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by Graham Woodward
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Arthur John Woodward and Joice Jeffrey (1857-1957)

Arthur was born in Wilmcote, Warwickshire, on 26 March 1857, the third child of John Woodward and Ann Climer. His birth entry (below) in the civil register shows his father to be 'John Woodward - Stone Quarrier' and his mother as 'Ann Woodward - formerly Climer'. He was baptised at Wilmcote church on 19 April 1857 and his parents are shown as John and Ann and his father as a labourer.

Arthur, together with his two elder brothers, (William and Henry), and his three younger sisters (Ellen, Fanny and Hannah Elizabeth) all stayed in Wilmcote until they reached adulthood and then all moved to Smethwick and Oldbury near Birmingham.

Houses at Wilmcote Row Arthus John's birth certificate

Early years

The 1861 census shows Arthur as living at 14 Wilmcote Row, Wilmcote, (above left) with his parents. Wilmcote Row is a row of 18 cottages built in the 1840s of local stone for workers at the local quarry. In the census, Arthur is described as a scholar aged 4, born in Wilmcote. This matches the birth record in 1857.

The 1871 census does not show any specific address, just 'Wilmcote', but shows Arthur as aged 14, a labourer. The 1881 census shows him as aged 24, now working as a cooper (a barrel maker). This change of occupation from a labourer to a cooper fits with his father also becoming a cooper around the same time.  Exactly where they worked is unknown, but it could be that the quarry in Wilmcote employed 'dry coopers' who made barrels for dry goods such as cement.

By 1881 Arthur's eldest brother, William, a stone mason, had married a Harriett Hunter in 1871 in Nottingham where they settled and had three children. His elder brother, Henry, a cooper, married Caroline Jones from Haselor, Warwickshire, and settled in Vicarage Road, Oldbury, (formerly Worcestershire but now part of the West Midlands). Henry was later to follow Arthur to Burton on Trent, Staffordshire to work at Bass's Brewery in the town. Henry's sons, Louis and William  also worked at Bass's until 1897 when they returned to Oldbury to work at Crosswell's Brewery, near Vicarage Road, Langley, later owned by Allsopps Brewery (Ind Coope), of Burton on Trent. 

Arthur's younger sister, Ellen Woodward, worked as a housemaid at 210 Hagley Road, Birmingham (now a car showroom), but by 1901 she had married a William Grant (a plumber) and lived at 40 Warley Road, Smethwick, Birmingham. Arthur's younger sister, Fanny, married a John Parkes Chalker in 1884, a carpenter from Smethwick and his youngest sister Hannah was a general domestic servant living at 45 Mary Street, Birmingham, working for an Ellen Thompson.

Joice Jeffrey (1861-1957)

Joice Jeffrey Joice (left) was born in Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, on 7 March 1861 the daughter of John Jeffrey and Joice Saddler. John came from Draycott, Gloucestershire. and her mother was born in 1827 in Moreton in the Marsh. They are later listed as being needle makers. Joice was the sixth child of 10 children born to John and Joice Jeffrey. The first two children were born in Draycott, Gloucestershire, but all the later children were born in Chipping Campden. (For more details of the family see the Jeffrey family tree.)

The 1861 census shows John Jeffrey as living at 'High Street, Chipping Campden' aged 38, born in Draycott, Gloucestershire, (approx 1822) and working as a machinist. His wife is shown as being aged 35 (birth 1826) born in Moreton in the Marsh, Gloucestershire. Joice (the daughter) is shown as aged 1 month, born in Campden.

The parish records for Wilmcote, Warwickshire, show that Joice was baptised in Wilmcote church on 9 March 1881, aged 19 years. This seems odd when she was born in Chipping Campden, except that the 1881 census for Wilmcote shows her as staying in Wilmcote with her brother-in-law and sister, William and Lucy Neal. William worked at the quarry in Wilmcote and this is probably how Joice met Arthur John Woodward. For some reason she must have decided to be baptised at the village church. There is no other Joice Jeffrey that this baptism could relate to. Quite how Lucy Neal from Chipping Campden met her husband from Wilmcote is anyone's guess.

