William (9) Woodhurst

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Brief biography

William (9) Woodhurst was born to parents William (13) Woodhurst and his wife Elizabeth and was christened on May 17th 1761 at Detling, Kent [IGI: Batch C042660].

He married Rebecca Blackman at Frindsbury, Kent on September 9th 1787 [Frindsbury Parish Register]. Both parties signed their names fully in the register, rather than (as was more commonly the case) merely making their "marks". The witnesses were Thomas Iverson and Thomas Matthews, whose connections are unknown. Rebecca was born around 1761, but her parents have not yet been identified.

It is highly probable that he was the William Woodhurst mentioned in many assessments and disbursements in the Frindsbury Poor Rate Book for 1791-1800. This book contains a good clear signature assigned by him on March 28th 1799 to an examination of accounts by the Overseers. Various other entries show him being assessed - implicitly as a property owner - for various sums of money. One of these, dated April 11th 1799, assesses him for an amount in respect of "the Vicarage". The latter detail is a potentially important link to the claim made in a letter written in 1943 by Richard (1) Woodhurst that his Woodhurst ancestors had "owned" Larkin Hall Farm in Frindsbury's Bill Street. Schedules of Larkin Hall Farm drawn up in 1905 and 1920 itemize the many land plots, fruit orchards and buildings making up that estate, and these include the entries "2 houses Old Vicarage and Gardens" and "Old Vicarage Plantation". Thus it may well be that the William being assessed in April 1799 owned one or other of these minor properties on the estate and that he was indeed Richard (1)'s great-grandfather.

William (9) is presumed to have been the "William Woodhurst" recorded in the Frindsbury section of the Poll Book for Kent drawn up in 1802 [LMA and Guildhall Library]. Among the freeholders listed there, he was entered immediately next to George (1) Gunning, the then owner of Larkin Hall Farm.

William (9) died in 1825. He was buried at age "63" at Frindsbury on July 20th 1825 [All Saints Frindsbury burials 1775-1861].

His widow Rebecca was apparently living in the St Faith's Green part of Maidstone in 1827. This is known from a mention of her in the Maidstone Gazette and Kentish Courier, issue of December 11th 1827; reportedly, a man named John Harper had gone to her to pawn a stolen coat. After the death of William (9) she had probably gone to live with her married daughter Rebecca (2).

Rebecca died in 1840. Her death certificate [Death Index: Medway V 264, 1840 (Dec)] states that she died aged 79 at "10 minutes to 9 pm" on November 25th 1840 at York Cottage in New Road, Chatham. She is described as the widow of a fruiterer William Woodhurst, and the cause of death is given as "decay of Nature". The informant, present at the death, was Mary Rodney, residing at the Alms Houses in Chatham.

Rebecca was buried at age "79" at Frindsbury on December 1st 1840 [All Saints Frindsbury burials 1775-1861].

Mary Rodney's maiden name was Blackman and she was probably Rebecca's sister, born around 1775-76. She married Robert Rodney at Chatham on November 15th 1803 [IGI: Batch M166068]. He was born abroad around 1766-67. The 1841 Census finds Mary at age "65" living with Robert at the Sir John Hawkins Hospital in Chatham, both supported on alms. The schedule indicates that he was born in "Foreign Parts". He died in 1847 [Death Index: Medway 5 317, 1847 (Dec)]. Mary died in 1849 [Death Index: Medway 5 459, 1849 (Sept)].

The 1840 Pigot Directory for Maidstone mentions, under the headings Clothes Dealers and Hatters, a Rebecca Woodhurst at Pudding Lane. No such person appears in the 1841 Census for Pudding Lane [PRO Ref: HO107 / Piece 490 / Book 9 / Folios 5-7 and 24-27]. It seems probable that this person was William (9)'s widow, albeit implying that she was still in business in her late 70s. Had this person been anyone else, the GRO Indexes should have referred to her subsequent death or marriage under that name - but they do not. Moreover, there is strong evidence that her daughter Rebecca (2) resided in Maidstone from the late 1810s until at least 1851.

His children by Rebecca Blackman

  1. Rebecca (2) Woodhurst
  2. William (1) Woodhurst
  3. and perhaps Elizabeth (7) Woodhurst
  4. and possibly others ...

There is no direct evidence that Elizabeth (7) was related to William (9), or that her maiden name was Woodhurst. The 1841 Census finds her (named very clearly) as "Elizabeth Woodhurst" at age "40" living with a Susan Allen aged "70" in Stewarts Buildings, Bromley St. Leonard in Middlesex. Both were living on independent means and both were born outside Middlesex. Bromley lies only a little over a mile from West Ham where William (1) Woodhurst was living in 1841. Her birthyear range 1797-1801 is consistent with being a child of William (9). Nothing more is currently known of her.