William (2) Woodhurst

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Brief biography

William (2) Woodhurst was born in 1862 to parents Richard William (1) Woodhurst (RWW) and his second wife Matilda. His birth certificate [Birth Index: Bethnal Green 1c 241, 1863 (March)] states that he was born at his parents' residence at 2, Bath Street in Bethnal Green on November 27th 1862. RWW's occupation then was 'Straw Dyer'. Matilda, who could not sign her name, was the informant and registered the birth on January 8th 1863.

The earliest known photograph of him, kindly supplied by his grand-daughter, was taken at King's Lynn in Norfolk in July 1867, when he was just 4 years old. This formally-posed studio photograph shows just him, standing beside a chair and wearing a dark suit with polished shoes and a bow-tie.

The 1871 Census finds him at age "9" living with his parents at 8, Back [of?] 29, Stoke Street in the St. Thomas ward of Birmingham.

The 1881 Census finds him at age 18 unmarried and still living at home with his parents at 41, Howbury Road in Camberwell, Surrey. His birthplace is given as Hackney and his occupation as 'Traveller' (actually denoting a travelling salesman).

In December 1887 he was the informant on his father RWW's death certificate and was then apparently living at 7, Forest Road in Forest Gate. However, it may be that this was actually RWW's own address and that William (2) was just staying there temporarily.

The 1891 Census finds him at age 28 unmarried and visiting the family of his brother George Richard Guy at 129, Syston Road in Leicester. His birthplace is given simply as London and his occupation again as 'Traveller'. Moreover, the census entry records that he was not an employee but an employer. It is not yet known who was working for him.

Later in 1891 he married Sarah Ann Hines. The marriage certificate [Marriage Index: Edmonton 3a 540, 1891 (Dec)] states that they married on December 26th 1891 at the Holy Trinity Church in the Parish of Tottenham. He is described as a bachelor and commercial traveller aged 29, and she as a spinster aged "18" (although she was actually only 16). Their place of residence was given simply as Tottenham. His father RWW is described as a 'Gentleman', and hers as a wine merchant James Hines (this being Matilda's new husband, whom she had married in 1889). The witnesses were William (2)'s sister Blanche (1) and a William Hines who was probably Sarah Ann's brother. (Blanche (1) also described RWW as a 'Gentleman' on her own marriage certificate the following year.)

Sarah Ann was born in Stratford near West Ham in Essex around early 1875 [Birth Index: W. Ham 4a 9, 1875 (March)]. The 1881 Census finds her at age 6 living with her siblings and widowed father James at 8, Grace Road in West Ham. James was occupied as a wine porter. The 1891 Census finds her at age 16 living in the household of James and Matilda at 4, Stonebridge Villas, Townsend Road in South Tottenham.

In 1892 William (2) was living at 4, Stonebridge Villas when his first child Winifred (1) was born. He was still occupied as a commercial traveller. In this same year he witnessed the marriage of Blanche (1).

In 1894 he witnessed the marriage of his sister Annie (1).

In 1895 he was the informant of the death of George Richard Guy, and was then residing at 81, Glyn Road in Lower Clapton, Hackney.

In 1899 he was living at 54, Roding Road in Homerton when his child Blanche (2) was born. He was still occupied as a commercial traveller.

The 1901 Census finds him living with his family at 12, Eighth Avenue in East Ham, Essex and occupied as a traveller (salesman) in druggist's sundries, working on his own account. Also with him was his stepfather James Hines.

In January 1908 he was living at 8, Elderfield Road in Lower Clapton when he served as the informant of the death of his mother Matilda.

By November 1908 he had moved to 41, Clifden Road in Clapton, where his child William Donald was born. He was still occupied as a commercial traveller. Clifden Road runs parallel to, and south of, Blurton Road where his sister Annie (1) had been living when she married.

In the 1990s his niece Maud Ethel Bone (MEB) - the site author's grandmother who was then in her nineties - recalled that William (2) had produced three children named "Winifred, Blanche and Donald". Blanche (2) was probably named after his sister Blanche (1). One of MEB's nieces (Hazel Edith Smith, nee Bone) possessed a postcard photograph showing William (2) - then aged about 50 - posing with a bicycle on which his son William Donald, then a small boy, was seated. On the back of the photograph was a message written by William (2) - most probably to his sister Annie (1), the mother of MEB - as follows:

      This was taken by an amateur in garden last year. 'Donald' has been some hundreds of miles on his little seat 
      in front of his dadies Bike. He was so tired Aunty when that was taken notice how sleepy he looks.

The photograph was most probably taken shortly before the outbreak of the Great War. MEB confirmed the identities of those shown in it and confirmed that William (2) had done a lot of cycling, some possibly in France. The photograph had in fact been printed on a French postcard. She also said that he had lived in a large house with extensive cellars in Clapton and that he was probably the first purveyor of bottled shampoos, which he marketed under the tradename 'Wills and Woodhursts'.

In June 1914 he served as the informant on the death certificate of his uncle Ambrose, and was then still living at 41, Clifden Road.

In November 1916 he witnessed the marriage of MEB to Henry Hanlon at Tufnell Park, Islington.

Around the Spring of 1917 he was visited at his Clifden Road home by his nephew Richard William (4) and organized a family gathering there, of which a fine photograph was supplied to the site author by the descendants in Canada of George Richard Guy.

In 1919 he registered title in land and buildings at 43, Dunlace Road in Lower Clapton [London Gazette, Issue 31539, Page 11269, September 5th 1919].

In 1939 he and his wife were present at the marriage on April 8th of his nephew William Arthur Leslie Smith, the youngest child of Blanche (1). The daughters of William Arthur Leslie supplied to the site author a group wedding photograph of this event taken at Blanche (1)'s home in Ilford.

He died around early 1940 [Death Index: Hackney 1b 721, 1940 (March)]. Afterwards his widow Sarah Ann lived for a while with her married daughter Blanche (2) in Shefford, Bedfordshire before returning to the house in Clifden Road where she remained thereafter. She died on June 10th 1963 at The Hackney Hospital. The GRO reference [Death Index: Hackney 5c 657, 1963 (June)] gives her age as "88" but she was actually 86. Probate was granted on July 25th to her daughter Winifred and son William Donald, her effects being valued at £1171.

His sole grandchild has kindly supplied the following biographical information. William (2) was much admired by his relations for his pioneering nature, and was regarded as a very happy man. He did indeed manufacture shampoos at Clifden Road and travelled regularly to France to sell them. He taught himself French and was remembered as often reading French newpapers at his home in later life. His cellar comprised three rooms, one used for storing coke for his range, another for cooking and washing and the third as an immaculately kept workshop. He was a keen collector of clocks and would go round the house winding them all up to keep them in perfect time with his pocket watch, so that they would all chime in unison on the hour. During the 1930s he made various items of furniture for both his family and his friends. High teas at his large mahogany table were held on Sundays, often accompanied by his sister Maude Edith and his sister-in-law Clara. His sister Annie (1) is also remembered as having been present on one such occasion near Christmas. He purchased a house for each of his two daughters, two for his wife and - in Homerton High Street - a shop for his son with two flats above it, the rent from which provided a subsequent income for his widow.

His children by Sarah Ann Hines

  1. Winifred (1) Woodhurst
  2. Blanche (2) Woodhurst
  3. William Donald Woodhurst