1. Article from Papers Past website: Anglo-Colonial Notes Putanga 8971,3 Hōngongoi 1907,
p4 Star (newspaper) -
4 May 1907

Mr William Coull, of Dunedin, was this week revisiting in Fleet Street the scenes of a boyhood spent amongst the printing presses of a generation back. Fifty years ago, Mr Coull was a printer’s boy in the office where the first copy of the ‘Daily Telegraph’ was printed. It was a humble four-page sheet,
issued at twopence, and the first day’s issue numbered only 300 copies.

The proprietor, one Colonel Slee, failed to make the new paper pay, and the stone-hand, the advertisement manager and another man in the printing works took over the venture. They had it printed in a cellar near St Clement’s Danes, where a Mr Levy ran a very humble printing establishment. Still the paper failed to pay, and presently the little property passed into the possession of its printer, Mr Levy, who turned it into a going concern. Mr Levy is now the wealthy Lord Burnham, and the obscure sheet once printed in a cellar is now the world-famous journal, housed in magnificent premises in Fleet Street, and boasting a circulation of over a quarter of a million copies daily.

Mr Coull remembers the starting of the “Daily News” with Charles Dickens as its first editor, and the birth of the “Daily Chronicle” in a little barber’s shop in Clerkenwell. The “Chronicle” owed its original success to a policy of cheap “wanted” advertisements; these multiplied to such an extent that in time the whole four pages contained nothing but advertisements. Then it was that Mr Lloyd bought the property for £30,000, and launched the “Daily Chronicle” in Fleet Street. To this day, “wanted” advertisements are a distinctive feature of that journal.

Thirty-seven years ago Mr Coull went out to New Zealand, and with his two brothers, undertook the printing of the Dunedin “Star” when that paper was started. He has been settled in Dunedin ever since, but has made several trips to the Old Country, this being his fourth visit. Accompanied by Mrs Coull, he left Dunedin on February 28and Sydney on March 20, arriving in London a fortnight ago.

2. Obituary William Coull - ‘Star’ newspaper, New Zealand (died 12/10/1917) transcript:

Death has claimed another well-known Dunedin resident, Mr William Coull passed away early this morning at his residence, Highgate, Roslyn.

For several years, his impaired health necessitated his taking things easy, but he must have had a large reserve of strength, since he reached the age of 86, his birthday being the 8th of the present month.

As a fact, it was chiefly because of his health that the three brothers, Thomas, William and Frank Coull, came to New Zealand from England in February 1871, and the presumably infirm one has outlasted the others by years.

They were all printers, and shortly after landing in Dunedin, they were taken on by the late Mr George Bell, proprietor of the ‘Evening Star’. William became the printer, Thomas the ‘stone hand’ and Frank had ‘a frame’.

William Coull was the sixth printer of the ‘Star’. The first was Mr Woodifields, as foreman at Mills, Dick & Co’s, where this journal was printed when it started. Then for a while, the paper was printed for the proprietor at Shaw & Hartnett’s, the foreman there being the second printer. Subsequently, the ‘Star’ shifted to the ‘colonist’ office, in Stafford Street, next door to the Old Red Lion Hotel. When Mr Torrance severed his connection with the ‘Star', Mr French was installed as the fourth printer. After shifting to Brown’s Building, at the former of Stafford and Princes Streets, Mr ‘Fiji’ Johnson succeeded Mr French and the latter was succeeded by Mr William Coull.

When the Coulls left the ‘Star’, they went into business on their own account as printers and publishers. Some time later, they took into partnership Mr Thomas Culling. Mr Joseph Drumm was the next printer and after him the appointment was bestowed on Mr Gilbert Buchannan, whose name has been in the ‘imprint’ for very many years, and it is still there.

The brothers Coull, intimately associated all their lives, were in business in a small way in London, having an office in a turning off the Strand. Mr William Coull had many interesting reminiscences of those days.

Amongst his recollections was his taking over ‘proofs’ to the ‘Economist’ office for the famous Herbert Spencer and George Eliot, who were both writing for that journal at the time. Mr Coull used to relate, also, how he and his brothers were in the firm to whom the ‘Daily Telegraph’ was offered for a small consideration. That paper, then a very lowly concern, now one of England’s principal mouthpieces, was subsequently acquired by a Mr Levy Lawson in payment of a debt such as would not embarrass a journeyman carpenter in Dunedin.

This Levy Lawson was grandfather of the present Lord Burnham.
So William Coull and his brothers might have become millionaires or lords if they could have foreseen the ascending track of the ‘Daily Telegraph’.

Mr Coull, when a young man, went out to the W. Indies where his grandfather had an estate. This grandfather was at one time a slave owner and from him, Mr Coull came into possession of the declaration of date August 1834, by which the slaves in British possessions were declared free; this emancipation of 770,000 salves being procured at a cost of 20 millions voted by the British Parliament.

Whilst in the W. Indies, Mr Coull was for a time with another relative, an uncle, and this uncle was sent him with a crew of negroes to visit another island. The boat was wrecked and on the survivors getting to land, the only coin amongst them was a half dollar, which was commandeered for the purpose of buying food at the nearest village.

