lieutenant Governor David Collins sailed in the Calcutta, together with the Reverend Robert Knopwood, medical officer William J’Anson, fifty-two marines, 120 convicts (including the violin player, William Thomas, an Afro-American), and the wives of some prisoners and marines.  At least one entertainment was held while the ship was anchored at the Bay and all the officers on board were very merry. 4

On arriving in Sydney Woodriff played an important role in quelling the rebellion of Irish convicts on 4 March,1804.  By turning the ship’s guns to the shore, he was able to aid the soldiers and prevent a revolt in Sydney, which was planned to coincide with the uprising at Vinegar Hill.  Over one hundred and forty of his ship’s complement eagerly answered the governor’s call for assistance, abandoning their nautical posts temporarily to take up arms on shore.

The snuff box presented to Captain Woodriff by Lt. Col. George Johnston in appreciation of his efforts in quelling the Irish convict uprising of 1804.
Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales. 6

Woodriff was also able to provide sanctuary to Elizabeth Macarthur as she fled the troubles in Parramatta and the planned attack on her home. 5  For his aid in subduing the uprising, Woodriff was rewarded by Governor King with a grant of 1,000 acres on the banks of the Nepean River at Penrith.  Lieutenant Colonel Johnson presented the captain with the gift of a snuff box made of animal horn and beautifully engraved silver, now held in the State Library of New South Wales.

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser.
22 January, 1804. 8

During the first few months of 1804, three balls were held in Sydney with Captain Woodriff and his officers, (including his two sons  James and Robert) in attendance. One was apparently held on board HMS Calcutta, the largest ship to have visited the colony 7.  It was the custom to hold splendid balls whilst ships were in harbour, as the decks provided excellent dance floors (Calcutta’s was built of Indian teak).  The ball given for a company of 59 persons to celebrate Her Majesty’s birthday was reported in The Sydney Gazette of 22 January; it lasted till a late hour; and the most lively vivacity prevailed throughout the Evening. 8

Significantly, the account mentions the inhabitants, particularly the children attended numerously as spectators of the dancing. This was a means for the less privileged members of society to see and copy the fashionable tunes and dances.  Although the balls held in Sydney predated the dances in the Wheatstone collections, the types of  dances would have been quite similar.

Captain Woodriff  left the colony in 1804 and never returned, but his son Daniel with his wife Jane and daughter Agnes arrived in 1851, bringing the two collections of dances with them.  They settled on the land grant on the banks of the Nepean River at Penrith and became the most influential family in the area, building the two-storey mansion ‘Combewood’ 9, which is still owned by his descendants.

HMS Calcutta of 52 guns [1805]. Whitcombe, Thomas, 1763 – 1824.
Courtesy of National Library of Australia. 10

Upon departing Sydney Cove, Midshipman Nicholas Pateshall ventured the following sentiment:
In justice to the society of this infant Colony I must say I never left a place with greater reluctance or ever experienced more hospitality:  the Gentlemen found amusements for us by day and the Ladies never failed to make themselves agreeable in the evenings. 11


1Voigt, August
Wheatstone’s selection of elegant & fashionable country dances, reels, waltzes &c. for the ensuing season, including much admired Neapolitan & Maltese pandean airs, arranged for the pianoforte or harp, alto flute or patent flageolet : with an accompt. for the piano forte or harp / by Augs. Voigt. [music] London C. Wheatstone 1808
Part of the collection: Papers of the Woodriff family

2For example, Thomas Wilson’s Companion to the Ball Room. 1816  includes Caro dolce, Andrew Carey, Loch Errock side (Scotch), Lady Montgomery’s Reel (Scotch), Lady Mary Douglas, Miss Bentick’s Fancy, Paddy O’ Rafferty, and Harlequin’s Hornpipe.

3Portrait of Captain Daniel James Woodriff.  c. 1805.  Courtesy of National Library of Australia.  nla.pic-an2284365-v

4Comment from Rev. Knopwood’s Diary quoted in Pateshall, Nicholas. A short Account of a Voyage Round the Globe in H.M.S. Calcutta 1803-1804. Edited with an introduction by Marjorie Tipping. Queensberry Hill Press, 1980

5 Silver, Lynette Ramsay , The Battle of Vinegar Hill. Australia’s Irish Rebellion 1804. The Watermark Press, Sydney 2002.

6Snuffbox of Daniel James Woodriff.The lid of the snuffbox features a silver disc engraved with a coat of arms featuring a winged hourglass below the motto ‘In Time’. Inscribed around this is ‘The gift of Captn. Woodriff. R.N. Jan. 13. 1804’. Presumably belonged to Lt. Col. George Johnston.
Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW – Call no R 340.

7Pateshall, Nicholas. A Short Account of a Voyage Round the Globe in H.M.S. Calcutta 1803-1804. Edited with an introduction by Marjorie Tipping. Queensberry Hill Press, 1980

8 THE ANNIVERSARY OF HER MAJESTY’S BIRTH. (1804, January 22). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), p. 3. Retrieved August 21, 2012, from

9Combewood – historic house, Penrith

10Three oil paintings of HMS Calcutta are held in the National Library of Australia.
HMS Calcutta of 52 guns [1805]. Whitcombe, Thomas, 1763 – 1824
Courtesy of National Library of Australia. nla.pic-an2287695-v

11 Pateshall, Nicholas. A Short Account of a Voyage Round the Globe in H.M.S. Calcutta 1803-1804. Edited with an introduction by Marjorie Tipping. Queensberry Hill Press, 1980

Background information

Australian Dictionary of Biography
Tilghman, Douglas Campbell, Woodriff, Daniel (1756–1842),  Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 19 August 2012.

