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by Graham Woodward
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John Woodward & Hannah Laight (1785-1875)

John was the second child of William Woodward and Elizabeth Richards. He was baptised in St Nicholas church, Alcester, Warwickshire, on 7 October 1792.


John had an elder sister, Mary, born in Alcester in 1790 but she died in 1811 aged 21, a spinster and was buried at Alcester. He also had a younger sister, Ann, born in Alcester in 1795, but she died in 1799 aged 4 years and was also buried at Alcester.

John Woodward (1792-1875)

John's father died in 1797 when he was five years old and in 1804 his mother re-married to a William Phipps.  William Phipps came from the Ridgeway, Inkberrow, Worcestershire, and had been married twice before. His first wife was Elizabeth Wheeler, was a cousin of Diana Wheeler, Hannah Laight's mother. John's mother, Elizabeth Richards, was a witness at the marriage of William Phipps and Elizabeth Wheeler in 1789, so must have known him from before John's father died.

Based on the fact that John's two sisters were buried in Alcester, it appears that after his father's death the family stayed in Alcester rather than move immediately to Inkberrow where William Phipps had lived previously. However, they must have moved to Inkberrow later as that is where John eventually married and lived. John's mother and step father lived and died in Inkberrow. His mother, now Elizabeth Phipps, but shown in the record as Phillips, was buried at Inkberrow church on 28 May 1830 aged 68 and William Phipps was buried at Inkberrow on 27 February 1834, aged 70. Their graves cannot be found today.

Hannah Laight (1785-1871)

Hannah Laight came from Inkberrow. Her parents were John Laight and Diana Wheeler. Diana is spelt in a number of ways in the records - Dinah, Dianna and Diana. Hannah was baptised in Inkberrow on 7 March 1790. She was five years old when baptised, on the same day as her 'new' younger brother, Michael Laight. Her parents were married in Inkberrow in February 1785, a very short time before Hannah was born. This was a common occurrence at the time - a large percentage of first-time marriages were because the woman was pregnant.

Precisely why Hannah wasn't baptised until age five is unknown. If she was born before her parents were married it may well have been the case that the vicar at Inkberrow in 1784/5 refused to baptise what was in effect an illegitimate child. Quite why Hannah wasn't baptised at the same time as her sister, Charlotte, in 1788 is a mystery but was perhaps for the same reason.

Hannah's parents had seven other children after Hannah; baptised between 1788 and 1806. They all married and stayed in Inkberrow throughout their lives. (For more details see the Wheeler and Laight family tree).

John and Hannah as a family

John Woodward and Hannah Laight were married at Tardebigg Church, near Redditch, Worcestershire, on 20 February 1814, eleven miles from their home in Inkberrow. The wedding ceremony was conducted by George Richards, a Curate. He was related to John's mother, Elizabeth Richards. This would explain why John and Hannah went to Tardebigge to get married rather than have the ceremony at Inkberrow - maybe they avoided paying any church fees.   

John Woodwards marriage certificate
Tardebigg Chuch

John and Hannah had six children.

  • Anne Woodward, born 1814 at the Ridgeway, married Tom Joines (or Jones) in 1843. They had three children that we know about: Ellen born 1842, John born 1845 and George born 1847, all at Inkberrow.
  • Joseph Woodward, born 1819 at Inkberrow, was living in Inkberrow in 1881, an agricultural labourer, with his wife Ann (formerly Ann Maclaland, a widow). Ann had been married before to a James Maclaland, an Irish 'ragman' and labourer, and she and James had seven children. James died in 1863. Ann died in 1889 aged 74 and was buried at Inkberrow and Joseph died in 1893 in Alcester Poor Law Workhouse aged 74.
  • John Woodward jnr was born in 1821 at Inkberrow, and later married Ann Climer and went to live in Wilmcote.
  • Mary Woodward, born 1823, is not on any census return which fits in with a death at Inkberrow in 1824; she was aged 12 months.
  • David Woodward, born 1825, a general labourer, didn't marry and was living at Cookhill, Inkberrow in 1881 as a lodger of a Charles and Elizabeth Dolphin. By the 1891 census Elizabeth Dolphin was dead (died November 1886 aged 71) and Charles Dolphin died in September 1891 aged 87. David died in Alcester Poor Law Workhouse in 1907, a pauper aged 82. He was buried at Inkberrow.
  • Diana Woodward, born 1827, is also not on any census return which fits in with a death at Inkberrow in 1830; she was aged 3½ years.

The 1841 census shows John and Hannah living at Inkberrow next door to William and John Phipps, the sons of John's step father, William Phipps Snr by his second marriage to Ann Hill. This shows that it is the correct John and Hannah Woodward, ie. the son and daughter-in-law of Elizabeth Richards, the third wife of William Phipps Snr. Also, Ann Hill was related to Ester Hill, Hannah Laight's grandmother, another positive link. (See the Richards family tree for details).

The 1851 census (below) shows John aged 59, an agricultural labourer, and states that he was born in Alcester - another confirmation that we have the same John and a perfect age match with his baptism year. Hannah is shown as aged 67 which confirms that she was older than John and fits with her 1784 birth year as per the baptism when aged five years in 1780 mentioned earlier. John and Hannah are shown as living with two of their sons, Joseph now aged 32 and David now aged 20, both agricultural labourers. John Woodward junior is not shown on the 1851 census for Inkberrow, as by this time he had married and moved to Wilmcote in Warwickshire.

1851 Census return for John and Hannah

The 1861 census again shows John and Hannah at the Ridgway, Inkberrow, living with their sons Joseph age 42 and David age 36. The 1871 census shows John, aged 78, a widower, living with his son David aged 51, both labourers. They are living next door to John's son Joseph and his wife Ann (nee Maclaland), and an Elizabeth Phipps, a widow aged 87 which is a good match for the wife of William Phipps Jnr, the son of John Woodward's step-father.

The National Burial Index shows Hannah Woodward's burial at Inkberrow on 12 February 1871 aged 87. John Woodward died on 7 August 1875 aged 82, and was also buried at Inkberrow. There are no grave stones to be found in the graveyard.

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