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William Henry Warner  Marriage

St. Pancras and Southwark 1833-1852

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The striking drawing is of Joseph Smith - founder of the mormon church, so really not the right kind of person at all, but then again it could be.  Anyway I liked it.  I thought it might be how our William looked at this time in his life.  

William and Ann Martin - daughter of an ostler, were married in Old Church, St. Pancras on August 25th 1833.  There do not appear to have been any family members at the wedding because the witnesses are both 'professionals' - i.e the same people witness several other weddings on the same page.  Both William and Ann can sign their own names although William forgot the Henry and squeezed it in afterwards - at which point it seems the cleric did too at the top of the page.  Henry is definitely recorded as part of his name though.  Their first child is born the following July so this can't have been a shotgun wedding.  Ann's parents, at least, were still alive, so I have no idea why the dearth of relatives.  These marriage records fall in between the really basic records of earlier times (names and date) to the modern ones which includes father's names, so I really cannot glean much more from it.  I have no idea where William would have met Ann.  I would have surmised the inn at which her father worked, but I think he (her father) had already moved south of the river to Kent - which may be why he wasn't at the wedding.

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If William did start his working life as a tallow chandler I have no idea why he switched to house painting.  He surely cannot have undertaken another apprenticeship with a wife and daughter to support.  The tallow chandler's trade, of course, eventually died out with the coming of electricity but this was not in William's lifetime.  Tallow was still a major trade - my ancestor John Mollett made his fortune trading in it I think.  All of which makes one wonder whether Clara was really their child.

The next we know is the baptism of their first child Clara on June 24th 1834.  Well - it may be their child.  This record tells us a little bit more - an address - 84 Fetter Lane, Holborn (shown below) and an occupation - tallow chandler - a maker and purveyor of candles.  And there we have the pause for thought because William is described everywhere else as a painter and sometimes a glazier too - an occupation which is not really very close to a tallow chandler.  They both require training as well, so one does wonder whether this is a different couple, although the father is very clearly William Henry and as my search for his birth has very clearly shown, there were not many William Henrys around.   The child disappears before the 1841 census, so it is very difficult to know for certain whether she belongs to this family or not.  Clara is not, as far as I know a family name.

We now begin to move into more verifiable territory though.  In 1836 the child who was to be William and Ann's only son, William Thomas, was born on 28th April, (address, Crescent Street in St. Pancras and father's occupation painter) but disastrously in 1838 at almost two years old he dies, I know not why.  What a bad start to a family, first a probably dead daughter and now a dead son. I guess it was common enough for the time, but I doubt this made one immune to the pain of loss. And it appears to have been such a setback that there are no more children until 1842, four years after the death of William - thus, when the 1841 census is taken the childless young couple is living in the house of one Elizabeth Diamond a dressmaker of their own age, together with Louisa Warner aged 40.  I have tried and tried to find both of these women elsewhere to find a connection but so far to no avail.  Louisa would surely be too young to be William's mother - so a sister, an aunt, a sister-in-law?  There is a Louisa Warner married to Amos a sailor, but they are basically from Norfolk.  So once again, so near yet so far to making a causal link and therefore learning a little more.

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By 1842 they have moved to Chapel Street which runs parallel to Pentonville Road and is just off Islington High Street.  Sort of at the junction of St Pancras, Islington, Marylebone and Finsbury - it's a bit hard sometimes to decide where one ends and the other begins. And I know this because in 1842 Martha Ann is born and is baptised.  And Martha survives and is followed in two years by Charlotte, named for her maternal grandmother. The family had moved closer to King's Cross by then to Hamilton Row, near Baggnige Wells - a popular spa and pleasure garden of the time.  But alas, Charlotte also dies at the age of 1 year and 5 months in August 1845.  Adding to this tragedy was the flooding of the River Fleet which ran very close by.  I found this little piece of information on the British History site: 


"Always prone to flooding, the Fleet did so spectacularly in 1809 and 1818, when the whole area from the bottom of Penton Place to the Smallpox Hospital at Battle Bridge was flooded, and again in 1846.  The salubrity of the area was also compromised by a high concentration of activities such as bone-boiling, slaughtering and tanning, and poverty may be inferred from a high incidence of crime. In 1819 two residents of Hamilton Row were sentenced to death for sheep-stealing."  


So not a great area in which to raise a family.

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But then their luck changes for a while.  Another baby, Mary Ann, is born in the third quarter of 1846 and this one survives.  The birthplace is Clerkenwell, but she is not christened.  All those deaths perhaps is the reason.

Ir may also explain the family's move across the river to Southwark, where Catharine Eliza (my great-grandmother) was born in 1848.  Maybe the twin disasters of Charlotte's death and the floods was enough to make them move.  Why Southwark?  Who knows.  William Henry is still a painter and their address is Church St. Christchurch, Southwark.  This is just across Blackfriars Bridge in the Borough district of London, more or less due south of the St. Pancras/Islington area.  But Catharine was not christened straightaway.  Perhaps the deaths of those three small children deterred them.  In 1849 there is a change of heart and the three surviving girls are all christened together in the church of St. John the Evangelist in Walworth - basically the same area, although they have now moved to Goodwin Square which will be their home until William's death.  So perhaps stability and happiness at last, cemented by the birth of their last child Henrietta (perhaps named for her father) in 1850.

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And in 1851 there they all are - William, Ann and their four little girls, Martha (9), Mary Ann (4), Catharine (2) and Henrietta (1).  William has widened the scope of his work - he is now a painter and glazier and they seem to have settled at no. 8 Goodwin Square.  

Such a tragedy then, when it looks as if life was at last beginning to be good, that William Henry himself, dies in 1852 and is buried in Christ Church on May 16th 1852, aged just 37.  I have yet to find his death certificate - the ones I have sent for so far have all been wrong, so I do not know why he died - disease, accident?

William Henry Warner


The children




The children


William Henry Warner

Ann Martin

Catharine Eliza Warner

The Fleet River and Shoe Lane

St. Pancras

Painters and glaziers

Ann of course was now in a somewhat desperate situation and seems to have moved more or less immediately back across the river to more familiar territory.  In a couple of years she remarried - what else to do?  Her new husband was an older man, so it may have been a marriage of convenience for both of them as there were no more children. But it lasted.  Click here to find out what happened to her.

So a sad story and one with big holes in it.  I will keep an eye on new records that come out that might help.

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