Penrith City Local History.
History conferences: The Woodriff Estate

2011 Conference – The Woodriff Estate

Accessed 21/04/2020


The information on this website may be copied for personal use only, and must be acknowledged as from this website. It may not be reproduced for publication without prior permission from Heather Clarke

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11 Responses to Captain Woodriff & The Wheatstone Collections

  1. Congratulations, Heather, on the whole website. I particularly admire the way you take little tidbits of information and amplify them with paintings, artifacts, newspaper items, music clips and diary excerpts—creating larger scenes that bring the original data to life. Australia is fortunate to have you giving the world a carefully researched and vibrant picture of its early history.

    • Heather says:

      Thank you, Kate, for the immense support and brilliant inspiration you have provided over the years. Your books and the Colonial Music Institute website have been invaluable resources in the search for the identity of early Australian colonial dance.

  2. Thank you for your most interesting and informative portrayal of Captain Woodriff in the early colony and especially the music and dancing. I am a great ,great, great ,great, granddaughter.

    • Heather says:

      Hello Margarite, I’m delighted you found the page about your illustrious ancestor. His collection of music and dance is an invaluable resource and one which deserves to be better known. Are you related to the Cox family of the early colony as well?

  3. I found this fascinating: am busy researching my ancestor James Caithness whose life was linked with that of Captain Woodriff. Caithness served on HMS Calcutta during the voyage to the Bass Strait 1803, continued on that ship through the circumnavigation of the world after events at Port Phillip and Port Jackson, and in 1805 was among those on board Calcutta when she was forced to surrender to the French warship Magnanime. All her complement were made prisoners-of-war, including Woodriff, who was imprisoned at Verdun. He was released on officer exchange, but Caithness survived nearly a decade
    in severe conditions, finally being made a free man again in 1814. It’s thanks to Woodriff and his meticulously-kept log that we know more about James Caithness than would have been possible without that useful source. It’s good to know that Woodriff, a stickler for navy discipline, had his light-hearted side, was a music lover and presumably liked to dance, if these ditties are anything to go by. I’m intrigued to hear that among those who travelled on the Calcutta was the African American violinist, William Thomas, ready to strike up a tune whenever the occasion demanded. Thank you for an excellent read. best wishes, Mole

    • Carol Jaffray Woodriff says:

      Hi, I was particularly interested to learn of your ancestor’s ties with my ancestor, Captain Daniel Woodriff! It’s so wonderful to meet and have a witness to the same history as mine!
      Do you know if James Caithness also served with Woodriff before and during the American Revolution? I ask because when Woodriff’s merchant vessel was stopped and he was impressed by the Royal Navy at The Nore, in 177os, many of his crew accompanied him and Caithness may have been among them.
      Even if not, the fact that Caithness was left a prisoner for so long likely make him eligible to be a pensioner at the Royal Hospital in Greenwich, where Woodriff served as one of its Four Captains from about 1830 until his death in 1842.
      In 2013, I visited Greenwich and had a lovely tour 0f the former Hospital’s back-stage areas with two staffers who explained they’d been wanting to up-date the pensioners’ exhibit, suggesting that perhaps both Woodriff and your own, James Caithness will live again! Wonderful to learn of our connection!

  4. Carol Jaffray Woodriff says:

    Hello, I too am descended from Captain Woodriff through his son, John Robert Woodriff, as well as through his daughter, Caroline Eliza, wife of John Richmond Jaffray.
    It gets complicated but research done since the late 90s, through, has led me to a host of wonderful cousins descended from the Woodriffs & Affrays who remained in England and those who immigrated to New Zealand, Australia, and Colorado, (by way of Canada.)
    Captain Woodriff’s career was broad and long and is continually being studied and written about.
    For instance, in his essay entitled “High Exertions and Difficult Cases: The Work of the Transport Agent at Portsmouth and Southampton 1779-1797,” scholar Roger Morriss uses Woodriff as his example. (see: “Naval Leadership and Management…” 2012, edited by Richard Harding, Helen Doe.)
    There is SO much more to tell and I’d love to hear from anyone wanting or having information about Captain Daniel Woodriff, RN, CB.
    It’s particularly heartening to hear of James Caithness and his descendants as well as the music and dancing enjoyed by Woodriff and especially his sons.

    • Heather says:

      I love it when someone finds a relative on my site, and music and dance provide such a fascinating and tangible link. It would be intriguing to discover which tunes and dances Captain Woodriff used from his extensive collection. Do you know if he played an instrument, or perhaps he collected the music books for the benefit of his crew? Thank you to the Woodriff family for preserving these important documents in the National Library where they are easily accessible.

  5. Ellen Spiro says:

    Hello, I would like to contact ‘Heather’, I believe she is a descendant of Navy Agent Lieutenant Daniel Woodriff. I have a copy of a letter he wrote to Governor Arthur Phillip, complaining about being treated badly by the master of the ship “Kitty” 1792. My great grandmother x 7 was on that ship. I also have a copy of the handwritten letter the master of the ship George Ramsay wrote to Gov. Phillip, defending himself.

    • Heather says:

      Hello Ellen,
      I’m not a descendant of Daniel Woodriff, but I’d be interested to see copies of the letters. I wonder why Woodriff thought he was poorly treated? Are there any references to dancing in your family history?
      Kind regards, Heather

      • Elen Spiro says:

        Hi Heather, I am not sure if I answered you. I have not found any history of dancing amongst my ancestors. My great gran x 7 came pit on the Kitty 1792 as explained above. There is a reference to a letter Woodriff wrote to Governor Phillip in 1792, and Captain Ramsay, shipmaster. Below is the link to History of New South Wales vol II. The reference is found on page 56. The index may provide other leads Kind regards, Ellen.

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