William Ashcroft

Manchester Cathedral from the south side

William Ashcroft, eldest son of Joshua Ashcroft and Esther Harrison of Manchester, England, was christened on 24 June 1804 at the Cathedral Church in Manchester.1 He was not even two years old when his father, a slater, or roofer, accidentally fell from the roof of a very lofty warehouse in Crow Alley, St Anne's Square, and died leaving his widow Esther, William and his baby brother John.2

Nothing is known about his childhood nor what happened to his mother, but William did well and was recorded at various times and places as a shoemaker, excise officer, auctioneer, appraiser, and innkeeper.3

On 12 December 1825, John Ashcroft, was baptised at St. Mary's Church in Disley, a village in Cheshire southeast of Manchester. The record noted that he was illegitimate, the mother being Hannah Smith of Lime Kilns, spinster, and the "reputed father" was named William Ashcroft. He had been born two months earlier, on 5 October.4

Within less than a year, on 25 June 1826, William Ashcroft, "of this parish" (St. John's, Manchester, Lancaster), "officer of excise," married Hannah Jones, also of the parish, and a widow. William signed his name and Hannah made her mark.5

William Ashcroft and Hannah Smith had seven children (John, Mary, Hannah, Ann, Joshua, William and Esther), born in Cheshire, Staffordshire and Nottinghamshire - the family seemed to move fairly often. In 1851 the family had settled in Wolverhampton in Staffordshire and they were still there in 1861 and 1871.

Hannah died in 1869. In November 1778 William wrote his will and died about two weeks later.6 Both were buried in the Merridale Cemetery, Wolverhampton.7

In the will two of his three sons were mentioned: Joshua and William, but not John. One of his daughters, Mary, died in 1878,8 but her children were all mentioned in the will. Esther, who must have been ill when her father wrote the will, is mentioned in the will, but her father makes provisions for her three children inheriting her share if she were to die before he did.9 She died about seven months after her father, in June 1879.10 The other two daughters, Ann and Hannah, were the executrixes of the will, which was proved in London, January 1879.

Ann was married to John Lawrence Duckworth; Hannah was married to a Mr. Hughes; Mary was married to Joseph Wheatley; and Esther was married to Hamlet Bayley.11 It is unknown if John and William married. Joshua married Prudence Beardmore and the couple left with their young daughter, Annie, not long after for Australia.12

Related Links
The Ashcroft Family
Ashcroft Family Tree
Ashcroft descent from Samuel Ashcroft, d.1821, for nine generations
Christening record of William Ashcroft, ca.1804-1878, son of Joshua
Marriage record of William Ashcroft and Hannah Smith Jones
Family group sheet for William Ashcroft, son of Joshua
Census information for William Ashcroft, ca.1804-1878
Burial record for William and Hannah Ashcroft, Wolverhampton
Will of William Ashcroft, son of Joshua, d.1878
Christening record of John Ashcroft, b.1806, son of Joshua
Marriage record of John Ashcroft and Maria Williams, 2 October 1831
Record of baptism and birth: Mary Ashcroft, daughter of John and Maria Ashcroft, 1832
Marriage record of Mary Ashcroft, daughter of William, and Joseph Wheatley, 1851
Record of birth: William Wheatley, son of Mary Ashcroft and Joseph Wheatley, 1856

Photograph: Manchester Cathedral From South, taken 23 May 2013 by Poliphilo. Photo put in public domain by the author via the Creative Commons license. Available at Wikimedia Commons. Wikimedia Commons. Author: Poliphilo, Manchester Cathedral from South, 23 May 2013. Avail under Creative Commons, put in public domain by author. William Ashcroft was christened in the Cathedral Church.

With many thanks to Rodney Kerr and Tony Ashcroft for information on the Ashcroft family. They have done a lot of research and generously shared it.

  1. Parish registers for the Cathedral Church [Church of England], Manchester, Lancashire, 1573-1946. Salt Lake City, Utah: filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1966-2004, Baptisms, November 1798-January 1808. William was christened 24 June 1804, and John was christened 26 May 1806.

  2. According to Tony Ashcroft, a family researcher, in his email, 29 May 2007, the warehouse Joshua was working on was near St Anne's Square in the center of Manchester. Two brief newspaper reports of the accident appeared in the days immediately following.

  3. William Ashcroft's occupations can be found in census records as well as in the baptismal records of his children.

  4. Bishop's transcripts for Disley, 1604-1857 (Church of England. Chapelry of Disley (Cheshire), Parish of Stockport, FHL BRITISH Film 1655666 Item 2), p.114, #906: baptized December 12, Born October 5, John, a bastard. Mother is Hannah Smith, spinster; reputed father is William Ashcroft, Disley, Shoemaker.