Mr Coull was always a devoted member of the Congregational Church. His London memory went back to Dr Allan, and he also remembered the Reverend Paxton Hood. Mr Coull was a senior deacon of the Moray Place Church, and for many years was a fellow office-bearer with the late Mr J W Jage. Another position he held in the church was as superintendent of the Sunday School. He understood young people, and was much liked by them. It will be remembered that he took the chair at the meeting called to welcome Dr Jones, of Bournemouth. He said at the time he expected it would be his last appearance at a meeting, but he was out two or three times after that.

Mr Coull passed away quietly at twenty minutes past three this morning. His last days and hours, like those which had preceded them, were solaced by the presence of loved ones. A gentle, cheerful, faithful soul, living a life which in its devotion to home and church and unobtrusive duty was a silent rebuke to the artificiality, the seeking after excitement, the restlessness and desire for something new that are the obvious characteristics of our own day. Shortly before the end came, he expressed the desire that he would like to live to see the war through.

'Let me live on! I only ask to live
Until the war be ended, and I see
What is the verdict that the Heavens give
To wrong and fraud and force and treachery.'

But it was not to be. Many bright and happy lads on the eve of leaving for the front, during the early days of the war, called to say ‘goodbye’ to their old friend, and among the last of his little pleasures was the packing of many parcels to send to those who were yet left of them to carry on the good fight.

A devout, unassuming Christian gentleman has gone from our midst, and Dunedin is the poorer today for his loss. Mrs Coull survives her husband and she has with her, her daughter, the wife of the late Reverend J Foster, at one time in charge of the Timaru Congregational Church.

3. Account from living descendant in New Zealand:

The obituaries of Thomas, William and James Francis (the three brothers that came to NZ) make interesting reading, especially William's, which talks of going out to Antigua as a young man and staying at the estates of his grandfather (Thomas M.D.) and uncle. My great grandfather Thomas Charles Coull (son of Thomas & Matilda Ann Vince) describes this 'uncle' as Colonel Coull (the one who claimed Earldom of Findlater), so he would have been a great uncle, or something along those lines.

Both my great-grandfather, Thomas Charles Coull, and my grandfather, Thomas Steele Coull, wrote their memoirs. See extracts below that relate to William:

A. Thomas Charles Coull (son of Thomas Coull and Matilda Ann Vince) wrote:

'William went to Trinidad for health reasons to an Uncle, Colonel Coull, who owned a large estate on which there were a number of negro slaves. The Colonel was a humane and lovable man and when Sir William Wilberforce carried a bill through the British House of Commons emancipating slavery, those on the Trinidad
estate petitioned to be kept in their positions rather than face a world which in those days for the underdog was only a miserable and degrading tyranny.

In the 'old world' labour had no place. There was no thought at that time given to such movements as the reduction of working hours or improvement in working conditions. Child labour was encouraged and some of the so called aristocracy overlooked the fact even that the coal they used was hewn by young apprentices and hauled through the mines by boys of six crawling through a shifting tunnel which only such a small being could negotiate. Abuses of young labour were rampant in most industry.

On William's return to London the three brothers bought out two papers, The Islington News and the St. Pancras Gazette and carried them on for some years until the ill health of one of the three decided them to consider migration to a more suitable clime where opportunity appeared brighter and conditions more suitable for bringing up the families. New Zealand was chosen and with their goods and chattels, they embarked in 1870 for Dunedin in the ship, ‘Warrior Queen.'

Ironically they came to NZ because of William's ill health, yet William out lived them both!

B. My grandfather Thomas Steele Coull (son of Thomas Charles Coull and Grace Gilchrist Nicolson) wrote of his great uncle William Coull:

William, my great uncle, was always immaculately dressed and invariable wore a flower in his buttonhole, his snow-white hair gave him a very distinguished appearance. At home he wore a black velvet smoking jacket and velvet circular cap. He was married to Nellie Butcher and they had one daughter, who married a storekeeper at Portobello, named Foster [later trained to be a minister]. They did not have any family.

Uncle William was a real extrovert, full of fun and always doing something unconventional. The top floor of the Rattray Street building [company Coulls Culling & Co] was vacant and a previous occupant had left behind a large old fashioned three wheeled tricycle, a type never seen today. During his lunch hour he used to amuse himself riding the tricycle round this quite considerable area weaving round and round the rows of posts supporting the roof. One day he made a bad mistake and could easily have killed himself, when he and the tricycle ended up in a heap at the bottom of the flight of stairs leading to the factory.

We always enjoyed our visits to his home in Highgate. It was a large property, very interestingly laid out with a single rink bowling green and a sunken glass house which was entered by a small flight of steps into the portion below garden level. The upper portion was glassed in giving quite an unusual effect. He also had a small orchard with an interesting variety of small berry and stone fruits. Inside the house, had some beautiful antiques and a lovely mahogany billiard table, which also served as a dining table.

I am so grateful to have this information, which turns a name on my tree into a person. I've posted this blog in case anyone else is searching for information about the Coulls and this will give confirmation of some historical facts.

My relationship: William's wife, Eleanor Butcher, was the maternal aunt of my grandmother.
I've finished with my family tree research on this fascinating side branch of my family tree.
All the information I've gathered, with extensive help from members here and a New Zealand and an Australian descendant, can be found on my other Coull blogs.