William (3) Woodhurst

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Brief biography

William (3) Woodhurst was born to parents John (3) Woodhurst and his wife Mary Ferris. His own belief [UK Census 1851, 1861] was that he had been born at Eastling, Kent around 1791-92. John (3) and Mary certainly had a son christened at Eastling in December 1791, but the parish register assigns the name John to him. Probably this was just an error in the recording of William (3)'s christening.

William (3)'s first marriage was to Mary (2) Fryer. They were married by banns on October 12th 1823 at Chatham [Parish Register]. The register describes him as a bachelor living in Chatham Parish and her as a spinster living in St. Margaret Parish, Rochester [see Footnote *]. These two towns lie virtually adjacent alongside the River Medway. Mary (2) originated from further afield, in Chislet near the Isle of Thanet, and it is not known how she and William (3) came to meet.

They appear to have lived in various parts of Kent during their marriage, progressing gradually eastwards along an arc extending from Strood-near-Rochester through Sittingbourne (and the nearby village Milton Regis) and on to Buckland (a few miles north-west of Dover), producing one or more children at all of them over the period 1824-1844.

In 1834, when his son Daniel's christening was recorded at the Sittingbourne Wesleyan Chapel, William (3) was described as a brick-maker of "Vallenciene" in Sittingbourne Parish. This doubtless refers to Sittingbourne's present-day Valenciennes Road, named after the French town of Valenciennes.

The 1841 Census finds the family dwelling at Buckland Bottom in Buckland. William (3) was occupied as a brick-maker. Living there also was his wife's father Matthew (2) Fryer, a labourer aged 73, and her brother Robert Fryer, a shoe-maker aged 33; the census record cites the rounded figures of "70" and "30".

By 1846 the family must have moved to Faversham, lying about 7 miles east of Sittingbourne and just 5 miles north-east of William (3)'s birthplace Eastling. It was there that Mary (2) died - at Tanner Street - on January 7th of that year. The death certificate [Death Index: Faversham 5 117, 1846 (March)] describes her as the wife of a brick-maker William Woodhurst. Her age was "42" and the cause of death was "anasarca, effusion into pericardium". Anasarca (also known as dropsy) refers to a generalized oedema, in its most severe form, whereby fluid accumulates in subcutaneous tissues, internal organs and body cavities. It can result in severe cardiac failure, as appears to have happened in her case. The informant, in attendance at the death, was Tamer [sic] Fryer, of Cobham in Kent.

Tamer Fryer may have been Mary (2)'s sister or a married sister-in-law, and was probably related also to an Ann Fryer born at Cobham around 1795. The 1871 Census finds this Ann in Chatham as a widowed annuitant aged "76", living with her daughter Mary Ann and the latter's husband Frederick Cliff (both born around 1837-38 at Gravesend). Her husband, a William Fryer, had also given her at least two other children [IGI: Batch C131332] - William born in 1833 and Ann Lydia born in 1834.

Mary (2)'s death must have put a severe strain upon her husband, now left with several young children - his youngest, Ann (1), was not even two years old and within a few months she also would be dead. Three years later, however, he took a second wife 18 years younger than himself. Her name was Ann Ashwood (nee Peene), the daughter of William (1) Peene. She was born around 1809 in the Davington-Oare area, an agricultural region which has since been subsumed by the expansion of Faversham whose centre originally lay a few miles to the south-east. She was christened at Oare on October 25th 1809 [IGI: Batch I013435], whilst her older siblings had been christened at Davington. The marriage certificate [Marriage Index: Medway V 525, 1849 (Dec)] states that the marriage took place on October 9th 1849 at St. Margaret Parish Church in Rochester. William (3) is described as a widower of full age, a brick-maker and the son of a deceased brick-maker John Woodhurst. Ann is described as a widow of full age, the daughter of a deceased labourer William Peene. Both gave their address as Lark Hill Court in St. Margaret Parish. The witnesses were Richard Wildish and Jane Wildish, whose connections are unknown. It is interesting that William (3) married Ann at Rochester, where his first wife had come from.

Ann had first married to John Redman at Faversham on June 9th 1829 [IGI: Batch I007851] and produced by him at least one child Elizabeth. John appears to have died in 1841 [Death Index: Faversham 5 123, 1841 (March)]. Ann has not yet been found in the 1841 Census, but her father was at that time still living in Oare aged "71" and occupied as a labourer. She remarried in 1848, as Ann Redman, to Frederick William Ashwood at Faversham [Marriage Index: Faversham 5 227, 1848 (March)]. The IGI gives the date as January 23rd 1848 and includes the note "father William Peene" [IGI: Batch I013484]. Ann and Frederick may have produced an unnamed daughter who died in infancy [Death Index: Faversham 5 182, 1848 (Sept)]. Frederick died the following year [Death Index: Faversham 5 133, 1849 (June)].

