William (8) Woodhurst

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Brief biography

William (8) Woodhurst was born in 1866 to parents Alfred (1) Woodhurst and his second partner Mary Ann Edridge. His birth certificate [Birth Index: St. George S. 1d 129, 1866 (Sept)] states that he was born at his parents' address 45, Wellington Place in Southwark, Surrey on May 28th 1866. His father is described as a bonnet blocker master. The informant was his mother who registered the birth on July 4th.

The 1881 Census finds him living with his mother at 22, King's Bench Walk in Southwark. He is described as aged 15 and occupied as a cabinet maker. The census record cites his surname as Edridge but in adult life he went by his correct Woodhurst surname.

He married Mary Ann Downey at St. John's Church in Walworth Parish, Southwark on April 8th 1888. The marriage certificate [Marriage Index: St. Saviour 1d 251, 1888 (June)] names him as William Woodhurst, a bachelor and cabinet maker aged 22 (though he was actually 21), and describes her as a spinster aged 21. Her forenames are given as "Elizabeth Mary Ann", but "Elizabeth" was not her birthname. His father is correctly named but described simply as "deceased", as also is her father James Downey. Both gave their place of residence as 12, East Street. The witnesses were James Michael Downey (perhaps her brother) and Harriet Webster whose connection is unknown. East Street runs west-to-east connecting Walworth Road with Old Kent Road. Within three years of this date the address 12, East Street had become redesignated as 277, Walworth Road. Living there in 1891 was a person named James Nicholson [PRO Ref: RG12 Piece 361 Folio 71 Page 5] described as a corn merchant's manager. There may be some connection between this and the fact that in 1881 Alfred (1)'s daughter Elizabeth Eliza was a servant in the home of a corn merchant Richard Bodle in Keymer, Sussex.

Mary Ann's parents were James Downey and Ann Boot who married in 1850 [Marriage Index: St. George S. 4 542, 1850 (Sept)]. Ann was born around 1828-29 at High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire and James was born around 1820 in Dublin. The 1851 Census finds them, with no children yet, living at 48, Kent Street in St. George Martyr, Southwark where James was occupied as a labourer. Also present was Ann's married brother Joseph Boot with his three children. The 1861 Census finds them with their first two children Elizabeth and James living in the same parish but now at 11, Willmotts Buildings, and James occupied as a wharf labourer. They subsequently produced at least two more children John and Mary Ann, the latter born in 1867 [Birth Index: St. George S. 1d 127, 1867 (June)].

James Downey (senior) died aged "50" in 1869 [Death Index: St. George S. 1d 106, 1869 (March)]. His widow Ann remarried to a man named Edwin Clayton in late 1870 [Marriage Index: St. Saviour 1d 179, 1870 (Dec)]. The 1871 Census finds her aged "43" with her four children living at 23, Willmotts Buildings in St. George Martyr but named there as "Ann Downey" and described as widowed, yet Edwin Clayton was also lodging at the same address and described as unmarried. It appears that Ann and Edwin had some reason to hide the fact of their having recently married. The following year they produced a child Ann Clayton [Birth Index: St. Saviour 1d 50, 1872 (March)]. Edwin may have died in 1876, as the GRO death index cites an "Edward" Clayton dying that year at age 51 [Death Index: St. Saviour 1d 20, 1876 (March)]. The 1881 Census finds Ann (senior) living at 19, Lant Street in St. George Martyr with three of her Downey children, including Mary Ann, together with her daughter Ann by Edwin. Here she is again named as "Ann Downey" and described as a widow. No subsequent definitive trace of her, or of her daughter Ann by Edwin, has yet been found, but she may have been the Ann "Downey" who died aged "81" in 1907 [Death Index: Southwark 1d 80, 1907 (March)].

Although William (8) apparently believed in 1888 that his father was dead, this was not in fact the case - his father was still alive in the Hanwell Asylum. Perhaps his mother had concealed this.

William (8) is described as a cabinet maker in all subsequent records citing his occupation.

His first child Mary Ann (4) was born in 1889. He was then living at 17, Toulmin Street in Southwark.

His family must have been in serious difficulties by 1890, because on November 25th of that year his wife was admitted into St. Saviour's Union Workhouse in Mint Street, Southwark. She must have been heavily pregnant at that time because on January 22nd 1891 she gave birth, in the workhouse, to their first son John (8). His birth certificate indicates that she had previously been living at 15, William Street in Southwark. She and the baby were discharged from the workhouse nearly a month later, on February 18th. Her occupation was described as packer. These events are recorded in various registers maintained by the St. Saviour Union's Board of Guardians.

The 1891 Census finds William (8) at age "26" living (or staying) with his mother and brother Alfred (3) at 25, Lithgow Street in Battersea, occupied as a cabinet maker. He is wrongly described as unmarried. This may have been merely an error. The location of his wife Mary Ann and their progeny in this census is unknown.

In March 1892 John (8) died. The family were then living at 21, King Street in Lambeth.

The 1901 Census finds the family at 83, Stamford Street in Lambeth. William (8) is described as a "chest of drawers maker" and his wife as a baking powder packer.

In late 1901 their house, which was shared with several other people, was deliberately set on fire by a glassblower Thomas Ryan. He was brought to trial on December 19th 1901, pleaded guilty to arson and was sentenced to 12 months with hard labour in Wandsworth Prison.

In 1903, when his son Henry (2) died, William (8) was living at 31, Dodson Street in Southwark.

In 1904, when his son Frederick (1) was born, he was still living at 31, Dodson Street.

In December 1906, when his son Henry (1) was born, he was living at 12, Marlborough Street near Gray Street in Lambeth. By February 1907, however, the family seems to have moved to 51, Commercial Road in Lambeth.

In 1910, when his daughter Rosina was born, he was living at 80, Gravel Lane in Southwark.

A descendant's report states that William (8) was injured by a Hackney Carriage and taken to Champion Hill Infirmary in Lambeth; this accident may have happened in November 1910.

He died in 1913, barely three weeks after the death of his brother Alfred (3). The death certificate [Death Index: Camberwell 1d 734, 1913 (June)] states that he died at the Southwark Infirmary aged 47 on April 19th 1913, and had been occupied as a cabinet maker journeyman living at 157, Quinn Square Buildings in Waterloo Road. The informant was his widow, of the same address, who registered the death on April 21st. The cause of death was certified as (1) Chronic Bright's Disease and (2) Syncope. When used accurately the first term denotes glomerulonephritis (a specific renal illness), but was sometimes used more generally for any form of kidney failure. The second term signified that the death was a sudden, rather than a lingering, one. It is possible that the alleged accident with the Hackney Carriage actually occurred in April 1913 and that his death was a virtually immediate consequence of physical kidney damage.

A descendant's report states that the family could not afford a funeral, and William (8) is reputed to be have been buried in an unmarked grave in Brookwood Cemetery, Woking in Surrey.

Mary Ann died at 73, Kingsgate Road in Hampstead aged 77 [Death Index: Hampstead 1a 602, 1945 (March)]. She was buried on February 22nd 1945 at Hampstead Cemetery with the grave reference Section D3, No. 13 [Funeral Accounts of J. Nodes & Co., Undertakers, Kilburn].

His children by Mary Ann Downey

  1. Mary Ann (4) Woodhurst
  2. John (8) Woodhurst
  3. William (10) Woodhurst
  4. Alfred Thomas (4) Woodhurst
  5. James Frank Woodhurst
  6. Henry (2) Woodhurst
  7. Frederick (1) Woodhurst
  8. Henry (1) Woodhurst
  9. Rosina Woodhurst