William Shepherd Partleton (1812-1889)


William is the ancestor of all USA Partletons, through his son Thomas Thompson Partleton (b1865) and his grandsons Alfred R Partleton (b1892) and William Kendall Partleton (1879-1957), all three of whom emigrated to America.

I've scoured the LDS site for the birth of William, including searching for Partington, but to no avail. Not to despair, we have plenty of other sources.

William's dad John (1788-1868), who has his own page on 'In Their Shoes', was a miner and 'Engine Man', operating and probably maintaining heavy machinery in coal and iron ore mines and eventually in a sawmill.

We know from censuses that William was born in c1812-1816, and he gives his place of birth as Whitehaven, Cumberland. His dad John was always on the move, always within ten miles or so of Whitehaven.

At some time in the 1830's William marries Ann, whose surname is unknown, and we see them together in the 1841 census:

William and Ann are living in Kelsick Lane. It's still there by the harbour at Whitehaven, by the yellow arrow on the aerial photograph below:


You'd hardly believe it, but there is a picture of Kelsick Lane (below) on the internet, even though there is really nothing to see. We are looking south, viewpoint of the blue arrow on the above map:

Taken from the same spot, the photographer has turned to look west down Gregg's Lane (green arrow on map)

The next picture is looking west down Hicks Lane, (red arrow on map). The kerb of Kelsick Lane is turning to the right in the foreground.

I think if our William was setting off for a walk to work in 1841, he would recognise at least some of the buildings above. In the 1863 Map below, we see that Kelsick Lane, highlighted in yellow, is right next to the Whitehaven shipyards. It's possible that he's employed there, though he is more likely to be working in a mine.


William's job in 1841 is 'Engineer', too vague for us to really know what he was doing.

In 1851, however, we do know much more accurately; he's moved to Cleator Moor, 3 miles SE of Whitehaven, working as an engine driver in an iron ore mine on the outskirts of Whitehaven with his dad [to see more of this, see the page for John Partleton (1788-1868)]:

But -  we may enquire - William is still recorded as married, but where is his wife Ann? Good question... and the answer is... er, well, we just can't find her. Perhaps you could help...???!!!

Ann may not be a well person because at some time between 1852-1854, when William is about 40, he takes a new wife, Jane Johnston, of Allonby Cumberland (see map below), who is just 20. They may have married in Scotland. William and Jane must have travelled, because in 1854, a daughter, Ann, is born in Scotland  - "Scots Annie" as coined by Janice Partleton! Hi Janice!.

Being in Scotland is not such a great leap, because, as we see from the map of traditional English counties below, Cumberland borders on Scotland:

It may be that that William's first wife Ann could not have children; we see no evidence of them. But after 1854, William and his new wife Jane begin to build a large family. After the birth of daughter Ann in Scotland, William and Jane are back in Cumberland; Workington, where their son James 'Partlinton' is born in 1858.

Thanks to Partleton Tree correspondent Brian Bowes, who is James Partleton's great-grandson, for contacting us in 2011 and emailing that certificate!

James is the ancestor of most Partletons in America because many years later, it is his son, Alfred R Partleton who emigrates and produces a large family.

To get back to William and Jane, on 10 October 1860, they have another son, John. We are one solid ground here, because we have his birth certificate, courtesy of Terry Partleton:

Being born in the 'Hematites Iron Works' does not sound the most auspicious start to life. Something tells me young John will not end up being educated at Harrow or Westminster School. Jane signs the certificate with a cross. When he grows up, John is to have a son, William Kendall Partleton who emigrates to the USA and dies in California in 1957,childless as far as we are aware. William has his own page on 'In their Shoes'

Back to the grim reality of the Workington Iron Works, below we see a blurry but atmospheric photo of the fires of Workington by night:

It's easy for us to get lost here, so lets have a look at John's place of birth, the district of Seaton on the north side of Workington, and some of the other places already mentioned:


Eight months later, the census of England is held in 1861; William and his family are still in the parish of Seaton:

Let's get a closer look at that Hematite Iron Works:


The map above is 1867; the Iron Works already looks gigantic; as big as the town. In the modern map we see its location north of Workington. William and Jane's house is in Northside, which can be seen in the modern map, right next to the iron works.