  5. Marriage record: William Ashcroft and Hannah Jones, 1826, Parish Register, St. John's Church, Manchester, Lancashire, England. Copy of register, page 180, #540, sent to Anne Field by Tony Ashcroft, May 2013. Should be on FHL MF 2148043, St. John's Church, marriages Jan. 1823-Sep 1828. St. John's was on Byrom St., Deansgate, Manchester, and was demolished in 1931.

    Hannah Smith/Jones was born in Meifod, Montgomery County, Wales, according to census records. Her birth date of about 1798 is ascertained from the ages given in the census records and in her death record. Hannah was a spinster (single) when John was born, but a widow, Hannah Jones, when she married. When she married someone named Jones is not known.

  6. Will of William Ashcroft, d.1878, Great Britain. Principal Probate Registry. Record of will in Somerset House, London, England. Will written in Islington, Liverpool, 16 November 1878; proved in London 16 January 1879. FHL MF 1851003.

    According to Rodney Kerr, a family researcher, a will entry from an index in the Birmingham Library records the date and place of William's death as 28 November 1878, Liverpool.

    An entry in the Index to the Civil Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths for England and Wales, 1837-1980, Registrar General, Great Britain, shows that William died during the December Quarter, 1878, age 75, in the district of Liverpool. The record can be found in vol. 8b, p.207

  7. Cemetery Records of Merridale Cemetery, Register of Exclusive Rights of Burial, 1850-1886. Merridale Cemetery, Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England. FHL MF 2299868, Page 212, #848, Date of grant: 3 December 1869, Wolverhampton General Cemetery Company. William Ashcroft paid four pounds and six pence for an unbricked grave nine feet long, four feet wide, and seven feet deep to hold two adult bodies in consecrated ground. Location: 2609, square 21. Dates of interment were 8 July 1869, when Hannah was buried, and 4 December 1878, when William was buried.

  8. Correspondence from Merridale Cemetery Office, Wolverhampton, Lancashire, England, 1979, Notes the interment of Mary Wheatley, aged 50 of Snow Hill, Wolverhampton, wife of Joseph Wheatley, ironmonger. She was buried in 1878. Plot was purchased by her father, William Ashcroft.

  9. Esther's three children were Annie, Howard, and Neville Bayley.

  10. Registrar General, Great Britain. Index to the Civil Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths for England and Wales, 1837-1980, Microfiche copy of originals at the Office of Population and Census, Merseyside, England; fiche from the British Isles Reference collection, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, UT, June Qtr., 1879, Esther Bayley, age 42, district of Aston, Warwickshire, vol. 6d, p.240. Aston is just north of Birmingham. A handwritten note on the back of her picture, handed down in the family, gives her death date as 23 June 1879. Both Esther Bayley and Mary Wheatley were buried in the Merridale Cemetery, Wolverhampton.

  11. Record of Marriage for Ann Ashcroft and John Lawrence Duckworth, 1859, Parish Register, St. Leonard's Church, [Church of England], Parish Church of Bilston, Staffordshire, England, Marriages, 1841-1873. FHL Br MF 1040827, Page 190, #379, John is a widower, age 40; Ann is a spinster, age 27. Both signed their own names.

    A record of marriage for Hannah has not yet been found. She was married after 1861 (appearing in that census as unmarried), but was listed as a widow when named as an executrix of her father's will in 1878.

    When Mary Wheatley died in 1878, her husband was listed as Joseph Wheatley, ironmonger. A marriage record has not been found yet for Mary and Joseph Wheatley. In the 1851 census, Mary was unmarried. In the 1861 census, Hannah Wheatley, age 9, was in the household of her grandfather, William Ashcroft. In the 1871 census, Mary Wheatley and three of her children, Ann, William and Joseph, are listed in the household of William Ashcroft. Mary is a daughter and the housekeeper. It is not known where Joseph Wheatley was or if he was still alive.

    Marriage Record for Hamlet Bayley and Esther Ashcroft, 1859. Free BMD. England and Wales, Civil Registration Index: 1837-1983 [online database based on data from the GRO, London, England]. Provo, Utah: MyFamily.com, Inc., 2004. Accessed via Ancestry.com. Marriage was recorded by the GRO in September 1859 so the marriage probably took place within the previous 3 months.

  12. Marriage of Joshua Ashcroft and Prudence Beardmore was on 03 November 1860, Wolverhampton, Staffordshire. Emails from Rodney Kerr to Anne Healy Field, December 2005. Parish registers, 1861-1914, Church of England. St. Luke's Church (Wolverhampton, Staffordshire), Baptisms 1861-1865. Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1981, 1987, FHL microfilm 1040913, Items 5-6 , p.2, #12, 1 September 1861, Annie, [dau of] Joshua & Prudence Ashcroft,abode/name of street starts with B, ends with ley; occupation, clerk. According to Rodney Kerr, Joshua and Prudence migrated to Australia on board the “Montmorency”, which arrived in Moreton Bay, Australia, on 28th December 1861. Joshua was 27 and Prudence was 25. Their daughter Annie was a baby.

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4 April 2014
Updated 29 Dec 2016