Research: William Green

My 4x great grandfather, William Green was born on 19th July 1819 in the Leeds area of West Yorkshire. He was one of 5 known children: Benjamin (1817-?), William (1819-1891), Mary (1821-?), Elizabeth (1823-?) and James (1825-?). Their parents were Edward and Maria Green (nee Gledhill). William was baptised on 30th August 1819, in the parish of St. Peter, Leeds, West Yorkshire. It states that William’s parents were living at “Top Close” in Leeds. Edward was recorded as working as a Shear Grinder.

I, unfortunately, don’t know a lot about William’s life from the time of his baptism, up to his marriage in 1839. These 20 years are crucial to how a boy grows into a man. Future thoughts, morals, actions and other behaviours can be a result of how William was brought up, the experiences he endured and the relationships he had with others. It’s such a shame that we cannot learn about our ancestors’ lives at this time, especially those like William, who were born prior to the first detailed census being taken in 1841.

One thing that I can be almost certain of, is that William started an apprenticeship the art of Cabinet Making, or at least woodworking. He would have started as an apprentice between the age of 10 and 15, after he left school. That is if he went to school, as it was not compulsory back in the early 19th century.

On 27th October 1839, William Green married Elizabeth Strother, my 4x great grandmother, in the Parish Church of Rothwell, West Yorkshire. William’s age was recorded as “Minor”, which meant that he must have been 20 years old. He would have had to have had the permission of his parents, to get married, as the minimum age for marriage without consent of parents was 21 years old. William was working as a Cabinet Maker at the time of his marriage. He would have finished his apprenticeship by this time. Elizabeth was 25 years old at the time. It was recorded that they were both living in the village of Woodlesford, in West Yorkshire, at the time of their marriage. Neither William nor Elizabeth were able to sign their own name, so they both instead marked an “X”, which validated their marriage.

In 1841, William was recorded as being a Cabinet Maker (Journeyman) on what appears to be “Leine Street” in Hunslet, West Yorkshire. He was 20 years old. William would have successfully completed his apprenticeship and progressed to the next level, a journeyman, which in most cases just meant an employee. He was living with 20 year old Elizabeth Greatorex, 25 year old Elizabeth Green and 1 year old Edward Green.

In 1851, William was living on what appears to be Hartsley Road, in Hunslet, Yorkshire as a Cabinet Maker (Journeyman). He was 32 years old and was living with his wife Elizabeth, and 5 of his children: Edward (11), Mary Ann (8), John William (6), James (4) and Benjamin (5 months).

On the 1861 Census, William was 41 years old and was living at 172 Hunslet Road, Hunslet, West Yorkshire as a Master Cabinet Maker. He was living with his wife and 5 children. His son, Edward, was working as a Cabinet Maker, daughter Mary Ann and son John as French Polishers, so would have all been working for their father, William. There is an Electoral Register and Poll Book from 1860, the previous year, which features William Green living on Hunslet Road, but also states that he owns a shop. This would have most probably been a shop full of cabinets, that were made by William himself, and french polished by his children. I wonder if I could get hold of a cabinet made by him, I would definitely purchase it.

Part of Hunslet Road on a 1936 map.

In 1871, William was working as a Cabinet Maker and Ironmonger (employing 6 men, 2 boys and 2 women) and he was living at 41 to 44, Hunslet Road in Hunslet, West Yorkshire with his wife, Elizabeth. Her occupation was recorded as Home Duties. Their son, Benjamin was working as an Ironmonger’s Assistant, meaning that he was working for his father. Benjamin (20) was also living there with his wife, Mary (22), daughter Alice (1) and son Haywood (2 months). William’s 11-year-old niece, Matilda Dinsdale, was also living with the family. Matilda was the daughter of William’s sister.

In the time between the 1871 and the 1881 censuses, William’s wife, Elizabeth sadly passed away. I haven’t been able to find or narrow down the death record of Elizabeth, yet, so I cannot state the exact year. After the death of his wife, William Green, married widow Jane Harrison (nee Brooke). Jane had previously been married to a William Pattison Harrison, who had passed away in 1874, and with whom, bore 5 known children (2 surviving childhood). It seems that William Green took the children on and treat then like his own, when he married Jane. They lived as part of the family, appearing on a few of the census records.

In 1881, William was living at 40 Hunslet Road (Washington House). William was 61 years old and was living with his wife Jane, stepdaughter Marianne Harrison, stepson Frederick Harrison and servant Ellen Soye. William was working as a Master Cabinet Maker, Ironmonger and Undertaker. He was employing 10 men and 3 boys.

The photograph below shows what seems to be the last of the type of Hunslet Road houses, that I believe William and his family would have lived in. It is such a shame that what used to be such a long street of similar houses, has been left to get to this state, instead of being saved. With all of the history that the houses have experienced, they should have been preserved.

The last of the houses on Hunslet Road (About number 80 Hunslet Road)

In 1891, William was 71 years of age and was working as a Cabinet Maker at his own business (he was recorded as an Employer). He was living with his wife, Jane who was 65 at the time, 34 year old step daughter Marianne Harrison who was a dressmaker, and a 20-year-old general domestic servant by the name of Annie Smith. Their address was 171 Hunslet Road. It seems like William and his family never really moved away from the area, but instead moved into different houses on Hunslet Road, and the surrounding area. This could have been because of various reasons, such as an increase in demand of his cabinets versus the lack of demand, or the changing of family size, just to name a few. Although times may have been difficult at times, I believe William and his family managed very well, and it seems that it was as a result of William’s business. In order to keep a business running and earn enough money from it in those times, William must have been successful. The continuous occupation theme of Cabinet Maker and the fact that he went from an apprentice, to a Master Cabinet Maker suggests this, and also that he would have been very well skilled in his trade.

William sadly passed away within 3 months of the 1891 census being taken. He passed away in Hunslet, and was 71 years old. I am unsure of the cause of death, or where he was buried. William’s wife, Jane moved into 60 Cowper Street, which was located off of Chapeltown Road in the Potternewton area of Leeds, where she is recorded as living on the 1901 census. She was living there at 73 years old, on her own means, with her 40-year-old daughter Marriane Harrison and an 18-year-old servant called Ethel M Strange, who worked as a cook.

The image below shows Cowper Street on a map from 1908. Jane’s house would have been below the “205” or the “S” in the street name, near the corner of Hamilton Street. The houses with even numbers were on that side, and the odd numbers on the other side (the side of the schools).

Ten years later, on the 1911 Census, Jane was 83 years old and was still living at 60 Cowper Street. She was living there, again, with her 55-year-old daughter Marianne and a 23-year-old domestic servant called Elizabeth Goodall. Unfortunately, it seems that the house no longer exists, despite many of the other houses still being there on the street.

From my research of William, I believe that he had a fairly decent quality of living for a person living in Leeds in the 19th century. He must have been a hard working individual – he demonstrates this by completing an apprenticeship and working his way up to Master Cabinet Maker. I believe he was a family man, who didn’t care if children were his own, in terms of biologically, or not. This is suggested by the number of children that he had, and the two step children that he lived with. I would love to know anything about William and his family, or life, so please do not hesitate to contact me if you know more information. It doesn’t matter how small or significant it seems, I love to learn everything about my ancestors, and it could also help to unlock brick walls in my research.

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