Joice and Arthur were married in St James' Church, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire (below) on 16 February 1882. On the marriage certificate Arthur's occupation is shown as a cooper, resident in Oldbury, Worcestershire. His sister Hannah Elizabeth Woodward was a witness along with his cousin, John William Stephens, the son of his aunt Elizabeth Stephens, the sister of his mother, Ann Climer.

Chipping Campden Church
Arthur Johns marriage certificate

Arthur and Joice as a family

After their marriage, Arthur and Joice settled in Smethwick near Birmingham, living for a while at 38 Cape Hill, where their first child, Horace Woodward, was born in June 1887. He was baptised in Wilmcote later that year. The five year gap between the wedding and Horace's birth was because Joice had two miscarriages. Their next child, Elsie May, was born in 1890 in Oldbury, approximately one and a half miles from Smethwick. Arthur worked at Cape Hill Brewery in Smethwick, which is literally just around the corner from where Horace was born.

In 1891, Arthur and Joice moved to Burton on Trent. The census of that year shows them living at 188 Branston Road, Burton. Evidence of this move also comes from  the Cooperage records at Bass's Brewery, then the largest brewery in the World, as Arthur signed-on at Bass's in October 1892 along with his brother Henry and Henry's son, Louis. Although Henry later left the brewery, Arthur remained at Bass's until he retired as a foreman cooper in 1922, aged 65.

The 1901 census shows the family living at 36 Hunter Street, Burton, the family having moved there from Branston Road via a house in Wyggeston Street. By the time of the First World War (1914-18) Arthur and Joice lived at 96 Eton Road, Burton, but later bought a detached house at 36 Eton Road. Although Arthur's ancestors had been agricultural labourers and Joice's parents were needle makers, both poorly paid occupations, coopers commanded a very good wage which enabled Arthur and Joice to become property owners.

Arthur and Joice had seven children.

  • Horace Woodward , born 1887, started work in 1903 at Bass's Brewery in Burton on Trent as an apprentice cooper under the supervision of his father. He later moved to Selby and then Scarborough in Yorkshire but returned to Bass's at Burton in 1922 when his father retired. He died in Burton in 1966.
  • Elsie May, born 1890, married James Eden in Burton, but the marriage only lasted a few months, after which she lived with her mother. She died in 1963.
  • Leslie Bernard (known as Bernard), born 1892, became the manager of Bass's licensed houses (pubs) and hotels, and retired to Devon where he died in 1985 aged 93. (Bernard's son became a brewer in Devon).
  • Lawrence Roy, born 1894, worked at Bass's until after the Second World War when he moved to Watford, near London. He died in 1967.
  • Cecil Frank (known as Frank), born 1896, was killed at Delville Wood during the First Battle of the Somme, France, on 18 July 1916, having joined the 1st Bat. Gordon Highlanders in 1914. His body was never found and his name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial in France along with 72,000 others.
  • Evelyn Vale, born 1898, died in Leicester in 1937 of Tuberculosis, leaving a wife and three daughters as yet untraced.
  • Dennis Jeffrey, born 1902, started at Bass's Brewery in Burton as a clip and cork boy in 1916 but later became a cooper. He died in Derby in 1983.

The 1911 census shows the family, apart from Frank, living at 106 Sydney Street, Burton on Trent. Frank (age 14) was at 41 Warley Road (now called Anderson Road) off Hagley Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, with his uncle and aunt, William and Ellen Grant. The census states that his uncle was a plumber and Frank was a scholar at Birmingham Municiple Technical School.

Arthur John Woodward's Grave Arthur John died on 30 June 1928 in Burton and was buried in the churchyard at Horninglow, Burton on Trent. Before his death he had one of his legs amputated and whether or not this contributed to his death is unknown.

After Arthur's death, Joice sold their house at 36 Eton Road, Horninglow, and moved to a bungalow known as The Brambles, Hillfield Lane, Stretton, near Burton on Trent, where she lived with her daughter, Elsie May, who had divorced from her husband.

May looked after her mother, as well as the house and garden, until Joice died on 23 December 1957 aged 96 years. May died in 1963. The bungalow at Stretton was demolished after they died and the site is now occupied by a pair of houses.

Arthur, Joice and Elsie May are all buried in the same grave at Horninglow Church, Burton on Trent (left).

Compiled by Graham Woodward, Nottingham, England (UK).