The 1851 Census finds William (3) living with Ann and six children by his former wife in Ospringe Road in Faversham. Also living with them was Ann's daughter Elizabeth Redman aged "12". William (3) was still employed in brick-making, one of Faversham's main industries - the soil there being especially suitable for making bricks, as well as for growing hops.

In July 1851 William (3) suffered significant loss from the destruction by fire of thatched roofs on outbuildings in a brickfield known as Kingsfield, adjoining the Ospringe Road. He was the manager of this brickfield but was uninsured. The destruction had been caused by the burning of a large clover stack - the produce of about 16 acres of land - within the brickfield, believed to have been caused by arson. The event was reported in the Maidstone and South Eastern Gazette, issue of July 29th 1851.

In 1857 he was still working as a brick-maker when his son Daniel married at Faversham.

William (3)'s daughter Frances (1) and her husband both died in 1857, leaving at least two children as orphans. These children were put into the Faversham Union Workhouse and their residence there was charged to Faversham Parish. The Parish in turn recovered these costs from William (3) over a period of three years [Overseers' Payment and Receipt Book 1848-67, Canterbury Archives]. The Overseers' Book records that quarterly payments each of 1-12s-6d were made by him from April 19th 1858 up to July or September 1861. Each payment was recorded as shown in the following example:

19 Apr 1858 [Repayment of Maintenance] by W. Woodhurst for Maintenance of his two Grand Children in Workhouse 1-12s-6d

The 1861 census finds William (3) and Ann still in Faversham but now living in a "Brick Field" house, describing him as a brick-maker aged "69". Living with them were their child Alfred Thomas (1) and Ann's older and unmarried brother William (2) Peene aged "57" and employed as a powder worker, most probably in Faversham's famous gunpowder industry. By this time, only three of William (3)'s thirteen children - Daniel, Tamar and John (2) - from his first marriage are known to have remained in Kent. Of the others - excluding George (1) whose fate is as yet unknown - four had died in infancy, two had died in adulthood after brief marriages and three had emigrated; soon afterwards John (2) would also emigrate.

William (3) died aged "74" in 1866 [Death Index: Faversham 2a 452, 1866 (March)]. The Probate Registry Index in Chancery Lane, London contains the entry "William Woodhurst formerly of Ospringe Road in the town of Faversham in the County of Kent brickmaker but late of East Street in the town aforesaid Tavern Keeper deceased who died 15 January 1866 was proved at Canterbury by the oath of Ann Woodhurst of East Street aforesaid Widow the Relict the sole Executrix. Effects under 100-0-0". The tavern referred to was the Recreation Tavern, which still exists to this day at No. 16, East Street.

In March the license held by William (3) for the Recreation Tavern was transferred at the Faversham Borough Petty Sessions to his widow Ann [The Kentish Gazette, issue of March 13th 1866].

Ann remarried in 1868 to a widower named William Vile. The GRO reference - which misspells her surname as Woodhouse - is [Marriage Index: Canterbury 2a 1007, 1868 (Sept)]. The Marriage Register of St. Mildred's Parish in Canterbury names her as "Ann Woodhouse (widow) Peene" and states that the wedding took place on September 9th 1868. Her husband was probably the William Vile found in the 1841 Census as a mariner aged "25" living at Brent Town near Preston-next-Faversham, and whose first wife may have been called Jane.

Ann died aged "61" in late 1870 [Death Index: Faversham 2a 439, 1870 (Dec)]. The 1871 Census appears to find her widowed husband at age "53" occupied as the licenced victualler of the Recreation Tavern at 16, East Street in Faversham. Living with him was his widowed father, also named William.

* An IGI ancestral file [AF97-101469] claims mistakenly that this first marriage took place at Strood-near-Rochester on November 24th 1824; both details are wrong.

His children by Mary (2) Fryer

This list is consistent with the entries written in a Family Bible currently possessed by descendants of William (3)'s child Daniel.

  1. William (4) Woodhurst
  2. Matthew (2) Woodhurst
  3. Frances (1) Woodhurst
  4. John (1) Woodhurst
  5. Absalom Woodhurst
  6. David Woodhurst
  7. Stephen Woodhurst
  8. Daniel Woodhurst
  9. Mercy (1) Woodhurst
  10. George (1) Woodhurst
  11. Tamar Woodhurst
  12. John (2) Woodhurst
  13. Ann (1) Woodhurst

His child by Ann Redman/Ashwood (nee Peene)

  1. Alfred Thomas (1) Woodhurst

Ann's children by John Redman

  1. Elizabeth Redman - born around 1838/39 at Oare, Kent
  2. and possibly others ...

The above child may have been the "Elizabeth Redman" born in 1838 [Birth Index: Faversham 5 173, 1838 (June)] or the "Elizabeth Ann Redman" born in 1839 [Birth Index: Faversham 5 162, 1839 (June)].

Ann's children by Frederick William Ashwood

  1. perhaps ... an unnamed female [Birth Index: Faversham 5 182, 1848 (Sept)]
  2. and possibly others ...

Ann's children by William Vile

  1. presumed none ...