In 1863, a daughter is born, Mary Jane, and in 1865 a son, Tom Thompson Partleton, who in later life was also to emigrate to the USA and build a family. Tom has his own page on 'In Their Shoes'. In 1867, William and Jane have another boy, Robert Wylie Partleton, who, sadly, was to live for just two years.

So we move on to the 1871 census. Below we see the whole family in the same house as they were 1861. William is still working at the iron works, as an engine fitter.

I feel the need to illustrate this, so below are two pictures of Cumberland iron and steel works, though not at the same time or the same location as the one where William worked:


Moving on, the 1881 census:

There's quite a lot happening in this census. The family has moved a mile or so south-east, into the centre of Workington, though William is still working in the Iron Works. They are living on John Street, which is a side road off Finkle Street. We have a fairly spectacular photo of Finkle Street with its Wesleyan Chapel at the end of it. So step into William's shoes for a stroll up the road...

Returning to look at the census, we see William, Jane, 'Tompson', and a new daughter, Elizabeth, who was born about 1871. Interestingly, we see Joseph Peacock 'son-in-law' crossed out and restored in the next room as the Head of his own household. Joseph, a coal miner, has married William's daughter Mary Jane.

Also staying with this extended family is grandson John Darby. He's one of the sons of William's daughter Ann "Scots Annie" who in 1872 had married William Darby, a boiler maker, and had twelve children. Ann's third son was christened Joseph Partleton Darby after Ann's maiden name.

In the mid 1880's, William's son Tom Thompson Partleton left England to emigrate to the United States.

On 06 March 1889, William Shepherd Partleton passed away, and thanks to Terry Partleton we have his death certificate. William has been very inconsistent in reporting his age in censuses, but the age reported on the cert is probably wrong; 76 would be closer:

The death is reported by son-in-law Joseph Peacock. Place of death is 36 Church St Workington.

In the 1891 census, the family are still living at 36 Church Street. William's widow Jane Johnston is now 59 and is recorded with due deference as 'Mrs Partleton'. William Partleton's son-in-law Joseph Peacock is now Head of the household. I was originally underwhelmed by his job title; 'deputy coal miner'... however, Terry Partleton has reminded me that in a coal mine, a deputy is a supervisor. Joseph and his wife Mary Jane (Margaret???) have children Mary, Jane, Joseph and William. Young William's full name is William Partleton Peacock.

Also in the house is William's (Sr) youngest daughter Elizabeth who has married Scotsman Ralph E Birkett Dodds, with their daughter Minnie. Another granddaughter in the house is Ellen Partleton aged 7; she's the daughter of William's son John (John is the one who was born at the Hematite Iron Works and whose birth cert we saw earlier). Poor little Ellen's mum Mary Ellen Kendall died in 1886 when Ellen was just 3. This is why we see her living with her uncles and aunts. Her dad John is alive but not in the 1891 census and may be at sea.

Jane Johnston was quite a bit younger than her husband; she passed away in 1898 in Cockermouth district.

By 1901 Joseph Peacock and Mary Jane Partleton have moved back to Seaton and are living very close to the Hematites Iron Works.

Joseph and Mary Jane now have seven children, six of whom are living at home.

Niece Ellen Partleton is still living with her uncle and aunt, even though her dad John has remarried and is living in Workington. Ellen is soon to move away as she marries Thomas Wright in 1906 in Sheffield. She dies there in 1961. Ellen's aunt Elizabeth and Ralph Birkett Dodds are also in Sheffield and Ellen may have gone there with them.

And that's it. Data is much harder to come by after 1901. What have we seen? Well, we saw the life of William Shepherd Partleton who grew up in and around Whitehaven, who went to Scotland for a while, and who worked as a large machine operator in iron ore mines and steelworks. His occupation is to govern those of his sons and grandsons and to the eventual emigration to the United States for some of them in search of an improved economic situation.

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