William George Partleton (1827-1898) in 1861
William George Partleton, son of house painter Benjamin Thomas Partleton (1799-1843) and Mary Greenwood (1800-1855), was christened on 8 July 1829 at St-Mary-at-Lambeth Church:
William's place of birth was not Lambeth, but was the East End of London, as we shall see later. His year of birth is about 1827; he was christened at Lambeth when he was 2 years old.
By 1841, young William, aged 14, is living with his family at Francis Street, Lambeth. His census record of 1841 provides us with a nice little insight into the whole family because when we look closely, examining the column headed 'Whether Born in same County', he is a 'No', whereas all of his brothers and sisters are 'Yes':
We may conclude that the family had moved out of Surrey for a while, and headed to the East End around the year 1827. The place where they headed was Stratford.
Below we see Stratford in the year 1826:
It was a short stay in the East End, because we know the family had returned to Lambeth by 1829.
In 1843 disaster strikes as William's dad Benjamin dies of a stroke. William is now 16 and probably just about old enough to fend for himself. To some extent, we know that he relies on his mum's family, the Greenwoods, for support.
The next we see of William is the 1851 census, where he is aged 24, and we are sprung a surprise:
William has apparently been married and has a daughter 'Marth' aged 2. This is a surprise, and frankly we are sceptical, because there is no marriage in the record, nor can we find a birth record for any child of the name Partleton that fits the bill. Sophia is 28; perhaps the baby is illegitimate?
And where is Little Gray's Inn Lane, in the parish of St Andrew Holborn, where William, Sophia and Marth are living? It took a bit of finding. But here it is in all its glory in a map of 1862, right next to Holborn Workhouse:
Little Gray's Inn Lane connects the Workhouse to the Prison. Not an easy one for the estate agent to sell. We are not looking at a high-rent area here.
Three years after the census, in October 1854, the plot thickens because William is married again: Sophia and Marth seem to have disappeared. No death certificates, no burials, no further report of them in censuses. This is circumstantial evidence, I think, that William and Sophia were not technically married.
The lady whom William marries in 1854 is Ann Reilly who had been born in Dublin in 1825. The marriage is witnessed by William Partleton's uncle William Lavers Greenwood:
William and Ann are married at the famous church of St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square. As was common, the wedding took place in the parish of the bride. Even poor people got married in grand churches, because they lived in the parish. The church was built in 1726, and is unchanged today, so let's take a look inside to see how it looked to William on his wedding day. Step into his shoes:
Looking in more detail at the marriage certificate, we see that William is still living in the Holborn area, East Harding Street, which we see at the bottom of the map below:
I note that William's residence is very close to Farringdon Market on the map where you could buy fish, poultry and meat. I couldn't find a Victorian picture of it, but I do know what happened to it in the end:
90 years after William lived there, on 08 March 1945, the market was hit by a V2 rocket, killing 380 people. WW2 was only few weeks away from being over. These pictures, taken by Picture Post Magazine, were suppressed at the time. It was important not to let the Germans know that they were hitting the target with their V2 rockets. The press carried fake stories of V2's landing short in Kent, leading the Germans to increase their range, thereby shooting some rockets harmlessly into the country on the far side of London.
But let's get back to our William. His bride, Ann Reilly, whose dad Peter Reilly is a cabbie, is living at Villiers Street, which is why the wedding is at St Martin-in-the-Fields - it's only 100 yards from the church.
This area had been owned by John Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, which is what the four roads in the neighbourhood on the map are named John, Villiers, Duke and Buckingham Streets respectively! The map above shows neighbouring Charing Cross Station (completed 1860), but at the time of the wedding (1854), this area was still Hungerford Market:
In the following beautiful engraving of 1841, by T.S. Boys, we see St Martin-in-the-Fields church on the left and a nice view down The Strand. The building on the right, with the fabulous lion atop, is Northumberland House, demolished 1874. The location of Villiers Street is shown by the yellow arrow.
Here's a picture of Charing Cross in 1910, Villiers Street indicated by the yellow arrow. Note the horse-drawn cabs, and picture Ann's dad: "Where to, Sir?":
Below is Villiers Street today; definitely some buildings survive from 1854:
William and Ann's first child William Benjamin Peter Partleton was born on 8 May 1855 while the couple are still living in the Parish of St Martin.
By January 1857, William and Ann have moved to Lambeth and their first daughter, Annie is born. Annie has her own very interesting page in the Partleton Tree 'In Their Shoes ' feature.
In June 1858, tragedy strikes when 3-year-old William Benjamin Peter dies of Scarlet Fever:
In 1859 Ann gives birth to her second daughter, Mary Catherine in Lambeth.
So we proceed to the 1861 Census:
We see above William and Ann with their two daughters, Ann and Mary. Their 'Visitor' is William's younger brother Charles [my great-great-great-granddad]. William is living next door to his uncles Charles and William Greenwood, brothers of William's mum Mary Greenwood who had died in 1855.
William's occupation is now 'Brass Finisher and Gas Fitter'. He declares his birthplace to be Stratford. This is in East London, near West Ham.
Walford, the imaginary borough in BBC Eastenders, is a made-up name which is purported to be a conflation of real place names Walthamstow and Stratford.
Getting back to our William and Ann, they have three more children through the years, and we note that they move to Kent in about 1863:
George aka William (1862-1872) born Lambeth
Marion (1864-aft1901) born Belvedere Kent
Rosanna (1866-aft1896) born Greenwich
By the early 1870's the family has been living in the Greenwich / Woolwich area for 7 years. In the 1871 census we find them at Woolwich, but William is not home - Ann is Head of the household:
William is not home, nor is he anywhere in England. The significance of this is very likely that William is on service overseas in the army. Woolwich is home to the Royal Artillery.
It is a sobering thought that whilst the above census was held in 1871, by the end of 1872, two of the children, Mary Partleton aged 11 and George (aka William) Partleton aged 9 were dead. Life was not easy in Victorian times.
By 1881 William and Ann have returned to Lambeth, 7 Catherine Street:
Above we note that William is living next door to his brother Charles. William's three surviving daughters have left home. William confirms his birthplace as Stratford.
By 1891 William and Ann have moved to Southwark. Aged 64, William is still working as a gas fitter:
One year after the above census, Ann Reilly dies.
It is not uncommon for old people in Victorian times to re-marry. In 1896, William marries for the third time, to Ann Cobb at St Saviours (Southwark Cathedral) which we see below in 1970 in its cramped city environment:
So, for the second time in his life, William George Partleton is married in a very grand church. To step into his shoes, have a try at the 3-D image below, which shows the interior of St Saviours, taken in the 1890's, exactly as William would have seen it. The trick is to sit with your face about a foot from the screen, cross your eyes and relax. The two images will combine into a single 3-D image in the middle. Step into William's shoes:
Ann Cobb died of cancer just one year after the wedding. Below is her death certificate, informed by William. The usual thanks to Terry Partleton for this and all of the other birth, marriage and death certificates in these web pages:
We can read from this that William and Ann were living in Tottenham. William has certainly moved around a lot in his life.
Both of William's sons had died as children. Through his daughters, William has numerous descendants alive and well today - but none of the surname Partleton
One year after the death of Ann Cobb, in 1898, William himself passed away aged 71. He had returned south of the river and was living in Camberwell.
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