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Robert Andrew Woolley and wife.png

Lieutenant Robert Andrew Woolley with his first wife Ellen Charlotte Hornby (married 7 May 1870 in South Africa) in a photograph taken on the island of Mauritius sometime around 1870 while the 2nd Battalion of the 20th Regiment of Foot was stationed there. Robert and Ellen Charlotte had one daughter, Irene who was born in Natal in 1886.

Woolley had a relatively short military career with the 20th Foot as was recorded in the London Gazette:

Ensign by purchase - 22 August 1865
Lieutenant by purchase - 17 March 1869
Retires as Lieutenant - 24 April 1872

Volunteer service in Natal Colony:

Captain (Levy Leader, Natal volunteer forces) - 1879

Woolley was born in Madras, India in 1847 the son of Captain (later general) Robert Woolley of the 28th Native Infantry and Isabella Jane Agnes. According to The Mauritius Almanac & Colonial Register – 1871, on 21 February 1871 Woolley was appointed Acting Aide-de-Camp to the Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Mauritius the Honorable Arthur Hamilton Gordon, C.M.G. Additionally it stated that Woolley also served as captain of the Mauritius Cricket Club.

Woolley seems to have remained in South Africa/Natal for some time after his leaving the colours. He held the appointment of justice of the peace in Alfred County, Natal, and for a time operated a fishery at the mouth of the Mzimkulu river.


He finds a mention in Keith Smith's Dead Was Everything: Studies in the Anglo-Zulu War. He is also referred to as captain during the Anglo-Zulu War in the Journal of Natal and Zulu History, Volumes 1-6 (1978). As it turns out Woolley served as a levy leader with the local rank of captain during the Anglo-Zulu War and saw active service during the conflict. The medal roll for the 1877-79 South Africa Medal shows Woolley as being entitled to that medal and one might assume the "1879" clasp.


Woolley passed away in 1932.

Carte de Visite
George Bitter - Photographer
Mauritius, Indian Ocean
c. 1870

Robert Andrew Woolley in mufti.png

This informal portrait of Lieutenant Wooley in mufti was possibly taken while his battalion was posted to Cape Colony or equally after he had leftthe army and set up in Natal c. 1872.

Carte de Visite
Grant & Kisch - Photographer
Durban, Natal, South Africa
c. 1872

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